Thursday, December 15, 2011


I read a news article this morning that in 2011 India ranked at No. 91, out of a possible 110, on the Prosperity index. Norway was at No. 1 position for the third consecutive year, and we had slipped from No. 78 position in 2009 to # 88 in 2010 and to 91 in 2011. I decided to research this a little further and went to the offiial website of the Legatum Institute that does this study. This is what I found.........

Quote. The (Legatum) Index defines prosperity as both - wealth and wellbeing, and finds that the most prosperous nations in the world are not necessarily those that have only a high GDP, but are those that also have happy, healthy, and free citizens.

The Legatum Prosperity Index™ assesses 110 countries, accounting for over 90 percent of the world’s population, and is based on 89 different variables, each of which has a demonstrated effect on economic growth or on personal wellbeing. The Index consists of eight sub-indexes, each of which represents a fundamental aspect of prosperity:

  •  Economy - Stable and growing economies increase per capita income and promote the overall wellbeing of its citizens.
  • Entrepreneurship & Opportunity (E&O) - A strong entrepreneurial climate in which citizens can pursue new ideas and opportunities for improving their lives leads to higher levels of income and wellbeing.
  • Governance - Well-governed societies enjoy national economic growth and citizen wellbeing.
  • Education - Education is a building block for prosperous societies.
  • Health - A strong healthcare infrastructure in which citizens are able to enjoy good physical and mental health leads to higher levels of income and wellbeing.
  • Safety & Security - Societies plagued by threats to national security and personal safety cannot foster growth in average levels of income or wellbeing.
  • Personal Freedom - When citizens enjoy their rights to expression, belief, organisation, and personal autonomy in a society welcoming of diversity, their country enjoys higher levels of income and social wellbeing.
  • Social Capital - Social networks and the cohesion that a society experiences when people trust one another have a direct effect on the prosperity of a country.
Each of the sub-indexes provides us with two important analyses: first, an economic assessment, and second, an assessment of a country’s subjective wellbeing, or happiness. Unquote.
Our 91st ranking is on account of Economy (53), Entrepreneurship & Opportunity (90), Governance (41), Education (88), Health (95), Safety and Security (97), Personal Freedom (73), Social Capital (104). We are below the half way mark (55) on 6 of the 8 sub-indices, as follows: -
  • Entrepreneurship and Opportunity. Poor entrepreneurial infrastructure is the cause - any guesses why Indians do well any where in the world, except in India.
  • Education. This is absolutely shameful. Right to Education has taken a long time coming.
  • Health. Lack of clean drinking water, lack of vaccinations, malnourishment, and inadequate health infrastructre all add to this low ranking.
  • Safety & Security. Displacement, political violence, and crime are to blame for this ranking.
  • Personal freedom. Low individual freedom and low tolerance of immigrants (thanks to the Thackerey's and likes) are responsible for this.
  • Social Capital. This exists primarily on account of family and religious ties.
Lot of this may be disputed, but then a study covering 110 countries would be better at looking at all these indices, than an individual with his own opinions and perceptions.

In short, there is a long way to go to achieving the dream of an India where every Indian can have at least roti, kapda, makaan, healthcare, and then move onto getting some food for his brain too, through free and compulsory education.

Those interested can view the complete Index at




Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Listening to the debates on TimesNow on the corruption and Lokpal issues, what struck me - what is the best gift that we can leave behind for our children, and their generation.

I believe it would be to leave behind a better world; a better country; a better city; a better home for them than what we  inherited.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Received as a forward..... written by a Pakistani, and makes lots of sense. Hope more Pakistanis start seeing the light, and DEMAND that their government change course from destruction to development - in the interest of their own people, and the immediate, and faraway neighbours living on this planet.

11 June 2011

Pakistan’s General Problem

How Pakistan’s Generals turned the country into an international jihadi tourist resort

BY Mohammad Hanif

What is the last thing you say to your best general when ordering him into a do-or-die mission? A prayer maybe, if you are religiously inclined. A short lecture, underlining the importance of the mission, if you want to keep it businesslike. Or maybe you’ll wish him good luck accompanied by a clicking of the heels and a final salute.

On the night of 5 July 1977 as Operation Fair Play, meant to topple Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s elected government, was about to commence, then Army Chief General Zia ul Haq took aside his right-hand man and Corps Commander of 10th Corps Lieutenant General Faiz Ali Chishti and whispered to him: “Murshid, marwa na daina.” (Guru, don’t get us killed.)

General Zia was indulging in two of his favourite pastimes: spreading his paranoia amongst those around him and sucking up to a junior officer he needed to do his dirty work. General Zia had a talent for that; he could make his juniors feel as if they were indispensable to the running of this world. And he could make his seniors feel like proper gods, as Bhutto found out to his cost.

General Faiz Ali Chishti’s troops didn’t face any resistance that night; not a single shot was fired, and like all military coups in Pakistan, this was also dubbed a ‘bloodless coup’. There was a lot of bloodshed, though, in the following years—in military-managed dungeons, as pro-democracy students were butchered at Thori gate in interior Sindh, hundreds of shoppers were blown up in Karachi’s Bohri Bazar, in Rawalpindi people didn’t even have to leave their houses to get killed as the Army’s ammunition depot blew up raining missiles on a whole city, and finally at Basti Laal Kamal near Bahawalpur, where a plane exploded killing General Zia and most of the Pakistan Army’s high command. General Faiz Ali Chishti had nothing to do with this, of course. General Zia had managed to force his murshid into retirement soon after coming to power. Chishti had started to take that term of endearment—murshid—a bit too seriously and dictators can’t stand anyone who thinks of himself as a kingmaker.

Thirty-four years on, Pakistan is a society divided at many levels. There are those who insist on tracing our history to a certain September day in 2001, and there are those who insist that this country came into being the day the first Muslim landed on the Subcontinent. There are laptop jihadis, liberal fascist and fair-weather revolutionaries. There are Balochi freedom fighters up in the mountains and bullet-riddled bodies of young political activists in obscure Baloch towns. And, of course, there are the members of civil society with a permanent glow around their faces from all the candle-light vigils. All these factions may not agree on anything but there is consensus on one point: General Zia’s coup was a bad idea. When was the last time anyone heard Nawaz Sharif or any of Zia’s numerous protégés thump their chest and say, yes, we need another Zia? When did you see a Pakistan military commander who stood on Zia’s grave and vowed to continue his mission?

It might have taken Pakistanis 34 years to reach this consensus but we finally agree that General Zia’s domestic and foreign policies didn’t do us any good. It brought us automatic weapons, heroin and sectarianism; it also made fortunes for those who dealt in these commodities. And it turned Pakistan into an international jihadi tourist resort.

And yet, somehow, without ever publicly owning up to it, the Army has continued Zia’s mission. Successive Army commanders, despite their access to vast libraries and regular strategic reviews, have never actually acknowledged that the multinational, multicultural jihadi project they started during the Zia era was a mistake. Late Dr Eqbal Ahmed, the Pakistani teacher and activist, once said that the Pakistan Army is brilliant at collecting information but its ability to analyse this information is non-existent.

Looking back at the Zia years, the Pakistan Army seems like one of those mythical monsters that chops off its own head but then grows an identical one and continues on the only course it knows.

In 1999, two days after the Pakistan Army embarked on its Kargil misadventure, Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed gave a ‘crisp and to the point’ briefing to a group of senior Army and Air Force officers. Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail, who attended the meeting, later wrote that they were told that it was nothing more than a defensive manoeuvre and the Indian Air Force will not get involved at any stage. “Come October, we shall walk into Siachen—to mop up the dead bodies of hundreds of Indians left hungry, out in the cold,” General Mahmud told the meeting. “Perhaps it was the incredulousness of the whole thing that led Air Commodore Abid Rao to famously quip, ‘After this operation, it’s going to be either a Court Martial or Martial Law!’ as we walked out of the briefing room,” Air Commodore Tufail recalled in an essay.

If Rao Abid even contemplated a court martial, he probably lacked leadership qualities because there was only one way out of this mess—a humiliating military defeat, a world-class diplomatic disaster, followed by yet another martial law. The man who should have faced court martial for Kargil appointed himself Pakistan’s President for the next decade.

General Mahmud went on to command ISI, Rao Abid retired as air vice marshal, both went on to find lucrative work in the Army’s vast welfare empire, and Kargil was forgotten as if it was a game of dare between two juveniles who were now beyond caring about who had actually started the game. Nobody remembers that a lot of blood was shed on this pointless Kargil mission. The battles were fierce and some of the men and officers fought so valiantly that two were awarded Pakistan’s highest military honour, Nishan-e-Haidar. There were hundreds of others whose names never made it to any awards list, whose families consoled themselves by saying that their loved ones had been martyred while defending our nation’s borders against our enemy. Nobody pointed out the basic fact that there was no enemy on those mountains before some delusional generals decided that they would like to mop up hundreds of Indian soldiers after starving them to death.

The architect of this mission, the daring General Pervez Musharraf, who didn’t bother to consult his colleagues before ordering his soldiers to their slaughter, doesn’t even have the wits to face a sessions court judge in Pakistan, let alone a court martial. The only people he feels comfortable with are his Facebook friends and that too from the safety of his London apartment. During the whole episode, the nation was told that it wasn’t the regular army that was fighting in Kargil; it was the mujahideen. But those who received their loved ones’ flag-draped coffins had sent their sons and brothers to serve in a professional army, not a freelance lashkar.

The Pakistan Army’s biggest folly has been that under Zia it started outsourcing its basic job—soldiering—to these freelance militants. By blurring the line between a professional soldier—who, at least in theory, is always required to obey his officer, who in turn is governed by a set of laws—and a mujahid, who can pick and choose his cause and his commander depending on his mood, the Pakistan Army has caused immense confusion in its own ranks. Our soldiers are taught to shout Allah-o-Akbar when mocking an attack. In real life, they are ambushed by enemies who shout Allah-o-Akbar even louder. Can we blame them if they dither in their response? When the Pakistan Navy’s main aviation base in Karachi, PNS Mehran, was attacked, Navy Chief Admiral Nauman Bashir told us that the attackers were ‘very well trained’. We weren’t sure if he was giving us a lazy excuse or admiring the creation of his institution. When naval officials told journalists that the attackers were ‘as good as our own commandoes’ were they giving themselves a backhanded compliment?

In the wake of the attacks on PNS Mehran in Karachi, some TV channels have pulled out an old war anthem sung by late Madam Noor Jehan and have started to play it in the backdrop of images of young, hopeful faces of slain officers and men. Written by the legendary teacher and poet Sufi Tabassum, the anthem carries a clear and stark warning: Aiay puttar hatantay nahin wickday, na labhdi phir bazaar kuray (You can’t buy these brave sons from shops, don’t go looking for them in bazaars).

While Sindhis and Balochis have mostly composed songs of rebellion, Punjabi popular culture has often lionised its karnails and jarnails and even an odd dholsipahi. The Pakistan Army, throughout its history, has refused to take advice from politicians as well as thinking professionals from its own ranks. It has never listened to historians and sometimes ignored even the esteemed religious scholars it frequently uses to whip up public sentiments for its dirty wars. But the biggest strategic mistake it has made is that it has not even taken advice from the late Madam Noor Jehan, one of the Army’s most ardent fans in Pakistan’s history. You can probably ignore Dr Eqbal Ahmed’s advice and survive in this country but you ignore Madam at your own peril.

Since the Pakistan Army’s high command is dominated by Punjabi-speaking generals, it’s difficult to fathom what it is about this advice that they didn’t understand. Any which way you translate it, the message is loud and clear. And lyrical: soldiers are not to be bought and sold like a commodity. “Na awaian takran maar kuray” (That search is futile, like butting your head against a brick wall), Noor Jehan goes on to rhapsodise.

For decades, the Army has not only shopped for these private puttars in the bazaars, it also set up factories to manufacture them. It raised whole armies of them. When you raise Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish Mohammed, Sipahe Sahaba, Sipahe Mohammed, Lashker Jhangvi, Al- Badar Mujahideen, others encouraged by the thriving market place will go ahead and start outfits like Anjuman Tahuffuze Khatame Nabuwat and Anjuman Tahuffuze Namoos-e-Aiyasha. It’s not just Kashmir and Afghanistan and Chechnya they will want to liberate, they will also go back in time and seek revenge for a perceived slur that may or may not have been cast by someone more than 1,300 years ago in a country far far away.

As if the Army’s sprawling shopping mall of private puttars in Pakistan wasn’t enough, it actively encouraged import and export of these commodities, even branched out into providing rest and recreation facilities for the ones who wanted a break. The outsourcing of Pakistan’s military strategy has reached a point where mujahids have their own mujahids to do their job, and inevitably at the end of the supply chain are those faceless and poor teenagers with explosives strapped to their torsos regularly marched out to blow up other poor kids.

Two days before the Americans killed Osama bin Laden and took away his bullet-riddled body, General Kiyani addressed Army cadets at Kakul. After declaring a victory of sorts over the militants, he gave our nation a stark choice. And before the nation could even begin to weigh its pros and cons, he went ahead and decided for them: we shall never bargain our honour for prosperity. As things stand, most people in Pakistan have neither honour nor prosperity and will easily settle for their little world not blowing up every day.

The question people really want to ask General Kiyani is that if he and his Army officer colleagues can have both honour and prosperity, why can’t we the people have a tiny bit of both?

The Army and its advocates in the media often worry about Pakistan’s image, as if we are not suffering from a long-term serious illness but a seasonal bout of acne that just needs better skin care. The Pakistan Army, over the years, has cultivated this image of 180 million people with nuclear devices strapped to their collective body threatening to take the world down with it. We may not be able to take the world down with us; the world might defang us or try to calm us down by appealing to our imagined Sufi side. But the fact remains that Pakistan as a nation is paying the price for our generals’ insistence on acting, in Asma Jahangir’s frank but accurate description, like duffers.

And demanding medals and golf resorts for being such duffers consistently for such a long time.

What people really want to do at this point is put an arm around our military commanders’ shoulders, take them aside and whisper in their ears: “Murshid, marwa na daina.”

Mohammed Hanif is the author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes (2008), his first novel, a satire on the death of General Zia ul Haq

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Corruption has always been a problem in our society, primarily due to bad systems, poor enforcement of the laid down law, and an ineffecient & overloaded legal system. Systems have been bad because of a demand and supply mismatch in every conceivable product or service, and the reason for this mismatch was that the government controlled (either through quotas or direct control) everything from railways to airlines to telephones to sugar to kerosene to name it.

On commissioning in 1973, I booked a Bajaj scooter - I had to wait for 9 years to get delivery of this scooter. This was considered normal then. Telephones were given out only by the government and thus most Indians  never had telephones - the ones who had them were people of 'status' and/ or had links with someone in government. . Thanks to Rajiv Gandhi and Sam Pitroda, the telephones became a means of communication, rather than as a status symbol.

Privatisation of various sectors has directly benefited common Indians or the 'aam aadmi', but has meant a loss of control for the government. Successive governments controlled the economy through quotas and through this means also generated 'private revenues' for funding the elections for the party. This has been a big malaise all along, but has acquired much greater proportions now, and that is the reason for the people's reaction from all across the country to citizens movements initiated by Shri Anna Hazare and Swami Ramdev.

It is a known fact that political parties need funds to fight elections in any democracy. In case the system of generation of these funds is not transparent then this becomes the starting point for corruption, as in India. A transparent system created through effective legislation can prevent corruption in the system, and this is a crying need for a democracy like India.

Logically speaking all political parties, specially the opposition parties, should be happy to legislate this, because then the party in government will not have an unfair advantage of its position. However, none in our political class want the system to be transparent, primarily because of the opportunity this inbuilt corruption mechanism gives 'elected representatives' to make 'personal' hay too, while the sun shines, even if they are not in the ruling party.

The ruling party or coalition benefits the most, but the others 'not in power' are also taken care off. Government starts welfare schemes that are designed to be 'leaky'. The real beneficiaries get very little of the service that the scheme is designed to provide. The real beneficiaries of these schemes are the so called public servants 'netas' and 'babus' - the inrease in the net worth of the individual legislators and babus, which is totally out of sync with their known sources of income, is a worthy testimony to this fact.

It is indeed sad that we have criminals lodged in jails who can fight elections, win them, and then ensure that they take full advantage of their position, as also the inefficient and overloaded judicial system. Anna Hazare proposed Jan Lokpal bill is a step to prevent/ demotivate criminals from opting for politics for their personal agenda of staying out of the reach of the law of the land.

Swami Ramdev's 'jan andolan' against black money was a step in the right direction. I donot agree with the all the methods adopted by the Swami, or with all the issues that he put forward, but the issue of black money is vital to every Indian. I also believe that the Swami had a personal agenda, but the issue of black money is bigger than the personal agenda of the swami. I am convinced that a vast majority of Indians support the swami on the issue of black money stashed abroad. Why then is the government reluctant? Does the government have something to hide?

The manner in which the government reacted to the peaceful protesters at the Ramlila grounds in Delhi is indeed a sad day for our democracy. I have heard Kapil Sibal say on occasions that the government is very powerful. Yes indeed it is - it derives its power from the Constitution of India, that we the people of India have given to ourselves. The power that the government has, flows to it from the ordinary citizens of India, through our Constitution. Kabil Sibal being a lawyer should be familiar with this. In case the people of India want an effective legislation to curb corruption then the government has no business not legislating it. Successive governments have failed to do any thing on this account. Now when there is simmering discontent among the people against this scourge, the government is still trying to drag its feet. Why?

The reason given out for the police action is that the assembly of people could have been targeted and something untoward would have happened. So true. Wasn't the government aware of this before the 03rd of June. Why were effective steps not taken in time to ensure that this congregation did not take place. It could have been prevented - there was enough time given for the government to react to the 'just' demands. Negotiations were done in an 'opaque' manner. This did not go down well with the people - both Baba Ramdev and the government representatives are to blame for this. The issue of corruption is important for the people of India, and should be tackled in a transparent manner. Private deals are not desirable on national issues - they always raise suspicion about the deals.

Lastly, the government is powerful because 116 crore Indians stand behind it, through their written Constitution. This government which is 'by the people', 'of the people' should work 'for the people'. In case the people of India feel that 'black money' is a big issue, and rightly so, then the government should take all necessary steps to ensure that this issue is resolved through a transparent legislative process, and in a time bound manner. It does not take very long for the government to bring in legislation that benefits the elected representatives. Why then is it taking so long to get effective legislation that curbs the disease of black money that hurts the country's economy and its citizens?

The actions of the government and its ministers  in the last few days reeks of arrogance, when I hear them talk on TV - the people of India deserve better, and specially on an issue that our political class has permitted to go totally out of hand.

I donot belong to any political party or ideology, but am convinced that our elected representatives, specially the ones in government, need to treat the ordinary citizens of India with due regard and respect, not only during election time but everytime. Lathi charge and tear gas on innocent peaceful sleeping Indians, including old, women, and children, and that too at midnight is a sign of weakness, and great arrogance.

I am reminded of the famous saying that says, "Power Corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Have we the people of India given absolute power to our elected representatives, in so much as that they do not even recognise us?

Jai Hind.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Ahmedabad really gets hot in summers - everyone waits for the first rain of the season to cool things off a bit. We had our first thundershower of the season yesterday. People enjoyed the rain - couldn't click that, but found these pigeons enjoying the puddle of water that the rains created in our apartment complex. They fluffed up their feathers, wriggled around in the puddle, all in a bid to let the water touch every little portion of their bodies - they really seemed to be excited doing this.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Times of India dated 28 May 2011 reported that 'Clinton gives Pakistan govt clean chit on Osama'. The following statement has been attributed to Hillary Clinton (Friday 27 May 11, while talking to reporters), during her recent visit to Pakistan.

"The US had absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest level of the Pakistani government knew the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden".

What a beautiful play of words this statement is - 'Who' and 'what' is the highest level of government - The President and the Prime Minister? Yes, they may not have known anything about it, and there may be no evidence to suggest that they knew any thing.

Does the Army chief and the ISI chief form part of the 'highest level'? I don't believe so, as per her statement.

'Absolutely no evidence' - The statement only talks of the highest level of government - it does not comment on at what level they have evidence of Pakistani establishment complicity.

Beautiful statement indeed to ensure that the US interests are followed through to their satisfaction - and rightly so - why should they care about Indian interests, unless of course these are common with theirs.

India should safeguard its own interests and not look to any other power to do it for them.

Peace in the sub continent is in India's interest. How do we achieve that without the help of our geographical neighbours? - we cannot change them, you see.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


India and Pakistan were both born on the midnight of 14/ 15th August, 1947 - carved out of one. They chose to travel different paths. Nearly 64 years later both are experiencing great turmoil, but the content and the context of the turmoil is different.

India is in turmoil - with its focus on itself; it is trying to strengthen its systems of governance so that its democracy can be made more transparent, vibrant, 'for the people' centric, while progressing economically so as to create a more equitable and just society, for all its citizens. The civil society in India is demanding more accountability from its elected representatives, and the elected representatives are getting this message 'loud and clear' through the ballot box. I find this turmoil to be a good sign - a sign that indicates that the people, and their elected representatives, are slowly realising that democracy is not only about 'of the people, by the people' but also has to be 'for the people'. In recent times we have seen the RTI functioning; we have also seen an active media that has led to a number of scams being unearthed; ministers in jail; Jan lok pal bill being enacted - these are all signs that change is in the air, and a change in the right direction - to ensure a better future for all of its citizens, for sure.

On the other hand, Pakistan is in turmoil while trying to foment trouble in Afghanistan, and in trying to bleed India through a thousand cuts, by nurturing a 'strategic asset' in the form of support for extremism and terrorism. What is not realised is that a terrorist is a terrorist, and would not eventually differentiate between nationalities. This fact is borne out by the latest audacious attack on the Karachi naval base; the terrorist outfits now turning their bag of tricks on their patrons. The leadership of Pakistan is still in denial mode, and is claiming to be 'victims of terror'. This is a statement of fact -  that Pakistan has become a victim of its own home grown terror, and Pakistan is reaping what it had sown, in the form of a strategic asset. The only way forward for Pakistan is to 'introspect' - no amount of outside advise/ criticism or actions would amount to any thing if Pakistan continues to be in denial mode. The whole world is holding the mirror to Pakistan, but to no avail, and would be of no consequence; Pakistan would have to look in to the mirror of its own accord for any change to begin.

A stable and democratic Pakistan would be in India's interest, as well as in Pakistan's interest, as also in the interest of the rest of the world. No individual, or nation from outside Pakistan can make the change happen in Pakistan - only the PAKISTANIS themselves can make that choice, and change. Use of force would be counter productive, knowing the Pakistani psyche, and would make the Pakistani nation more belligerent. On the other hand India's democracy, secularism and development should start to resonate in Pakistan, because the ordinary Pakistani citizen is also fed up of the mayhem that is happening there as a consequence of the power games that are being played by the 'powerful elite' of Pakistan.

India is not the greatest model country in the world, but a comparison between the two nations that share a common past, history, geography, and more importantly, a common starting point would help put things in perspective for any sensible person. I do believe that the ordinary Pakistanis are sensible people.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


The peahens are as drab, as the peacocks are beautiful when the mating season approaches. It starts sometime in the months of April/ May and lasts until the end of the monsoons approximately. After this the peacocks shed their feathers. During the last week we were witness to our first mating dance on a rooftop directly opposite our balcony. The backdrop were green neem trees. The peacock lifted its beautiful feathers and started the mating dance with the peahen watching initially with a lot of disinterest. The peacock persevered and continued to prance around rustling his feathers.........

The peahen gave him a sideways glance.......
 Found him hard to ignore........
 Turned around to fathom if he was sincere.......
 The peacock continued with his beatific performance........
 The peahen started to measure him up...........
 Right to left.........
 narrowing the distance between them, as she went along.........
 The peacock did a great jiggle with his behind.........
 and eased off to the corner of the roof.........
 the peahen relented.......two Mynah witnesses flew in....... and also a competitor.
 The purpose of the dance was not fulfilled due to competition, but we witnessed the most beautiful dance from our balcony - truely a celebration of life, and continuity.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Ahmedabad grows on you - it is a city of paradoxes - it is modern in terms of infrastructure - good roads; electricity 24 x 7 - we do not remember any power stoppage for more than 30 seconds in our over 10 months of stay here; water - thanks to the Narmada project; the malls are some of the finest in the country; the city is going to be the 7th metro of India; aspiring for world heritage city status AND yet it is very traditional - joint families are still the norm - every one goes to 'native place' to celebrate all festivals, and there are plenty of them - navratri is the most colourful and famous when the city wakes up at night; 'kite festival' is another event when the sky, the trees, the electric wires are full of kites; it is still a Gujarati 'kem chho' city, where other's are not unwelcome - most settle down here once they get here; people are friendly; street food is the in thing; gujjus love to eat out; women are safe here - one can see single ladies on scooters late at night too. 

Stray bird and animal population is the largest in this city - birds - pigeons, crows, peacocks, sparrows, doves, etc. are in abundance; cows, dogs - every animal is over fed by some one or the other - religion.

Heritage sites are worth visiting. This 'jaali' of the Sidi Saiyad mosque is a treat - the carvings in this single rock must have taken some patience, tools and expertise - this jaali is the inspiration for the IIM-A logo. This is the view from the rear outside of the mosque - the previous post had the front inside view.

 Chaotic Ahmedabad with the Bhadra fort area in the backdrop - Ahmedabad's traffic sense is very very dismal - we can have a traffic jam here with just four vehicles going in four different directions.

 Beam support wood work with exquisite carvings in the 'Kala (Black) Ram Mandir - a private residence with a temple open to public.
 The pillars in the Jama Masjid mosque built in the 15th century - a mosque where women were permitted during prayers on an elevated platform with a one way view through a stone jaali
 The view of the Swami Narayan temple - the first temple of the sect built in Kalupur, Ahmedabad.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


The famous Sidi Sayyad mosque at Ahmedabad

Intricate work on a single rock at the mosque

Celebrations on Drive-in Road after the world cup victory - the tricolour; the fireworks; the madness; the exhilaration; the traffic jams continued well into the night.

Stone jaalis at the Sidi Sayyad mosque

The world famous 'jaali' carved out of a single rock - famous in many ways, because of its intricate and very fine sculpting - this is also the logo of IIM-A.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Tom Blandi

Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.

Martin Luther King

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Gautam Buddha

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.

Rabindranath Tagore

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.

Emily Dickinson

They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse.

Jonathan Swift

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

Galileo Galilei

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

Dalai Lama XIV

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
Khalil Gibran

I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant

and kindness from the unkind.

I should not be ungrateful to those teachers.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


The season of colours is here - spring; when the spirits lift and start soaring like the birds, and mother nature shows us its many colours. I tried to capture some of them through my lens. I enjoyed doing it!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


An article in the Hindustan Times........ Reproduced without comment.


Hindustan Times Chandigarh, 23 – 02- 2011

L t G e n V I J AY O B E R O I ( R e t d )
(Former Vice Chief of the army)

[ LEARN FROM THE ARMY. Justice is prompt in the Indian Army; there is no shielding of a person on account of his rank or stature. It's time babus and politicians were put through similar scrutiny]

When Lt Gen Sahni, a three star general, is dismissed and awarded a prison sentence, one can conclude that the army does not baulk in punishing its defaulting personnel, irrespective of their seniority. It also calls for introspection by the society on larger issues.

Why is it that it is only in the Indian Army that justice is prompt; that there is no shielding of a person on account of his rank or stature; that meticulous care is taken in selecting the presiding officer and members of a court martial; that there is a higher authority that scrutinises the proceedings in great detail before the verdict of the court martial is finally confirmed; and why every chance is given to the accused to defend himself fully, including nominating an officer of the accused's choice as a defending officer?

Why does this not happen elsewhere in the country? I well remember the Tehelka exposé of 2001, when I was the vice army chief. Here was a case where professionally capable and highly regarded personnel of the army, some of flag rank, were inveigled into accepting baits, in what can only be described as entrapment, so that the media could make a point. Yet, instead of quibbling over the illegalities of this entrapment, the army moved swiftly to punish the concerned individuals.

What did the government do about political persons and bureaucrats similarly entrapped? The then defence minister was forced to resign, but continued to head the coalition; no action was taken against his party leader caught red-handed on camera or against any of the bureaucrats. The latter were instead promoted, with one additional secretary becoming a secretary and later a governor, perhaps to give him immunity from any future prosecution!

The military has the reputation of punishing any and all crimes that are found out or reported. It may be a lowly misdemeanour like filching something or a grave crime like murder, assault, espionage and the like, but punishment follows swiftly and inevitably. The reason is simple. The military would become ineffective and instead of being a disciplined force, it will turn into a rabble. Why does this not happen in our civil society? Why do the political leaders and the civil officials in the Centre and states dither and look for escape routes, delays and ultimately forget to prosecute?

It is unfortunate that in the last six decades of independence, the system of governance has so evolved that there is no accountability and consequently no punishment. Bureaucrats and police personnel are routinely suspended and then reinstated. Is this punishment or a farce? For political leaders, a similar action is known as resignation, which actually implies a sabbatical, for very soon they are not just reinstated but even promoted! In the case of a minuscule few, a nominal punishment is awarded after decades, thereby losing its entire impact.

The end result is more crimes, criminals not getting salutary punishment and the fear of the law disappearing.

It is the main reason for the extremely bad governance the common man rues everyday. In the long term it affects the vitality and security of the nation.

In terms of crime and punishment, our country can be divided into three categories. The first category consists of the well connected who are neither accountable nor punished for any crimes, either because of the position they occupy or because they are so filthy rich that money power white washes everything. The second category comprises the common citizen, who becomes a cog in the wheel in our overloaded judicial system and who can only hope to get his case finalised if he oils every Amar, Akbar and Anthony of our governance system.

The third category is the army, where no crime goes unpunished and where promptness and justice prevails. Why don't the others learn from the army?

A related point is that the media come down hammer and tongs whenever a few misguided army personnel commit offences, but always play down and seek justifications for powerful individuals like politicians, bureaucrats, police, judiciary, media barons and corporate honchos. There is no doubt that expectations from the army are extremely high, but is that the whole story? Many in the army have often speculated that behind such banner headlines, there is a concerted effort to show the army in a poor light by those vested interests who are practitioners of the well known Indian crab syndrome -pull down the best to their own gutter level!

The expectations of the public from the army are undoubtedly extremely high, but why are crimes by others condoned? It is nobody's case that the few army personnel who commit crimes should not be punished, but the law, procedures and accountability must be the same for everyone.

Is anyone listening?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Ahmedabad and its surroundings are full of heritage sites. Here are some of them - as seen through my lens. These include the Sun temple at Modhera (built in 1026 AD) - it is mind boggling to fathom what our ancestors knew about the planets and architecture. To read more about this fantastic site go to this link. 

 The following are pictures of the Sarkhej Roza - complex built in the 15th century

Adalaj ni vav (step well) was built in the 1498 AD, and is a well that is five stories below ground level. There are beautiful carvings and steps going down.
 These are images of some intricate carvings at the Hutheesing Jain temple. This is an image of an intricate, but damaged, carving at the Jumma Masjid built in the 15th century.