Instant Heroes! 

Darwin must be smiling in his grave! His theory is proving right.  

Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin (born in the 19th century) and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.  

Lately, it seems that humans can achieve things much faster and at a very early age. I remember Nadia Comaneci attain great heights in gymnastics at the age of 14 by scoring ten on ten in an event in the Montreal Olympics. Sachin Tendulkar started to play top-level cricket at the age of 16 and went on breaking all the records in the world by playing till he was forty.  

But these examples show the physical evolution of humans. But lately, it seems that intellectual growth is also happening very fast. Or is it really happening? Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg have suddenly become the intellectual instant heroes of today’s time. At the ripe old fourteen and sixteen, these two girls appear to have become prime experts about girls’ education and environmental issues. Malala has reached the top as she was awarded Nobel prize at the ripe age of 17 along with India’s Kailash Satyarthi! I call them social media heroes. Kailashji has done his work for water conservation for more than 45 years.  

Malala started writing some blogs about girls education. According to me, it was an essay, at the age of eleven or twelve. She wrote it anonymously. I am sure it was a good essay commensurate with her age. She wrote it on BBC Urdu. The subject of the piece was her life under the Taliban Occupation of Swat in Pakistan. The following summer a New Yorkbased journalist made a documentary on her. She lost her anonymity. Sometime later, while going to school on a bus, Taliban shooters attacked her. A bullet hit her in the head. Pakistani authorities airlifted her to a hospital in Rawalpindi. She was stabilised there and was further taken to Birmingham, England. By god’s grace, she survived. My question is there are so many such attacks by the Taliban in Pakistan, why only Malala was airlifted to Rawalpindi. I am happy for her that she survived. Then a German newspaper took fancy for her story. In Pakistan, many such Malala’s and Yousuf’s get hit by terrorist bullets; some survive, and many of them die. But why did people took up fancy for the media and social media stories! Is it because we lack good news in today’s times?  

I have no issue whatsoever that she got the best of the treatment and survived. Many more such actions should be taken to save lives. The German newspaper called her the most well-known teenager in the world. Somehow she got permission to continue living in the UK. Some NGO took her cause and created Malala fund for Right to Education with the help of the organisationAt the age of sixteen, she coauthored a book, I am Malala. Well, we know the meaning of coauthoring. The NGO and the author use Malala’s name to make her famous and “intellectual”She was awarded Nobel prize in 2014. She was in the list of most influential people of the list of Time magazine for 2013/2014/2015. The Canadian government gave her honorary citizenship. Now living in the safe climate of the UK, she provides “advice” or gives her expert opinion on how things should be done in Pakistan. How is India wrong in applying changes in article 370 on Kashmir. It is good that the Indian government ignored her comments. Who is Malala to tell India what to do? Is Malala a real genius? Do you get the world view on serious matters because the Nobel prize committee thinks that you are a genius?  

Now take the case of Greta Thunberg from Sweden. She was born in the year 2003 and first understood about environmental issues in the year 2011. Well, well! At the age of 8 if you know such a complex problem as environmental issues, then you have to be a genius. Darwin is proven right again. For two years, she challenged her parents about the environmental footprint. A book recounting this story of this family was published in the year 2018. 

In late 2018, Thunberg began the school climate strikes and public speeches for which she has become an internationally recognised climate activist. Her father does not like her missing school but said, “We respect that she wants to make a stand. She can either sit at home and be unhappy, or protest, and be happy”. Thunberg says her teachers are divided in their views about her missing class to make her point. She says: “As people, they think what I am doing is good, but as teachers, they say I should stop.” In July 2019, Time magazine reported Thunberg was taking a “sabbatical year” from school, intending to travel in the Americas while meeting people from the climate movement.  

It looks as if no one else is doing any work on this subject. Thunberg gets an invitation to speak at a UN conference! She gets to lead an environmental protest march in Montreal, Canada where 50000 people took part in the march. Greta gets awards from Sweden, France, Germany. She is amongst the 100 most influential people in the world. December 2019, she is on Time magazine cover.  

I am all okay with this. Is the world looking for instant heroes? I am surprised that she is not yet been awarded the Nobel prize. Some organisations and individuals are doing a lot of work in this area. But awards are suddenly being given to a sixteen-year-olds! Darwin is again proven correct! Is it?  

She understands the subject, and she is an excellent speaker. But does that mean that she has contributed so much that the whole world is giving her awards! She is a sixteen-year-old with a lot of enthusiasm and good oratory! All the other people working in this area for a long time have not contributed anything, it seems.  

Very similar things are happening about CAA/NRC in India. How many people know about what is happening? Suddenly students from some universities have started protesting against the same. I am happy about protests, but I am not pleased about protesters who do not know the subject. They go by Facebook messages and WhatsApp messages. These social media messages travel fast. I am very confident that 95% of the students do not understand the subject. They start protesting with half-baked knowledge. It took me a few days of detailed study to understand these subjects. The students go by the herd mentality.  

Social media makes instant heroes out of the student’s protests these days. But I am of the firm opinion that Nadia, Sachin is rarity any field You may add Boris Baker to this list.

But Malala and Greta are creations of the media and social media. NGO’s and some author has used Malala’s name for their benefit! The same thing appears to be happening in the case of Greta! Darwin or no Darwin, I don’t think that children start to understand complex things from the age of eight, ten or eleven!

Please share your views on this subject with me!  

CAB, now called CAA! 

CAB-CAA today has a different meaning than the conventional definition. CAB means Citizenship Amendment Bill and CAA is Citizenship Amendment Act. Here is a disclaimer. I am neither a constitutional expert nor am I a Supreme Court lawyer. I am an ordinary citizen of India like crores of others. I have tried to write in a manner without writing about complexities (there are too many) because I am not an expert. I am also not an intellectual. People like Doctors, Engineers, Architects are not intellectuals. You have to be born intellectual and be educated at JNU, Oxford, Harvard in political science, finance, or at least history! Sometimes Geography is also okay!

CAB was passed in Rajya Sabha on the 11th December after Lok Sabha passed it on the previous day and became CAA the next day; it became law as the President signed the necessary documents. Citizenship, migration is the phenomena of the 20th Century. Before that period,  travel was tough, and a comparatively small number of adventurous people migrated and settled in different countries. The journey from one part of the country to another part was tough. Hence the laws and rules of migration and citizenship have been comparatively recent phenomena.

India was never a single country as we see it today. There were Rajas of various small and big states. I am not sure how people travelled in those days from place A to place B. Hyderabad was a big state under the Nizam. The procedure and documentation involved in going into Hyderabad from outside are not known to me. Was the visa required before independence? After the independence “India” was split into two nations. Bharat and Pakistan (West and East) were created based on religious majority. India had a Hindu majority, and Pakistan had a Muslim majority. Creation of Bangla Desh in 1971 created a significant flux in Eastern India. Many people from erstwhile East Pakistan moved to India and moved to West Bengal/Assam. These people were both Hindus and Muslims.

The partition in 1947 created the first sizeable Hindu nation of the world. The first principle of citizenship is if you are born in a country where your parents and grandparents were born, you automatically become a citizen of that country. The US is a nation formed by migrants. So even today, there is a law in the US that if a child is born on US soil, the child automatically gets US citizenship. They do not bother about the citizenship status of the mother. She can be alien too!

India applies a similar law of citizenship, and those who lived in India at the time of partition automatically became citizens of India. Those like me who were born just after partition also became a citizen of India by birth. This law applies to all the people of irrespective of their religion. India used the same law before and after the CAB bill came into existence. My point is that there is a significant discussion going on, that this bill is against the Muslims, is not correct. The bill has nothing to do with Muslims who are already citizens of India, like me. Such propaganda and discussion are incorrect. I have one question for the intellectuals. Do they know that Muslims in India are far better off than Dalits, Tribals in India? So why not talk about these people?

So why are different groups protesting the CAB bill? Political parties feel that it is an excellent vehicle to create confusion in the minds of the people and get some mileage to push the government politically. People forget that politics is a trapeze act in a circus. Accidents can happen easily if both sides do not follow the basic rules of the coalition. A classic example is Rahul Gandhi’s comment on Savarkar. Shive Sena has immediately retaliated on what he said. I am sure that it will lead to blood pressure and temperature rise in Maharashtra politics.

I have read many articles, treaties, and seen a couple of videos by experts. I have tried to explain the critical issue of CAA in plain English! Now at least I am clear what stakes are involved in CAA. I hope you also will get a fair idea of the same.

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Why there is a strong protest in Assam? Assamese feel that many Hindus who have “migrated” after the 1971 Bangla Desh war in Assam will become citizens of India. The act will reduce their opportunities in their state by making a large number of migrants Indian citizens. The map above shows the states for which CAA is not applicable. The blue states do not come under the purview of CAA, but it applies to Meghalaya, Assam, and Tripura. These states have a common border with Bangla Desh.

It is important to know what is ILP. ILP is an Inner Line Permit. This permit is required by tourists,s including all Indian citizens. At a time, it is given for seven days; later on, it can be extended if required. For those Indians seeking jobs in these states, it is given for one year at a time; it is also extendable like the tourist permit. The permit is used for keeping intact the special social and cultural fabric of these states. Now Meghalaya has also requested ILP. It will be decided in a meeting after Christmas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_Line_Permit

Why there is a strong protest in West Bengal? Mamta Banerji is a strong supporter of Muslims. She assuages the Muslim community at the cost of the Hindus. She has a fear that her vast vote bank of Muslims from Bangla Desh will not get citizenship under the CAA. They can be sent back to Bangla Desh.

Don’t miss this horror story of what Jyoti Basu’s West Bengal Government did with low caste migrants who came to India in large numbers before and after Bangala Desh War.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marichjhapi_incident

The concerned people have managed to keep it hidden as much as possible.

Why are protests continuing in Jamia Millia and other such institutes in Delhi? The main reason is that they do not understand the meaning of the act. Secondly, these institutions have been anti-government all the time. The moment they get an opportunity, they start protesting.

There are collateral damages when acts like CAA or action like Article 370 is taken. The first discussion on citizenship had begun in 1971, and it took some form in 1985. Somehow the governments after 1985 kept the status quo instead of acting on the same. The collateral damage of CAA will be the relationship with Bangla Desh. But in the first place, we must note than Bangla Desh never made any attempt to stop the illegal migration of Hindus and Muslims to India. Once India starts acting on this bill, India will send back many Muslims who had illegally entered. The reverse migration can be problematic for Bangla Desh. But is that India’s fault? Pakistan did not like Article 370 action. If they had lived peacefully, India might have maintained a status quo. But continuous terrorist attacks forced India to act in Kashmir. A strong nation needs to act even if others don’t like it. Recently the US sent back about 500 Indian people who were trying to enter the US illegally via Mexico. Did India protest? They were Indian citizens trying to perform illegal acts.

Opposition leaders and intellectuals are raising a question. They are asking why the government has chosen only three countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangla Desh. I feel that it is a matter of policy. Persecuted people are usually in the minority. These countries have Muslims in the majority. The Indian government is trying to help people in the minority. Muslims from these countries have a different route of seeking Indian citizenship. Adnan Sami, Taslima Nasreen, Dalai Lama are the prominent people who have been given Indian citizenship. Ruskin Bond has been living in India for 50 years. If Imran Khan decides on one fine day that he wants Citizenship of India, he can always apply. He will have to follow a standard procedure, and at the end of scrutiny, if he fits the bill, he will get Indian citizenship.

Opposition parties and intellectuals are raising a question of why Sri Lanka (Tamils), China (Uyghur), Myanmar (Rohingyas) and more are not included in the list. India is already giving shelter to Tamils. Rohingyas are coming via Bangla Desh since we don’t have a common border with them. So they have to go back. CAA is a relaxation in rules of giving citizenship and not against taking away citizenship. The government has made CAA to help minorities from these three countries (these countries have a majority Muslim population) who are persecuted. The persecuted majority from these countries can apply if they feel like taking Indian citizenship. The government will consider them under routine migration process.

By no means, this subject is over. Major genuine discontent is for Assamese people. I am sure that the Central Government will sit and talk with Assamese people and their leaders. They will come to an amicable solution with CAA as the guiding principle. Some tweaking may be needed. I am sure both the sides will show flexibility and reach a reasonable conclusion.

Perceptions and Grudges!

Perception is how something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. A grudge is a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury. Though these two words have different meanings, these are interlinked in our day to day lives. An event takes place; we meet someone. We meet people for work, or we also meet casually. We meet known people or unknown people.  

According to my understanding, the perception comes into play firstthen the grudge may be formed if any. The same event is looked at by people in different ways. If five people are discussing why sales are going down, there will be ten different views. But some people have particular perception of the situation and do not accept opinions from others.  

Perception is best described by the story of an Elephant and five blind men. Each man thinks and depictthe elephant differently because he cannot see the whole elephant. They describe the elephant depending on the part they have touched. But in this case, the men are blind and cannot see the entire elephant. But in life, we also look at many situations like blind men. We are not blind, but our perceptions create a tunnel vision in our mind. We look at situations through that tunnel vision. Tunnel vision can also be compared with a narrow mind. The term narrowminded has been created for such thought process 

Why doe this happen? Why people become narrowminded? Why are people not willing to be open? It depends on how you are brought up from childhood, what experiences you get during childhood, younger days and later. Is this a good trait? The effect of such thinking is what many times leads to situations that are difficult to handle and can become complicated 

The net effect of perception leads to grudges. That is how perceptions and grudges are hands in glove! Sometimes, in addition to this, the ego also gets added to this mix. That then becomes a deadly situation.  

Take the example of Kashmir. British had the whole Indian subcontinent under their rule for 150 years. When we got independence, they divided the subcontinent based on religion. India and Pakistan were created. But about Kashmir, both India and Pakistan had different perceptions which have led to 70 years of continuous conflict. Both sides think that Kashmir is rightfully theirs. Pakistan believes so because the majority population there is Muslim. But Kashmir Raja was Hindu, so he had agreed to join India. Rest as they say is history. 

Recently I came to know about the situation in a family. I know both the brother and the sister. We went to the sister’s home for chitchat. While chatting, I asked her how her brother was? She said that he was fine, with the usual routine problems in life. After some more discussion, she said, “While chatting, I remembered about our mother who died several years back.” She said, “When I was talking about our mother, my brother looked upset and suddenly said, you don’t even take her name in front of me again. I was taken aback and stopped the subject. I don’t know what had happened between the two. I don’t even remember any specific incident or clash between two of them. What grudge was formed by him against her, I don’t know.” It is a case of a family of all educated people. Outwardly I knew there was some friction, but it is prevalent between any two people. It is there between husband and wife, parents and children. Sometimes a sibling gets more support and love from parents, but there are reasons for it. Whether those reasons are right or wrong is a matter of perception. But this lady felt that it was unfortunate when she realised that her brother had a big grudge about their mother.  

Perceptions and grudges make things difficult for everybody. As we grow from childhood to adulthood, we meet and see many people. We form our opinions about them, sometimes without giving the benefit of the doubt to that person. A friend was a Chairman of a medium-sized company; his colleagues used to be afraid of him as he was a bit short-tempered. But inwardly he was a soft person. He always would ask his colleagues about their family, the children and small details about everything at their home. He was so helpful that when one of his senior managers was to go to Japan, for the first time, he made sure that he had enough winter clothing and business suits. The manager was a vegetarian, and the boss suggested to him the ways of getting the right vegetarian food. The outwardly strict person had a personality which could be compared with coconut, hard from outside and soft from within with sweet water inside — those who did not know him from close thought that he was a tough person. 

Grudges sometimes can be funny also. I joined COEP, Pune in 1967, and I got admission to the hostel. There used to be different food messes run by the students. There was a different type of food in each mess. Two were cosmopolitan, which served non-vegetarian food. Then there was one with typical Maharashtrian food, another one used to serve Maharashtrian spicy food and one used to serve Gujarati type of food. I wanted to join the mess which used to serve typical Maharashtrian food. The committee would interview the prospective candidates. The committee consisted of senior students. I was not admitted. Hence, I joined a cosmopolitan mess. During my third year, I had become senior enough and moved the Maharashtrian mess. During a chat with the committee, I asked them why I was not admitted in the first place. I was told, “You were from Bombay, and you wore a bold striped shirt for the interview. So, the majority of the committee thought that I was showing attitude!” That used to be the perception about us Bombay guys in the late 60s of the last century. I had observed that some of the students from Pune would not talk to us guys. We were supposed to be smart and a half! Later, some of them have become very dear life-long friends. It was just a matter of perception. Luckily, they did not let the perception to convert into a grudge!  

Now in my golden years, after travelling all over the world, meeting different professionals from various fields and different countries. I have understood that humans are the same everywhere. Perceptions and grudges are common traits in all human beings. Lucky ones like me did not come into contact with too many of this type! Unless of course, now some might think that I have become equivalent of Boston Brahmin! (By the way, I am a Pune Brahmin in real life)  🙂🙂

 

 

9th November!

Mr Modi spoke about the importance of 9th November in his brief speech to the nation! He said, “On the 9th of November, three important world events have taken place.” I was surprised because I was aware of the Ayodhya Supreme Court verdict, the opening of the Kartarpur corridor. The third event was the fall of the Berlin Wall – this happened in 1989.

These three are significant events in history. The court verdict and the public reactions show India as a developed society and democracy. The Kartarpur Corridor opening is about the thawing of the tense relations between India and Pakistan. Fall of Berlin Wall signified the significant change in the relationship between the Western World and the Soviet Union led Iron Curtain nations.

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The Kartarpur Corridor is a border corridor between Pakistan and India, connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Punjab, India) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib (in Punjab, Pakistan). The corridor is intended to allow religious devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometres (2.9 miles) from the Pakistan-India border, without a visa.

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The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Construction of the Wall was commenced by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) on 13 August 1961. The Wall cut off  West Berlin from surrounding East Germany, including East Berlin. The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state in East Germany. I am not going to discuss this point in detail because it is not relevant to what I am writing currently.

Ayodhya dispute is a well-known religious dispute in India, which started soon after India got independence. In the conflict, the Hindu’s claimed that Babri Masjid was built on the original place where Bhagwan Ram was born. For forty years, it continued and was always the flashpoint of hate speeches, claims, counterclaims, and sometimes riots. The issue was a point for the dispute in various elections. Hindutva parties would have rath yatras, which culminated into some fight or the other. All political parties used Ayodhya dispute as a strong point of argument leading to further tensions. All this culminated when Hindus finally merged at the Babri Masjid for sloganeering and show of strength. The situation went out of control, and the  Karsevaks came in large numbers and demolished the Babri Masjid in 1992.

After the demolition of the Masjid, there has been tension in Ayodhya and around all the time. Some groups would suddenly land in Ayodhya, creating tensions. Based on this subject, there would be discussions, claims/counter-claims in the other cities, which would lead to riots. Political parties shamelessly exploited the human sentiments causing division in the society based on religion.

Ultimately this dispute ended up in the Supreme court. After arguments, counter-arguments, proofs provided by the Archeological Society of India, Supreme Court decided to have the hearings for 40 days every day. Based on that, the decision was reached, which was declared on 9th November 2019.

I do not want to write about the fairness, the correctness of the Supreme Court justice, after all, the Supreme Court is the final authority to decide disputes considering the legal aspects based on evidence and proofs. The judges are luminaries, and that is how they have reached the top position in their field.

I am thoroughly and wholeheartedly impressed by the way the nation handled the most critical day of the judgment. The government of India and the state governments had made security arrangements in such a way that they would be able to handle the crisis if it arose. I am sure the officials must have discussed with leaders of political parties and general dignitaries in the society the importance of maintaining peace, whichever way the result went. People were advised not to celebrate overtly. The judgment was not a victory or defeat for someone or the other. It was the resolution of the long-standing dispute which was being handled by the highest authority in the country.

In the days of social media like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, it is simple to spread false stories and rumours. Police Authorities had sent the circulars warning people against spreading the wrong information and rumours. From what I read in the newspapers, a minuscule number of people were arrested for playing mischief.

I think it is a good sign for India; it indicates that we as a society are finally maturing. The absence of over-celebrating, not putting up the banners about the victory of community A over community B, shows that we, as a society, are learning to understand the importance of restraint! The Supreme Court judgment was the judgment of national significance, and it has brought out the sensible and humbling behaviour by society in general. Of course, there are extremists on both sides of the judgment, but they also have behaved sensibly because of maturity or because of the fear of action that the police might take.

Many times it has been observed that during important events or incidents happening in the country, it is the political parties who behave immaturely. When the government decided regarding Article 370 in Kashmir, some parties still made politics out of that act. The act was of national importance, Those opposing the action could say that action is correct, but it should have been handled differently. Suggesting different methods of handling the situation is one thing, but talking against such an important matter is incorrect. For such vital events, the whole nation should be together, forgetting their difference. Both these situations were almost equal to the war-like situation!

After Article 370 decision by India in Kashmir, the relationships between India and Pakistan have reached the nadir! Against Pakistan’s anti-India propaganda, the Indian government has shown maturity; the major nations in the world have been explained the situation, and most have supported India. But on the side, Pakistan had declared before 5th August that they would open a four km path connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Punjab, India) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib (in Punjab, Pakistan). Pakistan has finally shown some maturity and has kept up its promise. The path was opened to pilgrims on the 9th of November, the same day as Ayodhya’s judgment. Is it the indication of the thawing of the relationship between Pakistan and India? I hope so!

The nations and societies mature and progress over a period. It will happen only when the governments act maturely and responsibly. Taking a posture or giving immature reactions don’t resolve any issues. Pakistan has to accept the ground reality that most of the problems with India are due to terrorist camps that are allowed to flourish in Pakistan. If they take action against terrorists, most of the problems are solvable.

Let us hope that there will be many more 9th Novembers in the future which will resolve long pending issues between nations, political parties and society in general!

I thought you might like the link below. It’s about the Berlin Wall!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-50363404

 

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!  

 

 

 

Montreal musings, day to day life IV!

I had expected that day to day musings III would be my last of the musings in the series. But so many new things came up, and many of them were unexpected to me. Hence I am going ahead with this blog.  

I met one family yesterday evening in the garden where Rhea practices with her cycle and the couples son also practices. So Nikhil and Priya know the parents. We were introduced yesterday with them, and we chatted for some time. He asked me a question. He said, “Which is that small country between India and Iran, not Pakistan.” I said, “ I don’t know such a country.” Then he suddenly said, “Oh! It’s Kashmir!” I explained to him the whole situation briefly then he realised the issue. Incidentally, he is a Jewish person, and we know their views about certain people. He and his wife are both educated, but their knowledge about our part of the world is imperfect. They know about India’s progress in general as they meet a lot of smart Indians these days in Canada!  

I came to know one more information. Thanksgiving day is celebrated in the US and Canada on different days. In Canada, it will be celebrated this year on 14th October, and in the US it will be celebrated on 28th November. Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in Canada, the United StatesIt began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.  The concept is the same as we have in India, where we celebrate Onam, Lohri, Makar Sankranti, and so on. While checking on the net why these are celebrated on different days, there was a cryptic description on one Canadian site, “We don’t have to follow the US in everything.” 

Similarly, now shops are full of items for Halloween festival. 

Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of Hallows’ Even or Hallows’ Evening), is also known aAllhalloween. All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in several countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day.  

It begins the three-day observance of  Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.  

Halloween is celebrated by attending Halloween costume parties, trick or treating by children. The children go to every home in the neighbourhood and ask the question trick or treat? They are given chocolates, cookies and such treats. 

Carving pumpkins into the jack-o’-lanterns, lighting the bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, as well as watching horror films are some of the other activities. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.  

We have similar time in Hindus what we call Pitru Paksha when we remember the dead. But in our country, it is not a celebration but is considered inauspicious. No new investments are made during those two weeks. 

We get surprising experiences once in a while. Today Jaya and I went to a famous French Bakery in the central area of Montreal. While making payments, I was told that they do not accept credit cards; they take only debit cards and cash! Luckily we had some Canadian Dollars in my wallet at that moment. It was reasonably large establishment. While on the subject of payment retired people here too, like in the US, prefer to pay by cash and not by cards. Weather conditions change a lot during a week, but Jaya and I always find it cold. The main reason being, on sunny day, temperature could be around 10 Deg C, but in the shade, we feel cold because most of the times it is windy.  

Last week Jaya and I went out for lunch in an Iranian joint. We always try different foods. While trying to explain the dishes, the owner asked me, “Where are you from?” I said, “We are from India.” He straight away shifted to Hindi. He said that he had lived around Delhi for ten years. After that, he said, “Don’t worry, I will serve you excellent food which you will like.” Food was good. Then he also served us sweet Iranian Kolache!. It looked like biscuit but was stuffed with Dates and some other dry fruits. Some Iranian sweets look like Maharashtrian Diwali sweet Anarase. 

Another surprise was the restaurant was an Iranian addaBy the time we finished our food, about 15 Iranians had formed a group and were chatting and eating and having tea! In the background, TV was running an Iranian channelMy friend Veerendra told me that Canada has a large number of people from different nations, spread all over Canada, living peacefully.  

One pleasant surprise is the quality of vegetables. Priya was saying that these are generally produced in QuebecWater content in all this produce is on the higher side than what we get back in Pune. But Cauli Flower, Cabbage, Capsicum and all such vegetables are very tasty much better even than what we get in and around Delhi! Tastes of most of this stuff are much tastier than what I have generally tasted in the US! Of course, varieties are available in the US are amazing. The fad of organic food has not caught up in Canada; it seems. 

Because we are in Quebec, European culture is more prevalent. So are social norms! In our lane, neighbours are quite friendly with each other, and life, in general, appears to be less hectic! Since winters are harsh for longtime people, try to continue outside activities until the snowfall begins.   

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-10 at 19.37.18

One unique facility we saw which can be there only in rich countries. There is an area in the garden where people bring their dogs, and they can release the leash; dogs are allowed to do whatever they want except of course, poo poo! (It has to be cleaned by the owner!)

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One strange thing. I thought Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Starbucks are known by the same never all over the world. Their menus may change to suit the local pallet. But the above photo is of KFC whose Quebec name is PFK (Poulet Frit Kentucky). Even in France, it is known by the name KFC! Strange are the ways of this world!  Similarly, I am told that road signs in France say, “STOP” but in Quebec, they are written as “Arrêt”!

I could not resist displaying these two beauties!

Au revoir et faites attention jusqu'à notre prochaine réunion! 
Probably they say bye and take care till we meet again in France ! 

 

 

What did “Howdy Modi” achieve?

As you are aware that I am not much into political discussions. But to me “Howdy Modi” an event held on 22nd September 2019, at Houston, Texas was a game-changing event in the history of India. I am not bothered if Prime Minister Modi is from Party A or Party B. Till the end of the last century, India was that dirty country, under-developed, chaotic Place, and of snake charmers. We almost went into bankruptcy in 1992, till we were bailed out by a large loan against national gold reserves.

IT service industry was the first Indian show of technological prowess, well-proven by Y2K and India’s large English-speaking workforce. Rest as they say is history. Not everything is hunky-dory with us even today, but the significant change in our thinking and confidence of all us as a nation, is seen as a substantial change by the whole world. The change has not happened suddenly. There have been reasons as to why this is happening. People of my generation, those born just in 1947 or just after, were a docile lot as far anything foreign was concerned. But some of us were not as docile as they were thought to be. The change started with people like Sunil Gavaskar who looked international players eye to eye and would sledge back. Sachin Tendulkar was born in 1973, and his generation was even more confident; Sachin “screamed” with his bat. Today people of Kohli’s age create fear in the minds of players with their prowess, aggressive and polished behaviour when required.

Such changes started taking place slowly in every field. Finally, the real difference is observed in international diplomacy. In 50 s and 60 s of the last century, we were busy in NAM (non-aligned movement), the favourite baby of Nehru. It was frankly a group of nobody’s; they were neither on NATO side nor the Communist side. India had no identity, and we had forgotten the principle that it’s a power game in this world. But we had no power, including electricity; we were coming out of our problems post-independence and post-emergency. We were meek and weak, and our leadership reflected the status of the nation. We had the leaders we deserved.

During the last twenty-five years, India jumped the fast-growth groovy train. We managed good yearly growth of around 7 to 8 % for some time; even the current low rate of growth is still at about 5%! India managed to give the first non-coalition majority government in many years, and that helped the government to implement many schemes which supported the masses. India is also coming up with decisions that will help new businesses to come up and old companies to grow.

The complete change in the atmosphere was also helped by the strong leadership provided by Modi! Re-election of Modi in 2019 has further helped India to become more confident. We have a large diaspora living in various countries and doing well for themselves as well as for their adopted country. In the last few years, the Indian government provided simple procedures for NRI’s to acquire PAN card and now Aadhar card.

How is this helping India? With confidence, a person or a nation can take bold decisions, make bold statements. Others start taking you seriously and listen to what you say and do! After 5th August action on article 370, Rajnathsingh was asked about dialogue with Pakistan on Kashmir. He boldly declared, “We will have a discussion with Pakistan, but it will now be about Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) only.” External affairs minister answered similarly on the subject recently. He said, “ We are willing to discuss with Pakistan but not with Terroristan!” Except for the terror aspect, Pakistan is not even there on India’s Radar.

AnandMahindra1

Howdy Modi was a Bollywood style show where India managed to invite the President of the United States to share the stage with Mr Modi. Some people may call it showmanship; some may call it histrionics. Some liberals have already started comparing this event with Hitler’s Goebbels style propaganda before starting the second world war. The above picture shows Nazi rally in Madison square garden; such pictures and dialogues are already being circulated by “liberals” on the social media. The comparison shows the beauty of democracy. Your own countrymen and your enemies are allowed to show dissent. Dissent was seen outside the stadium in Houston.

What did Trump’s decision to give a speech and then be with the spectators in the first row indicate? It showed that the most influential country in the world and democracy to the core is now actively backing India.  Mind you, many people hate Trump, but he is no Hitler, neither is Modi! As typically happens in world diplomacy, Trump had a meeting and a press conference with Imran Khan, Pakistan PM,  the next day, in New York. In this conference, Trump said that Mr Modi is capable of solving the Kashmir problem.

AnandMahindra2

I am not going to display any pictures from Houston show, but Imran Khan press conference presents a vital facet of the situation. While Trump was talking about Kashmir, Imran Khan was seen counting prayer beads. These prayer beads are called Misabaha. Imran was either hoping that now only Allah can help him and Pakistan, or was it a show for Islamic World that he is the most devoted servant of Allah and the leader of the Muslim world. Is this the same Imran Khan, the playboy, the Casanova of 80s and 90s? I have purposely not reduced the size of the picture so that you can see the beads in Imran Khan’s hands!

 

AnandMahindra

I respect Anand Mahindra for his maturity, openness and sense of humour on Twitter. He has aptly expressed the feelings of all Indians in his Tweet above! If Anandaji says this, I am sure of many of us will believe in the effects of Howdy Modi event.

What next after all the showmanship is done? Next day in New York, there was a United Nations conference, Indian top brass met  top brass of more than 20 nations on the side of the meeting, mainly to discuss bilateral cooperation. Kashmir issue might have been discussed too! But India’s stance on Kashmir was boldly declared to the global audience from Houston meet.

Another important effect of Houston meet is that there were fifty thousand plus Americans of Indian origin present. They must have felt really proud to see their Bharat  projected in a very effective positive manner. The diaspora will become more confident and try to see how they can help push India’s interest forward. They now know that there is a robust system that is getting established in India under the current government. They see the effect of transparency by way schemes like Visa on arrival, Passport in seven days and so on. They are also observing the fate of corrupts and cheats irrespective of their social and political status. They know that the government means business.

In case if some of you are not aware of efficient ways systems are working, I will share two examples.

On the last day of filing Income Tax returns 31st August 2019, fifty lacs (5 million) returns were filed. In 24 hours we have 86400 seconds. It means on an average, 58 returns were being filed every second!

State Bank of India has a customer  base of more than population of many nations. Now they have started a new system for ATM withdrawals. Before leaving home, send a request for withdrawals (max Rs ten thousand per day) from an App. You will be sent an OTP (valid for 30 minutes). Go to any ATM, currently owned by SBI, punch your OTP, and you are done. Transaction time at ATM must have come down by 75%, is my rough judgement!

Jaihind!