Monday, December 27, 2010

Go lush green…Go Mahabaleshwar

Go Mahabaleshwar
 
I’m just back after my short trip to lush green Mahabaleshwar and all that I want to do right now is to share the stuff I did while I was on this vast green plateau (of about 150 sq. kms) on which you can guarantee yourself bouts of clean and non-polluted oxygen 24x7, 365 days a year. This was not the first time I visited Mahabaleshwar…but perhaps I made merrier this time because the timing seemed just right. I must say, that visiting this heavenly hill station in the winters is more rewarding that any other season of the year. 

Feels like heaven
Our tour from Mumbai towards Mahabaleshwar enroute Pune started on a dark cold Wednesday night via road. The journey was smooth but the cold hilly dark weather almost sent shivers down my spine leaving my set of 32 teeth trembling. It was chill chill really chill with temperatures touching 3-4C in the night and about 8-10 C in daylight. We almost fell in love with the hot sun during those cold days in Mahabaleshwar, so much so that we constantly remained on the lookout to sunbathe.

Mahabaleshwar which is rightly nicknamed the "Queen of the hills" is situated in Satara district in Maharashtra (India) which is about 220kms from Mumbai. Ghats, dense forests, forts, and lush green valleys are some of the main highlights of this place. Driving down the long winding narrow roads of Mahabaleshwar while listening to some Sufi and soulful music can give anyone an eternal blissful feeling.

Strawberry garden
“And there goes another strawberry garden”
It is just impossible to drive and walk around Mahabaleshwar without noticing a strawberry garden after every 1km stretch. They say that ‘all good things come in small packages’…How true! Must say that the small dwarf-like strawberry plant which presents the most expensive and deliciously irresistible fruit simply reinforces on this point. Nonetheless, the most tempting thing to notice while strolling in the markets are walking and talking men carrying mushy red strawberries in two baskets balanced across their shoulders (see picture). Besides strawberries…fruits like raspberries, goose berries, mulberries and vegetables like red potatoes, french beans, beets, salad, carrots, radishes are found in large numbers.

More places that you can't resist
Another spot that just shouldn't go amiss is 'Pratapgad', which is a strong hill fort built by Maratha King Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1656-1658 AD. I remember studying about this hill fort and the battles that our royal king (Shivaji Maharaj) won not by the strength of his troop or muscle power but more by his cut throat mind games and guerilla tactics.

At Pratapgad, I met this fierce, brilliant and stanch Shivaji Maharaj follower Mr. Chandrakanth Patil, our guide who ran through the historical events of the fort for our group of 7 persons who relived their school days of 4th grade. In grade four, when I studied about this fort, I must confess that I never really understood anything. Only wish I had Mr. Patil as my history teacher then, I would have never claimed history to be my weak subject today.
  
Our guide at Pratapgad (2nd from right)
 Besides the Pratapgad fort, boating in Koyna lake (in Mini Kashmir) and the N-number of sunset and sunrise points are a few sites you just can’t miss. Even the five table tops in Panchgani, which are suppose to be the largest table hill tops in whole of Asia, is something that is worth taking a look at.

 
Pratapgad
“Aye Khuda Mujhko bata, Tu Rehta Kahan Kya Tera pata, Hum to yahan pe Musafir hai, Jo Dhundhe Apni Manzil ka Pata,” is the song we played umpteen number of times whilst driving down those long winding uphill and downhill roads of Mahabaleshwar. I think God lived there!

With this beautiful Sufi song track, let me thank you for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

At the blow of a whistle

Many things happen at the blow of a whistle. The policeman brings traffic at a halt, military personnel are warned of infiltration, motormen are able to communicate with each other, and boys signal their girlfriends...all this achieved at a simple blow of this small piece of instrument which produces sound from a stream of forced air, which we famously call a 'Whistle'.

Well, this loud-mouthed whistle has varied and pretty interesting roles to play…Isn’t it! Even more, when recently whistleblowers have come out to blow the whistle upon the diplomatic world to expose the not-so-good deeds of dishonestly and unfair practices by global governance.

Changing the course of diplomacy
Yes, you are right; I am precisely referring to the leaks from the secret Wikileaks website that has been making headlines since the past two weeks. Fearlessly exposing the vicious policies made by diplomats, the 39yr old Dean of Wikileaks, Mr. Julian Assange is causing a stir across the globe. Personally, I like the style in which Julian kicks off leaked confidential documents on this secret Wikileaks website. Even this time, before he published some serious internal diplomatic cables, he gave his website customers a teaser by releasing information about how US nicknames global leaders, like the Iranian President is referred as "Hitler"; French President Nikolas Sarkozy as “an emperor without clothes”; Afghani President called a "weak personality" who was "driven by paranoia". I’m sure this guy must be wittingly humorous!

Subsequently, Wikileaks published some explosive secret diplomatic documents that not only left the common man speculating, but has also left the global governance shaken and stirred.

Being politically right always
It is well received and accepted when diplomats are being diplomatic! But then today, most from the corporate world, the fourth estate, and a layman like you and me are also learning and implementing the art of being diplomatic in our day-to-day living. We are busy being tactful, discreet, cautious, and selfish in all our dealings with the world, whether it is with our colleagues, our managers, media, or for that matter even our family and friends.

So then, why do we do, what we do? Why do we keep quiet and act ignorant, when we observe and witness swindles and unethical behavior & practices happening in front of our eyes. Why do we snub people at less powerful positions and exploit them to the fullest to accomplish our personal goals. Is it because we want to become Mr. Popular in our circles or is it to simply earn quick promotions to the top.

Like my good old friend always said that “to increase your knowledge, you got to share it”. Well said…isn’t it! But then, does that really happen in today’s world? Commonly, we see the so called Mr. Popular bragging about his essentially ‘bankrupt knowledge and expertise’, skyrocketing his way to the top. While the ‘humble but intelligent’ Mr. Unpopular scores no points because he can’t yap and sing his own praises like Mr. Popular. So you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours seems to be the new way of life!

Whistleblower rights
Every time a whistleblower speaks out…he is murdered or falsely put behind bars or sacked from his job for being vocal and upfront. For instance, if the diplomatic and corporate world believes and is convinced that Wikileaks is publishing inaccurate and forged documents on its secret website, there is no need for anyone to break out in a sweat. This kind of fiery situation can simply be seized by discussing with the whistleblower face-to-face…at the same time bringing in global transparency as the dialogue is unfolded.

A plumber is certainly required to fix this leaking tap from which secret information about dishonest diplomatic agendas is made public. But then, in this case, it is not the whistleblower who should face the wrought of the spanner…but it is the diplomatic world that should face it and take corrective and preventive actions to live in harmony.

Global corporations have a full-fledge highly competitive and resourceful customer care centre to handle customer feedbacks and concerns. So why not also encourage incorporation of a ‘whistleblower hotline’ and ‘protection of whistleblower policy’ as part of the corporate and governing strategy. One such unique Japanese company called ‘OMRAN’ has built-in the hotline and the whistleblower protection policy encouraging its employees, its customers, and the public to be honest and upfront. Take a look at this company’s fantastic and elaborate CSR report at (see page 215 for whistleblower rights) http://www.omron.com/corporate/csr/pdf_inquiry/pdf/omron_csr_report_e.pdf..

Indeed, it is time for global corporations and diplomats to accept whistleblowers as disgruntled stakeholders who in their little way want to make this world a better place to live in for you, for me and for the entire human race. And, we need to stop considering whistleblowers as activists who are determined to spoil relationships and peace…because there is more to what actually meets the eye.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Santa Claus is coming to town...

♫♫♫Oh! You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I'm telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town! ♫♫♫


Okay, let me quickly clarify, this is no music class lessons that I’m taking you through, neither have I lost my marbles to believe that Santa Claus has preponed his visit to India during the current festival season of Diwali. This is the song that India is singing along, as they welcome the most powerful (gentle)man of the world, Mr. Barack Obama during the auspicious season of Diwali. Well indeed, India is celebrating the festival of lights, “Diwali”, and people all over the world especially people in India are making the most of this festival season by sharing and spreading happiness all around, savouring home-made delicacies, burning oil lamps, and lighting up the sky with fireworks during Diwali.

Ho ho ho...says Mr. President
Coming to celebrate Diwali with the people of India is the supposed apostle of change, Mr. Barack Obama, who gets air-dropped in Mumbai today in his mean machine, the Air Force One, promising India a bag of goodies in the form of a permanent seat at the UNSC, and a string of high-pitched strategic and business relations resulting in creating jobs and increased sale of goods for both India and America.

However, the President of the most powerful country of the world that India had invited is no longer as powerful as he used to be before the recent mid-term elections in the USA. No doubt, he still is the President of the United States of America and that he occupies the White House...but, after being betrayed by his ardent disciples, Obama no longer enjoys the supremacy over the legislative. Justifiably, Obama’s followers-of-change have lost their faith in their shepherd and no longer believe in his change mantra of “Yes We Can”, which promised to change the lives of Americans.

In the bargain, Mumbai gets a Botox
The people of America have gone rogue and by voting the Republicans over the Democrats, Obama can feel the force of the Hurricane hit him so hard that his motivation of visiting India and the who’s-who of the business and the political world undoubtedly will lose its fizz. Coming to think of it, Mr. President will have to obtain permissions for every decision – small or big – that he makes, before he goes ahead implementing it. So, isn’t Obama’s trip to India more of a jolly good adventurous holiday rather than a serious strategic tie-up engagement?

Well, looking at the glass that is half-full, Mumbai has benefited in a big way with Obama’s visit. Civilians in this part of the country have been screaming and complaining for years about potholes on the road, unhygienic conditions, uncut trees, bad traffic management, corruption, etc., but these complains were never actioned upon. However, the upcoming arrival of Obama has kept the city administration (who never worked all their lives) so busy that they are leaving no stone unturned to welcome a foreigner to this city. Only if they had the same concern for the people of this city, life would be different!

But Mumbai has no complains and the people in fact would like to welcome Obama every year...because in the bargain, our streets & walls get polished and sanitized, our traffic gets managed better, the security beefs up, our trees get pruned, all in all the city gets a facelift. All thanks to Obama, we now believe that if given a chance our city administration, The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), can actually work and can be effective if need be. Obama has brought a change in the perception of the people of Mumbai, emphasizing that BMC can make a difference...Yes we Can!

Should we blame him for all?
“Change” is what the Democrats promised the American people since they came in power on Jan 2009. However, since there was no positive change seen, the very same people who elected Obama badmouthed him calling him names, eventually throwing him out of total control in the recent mid-term elections. This showcases that America has a strong democracy and if need be...the civilians of the nation can make a powerful man powerless.

But the question to ask ourselves is that, “Is Obama and his administration responsible for all the rot in America”. Obama took charge of America when the global recession had already hit this planet. He took charge when the Iraq war was already in the sixth year since American invasion in Iraq in 2003. He took charge when unemployment and the growth rates were already dipping. Very clearly indicating that, Obama has inherited most of the problems from his predecessors.

Nevertheless, the man who once was hit by the mighty shoe, Mr. George Bush, admits in his new book called “Decision Point”, that as the President of the USA, he had made errors involving the Iraq war. He admits that he felt like a captain of a sinking ship towards the end of his presidency when dealing with recession. So, do we blame and point fingers at Obama or do we need to give his administration some more time to turnaround a sticky situation. Because eventually, America and the world, do not have an option of doing business with any other planet other than the recession-hit-planet Earth which is currently weathering a stormy weather.

The people of India are waiting to unwrap the gifts that Obama has brought for India and are hoping that this partnership together, will benefit both India’s and America’s economic condition.

Post-script:
Today, in the next hour from now, Obama would make his first speech at the Taj in memory of the 26/11 victims. And when Obama speaks, the world listens. Undoubtedly, if Obama is not one of the best Presidents that America has...he is one of the best orators that the world has ever seen and heard. And I personally am keen to know, whether he has inherited this talent as a genetic gift or has he studied the art of powerfully communicating in simple words and creating that much-needed impact on his listeners.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

CWG 2010: From jeers to cheers

The Common Wealth Games (CWG) 2010 shockingly started off on a downbeat mood, not feeling like the largest international, multi-sport event that New Delhi, India was hosting, but rather it felt more like a sham that the Indian Crime Investigation Department (CID) was busy unearthing, to hang the culprits trapped in the string of frauds exposed during the preparations of the games.

Shut-up Mr. Suresh Kalmadi
Suresh Kalmadi, who supposedly is the face of all scandals exposed at the CWG, may be walking around with a sullen face today, weeping over his misdeeds and maybe even hoping to use his political clout to emerge out unscathed from the several shams that he instigated and was party to. But, we need to remind our government servants that the law is equal for all, and come what may no one will be spared.

I don’t seem to understand why this fraudster called Mr. Kalmadi, was even given the privilege to deliver a speech in the opening and closing ceremonies of the C’Wealth Games. That’s besides the fact that, the smart common man like you and me stylishly booed him all through his speech asking him to shoo, or else face the humiliation in front of the whole world. This Satan of CWG, Mr. Suresh Kalmadi needs to be grateful that his crime is exposed in a democratic country like India, where even a lone terrorists like Ajmal Kasab (of 26/11 Mumbai attacks) was put through rigorous judiciary proceedings, before declaring the capital punishment upon him. Had this been a communist / autocratic country...he would either be beheaded or stoned to death.

Now, did you know that Suresh Kalmadi served as a pilot in the Indian Air Force during the period 1965-1971....Shocking naah? I wonder who on earth recruited him as a pilot in the first place! I cannot imagine this wrench sitting in the aircraft cockpit, shooting down enemies whilst risking his life to safeguard the nation and its people. I can rather imagine him as a flight attendant, serving people some food & soft drinks while intermittently requesting them to tighten their seat belts.

Well, all’s well that ends well
After various reports about the scams, bad infrastructure, and cleanliness and hygiene issues exposed during the preparations of the CWG, the government wisely recruited the Indian army to take charge of the situation...and precisely, came out victorious. I pity our young boys and girls in the Indian Army, who although are functionally responsible to secure the nation from infiltration across the borders...now seem to also shoulder the responsibility to safeguard the pride of the nation and ward her off from disgrace and humiliation.

Well, with the spectacular success of the Common Wealth Games, India showed off her organisational skills by demonstrating that if given a chance, the nation can showcase not only its hospitability but also can boast its technical capability for spinning out a mega world class sports event.

The games became bigger for India when Indian athletes gave tough competition to sportsman/woman participating from 71 different nations, eventually winning the 2nd place with 38 gold, 27 silver and 30 bronze medals. Without doubt, Australian athletes played like superheroes fittingly winning the first place at the CWG 2010.

The question everybody is asking India is whether she is ready to host a larger international sports event like the Olympics? I earnestly think that India is ready to do so, provided she keeps corruption under check and she refuses to sacrifice her prestige over everything else. More importantly, the lofty money earned by hosting such big events should be used for the welfare of the underprivileged people of this country who in no way benefit whether India host or do not host events. Time to get people-centric...Isn’t it?

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A wicked pink slip

On a regular brighter Friday morning, everybody walks inside office rollicking and rolling towards their cubicle, looking forward to a great day at work and more importantly, the weekend which is staring and smiling back at them. The feeling on a regular Friday of the week is admittedly radically different from any other working day and it indeed is the day everybody longs for. This undeniably is my ideal Friday.

But again, what if, on that very grand Friday evening, at about four past forty-five minutes, a letter is placed on your desk which rattles off details of how you have been a burden to the organization after over 10yrs of service, and getting even more humiliating…the letter orders you to leave and vacate the premises at the very spur of the moment.

Feels like a slap on the face
After running your eye balls through the violent and ruthless letter addressed to you, you almost go out of breath…desperately throwing your hands to grab the air pump to calm those tensed and strayed bronchioles inside your lungs. You then gather your nerves and wits together, and like a true Gandhian you non-violently walk out of the office, bidding goodbye to the company which is so dear to you.

Well, this is exactly what happened to a person I know…and putting myself in that person’s shoes, I can imagine the disgraced and the revengeful feeling that life takes you through at that point in time.

Different situations demand different actions
Today most organizations are grieving bad weather conditions due to global recession which has hit this planet big time. Only if we could do business with another planet…things would breakeven. But then, since we do not have that choice, corporations follow the retrenchment route towards reducing cost.

Well, then there are those organizations which face theft, fraud or dishonesty committed by their employees. Corporations then get busy taking disciplinary actions against such cunning and devious minds. Reminds me of Mr. Ramlinga Raju, founder of the once prestigious company, Satyam Computers, who siphoned off 40.8 million dollars raised by the company.

Then there are those set of people who are mere non-performers belonging to the lower strata of the organization tree. These are vulnerable employees that organizations use as scapegoats to fulfill their profit aspirations.

The person who is mentioned in my real story is someone who belonged to the low-cadre, who indeed fell victim to the gory acts of the management. In fact, the organization ripped off her fundamental rights of dignity and social justice by blatantly giving her only fifteen minutes till she could assimilate the fact of her dismissal. The victim was made to feel like a criminal who was caught for draining out money from company accounts.

Well, a food-for-thought to the management is that, if you really have to ask an employee to quit because of poor performance, you need to make sure that you give that employee a dignified exit, without straying away from his constitutional rights.

Know you rights
It is very important that employees know their constitutional and fundamental rights that are applicable irrespective of the position he holds in the corporate tree. The Industrial Dispute Act (IDA) applicable to all workers in India is a very important document which stresses on how the accused employee must be given a chance to defend himself and then only he/she should be pronounced as guilty.

“It is the duty of the organization to legally issue a show-cause notice to the employee, giving him a chance to explain,” says Advocate Wasnik, who carries 40yrs of experience in the field of labour laws. It was my privilege to discuss with Advocate Wasnik who gave me an insight saying that employees in the support roles (who are mostly victimized) have more legal rights than those who belong to the managerial cadre. Furthermore, he said that IDA is applicable only to the workmen category…and that if the management is unhappy with employee performance, the company not only has to evidence the facts, but also needs to give the employee the right to explain and justify.

So, it is very important that we know our rights and the laws abiding with it. But, only wish that the legal procedures and processes were simpler for employees, challenges would have been much easier to tackle.

To get a dig into the Industrial Dispute Act, download the IDA at Download

Post script: Well, in that case, educated souls in the management who make such illiterate and illegitimate decisions need to attend a diploma programme in Gandhian studies…which will teach them to rebuild their conscience without losing out on competition.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Turning swords into ploughshares

Time to think-and-do beyond
The recent news conference bash organised and delegated by the President of the supposedly most powerful country of the world, US of A, and attended by the media, undoubtedly shocked the world including economists and corporate honchos who criticised Obama’s administration for employing a protectionist and uncompetitive ideology. In his socialist speech, Barack Obama passionately stressed on the urgent need to eradicate the incessantly rising unemployment in America, essentially jobs lost due to the great recession and those lost in the name of “outsourcing” to European and more importantly Asian countries.

Rightfully and bravely following the Gandhian-like ideology, the Obama administration is trying very hard to provide equality of opportunity for all sections of society. The Democrats in fact plan to tackle the concern of rising unemployment in the country, by withdrawing tax breaks to corporates that outsource to countries outside the American soil. Additionally, also revise tax codes to make provisions for tax relief to middle class Americans, who actually need it rather than offering it to billionaire folks who don’t need it all.

A socialist approach at the juncture of turning protectionist
Well, when I place my hand over my heart and think hard, I feel in complete accord with the approach adopted by the Democrats. It is said that, we need to clear the clutter inside our own homes before we look outside...and this is exactly what Obama is adamant to do before he creates and makes-easy avenues of growth, employment, and profits for the rest of the world.

But in the same vein, mulling over this grave concern using the super rational brain, it conversely feels like America is at crossroads supporting a myopic vision that indeed will not last for long. Moving on, the Democrats will not only face strong repercussions and condemnations from the rest of the world...but in the bargain will face bans and boycotts by many a people and governments of the world.

Towing away jobs
Public and government hue and cry over the act of outsourcing implemented by the corporate sector around the world has always been condemned for towing away jobs from numero uno nations to nations who propose an awesomely low labour cost and corporate taxes. The Oxford dictionary very simply defines the word outsourcing as “arrange for work to be done outside a company”. While in today’s context, the same word connotes a different meaning. In fact, today it gets nothing less than the same treatment that an F-word receives.

Coming to think of it, “Outsourcing" is as much as a bad word for Americans and Europeans than it is for an average employed Asian. Today Corporate India and other Asian countries prefer outsourcing jobs outside the organisation (locally) rather that hire or sustain a full time employee on the same job. The only difference here is that the job is towed away from one Indian to another Indian at a lower cost. Perhaps, if the world was not demarcated with borders, no country would make a fuss about outsourcing jobs elsewhere...because then eventually a job from one human being would go to another human being after all.

Balancing globalisation
Before globalisation was ever talked about, the United States of America accounted for around 30% of the world's GDP and almost remained at that position for most of the 20th century. However, with opening up of the global economy into a single economic competitive arena, developing countries have got their place in the sun...so much so that those days are not too far when one of the BRIC countries will become the world’s largest economy and will grab the 'most powerful country of the world' title from the US of A.

If one door is shut, there is always another door that opens up...and precisely, if USA shuts its doors to other nations with a protectionist agenda of restricting local companies from tapping markets globally, it will not only worsen American woes but will isolate them from the rest of the world.

Implementing a socialist approach like what Obama is talking about is undoubtedly essential for the less fortunate middle class people of America, but at the same time closing doors to the rest of the world can boomerang badly. There is an urgent need of taking a middle path and clearly there are no easy answers to it.

Post script: On after thought
It would indeed be best if nations would be governed by two Presidents at the top...one with a socialistic ideology (like Barack Obama) and the other with a more capitalistic approach. This will help nations plan correctly taking a more balanced middle path to success.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless you and this world!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Does Rahul really choose Tribal India over everything else?

If given an opportunity today to interview the heir of the Gandhi family and Congress General Secretary, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, my first question to him would be about his seriousness to assist the Tribal’s in Orissa and those isolated in different parts of the nation. Additionally, to ask him whether he honestly strives to give Tribal’s and the under privileged their right to freedom of living with dignity and equality…or is it some kind of empty promises that politicians have been making since India’s independence.

When we talk about Tribal’s in India or anywhere else in the world, we visualize poor, hungry, ancestral and primitive people who do work that slaves would do. We categorise them as people who wash our cars, who live in shanty homes, who are illiterates, who wash our vessels, clean our homes, and people who officialdom label as “grass-eaters”. These are people who we exploit because they have nobody to glorify them and have no one to empower them to fulfill their basic needs and necessities of life.

If for real, here’s saluting Mr. Gandhi’s move
The very move spurred by Rahul to protect the rights of the tribal population in Orissa over the ambitious projects of corporate big wigs of India Inc. is commendable and from the face of this socialist step by Rahul Gandhi, it depicts a revelation is to beckon us soon. But again, emphasizing the phrase - “from the face of it” - because we the common people who have no legacy in politics and who become victims of political warfare don’t know the real intention behind this step initiated by someone who carries a political legacy from the time of his great grandfather and someone who is born with a diamond studded golden spoon in his mouth.

The benefit of doubts will evidently persists in our minds, because we have and are still being duped by false and short-lived promises made by our politicians who are suppose to be our official caretakers. Although Rahul’s actions touched the common man’s heart, we still doubt whether he protected the Tribal’s to gain political mileage or is it honestly going to be his fight until he guarantees every life equal value…even if it demands going against his own party ideologies and actions.

The rich exult, the poor lament
There was this great and well-known boxer who was making a journey in a plane. Even after being persuaded by the air hostess, he resisted to zip up his seat belt exclaiming that he was “superman” and didn’t really need it. To which the air-hostess pleasantly told him that, if he indeed was “superman”, he didn’t even need the plane to reach his destination. This is a real illustration made to portray the nature of most of our politicians who have zero humility and are 100% egocentric. Our politicians are like this boxer who believe they are some kind of superman possessing super natural powers and the rest of the world are at their mercy.

This attitude of our politician will definitely not help us reach our vision of “India shining”, in spite of the economic optimism that we showcase today. When 70% of us live in rural India, how can we be optimistic of fulfilling our vision? In that case, we will have to edit our vision to now say, “30% of India shining”. Nevertheless, if we start becoming conscious about tribal and rural India, by empowering them with proper education, proper health benefits, and fulfilling their basic psychological and physical needs, we will implicitly and tactfully empower them to become independent…which in turn will increase their purchasing power.

Eventually, with the spur in increased purchasing power of the otherwise dormant 70% of the population, the GDP of this country gets bigger, which ultimately will help us realize our dream. This will open up ways to become a developed country listed among other biggies.

Who said we need to be socialistic always…but in the same breath, we cannot ignore the urgent need of a developing country like India to uplift the lives and spirits of the poor, so as to achieve the nation’s capitalistic and competitive aspiration and desperation for success.

Tough to be a good politician
Nevertheless, all said and done, in the real world it indeed is tough to be a good politician. For every good move made by a minister, there are thousand detractors from the political circles who trample the strides made by this good politician. In India, we have ageing ministers who call the shots at an age when they need to relay the authority baton to the young, educated and forward thinking youth of young India. Rahul Gandhi is one such young Indian who definitely is calling the shots, but again he alone cannot make the difference. India needs many more young and entrepreneurial young Indians to represent this nation…individuals like you and me who can boast a humble conscience and an ambition to take every state of this nation to scaling heights.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless you and this world!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stupid mistakes…

Everybody makes mistakes, isn’t it? And some great scholars and philosophers even justify saying that mistakes are a stride towards achieving success. Like Albert Einstein himself says that, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new". Well said, isn’t it? So, does that mean we forgive and forget the string of accusations that our not-so-respected Minister Mr. Kalmadi and his troupe face today? After all even Mr. Kalmadi along with his working team who form an important part of the Common Wealth Games (CWG) Organising Committee was managing it for the first time. And why only the Organising Committee (OC), India herself is playing host to the CWG 2010 for the first time…so should we be forgiving these first-timers huh!

Well, Well, Well…I wish we could! Provided these first-timers slipped-up in areas related to the actual operations or preparations of the games, it was pardonable. But goofing up with tax payer’s money and doctoring the balance sheets of the games itself, is something not only unpardonable but should also be sternly punished. In fact, the guilty of the CGW corruption episode should suffer the same fate like the entrepreneurs of global corporate scams such as the Enron and Satyam. These corporate fraudsters are probably doing the jailhouse rock in return for the scams they planted in their respective organizations. But when it comes to uprooting corruption from the government, we take it lying down with a “chalta-hain” (its okay) attitude. I wonder how long will we as citizens, who are the actual landlords of this country, allow our servants to take us for granted. Shouldn’t we put our foot down and demand a quick fix and unearthing of corrupt officials in our public administration.

A paisa-vasool
Before we go to watch a movie, we read film reviews, ratings, and get a lowdown of the success of the film from the public, to make sure that we get a “paisa-vasool” (return on investment) from that film. Likewise, when we invest in our government and the working of this country, we also expect a paisa-vasool. So, do we really get a 100% return on our investment is the question we need to ask ourselves.

We have a fantastic democracy in this country which is our biggest asset, but to step up honest functioning of this democracy, we need transparency, we need good quality of work, we need cleansing of the law makers and administrators who misuse their power for their own benefit, we need education for all, we need to see that every family has a bread-whiner, we need equality irrespective of sex, religion, caste, we need a clean and safe environment to live in.

“All lives to have equal value”
This is the ambitious vision statement of the Bill and Melinda Foundation, a company started by the brainchild of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates, who started off this global charity with his wife Melinda Gates, with an aim to achieve their vision of, “All lives to have equal value”.

What a beautiful thought, isn’t it? And honestly it is a thought which is complimented by loads of actions by this foundation on behalf of the world’s poorest people, to improve the human condition. When Bill Gates came down to India to contribute to his global mission, he wished to fund to improve the poor health conditions of Northern India. At that time, he met up with Rahul Gandhi, the young generation leader of the youth Congress, who very frankly and honestly told Bill Gates that, “right now a lot of the money is not getting to the intended recipients and that it won’t be easy to fix”. Undeniably, corruption is the biggest battle that India is facing today and until we don’t cleanse our administrative and legislative system, it will spread out like cancer and will become irreversible to get it back on track.

On a hopeful note
There’s no doubt about the dishonestly of most of our ministers who get involved in malpractices and corruption to earn bread, butter, jam, cheese, and toppings, in addition to their monthly salary. But hopefully, with the recent whopping 300% raise in their salary, scams and frauds which have become a prevalent habit gets abolished completely and we see more transparency in the proceedings of our administration.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Salutations to Whistleblowers in today's vicious world

Expose the oppressor, give voice to the voiceless
Wouldn’t you want to speak & listen to the truth and deal with honest people 24x7/365 days a year; wouldn’t you want to expose intelligence and unlawful information, for public scrutiny so that the guilty are punished; wouldn’t you want to see the world as a peaceful place where every human being enjoys their constitutional rights of freedom, equality, and justice. Just wished a big-hearted genie would be generous enough to grant me my three wishes…I would have surely asked for these three wishes, provided people in the whole wide world mirror the same principles.

Can I keep the commandments in the real world?
I don’t think so! A lone individual cannot obey the commandants of ethical behaviour all by herself while the rest of the world does what pleases them. And even if he decides to be undeceiving, he probably would be tricked and duped and be taken to his grave even before his time comes. They say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” so probably the whole world is waiting for someone to make the first real-istic move and then the rest will follow.

Exemplifying from experience, many a times we dash across people who backstab their own colleagues to win a position to the top. And to make things crueler, the very next minute, you would see your colleague become your boss, not because he has the attitude and a mind for the job but because he has successfully pleased the top management by his sweet and pleasing talks and actions.

Similarly, individual nations are waiting for the other nation to make the first unadulterated move which is not tainted with corruption, hypocrisy, scams, nuclear proliferation, terrorists and, bureaucrats with a political agenda. Recently the United States of America with support from the UN Security Council took the initiative towards Non-nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) calling nations of the world to sign the NPT in order to make the world "un-armed” and “nuclear deterrent”. A few democratic and peaceful nations signed the NPT while some of them resisted, even abusing decision makers for their sagging mindsets and wisdom.

Pragmatically, it’s a tough decision to make, when you know that on one side if you sign the treaty, you could be bombed by a nation that has not signed it…and on the other side if you don’t sign it, you would be oust from global meetings and punishments in the form of “sanctions” would be entrusted upon you. Today, powerful nations are boasting about deploying new class of weapons capable of reaching any corner of the earth under an hour…so how can anyone make a 100% commitment!

“Courage is contagious”
They say courage is contagious…must say it really is! An open government group, also known as the anti corruption and transparency group—WikiLeaks—has recently made news all over the world exposing 91,000 sensitive reports mainly comprising of ground realities about how US is blindly and unknowingly fuelling terrorism in Afghan by blindly paying Pakistan for access to Afghan. Although the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, an Australian national with a PHD in Physics, claims that the information exposed on his website are bare facts...the truth about its authenticity is yet to be investigated.

Nevertheless, the point I'm trying to make here is about the courage and audacity that this man called Julian has, to be able to reveal and speak about what he believes is the truth without a shadow of fear for his life. It reminds me of the Monk called Julian from Robin Sharma’s bestseller, “The Monk who sold his Ferrari”…he pretty much had the same approach towards life.

So if courage is really contagious, I think each one of us needs to pick up ourselves from the dregs, dust off ourselves, and fearlessly speak out. It's a tough thing to do, but if we don't do it, the world will take us for granted and use us as puppets to fulfill their individual or group ambitions.

Making a confession, I admit that I don’t have the nerves and audacity to be upfront and outspoken 24x7/365 days a year...but am asking myself badly whether it is really all that difficult? Authoritarian governments, oppressive institutions and corrupt corporations should be subject to the pressure, so that every human being on this beautiful planet enjoys his rights by right and not by fear. 

I will try to walk the talk…..how about you?

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Paul Almighty

Think FIFA 2010 and it becomes quiet impossible to do a rundown of the 2010 Football World cup tournament without discussing or describing the bang-on predictions made by the slimy fortune teller— Paul the Octopus. Octa-Paul surely won a million hearts while the FIFA matches were spinning out, but even today Paul is competitive enough to give all human fortune tellers a run for their money.

The talk of the town
Who does not like to be famous? It is human nature after all to love and to be loved. If you ask me, I wouldn’t mind getting featured in an online encyclopedia and would love to have the whole world to recognize me for my craft. But not everyone who is good at her craft gets to that pedestal of acknowledgement just like that. It involves a lot of hard work, meeting the right people at the right time, a leader with leadership qualities to look up to and to follow, and a little bit of luck can get you there.

Look at Paul today, with his 100% perfecto prophesies, he has become the FIFA world cup sensation in no time....surely making the whole world look up to him. But not a human soul can tell how a squid can make correct predictions without even knowing what a FIFA ball looks like. Amazing…isn’t it! Well indeed, it is the precise predictions made by this sea animal (called Paul) that bewilders the world.

Paul got many scientists at work, which did a lot of research to understand why Paul was right with his predictions all the time. Only to rationalize saying that octopus are generally drawn to horizontal lines and shapes, and that explains why Germany is favored over England and Argentina. But if we have to agree with this wisdom drawn out by the scientists, then we also need them to explain why Paul picked Serbia over Germany, nor Spain over Holland. Well Well Well, Paul seems to have even baffled the scientists with this phenomenal phenomenon.

Drooling over Paul
Quiet literally, FIFA ousted teams including Germany, England, Argentina whose disastrous fate Paul prophesied before their respective matches are drooling over Paul’s boneless squid-fish protein. Cooking Paul in ginger sauce would not only satiate their appetite for spineless fish but more importantly will take out their vengeance on a mere sea animal who foretold their distasteful fate.

Immediate action needs to be taken in order to settle scores of danger that this endangered species with an inborn aptitude to forecast the future confronts today. The United Kingdom, where Paul is currently an inhabitant of, needs to transport Paul to a vegetarian land ASAP. Coming to think of it, India seems like an appropriate destination where most of the population is vegetarian. Nevertheless, Indians have fallen in love with Paul and want him to prophesize India’s maiden FIFA World cup entry. I’m optimistic that if UK indeed decides to safeguard Paul by sending him to a secured location like India, India will gear up to welcome Paul…assuring him a dual citizenship option and also promising to provide him all the benefits and provisions that an octopus would really need and want to boast.

Spain versus Paul
I started writing this article with a clear intention of pegging my opinion on the flamboyant and extraordinary FIFA 2010 World cup and more significantly to talk about the milestone victory by the first-time-winners, Spain. But I have just realised that my article has drifted towards showcasing the accurate predictions and popularity of the cursed (by a few) Nazi of FIFA 2010, Octopus Paul…Phew! Sorry for drifting away…I got carried over Paul’s tenta-cular prophesies! Spain indeed is the real winner of the FIFA world cup and Paul alone is not the reason for their win, agrees Spanish midfielder, Andreas Iniesta, who tweeted saying, "The octopus indeed is very popular in Spain."

So looks like that Spain is happy to share the limelight with Paul and Paul is happier to be featured by print & electronic media worldwide.

Well, all’s well that ends well. In that note, I conclude my column here. Viva Espanio…Viva Paul!

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Give me an O2 mask....I want to visit Bhopal!

I'm not mocking anyone when I say this....I'm actually serious when I say that I need an oxygen mask to guarantee safe and healthy passage across some places in the once mesmerizing city of Bhopal. Bhopal or the City of Lakes is the second largest city of Madhya Pradesh which is a famous tourist’s destination for its artistically built and exquisite Laxmi Narayan Temple, Taj-ul-Masjid, Moti Masjid, Shaukat Mahal, Upper lake, Lower lake, Van Vihar (Zoo), to name a few scenic and mostly visited and liked tourist spots.

But along with this awesome scenic beauty that this capital city of Madhya Pradesh exhibits, it also carries a “black spot” with its name, for being listed as a place which once dealt with and is still reeling over the worst industrial catastrophe in the world – “The Bhopal Gas Leak” – which killed a staggering 15000 people and paralysed and maimed thousands in Bhopal then.

The question is....what did we do about it then?
The dreadful Bhopal gas tragedy is something that didn’t happen today or something that occurred very recently. At this very moment, I’m writing about something that occurred 25yrs back in Dec 1984 at the pesticide production plant in Bhopal which was operated by Union Carbide India Ltd. (UCIL), an American subsidiary company owned by Union Carbide Corporation (UCC). Reckless decisions made by the management and faulty handling by operators resulted in the tragic leakage of the poisonous gas which spread across the length and breadth of the area surrounding the plant.

After a little over 25years of deep slumber and dwarfing of this entire tragedy by the authorities in India, the case resurfaced recently for the court hearing (verdict) upon the alleged convicts minus the Ex-CEO, Chairman and decision maker of the company, Mr. Warren Andersen, who although is equally responsible for the tragic gas leak...left India scot free to live in his home country. Doesn’t Mr. Andersen’s conscience kill him for being irresponsible and for recklessly taking thousands of innocent lives? Doesn’t this episode haunt him while he sits to have his meals in his plush bungalow in New York city? I wonder how he has merrily lived his life the last 25 years without being haunted for his misdeed???? (I know too many question marks typify bad writing, but believe me I quiet seriously have those many questions marks staring at me when I think of Mr. Andersen’s character and crude behaviour).

A full bodied post mortem
I don't seem to understand why nothing happened in the last 25years? Were the governing authorities so busy that they couldn't make the most important verdict in the world's worst “chemical disaster” by declaring quick punishments to the perpetrators?

In fact, it was better off if the legal proceedings of this case was handled by the US because I'm sure the American judiciary would ensure that a fair and objective verdict be given to the villains of this disaster...eventually giving justice to the victims and survivors of the Bhopal tragedy. Bringing to light the way President Obama diligently and equitably handled the recent oil spill case along the Gulf of Mexico....which is something that the world looks up to and genuinely applauds Obama for his realistic people management skills. For Obama and his administration, every decision is made keeping the country's citizens as the central focus....unlike some of our corrupt officials who can stoop to any level to make quick bucks at the cost of the nation.

Silencing the catastrophe to yield steep GDP’s
I have tremendous respect for some of the leading lights in the government today, but I don’t seem to understand why they silenced this issue for so long. Who told the authorities that the people of this country want to see only “good growth figures”, “industrial progress”, “sky rocketing GDP”, and “Indian’s rocketing to the moon and exploring space”. In fact, we want simple things for this nation. We want every human being in our country to breath in a pollution free and chemical free environment; we want to see every individual receiving at least two meals a day; we want basic health benefits for every citizen irrespective of whether he/she can afford the service or not; we want sanitised and clean municipal hospitals; and we want a safe and a clean city to live in and sustain this for the next generations to come.

After 25 years, today, the government has initiated a response cell called the “Group of Ministers” (GoM) which is made responsible to take stock of the recent Bhopal judgement and to assess the options and remedies available to the government. This group is formed, to basically initiate an action plan to cast off the toxic and contaminated mess in Bhopal and also guarantee hike in compensation to the victims and survivors of the tragedy. Surely a good move....but a step taken after so many years of the tragedy, speaks volumes about the self centred, corrupt, and egoistic side of our ministers.

Quick and ingenious actions required
Relocation and rehabilitation of the people is the need of the hour. So many people still live in the poisonous environment of Bhopal and even today children are born with psychological or physical disorders because of the toxic air that the survivors breathe in. How can we be so cruel to an unborn child and his mother? Additionally, the poisonous pesticide plant which is still spewing poisonous gases should be cracked open and the waste treated and discarded. Furthermore, health check-ups and safe medical treatment of each and every person living in the vicinity of the poisonous defunct plant should be on top of the list.

I am pretty speculative of the investigative report that will be submitted to the Prime Minister by the GoM. Sources say that GoM will prepare their reports after investigating the Bhopal situation from ground zero for a week. Only if our authorities had spent the same 7 days way back in the 1980’s when the tragedy had just struck the poor people of Bhopal in the wee hours of the night.......we wouldn’t have lost so many lives and would have done justice to the survivors then.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

And still counting the dead....

6 Apr 2010, Naxalites in a cold blooded ambush killed 76 and wounded 50 Indian soldiers who unknowingly were making their last trips travelling in a security convoy towards Dantewade district, a Naxal stronghold area of Chattisgarh. Later, on 17 May 2010, a landmine blast triggered yet again by Naxalites destroyed a bus killing up to 44 civilians including a few police officers. Subsequently in another recent unpleasant and gory incident on 28 May 2010, a train from Kolkata to Mumbai was sabotaged by Naxalites killing at least 150 innocent civilians.

The agony and emotion expressed in all the above incidents which happened in quick successions of less than a month typifies the brutal and ruthless hearts and minds of the so-called radicals who mercilessly killed innocent people.....people, who neither directly nor indirectly are responsible for the distressful and pitiful conditions of the Naxalites today. I can see eye to eye and can put myself in the place of the painful and deficient lives that this marginalised section of society faces today. But no one on this free land has the right to use their freedom of expression against the government...by threatening the security of the nation and making civilians scapegoats to their anguish.

Numbers create panic
Number of dead bodies being flashed on banner headlines in newspapers & internet sites and those sensationalised as breaking news on TV, creates panic amongst the people of this nation and also in government circles. Quickly, our officials in governing circles appear for interviews on national TV expressing their anguish over these incidents and also in a fit of pressure and intimidation articulate their plan of action and divulge internal official secrets of the Union and State governments. And all this done on national TV...eventually giving the assailants a full view summary of what is in store for them. Subsequently based on these facts assailants plan their course of actions to mitigate the risks scheduled to be implemented upon them by the government.

Cabinet decisions and plans are official secrets and in no way should be exposed for public scrutiny and comments. If our ministers in their capacities do not understand law and order of this nation, then something needs to be seriously done to get their focus right. Tendering resignations on “moral grounds” is a good way to gain sympathy and empathy from the people and also your seniors, but it also shows cowardice...which is something that is not expected from intellectuals who the world looks up to.

Exposing popular defects in the systems
"Naxalism” is a bad word in the Indian dictionary today and sections of noteworthy media proactively and very precisely are exposing this popular defect in the system which only worsens as the days goes by. This expose significantly acts as a media trail reinforcing authorities to make a serious note of this national issue and persuades them to take immediate action on the deficiencies in the system.

Conversely playing up news to gain good readership/ viewership..... commercialises the very purpose of news makers. Such sections of media start behaving like hyperactive watchdogs that can’t wait entering the bedrooms of people to fetch exciting gossip or even plagiarizing news for all they care. Some of them even spin out paid news masquerading as fair and accurate news in media.

Good civilian turned bad
For how long will we keep counting bodies of the dead in all these incidents which happen almost every fortnight? Are we waiting to wipe our valuable resources from this land which commands a population of over 1 billion people, who in some way or the other have contributed to society and have given this country a progressive GDP growth which does not show signs of turning back to the old ‘not-so-good’ times?

Whether it is Naxalite in India or the Taliban in Pakistan...the purpose and mission of these groups are alike. Talibans started off just like Naxals are today, and hence we cannot wait for these enemies of the soil to become as big as the Taliban in Pakistan. We need to devise an action plan to contain these people who once were the common man like you and me.

At the same time, we need to distribute the wealth to the marginalised population of India who never could have the benefit of education and health because of their backward upbringing. 70% of India’s population lives in villages and majority of them do not have the basic privileges of medicine, food and education. A partial socialist approach of addressing this section of society is needed. If we fail to cater to them, we’ll have many of the “good civilians” turning to become “bad civilians”...and then our netas will label them as “Naxalites”.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Glorifying India's God like game beneath strong undercurrents


Did I waste my time while I laughed, cried, screamed, shouted and tweeted my way in exhilaration, as I watched the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 season 3 cricket matches this year?? This is indeed the question I ask myself umpteen numbers of times, since the rotten affair of the IPL has been brought to light by the media and by the governing council of cricket in India.

And why only accuse the 58 matches this year (minus two matches which I ignored after the IPL scam broke out) for killing our time over doctored matches and inadvertently contributing towards filling deep pockets of the governing body. In fact, we have been duped for not realising this way back in year 2008 when IPL was baptized as a new “fatafat” (quick) cricket format. This was in fact the same year when planet earth was hit by recession and every business, investors, public sector companies, consumers, and those doing something for a living, was feeling the pinch of the recession....except, IPL Cricket which was and is still believed to be inimitably "recession proof".

The invincible T20 format
IPL cricket take-off in the year 2008 was unforgettably the biggest billion dollar creative project commissioned by flamboyant Mr. Lalit Modi, whose daring marketing and branding techniques and out-of-the-box thinking, made the T20 format the world’s best cricketing set-up ever made in history. Each of the eight teams competing in IPL are composed of high profile cricketers from different nations, thus making this the world’s first “Cosmopolitan” game ever.

Glorifying sophisticated thugs
In a span of just 3yrs, IPL came to be known as a game which entertained its spectators both on the grounds and off the grounds with its grandiosity and lavishness…a game of sports and entertainment. Until of course this month when a series of tweets between Lalit Modi and a prospective candidate of the newly endorsed Kochi team, opened up the Pandora’s box...exposing the “can of worms”.

Eventually, the cricket format which earned good name, was now branded as a game of slush money, kickbacks and match-fixing. Allegedly, kickbacks in crores were earned by commissioner & imposter, Lalit Modi, and also by a few team owners and officials who were hand-in gloves with the IPL chief.

Don’t loose our dinosaur
IPL T20 cricket is a milking cash cow for the Indian government...bringing in the monies that the governing authorities need to realise its infrastructural, health, and educational promises made to the people of this country. After the “Braking exposé” of all the sham-scam's in IPL management three years from its inception, there are plans of putting the entire billion dollar project to rest. However, the question to ask here is ….Should we really suspend a project which displayed the highest earnings on our balance sheet? Or should we crackdown and remove the filth in the system in the first place.

If you ask me, I believe we should clean up the system firsthand by amputating the rotten arm of the IPL and retain the good arm before season IV takes off next year. In chorus, we need to get people with an energetic and positive mindset to handle IPL affairs. In fact, flamboyancy to some extent is mandatory to give this game an entertaining zing.

And when the God of cricket and master blaster, Sachin Tendulkar himself says that, “IPL will overcome current crisis,"...we should seriously take this demigod's conviction to save this God like game of IPL. Aaii Laa ;-)

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Appetizing “Media Fodder”


What happens when two celebrated sportspersons, one playing for India while the other playing for Pakistan, fall in love and decide to tie the knot and be legally called husband and wife? You surely will have scores of fans and the general public congratulating the two sportspersons and wishing them a good luck charm for a happy married life. Conversely, there are sections of society and political groups who defame the couple for even thinking about marrying a person from a rival country, especially in the current scenario when tensions are brewing between India and Pakistan….eventually politicizing a simple love story between a young boy and a girl.

Now let’s add some spice to the story by introducing an unknown Muslim girl, a self-confessed size 10, who comes from nowhere and claims that she is married to the Pakistani sportsman and come storm-or-rain, she will not permit him from saying “Kabool Hain” (I Do), until he does not give her a divorce and sets her free. The entry of this “mysterious girl” makes the story juicier and something that any Bollywood Director/ Producer would vouch to follow and get inspired from. Besides beneficiaries from Bollywood, sections of Media go gaga over this spicy tale...eventually spinning out a typically 3rd page story on the front page.

This is exactly what happened, when India’s ace tennis magnet, Sania Mirza, and Pakistan’s cricket sensation, Shoaib Malik, announced their courtship. Certainly, not overlooking a very important character in this story…….the mysterious size 10 girl at the crossroads, who completes the love triangle, “Mrs. Ayesha Siddhique Malik” from Hyderabad, India.

When personal lives of public figures are washed in public
Just after the news about “Sania-Shoaib-Ayesha” - “India-Pakistan” love affair broke out, media went berserk quiet literally! Media houses, both electronic and print media went on an overdrive feeding the public with minute-by-minute updates of the Sania-Shoaib-Ayesha marriage fiasco. So much so that one television channel even panned their cameras inside Sania’s living room and balcony to get a closer peek into her personal life.

Sections of TV news channels and the press lapped up the news as if they have been malnourished for days and truly so…. Journalism which ideally is the fourth estate for educating and informing people in a fair and objective manner, about the political, social and economical status of the country and also for giving a voice to those who don't have any say, are straying away from the core ideology. Certainly, some of the news channels stand by maintaining those principles while the rest media jokers have lost it completely, drooling over news that is “spicy and juicy”….just like KFC’s yummy chicken lollipops….Umm!!

Advantage Sania
Pakistan media did not give this Sania-Shoaib-Ayesha’s private love affair an extra “inning-full” coverage as compared to Indian media who chewed over the story for weeks together…refusing to flush it down the drain. Apparently Pakistani media did not cover this story extensively because Shoaib Malik is not as big a star as Sania Mirza is in India. In fact, Pakistan would welcome the Indian bride, Sania Mirza, offering her a Pakistani passport in a platinum plate…because Pakistan does not boast a tennis pulse and undeniably Sania Mirza is the ONLY ONE who could fill the vacuum in Pakistan’s sports arena.

Paying heed to good journalism
In the same breath, also accepting the fact that “Journalism” is indeed a valuable governing fourth estate which even today plays a significant role in making the guilty carry their cross right up to Calvary and bestowing the innocent with justice through effective media trails…undeniably, an important part of any moral civilization. As Walter Lippmann defines journalism saying, “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil - remain detached from the great.”

While some media houses follow this fair doctrine, majority of them scavenge for stories which guarantee high TRP’s (Television Rating Points), constantly looking at the negative and controversial aspect of news. Thus, eventually sensationalizing news or better still “Bollywoodisation/ Hollywoodisation” of news.

Promptly recollecting what the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, said while wittingly describing media, “If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: "President Can't Swim."

On that witty note, I will sign out for now...but don’t forget to keep your eyes on this blog site for my next amusing piece.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!

Friday, April 2, 2010

“Ring A Ring A Roses….A Pocket Full of Posies”

Effective 1st Apr 2010, nearly 200 million children living in this elephant like - mammoth, lumbering, sturdy - vibrant nation called India, can quiet literally sing along on the tunes of the folksong “Ring A Ring A Roses.” On this April Fools day, the government of India spins out a decree making the Right to Education (RTE) a fundamental right of every child.

It is indeed a whopping project undertaken by the administration, which promises free and compulsory education as a right of every child of this nation whose age group spans between 6-14yrs. This initiative will beget equality and diversity amongst children irrespective of sex, religion, standard of living, or status in society.

Quality Education for all
The Prime Minister of India makes the RTE act an important part of his agenda and takes the lead to announce the proceedings of the act, enforcing it upon the nation saying, “The Right to Education Act (RTE) will realize the dreams of many children across the nation and it is a key to progress and empowerment of the children to become better citizens of the nation.”

Spread the word to fight illiteracy
The enactment of the law is finally done…and now it is the role of not only the government to facilitate smooth roll-out of the project…but we as citizens of this country and guardians of our children need to do our little bit as well.

When I spoke to a few people like my vegetable vendor, the milkman, my domestic help, and the office boys, I received a glowing response from each one of them. Every parent and guardian – rich or poor - wants their child to go to school to get their share of education. Underprivileged parents and families from the backward class also have dreams synonymous to the families from the elite class…it is a hope of giving the best education to their children and helping them realize their dreams. But their financial condition mostly comes as a bottleneck towards fulfilling their dreams.

Socialistic ideologies pertinent in segments of society
Detractors from the elite class of society argue saying that 25% reservations in private schools will eat up their share of seats. They may be absolutely correct when they say that ‘Reservation’ is a bad word and that it shouldn’t be used to violate the rights of others. However, you cannot pigeonhole this act on the same parity as the quotas chalked out for- women in Parliament; scheduled caste and scheduled tribes; or for religious minorities.

These are reservations for children who have the same nationality, who are ambitious, who have merit and the IQ to move ahead in life, who want to flaunt their own house and car when they grow up, who want to be treated equal, and who want to speak the global language that the world speaks today….So why not give them a chance!!

We need to mull over the nitty-gritty’s of this act and support the children of this nation in receiving quality education across the board. Rich or poor - girl or boy – majority or minority, it should be education for all.

In the same vein, the Indian government needs to do wonders with Healthcare in India. Medical Insurance to each and every citizen of this country should be made mandatory and should be moderately sponsored by the government.

Come one, Come All…

Thanks for visiting my blog. Do write to me with your reactions, opinions or critical comments at simplymearl@live.com or leave your inputs in the comments tab below.

Before I sign out, as I always say take very good care of yourself and God Bless!