Sunday, January 13, 2013

The boy turns 150…

The boy turns 150…

I don't remember when the first time he was introduced to me. I was very little, but was mesmerised by his antics. Though we were quite opposite, I had developed a liking of him. I was a typical good boy, very shy and not much adventurous. He was just the opposite. Very naughty- always did something or the other, got into troubles, challenged all the conventions- in short very dynamic. I used to get very thrilled thinking how exciting his life might have been. I started admiring him and secretly wanted his life. Once I had asked my mom, "why do you scold me for being naughty, while every one goes ga-ga over Byle's naughtiness?"* Mom said, "Because he was very good at studies too". I was left speechless, "Well… In that case, er.. um…"

Today is his birthday. 12th January. Had he been alive, he would have been 150 years today. Though, I never had the opportunity to meet Narendranath Dutta, who would later be known as Swami Vivekananda, he was an integral part of my growing up. By the time I was 10, I had read a bit more about him, beyond the coloured pages of Amar Chitra Katha or "Shishuder Vivekananda" (Vivekananda for Children). He had said, "Never give up on your dreams. You have all power you need, just be conscious of it and bring it out." Really!!! I was not convinced- but it gave me some reassurance. Luckily, I was in a school that also believed in his ideology. So, double influence of both school and home made sure I take Vivekananda as my ideal at quite early age. I won a district level quiz competition on Swami Vivekananda, organised during his 125th birth anniversary. I was also an automatic choice as speaker during an inter class celebration on Swamiji. Very soon one of his posters cut out occupied a prominent place next to my studying place.

I started reading the complete works of Swami Vivekananda, when I was in class XI. I could see a new side of his personality. A youth of 25 years- moving from one place to another, meeting people- understanding their life at the same time keeping his quest for truth and god in focus. Soon he realised that talking about religion to half naked, hungry countrymen is not only a waste of time but also rude and inhuman. The letters that he wrote during those days had etched some permanent marks on my thought process.  "Those who are educated at the expense of poor and downtrodden but never bother to look back at them are traitors, not worthy of being called as educated". My neo-socialist mind could not agree more. He had laid a new principle of religion- "Atmano Moksharthe, jagat hitaya cha" (For one's own salvation, and for the welfare of the world). This was essentially an echo of what his guru Ramakrishna Paramahansa had said, "Tui sala keetanu keet, Jeeve daya karar tui ke? Korbi to Shiva gyane- Jeeve seva" (Who the bugger are you to be kind to people? You are nothing more than an insect, If you really can- serve people as god).

When I went to University, his letters were one of the best guiding force behind me. Whenever in doubt some or the other letter of his would throw some light on the problem. His life, writing, speeches had such positive energy, I would feel recharged, reassured and see hope at every disappointment, doubt and hopelessness. "But, my dear boy, no great things were ever done without great labour", "I promise, whoever would read this letter, would get my energy- I can feel it". He himself had faced Himalayan difficulties before and after his now famous speech at parliament of religion at Chicago. He had thought of giving up, but had bounced back. His letters during those days capture the tension of 30 something's mind and make him relatable and human.

Vivekananda has always been with me. Pre-school, University, first job, moving abroad- he never left me. At every success and difficulty- he still stands by me- gives me a reason to stay positive, believe in myself and most importantly stay focused on people- Atmano Moksharthe, jagat hitaya cha. Today at his 150th birth anniversary I can say only one thing- "Thank you".
(Note: Not related, but can't resist sharing this incident. When I was seeing Alpa, one of our senior managers, Mukul Lahiri on hearing this, had said, "Ore baba, Vivekananda je dekhchhi Devanand hoye gechhe" (Vivekananda has turned into Devanand (Bollywood actor)). See, Vivekananda had not left me during romancing as well J
* Byle- was Narendranath Dutta/ Vivekananda's pet name at home.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

শুভ নববর্ষ

বাঙালি আজ আর ঘরের কোনে মুখ লুকিয়ে নেই | ঐতিঝ্য আর সংস্কৃতির সমজদার হলেও বাঙালি আর পুরনো কে আঁকড়ে ধরে থাকেনা | আজকের বাঙালি জানে, ঘরের স্বাচ্ছন্দের চোরাবালিতে ডুবে যাওয়ার থেকে বাইরের অস্বস্তি জয় করার আনন্দ ঢের বেশি | আত্মতৃপ্তির চোখের ঠুলি সরিয়ে বাস্তবের মোকাবিলায় প্রস্তুত আমরা | দেশে বিদেশে, ঘরে বাইরে, আজ বাঙালি নতুন চ্যালেঞ্জ নিতে আর ভিত নয় | নতুন যুগের নতুন বাঙালিদের শুভেচ্ছা জানিয়ে শুরু করছি নতুন বছর | নতুন বছর সবার খুব ভালো কাটুক | স্বল্পমেয়াদী লোকসানের চিন্তা কে দুরে সরিয়ে দীর্ঘমেয়াদী সাফল্যের উদ্দেশ্যে যাত্রা শুরু করুক বাঙালি |
শুভ নববর্ষ |
অল্পা ও অভিজিত


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lokpal movement: Some questions and what do I think are the answers

Never before on Independence Day had a government felt as uncomfortable as it did on 15th Aug this year. And no- it was not an external force who they were worried about but its own people. Certain Anna Hazare has captured the nation's imagination and people were more than eager to listen to what he said than what Prime Minister had to declare. And to be fair to people, we have not heard much from him in recent months either. The country was rocked by corruption of huge magnitude one after another. It was attacked twice by terrorists across the border; still India did not hear a forceful voice from the top. And whenever he spoke, it lacked empathy, vigour, inspiration or sense of urgency.


Why has this movement caught public imagination?

India has moved miles in recent years. It is now a poised to become a global force. And this surge is led by normal people. Unlike China, government here did not do much or lead this movement. Only thing that they have done is to slow the progress by red tapes. Can India afford to enter into the big league with its 3rd class administrative system? The answer is NO. Therefore, it is natural that people would revolt against it. Frustrations from all these years stuffed inside had to explode and it has happened.


What right do people have to raise voice? After all they are the one who pays bribe.

Most people do not like corruption, they do not voluntary enter into this. The system forces them. Many Indians go abroad and work there. Have we heard many instances where in they tried to bribe a police officer, jumped red light or indulged into any corrupt activity? It is a proof of the fact that people are not corrupt but the system is...


But people like to take shortcuts. That's the inherent nature of Indians. How would Lokpal help in that? A law is not effective unless people follow them.

If people do not go by the rules, it is the duty of fellow citizens to find and complain to Lokpal that Mr. X has violated the law and Officer Y has not taken action...  Lokpal would take action then. That's how discipline can be brought into the society. If section of Lokpal does not act, they should also be trailed. A separate body might be required to keep a watchful eye on them.


It is not practical to prosecute or investigate 39 lakh central government employees or 2 crore state government employees. Lokpal would be overloaded.

There are two parts of the argument. (1) if we consider all 2 crores or majority of them are in corrupt practices, then it is an admission of a very serious issue and only strengthen the case of a very strong lokpal. (2) even if large part of bureaucracy are corrupt, the moment some of them would start getting punished, it would act as a deterrent and automatically the volume of corruption would reduce, therefore, large number would not remain an issue any more.


This movement is against parliamentary democracy and the method is not right. It is like blackmail.

We can either wait for the right methodology to be framed or fight back with whatever we have now. When the house is on fire, we don't wait to find a right methodology; we just put the fire off - by whatever way.

Lokpal is not the answer to everything. But- we have to start from some place. We have good laws- but enforcing authorities are flawed. They have all been taken over by corrupt people

I think govt should be happy that it is going on a peaceful and non-violent way. There is huge frustration amongst people against corruption. Anna Hazare is just channelising it to make an effective body to tackle the issue. If govt doesn't realise that- the frustration can and definitely would at some point, come out violently and that would be neither good for the country nor for the democracy.


There are so many issues, illiteracy, people dying of poverty, low quality standard of life, poor infrastructure farmers committing suicides...etc… Why are not you taking these up?

I agree there are 100s of pressing issues. And the combination of all of them is so huge that we think the situation is hopeless. And we think- nothing can be changed. We say, "is desh ka kuchh nahi ho sakta"...


BUT- we need to start something. If we do not act at all- it is not going to improve. Anna Hazare has started it. I believe this is not the end of it- once people realise that things can be changed and they need not be accept or get punished for their honesty, things would start rolling for better. When we attempt to solve a puzzle, the moment one piece falls in place, others start looking brighter. In a complex knot when you take one strand out, suddenly all others start looking simpler.


This movement should start after all the people become honest.

If we wait for 100% people to become honest in a dishonest and polluted environment, then the wait can be eternal. And by that time, corrupt people would take away everything and there would be nothing to protect (Already 50% of GDP is claimed to be stashed as black money in foreign banks). To take a leaf out of a popular movie (Life in a Metro)- We can not wait for all traffic signals to turn green before we take our cars out. 


If people are not happy about the government and MPs, why did they vote for them? They should take part in democratic process more actively and not criticize.

Do we have an option while voting? Till the time EC starts "none of the above" option- I am either forced to vote one of the crooks or abstain. In either way, we lose and corrupts win.

Moreover many people vote for the party and not for individual. Why do political parties give tickets to corrupt people? I have voted in all possibilities. Do I still feel empowered? Have my aspirations been met by government? I guess not.


Would end this post with this dialogue from Rang de Basanti. "Zindagi jine ke do tarekke hote hain..ek jo ho raha hai hone do..bardasht karte jao..aur dusra ..Zimedaari uthao use badlne ki !!"

Saturday, August 20, 2011

100 years on- still equally relevant: Bidhir bnadhon katbe tumi

Rabindranath Tagore had written this addressing the foreign rulers. Still so relevant-

You can overturn the destiny, are you so powerful?
So powerful!!
You think in arrogance, you can make and break us
So arrogant you are!!

You think you can always drag us behind
Keep us down
But you don't have such force
Can't withstand such surge

How much ever you surround with rules
Even the weak have force
However big you might be
Not greater than god

By suffocating us
You would also not be able to survive.
When your baggage becomes too heavy
Your boat would capsize.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Top 10 IPL 4 moments

IPL 4 is drawing toward the end. As CSK and RCB is preparing for the last match of this IPL, I thought of 10 interesting aspects (Not in any order) of this edition.

1) Aa gayle mujhe maar
Chis Gayle remained unsold at the auction. Though speculation was KKR would retain him- he had no takers. Calypso King must have taken huge offence on that. When he was ultimately called in as a replacement for RCB, he did not see cricket balls… he saw SRK's butt and hit that the hardest. In no time- he snatched the orange cap. Resurgence of Gayle and his super hitting was the main highlight of IPL4.    

2) Khe Khe Aar… Khe Khe Aar
IPL matches in Eden gardens and only 20k people watching it!!! Yes- SRK made it happen. With Dada out of the equation and only Manoj Tiwari being the sole representative of local cricketing community- Kolkatans gave IPL a royal miss. Sensing the mood SRK started bring in expensive cheerleaders. There was Hritik- who till the other year was dancing for Mumbai Indians. Then there were Sanjay Kapoor, Karan Johar. But the real entertainer was Piggy Chops. Though she did not know name of any single cricketers, we loved her heavily accented chanting (khe khe aar … khe khe aar [video]).

3) Paul Valthaty
Who? Paul what? That was the first response to Paul Valthaty's cyclonic century. He appeared from nowhere- made some big runs, took wickets and then went hiding again. Discovery of Valthaty (and to some extent Raidyu) would not have been possible without IPL. Hope to see more of him in future in a real blue shirt.

4) Never say Never
His 30 ball 30 might not have set the stage on fire, but it showed if you want something badly- it happens. Yes- talking about the eternal comeback man Saurav Ganguly. He was dumped and humiliated in the auction. Even his most optimistic supporters wrote his obituary. Kochi tried to take him on board afterwards and was stopped by RCB, MI and RR. (some say on behest of SRK). We saw him in stands with common supporters watching matches. But that was another shrewd move which was followed by his donning cap for Pune warriors. Yes- at the end, he managed to paint tar on the face of his distracters (read SRK)… Yes- bande mein hai dum…

5) Blank fire
We waited and waited for them to perform. To set the stage on fire. At the end that did not happen at all. Big disappointments of the year: Irfan Pathan, Kieron Pollard, Bret Lee, Eoin Morgan, Mark Boucher, Brendon McCullum, Sreesath, Tilakratne Dilshan, Murli, Graeme Smith, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuff Pathan, Jesse Ryder….

6) Gambhir question
He played 15 matches with his shoulder injury just to earn his 11 crores. Yes that is a lot of money- but is it more than leading the Indian cricket team? Well… I don't see him as Dhoni's successor any more. And his mouthful to younger players of the team during the matches pointed how inferior he is compared to captain cool dude as a leader. To add more spice, the allegation of using banned substances would haunt him for a while I suspect.  

7) Bharatiya cheerleading
Cheerleading in Indian style? Yes- Pune showcased it. All their cheerleaders were in traditional and classical Indian attire and danced to classical tunes. Apparently Tanusree Shankar choreographed them. Though some youngsters would have preferred run of the mill foreign stuff- to me it was one of the highlights.

8) Lolaylty never dies
KKR had to defend 21 runs in their last over against MI to qualify as no 2 team. It would have also meant fast lane to the final and qualification for champions league. But Lakshmipathy Balaji did the unthinkable, conceding 23 runs including a huge six of the last ball. Chennai all of a sudden were no 2 team. Yes- their investment on Balaji for last three years has ultimately resulted in some dividend.

9) Sidhu aur Dipu ki amar kahani
Vijay Malya replaced Katrina Kaif with Deepika Padukone as team's glam girl… Guess it was a right move. A picture is worth a thousand words J

10) Shane Warne
He apparently played his last cricket match. And ended in a winning note. No doubt he was the most colourful cricketer ever. Not only a master strategist on field but he was equally great off the field too. His calling names of Rajastan cricket board secretary might have costed him some money- but was entertaining no doubt. And watching Liz Hurley getting bedazzled was a treat beyond question.