Saturday, September 29, 2012

Anna or Kejriwal, who is right?

Recently Anna Hazare announced that he is not going to be a part of new political party or movement which Arvind Kejriwal is planning to start soon. It was surprising if not shocking shocking to know this. Forming political party and taking this anti-corruption movement to next level was next logical step according to me in the direction of bringing reforms in our corrupt political and bureaucratic system. The question which comes to my mind is why Anna choose to stay away from political option? Is it because he feels that involvement in politics will corrupt his movement? Does he think that politics is dirty game and want to play safe? or is it some other reason? what is it, which made him to take this decision and what effect this decision can have on current political and social scenario? Who is right, Anna or Arvind?

Anti-corruption movement started with bang when Anna Hazare sat on his fist fast for Lokpal issue and it charged whole nation. The problem was there, everyone knew it, people responded spontaneously which even took government by surprise. For people of my generation this movement is a chance to be a part of Indian history, our generation never witnessed any part of freedom struggle, we were just kids or infants during emergency and struggle after that, but we can be a very important part of this important movement and that's why it means a lot for our generation.

In the beginning of the movement people's response to it created lot of hope and many things happened after that, a comity was set up for Janlokpal bill draft formation and discussion, this didn't work out very well as there were huge differences between government's version of Lokpal bill and team Anna's version. Government prepared its own Lokpal bill and introduced it in parliament, there was much heated debate on contents of that bill and effectiveness of this newly proposed system. In general this issue was there in media for 3-4 months and then slowly attention shifted to some recent scams and fuel price hike related issues. When Anna sat for his second fast for the same issue, it created much less turmoil and public participation was also less compared to last time, government also realized that these things are not going to make any dent in its vote bank or affect its stability so they conveniently ignored the movement, this forced the movement and its leaders to think about alternative ways to fight anti-corruption battle. I think at this point they realized that just fasting or protests are not going to bring the change, it might trouble ruling party or government for sometime and force them to discuss these issues but policies or laws can not be formed or changed by using these ways. May be this lead them to think of a idea of forming a political party which can give voters an alternative to select honest and sincere candidates who are willing to work for people's welfare rather than working to fulfill some personal ambitions (which most current politicians are doing). This sounds like more logical but very difficult path to follow, creating a political party and managing it is not a simple thing in Indian political system, but without doing this it's foolish to expect that current political parties and politicians will suddenly change their ways and become sincere and honest just because of some protests and fasts. Corruption is not a recent problem in Indian politics or bureaucracy  it's so old that it has become like a norm now. I don't think ruling parties will care even few people die while fasting, it might create some temporary uproar among public but current establishments know very well how to handle these type of things. These things (protests and fasts) work very well for local issues where urgent attention is required but for national issues like corruption different type of movement is required which can run for longer time to be effective, short 10 day protests of fasts are not going to serve the purpose.

As I mentioned giving people (or voters) a better political alternative sounds very logical but very difficult option to execute for anti-corruption movement to move forward. I think initially everyone thought this as a very viable alternative and I remember that Anna Hazare himself announced this option at the end of his second fast in Delhi, but something went wrong in coming days. Arvind Kejriwal and his followers moved forward with the intention of forming political group and I think others decided to wait and watch. This resulted in clear divide in team Anna, one group became totally inactive and waited for Anna's announcement and other group started their work towards formation of political outfit. Finally Anna announced that he won't be a part of any political party, which is totally fine according to me, because it's his choice and it should be respected but he also forbade India against corruption or Arvind's group to use his name and image for their movement which is totally surprising. This created lot of confusion. If it remains like this I am sure this will nullify any effect this movement might have on next general elections, I don't know which candidates or party Anna and his group are planning to support? Even JP (Jay Prakash Narayan) stood with Janata Party to bring the change in 1977, he didn't fight election or accepted any post but he clearly associated his name and image with particular party to bring that change.

Without giving viable political alternative what Anna expects voters to do? Right now it is very confusing and I think not very good scenario for anti-corruption movement, either they should associate themselves with some political party which can endorse their ideas and views or form their own party and fight the elections. If they are not willing to do any of these things and just want to play a safe game then there is no point in doing all this because for any policy change they have to depend on other political parties which will act only as per their own requirements and benefits. It is difficult to say who is right here, Anna or Kejriwal, but it is also true that both of them should come together to make this battle successful. I hope that this issue between these two groups will be resolved soon and they come up with some common plan which can reignite this movement and initiate the change in the system which is badly required. I know that this is not going to be easy battle, it will be very long and one can not expect positive results in one or two elections but it should start at least then only we can expect some positive outcome.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing) 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

OMG those high heels...

I never thought that I will write any post on this subject...but it's happening, I can't believe this but that's what happening. These high heels which females wear, you see them every where teenage girls, women, old ladies all of them wear them or I should say forced to wear them..and this force is not any physical force, it's the indirect force similar to what makes people to drink coke and other soft drinks instead of water, similar one what makes people believe fairer skin is more beautiful compared to dark. It's a indirect pressure created by aggressive marketing and stereotyping the concept of beauty. Now a days height of lady doesn't depend on how tall is she naturally but how tall high heels she can wear, and believe me pressure of looking tall is very serious there are not many girls or women who can escape this pressure, it's tremendous and has created huge market for foot wear makers (and I am sure for doctors also because of various alignments these things can cause to women body). 

It's being propagated widely that tall looks compliment the beauty of body, according to me it's a plain lie because beauty depends on many factors and height is one of them (in similar way where they say fairer skin is better or more beautiful than darker skin, single factor can not be responsible for being beautiful). It seems that looking tall makes women feel confident or if they are already confident it boosts their confident (is it a some kind of joke?), and for poor women who are not naturally tall only option remains to feel confident is to wear those high heels and if you look around you can see that this argument is working and people do really believe in this. I am sure wearing these high heels beyond certain height must have certain disadvantages or health risks associated with it but ladies are willing to wear it in spite of all these things. I wonder what is it forcing them? peer pressure, social pressure, stereotyping tallness as integral part of beauty? I just fail to understand what is it?...

One thing I should accept that it really amazes me beyond limits when I see all these ladies wearing high heels (and I mean really 'high' heels) and walking comfortably (or at least they pretend like that, may be I am wrong)...and let me tell you that it's not at all that easy, I was so curious about it that I tried it and I can barely stand wearing them forget about walking and these ladies not only walk but they dance also, climb steps...this is just phenomenal according to me. I thought that waxing (by which they remove unwanted body hair) was the only torture modern women voluntarily accept to look beautiful but I think this pain of waxing is nothing compared to this continuous balancing act which they have to perform with these high heels.

I am not against any of these things, it's totally up to women to decide what they like to wear and how they want to present themselves but I feel sad when I see womanhood, femininity or beauty getting stereotyped like this. I wish at least few of them stand up and say 'Hey it's not necessary to wear those towers to look beautiful...short or tall, fair or dark everything can look beautiful', I am sure some women are there who don't care about these things but I think they are in minority and most of them succumb to the pressure of making them presentable as per latest fashion trend. I know that this is not a big social issue but this is not only about high heels or fairness creams but about the stereotyping the beauty and I hope people understand it.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  


Friday, September 21, 2012

Is banning books or movies a solution or a problem??

I wrote my last post about the movie or video clip which is creating lot of controversy now a days. While writing that I was thinking about many other movies or books or articles or cartoons which created similar reaction or uproars in past and were banned in various countries and cities for various reasons, I was wondering what purpose these bans served? Did they solve any problem? Did these banned things disappeared because of this ban or they became more popular and prominent? Did banning these things serve any purpose or created more trouble or problems? 

Satanic versers was banned for some objectionable content and it made Salman Rushdie world famous author and celebrity, Lajja made Tasleema Nasreen a permanent refugee in India and also a celebrity, Arun Shourie was already celebrated author but his book 'Worshiping false Gods' resulted him getting mobbed and attacked in his own country...all these books are still very popular and are still in very high demand and some people read them just because they are curious about these books because of ban imposed on them...there were bans issued against these and many other books (movies, cartoons, etc.), protests, fatwas and what not but at the end what happened? Who won or who lost?

This reminds me some incidents in history, even Jesus was mobbed and attacked, there were many people who wanted to kill Muhammad, Budhha was also not very popular because he challenged many established religious beliefs and faiths. I am not comparing these people with anybody but just comparing the situations and mentality of people (or mob). Some people, organizations or establishments were always against new thoughts or ideas which doesn't fit in their ideology and the funny or interesting part is that they don't try to oppose these things with better thoughts or ideas but rather they try to attack these people, try to kill them and think that by killing a person they kill his/her ideas. It never worked with anyone in history, rather whenever these authors, books or even a crappy movie like 'Innocence of Muslims' were attacked they became more famous, they got more attention, more followers and generated more curiosity. These bans and violent protests help to make these things more popular. Some of these books or movies (like Innocence of Muslims) are made or written with an intention to create trouble and these protesters help to fulfill that by their behavior and they don't even realize it. So my question is why don't people understand that by attacking people, books or any ideology by violence they are not going to achieve anything other than destruction and trouble? They indirectly help to make these things more popular. I agree that some times these articles, films or ideologies needs to be criticized or questioned but definitely violence in any form is not required to oppose them. One can register their protests in many forms which don't require any sort of violence and are equally effective or if they don't agree with contents of any of these things then just ignore them.

I personally love to read and its one of my favorite hobbies but till now I have not read anything where I thought it required a violence (I am not only talking about physical violence but violence in any form) to register my protest against it forget about killing or hurting the author or artist. We humans claim to be different than other animals and very often believe it or not we behave like or wort than other animals. Can't we behave more like humans than animals while registering our protests about anything, can't we understand that there is bound to be a difference of opinion among us and we should learn to live with it, is it that difficult I don't think it is. Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Innocence of Muslims...worst movie but a big HIT...

Today I saw this movie or part of the movie called 'Innocence of Muslims' made by someone called Sam Bacile (I don't even know who this guy is and if he has made any other movie before)...the quality and content of this movie is pathetic. The movie (actually it doesn't even deserve to be addressed as a movie) is very poorly filmed, edited and scripted. The movie is made with only one intention that is to create disturbance, to create uproar in Islamic counties and Muslim communities of the world and guess what....people didn't disappoint the maker of this movie (or video clip) at all, I think even its maker himself would not have imagined that his movie will attract this much attention and people will take it so seriously. There were many protests, riots, damage of public property and also there was assassination of some US diplomat just because of this one video clip....sounds so unreal and filmy...but its reality. People made this video so successful that I am sure many more will come like this after all who don't want to become successful and famous, that too with so little effort. So this crappy video is a big HIT now..bigger than any Hindi movie or Hollywood blockbusters...

As I said almost all religions claim that they teach love and compassion, but very seldom we see these qualities in their followers when their religion is criticized or even if some one points out some uncomfortable truths from history. This is true for every major organized religion, I am not only talking about Islam or Hinduism here (two major religions of India), there are no exceptions...but almost every religion on this planet when criticized their followers suddenly forget all teachings from their books, gurus, messengers or prophets and indulge in violent protests, vandalism and riots in the name of protecting their religion...I don't understand how one can protect his/her own religion by killing others. This massacre in the name of religion is going on for centuries, people are killing each other in the name of protection their religion but even after so much killing no one could wipe out any religion from this earth, rather more and more messengers and prophets were born and more religions were all this violence bred more sects, religions, factions within that religion (moderates, conservatives or liberals). There was another news also where at least 6 people (including 2 minors) were killed in Gaziabad (town in UP, India), this happened after the violence that followed the alleged desecration of the holy Quran. Six people died because someone did something to some book? this doesn't make any sense to me, no matter what book that was, be it Bhagavad Gita, Quran, Bible or something else and how someone can insult a book? Once person buys any book it his/her property and they can read it or throw it or burn it, how does it matter? and after killing so many people what good it did to that book or religion? can anyone explain me that? sounds totally insane..isn't it?

I don't know if people see something wrong in their violent reactions, on one side they believe that there is some powerful, super controlling entity who created this world (including we humans) and also manages it and on other side they kill each other, destroy their creators creations and that too in name of protection that all powerful creator?? does it make any sense? and this is true will all major religions not any particular religion. There are so many ways to protest or to register your point or disagreement but for some reason they prefer only violence. It's quite natural to get upset to see something which you don't like or not to feel comfortable with things which hurt your feelings but you won't kill people just because of some unpleasant comments against your beliefs or over disagreement. I don't know when people will realize this. Organized religion has disappointed me big time, it failed miserably in spreading peace in world, it doesn't seem to be working, I think we need something like science where people can disagree freely with each other but still work peacefully towards fulfillment of some common great goal that is to serve this humanity and planet. I know many people won't agree with this and will give many reasons for need of existence of religion but then they should also able to tell me when this mad violence in name of religion and its protection will stop? If something is not working its better to dump it and search for an alternative rather than waiting for that thing to fix itself, when we know that it cant fix itself and we all know it very well. Unless we all understand this basic problem with our approach towards our religions and its symbols, videos like this will come out and will become big hit and will kill many more, many books, articles or cartoons will be published which can cause riots and we all will be watching helplessly like this and wondering whether this madness will stop at all or not...decision is in our hands.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  


Was Aseem Trivedi right or wrong?

There was so much fuss in Indian electronic and print media as well as on social networking sites about arrest of Aseem Trivedi and reasons behind his arrest. He published some cartoons as a part of anti corruption movement which many people didn't like and he was arrested in Mumbai on 9 September 2012 on charges of sedition. He is also facing very serious allegations like insulting national emblem, Parliament, flag and constitution through his cartoons. Let's first see what are these cartoons, I am reproducing them below.

Cartoons are also artistic representations like any other art, most cartoonist try to comment on particular political or social situations through his/her cartoons. These cartoons are trying to covey some message that something is wrong with the current political and bureaucratic system of our country. I agree that they are very explicit and full of anger, but nowhere I see the criminal intent of artist or his intention to insult nation or its emblems. No one objected that why there is only Mother India not Father India (gender bias), I know its a silly question and so are the one in which say that these cartoons insult India or anything else. They are just artists way to express his feelings. In India people are very (or over) sensitive about their religion, caste or so called monuments of honor like parliament, national flag, temples, historical figures...list is too long and you never know what can become a reason to hurt people's feelings...and trigger nation wide protests or even a riot.

As Indians we project our self as a very tolerant and broadminded society but in reality this mindset is not observed, rather we see very intolerant people and political outfits who are ready to kill each other over very minor difference of opinions and I wonder as Indians do we even think about this paradox in our behavior or not. What Aseem's cartoons are doing here is trying to tell some message and this cartoon controversy has resulted in such a turn of events that this message of anti corruption movement or seriousness of corruption affection our society got totally sidelined and totally unrelated issue about press freedom and respecting national symbols dominated the discussions. I am sure government would love this.

In India we have so many restrictions on use of flags, national symbols, because we can insult them in so many ways, in many developed countries where people are as patriotic as Indians, they also love their country, its flag and other symbols as much as we Indians, it is allowed to print flag on almost everything (starting from slippers to bikini) but in India one cant do it as it will cause insult of flag, in turn the whole nation and one can get punished for this crime. We need to look into this issue more seriously, anything we want to give respect we make it sacred and sacred things no one can touch, comment or criticize, let it be any book, monument, emblem, flag or any person. Let people express their love for their nation, flag or symbols the way they like (in civilized manure), if these symbols are just made to stand in showcase or books then how will they generate patriotism in people? I think everyone should be free to use them. This is my personal opinion and people may not agree with it and I totally understand that.

According to me Aseem Trivedi didn't do anything wrong, he was within his limits when he drew these cartoons and his intention was to spread some social message and not to hurt or insult anyone. We should learn to listen to criticisms directed towards our nation or leaders or religion or its gods, there is no shame or harm in listening others point of view or even criticism. Many times these things make us realize us our own shortcomings or mistakes and if we shut others up just because they are saying or showing something unpleasant that means we don't have courage to face criticism and this also means that we are not willing to learn from our mistakes. I hope that incidents like this will never happen in future and we will have true tolerant and democratic society in India and all over world.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bhishma...The grand old man of Mahabharat

As I mentioned many times in my posts, Mahabharat is very interesting story for me and I love all of its characters because I can relate with then very easily at various stages of my own life. Bhishma is one of the powerful and very important characters of this epic, I think he is the one who is present there for most of the time. His physical presence is the longest in epic and he is considered as grand old man of family. But for me his life looks like a big tragedy, full of contradictions and useless sacrifices. He did great sacrifices for his father, step brothers, grand kids and his family in general but most of them created many problems for him and his family, even though his intentions behind all his actions were noble and honest most of them created tough situations and complicated his life even more.

Bhishma was son of Ganga and Shantanu, Ganga took unique promise from Shantanu before marring him that he won't oppose any of her actions even if he find them totally wrong or unethical and the day he will question her she will leave him. She drowned their first seven kids into the river and Shantanu didn't say anything, but he couldn't stop himself at the time when Ganga was about to drown eighth one and tried to stop her. He saved the kid and that was Bhishma or Devavrat but lost his wife, Ganga left Shantanu with that kid. He returned back to his father as a well trained young boy expert in martial arts, weapons and politics. Devavrat's life takes unique turn when his father falls in love with a fisher-women (Satyavati) and desperately wanted to marry her. That women's father didn't agree for marriage and to solve this problem (that is to get his father marry) Devavrat stepped in. Major concern of Satyavati's father was that his grand kids (Satyavati's son) won't get to become a king because Devavrat was the eldest son of Shantanu. To satisfy him Devavrat forfeited his claim to the throne but Satyavati's father was concerned that Devavrat's kids might fight with his grand sons for kingdom and to clear this doubt Devavrat took a vow of lifelong celibacy. To reward him for this great sacrifice his father gave him the boon of 'swechha mrityu' (that is control over his own death, he can choose time of his death). From here his all problems begin, he vowed not to have his own family but vowed to take care of his father's family and this kept him engaged throughout his life, his father died, his brothers died but he remained fulfill his vows, he became slave of his own vows because of them many problems were created in his life and he suffered a lot.

Bishma's life was filled with many twist and turns, he didn't get married himself but have to bring brides for his step brothers and their kids in that process even got cursed by Amba which ultimately became reason for his death. He tried his best to stop Kurukshetra war, he didn't give up his attempts to stop the war even after war started. For the first ten days of war almost nothing special happened as long as Bhishma was commander-in-chief of kuru army, he thought that Duryodhan will realize his mistake and will stop the war but his all attempts failed and war continued against his wish. He had to watch destruction of his own family and kingdom in front of his own eyes. He couldn't stop Draupadi's insult inspite of being eldest member of family. Many of his decisions which he thought were in the best interest of his family (most of which he took hastily or in rage of emotions) like his vow of celibacy caused troubles for him and his future generations.

From the beginning Bhishma's life was marred by troubles and uncertainties, his mother wanted to kill him immediately after his birth but his father saved his life and since then his life was a roller coaster ride. For me Bhishma's life  and character is unique example of a person who with all his talent and capabilities failed to create any positive impact. He didn't even die without pain, he was on a bed of arrows for number of days before his death, one can imagine how painful experience that would have been, so even the boon of swechha mrityu proved to be a curse for him. What he achieved by taking his vows and by fulfilling them is also a big question. He is a unique person who even with all the powers and talent felt helpless in most of the situations, but one of the good quality in him was he never gave up. It's not easy to carry on with our duties and efforts when every time our actions backfire on us and result in something else than what we expected. Bhishma's all actions and sacrifices didn't produce the desired result but still he didn't loose hope. We all feel something like this at some point in our lives and his character teaches us never to give up, he never gave up his duties and tasks no matter what difficulties he faced. I think we all can learn this lesson from him.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  

Saturday, September 8, 2012 is same everywhere...

This is an election year in America, people here will vote to elect new or reelect the current president. The race is heating up, TV ads are growing, soon debates will start, recently Republicans and Democrats both finished their conventions. I was listening to some of the speeches which were delivered at these conventions and was surprised to hear the quality of these speeches, most of them were full of self praise, speakers were challenging emotions of audience, they were full with artificial emotions. How will you feel when a wife of billionaire speaks that she knows how it feels to make both ends meet, she claims to understand the struggle common man and women face in day to day life and height is that people clap for this and some of them even cry after hearing this??? Some speakers make free reference to their religious beliefs, I personally believe that religion and politics should not be mixed together but unfortunately almost in every country religion plays dominant role in politics. They harped about their personal success stories, achievements, family members and many other things which are not at all relevant with politics and the issues which this country is facing today. Even candidates wife spoke about them..I wonder why they have to speak about their husband at a political rally? why does it required? and what people expect to hear from them except unrestricted praise about their husband and family. No doubt that some of the speeches were excellent but for me most of them were disappointing and sounded very staged and artificial.

Presidential debates are fun to watch and are very important part of presidential election in USA. I wish something like this they start in India. I used to think that politics in US is fought at different level and with different style than in India, but it's not true. It's all the same. In India where I live (Maharashtra) that state has produced many great orators and I have heard many of them, even may current political leaders can deliver much better (or at least similar) speeches than what we heard at these conventions. I wonder how american people tolerate all this nonsense. May be because they don't have many parties to choose from, sadly they have only tow choices may be that's why they cheer to whatever they listen as they know that this is all one can get...these conventions made one thing very clear if politics in India is dirty then here also it's not that different.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

When I felt like a foreigner in my own country...

This week I came back to new haven from my India visit. I try to visit my home country at least once in two years. Every visit is special and full of many many good memories. I have very strong attachment with my friends, relatives, parents and this place itself that I can't stat away for very long, this country pulls me back from wherever I am. 

No doubt that India is changing, and it's changing fast, effect of globalization is seen everywhere, cities are expanding like anything, villages are shrinking, greenery is disappearing from cities and is being replaced by huge buildings, vehicles on roads are increasing, all major fast food chains have their shops at every corner in all major cities, any brand in fashion or automobile you can get very easily now, spotting Mercedes or BMW on the road is no more a surprise. This all in just last 9 years since I left this great country, all this was bound to happen, change was bound to come, and I welcome this change but I have somewhat mixed feeling about this rapid change for various reasons....I think the problem is the change is mostly superficial. I see that India is changing physically very fast but most other things are still as it is or may be going from bad to worst (and this is not a pessimistic view, just my personal analysis). No doubt that money inflow and its circulation has increased in India, mentality to save money for future is long gone and consumerism is at its peak. I like when I see that people are living comfortable lifestyle and can afford many comforts and luxuries which were out of their reach just a few years ago.

Many people are trying to ape western countries blindly, fast food chains, global soft drink brands have replaced local brands. Even many Indians now prefer to drink mineral water outside their homes, that's huge surprise for me. But still there is no concern for environment or no philanthropic mindset. Any festival season or long weekend results in huge cash collections in many famous temples across the country. People go out of way to donate money to these religious organization without being bothered about what these organizations do with all this money. Mostly this money or donations are offered to get something from God, many people who indulge in corruption donate heavily to these organizations and think that they washed their dirty hands and free to carry on their loot. This is sick mentality and it should change, donations should be for good cause not for selfish reasons.

When I saw all these things, for a moment I felt like a foreigner in my own country because I couldn't relate with all these things, I was wondering is this the same place where I was born and brought up. No doubt the place has changed drastically but this change is not from within, it's just an external makeover. Still there are undercurrents of casteism wherever you go, even elite universities and institutions are not free from these things. If educational institutes are polluted like this then how one can expect students coming out from these institutes to have unbiased views? I saw even small kids have very negative opinions about other communities and people from other religion, and I was wondering from where they learn all these things? why their parents don't take special care that their kids don't get trapped in negative mindset about people around them? isn't it all part of development? don't we have to develop our thinking along with material developments?

India is a country of diverse culture and languages but this diversity itself has created many problems. We failed to take advantage of this diversity, rather we are stuck with mindset of protecting our own identity (in terms of cast, religion, region or language). These challenges are unique for India and I strongly believe that Indians are capable for handling them, we just need strong efforts and determination. Anti-corruption movement started by Anna Hazare and his group is a good initiative in this direction. At least someone is trying to change the system rather than just complaining and blaming it.

But please don't get the pessimistic view about India, it is much more than the problems which I stated above, it's largest democracy in the world and it's not easy to manage so many people with different cultures, languages and religions. It's an unique example where people can live happily in spite of so many problems and hurdles in their life. One of my friend and mentor (Chandu Uncle) says that if anyone doesn't believe in God they should visit India, and they will realize that God exists, otherwise India won't survive...the way things work in this country there has to be some superpower (God) who controls everything...:) other wise it's impossible to explain many things happening in this country logically.

It's true that sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own country but very next moment I realize that I belong there, among all those chaos, noise, dust and crowds resides a country which I love and care. I know as a nation we face many problems and some tough challenges but I am also confident that we can handle it and this trip made my belief even stronger. I didn't come disappointed but I came full with optimism and hope.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Value and need of money...

One thing I realized during my stay in India for last few weeks is that value of money has decreased but it's need and importance has increased a lot. Things are getting expensive day by day, I think real estate prices are increasing every minute in some big cities like Pune and Mumbai (I am not kidding). There seems to be a race to earn money by whatever way one can, the competition is so fierce and tough that people don't even have time to relax and think which way they are going and what will be consequences of their actions. India is known for spirituality, its simplicity as well as poverty. One can clearly see the effect of globalization on Indian economy and its people. Things are changing and they are changing very fast, many things have improved, and at the same time many have deteriorated also. One can notice the speed of development clearly by the amount of construction work going on around Pune area (where I spent my time during India visit), huge multistory buildings are being constructed and trees are vanishing fast because of that, even beautiful hills are getting occupied by bungalows and even after so much construction demand for apartments and land has not decreased a bit. I don't know if anyone has time to think about environmental impact of this speedy development in Pune.

Many software firms have emerged and also many other private industries, this has created huge job market for skilled workers. Government jobs have lost their status and importance completely. In my student days most of brilliant students used to strive for career in government sector, because those jobs were considered as secure and attractive (with all extra money they can generate apart from their salary). Emergence of private sector has changed this scenario completely, they offer very attractive packages and this resulted in change in life style of middle class of India. The point of telling all these is that money has become very essential commodity in India now, it's not like it was not but there never used to be such blatant display of money in Indian society which we can see today. This all development and uplifting of middle class is very good, no one can question that, but at the same time disparity between rich and poor has become big. The gad has widened even more, there is only certain class which is getting benifitted because of all this development. Along with these big apartment complexes slums are also growing. Villages are shrinking, cities are growing beyond their capacity, they are overcrowded and all this is happening without any proper planning. This is what bothers me that its all happening 'without any proper planning'. Currently everyone is busy in reaping the benefits from this phenomena and is not bothered about its long term effect.

People are feeling need for money to match the lifestyle of other people around them, competition is tough, pressure is immense and people are busy, whereas its good to compete but it should be a healthy competition not a rat race where every one is chasing others without knowing what the ultimate target is. One example of senseless completion can be seen in car market. Today almost all major car manufactures have their shops in India and one can see almost all expensive cars on Indian roads except hybrid car models...just because its not cool to have them, BMWs, Mercedes, Audis are status symbols and people like to have them but not the hybrids. No one even thinks about environment while buying the car. This consciousness about our surroundings, about impact of our actions on environment should come along with the development to have a sustainable growth. Street vendors are still there and they still sell very good stuff but many people buy the stuff from malls, use of public transport has decreased significantly (still they are crowded that's a different issue). This all social and economic changes has made people feel the need for more money even more.

Having desire to earn money is not bad at all, living comfortable life is good but it's also necessary to be conscious about energy consumption. Importance and need of money can not be denied or ignored but its necessity beyond certain limit can definitely be questioned. Everyone has to decide their own limits and work towards it, it can not be uniform for everyone. We all have similar needs but greed is what lands us in trouble so we should be aware of it. Pursuing our dream is necessary and great thing but we should check from time to time that the dream we are pursuing is our own or forced on us by society, I think if we do this reality check from time to time then we all will realize the real value and need of money and can make our lives much more happy and comfortable.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)