Adieu to truth and non-violence

What is happening in Mahatma Gandhi’s India? He was an embodiment of truth and non-violence. Thousands of his followers stood by these principles before and after independence. But things began to change and truth became the first causalty. Now it is the turn of non-violence to quit the scene. The politicians make provocative speeches and their followers do the rest.

 

Now, on the eve of the general elections the air is thick with hate speeches. One says, “I will cut their hands”; another says, “I will crush him under the roller”; yet another talks about blood bath in……These are a few samples. The election commissioner’s hands are full with complaints, but the ones who make such speeches would come out with their ready made answer, “My speeches were doctored”. These are the ill effects of vote bank politics.

Sunset and the evening sky.

It was a glorious evening. I stopped walking; moved to the corner of the road and stood under a tree to watch the sunset. The huge red ball seemed to say bye-bye as it was slowly disappearing from our view. But the colors left behind by the setting sun were very much there. I thought I was alone, but a mischievous looking boy was returning from the nearby playground. He wished me with a smile and asked me, “Are you waiting for somebody?” “No just watching the sunset, it is beautiful”, I said. “But the sun is not setting, it is not rising either….”, he wondered. “I know that, everyone knows that”, I told him. “Then why do people say that sun is rising in the east and setting in the west”, he did not wait for me reply and moved on.

 

He was right. We all know it is not the sun which is moving, but our own earth and that too around the sun for billions and billions of years. The boy was right; it is high time we found an alternative word for sunset and sunrise. I racked my brain. Many words flashed across my mind, but no substitute for sunrise or sunset. Whatever may be the reality, sunrise and sunset are eternal, and let it be so forever.  

English serves the purpose

 Though colonization was a symbol of exploitation of the weaker countries, and it was a long struggle for such countries to liberate themselves from slavery, we cannot ignore a few valuable legacies left behind by the colonial powers, especially by the British; the notable among them being the English language which became an international vehicle of communication.

 

Apart from the British there were other European colonial powers, but their languages did not survive in countries colonized by them. Then, why English alone survived?

 

Not that French or other languages were less beautiful, but the purists saw to it that no foreign words crept into their languages, whereas English borrowed liberally from other languages and enriched itself. Ranging from rice, sugar, mango etc to pundit, guru, thug, mantra etc and scores of other Indian words found their way into English and became popular too.

 

Maybe colonization was a historic necessity. The now popular globalization would not have succeeded if there was no common language and rightly English serves that purpose. Of course, we have the English-English, Indian-English, American-English, Australian-English and so on but nevertheless English.

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.