Posted in Extras

May your rich life spill over into your writing pages…

I do not know about others, but I make sure I don’t read other bloggers so that my ideas stay fresh and original and do not get influenced even inadvertently by their thinking ways. In other words, I do not want to mimic anyone or borrow words.

I started blogging amateurish during my Malaysian days. I didn’t know what it was and I could perhaps be one of India’s earliest bloggers who knows! India Times had a blogging portal in 1999 and it was then that my blogging journey began. My first reader was a young Pakistani. We met in an online chat room and I gave him the link to read me up. For me this was a life changing experience. I was interacting with someone who was from an enemy terrain, who was opposite sex (even if he was younger) and i was letting someone read my thoughts! First it was overwhelming but I trusted my first reader because I found him extremely decent. In fact I adopted him as my younger bro!

I blogged mostly what came to my mind then, consisting a series of new posts and my brief comments on them, nothing more. Blogging space used to limited in those days. Hardly a page was allowed for each post. Plus, my writing was still like a school composition.

Through this Paki friend of mine (with whom I quarreled over Kashmir (!)) I got interest in their media. It is here that I discovered my blogging Guru (!) so to speak of. My interest in blogging grew in leap and bounds because, I found someone writing from his heart. I also found that the blogger who stroked my interest in writing was arrogant to the core, rogue, rascal of first order and rowdy but highly intelligent and versatile. Beneath the veneer, I suspected a kind soul, a big heart. I thought I liked his style. He is the only blogger or columnist I read up regular until today. He has such a profound influence on my thought process. I guess I inherited even my rambling style from him!!! For years I read his blog posts based on his personal experiences and life that gave his words a legitimate touch. A rebel in everyway, first I was intimidated but gradually I came to appreciate his way of life and ideals. Coming from a terrorist country under military command, I was aware, he had to stick to boundaries. Nevertheless, I found his sarcastic and satirical pieces a very intelligent representation of his deepest thoughts and dismays. In last few years, the columnist has evolved into a researcher and author, but if you ask me, I like his past avatar the best over this his present sobered down self. That was what inspired me even if he was a lot repetitive in those days. I picked up my books based on his recommendations. There was a hitch: how do you tell anyone your mind guru was a Pakistani!! My husband noticed me reading him and said, I must log out! I tried telling my friends about him and they said, he must be a spy! Simply nobody liked the fact that I read a Pakistani journalist-author! Most were scared and the rest thought very lowly of the country. This is the first time I am writing about him openly in my blog. What a fine taste in everything, what a sense of humour, what a well camouflaged aching for the way things turned out, that was masked in satire and sarcasm. You can be an author/columnist/blogger, in short a journalist, easily in India. But to be one like him in his country needs utmost courage. I drew my own courage to write on sensitive subjects from my Maanaseega Guru. I have read his first book as well. Rambling as usual nevertheless, I loved it. I am touched by his life experiences that have molded him into the kind of guy he is today. I like his brand of music. Sense of dressing everything. Deepest respects and admiration here for my Guru, from a middle-age housewife from India whose thought process he has influenced. Charming. Of course, now he is watered down version of how he used to be. Currently my guru writes a lot on international media and on international news having well read the foreign publications and journals and research works, but in my memory are his cricket stories, jail protests, college days, campus politics etc. His India stories piqued my interest as well and mostly my comments to him were kind of like, ‘bast**d’ or ‘rascal’!

(My guru may have no idea he is my inspiration. May not even be aware of my existence in the first place).

After dwelling on my ideal blogger/columnist’s pieces for over ten years, I decided that I had to be honest like him in my writing and it is okay to draw from my life experiences. After all I have no secret to hide and I am nobody important. It is fine if I disclose certain personal things because they lend my blog an element of authenticity. Also in very different ways from his, my life is also conditioned by unique experiences. I thought these can be told without harm to a limited audience. I decided that I would never invite audience to my blog. Whoever comes here is an accidental visitor. Most return!

Today I find some of my friends blogging. They are excellent nostalgic bloggers/writers and I hope and wish they drink from the fountain of life too before they set out on their intended course.

Ahead lies this journey, a very interesting one full of vivid scenes and encounters that can be felt only by the mind. I am following such a road and I am enjoying this walk with my co-travelers. My life I feel is rich because of their intelligent and interesting company.

Most of us here are keyboard warriors quite like some armchair intellectuals out there. But the rewards we reap by way of hearty contentment is immense. You feel a sense of purpose. You feel a fulfillment.

At least this is my personal experience. Grateful to all who make this adventure of mine worthwhile.

No, absolutely no idea of going professional or public. Happy as I am. Amateurish. Appreciative of the handful select audience.

Posted in Food For Soul

நான் அறிந்த தெய்வம்

Inspired to write this:

அன்பற்ற ஆசாரம் பழுது

நேயமற்ற நோம்பிலும் நேர்த்தி குன்று

மனிதம் இல்லா மந்திரம் வீண்

வாய்மையில்லா வேதமும் விரயம்

ஆர்வமற்ற கலை அப்பழுக்கு

உயிரற்ற ஓவியம் விலை போகா

இனிமையில் சொல்லும் சுடும்

இசைவில்லா முயர்வு தோல்வியே

நம்பிக்கையற்ற நெறி தவறும்

உருக்கமற்ற கதையும் கவராது

கனவில்லா துயில்வும் சுகமில்லை

ரசனையற்ற மனமும் வெறுமை

பொருளில்லா புத்தகம் பலனில்லை

மணம் இல்லா மலர் சூடுவதற்கில்லை

மக்கள் இல்லா செல்வம் மங்கும்

பேணுதல் இல்லா உறவு கெடும்

ஆக்கமில்லா செயலும் செல்லாக்காசு

 பிடிப்பில்லா வாழ்வு பாழ்

நோக்கமில்லா மார்கம் தடுமாற்றம்

தூய்மையற்ற அகமும் விளங்காது

சமத்துவம் இல்லா சமூகம் அவலமே

சமநீதி இல்லாத சமயம் அயோக்கியம்

மானுடமற்ற மதம் மூர்க்கம்

ஆறறிவு கேட்ட மனிதன் ஜடம்

உன்னதமில்லா எதுவும் உயர்வன்று

ஒளியற்ற ஆலையம் கேடு

சீரற்ற வழி செம்மை இல்லை

பகுத்தறிவற்றாரை கடவும் கடந்து போகும்

Posted in Economic

One Size Fits Not All: Standardization/Regulation Hick-ups In India.

In colourful vibrant India, everything has to shine a different shade. Every kinder garten kid must flutter like a butterfly in a different pinafore than the kid from a second or third neighbourhood school.

The range of secondary school education boards we boast of: Respective State boards, CBSE, ICSE, NIOS… and of course the latest IB (even though if you follow IB syllabus you will have to necessarily go for graduation to a foreign university as Indian universities do not recognize IB school certification). Not to leave out the rural municipal schools/urban corporation schools which may adopt state board stream… Where is a uniform platform to contend.

You would never know whether private buses ferry industrial workers to factories or kids to schools unless you read the nameboard, because school buses ply in all colours from yellow and blue to pink and green.

How are college campuses. How many tiers. For Tier I we have IITs and IIMs and AIIMS etc. Tier II has NIT etc., Tier III comprises other engineering and medical colleges, and so on… Every tier seems to have a qualifying entrance specific to the their layer. No standardized selection/admit procedure or test.

Hail a black tuktuk (auto rickshaw) in Delhi. In Chennai hail the yellow one and in some states of India watch out for the green ones.

How about sizing in India. Are our brands and sizes compatible. Size XL in one brand can be size L in some brands in the country whether it is a t-shirt or trouser or kurta. You can never take the sizes for granted. Shoe sizes? Shoe size 38 in one brand and size 40 in a different brand and size 8 in a third may be the same fit! And here we have the next level of confusion. UK size or US size or Europe size??? Shoe sizes now measure from 6 to 12 (US sizes). But what is really the standard Indian size for garments or footwear.

Aerial views of geographical locations excite us always when we board a plane. The only country where the aerial view is so mixed-up, confused, hazy and clueless is India’s! I have landed in well planned and organized countries in Europe, Asia and America. I can’t help comparing and concluding that the bird’s eye view of my nation is just a sample of things to come once we land. Co-ordinated town planning and organized development missing in us so that, India is an eyesore when you look down from the skies.

Is our water consumption metered? Water is the scarcest natural resource as we know, even if replenishable. The upper middleclass among us have access to abundant piped water supply, footing a bare minimum bill (by way of a flat water tax and minimum fixed water charges), with the regular unmetered municipal/corporation water filling our basement sumps to the brim, while the lower middle/working class have to run after the water tankers. Notable is the absence of a civic water distribution system that must be in place for the poor and the neediest among us. The rural scene is unmentionably pathetic. Who are we shortchanging here. India could be the only third world nation that does not meter water. Go see the European nations and America my dear countrymen and government. Not even a glass of water is free even in restaurants where it is always free in India wherever you go, especially in restaurants.

What about a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) for all Indian citizens, the most important of all. Why do we have separate laws governing followers of different faiths. High time everyone is brought under the single umbrella of a uniform statute. Are you hearing me pseudo liberals and leftists. Or are you having your moment of selective amnesia. Dear Indian bhais, do you enjoy special religious laws in the US and in European countries. Can you have four wives as per laws in the west. Whereas in India, I recently chanced upon some real life cases. Legally sanctioned. A muslim man who retired as govt servant left behind four wives. After him his pension was drawn by his first wife, then second, then after her the third and then finally the last who was only 20 when she married the old man. The man’s four wives were drawing more pension for longest number of years than the man’s service record, close to over half a century. In which country on earth is this possible including in middle eastern.

Is there anything in India that is properly standardized, regulated. Anything at all streamlined effectively and hassle-free that you can go about your exercise without a bottleneck.

Conforming to uniform national standards across the board will be a national benchmark. It will be a day of reckoning in Indian history.

Until recently before GST was introduced, even the Sales taxes and Excise duties varied from state to state on crossing border. Now with the imposition of a uniform tariff, long queues in checkposts are eliminated. Some attempt at regularization of revenues, a commendable attempt! Seamless pan India trucking for all-India permit holders. The fuel and time and charges and manpower saved!

Aadhar unique ID and PAN (Personal Assessment Number (for Income Tax)) are like baby steps at standardization/regularization and linking of both may not be a hundred percent foolproof method to prevent loopholes but may go a long way in preventing duplication of accounts and hoarding of black money.

Driving licences and Passports were easiest to standardize and centralize.

Voters IDs have some regional input like the PDS Family cards.

Without standardizing education, some learned so-called pundits talk about reservation. Yes, reservation in India is possible when every kid in India either attends the neighbourhood creamy academy or the municipal school uniformly. When the differences start as early as in kinder garten, there is no way we can suspend reservation quotas in India for the moment. Privileged classes have to make amends to accommodate the under-privileged to usher in some sense of social justice in the country. Reservation is merely a compensatory pay-out.

NEET may be a bold step towards regularization of admit of candidates to our medical universities even if it may pit our rural aspirants in a disadvantageous position.

At a very slow pace, India is going for standardization across the board.

Is standardization/regulation not possible at all in a country like India. Remote chances even if a country seven times as large as India, the United States has managed to achieve sort of an equilibrium, so to say. In India, the differences are culturally rooted and have been in place for centuries. We will have to work harder and with sincerity to weed out the discriminating factors dividing the society.

Only a satisfactorily literate society can realize the objective goals of a flourishing economy. In such an event, standardization is the natural outcome. A free and fair economy is possible when we have level playing ground for everyone in our country.

It takes a strong will on the part of administration/government to enforce laws to standardize our economy notwithstanding criticisms.

Inclusive growth is the only way to grow uniformly and evenly. Over next few years, hopefully we can count on more standardization and regulation-regularization enforcements for bringing in equality and social justice across the spectrum.