Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stop bullying...it's a social evil

Recently Amanda Todd, a Canadian girl committed suicide after relentless bullying on internet and in her schools, a life lost for no reason. She was just 16 years old and this is not the first death which resulted because of bullying (or in India it's commonly known as ragging). How serious is this issue of bullying? How to deal with it? As parents what role we can play to help our kids to deal with bullying? There are many questions like this and this recent tragedy has brought the issue of bullying in limelight and there is lot of discussion going on about this topic in media and online forums. Because of widespread use of internet now there is this big issue of cyber bullying also, physical as well as mental bullying (specially via internet) both are very dangerous and affects many kids (or even adults) a lot, it shatters their confidence, makes them feel unwanted and in extreme cases life is lost. 

First thing we can do is wherever we see bullying we should speak up and try our best to stop it, often people try to ignore it because they feel its not their business to interfere in others personal matters. But bullying is not a personal matter, it's a crime and we should not hesitate to tackle it wherever we come across it, it's a social evil and just because mostly kids are involved in this it should not be taken lightly. It's fun to certain extent but rarely people involved in this understand the limit between fun and torture. Many think that it's a part of the student life and to some extend it's true but the question is if students don't realize when they cross the limit and something like suicide results because of this then there is some big problem for sure. This problem is there from years, keeps on coming up for debates and discussions whenever some tragedy like this happens but it never really got eradicated, in some form of other it always existed. People can get bullied for so many reasons for their looks, the way they dress, religion, race, color, sexual orientation, etc. some people make some mistakes in their life and bullies try to take advantage of those mistakes to bully them (blackmailing is also a type of bullying).

We need to educate kids on how to handle any form of bullying, they need to be emotionally  strong and confident to confront bullies.  We need to discuss these issues regularly with them, provide all emotional support. People make mistakes in their life, some time mess up big time but everyone needs a second chance. There are rules and laws to punish criminals but no one has right to trouble or torture anyone for some of their mistakes or just because they are different than most of us, that's wrong. Both kids who bully others and get bullied need training and counseling, we should make them to understand that people have different tastes and choices and we need to respect each others and give space. We need to be more tolerant towards each others. These are simple and very basic things which we can teach our kids to make them better citizens of this world, we try to teach them many things to make them devoted Christians or Muslims or Hindus but don't take much effort to make them better and responsible citizens of this world, we need to start doing that. Parents and teachers need to play a key role to solve this type of problems, it's our responsibility. We all need to spread message of love, which is greatest quality of human beings. Hate and violence only spreads negative energy and emotions, I hope people try to understand each other before judging, feel love and kindness towards each other rather than hate, we need to realize and understand that we all are different but still can live together and this is the fun part of being human, this understanding will alone help us to fight this monster of hate and violence.

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

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

Further reading:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lal Bahadur Shastri...a forgotten hero.

2nd October was also a birth anniversary of another great Indian politician and freedom fighter Lal Bahadur Shastri. He was second prime minister of India, unfortunately he was on that post only for little more than a year because of his untimely death but even that time was also enough for him to leave his permanent mark on Indian history. Coincidentally his and Gandhiji's birth anniversaries are on same day. One can easily notice the huge popularity of Gandhiji and other politicians (like Nehru, Sardar Patel, Bose, Ambedkar, etc.) but compared to most of them Shastriji seems to have very few fan following, it's not because of lack of achievements or character, actually he is one of the best ministers and politicians India ever had. He was a very honest person (very rare quality in today's politicians , Gandhian by heart, he followed Gadhi's principals of nonviolence and  literally lived a very simple life (another rare quality). He came from very modest background and never forgot his roots and his people. For Shastriji politics was not a profession, not a way to earn his livelihood and make arrangements for his future generations, to him politics was a way to serve people and his country and he did this with total conviction and honestly till his last breath.

Today we see many big political leaders in India, entering in Indian politics and surviving in that mess is not easy, becoming a minister in state cabinet is very big deal, if one can get birth in national cabinet then nothing like that, people try whatever means they can to get these things. All these big leaders and ministers have very loyal and big fan following, they also have big muscle and money power with them which helps them to win elections and manage their political party, they take special efforts to create all this. In today's political world 'honesty' is not the quality which people associate with any political leader or party, it is assumed that all of them are engaged in some sort of corruption and only to what extent is the matter of question. These leaders also try to make sure that their children or relatives continue their so called legacy in politics and do everything to make sure that they also get elected somewhere where they can have some power in their hands. If one takes a look at the life of Shastriji then one can see sharp contrast in his political and personal life and life of today's politicians. I think may be this is the reason why he is not that popular today, because no one has capacity to understand him or relate to him, his values and lifestyle look so alien to most of us, we believe that it's impossible to live like him and survive in today's worldWhen was the last time we heard that minister resigned immediately after something wrong happened within his ministry, in September 1956, he offered his resignation after a railway accident at Mahbubnagar but prime minister Nehru did not accept his resignation. Three months later, he resigned accepting moral and constitutional responsibility for a railway accident at Ariyalur that resulted in 144 deaths. In Parliament while speaking on the incident, Nehru stated that he was accepting the resignation because it would set an example in constitutional propriety and not because Shastri was in any way responsible for the accident.

Gandhi was a charismatic leader and considered as a huge brand today and this is the situation with most of leaders and iconic figures which we see current politicians and political parties use for their benefit  that's is why even though there are not many people and politicians who believe in their ideas and principles but still they like to keep that brand alive as they can exploit it for their own benefit but for them Shastriji don't have any brand value, this is why history has forgotten this giant, it's really sad and unfortunate but that's what it is.

For me Lal Bahadur Shastri is symbol of person who served selflessly to his country and his people without expecting anything in return, he is an ideal example how a politicians should conduct themselves, he was a politician who never played dirty politics just to survive in political world, we need many more people like him in public life. To me he is a hero, source of inspiration and a giant personality, I salute him.

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

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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

'Oh My God'- A courageous attempt in main stream Hindi cinema..

I love to watch movies, listen to music, specially Hindi, Marathi, Bhojpuri and sometimes English songs. I normally don't discuss about movies on my blog. My movie watching habit sometimes landed me in trouble during my childhood days, but that's not the point of discussion here. Many movies have left deep impact on my mind and it will be really interesting to discuss about them sometime. I discussed about Marathi movie "Deool' few months ago, recently I saw Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar starer movie 'Oh my God' (OMG), I really loved the movie and I think it's a unique movie in many ways. I know that it won't be a blockbuster on box office, may not create controversy which movies like Fire or Water or recent video clip 'Innocence of Muslims' created. The production values of movie are also not that great, there are regular masala elements in this movie (like item song), so technically it's not a classic or critics choice or anything but still it's a different  and brave attempt and needs a applause for few very good reasons.

The story line is very simple, it's a story about an atheist who sues God because his property gets destroyed by a natural disaster and insurance company refuses to honor his claim. This is the first time I saw in Hindi movie where atheist was not forced to beg to God or finally land in temple accepting his mistake (of being atheist, remember that famous scene in Deewar where Amitabh's character visits temple to beg for his mother's life). It is true that at the end of movie Paresh Raval's character accepts the existence of God but he never enters the temple (because he believes that that's not the place where one can find God), according to me this was bold enough leap by a Hindi movie. Main protagonist of movie Kanjibhai (Paresh Rawal) never compromises on his beliefs, some of his comments about current state of religion in India (or I can say around the world, state and methodology of religion is not very different outside India also). The movie showed the paradox of society which I often talk about, a society where people fear God, but claim that they love God and in turn God loves them. They care about god and it's places of worship but fail to protect their fellow citizens in the event of crises.  In today's world all religious institutions and cult movements are like big business houses and they all are very rich, never face any recession. Religion is used freely in politics, society and families for so many purposes and this movie comments on almost every aspect of it.

Mostly the reference is to Hindu religion and its Gods because movie is mainly targeted towards Indian audience but it also makes passing remarks about Islam and Christianity also. The movie also makes very harsh remarks against cult movements where people start worshiping some person thinking him/her a incarnation or messenger of God, it also questions whether we really need waste so much money to construct so many temples (mosques or churches) in India where so many people don't even get enough food to survive, and makes fun of any type of mechanical worship (including idol worship), no movie ever dared to do this in main stream Hindi cinema. The movie is not all about criticism or sarcasm directed towards religious beliefs at the same time it also takes care that it doesn't hurt conventional religious beliefs and sentiments, it delivers punches at right places and maintains sarcastic tone but it doesn't try to preach atheist philosophy or make fun of people's belief in God, rather I think it tries to show the difference between faith and blind faith, love for God and fear for God. It also shows how religion has become a big business now and how these so called churches, ashrams and mosques use people's emotions or fear to milk money from them in name of God, it also shows how these people behave as if they are authorized agents of God. I can go on like this but I think it's better to watch the movie and decide yourself.

For me it was a good movie to watch, very good experience, I enjoyed it and I recommend it for every one young and old, so called theists and atheists, watch it and I am sure you all will enjoy it. I know that one movie like this can not change the mentality of people, this mentality and blind faith is a result of conditioning of human mind for centuries, it is result of planned and conscious effort of many organized religions and faiths, it will take many more movies like this, many more blog posts. This movie won't bring that change but  I hope that it might initiate it and that's what I am looking for, it has shown us the mirror and lets see if people have courage to look at that image.

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

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

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why corruption is not such a big issue in India?


India against corruption is in news recently. Arvind Kejriwal is trying to make corruption a big issue for next general election, every day new scams are discovered at state and national level, still same governments with tainted ministers are running, jailed ministers are getting released and also receiving grand receptions by their party and supporters. One can ask, why Indian bureaucracy is so corrupt? Why most people visiting any government office need to pay bribe to get the any small work done? Why even common people are not scared of breaking traffic laws? Why people think or believe that nothing is going to happen to rich or politicians even if they break the law? There are many questions like this and most people will point their fingers towards the corrupt political, legal and bureaucratic system as the root cause for all this. We common people are very important part of this system because this system runs because of us and for us, we are the reason for which this system exist, we help the system to run and we have power to change it in any direction we want. So the question is how come the system became so corrupt in first place and why no one is doing anything to correct it? One of my friends forwarded me an very interesting email which dealt with similar subject (Why India is so corrupt?), though I don't agree with the subject of this email that India is totally corrupt because according to me it's not right to label whole country as corrupt because of its corrupt political system and bureaucracy, there are many honest bureaucrats and politicians in India. That email mentioned some very interesting points which I want to share with my blog readers along with some of my own points.

Author of email thought that corruption in India is cultural aspect and Indians don't mind corruption as it's everywhere (including their culture). We have tendency to tolerate corrupt people rather than correct them. The author blames it on our culture and traditions for this attitude. Author goes on to say that religion is transactional in India. Many Indians give God cash, gold or whatever they can offer and anticipate an out-of-turn reward (he is absolutely right about this).  This type of action acknowledges that favors are needed to get the things done (or to fulfill the desires).  In the world outside the temple, such a transaction is called “bribe”. Many wealthy Indian gives so many gifts in various forms to temples and other religious organizations, the main intention of these gifts is not to help the poor and needy but this is their pay-off for God. They think that such donation to temple or God can bring more wealth or good luck and it will be wasted if it goes directly to a needy person. One very recent example of this is when Karnataka minister G. Janardhan Reddy (famous Reddy brothers) gifted a crown of gold and diamonds worth approximately Rs 45 crore (~ 10 million USD) to Tirupati. It is also true that many temples in India collect so much that they don't know what to do with it.

Now the reason why this donation to God (or bribe to God) is related with our tolerance towards corruption is when Indians believe that if God can accept money for his favors, then nothing is wrong in doing the same thing in their real life. This is why many Indians are so easily corruptible because they don't see anything wrong in it. It seems that Indian culture accommodates such transactions morally. There is no real stigma, guilt or fear associated with it. One can accept bribe or donations and then go to temple donate part of that to that temple and feel happy about it, and get rid of any guilt or fear, it's that easy. That is why many corrupt politicians with very serious charges of corruption against them can make comeback in Indian politics and serve as elected members again and again which is not possible in many other countries. This is amazing paradox of Indian society for me, on one side we project our self so religious and pious people that now a days people even buy their homes or apartments after consultation with so called 'Vastu expert', take pooja (worships) and fasts so seriously and on other hand in our daily lives we pay bribes, take bribes, don't even care whom we vote...amazing...people claim to be God loving but in reality they are God fearing people. 

This whole mindset which is result of our social and cultural conditioning leads us to think that there is a way out for every crime and mistake. Even many rituals, fasts, poojas, etc. are recommended to correct many dosh (defects or faults) or 
 to get rid of bad omen or sins, so no matter what you do there is a way to correct it or erase it by pleading, begging forgiveness or even bribing the ultimate super power, the God, so the moral obligation to follow right path is very weak almost non existent  Some people go to extend that no matter what you do in your life if you take God's name while dying (I wonder how they know what moment death is going to come) then your all sins and mistakes are forgiven and one goes to heaven (if its there)...I am sure they must be joking, but there are many people who believe in all this nonsense and the result is morally corrupt society.

We need to get rid of all these outdated ideas, current state of society is clear proof that all these ethical or moral ideas are not working in a way they were supposed to work, all these moral and ethical concepts are relative and every one derives their own meaning from them. We need to have something more robust and responsible system which can put check on corruption and this has to start from common people, people like you and me. We need to make ourselves corruption free then only we can expect our politicians and bureaucrats to act like that. So it's in our had to prove this theory wrong that in India corruption is accepted as a part of life and culture, lets do it.

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

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

Monday, October 8, 2012

Do we need to do Ganesh visarjan??

Recently world famous Ganesh festival or Ganeshotsav was concluded in India. It's a 10 day long festival where Ganesh (or Ganapati) idols are installed in many colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures in every locality (called mandals in Maharashtra). The festival is a pretty big deal in some cities in India, like Pune and Mumbai. At the end of festival time (which varies for homes but for mandals it's normally 10 days) every year thousands of Ganesh idols get immersed in rivers, lakes or wells (process called as Ganesh visarjan). They immerse all size idols, big ones, and small ones, already water in rivers is very polluted around most of the cities and this immersion process makes it more dirty and contaminated. I am putting here few pictures of some of rivers and lakes here which shows few scenes of day after immersion day.

The pictures are self explanatory, this process of Ganesh idol immersion (or Durga during navaratri) takes a lot of toll on environment. Actually public Ganesh festival (which mandals celebrate and main culprit in this process) was revived by very famous Indian freedom fighter and social reformer Lokamanya Tilak. He made this festival into well organized annual public event, his intention was to bridge the gap between different sections of the society and cultivate feeling of togetherness in people so that they unite and participate in freedom struggle. It was a brilliant idea and it served its purpose, it worked really well that time. The festival still continues from those days but in very different form now, people celebrate in their homes as well as many public mandals but one can easily notice the changed format. I m not at all against public celebrations of these types of festivals, they are integral part of our social and cultural life but all festivals and their way of celebration should also change with time. We change our diet, clothing style as well as rules and customs with time so these festivals also need to change. This Ganesh visarjan process causes lot of environmental damage, every year few people get drowned, lot of chemicals (colors used to paint these idols), waste (plaster of paris, plastic and other garbage) gets dumped in rivers and lakes. As I said already these rivers and lakes are polluted because lot of waste from city sewage and companies and these type of festivals put additional strain on them. 

People care for these idols during the festival days, there is lot of concern  to protect them from any intentional damage and some times there might be a law and order situation (if some one intentionally damages the idol) but after visarjan people just don't care what happens to these idols, whether it gets deformed or mixed with sewage and junk, they just don't care. Sounds very strange to me, it's the same God whom people worship for 10 days and then just dump it in dirty water and forget it till next year. I also don't understand what is the purpose behind having such a big idols which ultimately get immersed in water after 10 days, it's waste of resources and money in country like India. BIG Ganesh idol doesn't mean that you are BIG Ganesh devotee, why can't they have Ganesh pictures or small idols with natural colors or recycle same idols every year (I know many mandals do this but still their number is not enough to prevent environmental damage) or even further why can't we get rid of this visarjan process altogether or make it just a symbolic one. I know that many people (specially Ganesh devotees) won't like this proposal and will question why I am only objecting to Ganeshotsav and not other festivals. This is about all festivals which impact our environment adversely and Ganeshotsav is just one example of it, I am taking it just as an example not the only reason for festive pollution.

I think we have to look at the ways we celebrate almost all of our festivals and see how we can minimize their impact on environment, already we are putting enough stress on our planet and it's natural resources. With time everything changes and adapts to changing environment, that is what we call evolution and I think festivals should also evolve to reduce their impact on nature not to increase the burden and it is our responsibility.

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

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

 
 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mahatma Gandhi...from my eyes


I wrote similar post on my face book page couple of years ago and I thought it's worth sharing on my blog on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti (2nd October). Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most popular at the same time one of most widely criticized personality (or an icon, leader or a politician) in India. Some parties and people use his name and image for their political gain and at the same time some of them criticize him for similar purpose. If one searches on internet then one can find many articles, blogs, FB posts, groups and many other things about Gandhi, his philosophy, his principles, his personal life, etc. People question his principles, question their relevance today's world, there are various forums which discuss how India got benefited by his ideologies or how he ruined India's prospectus of becoming super power by introducing this 'nonviolence' thing (Ahinsa, अहिंसा), so there is ample amount of food for thought related with his personality and ideologies. Both pro and anti-Gandhi groups are very good in their arguments and try their best to prove their points by citing many examples from history to show how he failed or excelled under certain situations. To my surprise some of his critics go to the extend of justifying his assassination by Nathuram Godse and even claim that India got benefited by this cowardly act of Nathuram?

No doubt that Mahatma Gandhi was one of the most influential and powerful personality of 20th century. He had profound influence on Bharat swantrata abhiyan (Indian independence movement). He believed in certain ideology and he practiced that till end of his life, his ideology for him was above everything, including his own life. I am really impressed by his convictions and beliefs in his philosophy.

He gets criticized for many things, his detractors often criticize him for his pro-Muslim stand, blame him for not trying enough to stop Bhagat Singh’s execution, partition of India and also think he was responsible for destroying armed struggle movement for independence. I really feel surprised how come one can blame single person for so many things (unless that person is a powerful dictator). If one looks at Gandhi’s lifestyle he was staunch follower of Hinduism (with all his prayers and vegetarian diet etc.) but he is considered as pro-Muslim? I just don’t understand this charge against him, may be this is related with his stance to give Pakistan 45 crores which India promised. Still I am not able to understand why people call him pro-Muslim.

I can’t understand that how come people even think that he could have managed to stop execution of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. He was not part of British judiciary system; he never practiced law once he returned to India from South Africa…then how?? by going on hunger strike…by begging to British government..and then what about many others who faced similar fate, was Gandhi responsible for their death also? Both of them (Gandhi and Bhagat Singh) believed in certain ideologies and they followed it till the end of their life…I don’t think they needed or even expected each others support because their paths were totally different. I don’t remember any of armed struggles revolutionary ever supporting Gandhi’s ideas and his views but they don’t get accused for not supporting Gandhi but Gandhi gets accused all the time for not doing anything for them…don't know why?? I don’t think great revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh, Savarkar and many others even needed Gandhi’s support for their mission, all of them were great in their own manure and did great work and sacrifices for our nation, so what’s the point to drag Gandhi in all these issues. It's very simple to understand that Gandhi never believed in their line of thinking and they didn’t believe Gandhi’s, their ways were separate from the beginning, so one should not expect them to support or endorse each other even though their target was same that is independence of India.

People often forget one very important thing that Gandhiji was a politician and member of political party (Indian National Congress, INC). His biggest contribution to the freedom struggle was that he took the freedom movement to masses, he went where no political leader of freedom movement went before, he went to rural India, he stayed with common people, understood their problems and solved them by getting those people involved, he showerd them that they have power and can fight any injustice, that’s why he was so popular and his movement could attract people from all classes. Leaders like Lokamanya Tilak, Gokhale, Savarkar, Bose, Ambedkar, Nehru, Patel, Maulana Azad all were great but their appeal was limited to particular class of society like intellectuals and educated young generation. I think this is one of the reason none of them could control INC like Gandhiji did even they were active member of that party before him and spent their entire life in India (Gandhiji arrived to political scene only in 1920s, when he was already above 40).

Gandhiji believed in non-violence totally, he made it his mission and preached it. Apart from non-violence he believed in many other things like celibacy, self reliance, etc. It is also true that many times he was very adamant and forceful about his views. There are some examples where he advised newly married couples to follow celibacy in their married life (JP Narayan is an example of this). After all he was human like all of us, full of many good and some not so good qualities and people often forget this fact when they praise him or criticize him. There are many instances like this about his private and political life but we look at them from by considering him as human not 'Mahatma' we can understand them in much better way. 

He tried his best to avoid India’s partition but failed and along with him all other political leaders and parties also failed to avoid it so all of them are guilty of that unfortunate incident, it's totally unfair to blame only him for this incident. He was against violence so whether it was Hindus killing Muslims or the other way he was against it so its wrong to blame him for killing of Hindus during partition, rather he was the only person who tried his best to convince them to stop that madness. He lived his life based on his principals and died for them. I wonder how can one justify killing somebody just because they don’t agree with his/her ideology? Nathuram Godse killed Gandhiji because of ideological differences and I fail to understand how can people support this act in their wildest of dreams. Can any ideological differences be the reason for killing that particular person? Is violence the way to settle these types of issues? Godse took the easiest path available to him because he could not fight Gandhiji ideologically…if Godse believed he was right then he should have convinced people his ideas…people of India who were supporting Gandhi were not fool, if Godse was right they definitely would have listened to him as they did to Gandhiji…so why to use violence? Is this what we want our youths to follow? if you can't defeat somebody ideologically then kill them?

Its very easy to blame Gandhi but it takes some time and patience to understand him, people who blame him never give him any credit which he deserves. As a politician some of his actions were definitely questionable but that’s true with all politicians be it Nehru, Patel, Bose, Indira or any one else, that's a part and parcel of politician's life. He made certain mistakes in his life like all of us do and even showed courage to accept many of them. He totally believed in non-violence and practiced it himself and that time many people in India agreed to his philosophy and followed him, we can not blame him for that. Just try to lead a peaceful protest of just 100 people and see how difficult it is to control the mob and then imagine how easy it was for this man to guide entire nation towards a non-violent freedom struggle.

Gnadhiji was great leader but that doesn’t take away any credit from other freedom fighters, they did their part and were equally responsible for achieving India's freedom. I am not pro or anti-Gandhi or Savarkar or anybody, I don't understand why always we have to always take sides…can’t we take all the good qualities from all great people and try to make this planet a better place? or they fought with British for our independence and we want to keep on fighting among ourselves for them…

Thanks for reading and your comments are always welcome. 

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

Power of non-violence...

2nd October is Gandhi Jayanti (birth date of Mahatma Gandhi), on that day many people all over the world pay tribute to this great leader from India who played key role in India's Independence struggle. The unique feature of his movement was the role which non-violence (अहिंसा) played in it and he is remembered as ultimate icon who demonstrated power of non-violence to fight against injustice or violence. Violence or armed struggle played major role in most of the freedom struggles or revolutions all over the world, till now we fought two world wars where millions of people died that is why Gandhiji's movement is considered as unique and its success is still point of discussion and debate. Many people around the world got inspired by success of his movement and implemented in their own movements some of more recent examples are Dr. Nelson Mandela from South Africa and Suu Kyi from Myanmar.

This does not mean that non-violence is very popular method for protest or fight against injustice violence is very much there but I think more people are using this method over violent options. Unfortunately it's not happening on the scale on which it should happen, I wish it happens in near future but it doesn't look like that still there is huge majority in world which believes violent path is the only way to achieve their targets, it's unfortunate and sad but it's true. Gandhi's name is somehow associated with non-violence and anyone advocating non-violence philosophy is branded as believer in Gandhian philosophy. Gandhi had many beliefs one of them was power of non-violence as a effective tool to fight against injustice. His book 'My experiments with truth' can give general idea about the principles he believed in and one can realize that non-violence was just one of them for which he became world famous. I am quite impressed by his personality and I am his fan, I love his conviction and beliefs in his own ideas and principals but I am not his blind follower. I know that Gandhiji was a politician and a lawyer also and above all he was also a human like us, full of great qualities and some not so great. He played major role in achieving India's freedom from British by using non-violent protest as a effective tool, he was instrumental in motivating masses of India which were not part of freedom struggle before his entry into politics. One has to give him credit to take this freedom struggle movement to masses and making them believe that they can also fight with powerful British empire.

Non-violence doesn't mean total surrender and it's definitely not a sign of weakness. Person who tolerates violence in any form because he/she can not fight (weakness) or scared to fight (cowardliness) is definitely not following a non-violence, that person is forced to follow it because of lack of options or courage, but when a person chooses non-violent path over other options available then only it can be said that he/she is following it truly, so non-violence works only when it is followed by choice not because of lack of options. Many people make fun of non-violence philosophy and say it won't work everywhere, they cite many examples to prove their point, it is true that it may not work everywhere but there is nothing which is guaranteed to work everywhere. Everyone is aware of power of violence, no one can deny it but the problem is that it also doesn't work everywhere and I think there are ample examples around us to demonstrate this fact. The problem with violence is, once it starts it becomes uncontrollable, and even if it works it leaves lot of negative emotions and damage behind. It leaves permanent scar on minds of people involved, there are no winners or losers in violence but that's the not case with non-violence, it may not work always but for sure it won't lead to destruction or loss of lives and I don't think anyone can deny that.

It's not that we need to wait for Gandhi jayanti every year to pay tribute to Gandhiji and remember power of non-violence, I think people should make this philosophy integral part of their life, let's try to choose non-violence over violence wherever it is possible and I am not talking only about physical violence here but violence in any form, even thinking bad about someone or verbal abuse, racial or gender discrimination, etc. are some sort of acts of violence. I know it's not that easy for many of us, we are one of the animal species from this planet and will always have that animal instinct in us so I know that it will be difficult to totally irradiate violence from our lives but as humans we know that we are very different than other animals of this universe, we have created such a beautiful world around us and only our violent acts can destroy it from our side, so let's try to control it as much as possible remember that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

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

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

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lata Mangeshkar....not just a singer but a phenomena.

Recently (September 28) Lata Mangeshkar, one of the most respected and celebrated singer of Hindi  and Marathi cinema celebrated her 83rd birthday, she is one of my favorite singers, I don't even remember when I listened to her voice for the first time, but I do remember that I am her fan since I started listening songs on radio, I just love her voice. For me and I am sure for many people in world who love to listen Hindi film songs voice of Lata didi (people address her with love and respect as Lata didi) is part of their life, Lata Mangeshkar is not just a person or a singer, she is a phenomena, which happens once in centuries. 

My aim here is not to discuss her work (which is discussed in detail in many books and articles) or not even mention her songs which I like but I just want to discuss the impact her voice and those songs had on my life till now and I know that they will remain with me forever. This is sort of my personal tribute to her voice. I neither met Lata Mangeshkar personally nor I attended any of her concerts. I am not that type of fan who will do whatever it takes to see or meet the personality they love. I never met personally most of people I admire, P. L. Deshpande (PuLa) or Sunita Deshpande used to live in Pune not very far from the place where I used to live but I never tried to meet them. I didn't feel the need to do it till now and I don't think I will go anything out of way to try to meet her or any other celebrities personally unless it happens without much efforts (which I don't think will happen). Her voice was and is always with me in some form, sometimes in the form of radio, then tape recorder, then Walkman, CD player, MP3 and so on. No matter what instrument I am using to listen songs I always have a collection of Lata's songs with me. For me her voice has some divine aspect in it, whenever I listen to her songs it's altogether different feeling. If I am sad it makes me feel happy (or at least reduces sadness), if I am restless, it makes me calm, it always helps. Her songs along with songs of other singers (like Kishore, Rafi, Mukesh, Jagjeet and many others) are like energy boosting tonic for me.

I don't have any formal training in music, I don't  even understand classical music or know anything about different ragas or technical aspects of music and songs but I love to listen music and I am sure there are many music illiterate like me who just love music just because the pleasure it gives to us. I totally respect people who know about all these things and can tell which song belongs to which raga and can analyze the music in detail, but I am not capable of doing this, but this doesn't stop me and many others from enjoying the music. Many times it happens that whenever I mention music as one of my hobbies or passion people assume that I know about the technical aspects of music, but my interest is not at all  in studying the music but I tried to learn couple of musical instruments but never managed to master any of them but I just love to listen music. 

Lata Mangeshkar's life is also very interesting and there are many theories, controversies, gossips about her personal  and professional life this also resulted in many speculations about why she didn't marry and how she sabotaged careers of many upcoming singers when she was on peak of her singing career. Recently there was big controversy because of her interview in TOI where she mentioned about her famous and very controversial fight with another legend of Hindi cinema music Mohammad Rafi. Actually these things are really trivial and don't bother me at all, I don't care about her (or Rafi's) personal life, I like and respect her because of her talent (voice) for me Lata Mangeshkar is not just some person, it's that divine voice and there are no stories or controversies associated with that voice. I am not fan of the person called Lata Mangeshkar but I am big fan of her voice and that is true for all my icons like Amitabh or Sachin or Roger Federer, etc. I just like them for their talent and their qualities but that doesn't mean I worship them and should act like a fanatic fan who feel as if it is their duty to defend each and every thing they do or I am also not a fan who gets upset or angry because of any criticism directed towards people I like. I accept all these people as they are with all their qualities and defects (if there are any). Lata's voice has helped me on numerous occasions in my life, and that is what important for me. There might be many controversies associated with her or many other people who I like and respect and that is a separate subject, those things don't stop me from appreciating their good work. Even name of Mother Theresa is associated with some controversies but her social work and kindness are indisputable things for me and I love and respect her for that, no matter what others say about her and same is true for all people I love.

I wish all the very best to Lata didi, I wish for her long and healthy life, I am sure her voice and songs will keep on mesmerizing generations to come. No matter where I go her voice will always remain with me.

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

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