There may not be much in common between USA and India but there is one big thing in common which eclipses umpteen dissimilarities that separate the two. The big thing I have in mind is democracy and all the good things that go with it. Not long ago, in India too there were two party systems as they have in America (that is, the ‘Indian National Congress’ and the rest that existed here and there under various names).


In the US it continues to be so, but in India it has given way to a multi-party system, which will result in a coalition government in the center with the common minimum program. Whatever it may be, elections in both the countries are exciting and similar to some extent—similar in the sense that the rivals deviate from the main issue quite often and tarnish the image of the opponent.


Close on the heels of the US presidential election in November 2008, comes the Indian general election. As far as the people of the US are concerned their attention remain focused on the presidential candidates who emerge after a prolonged and agonizing see-saw games in the primaries. The importance of November 2008 election in the US lay in the possibility of a non-white or a female candidate making it to the top for the first time in the country’s long history. And as we all know, Mr. Obama made history. This was inspiration enough for some less known Indian leaders hailing from less privileged communities to set their eye on the Prime minister’s chair prompting them to be part of the third front.


As of now, things are getting murkier and murkier though every front claims it is in a position to capture power.

“Be like a winnow and not like a sieve”

Even if we are to go back in time by 4 or 5 centuries equipped with powers to witness how the people, in those days, were punished for minor offences, I don’t think we would witness anything similar to what a 17 year old girl in this Swat district in Pakistan underwent very recently.  She was flogged mercilessly with a cane 37 times!! The video clippings of this shocking incident was shown on TV screens and naturally the whole world would’ve had a glimpse of this brutal punishment imposed by this self-appointed moralists and not by the country’s court of law.


Such things happen in countries where religious fundamentalists have an upper hand. These people interpret their religions according to their taste ignoring the finer aspects of their religions. It is a dangerous trend and the world cannot remain passive spectators to such inhuman acts. There must be an international movement against these sadists but it has to be set in motion by the people of the affected country.


In this context it is worth quoting the following lines, “Be like a winnow and not like a sieve. Sieve allows all good stuff to pass through its pores while retaining the waste materials within. A winnow, on the other hand, retains only the good grain.”


Promises of freebies galore

With only a few days left for the general elections in India, the political parties, especially the smaller ones who have formed opportunistic alliances are vying with one another to attract the voters. While major parties are talking about various welfare measures, which promise long-term benefits for the people and the nation as a whole, the smaller parties are playing Twenty-20, which promises immediate but short-term benefits to the onlookers. They have a plethora of freebies up their sleeves; the prominent among them being the TV sets. If it works out it will be the easiest way of cornering the votes of innocent and illiterate voters who are not worried about the long-term benefits like compulsory education, loans for farmers and so on.

The pity is that they do believe that the amounts for these freebies come out of the pockets of these politicians and not from tax payer’s money (they push up the taxes substantially to make up the amount spent on freebies).

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”


By Thomas Gray


There are ever so many awards ranging from Nobel Prize to Oscar to identify talents all over the world and to honor them. Occasionally, a dark horse comes into limelight but still there are thousands of highly talented people in various fields whose abilities remain within the four walls of their houses. At times, these talents are nipped in the bud by their parents or teachers.


It is an undeniable but not widely accepted fact that talent knows no boundaries and that it is not the monopoly of the privileged people or those belonging to upper castes and communities. It exists as comfortably in slum dwellers as it does in the well to do people.


Whenever I come across slum areas I stop there for a while and take a look at their kids out of curiosity, and what I witness is an exhibition of talents. Some conduct mock interviews, some sing the latest film songs shaking their hips in style, some dance and some play cricket like champions…… But before long, circumstances will force them to follow the footsteps of their parents and their indefinite struggle for existence.

Is Davies’ Leisure relevant today?

“What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows……”


By William Henry Davies


Remember these lines? It was just a piece of lovely poem to me, but now its meaning and its worth are getting more and more clear to me as I watch this tension-ridden world. People are always in a hurry or tensed up most of the time, even if they are watching cricket, soccer or other sports and games. If only they spare sometime everyday to watch this sunset, the evening sky and the riot of colors, they would feel relieved and less tempted to take to the street at the drop of a hat. It was not for nothing that the almighty gifted these wonderful colors along with other wonders. The supreme-being is in fact expecting great things from human beings, and to enable them to discover all the wonders of this universe He has to keep them in good humor. So Ladies and Gentlemen, come out of your narrow world and be a part of these wonders so as to make your lives more meaningful.


If winter comes ……….

We hear a lot about global warming these days. The serious people are of the opinion that no stones should be left unturned to lessen the effects of global warming. The first step was to identify the reasons for the soaring temperature. Holes in the ozone layer caused by an overdose of smoke emitted into the sky from thousands of factories all around the world, deforestation and so on are the real culprits.


Common man is ignorant of and indifferent to these developments. So naturally those concerned have been stressing the need for awareness campaign all over the world, even as remedial measures are being initiated.


Anyway, we are at liberty to imagine that awareness campaigns are taking place all over the world, including several villages in India, and how people would have reacted to such campaigns. People in general would’ve expressed their fear and anxiety, but the reaction of the inquisitive children or poetic youngsters would be different. For example, an inquisitive boy would’ve heated the globe hoping that climate change would occur immediately and a student with a literary bent of mind would’ve uttered, “ ‘if winter comes can spring be far behind’ ought to be replaced with ‘if winter comes God knows what follows’ ”.

Shh….Election commissioner is watching!!

While the fear of a hung parliament in India after the 15th general elections and the consequent confusions loom large, people are already confused.  As the drama unfolds, our attention is diverted from the main show to comic interludes of friends becoming foes and the reverse of this phenomenon. An average voter takes a decision to vote for a particular party but he is in for a surprise the next day when that party becomes a part of another front. Apart from this, what irritates a voter is that he is kept in the dark about what is in store for him if these parties capture the power, because most of the time these leaders are either accusing or making fun of the opponents.


But we can’t blame them, for they have to be very cautious of their utterances for fear of the violation of the model code of conduct. So, my advice to them is to simply repeat “vote for my party, vote for my party” and proceed to the next venue.

In Search of Greener Pastures

Except on rainy days, I go out for a walk in the evenings, all alone. I avoid busy and noisy streets and as I move along roads that are not frequented by human beings and well protected by a battalion of plants and trees on either side, I listen to birds which are at times noisy and restive, flying from one tree to the other apparently in protest against something. I was under the impression that the birds are just capable of making some sounds which are music to our ears. But no, I have learnt their language. They are in fact discussing serious matters and mainly on human encroachments. When trees and plants are cut down by human beings to build houses, now that there is a construction boom, the birds have to leave their places in search of greener pastures, which are very rare these days and over crowded. So they seem to say “cant help, we want a shelter. The human beings are destroying our shelters mercilessly and systematically…”

No English, No Service!

The other day, a Sri Lankan born postal worker in UK hit the headlines when it was brought to light that he refused to serve customers who did not speak English (though he was hailed by many, there were wide-spread protests too against his attitude and he was sacked). His stand was that he was born and raised in a different country and his language was different but he “obeyed the British way of life” and expected the same from other immigrants as well.


He would have served his employer better had he put in some extra effort to learn a couple of other languages to help those customers who did not speak English.

US Approach to Indo-Pakistan Relationship


It seems the US has only a superficial knowledge about India and Pakistan or rather, their approach to various issues which affect their mutual relationship. It is a well known fact that the root cause of all problems is the fundamentalists and their militant organizations, which are not in favor of a smooth relationship between the two countries. Be it Mumbai attacks or the perennial Kashmir problem, these forces play a vital role. But Pakistan makes it appear that the presence of Indian army in the border is the cause for tension.


The US readily accepts the Pakistan version as it is and advises India to deescalate on the border to ease tension and to enable Pakistan to divert its army to meet the challenges caused by terrorists. As far as Kashmir is concerned it is an integral part of India and the problem comes only when the militants from across the border are allowed to infiltrate into Kashmir. The US has to understand these minute problems before they advise India.