Aug 152010
 

What is India?

  • A nation with cities where Pizza reach faster than police or ambulance.
  • A nation where you get car loan at 8% but education loan at 12%.
  • A nation where the staple diet of people, rice, costs rs. 40 for the cheapest quality, but SIM card is free.
  • A nation where people worship goddess Durga but kill their girl child.
  • A nation where an olympic shooter gets gold and the government announces rs. 1 crore as a reward for a once in a life time achievement. Another shooter dies fighting terrorist, saving thousands of lives while doing so and the government declares the standard “rate” for his life, rs. 1 lakh.

This is my Incredible Independent India.

(Source : SMS)

Aug 142010
 

This is my contribution for protection of the environment, apart from the huge mango tree which I saved from being hacked down earlier this year. My blog goes green.

There are several initiatives on the internet, which help protect the environment. One of which I came to know yesterday was, by hosting my blog on a particular server which is powered by solar panel. But this one I liked much better. You see the badge on my sidebar. By clicking on it, you go to the website with more information. All you need to do is create a blogpost similar to this one and add a badge in the sidebar as I have done. Then send the link to the email id CO2-neutral@kaufda.de and they plant a tree for you. This will help neutralise the carbon emmission that your blog host is giving out.

By the way, after completion of this task, no one is stopping you from planting a tree in your own backyard. So why wait. Make you website/blog, carbon neutral.

Aug 132010
 

Times News Network, reports in its 13th August Mumbai edition of the Times of India that, HC slams state for neglecting PAPs rehabilitation saying that ‘Maoists are born due to govt’s apathy’. I couldn’t find the link to its online edition, but you can check it out on page 13.

It’s kind of good to hear that someone at the top was able to find out the actual reason and make it public. Of course, it’s not always that all Maoists are the neglected lot. Most of the leaders try and gain personal benefits in the name of justice to the affected. But the uneducated, poor people who are really affected, take their words, because there is no one from the side of the government to help them at that moment. These people are the people that the Mumbai high court is talking about.These are the people who turn to unnecessary violence under the influence of few leaders. These are the people who die fighting for their rights.

Just hoping that this message is conveyed properly to the government.

Aug 122010
 

This might be a bit off taste for a respectable human being. But I feel it necessary.

Thuuuuuu!! Spat the person walking in front of me on the railway platform. If you are residing in developed and clean countries this is something unheard of. But in my country, there are rules governing the civic habits, which are rarely followed. Garbage on the street is a common site in big cities, where garbage management is a problem due to lack of workforce, or may be the lack of the force to work. But spitting is one habit which gets to my nerves, leave me just short of exploding. Just short.

I am reminded of an incident my brother recounted few years back. He, along with some relatives were travelling in jeep. A younger cousin was seated on the front seat. At one point, they smelled a foul stench, something like a dead animal rotting. Everyone covered their noses. But this cousin went a step ahead and spat out of the window, as is a normal “tradition” followed by most of the Indians. And the jeep was travelling at high speed. Naturally, some part of the spit landed on an uncle who was sitting at the back window. So this uncle wondered aloud, “how the hell was his spit going to reduce the stench. All it did was flew back inside and smeared me.”

How is spitting, really supposed to help in anyway in such situations. We in India come across lots of decomposing garbage everyday. And we are sure to come across people who spit at the garbage as they go by. People spit on road. They spit on platforms. They spit in the trains below the seat. They even try to colour the body of the trains by spitting out chewed tobacco. They spit everywhere except in the wash basins in public places.

There are fines against such acts. But the police prefer bribes to fines in such cases. As such is the case, it becomes very difficult to control the dirty act in public places. It feels just “YUCK!!” when you see someone spit near you, or even when you hear it. But where is the end to this.

In places like Singapore, I hear that even if you are not caught at that moment, CCTV cameras will capture your act and you will be fined later on. In such countries, Indians behave civilized. But on their homeland, no one can control them. They are the owners of all the public properties.

A good way to stop this would be giving powers in the hand of public in some way, so that this acts are controlled at the very moment. At present, a normal person who feels this as dirty cannot utter a word against people who mess up in public spaces. But for a long run, proper civic education might help in controlling this habit. But then, is also self conscience that should act for such people.

In the meantime I continue to take detours from the path of the spit of a person walking in front.

Aug 122010
 

Deepwater Horizon happens. The implications to the environment are huge. The Mexican gulf is polluted. The coastal regions depending on fishing and tourism, are the hardest hit. Oil continues to float on the gulf waters and will continue to affect the marine environment. BP will loose billions in settlement, and it has to rethink its business models if it wants to come back to the top. The world and the media, is projecting this case, so that justice is delivered to the affected.

MSC Chitra happens. Its just another ship that’s listing heavily in the navigation channels of the Mumbai port, after an accident with MV Khalija. The containers from the ship have tumbled overboard, and oil is gushing out from one of its fuel tanks. The containers contains, amongst other items, pesticides, and no one knows whether the containers in water contain it. The attitude of the port authorities and disaster response team(if there is any in the Mumbai port) towards this incident, is lax, if not negligent. It takes two days for the gravity of the situation to sink in. But by than, containers have reached far away coastal villages. People in this regions are running around, salvaging whatever they find in the containers. 500 kg samples of fish are found to be polluted. The fishing activity in this region has been banned, resulting in loss of livelihood to thousands of fishing families living in this area Meanwhile, the authorities find that the port is not equipped to handle the situation well. The port continues to be closed for ship movement in and out. The railways and transport systems are loosing in crores due to unavailability of cargo to transport. Fears loom large that the city will be short of oil and gas, for its power plants and vehicles, if cargo movement if not restored. Basically, MSC Chitra, lying in the navigation channel, has threatened to shut down Mumbai.

Deepwater Horizon incident is a major one. But does that mean that the Mumbai incident is not so damaging to Mumbai? Then why this relaxed attitude. Is it because oil spill in Indian waters is taken for granted? Initial reports said that the authorities were using dispersants to reduce the oil sheen. But few people know how it works. Dispersants do nothing to convert harmful oils, full of those catalysts, in to something that is environment friendly. It just makes it heavy enough to settle to the bottom of the sea. Yes! Even after the application of dispersants, the oil exists at the bottom, which is no quite as deep near the coast. During my shipboard training and tenure, we have been taught that these kind of dispersants are to be used only after go ahead from the concerned port authority. And they will rarely give the go ahead. So why does the Mumbai port consider dispersant as the first choice instead of swinging into action some containment plan. Is it because we compare it with deepwater horizon spewing out millions of barrels of oil from the sea bottom?

Go to any coast in India with a port nearby. There is always a layer of oil washed ashore during high tide. This oil is nothing but the waste oil that is discharged from he ships trading in Indian waters, even after lots of regulations in place by the international convention for prevention of marine pollution(MARPOL). The authorities turn blind eye to this oil discharges, and the shipping companies go scot-free. With our attitude, we are heading towards complete destruction of our vast shoreline and the ecosystem around it.

Jul 232010
 

It is a welcome move to order a stay on the transactions carried out between CIDCO and Avinash Bhosale. The Times of India’s exposure in their leading newsmedia, lead to this intervention from the maharashtra government. The Times view say that though the decision is a welcome development to this case, they hope that this is a genuine move and not a cosmetic attempt to deflect attention.

Well, TOI, wake up!! By now you should lean that the government takes action only when these type of cases are highlighted through the media. If they really think that there should be an enquiry, then the case has to be pursued and highlighted continuously. If the media settles down on such cases, the government feels at ease and dumps the cases, because they can’t afford to expose themselves!!

The TOI starts its news with the first statement as, ‘acting upon the scam first eposed by the TOI…..’ I don’t say that it’s just the TOI using such beginners for a ‘expose’ news article. Every news group does the same. They expose, they print that action was initiated due to their expose, then they sleep. It feels like a battle won, but they forget to wage a war.

The voice of the common man goes unheard these days. Its the responsibility of the media to act in such situations. For proper functioning of governence, there are many element required to function smoothly. But main elements are, the ruling party, which runs hand in gloves with the scammers, the opposition, which is divided amongst themselves and falling apart, the common man, which goes unheard. So its the media which has to wake up and show their importance in running the country.

Jul 222010
 

The collision between two trains at Sainthia station was a very bad episode, which took lives of many innocent people and injured many more. But what is more disturbing is the blame game that ensued.

First, it was the railway minister herself, claiming it to be some kind of conspiracy. Then there were many more theories blaming either the signal system, or the station employees, or the signal man. And now, its the turn of the drivers and the guard, dead or living. Dead more so, than living.

When will Indians learn to keep their mouth shut, if the time is not right? Why do we, unqualified people for this kind of analysis and investigation job, jump to conclusions? Why not instead wait for the investigations to complete and then demand the dispension of justice in a right manner?

You know what my theory behind this mysterious accident it? Maoists hijacked the train at red signal, and killed the driver and the co driver in some way which will not be revealed easily. Then they started the train, and jumped off it while it was picking up speed. That can explain why the brakes were not applied even as it was speeding to ram into the other train. Far-fetched, but possible, isn’t it? But then why should I not go forward and put up this theory? Well, we still have a living guard, who can shed some light maybe.

But all said, how long will this investigation take? Will it take few more accidents of such nature to get to some conclusion as to what is causing them? Also, do we really have the necessary forensic expertise to solve such mysteries? All these questions will go unanswered, so will the question of what caused the accident. The blame will be put on the driver, and the matter will cool down very soon.

I feel sad to remind the very recent accident in aviation industry, when a plane crashed at New Mangalore airport, killing almost all the passengers. The very first reaction by the authorities was to blame the pilot, even before the black box was recovered. The investigating officials were red faced when their preliminary report, after about a month of the accident, marked the site and the runway of the accident, different from the actual location. What can we expect from such investigation teams?

Its easier to blame the dead, because they are not coming back for their self defense.

Jul 132010
 

Yes, that’s what I am. And that’s only what I am. I wouldn’t say that it helped me to be even a step ahead anyone who learnt from vernacular language schools.

Pope John XXIII High School, was the name of my school. In the days when I joined school people in our neighborhood could just make ends meet. Of course my parents had jobs, so did many other people in our area, but very few thought it necessary to educate their child in english medium schools. A social activist once scolded my parents saying that they seem to have had lots of excess money to waste since they had enrolled me and my brother to John XXIII. The fees were exorbitant(rupees 100 per month which was a huge amount in those days). And the convent run school meant added expenses throughout the school term. We had a uniform with a tie and proper shoes(people living in cities take this things for granted, but where I stayed, we were the best dressed students). We had a different uniform for sports. We were amongst the first to get computer education in our school, which of course, was charged separately. To sum up, it was quite expensive. While our friends in vernacular mediums, studied for about 10 rupees per month, used old uniforms and books passed on by older students. Shoes were made compulsory when they neared the end of their school life. And tie. Why was that required in a school?

When we left school and joined college, it was no longer based on language. The division was by streams. It was either Arts, Commerce, Science, Diploma or ITI. Initially my friends from non english schools did face some difficulty, and till date they recollect that. We considered ourselves lucky because we understood whatever the lecturer said. We were happy that our parents had educated us through english medium. Slowly, they picked up what was being taught. After college we went our ways. We had new friends. We chose our professions. We were dragged into the heavy currents of river of life. In the meantime, we forgot to evaluate the benefits, if any, which we had extracted from our english medium education.

Let me go personal. I studied mechanical engineering. Couldn’t secure a job for around a year and a half. I did manage to clear all the written examinations conducted by various companies. But somehow, my english medium education failed to hone my communication skills. I couldn’t clear interviews. Then I was selected for marine engineering training, and since that seemed to be the only option left at that time, I jumped in. I have served on various ships for around 4 years. Life, as it passed, managed to teach me some complexities it had in store. After leaving merchant navy, and taking up a job on land, I now find it meaningful to evaluate my english medium education against the vernacular medium education which my friends had taken.

I am a marine third engineer. My friend is a second engineer(second engineer is a level above third engineer). He studied in vernacular medium. Another friend sits right next to me and does the same job as I do. He studied in vernacular medium. The topper from my school works with a big IT company. But I think, he is the only one to join that company from our batch. I know few people from our batch who studied in vernacular medium, but joined the same company. Students from non english schools go ahead to become doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, scientist, politicians, writers and other top profession available in the industry. They have not lagged behind us in any sense. So what was it that was different or special in us english medium students, but didn’t fire up?

Its not the medium that ensures future success. It takes hard work to get there. Even after completion of school, my verbal skills in english were not as good as one would expect, because I did not take necessary steps to improve it. Its the commitment to strive towards success ensures it. It doesn’t matter what was the medium in which the school taught. It all depends on how much we want to learn, whatever is to be learned. I wouldn’t say that enrolling me in to english medium was a bad decision by my parents. My failure to make the most out of it, is what I must blame.

Jul 072010
 

“Come on man!! It’s the last day of our college!!! We will be on our separate ways hereafter. Who knows where life will take us? Its for fate to decide. We may not meet for quite some time after today. So why don’t you have just a glass of beer with us? We know Ravi, that you are not into drinking. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be in to it for life. Its just one glass that we ask you to share with us? Grow up man!!”

“Ok, ok. Stop persuading me. I will raise just one glass with you. But remember, I won’t go for another glass. This is just for our friendship. Also, make sure that if I pass out or something, just take me to your house, not mine.”

“Hahaha!! We are not asking you to empty a pint. Its just a glass. You will be fine. We all will be. Waiter!! Two kingfisher premium please.”

************************

“What will you have Ravi?”

“A quarter of Smirnoff Vodka.”

“Oh! So you are a fan of Smirnoff?”

“Well it soothes my mind. Makes me forget all my sufferings and sorrows.”

“You have a good job at this IT giant. With your own house in a very high class locality, an expensive car, a loving wife and two kids, I don’t understand what’s eating up your mind.”

“Hey man!! Stop the lecture. I was just fooling with you. Its just that I like to get high, and smirnoff doesn’t stink. So my wife won’t know. What about you? What’s your brand?”

“I normally go for a glass of beer. But since there is no one else to share the remaining, I think I can try a shot of smirnoff. Actually I never intoxicated, until after college. Once I was persuaded by my friends during our farewell. It started from there. I hope I will be able to handle the vodka.”

“No worries man. Its just a glass. You know what? I have the exact same introduction to alcohol. But now I am used to it. At 30 years of age, a man should have some form of enjoyment in life.”

************************

“Brought him in about half an hour ago, sir.”

“What’s his name? And what are the charges?”

“His driving license says ‘ Ravi Kumar’. He is charged with reckless drunken driving, disobeying traffic rules, damage to public property, non cooperation with police, causing danger to human life. This guy almost killed a women who was crossing the street. Had it not been for the signal post to which he collided, the women would have been lying under the wheels of his mercedes. He seems to be slosh with alcohol. I found two bottles of Black Label in his car. These rich, rotten people behave as if they own the world and the law.”

“Keep him in the custody tonight. Fill up the FIR and present yourself and the lady as the witness. I hope you have the readings of the speed gun. Also send his urine and blood samples for test. Lets see how much pumped up this rich kid is. And if he doesn’t have liquor license, charge him with possession of liquor in excess quantities.”

“Yes sir. I have even procured the CCTV grab from the nearby shop, which recorded the incident.”

(Ravi Shouting)

“OFFICER!! YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS!! I WILL SUE YOU!! WAIT TILL I GET MY LAWYER".

“Be quite you fool. You have done enough damage to yourself and others.”

************************

“You have been reporting late to duty lately. Most of the projects allocated to you are incomplete. People complain of you being slosh and stinking of whiskey. We are on the verge of loosing an important client because of your behavior with their representative, few days back. You cannot be sent to offshore assignments because you have to report to the police station every week. You remain shabby in your clothing and your ways. Do you expect the management to glorify your “achievements” and promote you? YOU ARE FIRED!!”

“Sir, I promise to you this won’t happen again. I had been a fool. Please give me just one chance? I will change my behavior. I will stop drinking. I will be a new man. Please sir.”

“If you repent your act, its good. If you want to change, its good. You want to start a new life? I wouldn’t want more from you. But the doors of this firm are closed for you for the final time. Whatever penance you decide for yourself, take your own time to carry it out. I can just wish you all the best for your future.”

***********************

“Sir, the person in the overturned mercedes on the expressway, is charred to death, beyond recognition. We have sent his dentures to match with the records. Video footage shows that car was running at excessive speeds and went out of control before flipping over. It caught fire due to petrol leaking from the tank. Registration number indicates that this car belongs to one mr. Ravi Kumar. I wouldn’t be surprised if this person in the car was mr. Ravi Kumar, because he had been booked by the city police few months back for reckless drunken driving. We have found an empty bottle of Black Label near him in the car, indicating that he might be drinking at the moment this accident took place.”

************************

Ravi, the star in the eyes of his parents. Ravi, the partner to his wife and the guardian of his children. Ravi, considered to be very intelligent ever since his childhood. What happened to Ravi? Life was not supposed to take a U-turn for him. How did this happen? Was it the fault of his friends who persuaded him to drink that glass? Was it the fault of his parents, who might not have taken him into confidence about the vice, that drinking alcohol is. Was it the fault of his wife who failed to notice that he came home drunk frequently? Was it the fault of his boss who did not give him the final chance to change himself?

No.The blame was fully on Ravi, and that “Just one glass” which he drank.

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