Are you not proud of your nation?

tiranga3

As usual, let me make a disclaimer! I don’t care which party is ruling our country! Whatever I am writing in this blog is apolitical! We were under the British rule for 150 years before the independence we got on the 15th of August in 1947! Thanks to strong personalities like Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, we became India or Bharat as we are known in the world todayOur national wealth was looted by the British under the garb of collecting taxestaking away raw materialBritish presence (and their final going away) did a few good things for India. We became one nation, we had railways, we had an established all-India administrative and police services.  

In Nehru era Public Sector units, Irrigation got significant importance. Indira Gandhi broke Pakistan into two, thereby correcting the problem created by the British by at least 50%! Kashmir issue resolution opportunity was lost; it could have been achieved in the Shimla Agreement. Indian population showed great maturity in overcoming Emergency, the black patch on the Indian Democracy! Jayprakash Narayan led the movement though he was old by that time.  

Next twenty years were tumultuous, but India somehow overcame the same, though we did not have strong leadership. India’s jumping the IT bandwagon successfully started the financial growth processAlong with fast economic growth, crony capitalism and corruption at different levels increased at breakneck speedCheating the government with shell companies was at peak and was used for money laundering.  

All the governments did a lot of good things in their times and bad things too! Then came the Modi Government in 2014 and looks like it will run till 2024! They have had their ups and downs. They have also done some good things and some bad things. From this angle, it is not much different than the previous governments.  

Along with fast economic growth, crony capitalism and corruption at different levels increased at breakneck speedCheating the government with shell companies was at peak and was used for money laundering and diverting funds. These issues created a need for strong actions.

There are specific actions taken by this government which were never considered by any other government before. These were essential for a mature democracy and were generally discussed previously with a glass of Chivas Regal. Nobody ever thought that it was possible in India. 

Yesterday, I shared a certificate displayed below with my friends. The reactions to the certificate were varied! “I have already done it” was message sent by many. Some people sent me a congratulatory messageMy friend Shrikant appreciated this very strongly, and that is what led me to write this blog. 

Certificate ofCommitement

He wrote an elaborate message which I am sharing verbatim!  

“What did you do? Please elaborate?? Such certificates are sent by IT/Vigilance department of Govt of India, to persons having an impeccable track record of regular tax payments & no offences registered, in Govt data tracker! Just a law-abiding citizen. I am also told this is an initiative to motivate/thank taxpayers while furthering the stated objective of putting a high premium on honesty. I have received two such certificates already. Many others also must have! 👍😊 

An individual or an organisation can go to the website https://pledge.cvc.nic.in/ and take this pledge if one desires so. When I went to the site, it also shared information that 85,86,062 individuals and 123,138 organisation have taken this pledge. In the discussion  on our WhatsApp group, somebody said, “Why do you need a certificate?”  

Then a thought came to my mind. We always ask the question what has my nation done for me? But should we not be asking the questionwhat have I done for my nation? I feel that the British have, along with many things, ensured that our pride for our nation was killed. Even today some people say, “We don’t deserve to run our nation. The British should be brought back to run it.”  

The current government has taken many actions in international diplomacy, where people listen when India talks! Now, do we not feel proud of the nation? One major historical correction by India of removing article 370 provisions for Kashmir got allround support in the world. Except for Pakistan’s all-weather friend China, all major countries have supported India. China too is looking at Pakistan from strategic and commercial point of view. Let Pakistan default on repayment to China then it will be interesting to see what China does!  

From the beginning of the 21st centurythe concept of media changed drastically. We started having TV news Superstars” who considered themselves knowledgeable in everything. They started behaving as if they were Gods of media; all others were treated by them as mere mortals. Sycophancy was at its best during this phase. Corruption, both material and moral, reached its peak. There formed a group of people who had jumped the free jaunts bandwagon. They would travel with ministers and the Prime Minister. They ended up giving sermons to others — Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, et al. added to this list. You and I were immaterial. 

Now this government has started the initiative of pledging integrity to the nation. It is like saluting when Jan Gan Man is sung or keeping your hand on your heart! I felt proud to take the formal oath; I felt proud of my nation. All through my life, I have always tried to avoid paying bribes for personal work or business. Sometimes I failed as I was not the final authority to take that decision; I was an advisor to some companies. But in my software and furnacerelated business, I have never paid a single Rupee bribe.  

Some of my friends were cynic about this drive. India has had a poor record as far integrity is concerned. Sometimes, we say God Promise; similarly, here we are saying “Nation Promise”! Till date, not even one per cent of people have taken the pledge mainly because many may not be aware of this initiative. When we say God Promise, do we break the promise? The same logic can be and should be applied to your nation. Assume that even 5% of people take this pledge, will it not make any change in India? Will you beak your new version of “God Promise”?  

What have to say to the cynics? For those who tried to make fun of the certificate, I shared, I will say in the endI can understand the doubters because things have not been as they should have been, so they feel that people will take the pledge but keep on doing what they have been doing! We are always going to have Naysayers who are fashionably called Liberals! Liberals group was not very much against government stuff as they were getting their foreign jaunts and were able to run Nalanda Vidyapeeth-just to give an example.  

Government has started a new portal for a portal http://www.pgportal.gov.in/ The portal is used as  Centralised Public Grievance Redressal Monitoring system 

Such an initiative has never been tried before.  

External affairs ministry under Sushma Swaraj was helping individuals stuck in foreign countries due to some issues. Mr Modi makes it a point to spend a day during Diwali with soldiers on the borders.  

I am not at all saying that it is hunkydory on all fronts. In many areas, issues and problems continue. To run a nation as big and as diverse as India is not going to be easy. On top of that, the British had looted our wealth for 150 years and made us a developing countrywhere famines were a part of life initially. But the green revolution, white revolution (Milk and Sugar) have taken place. In many areas like infrastructure, India is progressing fast. Metros are being built in many large cities. Let’s not forget ISRO!  

To me, the definition of naysayers is a bit different, besides the conventional oneThese are the people who after having toilets at home, want to go to the fields because they feel manly. It is those people who routinely break many laws and rules of public life, like parking, wrong side driving. These are the people who behave rudely with service providers like waiters; they cut corners at every possible opportunity in public lifeThese are the people who follow every general rule just after taking a fivehour flight from Mumbai to Singapore!  

About the friend who made fun of my statement about the certificate should go and ask the Sahara Boss, DSK Boss, Unitech Boss and many other such socalled big people if things are funnyMallya and Neerav Modi are enjoying their new status as fugitives and are forced to take shield behind the slow legal process in Britain. I am sure they have very high social status in the British page, three people!  

Income tax department sends certificates to people who pay personal Income Tax above specific value and appreciates them for being honest and proud citizens.  

Government is trying to push honesty culture, and if people find it funny, they must laugh loudly! If someone finds that it is a joke that I am proud of being an Indian, so be it! Some people have queer sense of humour!  

 

 

 

Modern Slum!

I have lived in Pune and Mumbai for most of my life. No doubt these are some of the better cities to live in India. Mumbai with its financial clout and Pune with its educational and cultural diversity are places people look forward to settling down. People feel that those who want to work will always find a job in these two cities. With this change, cosmopolitanism has captured roots in a big way in these cities. This change is especially felt in Pune as it had more “closed’ culture compared to Bombay when I moved to Pune in late ’60 s of the last century. I can tell many stories on this subject, but that is a subject for another blog.

About ten-twelve years back we wanted to move to an independent home, but from long term view, we decided to buy a townhouse in a new colony. It is a lovely colony. We lived in that colony till end 2013. Some family circumstances came up, we locked this home and moved to another locality, this time in an eleven-story condominium, it’s a rented home. The other day we went to visit the old house. Now both Jaya and I are nearing the age of 70. Hence there is a discussion going on regarding our stay in future. The old townhouse is an option, we have other properties too!

Yesterday, we took a call not to move there. The colony is modern with beautiful gardens for each home, with every 4th or 6th home having an extensive garden. The colony is maintained well, except for the gym amenities like swimming pool, children’s play areas, shared gardens, community hall et al. grace the society. Now you may ask me why we took a decision not to move back there.

Yesterday, while on the way out I saw that there was a group of people, men and women discussing heatedly on the beautiful well lighted tennis court. I was sure it must have been a general discussion about the celebrations for the festivals coming up shortly. I thought it was an excellent opportunity to meet some of them, so I got down from the car and entered the tennis court. Some of the ladies looked as if they had just finished a game of tennis but were not dressed up for it. They were red in the face. As I was nearing the group most common word that I heard was “Shit” shouted mainly by females. I am writing a sentence shouted, verbatim, during the discussion. “What the hell do you think of yourself”? and so on!

I was surprised. In my times, I was the Chairman of the society committee for five years. There were differences of opinion, there were heated arguments, but mature ways kept things civil. There was no shouting, there were no Shit words, and in general, people showed respect to each other. The birth of the first formal society committee happened at that time and systems were yet to be established. So there used to be some tricky issues which needed cooperation and maturity. There were awkward situations like the removal of one of the members from admin responsibilities. This person used to put Geneset diesel in his car. He used to skim money in connivance with the builder. There was no formal committee in those days. But the operative word was dignity.

dignity1

But the level to which the shouting and slanging match was heard yesterday indicated something had seriously gone wrong with the fabric of the society. I know all the involved parties personally. They do have strong views but have always been fun-loving and polite individuals. I don’t live there any more, since the last five years. In those five years, I had expected people to have become more mature and dignified! But where had the dignity gone?

I am not sure what had gone wrong yesterday. I am sure it must have been simmering for some time. I have seen glimpses of these behaviours on the WhatsApp group. But I was quite sure that when people meet face to face, the exchange of views is generally soft. WhatsApp group exchange involved writing. The way people express themselves in writing sometimes feels harsh because of the writing style. But when you are face to face, this exchange is a combination of spoken words, intonation, facial expressions and body language. Yesterday’s discussion showed the worst of all these traits in both men and women.

Let me tell you a little about the background of the people in the colony in general. Many of them are double income families, and most are having 15 to 20 years experience in their field, mostly in IT. The average new car these folks would now buy will be in the region of about a million rupees. Resold homes in the colony cost 15 million rupees.

The subject for discussion was, as my one minute stay allowed me to understand was the use of assets, in this case, the tennis court. As usual, my grey cells started whirring, and I was trying to know (I was going to use word understand, but I felt that I would never guess what was happening.) why it was happening?

  • Was it due to wealth?
  • Was it the senior positions they have achieved their respective jobs?
  • Was it due to a shortage of assets? There are 121 townhouses, and if we consider average one child per home, now there are 121 children of different ages. Some families would need a play area for kids, some would require a swimming pool and some would need a tennis court. The tennis court is the only large open area for parties, tennis, cricket, football and what have you. Even if only 30 children need to use the arena, it is going to be tricky. Then there are groups of young professionals around 25/26 years of age. These folks also need this area to play outdoors during weekends. On some Sundays, parents also play Cricket matches or Football matches. There is a significant shortfall of assets like open spaces.
  • In society, all are from the higher middle class with good income. Is it possible that some people can not handle the rapid increase in salary?

But does it mean that shouting match (or was it slanging match) is justified? During the evenings with a glass of Chivas Regal, we all curse the politicians for their crass behaviour. How would this shouting match (in front of kids) be explained? The so-called blamed person was very dignified, and his demeanour was very graceful against the rude behaviour of the ladies. I don’t know what happened later in the evening.

Where does one go from here? Can society tell the members not to behave obnoxiously? Does society have powers with them to handle personal behaviour? I don’t think so. Women’s rights organisations would have been shocked to see the response of the so-called highly educated and sophisticated ladies. Unfortunately, ladies have joined the bandwagon of rudeness in MeToo days!

I don’t want to move back to this high-end slum again!

Sanjay Dutt! An Enigma!

This is the dream sequence song from 1951 movie Awara, picturized on Sanjay Dutt’s mother Nargis; it’s a real dream song to the core. On the other side, the life of Sanjay Dutt is a nightmare.

Normally, I would not have written anything about Sanjay Dutt. He is just one of the many film actors, and he is still alive so there is not going to be an obituary. But then why am I writing about him? Recently a biopic, Sanju, was released on life of Sanjay Dutt! I thought that biopics are films which tell us the true story about the person, warts and all! Ranbir Kapoor has played the role of Dutt. Reports say that he has acted quite well and has picked up the mannerism of Dutt correctly.

When any movie is produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani combine, it is expected to reach certain standards as proven by Munnabhai MBBS and Three Idiots. Business wise, Sanju has done exceedingly well. It has joined the so called 200 crore club, already! It has excellent performance by Vicky Kaushal, as Dutt’s friend in the movie; it is felt as if the role was written keeping Vicky in mind.

Movies are part of our modern lives and it is an industry where hundreds of crores are spent, earned and lost. In this industry, hundreds are working and taking roles in real life of top actors to sweepers at the studios. For every successful artist or a technician there must be tens or hundreds who never made it. We only see the glamour part of it but we never know the tough times they go through. Successful people of the yester year, were equally crazy about this profession and have mortgaged their homes to produce the movies.

Till the end of last century, movies were more about dreams  of individuals and stories were also dreamy and mostly were not real-life stories. In the current century, the near real-life stories have been used to produce movies. So, when I started reading about Sanju, and that the combine of Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani are producing it, I was looking for an epic. Epic it is, but it is in showing lack of guts! Sanjay Dutt is one spoilt human, who had everything going for him. Illustrious parents, who both became Members of Parliament Sunil Dutt and Nargis. When Nargis died at the age of 51, to cancer, Sanjay was 22 years, not a baby or of tender age by any means. Both the parents were known for their love for the nation and were known as good humans.

Dutt

I will not bother about the correct dates and chronological order of the events that took place in Dutt’s life. My question is why the producers did not have the guts to show warts? The meaning of Biopic is a biographical film! When you decide to make a film on a controversial subject like Dutt, is it right to hide the ugly parts from his life? Is it right to blame the media for portraying Dutt as a terrorist? As if Dutt was a real saint! Is it right to hide inconvenient parts from his life?

The film lacks the risqué in its telling. It’s too safe and apologetic in its tone. Movie claims that Dutt was wrong; sure, but most of it is a figment of imagination, concocted largely by the media, harps the movie time and again. Unsubstantiated newspaper reports claimed that  he had RDX at his house, which resulted in him being branded as a terrorist. So, in Dutt’s life, the villain is Media according to a biopic endorsed by him. Was AK 47 captured in his home a figment of imagination?

The film also hides his first wife, Richa Sharma, their daughter by marriage Trishala! What was the need to hide these things? His affairs with many top actresses are also not mentioned. Okay, a film can have only certain length but so many important aspects of his life should not have been pushed under the carpet.

As a human, I am not sure how to rate him. Years back when Jaya and I were traveling back from Delhi, he came to the same restaurant as we were in, at Delhi airport. As film buffs, we did manage to take a photo of Jaya with Sanjay! Even then, he did not show any warmth, or a smile. Maybe he was tired at the end of the day! But it is their job to show, even if falsely, that they are happy all the time, in public! They are celebrities after all! That is the price they have to pay as celebrities.

The popularity of the film Sanju is way up there! It has done big business. Why did this happen? I think when people go to watch any movie they do not bother about what I have discussed here. They don’t care about truth or hiding of the truth! They don’t bother that this person had at least some hand, maybe indirectly, in Mumbai bomb blasts. Why did he think that it is appropriate to have AK47 at home? To save his sisters from rape? The family honour? General people don’t care about all these points. That he made hundreds of calls to people who were known terrorists and were directly involved in bomb blasts, is simply immaterial to the general public, when they go to see a movie! They probably want to forget about the real-life stresses, to go into a dream sequence. After all it was Dutt’s mother Nargis who gave us a treat of the great dream sequence song “Ghar Aya Mera Pardesi”. People simply don’t bother! I have written about two actors who died in the recent past. Shashi Kapoor and Sridevi. The title of my blog about Shashi Kapoor was “ Shashi Kapoor-The British Punjabi”.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/shashi-kapoor-the-british-punjabi/

This guy, Dutt, has similarities about being a Punjabi and being in movies. But that is where the similarities end! Shashi Kapoor was a thorough gentleman and a good human being. Dutt had advantage of starting at even higher station in life than Kapoor, but he has messed it up, starting with drug abuse and getting involved with terrorists! For not being honest to their craft, Rajukumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopda come down two notches, as far as I am concerned!

About paying public, they care two hoots about morality and truth! As long as they like what they see, they don’t care! They come to see the dreams! It is for us, the so called intellectuals, to discuss threadbare Dutt’s life, maybe over a glass of Chivas Regal!