There is no future. There is no past. Time is simultaneous, an intricately structured jewel that humans insist on viewing one edge at a time, when the whole design is visible in every facet.



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Eventful 2011

5311268315_4128c3b0c3_mThe year 2011 in India has seen a mixed bag of events from the good, to the bad and to the ugly. There have been a few firsts that India has experienced. Some of the events managed to put the whole nation on a nail biting spree. I am taking this opportunity to look back into a little exciting, a little disappointing, a little enraging and a little satisfying and on a an average a reasonable year and highlight some of the notable events.

April 2nd: India wins the much awaited Cricket World Cup. This cup has been long due since the great little master Sachin Tendulkar first debuted. It has been more of a tribute to this living legend than an achievement for India. A nail biting event.

April 5th: Anna Hazare's anti corruption campaign has been a revolution. It has brought the people of all ages and races and religions under one umbrella. This was the classic case of unity in diversity. It has also revolutionized the way in which the social networking technology has been used. This campaign was like a torch which threw light in the way the Social Media could be used for uniting the people from distant lands to help them fight in unity against the social evil of corruption.

August 2nd: The recent discovery of the treasure in the Padmanabha Swamy temple in Kerala has dropped the jaws of the nation in awe. The treasure found in the temple is estimated to be Rs. 320 billion, that is about US $ 6 Billion in gold, coins and other jewelry. Along with the other monumental assets the total worth is about Rs. 1.2 trillion, approximately US $ 22 billion. If their antique value is considered as well, then the total worth of the treasure could be about US $ 220 billion. Welcome to the richest temple in the world.

October 30th: India went international once again with the F1 Race coming to India. India has managed to grab the attention of the rest of the world with its indigenous race track in Noida. This was a proud event and is something India can boast about for years to come.

November 29th: Virendra Sehwag breaks the record of Sachin Tendulkar 200 runs in ODI's with his magnificent 219. This record is as much a proud event for the nation as it is to Sehwag himself. This record is unlikely to be beaten by anyone in the generations to come.

And then, there are not so proud moments:-

July 13th: The three co-ordinated bombings in Mumbai which left 26 killed and over a 100 injured.

September 19th: Earthquake in Sikkim left 111 dead

October 30th: The 7 billionth baby in India. Not much to cherish about as we are already in the population crisis path.

December 12th: Hospital fire in West Bengal kills 91. This event caught the nation’s attention about the safety measures adopted by the Hospitals. This event has brought the authorities from their deep slumber to inspect the fire safety arrangements in private and public hospitals.

The year also witnessed the deaths of notable personalities in India:-

January 24th: Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, a legendary vocalist and a connoisseur of Hindustani classical music passed away.

February 24th: Ananth Pai (Uncle Pai) passed away. His Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle comics will however live on. He will be always remembered. Amar Chitra Katha and the Tinkle comics has been a favorite past time reading when I was a kid. My generation of people would fondly remember Uncle Pai for keeping us in touch with the books through these stories. I still buy Tinkle when I am making a train or a bus journey. He will be greatly missed.

April 24th: Spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba passed away. He had millions of followers in India and abroad. And has been a messiah to the people of Puttaparthi where he built hospitals and educational Universities which served the needy free of cost.

June 9th: The “Picasso of India”, M.F. Hussain breathed his last. A Padma Shree, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awarded, was one of the earliest painters to gain international attention. His paintings commanded huge prices in international auctions.

August 14th: The yesteryear Casanova of Indian Cinema, Shammi Kapoor passed away on this day. Nicknamed as "Elvis Presley of India" for his resemblance to the original, he had revolutionized the dance in the Indian Cinemas. He is known to have broken the traditional barriers of acting in his days which made him hugely popular. His trademark Yahoo scream will stay in the minds of his fans for the rest of their lives.

September 22nd: A legendary cricketer who overcame an impaired eye to become a visionary and pioneering captain of the Indian cricket team, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi passed away on this day. Known as "Tiger", this Nawab of Pataudi, England educated, with such flair and acumen inspired the generation of cricketers.

October 10th: Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh passed away on this day. The "Ghazal King" with tracks such as Woh kagaz ki Kashti and Meri zindagi kisi aur ki hai, made this genre of music not only available and understandable to all, but also enjoyable.

November 5th: Another legendary singer from Assam, Bhupen Hazarika went to the heavenly abode on this day. He was the greatest cultural ambassador of Assam. He brought the North Eastern part of India even more closely with his music and singing.

December 4th: The full of life and an eternal optimist Dev Anand, considered a true legend of the Indian Cinema passed away on this day. A greatest showman, who outlived many of his contemporaries, was also known for his kindness and generosity.

While the nation was mourning the departing of the notable personalities who have influenced and touched the lives of so many of its people in every which way, the nation was also mourning the darker events that unearthed during the 2011.

The 2G Spectrum scam: This scam of about Rs. 176,000 Crore (about US $ 39 billion) startled the country and brought to light the high corruption in the bureaucracy.

ISRO Spectrum Scam: While the country was reeling under the 2G spectrum scam, another bigger scam was unearthed. This time the scam was worth Rs. 2 Lakh Crores (about US $ 44 billion)

Both the scams were related to the allocation of the Spectrum bands to the private telecom players.

Adarsh Housing Scam: The misuse of property meant for war veterans and war widows by the politicians in the prime location of South Mumbai has proved that there is no dignity left among the politicians. They proved themselves as scavengers pouncing on anything and everything that looks like a money meal.

Hopefully, the year 2012 will be a year in which the evil head of corruption will be crushed every time it tries to raise itself. Hopefully, the New Year brings much growth and development. Hopefully, as a nation we touch new heights, gather new successes. Hopefully, we stand out and tall in every which way, which would, makes us a proud nation. Amen!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Malady Of Modern Education

In the past few decades, the emphasis on education in India has been enormous. Everyone wants a piece of modern education. The result of this so called modern education is the spew of tons of so called skilled professionals.

6109709656_a760a79a68_mBut where has this modern education really led us to as individuals? Modern education has taught me what I need to know to get a good job, become a productive member of the society I belong to, earn a handsome income and lead a comfortable life and retire at the age of 58, and wait for the death to come. All this, just accounts for the survivability. Is survival the only goal of modern education?

Everyone of us have been encouraged to specialize in one aspect of education or the other. The engineers, doctors, lawyers etc. everyone rides on the bookish knowledge hoping that this will give them the required economic position. I do too. For long now, I have been abiding by the book to get to where I am. And my place isn't all too glorious ;). I have been following the techniques that was taught to me in my school and has helped me get a decent job, earn a decent income and live a decent life. My sincere thanks to the Modern Education. When I am 80 and in my rocking chair, I would look back and think if there was any thing else that I learned from this life other than living mechanically by the books. What else did this life have in store? Did I even make an attempt to break the conventions and listened to my heart which wanted to explore so many varied and beautiful things and try to be all I could ever be? The answer I am afraid is NO, a BIG NO!

Why? Modern Education has made me a "Learned" person, but it hasn't made me a "Knowing" person. In the "Count of Monte Cristo", the friar tells Dantes that learning mathematics, physics, history and language are the foundation of human knowledge. This goes to mean that these are just the basics and are require to begin the real education. The real education is the ability to identify what one loves to do and learn by doing it and applying the knowledge wherever and whenever required. The real education is one that benefits an individual from within and the society in some way.

Modern education has taught me to be ambitious and taught me techniques required to achieve that ambition. But seriously, I wonder what has ambition actually done to me. I am constantly struggling to be over the top of somebody else. I am continuously fighting to be somebody else, to earn somebody else's salary, to live somebody else's life. There is a constant fear within. I may not come across as a most frightened man, but that I actually am. I fear to make a mistake, I fear to take risk, I fear to fail. If I am what I am I shall be nobody, therefore I must become somebody, No?

My education has encouraged me to conform to society at all levels. It has trained me to strive for self limiting reachable goals. When I was young, I wanted to become a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, I wanted to be in the defense services, in the army, then the air force and the navy, I wanted to be a locomotive driver. The very purpose of my education was to help me identify what I really loved to do. I am closer to half life now and I still want to do the very same things that I wanted to do when I was much younger. Why? Because my education didn't help me really figure out. It was just one thing leading to another to where I am today.

Being afraid of not being able to earn a livelihood and not being able to fit in this rotten society has always motivated my choices. The same is true for scores of people out there. You see a lot of examples where  a doctors son or daughter becomes a doctor just because his/her father is, same goes for lawyers and engineers. It is quite prevalent in India. My dad is an engineer and so am I! Not by degree though, but by profession, a Software Engineer!

The modern education has in fact created a mess of the world. While it hasn't reduced any miseries of the world, it seems to have contributed more to it. The divide between the rich and the poor is ever increasing, the ones wrangling with each other, fighting and killing are the ones who have had the luxury of Modern Education. In spite being educated and equipped, people have been killing themselves, why, because the Modern Education does not teach to cope up with the social, physical, emotional and professional pressures (Read my previous post).

There is enough knowledge to make optimal use of the available resources in this world sufficient to feed every hungry person on this earth, provide clothing and shelter to every homeless. Though the knowledge is good to have, "Knowing" how to apply this knowledge is still an unknown. Our education gives us knowledge but doesn't emphasize on application of this knowledge. It is up to the individuals own intelligence to figure this out, but then what can such a person alone do among educated foolish that this society breeds. The leaders of this world are all educated, they have the titles, the caps, the degree and the gowns, they are economists, lawyers, doctors and scientists and yet they haven't been able to create a world in which a man can live happily. We are all happy to be educated in the same old way. We are all happy to be making a mess of our lives.

The old adage that higher education is necessary for success is not true with the modern education. Most of the companies in the Forbes list, were created by high school and college drop outs, who dreamt of doing something that no one else has done and never let their schooling interrupt their motives and vision. It is high time we realized that creative, independent and free thought is more important to be taught and cultivated among other things at any school of modern education.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Suicide Capital of India

59112716_654a6123c4_mBangalore has been given the title of Suicide Capital of India for few years in a row. And it looks like it has been coveting this title year after year. The number of suicides have been only increasing every year. In the past two weeks, each morning that I took to reading the news paper, at least 2 incidents of suicide were reported. For the last couple of days that I have been thinking about this, I have been skipping the headlines on the first page and searching for the suicide reports.

Apparently, the causes of these suicides are varied. The trend of individual suicides have become old fashioned, these days group suicides are the way to go. I may come across ruthless and heartless here, but I totally ridicule and condemn the voluntary act of ending the god's gift of life. Just today, 3 persons who happened to be friends, from Bangalore committed suicide. Among the three only one left a suicide note for her mother asking her not to do anything that will endanger her life. Well, If only she had applied the sanity to herself, it would have saved twice the grief and suffering of her mother.

Bangalore ranks high on the suicide cases when compared to other cities of Mumbai and Delhi. Bangalore, which also ranks lower in the incidents of violence now ranks higher on the incidents of self inflicted violence. The varied reasons of this fatally self inflicting violence ranges from divorce, dowry, love affairs, extra-marital affairs, illegitimate pregnancy and the major reason - societal pressure to cope up, pressure to perform and out do, pressure to earn those extra pennies, pressure of competition, job, family life.
Suicides in Bangalore have been primarily a problem of the young. The age groups of 16 to 40 years with half of them in 21 to 32 years have succumbed to the above mentioned reasons. Nearly 2/3rds of both completed and attempted suicides occurred in people with low and moderate socio-economic levels of education and occupation. And the remaining 1/4th are of the elite group - well educated doctors, lawyers, engineers, and the techies that Bangalore boasts of having in large numbers.

One of the main reasons I see behind the suicides is the enormous growth that this city has seen in the past decade. This city has been growing at a phenomenal rate. It has been acclaimed to be a fast developing technological hub in the South East Asian region and is one of top cities in the world. This city has been witnessing changes in all spheres of life. Within a generation, this lazy, sleepy and other wise calm cantonment town has been transformed into a bustling metropolis. What used to be signature bungalows in the lanes covered with the shredded tree leaves with sunlight barely kissing the earth, now is manifested with sprawling skylines, flyovers, metros, shopping malls and bee line traffic. This transformation is further fuelled, by changes in economy and society. A rapid rise in incomes has led to a still more rapid rise in desires.

2151701750_cbc490aae1_mThe problem with a city like Bangalore is that half of the population here are from outside the state and from neighboring small towns and rural areas within the state. As soon as a person lands here, he is immediately pulled into a rat race. Getting adjusted to the new atmosphere and having to deal with high competition, work and social pressures can take its toll. The rat race doesn't spare them much time for enough social gathering leading to isolation and depression. These forces are very much capable of driving anyone to suicide.

The impact of the suicides on the immediate family members and friends are disastrous too. Although the act is over for the person who dies, the problem, the pain, suffering and trauma is merely transferred to them. And if the bread winner succumbs to his attempt, it further increases the financial burden on the family.

Although there is much awareness and the government participation and efforts in providing the helplines and psychiatrists to deal with any suicidal motivations, they just don't seem enough to curb the rising suicide rates.

From being Pensioners Paradise, to Garden City, to Silicon Valley of India, and finally to Suicide Capital of India, it has been a very short journey.

I often wonder where this city and humanity in general is heading! Any thoughts, please share.

Fashion - A deformed thief

Further to my previous post Fashion - A Matter of Proportion, this is a follow up which highlights the other side of fashion.

2481965140_2a0f943e70_mFashion has often set up a false standard by which people are to be judged. The expenditure of many households is adjusted by what their neighbors have, and not by what they themselves can afford to have; and the great anxiety is, as to who shall have the finest house and the most costly equipment. The weapons used in the warfare of social life are not rifles, guns and shells, but chairs and mirrors, and vases, the wardrobes, and the electronics.

There isn't just one cause today of more financial embarrassment, and of more dishonesties, than the determination to live as well as or better than others. There are people who will risk their eternity for one fine looking glass, or who will strike out the splendors of heaven to get another piece of flashy jewelry.

"My house is too small". "But" says someone, "you cannot afford a larger". "Never mind that; my friends have a better residence and so will I". "A dress of that Pattern I must have. I cannot afford it by great deal; but who cares for that? It is the latest and I must have one". There are scores of men in the dungeons of the jails, who risked honor, business, morals, ethics - everything in an effort to shine like others. Though the heavens fall, they must be "in the fashion".

Excessive fashion makes people unnatural and untrue. It is a factory which has produced more hollow pretenses, unmeaning flatteries, and hypocrisies, than Binny Mills ever turned out blankets and garments. Fashion is the greatest of all liars. It has made the society insincere. You know not what to believe. When people extend their invites, you know not whether it is an expression of their heart, or just a plain civility. They apologize for their appearance, as though it were unusual, when always at home they look just so. They cry out aloud their most luxurious entertainments, vacations, just to win a shower of approval and eyes of praise.

From many circles of life, fashion has driven out vigor and enthusiasm. Instead a frozen dignity floats. There is a round of bows, and grins, and flatteries, and oh's! and ah's! and smirking, and namby-pambyism, a world which is not worth one good round of honest deep prolonged sound of laughter.

Fashion is incompatible with happiness. For those who depend on the comfort from the admiration of others are subject to frequent disappointments. Everybody tries to outlive everybody. The jealousy, the detraction and the heart burns!

The worst thing about fashion is an intellectual depletion. Its hard to find a man or woman of extreme fashion, who knew much.

It has become so very essential to realize that the beauty of harmony, grace and good rhythm depends on the simplicity. The most important  thing to remember is that, its not the Gucci bag or a French cut jean you can take anywhere, but, it's an open mind.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fashion–A matter of proportions

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Fashion has been, since the time of Adam and Eve, evolving with us.The domain of fashion is as wide as the world, and as far reaching as all the generations over which fashion has extended its authority. For thousands of years it as been ruling over the earth, and the greatest of revolutions that has rocked the thrones of the royals have not in the slightest affected its domination. Fashion has been exercising authority over all of the earth, and lords and dukes, kings and queens, have been the subjects of its domain.

From back in the history till date, fashion has arranged the cloak of the patriarch, of the Roman, the small shoe of the Chinese women, and the turban of the Turk, the Sikh, the Marwari and the furs of the ones dwelling in the colder regions of the planet. It has arranged how the Egyptian mummy should be wound, and how the Caesar should ride. It has arranged the embroidery that is hung in the pillars and the plush carpets that covers the floor. Its looms have woven fabrics graceful as snow and pure as light. Its voices are heard in the jewelry stores, in the shambles of the crowded bazaars, and in the songs of the places of worship.

Fashion makes the rules of behavior. It influences art - often deciding what pictures or paintings shall hang in the house, what music shall be played and what ornaments shall stand upon a costume.

Fashion helps to make up religious belief as well. It often decides which places of worship we shall go, what religious tenets we shall adopt.

It goes into literature. It decides what type of binding goes on the book, the illustrations and images, and often the sentiments expressed and the emotions involved.

It goes in to education. The enormous campus, the high tech laboratories, the state-of-the art infrastructure, and high costs!

Fashion goes into Conveyance. The brand of automobile we travel by, the interiors, the power, the audio system, the wheels.

Fashion decides what gadgets we use, from the iPods, iPads, iMac, iPhones.

We the humans, the most independent in feeling are by it compelled to submit. All walks of human life, every hobby, every passion, every task, every work, even our means of livelihood, the bread and the butter are governed by it. We live not according to reason but according to fashion. Fashion has been one of the most potent of reformers and as the world grows better there will be as much fashion as now, but different.

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