Sunday, December 11, 2011

Censoring the Internet to protect my bosses

We all love Chinese food, don’t we? But that doesn’t mean, like the Chinese in China, we will forgo our freedom of speech and expression because the government of the world’s largest democracies, wants to control what we say and how we say it. It’s just impossible to believe that the man, who promoted and rolled out the landmark decree of giving every child their fundamental right to education, has proposed to control and monitor the fundamental right of speech and expression of the people. Despotic, I must say! But then, one can’t blame Kapil Sibal alone for this reckless proposal. He is only a messenger carrying the dictatorial message from his high command, which believes that censoring free content is the only way to silence people from public debate and criticism.

Citing reasons for his dictatorial verdict, Communication and IT Minister, Kapil Sibal defended his stand saying that he wants to put down guidelines to monitor content on social media platforms and remove ‘objectionable’ content from it. Now how does Kapil Sibal define objectionable content? Each individual has his/ her perspective of looking at things. What is objectionable for one, not necessarily is objectionable for the other. No doubt pornography is objectionable and should never be made legal in India, but expressing oneself cannot be measured with the same yardstick. It is our constitutional right for God sake.

To prove his point to social media giants like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others, Kapil Sibal evidenced offensive photoshoped images and content of his bosses floating on the Internet. Well, big deal! Tomorrow if my pictures are offensively photoshoped by XYZ, will Kapil Sibal and his team of like-minded tyrants propose to pre-screen internet content then? And even if the pictures and content are malicious and objectionable, the Constitution of India under Act 19(2) allows individuals to invoke their right of Defamation. Why can’t Kapil Sibal’s bosses as responsible individuals exercise their right of defamation and sue people maligning their name on the internet. Nobody stops them from doing that!

Censoring the communication platform itself is an unconstitutional way to silence people. Rather, government needs to take lessons from the content being generated, and subsequently devise corrective and preventive actions to correct their administrative failure, which only gets worse every single passing day. Today the government has proposed to censor and pre-screen internet content...tomorrow Kapil Sibal may decide to ban shoes, because shoes are thrown at politicians to express anger and frustration. And then, our hands will be chopped to prevent Sharad Pawar slapgate like incident from reoccurring. Grow up my government servants. When an organ in a human body is diseased, the doctor operates upon that organ or gets rid of it...the practitioner does not put the patient to death.

Recently, even United Colors of Benetton’s new worldwide communication campaign had pictures of US President Obama and Chinese Prime Minister Wen photoshoped to lip-lock. The unhate campaigns are still displayed on the internet and have not faced the axe of censorship. Wonder when are we going to learn? The government of India needs to stop wasting its time throwing stones at every dog that barks.

The United Nations has strongly condemned Kapil Sibal’s proposal to pre-screen internet content and has said that, no one can take away people’s rights unless they allow them to. Just hope Kapil Sibal and his bosses have heard this message from the United Nations loud and clear. People must learn to protest loudly and stop taking it lying down. We can’t afford to allow history repeat itself. We cannot afford another Emergency like situation in India, similar to the one Madam Indira Gandhi imposed for two long years during her regime.

Post script:
Going by the internet censorship diktat proposed by Kapil Sibal, our tweets/ messages will first have to pass through pre-screening government filters before it is published on micro-blogging sites. And looking at the bureaucratic process that the government already has in place, even non-objectionable messages will enter the non-prohibited side of the filter only after the message has long lost its essence and timeliness. Phew! God save us!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Insha’Allah (God willing)

It was a Eureka movement for women not only in Saudi Arabia but women all over the world when Saudi King Abdullah declared that women in the Middle Eastern country will have the right to vote in municipal elections. Not only that, Saudi women will also be allowed to run in future municipal elections, and will be appointed as full members to the Kingdom's Shura Council, which is the King’s advisory board.

A pat on the back of King Abdullah who stunned the ultraconservative nation with a daring reform like this, that nobody ever expected for decades to come. Wish that, along with the right to vote, run for local office, and representation at the Advisory board, King Abdullah would also remove the ban imposed on women driving their vehicle. Recently the world was outraged when a Saudi court sentenced 10 lashes for a woman found driving her car. Well the King pitched in to overturn the courts order, but for how long can this go on? Hopefully with the recruitment of women in the Kings advisory board, this law would soon be scrapped, and women will be free from the bondage of being dependent on their drivers or male counterparts.

Reigning since year 2005, it must be really difficult for King Abdullah to make revolutionary reforms like this without upsetting conservative hardliners who oppose reform of any kind...sometimes even making women scapegoats of their prejudice. But this surely is a step forward in the right direction. In the rest of the world where women not only drive, but are also employed as drivers by car rental and public transport organisations, it is really difficult to assimilate this discrimination. Women make a huge contribution to society and it is women who can take up issues and causes concerning their lives and communities. The whole world welcomes King Abdullah’s decision of giving women the rights they deserve. But hope this decision last not only in King Abdullah’s supremacy but also for generations to come.

Since we are on the page of reviewing progress and development of women in different countries across the globe, it is very encouraging to know, how Australia has opened up their armed forces for women in combat roles. Australia joins Israel, Canada and New Zealand with this strategic move.

Even recently, the Indian army has broken this barrier by including the first woman in combat role. Although women have been a part of the Indian armed forces for a long time now, they are kept out from combative functions, being primarily recruited as officers in non-combat units. But recently 35yr old and mother of two, Sapper Shanti Tigga hit a sixer by outperforming her male colleagues displaying better fitness levels, better run timing, and better firing skills. The Indian armed forces couldn’t resists but recruit her in a combative role that Shanti was enthusiastic to join. With her dream of joining the armed forces coming true, Shanti credibly also won the title of being the first Indian woman recruit in a combative role.

With this credit in her name, Shanti has made the defence forces – army, navy, air force – to stand up and take notice of spirited and courageous women who believe in themselves and are yearning to join the defence forces on their own stem and strength.

Insha’Allah (God willing) that will also be thrown up to her very soon.

Post script:
Talking about women walking shoulder to shoulder with men in all walks of life, I don’t really think India should complain...because we can boast about so many women at the helm governing and making important administrative decisions for this country. Starting with Congress President, Sonia Gandhi and President of India, Pratibha Patil, to the Chief Ministers of four states – Jayalalitha, Sheila Dixit, Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati, among others.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

A rare faceoff

Although Julian Assange is famed for his timely and startling revelations of secretive cables exposing dishonest and unlawful acts perpetrated by nations across the globe...this mysterious stern looking man strangely also has a funny streak to him. In the midst of business as usual, Assange’s recently released US diplomatic cables on the Wikileaks website, makes one such revelation that the Chief Minister (CM) of Uttar Pradesh State in India, Mayawati, had sent an empty jet to Mumbai to pick her favorite pair of shoes.

Undoubtedly there is no strong evidence to anything that Julian Assange reveals. On the face of it, the world denies to believe them calling it fake and all cooked up stories. But deep down, we still tend to pay heed to these cables. The Mayawati cables published recently put the entire nation in shame except for Mayawati herself who retorted back abusing Assange to the hilt. Nevertheless, Mayawati’s political rivals obviously exploited this situation to gain political mileage.

How can the CM of a State splurge taxpayer’s hard earned money for her personal use…that too for a mere pair of shoes. Even if those shoes were embellished with gold and diamonds and worth more than the price of the jet plane, isn’t that a real shameful thing to do.

A person very well known for her antics, Mayawati has committed many a similar blunders in her career span as CM. From spending crores of Indian rupees for erecting statutes of herself…to being felicitated with cash garland on her birthday year after year, Mayawati has done it all.

On release of these cables by Wikileaks, acerbic Mayawati hit back at Assange calling him a lunatic in need of immediate psychiatric intervention at an asylum. In a fit of fury, Mayawati even bit back saying that in case of occupancy shortage abroad, Assange could seek admission at the Agra asylum in India for treatment. The unruffled Assange willingly accepted Mayawati’s proposal and even passionately spoke about his love for India. So cool was Assange that he offered to gift Mayawati a range of specialized British crafted shoes and even promised to deliver it to India, provided Mayawati sent across her jet plane to England to collect it.

So far, Mayawati has been targeted by her political rivals who criticized her for her penchant for corruption. But one would never have imagined a verbal spat between two unlike personalities. It is a rare faceoff between a power-hungry acerbic political personality like Mayawati versus a daredevil whistleblower, Julian Assange.

This cable on Mayawati released by Wikileaks is nothing new. There’s nothing really startling about it. Mayawati is just a symptom. On the behest of power, Mayawati fearlessly does everything in public purview and hence is singled out. Unlike most of our top politicians and public servants who covertly rob the nation of its wealth.

However, looks like the judgment hour is here. With credit to the Anna Hazare's ‘India against corruption’ movement and the Supreme Court intervention, many of these greedy netas and babus are booked behind bars today. Critics debate saying that it is impossible to wipe out corruption with one Lokpal bill. True that! but we need to begin somewhere right? And the good thing is that we have booted up the anti-corruption movement already. If this momentum continues and the government makes this its key point in the national agenda, we surely will reach our goal of a corruption free India.

~*~Bungalaw, gaadi, bank balance, zameen, sona kuch nahi sab moh Maya hai ~*~

On a lighter note
Sadly Mayawati didn’t respond to Assange’s kind hearted proposal. Only wish Assange would send those classy England crafted shoes to me instead. The only hitch is that like Mayawati I don’t own a jet plane.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Turning a deaf ear to public opinion can awfully backfire

The 74yr old cheerful and optimistic Gandhian, Anna Hazare, has surely set a precedent not only for the people and governing institutions of India, but also for democratic nations across the globe, testifying that, if you have a will, and that will is lead with honestly and perseverance, no power play can really stop you from driving oneself and the masses towards realizing that noble cause. More importantly, who says that it is impossible to adopt non violent means of protest to exercise freedom of expression? Looking at the peaceful means adopted by Anna and his team, we certainly can conclude that the Gandhian method of Satyagraha works wonders even in this 21st century of modernization and capitalism.

Anna Hazare defied the government’s toothless Lokpal bill which was hastily tabled in the Parliament without considering the anti-corruption workable draft by the civil society group lead by Anna. This was not the first time that the civil society warned the government about the namesake bill. The tug-of-war between the government and civil society has been on for over six months now with the government not relenting an inch to even listen to what the civil society has proposed. This was the first goof up that the government committed.

This lead from one error to another leading to the biggest blunders of almost mysteriously kidnapping the anti-corruption crusader, whose only fault was that he wanted to protest against rampant corruption that was rotting our system and dwarfing growth of its people. Sadly, the government didn’t foresee what was coming with Anna Hazare’s detention in Tihar prison. In a democracy, the government simply can’t stifle opinions of people using arrogance of power. No matter how big or small, you just can’t ignore public outcry.

And this is what democracy is all about. International media has wrongly likened India’s anti-corruption movement with the Arab uprising and the jasmine revolution. When in reality, the anti-corruption protest in India only reinforces the power of our democracy. What Anna and the people are able to do today, is only because we are the world’s biggest democracies. The people of a totalitarian regime can’t even think of adopting these means of protest.

With the domino of errors that the government has committed, it missed out on the opportunity to engage in some intellectual debate on civil society’s version of the bill. No doubt Anna Hazare is a leader of the masses, but the bill drafted by his team certainly is not error proof. Even the Anna team has never said that their version of the bill needs to be tabled in the Parliament. All they requested was for a healthy discussion, a debate, and most importantly a referendum on the anti-corruption bill. Agree that the Constitution does not have a provision for a referendum and it would be unconstitutional to have one. But in the same breath, the Constitution is a living document and it can be amended.

As I am writing my opinion piece, Annaji who is on an indefinite fasting protest is making his way from Tihar prison towards the Ramlila grounds surrounded by huge people frenzy who can’t stop raving about the Anna metaphor. The government must be shamed right now looking at the mounting followers of Anna Hazare…but unfortunately they got themselves there by making those many ungrammatical errors. Had our respected Prime Minister used his wisdom to anticipate the upshot of his acts, he would have a face to show. Sadly our PM rather listened to his ill advising coterie who left him faceless.

A strong anti-corruption bill will certainly not bring an end to corruption in days or a few years from now. It is indeed a sustainable process which should not only monitor and punish the bribe taker but also the bribe giver, who is equally accountable. As stated by PM, we agree that, there certainly is no magic wand to eradicate corruption. But had Mr. Manmohan Singh whirled his anti corruption wand 3-4yrs back, the problem would not be as big as it is today.

The magnanimous India Against Corruption (IAC) movement spanned out by Anna (our hero) gives a message to each one of us to stop stomaching discrimination and exploitation, but rather exercise our right of freedom of expression. More importantly the movement also scribbles the fact that the right to freedom does not give anyone the right to riot. The peaceful and Gandhian methods of protest used before our independence is pretty much promising even today.

Looking at what this 74year crusader has done, it certainly is time for all our retired friends to stop living a withdrawn life... rather gather themselves to awaken the masses to fight evil the Anna Hazare way. The youth are too busy in their hectic day-to-day lives and it is only our retired folks who can motivate the youth to pause and act against the evils ingesting our system.

Post script
Folks, did you catch visuals of Anna Hazare’s marathon run to protect himself from the crowds? After seeing those visuals, I have ditched Milind Soman as my Marathon mentor. I’m now going to follow Annaji all the way to Marathon 2012. He surely can give anyone a run for his money :-) Even more Anna lost 3kgs in 3days of fasting and am planning to take this as my dieting tip. Anna Sir, way to go!

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Friday, August 5, 2011

The Armageddon of Terrorism

Two successive terrorist attacks traumatized the people of the world recently. The financial capital of India, Mumbai, was blown apart in a matter of 10mins by bouts of serial bomb blasts on 13th Jul 2011, and so was the capital city of Norway, Oslo on 22nd July 2011. The attacks left the people of Mumbai shaken and stirred, arousing anger against the governing authorities demanding their right to security. While the people of Norway although were initially shocked by these attacks, remained calm and resilient.

So, why that difference in reaction to almost similar catastrophes? Mumbai which houses a population of approximately 20.4 million people accounting for about 20% of India’s population alone, has been struck by terrorism not once, not twice or three times...but this city that I love so much, has been brutally hit umpteen numbers of times. While on the other hand, for the people of Norway, which houses about 20% of Mumbai’s population of approximately 4 million people, it was a first and hopefully (and surely) the last kind of brutal attack after World War II.

No doubt that the whole wide world is being terrorized and neither you nor I really know about what’s in store for us tomorrow or even the very next minute. But then, in between uncertainty and cruelty like this, there is 'hope' and 'faith'. ‘Hope’, that similar attacks like these will not repeat itself, and ‘faith’, that the internal system will be strengthened and would be intolerant toward such ruinous mishaps from repeating itself.

The people of the United States of America may criticize the debt crisis and the rising figures of unemployment in the US...but I don't think a single American has or will ever complain about the feeling of insecurity after the 9/11 twin attacks in New York city. The twin attacks certainly jolted the people of the nation, but it surely didn't shake their faith in the government. The people are assured that henceforth, anyone trying to plan such attacks again on American soil will have to be a superhero with supernatural powers. So much is their faith in the security system of the nation! Each global citizen anywhere in the world wants to have that same feeling of security.

Instead of assuring people of better methods for curbing such attacks from revisiting us, a man who supposedly has inherited the right to become the future PM of India says that the centre can prevent 99% of terrorism but the remaining 1% of it is bound to happen. Now how would anyone react to the arithmetic justification of this situation…that to, when it is coming from a government representative? Did this supposed PM-prospect mean that the 13/7 attacks in Mumbai, which took 25 innocent lives and left so many limping (for life), belonged to the 'inevitable' category of attacks. Shameful justification! When you don’t know what to say or do in a hysterical situation, it is better to simply shut-up!

Why do these cruel bloody attacks happen in the first place? Why would any sane individual or cluster want to take innocent lives of people they have never met nor have anything to do with? Even if we suspect insanity to be the reason behind these attacks, how can such illogical people make flawless plans and execute them with sheer precision then?

Bridging inequality in society
Don’t we need to first stop pointing a finger towards a particular section of society as soon as a terrorist attack strikes anywhere in the world. Why are Muslims being stereotyped? Is it really fair? When the Oslo twin bombing happened, speculators all around the world tried to scrutinize Islamist group influence/ involvement in the attacks. When in reality, the lone terrorist who bombed this beautiful city was an anti-Muslim extremist and a contrarian to the local immigration policies. The more we pigeonhole our Muslim brethren, the more we isolate them from the rest of the world, and the more divide we create. Someone’s religion is certainly not an indicator to judge whether he/she is a terrorist. It is the circle that a person lives in and the way he is programmed to think and behave that makes a person do crazy things. Isolation and discrimination are also the two deadliest evils.

Ask the lone terrorist who took Mumbai to ransom on 26/11 - Ajmal Kasab - why he aimlessly shot down so many innocent people, and he spontaneously replies saying that he fought for ‘jihad’. Interrogators did ask him what is the meaning of jihad and he said, "It is about killing and getting killed and becoming famous". Muslim clergies rubbished this, saying that, anybody who says that jihad is a ‘holy war’ needs a life. Jihad instead broadly means, striving hard by putting in your best efforts to achieve a goal by overcoming one's own weakness.

Terror surely is growing not only in India but around the world and it is time that each nation comes together carrying a single agenda to fight terrorism right from its roots. It is easier to celebrate martyrdom than to fix responsibility or make changes, so that more people don't get martyred. We need to act now!

Increasing security and a joint global anti-terrorism plan is the way forward. No nation can fight terrorism alone. It has to be fought in consultation with each other. Fighting terrorism is not only the business of the nation that has become victim to frequent attacks, but should be a concerted effort across nation pan-world. Just like we aim to become a world with zero nuclear weapons and also aim to reduce global carbon footprints to zero, shouldn’t we also aim for ‘zero- terrorism’ as well?

God Bless our world!

Post script:
I have been to Norway once and the first and the last thing I remember of it is the sight of the landscape 30mins before touching landing strip. Just one word to describe it…“Heaven”. Besides that, Norway is the only nation in the whole wide world which has been uncontroversial with peace and equality being her topmost priority. Truly a country which not only bestows humanitarians with the Nobel Peace prize award for their outstanding contributions in Peace, but also a nation that walks the talk.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

When you say nothing at all

We love you Mr. Manmohan Singh. We love you and respect you for who you are and where you come from. But we are frustrated with the silence and the no-show policy that you have adopted since the beginning of your Prime Ministerial era. I can end up in a quarrel if anyone raised a finger at your morals and values. But what do I do Sir, when people say that you are unfit, you are a lame duck, that you are remote-controlled, and that you lack political authority? Sir, the gloom on your face, the truth in your eyes, the stillness on your lips, says nothing at all.

Your silence and nothing-to-say style of leadership says nothing to a billion people who are waiting to be a part of the growing economy. People of this nation do not understand what’s happening with the checks and balances that fuel our economy. All we see is an expose of a new scandal perpetrated by your most trusted officer at the top every single day. We find ourselves stuck in a puzzle of despair and isolation. Please speak to us Mr. Prime Minister.

I know chhoti-muh-badi-baat (small person giving intellectual suggestion), but Sir, you need to free yourself from the surrounding magnetic forces of your so-called advisors who are feeding you with information that is the maligning the prosperity of this nation both socially and economically. The officials you have trusted and you swear by have back stabbed you. In return the very same trusted ministers have made an empire of their own. We have no complains with ministers who have become cash rich through their hard work and the remuneration they earn. But swindling public money in hundreds of crores is certainly something that needs to be investigated and punished at the spur of the moment. Nonetheless, the checks and balances and action plan of these swindles need to be communicated to the people. Why don’t you speak to us Mr. Prime Minister?

Every time a Minister from your office is caught in a new scandal, you ask them to resign and subsequently shuffle your cabinet. Is cabinet reshuffle the only way to fight the menace put forth by your Ministers? To action upon anything, why do you have to wait for the Supreme Court to issue a notice against your administration or wait for the CBI to press an action against you? Why don’t you take proactive steps of intolerance in matters concerning public money. Get moving and talking Sir. You can’t walk the talk if do not talk in the first place.

Why are you axing your own feet Sir? Or like some say, are you in dire need to create negative publicity for yourself…so that you have genuine reasons to step down mid-term and surrender the PM’s chair to the legacy in waiting? Even if this is the reason, why are you putting the nation and its people at stake to take this political advantage.

Saat samunder paar (over seven seas), the President of the United States – Barack Obama – who won the elections by campaigning through the electronic media, is effectively communicating with his people almost every single day. Exploring the electronic medium, Barack Obama speaks to his people through You tube, emailer, Twitter townhall, and has also been tweeting to his people frequently. We understand that India does not have 100% internet connectivity and electronic medium literacy, but Sir, there are so many other effective channels of communication that you can explore to reach out to the masses across different strata of society. Why don’t you reach out Sir?

It was a happy moment when you recently pledged to speak to your people more often. But to our disappointment, you even attempted your maiden speech half heartedly. In this age of electronic media and live coverage, how could you call five print editors behind closed doors to do an interview with you Sir? Why couldn’t you speak to us as the cameras were rolling? Doing this would increase people’s faith in you and harbor a feeling of hope in their hearts. You even missed this chance Sir.

Post script
Shri Manmohan Singh admits that he works 18hrs a day, seven days a week. Well only wish he worked less and rested more…he would have communicated better. All work and no play makes Singh saab a reclusive man. Barack Obama on the other hand is seen spending time playing golf and dashing inside ice-cream parlours and fast food joints. In the same breath, Barack Obama also finds Osama and shakes up the terrorists outfits terrorizing the world. Hope very soon we all get to see Singh saab enjoying some pani-puri’s at a nearby stall. Just hope!

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jumping jacks take centre stage

What on earth is happening, may I ask? What started with a noble effort to install an effective anti-corruption and grievance redressal system by the 15th Aug 2011 deadline, ended up in a fish market like ceremony, in which everyone including politicians, bureaucrats, aam-aadmi and spiritual leaders are resorting to the Satyagraha movement at the drop of a hat. Some leaders of course genuinely resort to Satyagraha, for bringing about a positive change for the betterment of the nation and her people. While some immature souls, misuse the fast-unto-death format of Satyagraha to fulfil their political and personal ambitions. And in the midst of all this mayhem, our leaders at the centre make the civil society’s cry look like a farce.

Without a wink of doubt, the man who was honoured by the highest civilian award (the Padma Bhushan), Anna Hazareji, is selflessly working towards introducing the Jan Lokpal bill and is fighting tooth-and-nail to lawfully also bring the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary under the ambit of the Jan Lokpal. But as they say, too many cooks spoil the broth. The civil society’s protests for enactment of a strong Jan Lokpal bill, which took off with great gusto nationwide, lost its fizz with Yoga guru Ramdev Baba’s jumping-jack act on the Ramlila grounds. I still fail to understand how did a spiritual leader cum yoga guru even think of frog leaping to the fast-unto-death format to fight black money. Isn’t Babaji better off teaching the world some asanas and prayanam for healthy living? Well, I don’t have my doubts to that question...he certainly is the best!

Detractors would dispute saying that every individual in a democratic nation - whether a soldier or a yoga guru or for that matter you or me – has the right to protest, as long as it is for the benefit of the masses. But then, shouldn’t the person leading the movement also know the A B C of law making. You cannot be a drop-out there right.

India shining or India bleeding (corruption)?


Every citizen of this nation is riding on the hope of a better life that has been promised by the elected government. The common man is intelligent enough to understand that a populated developing country like India needs a lot of planning and infusion of funds to correct the loopholes in the system. And that, there is indeed no magic wand to give India this makeover. But then, how would the so-called promising central government who needs time and public taxes to allow this change to happen, explain the filth of corruption scams that it is entangled into. How long will the government hold a blank cheque on people’s income and spend it as and where they like.

“In a fully free society, taxation—or, to be exact, payment for governmental services—would be voluntary. Since the proper services of a government—the police, the armed forces, the law courts—are demonstrably needed by individual citizens and affect their interests directly, the citizens would (and should) be willing to pay for such services, as they pay for insurance.”- As said by Ayn Rand.

It’s true that citizens willingly and voluntarily pay their taxes to be able to see the betterment of the nation. But citizens also want to know how and where are their taxes being utilised. In order to spare public money from being pocketed by crooked bureaucrats, politicians, businessman, and alike, there is a need of a transparent system devoid of any government representation that will look at the functioning of the system from a third party perspective.

Domestic distractions
The central government which has been rocked by allegations of corruption is busy submitting dossiers in response to the umpteen numbers of investigation cases filed against its name. Of late these distractions have paralysed decision making and stalled development projects, leading to increased inflation and lower growth. The Jan Lokpal is one such instrument which will bring fear in the minds of corruption seekers (and givers), guaranteeing proper utilisation of public funds.

Finally, fast-unto-death is surely not the right path to put forward people’s demands to the centre. But what else can the people who are riddled with a new corruption scandal every single day do then? Do civilians silently look at these high profile corruption cases being exposed in front of their eyes or do they need to react to this before things go out of hand and the nation goes back in time. The people respect the Parliament house and are proud of the nation’s fantastic democracy. There are lot of expectations from the Parliament and this is the time the parliamentarians in the house pull up their socks and start work. And if they cannot really do the tough job of cleaning up the mess and starting anew, it is time they step down.

Post script:
These days, the rich and the famous are busy raising funds through unconventional means. To get snapped with the first lady, Mrs. Obama is charging a whopping $10k as fundraising for her husband’s re-election bid for presidency, while Wikileaks has auctioned a chance to lunch with Assange on eBay. So, don’t you think it’s a good idea to auction a chance to dine with Kalmadi or Rahul Gandhi, in order to restock the repository (in India) that has been drained by corrupt ministers. What an idea Sir ji!

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Man! I feel like a Woman!



The remarkable triumphant win of Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha at the recent State Elections in Kolkata and Tamilnadu respectively, reminds me of the song – Miss Independent - sung by my favourite hip-hop singer Ne-Yo. Women indeed are celebrating “Being Independent”...going all out without any inhibitions or setting any conditions to explore the unexpected.

Undeniably, we are living in a patriarchal society. Be it an organisation, system, government, institution, or filmdom, the decision makers are indeed the menfolk. Well, the very fact that the Chief Ministers office in Kolkata didn’t have a ladies toilet for 34 long years is proof to this testimony. So, isn’t it a goosebumps moment to see our womenfolk make it to the helm under the influence of their own intelligence, capability and mass appeal...and not mere quotas or sifarish.

Recently the Maharashtra Assembly unanimously approved 50% quota for women in local bodies and also promised reservation for women in elections to panchayat samitis, zilla parishads, municipal councils and municipal corporations in the State. My question is, do women really need a quota in the first place? And, is it right to empower women through quotas?

I have never supported quotas for women and even more in this age looking at the way our Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dixit, Sushma Swaraj, Mamata Banerjee (Didi), Jayalalita (Amma) to name a few, have grabbed the top positions lock-stock-and-barrel based on merit and mass appeal. And then with Indra Nooyi (Indian born American) who is a topping on the cake with her role as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Incorporation...what else could any woman ask for. And yah, mind you, these are no exceptions or accidents. They in fact, represent real grounded women who can turn things around with sheer will power and focus towards the betterment of society and markets.

But this is certainly debatable. When I thrashed the very need of quotas for women in politics, many beg to differ saying that women indeed need quotas because there are many a Pushpa’s, Ramkali’s, Anandi’s living in interior villages who lead miserable lives oblivious to these ladies. But then, why should we have incompetent women onboard to handle tough jobs that she is not capable of...just because she is a woman. She would eventually not only lose her job because of underperformance but would undermine the ability of other capable women in society and in the neighbourhood.

Undeniably, women have different social needs than men and it is this area that our systems and institutions need to cater to a little differently. A woman serving in the army can be trained to fight for the nation with the same intensity and passion...but her physiological needs and care is different for which, additional privileges need to be provided to her. In the same breath, if we say that women are physically weak and that makes her incompetent to be a combat soldier, we need to justify why women have not made it to the top in corporations and institutions in which mental strength and aptitude is all that is required. Why that disparity then?

Is it the fear that women need to be committed to a family, need to take care of kids and is someone who will go on maternity leave and paralyse business if given top responsibilities. But aren’t these a passing phase? Shouldn’t we support women at such times by providing her with flexible working hours? Why stereotype women as a homemaker 24x7, 365 days a year huh! Surely this mindset needs to be changed.

Ultimately, it is not a question of man or woman. It is a question of merit. In the end, gender should not be looked at how good a person is and what she /he can do.

We need to equip our girls with the sharp sword of education by making it easier and fees-free for her to enrol. Nevertheless, even women who have missed out on the opportunity to study as kids can be trained on the job to become independent. We need to stop keeping our girls ignorant, insecure, hungry, and being treated as an unwanted child at birth. This surely will make a big difference!

And yah...why should boys have all the fun huh!

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.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hey Listen…Osama, not Obama is dead!

The hullabaloo of events that gripped the world the day after Labor Day, the 2nd May 2011, will be written in history books forever. Well this is the day when Mr. Poker face - Barack Hussein Obama - made his milestone speech informing the people of his country and to the world that “Operation Osama” conducted in hush-hush by the United States has successfully killed the man behind the devastating 9/11 attacks in America.

It was only a few days ago when Obama released his birth certificate in the public domain to silence detractors, specifically the Republicans about their allegations upon him of being a foreigner. That was really a silly thing to do...isn't it? Well today, the same cynics who were suspicious about Obama’s birth place doubt Osama’s death, and now are desperately seeking the death certificate of the fugitive. Just imagine leaving decision making to people who are more worried about the birth and death place of the other? Heaven knows what would happen. Phew!

The social media, Twitter, broke the news to the world before any other media channel…calling for a revolution in breaking news in real time. Minute by minute tweet updates were made by a civilian sitting in Abbottabad about 2km away from the mansion in which Osama Bin Laden was killed. While the whole world is talking about the mysterious hideout mansion in Abbottabad (50 kms -31 mi- northeast of Islamabad), I am still struggling getting my pronunciation right….Abort—taa—baad right? It surely is a tongue twister. As the name suggest, the place certainly aborted the most (un)wanted man in the world…but the sad part is that his followers – the Al Qaeda men - still remain at large.

US voluntarily took ownership of the attack and denied any involvement or assistance from Pakistan’s military or Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agencies in this evasion. Moreover, even Pakistan categorically denied any prior knowledge of US raid. Well, even when these clarifications are made, I fail to understand why sections of media and few officials are extensively analyzing Pakistan’s involvement, and are going head-over-heels to prove Pakistan’s aid to US in these attacks.

Nevertheless, even if Pakistan aided US in operation Osama, so let it be. If Pakistan do not want to admit or speak about it, so let it be. Sometimes, there are things better left unspoken! Rather, the world should be more curious to know why Pakistan is fostering terrorists on their land. What is the kind of support system that Pakistan has given Osama Bin Laden and his men for so many years? Why is Pakistan ISI and military covertly patronizing terrorist outfits?

I don't really think this is the time to spend our resources and energy towards unproductive analysis. In fact, we need to strike while the iron is hot by tying up with US forces to strike at the LeT group which is also breeding on Pakistan soil. This is also the right time to paralyze the already injured Al Qaeda network. In the same breath, we should also urgently withdraw nuclear capability accessible on Pakistan soil…because nuclear prowess can be completely misused by the terrorist groups already proliferating in Pakistan.

It is certainly true when Pakistan reiterates stating that they too are victims of terrorism. But sadly, innocent people of this country are the ones who have become victims of terrorism and not the governing authorities or the military or the ISI who in fact are cultivating these ghastly terrorist acts on Pakistan soil and the world. The world needs answers to these questions….Why?

Of late, immature statements by a supposedly renowned writer are flying around about, “why Pakistan should be declared a terrorist country”. Surely, some people have lost their minds. Where would innocent people of this country go if Pakistan is declared a terrorist country? Even more, the aftershocks of doing such a drastic thing will affect progressive and successful countries in the neighborhood, like India. The US is surely doing a good job eradicating perpetrators terrorizing Pakistan and the world. But we must remember that the US will do their job and leave the state immediately. The backlash of such attacks will have a direct impetus on neighboring countries which will have to pay the price of it all in return.

Sanitization of Pakistan is indeed the first step towards stabilization. We all know that Pakistan cannot fight terrorism single-handedly. It needs cooperation of the world to liberate itself from this evil spirit that has engulfed their democracy. Revamping the ISI, military and the governing authorities is what needs to be done first to detoxify the system.

Well, US got justice by killing the mastermind behind 9/11 attacks on US soil. Like the US, even India hasn’t forgotten the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai which took away innocent lives. But can India do what US did is the big question? I believe the war on terrorism can be fought with co-operation from the world and it is next to impossible to fight this war single-handedly. What do you think?

Post script
Although I reviewed my write several times to avoid slip-up’s between the two similar sounding names – OSama and OBama- I apologise for bloopers if any. Please note that the good guy in my story is Obama and the bad one is Osama.

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.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Anna’s “Aabra-Ka-Daabra Effect”


Who exactly is Anna Hazare was the first question I asked myself on 5th Apr 2011, the day when the frail and plain speaking 72yr old man dressed in plain white clothes pulled off his ‘fast-unto-death’ tryst to fight against the growing filth of corruption in India. I faintly remember hearing of this Gandhian then, but more importantly I wanted to figure out the magical aura inside him that infatuated such huge people support across the social strata pan India. Wondered whether it was the “Aabra-Ka-Dabra Effect”...because after all Annaji’s movement began at the Jantar-Mantar in New Delhi naah!

Giving more power to the people
At a phase in life when most of the septuagenarians hang their boots to celebrate retirement, Anna Hazare is selflessly working for the people and still going strong since the last 30yrs. The entire nation supported this gutsy guy who not only demanded the introduction of the Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's Ombudsman Bill) but also humbly fasted until the civilian demands were met. I couldn’t fast like Annaji, but also couldn’t resist being a part of the “I am Anna” campaign against corruption. Thousands and thousands of people like you and me came out showing their solidarity all through the 4 days of the movement...and then...can the government of the largest democracies of the world even think of giving a deaf year to the people’s humble demands....I don’t really think so!

Well finally, the Jan Lokpal Bill which is an effective anti-corruption and grievance redressal system against corruption will be drafted and then passed by the government accepting all civilian demands for making it a 100% accountable and transparent document. Indeed, cheers to this not so young man who sacrificed for the progress of a young India.

India is not an Egypt
It was pretty heartbreaking when the Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement was drawing comparisons with that of the uprising in Egypt. It is like unintentionally belittling or undermining the fight put forward by our freedom fighters to give us our democracy way back in 1947. The anti-corruption movement in India is simply a rightfully honest demand that the people are putting forward to the established legislative, and then using the means of rallies to communicate our needs...vis-a-vis Egypt’s uprising for actual democracy.

Power of wired networks
The captain of the Pakistan cricket team must have criticised Indian media for its negativity, but look at what media has done to make this movement a big success. Undoubtedly, media traversed across the nation to churn out stories of the masses. Evenmore, tactfully pressurised the government to act now or loose people’s confidence in the system forever. Besides media, social networking and micro-blogging created a flurry of opinions, bringing together the unity of thoughts towards the greatest non-violent people’s movement after the Independence Day movement fathered by Mahatma Gandhi.

Joining hands with the UN Convention
It is indeed time for India to be a part of the UN convention against corruption which crimilizes not only basic corruption such as bribery and embezzlement of public funds, but also trading the proceeds of corruption. The Convention which came into force way back in Year 2005 saw the approval and participation of 140 countries across the globe...except India which raised its hands rather than shaking its hands in partnership with this first legally binding international anti-corruption instrument.

Finally we got to walk the talk
So more power to the people, more power to India incorporation, more power for economic growth, more power to foreign direct investments, more power to spending on health and infrastructure, better and transparent utilisation of taxpayers money...but all this made possible only if we as individuals abstain from accepting or giving bribery, sifarish (reference), or anything that will chain the very purpose of this movement.

It’s really-really tough, but I will try. 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.

Monday, April 4, 2011

This Cup Is Mine

Giving a tough fight to our distant neighbours, India impressively won against Pakistan, leading the nation towards the magnanimous Cricket One Day World Cup 2011 final against Sri Lanka. And then, as Oracle Bejan Daruwala had very rightly prophesised, history recreated itself when the Indian cricket team lifted the World cup after 28yrs of waiting...that too winning it on our soil and in my very own city of Mumbai. What more could we ask for huh!

Height of Ecstasy
It was a volcanic blast of patriotism and pride that erupted on that winning day, the 2nd Apr 2011. Winning the world cup brought 1.2 billion Indians together as one nation irrespective of the diverse cultures, languages spoken, social status, and religion prevalent in secular India. Look at what eleven men of the Indian cricket team have done to this nation! They have not only won the World Cup for us but, they have united the nation giving it a long lasting ecstasy that no other drug can give. And as lover boy Enrique Iglesias would say, "I'm addicted, I'm out of control, but you're the drug that keeps me from dying." This is exactly what the cricket drug has done to Indians all round the world. We are still reeling in euphoria and this feeling is still sinking in. The India that was celebrating with fireworks, whistling through the vuvuzela, dancing to the World cup signature tune, draping herself with the tricolour flag, and hugging each other till eternity is the real India which erupted in national harmony since a long time. Even I saw the real India on that very glorious night. Frankly...it gave me goose bumps!

Our maiden World Cup win was in Y1983. The difference however was that, we were the underdogs then...the apple of no one’s eyes. But today, things have changed...tables have turned. India is not only brimming with her cricketing glory but also with her brilliance showcased in each and every sphere of life. After this huge win, the emotionally gripped Kapil Dev, the captain of the Y1983 World Cup winning squad said that the team that he captained is different from the Team India of today. Today’s team he said were under tremendous pressure and that they are better players that the players of 1983. What more could Team India 2011 ask for!

Demigod of Cricket
As a young boy, God of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar always dreamt of winning a World Cup. The World Cup 2011 win by far was the best moments he had been waiting for since 21 years. It might have taken this master blaster two decades to see this glory, but happy are those youngsters in the team who got to see this big day very early in their life...some of them hardly a year old in their careers.

Beyond Cricket
Supposedly, the gentleman’s game (Cricket) may not be India’s national game (Hockey), but this game has got more focus, resources, infrastructure, funding, passion, and dedication than any other game played in India. Thus making it one of the most sought after careers among young India.

There is hence an urgent need for our sports cabinet to rethink their strategy towards inducing the same passion towards other sports in India, including games like hockey, tennis, shooting, boxing, sprint, badminton, to name a few. India is brimming with talented young men and women who would love to make a sporting career, provided the sport is driven with the same motivation like cricket. Indian parents still dream of making their child a doctor or an engineer, and hence it is now time for us to think beyond these conventional careers.

Where is Poonam Pandey?
In the midst of all the excitement that has still not sunk in, everybody is on the lookout for maiden stripper, Poonam Pandey who has gone rogue after India’s win in the World Cup. Before the world cup, Poonam promised to strip every piece of clothe on her skin to celebrate India’s win. But it has already been two days after India’s glorious win and the mysterious lady is gone missing. So, here is a call to readers...if you happen to find or see Poonam Pandey in the vicinity or in around your circles, please report it as soon as possible. The whole of India is waiting for her to do her thing.

Post script
On a lighter note, there is this hilarious joke doing the rounds that I would like to share with you. A Sri Lankan was sitting at the corner of the street slurping tea from a saucer. Looking at him, a passerby asked him why is he drinking his tea in a saucer...and prompt comes the reply...India took away the cup. LOL

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.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The knockout round

Well, I’m not someone who lives, eats and breaths cricket like other worshippers of this game from India or anywhere in the world. And I’m also not like one of those craaaaaazy cricket fans....who will stay awake like owls, skip meals, bunk office, stand in serpentine queues, or climb over trees to catch a glimpse of a cricket match. But well, an India versus Pakistan match undoubtedly is a big high profile match played between two neighbors, who currently are not in talking terms with each other. Besides…a match between the conflicting nations is like a Supermoon phenomenon that happens once in 15-20yrs. And hence, when a match of this magnitude eventually happens, it creates a stir amongst people, stimulating their patriotic emotions for their country even more. The announcement of the semi-final world cup match between India and Pakistan brings in a lot of excitement and nervousness among the citizens of the respective nations. And this excitement only builds up as the day to the final knockout round approaches.

When the world cup 2011 began and the whole world was excited about it...I wondered whether I lost my mojo....because, the world cup excitement was just not sinking in. But the drab feeling took a somersault during the energetic quarterfinal rounds of the World Cup. Especially the do or die India versus Australia - the world champions - match which I was hoping and adamant that India wins come what may for two basic reasons. One obvious reason is so that we play Pakistan in the semi-final and secondly, to watch the over confident Aussies pack up even before entering the semi-final round for the first time ever. Except of course, I wished the talented, consistent, and committed player of the Australian team, Binga (Bret Lee) would stay back for his fantastic innings in the World Cup. Even in the quarter final round versus India, Binga continued his relentless fight back even after being badly hurt. And this is called true sportsmanship!

Is cricket diplomacy really required?
So, why all this fuss about the India versus Pakistan match? For some, this game is not just a match but it is more like war, while some diligently use it as an opportunity to build relationships. As soon as India entered the semi-finals and was scheduled to play against Pakistan in the semis on Wed, 30th Mar 2011, the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh invited Pakistan PM (Yousuf Raza Gilani) and President (Asif Ali Zardari) to India to watch this match with him in Mohali. There was a hue-and-cry across the borders, wherein people started debating about whether there was a need of such an overture.

Well, many people can say many a things. But in my opinion, this kind of overture indeed makes a difference! With so many failed attempts in the past to strike a diplomatic conversation with Pakistan (more importantly after 26/11 terrorist’s attacks in Mumbai), there was no channel of communication open to engage the two nations once again. The 26/11 terrorist attacks, the Kashmir issue, the Kargil war are continuous impeding points which kept the two nations away from striking a mutual conversation with each other. Well a game that is worshipped by India and Pakistan simply made this possible.

The immediate upshot of the invitation saw the release of Indian prisoner Gopal Dass from Pakistan jail after 27yrs of imprisonment since 1984 over spying charges. Furthermore, the President of Pakistan has promised many more similar releases of Indian prisoners in Pakistan jails. So cricket indeed is doing what nothing else could do! Even if this diplomacy may not be long lasting, we achieved quiet a bit with only an invitation by our diplomats.

The people anyway are excited and simply can’t wait for ‘The Day’ to arrive. But everybody wants to know what’s going on in the minds of the players of the two teams right now. The captain of the Indian cricket team, M. S. Dhoni, in his calm avatar coolly says that they will play their normal game and that this match is very important for the team to proceed to the finals. While, the Pakistan captain, the good looking all-rounder Shahid Afridi, plays the mind game to attack the Indian player by saying that his team will not allow master blaster, Sachin Tendulkar, or for that matter any Indian player to make 100runs in this match.

Can an India vs. Pakistan match be fixed?
In the midst of thrill and anxiety, disturbing claims about match fixing involving the Pakistan player’s seeps in just two days before the match day. To this of course Interior Minister of Pakistan, Rehman Malik clears the air saying that such a thing won't happen and he also warned his team players to refrain from doing such a thing.

But the question to ask here is whether an India versus Pakistan match can ever be fixed. Will players from any one of the sides accept loads of cash to lose against their warring rivals…I don’t really think so!

Oracle prophesies
Bejan Daruwalla, India’s well known astrologer predicts India’s win over Pakistan. And also predicts India - Sri Lanka final, in which India will win. If Paul the octopus was alive today…probably we would have taken his second opinion to confirm Mr. Daruwalla’s prophesy.

On that note, am praying hard that India wins this match against Pakistan and that the Oracle’s prophesy comes true. Fingers crossed and a short prayer to the almightily is what the nation is doing. There are people who have postponed their surgeries, have gone on leave, and have even postponed crucial plans to be able to watch this match. India Inc. has set up special screening for their employees, while some of them have declared a half day.

Personally, I have no special plans...I simply plan to leave early from office on that day and then catch the match from the luxury of my home. Eat, drink and make the most of this supposedly big day for cricket fans and Indian patriots. Some craziest fans are going to Mohali to watch the match. Reportedly, rooms in all hotels are booked to over-capacity. The big wigs from India Inc., Indian Film actors, and people from the governing body have used referrals and even paid a bomb for the tickets on that day. So this one's going to actually be a power-packed match drawing in maximum eyeballs.

Go India Go....De Ghuma Ke!

Post script:
Undoubtedly…and it goes without saying that I want to see India shining and come out as winners from this big India versus Pakistan match. But in the same spirit, I'm also looking forward to see India’s Prime Minister, Shri Manmohan Singh clap and smile in gusto while he cheers the players from the high profiled and highly guarded stands. It's been long since I have seen our PM do that on camera.

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, March 2, 2011

Freedom is contagious

Clapping their hands to freedom, the people of the Arab world are demanding their right to live a free life, to live in Freedom! The very same people who once had their lips sealed to the word called Freedom are now openly talking about it. But then what does freedom really mean? To some it means the right to do what you want to do, in the way you want to do it. To some it means expressing yourself by giving your opinion to anything and everything. To some it means immunity from the power and control of another. And to some it simply means telling someone to stop bossing and imposing strict rules and laws without discussions and consent.

Who said that you cannot live happily, make a lot of money, or live a healthy and wealthy life under an autocratic regime. Didn’t the people in the Arab world under the autocratic regime live a comfortable life, enjoying almost all materialistic highs in life? Coming to think of it, they even lived a better life than people from democratic nations. That’s why, Freedom is not about earning materialistic pleasures in life...it is more about freedom of the mind. It instils the ultimate power to the people to choose, to respond, and to change...and be able to do all this without having to be kicked or brutally killed for not following instructions enforced by a selfish regime.

Constitution for slaves
As the great Martin Luther King said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Quite rightly this is exactly what the undaunted people from Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Yemen, and Bahrain are out to do. They want to live like the people in other democracies who fearlessly and liberally express their right to information and opinion.

It is indeed a big revolution, a kind of a metamorphosis for the people from an autocratic regime to be moving towards a regime that will not ask questions or explanations for their actions. My heart goes out when I see pictures of free Egyptian women singing and dancing as they walk down the streets of free Egypt. They could never think of walking so freely under the Mubarak regime.

The aftermath of revolutions
The fight for freedom is good and ought to continue with greater vigour over the years to come. But then, all in not hunky-dory after the collapse and downfall of such autocratic regimes. Critics argue saying that the downfall of a regime can have a ripple effect and can lead to the crashing down of the economy. Agreed, that there is a lot of uncertainty and chaos until fair elections and selection of a fair government is put in place. But then even the human body retorts when a chain smoker starts his journey towards kicking the butt. It’s indeed, persistence and commitment to quitting the bad habit that makes him conquer it.

Hence it’s not that the newly formed democracies will not win over the vices. They will certainly triumph…we only need to give them some time, our support, share our knowledge and experiences, to help them put things together.

Calling for global response
Protests and uprising in the Arab world demanded speedy and forceful responses from the President of the USA, Barak Obama, and from the top honcho of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon. The whole world demanded quick actions from these powerful public figures against the dictator regimes, which did not care a damn before assaulting their own people, in order to stop the protests staged by them. But then, shouldn’t the world take charge and responsibility to end assaults and autocracy imposed by such dictators. Imposing sanctions is definitely not a solution to this big problem. Sanctions imposed weaken the economy which in turn affects the people. But then what does the world do is the big question?

The world can certainly get a little proactive by taking measures against the dictatorial regimes in the rest of the world. The people there may be dormant today, but the uprising is bound to happen very soon. Talks and discussions with dictators, is the beginning to avoid a chaotic Libya/ Egypt-like situation down the line.

Are people really free in a democracy?
Each democratic nation has a well written living constitution in place which guarantees people their fundamental rights of justice, equality, and liberty. The Constitution also demands accountability from the three estates - Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary. But then again why did we have situations like the 18th Dec 1976 in India, when an emergency situation was called by the then prime minister who in a freak moment pushed through several changes in the constitution to satisfy her hunger for power. Why do we still fight over religion when we are a secular country? Why is there so much corruption by the government...when we are a nation of integrity? Is the Constitution only a showpiece of democracy?

Fear is another roadblock towards experiencing and taking full advantage of democracy. Fear is good...but when the same fear makes an individual a coward, it simply is no good. We do not use our right to information (RTI) to our benefit, because we are afraid of being hounded and attacked by thugs; we do not speak up in our work place and demand our rights, because we are afraid of losing our jobs; we do not expose wrong-doers, because we are afraid that in the bargain our close ones would be hurt. Meanwhile as we are afraid to speak up, the oppressors flex their muscles and get more powerful.

“Fear has its use but cowardice has none,” says Mahatma Gandhi. And hence it is we the people/citizens who can make our democracy live and active by demanding and speaking for our rights. This is what I believe in, but unfortunately my belief is not translated into action in everything that I do. So until I reach the threshold of my conviction, I consider myself a coward! What about you?

Post script:
Reportedly a newly born child in Egypt was named ‘Facebook’ by his parents. Depicting the forceful power of a mere social networking site, which today can be our freedom fighter.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mummify the dictatorial daddy of Egypt

Tired of the octogenarian leader’s – Hosni Mubarak— totalitarian regime for over three decades in succession...the people of Egypt wake up from their deep slumber, demanding their basic fundamental right to elect their own government.

Egypt’s dictatorial ruler, Hosni Mubarak, until 25th Jan 2011 fearlessly dictated over the people of the country...robbing them away from their basic human rights of freedom of speech and expression. Well, although all authoritarian regimes seen till today have a long life span...they definitely do not last forever. The very same reality is unfolded in the case of Egypt, where the people of the country have revolted saying ‘Kaifaya’ which means Enough is Enough. The current uprising in Egypt reiterates to the world, that the citizens of a country indeed have the privilege to not only choose their own government but also have the right to overthrow it for non-performance.

Mubarak! Mubarak!
Mubarak is an original Urdu word which means congratulations in English translation and quiet rightly with the current demand for change called in by the people of Egypt, we ought to stand up, put our hands together and congratulate the Egyptians for making this strong, bold, and honest demand for freedom. Human rights indeed are universal privileges that every country administration should grant to its civilians by default.

Walk like an Egyptian
The revolutionary movement which began 13days ago at Tahrir square in Cairo is still being unfolded in front of the nation and the whole world. The turmoil in Egypt is waiting to draw a positive conclusion in favour of the people. When thousands and thousands of Egyptians relentlessly demand the ouster of the authoritarian regime, it undoubtedly denotes the beginning of the end of totalitarian regimes across the globe. The Egyptian uprising will not only be chalked out in history, but also churn out and instigate people from the rest of the Arabic world to say no to the era of dictatorship. The Tunisian Revolution prompted the uprising in Egypt and looks like there is more to happen in the rest of the Arab world.

They say that you shouldn’t push anyone so much that their back hits the wall. Because, if that happens...the person victimised will retaliate with a flurry that is irreversibly devastating. This is exactly what happened with the Egyptians.

Leaderless struggle for freedom
The Egyptians fight for freedom is upright and fittingly done in good faith, in hope for a free nation. However, presently protestors need a leader who can channelise their energies towards liberation. Flocking, screaming and shouting slogans of independence have won the Egyptians half the battle. But there is no further progress from here on until further negotiations and talks take place.

Just like India had the Mahatma to lead and negotiate with the rulers during the British colonial rule. Likewise, Egypt is in urgent need of an honest selfless leader who can negotiate the liberation process with Hosni Mubarak and his party men. In the process, a government of the people, by the people, for the people, is indeed not a farfetched reality. Furthermore, discussions on amending the Constitution is the next step towards practical enactment of law & order in the nation and granting vital powers and fundamental rights to individuals of the state the topmost priority.

In the bargain
Revolution’s like these take its toll on innocent lives. Additionally, it brings down the economy to a grinding halt which correspondingly affects the global economy. Thugs who were dormant under the authoritarian regime make the most of such weak circumstances by looting, robbing, and vandalising property of the state. In fact in Egypt, unemployed thugs have been equipped by President Mubarak’s followers to immobilise crowds at Tahrir square. In addition, other nations that follow totalitarian regimes go in an emergency mode since they fear the same fate.

Thus, the need of the hour is negotiations! And you never know, as I write, Egypt is getting free from the clutches of Mubarak. So while this entire event is being played out on the same planet that we all live in, let all of us sing saying: way-oh-way-oh-way-ooo-aaa-ooo...Walk like an Egyptian!

Let me sign off on an optimistic note saying, “Cheer up! The worst is yet to come”.

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, January 21, 2011

16th Jan 2011, the day I’ll never forget

Starting at about 6 that Sunday morning
I was waiting for the 16th Jan 2011 with bated breath since over six months...but when this day finally arrived I panicked, got nervous and wasn’t too sure whether I would be able to do all that I planned to do on this mysterious eventful day.

It was the day of the 8th annual international running competition, the Mumbai Marathon 2011. The Sunday morning on which the entire nation especially Mumbaikar’s turned up together to either run for a noble cause or to simply run to test their resilience and endurance power. Despite all the distasteful affairs in Mumbai, I’m in love with this exuberant cosmopolitan city, and I ran to be a part of an event which showcases the consolidated strength of the people of Mumbai.

Marathon fever
On the previous night before the Sunday Marathon, I frantically set the alarm on three phones to shake up at about four the next morning. Well, I could never wake up that early even in my dreams but the very excitement of being a part of the Marathon definitely did the trick. I reached the meeting point well before time where I met my running mates (Kiran, Arun, Kinnar) who seemed all charged up.

Well, we reached, we warmed up, we discussed our plan of actions, and in no time we stepped on the starting point of the Half Marathon (21kms) which took off from Bandra Fire Station and finished outside C.S.T station en route Bandra Worli Sea link - Haji Ali- Mahalaxmi race course-Jaslok hospital – Wankhade stadium-Trident hotel.

Yes we did it!
Motivation, hip-hop, cheerleaders did all the trick
It was a cool serene dusky Sunday morning and my team of four were bubbling with overflowing energy. The four of us found ourselves in the midst of over 10,000 participants each one stretching their bodies to eternity as we braced ourselves to complete the 21km stint that was set right in front of us. The first 3-4 kilometres was claustrophobic, slow, and kept me guessing if we were ever going to be running. But as we got going down the traffic prohibited lanes of the Bandra-Worli sealink, we got a breather.

The entire Marathon stretch which on a routine day has vehicles exhausting gas and polluting the environment…was embraced by environment friendly enthusiastic beings exhibiting a ‘never-say-die-attitude’. Passion, enthusiasm, and resilience can actually make the impossible possible. It happened to me and I can vouch for it.

Singers, Dancers, musicians scattered at different patches en route did a terrific job keeping us marathoners on our feet and enlivening our spirits all through the race. I now understand the reason why sporting events exclusively budget for cheerleaders. I agree that they indeed are the crux of any adrenaline pumping event. Making a petition to the sporting committees (specifically the IPL), I earnestly request them to stop fussing about granting funds for cheerleaders...they indubitably make a difference!

Doubly, I was also driven towards completing the Half Marathon by my running mate Arun who kept me alive and kicking by persistently guiding and motivating me all through the run. Additionally, the 3 letter's (M W M) scribbled in bold on the back of his T-shirt kept reminding me that I had to live up to it come what may. It meant "Marathon With Mearl"...and how can I ever let that message go pointless huh!

When we were 10secs away from the finish line.
That streak to ecstasy
We went ecstatic after crossing every 5km mark on the Half Marathon track. But after the 15km achievement, we celebrated every kilometre by dancing and singing with artists all the way. I still can’t figure out where did we get all that energy from...but yeah we even did that extra bit! After the 18km successful run, our eyes went hunting to spot the finishing line...just like a tiger which has its eyes on his prey until it latches onto it. Well, eventually I lost my mind after touching the finishing line...and why only me alone...I believe everyone on that pitch eventually were on cloud nine. Yes, we did it!

So hope to see you at the next Marathon 2012. Trust me, it is an attractive power-packed event you just can't afford to miss.

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