Posted in Political

Why we need universal consensus on Dope.

Through a friend who closely works with Indian mission in the interests of the NRI community, I came to know of the plight of thousands of Indian citizens both men and women who are locked up in dark cells for inadvertently carrying drugs in either their checked-in baggage or hand baggage, a criminal and non-bailable offence in some ports of destination.

There is this harrowing story of a 22 year old engineering graduate girl from Bangalore who was also playing for a band during weekends, having found placement with an IT company on campus interview. Life could not get rosier than that for the happy-go-lucky girl until one day her world turned upside down. Little did she know that the guitar handed over to her by her troupe member would send her to the gaol for a lifetime when she traveled to an Arab country to give a stage performance. In the musical instrument was found a cache of marijuana, legal in most parts of the world but that which is illegal in India and that which can get you a death sentence in Arab countries. Pretty and peppy and the only darling daughter of her well placed parents, the young woman was apprehended on her arrival at the capital of the arab country when the sniffer dogs zeroed in on the guitar that she was carrying for her best male friend and lead guitarist of their band. The intervention of the Indian govt stopped the bright girl from going to the gallows awarding her a life sentence. Refused even a phone call to her parents, legal counseling, and thrown into solitary cell, force-fed beef (being a vegetarian from birth), there has been no news on the girl ever since. The hapless parents reportedly were running from pillar to post to secure the release of their precious daughter, in vain. This is one of the many heartwrenching stories that the social worker for Indian community shared with me.

European countries like Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and especially the Scandinavians go easy on dope. Most of the narcotics that are legally prohibited in other parts of the world are deemed legal in these countries. Restriction of any kind is against human rights for these most liberal societies where the right to choose lies with the individual. Availability of/access to most of these scheduled drugs in Asian countries is next to impossible. If at all one can lay his/her hand on these prohibited drugs, it has to be by illegal means supplied through black markets. Of course, the undercover always exists but the costs could be prohibitive. Singapore is a nation where strict death penalty is imposed on anyone found with banned drugs notified by the nation. No trial as a matter of fact for the accused and the campaign by the foreign missions to secure their convicted citizens caught redhanded with prohibited drugs is actively discouraged. Many rural Indian citizens who were used as ‘kuruvi’ (messenger) to carry drugs unaware, by smugglers and drug mafia have ended up hanging by the end of the rope, with the appeals of the normally-prevailing Indian government dismissed or turned down without a second thought. In this scenario imagine a Singapore* (name of the nation changed) citizen landing in Amsterdam for a PG diploma. Clean until his 22nd year after having served his mandatory stint in national defence, this boy found himself enthralled by the liberties that Holland permitted. Peer pressure is another reason. Sudden financial independence working for the road side cafes to pay for tuition fee/dorm could be a major factor. Asian parents are also mostly highly ignorant by themselves when it comes to narcotics, having no idea what it is about. Two years went by when the young man lived like Roman in Rome, smoking up whatever he fancied, popping the pill, taking to the needle whenever he felt like to get his high. Returning home proved to be his nemesis. Unable to cope up with depression in the dry country and unable to come out of his new found addiction, the boy jumped to his death from a highrise. His parents are yet to come out of the tragedy. In Amsterdam, the young man lived his life ‘legally’. ‘Substance’ obviously is subsidized in these European countries. Local kids growing up in these mature societies face none of the psychological dilemmas that Asian children going there for higher education face. So its all the more prudent for the parents to do a thorough research on the host countries where they may want to send their wards for higher education. A masters degree aspirant is still young and vulnerable enough to take to addictions. When you are in free-for-all terrain all is well when it goes well. Hell breaks loose when the graduates have to return to their home countries someday where none of the substances may be available in open market.

There is normally some education on the prohibitive drugs to be carried into countries that we all have. Something as simple and naive as ‘khus khus’ which any Indian kitchen cannot be without, can land someone from India in death row if carried into Arab airports. Cough syrups are a big no-no. There is a list of scheduled drugs including pain killers that are restricted in many foreign countries. But a spice as innocuous as the khus-khus (that is supposedly seed for opium) (that a good ninetynine percent of Indians are unaware of!) could prove to be so damaging is not comprehensible to most Indian travelers, especially blue collar workers who have neither attitude nor the understanding to contemplate the consequences resulting from their casual and thoughtless actions. Someone who carried powerful painkillers for a cancer patient also found themselves on the wrong side of law in the Arab country where they landed.

The friend affirmed that similar is the statistic of foreign nationals behind bars even in India with no hope of release. The conditions of the Indian prison scene need not have to be enumerated. From basic sanitation to food quality, the standards can be shocking to any international traveler, and why even fellow Indian citizens.

Nations must come to a treaty on how to handle the cases where individuals find themselves on the wrong side of law without their knowledge. Establishing justice can prove to be very difficult on these grounds. Yet, after coming to know of the Bangalore girl, I am totally shaken as to how on a single flight/day our destiny can turn for worse without a warning. Indian government or for that matter, any foreign government has no jurisdiction in foreign courts. And generally, the countries that have stringent laws on substances and narcotics do not allow trial and hand out death penalty unanimously unfettered by the appealing nations. The Amsterdam case can happen to any family. We all send our children abroad for better education and for brighter future. The seemingly ultra liberal societies are dangerous for Indian kids/Asian kids who may not be mentally mature to come to grips with the freedom allowed when it comes to consumption of narcotics in these European countries where even Euthanasia (death by choice/assisted death), nude beaches etc., are order of the day. Age for consensual sex is as low as twelve for children in these countries. So whose responsibility is it when it comes to defining the legal parameters or licence allowed for substance use or abuse where it concerns foreign citizens.

The law governing the narcotics (ab)use by foreign nationals remains ambiguous in most countries. Arab countries are beyond the point of coming to a pact with rest of the world in this one matter. Yet, contrabrand is freely available in ever single Arab country and recently a royal Arab was found dead on drug overdose. Who is the world’s largest opium cultivator. Islamic countries are not exactly lagging behind when it comes to drug menace. Much of their news never makes to international headlines. Indian government too has to create a cell to deal with nations on case-to-case basis and help with the release of unfortunate citizens who may find themselves caught in quagmire in all innocence. Our embassies and high commissions are overworked. Yet this is one area that our foreign missions must focus on. Lastly when parents are to send their wards for higher education to liberal first world countries where drug prevalence is rampant and legal, they have to educate their children and advise caution. There are so many avenues that the Indian government keeps to be working on. Substance/narcotic cases must be accorded top priority. Entering a bilateral agreement with individual nations can be considered. Is it not double standards when allegedly you may find every single substance in, for instance, Dubai, when for the criminal offence of someone carrying substance must be hanged without trial in the Emirates. Nations do have to come to consensus on narcotics cases because, thousands of international citizens reportedly are languishing in dark cells right across the globe for inadvertently carrying banned drugs.

Posted in Political

The Aadheenams have their day.

Sengol/Raj Danda installed amid controversies next to speaker

The Aadheenams of the most ancient temples of Tamil Nadu that have seen the Cholas had their day when the ‘Sengol’ of Thamizh (Chozha) kings was installed by our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in India’s new parliament building that was inaugurated with Sarva Dharma (all faith prayers) yesterday. Those who have grown up listening to Odhuvaar singing to Kapaleeshwara or Karpagaambal or Valleeshwara or even Abirami of Thirukadaiyur or Meenakshi of Madurai etc., may know that the Odhuvar tradition is now a dying tradition in our temples. Most temples not only in Tamil Nadu but also in all parts of INdia are controlled by the respective state governments that shamelessly use the Hindu temple fund for financing even the salaries of masjid workers for instance as we see in Kerala. Whereas the poor archakas of the temples are left high and dry with inadequate salaries, the government officials who have no connection with the temples drive latest sedans and SUVs drawing handsome pay packets. In Sri Venkateswara temple in Tirumala, there were even Christians employed in the Devastanams who were ready to fight legal battles for retaining their jobs. This is the true cost of secularism. Temples under the Aadheenam may be free of state government clutches but how are they deploying the funds from the temples under their administration from their overflowing coffers. How many temples in Kumbakonam, Mayavaram etc., are in dire need of basic repairs? Some temple towers (gopurams) that are over 1500 years old are even on the verge of collapsing. Worst maintained and not kept clean. Bribes in the abode of god, be it temple under Tamil Nadu temple and charitable trust (govt department) or those under the aegis of the Adheenams are a dampaner but I understand that special darshans are crowd management tactics. What melted my heart was hearing Thevaram and Thiruvasagam chantings reverberating from our seat of governance in Delhi. Most ancient mantras in Thamizh, the verses have the antiquity and sanctity and aura of the ages old Sanskrit scriptures. It was especially enthralling to note the Odhuvar attached to Kapaleeshwar temple, Mylapore play a pivotal role in the ‘grihapravesh’ or the housewarming ceremony. Interestingly the new parliament of INdia is triangular shaped representing the most powerful Sri Yantra. Two inverted Triangles overlapping each other represent union of Shiva and Shakthi: the static energy and the kinetic energy that is the driving force. Shiva is latent, Shakthi is the force.

Posted in Political

Defining Moment For Pakistan.

When Pak PM Shri Shahbaz Sharif went aghast that the inferno that the nation saw in last few days reminded him of the 1971 war (with India), there was perhaps a a ring of truth to his words. Pakistan is off bounds for average Indian citizen. Our inputs are from media. However in our recorded memory, this is the first time ever that the Pakistanis went up in arms against their much feared armed forces which was brave of them. Imran Khan, who was illegally stripped off his premier post for batting against their army, was let off by the Supreme court after his illegal arrest by the law enforcement/security. The incident incited violence in the major cities that saw smoke billowing out of raging fires from buildings set ablaze, including on one of an army commander. Pakistan army has been directly behind the wars with India (read: without a justifiable rationale) that cost the nation dear – including the last one at Kargil. Musharraf, Pakistan’s ex general turned self-styled president was single handedly responsible for the unnecessary and costly blunder that set the relationship between the two hostile neighbours behind by a couple of more precious years. It reflected to us Indians, the sheer irresponsibility and inefficacy of their army chiefs and their ruling power as the Nawaz Shariff government at the center watched helpless and fell in line with the overruling army general. It underscored for us one more time, WHO IS THE BOSS in Pakistan. Soon Sharif was exiled to Saudi and Benazir was assassinated. Has Pakistan had a single prime minister who retired gracefully and in peace with wisdom to offer to the next democratically elected top man taking over the mantle from him or her? History has shown that whoever takes the chair either gets exiled or assassinated or his/her term truncated. Imran Khan’s case was the last as he too left the term incomplete. The Pakistan public reaction to the jungle rule of their armed forces comes as a breather. Pakistan military are infamous for their relentless corruption. The quickest way to prosperity is through enrolment in their army, whereas in countries like India, a career in the barracks is frowned upon by the youth normally. Our government has to entice young men and women to consider a stint in our armed forces with attractive sops. Army connections win one business contracts and licences in Pakistan. Army is the be-all, do-all. The all powerful Pakistan army also is the wealthiest organization in their country not surprisingly. Their spy agency will put those like we have in India to shame. Such a network! Pakistan has some good points such as their spy agency, cricket, hockey, ghazal, mountaineering etc. Pakistan natural resources mostly remain untapped. A vast potential herein has been sold over the counter just-like-that to Chinese who have taken over the Gwadar port for access to the Arabian sea. Pakistan is reeling not only under IMF loans but also against a burgeoning Chinese credit that they have to pay through their teeth. Media attributes the lawlessness to Imran Khan in Pakistan but as Pakistan national currency hovered at 299 rupees against US$ last evening, it is palpable that the public unrest is also manifestation of a peaking frustration as the cost of living is no more under control in their country and hooliganism is only the natural outcome of mass paranoia of the countrymen fearing famine and hopelessness in near future. As Pakistan stares at bankruptcy, we Indians keep our fingers crossed and await developments. For a healthy Pakistan is in Indian interests.

Posted in Food For Soul, Political History

Jambudweepe, Dakshina Parve, Bharatha Khande, Bharath Varshe

One more historical evidence from Hindu prayers and Puja rituals. Most of us are familiar with the Sankalp(am) we have to perform before starting a Puja or Homam (a ritual with the holy fire) or before going for an Archana (customized service-like) for the Hindu deities wherein we have to mention the place (our location), time, names of the devotees with their birth stars as per Hindu calendar. Until today we mention the place as Jambudweep (the large continent which was once an island landmass), followed by Dakshina Parv (south face) (southern part of the Jambudweepa), Bharath Khand (Greater India), Bharatha Varsha (Indian subcontinent). (The pundit/purohit invokes the deities with details usually on our behalf. In home pujas we invoke the deities with the minute details by ourselves). (This means we are summoning the deities of Puja to that particular geographical spot personally. Our identity or address is the geotag with our name, birthstar, Kula/Gotra (family/clan/lineage) specifics. The Jambudweep is the landmass that was once surrounded by water. It can be now comprising the entire Eurasia. Dakshina Parv refers to the southernmost part of the continental shelf. Bharath Khande is the Greater Bharat or Akhaand Bharat comprising of present day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and even parts of erstwhile Soviet Union such as Tashkent (Takshashila), parts of Azerbaijan etc. Hindu Dharma was prevalent in Baku of today. There are Sanskrit inscriptions preserved. The old Sankalp that we have not edit to current times must be from primordial times.This was a time when the tectonic plates had not yet had the head-on collision, exactly where there was once the Tethys sea which later on was replaced by the mighty Himalayas, the newest mountain range in the geography and history of Planet Earth. Interestingly all our prayers OMIT the Himalaya region but mention the Jambudweep as a separate island entity (Dweep in Sanskrit means ‘island.’ (We have until today the Lakshadweep (a lakh or million islands – an archipelago) which is a union territory of India (in the Arabian sea near the coast of Kerala)). The name for the country is Bharat, after Bharatha, who comes in the lineage of Lord Rama. For millions of years, India has thus gone by the name Bharath. Bharat is the original name of India, not Hindustan which was the name given by the Persians. India presently goes by Her name given by the Europeans. I for one thing never paid attention to these details even though we go through these motions in most of our rituals. We blindly recite the sankalp hardly paying any attention. For our weddings and other muhurats (auspicious timings for occasions like nuptials, pujas etc.,) we strictly follow the Hindu calendar in India. Our stock exchanges open and close annual accounts on the Hindu new year day which is the Amavashya (new moon day) of Diwali. In Tamil Nadu we adhere to the Tamil Hindu calendar. Our new year is just around the corner April 14th and this is the day Bangla, Punjabi, all of South, Behari, and even most of South East Asia including Bali/Indonesia, Thailand etc., celebrate their new year. The sankalp mention of Jambudweep, Dakshina Parva, Bharatha Khand/Bharat Varsha succinctly omitting Himalaya region is an indicator to the rituals observed in another plane of time, perhaps preceding even the times of Ramayana and Mahabharatha. River Saraswathi discovered deep down earth’s crust buried in a supposed catastrophe that changed our planet’s geography forever is another indication that there was a robust Hindu civilization far advanced in different dimensions preceding the current human evolution. It is possible that we merely picked up the pieces left over our ancestors to start again from the remnant of an old world. I have always felt this when reading the Sundara Khanda of Ramayana where there are details of the chariot of Ravana, the king of Sri Lanka that went by the name ‘Pushpaka vimana.’ Didn’t Ravana play Veena which is still the revered ancient/contemporary/native stringed musical instrument for Hindus. Then there are the surface to surface, surface to air, air to air missiles mentioned in the Mahabharat and even in Ramayan. These disjoint proofs pointing to another plane of time, another world are available in Hindu texts/scriptures that cannot be from the recent history of the human race. Unfortunately they cannot be cohesively or entirely interpreted without scientific backing. Interesting that I got to listen to this piece of information from a lecture on Soundarya Lahari, composed by BhagawadPada-Adi Shankara in the 7th century CE. Sadly as this is Hindu history, no research may follow or even encouraged, because the Abrahamics are always bent upon disproving anything with Hindu origins. Lately there is a changed mindset wanting to know what is what, with an element of curiosity about assembling the jigsaw puzzle for a better understanding about human ancestry and evolution. This is why we need to study our scriptures in depth: they throw valuable information in every single verse. Ancient Hindu scriptures are a repository of knowledge and info that can shed light into the mindset, prevailing culture and civilization of human race that is not recorded history. The galaxy did not come into existence from the birth of Christ. Most Hindu customs and even everyday rituals must be contemplated for their purpose and antiquity. Some excavations shall never be carried out. Some exhibits shall never be tabled. Some truths shall lay buried and never be discovered. Besides, you can never relate to the lost world with the threads of evidences you unearth here are there. The vital connection is severed by time and space.

Posted in Economic

Digitalization drive: transforming rural India like never before.

Time to take stock of UPI payments enabled in India. This came close on the heels of demonetization. Paperless transactions may never have amounted to this magnitude in days before demonetization. It was quick and easy for petty shopkeepers and even street hawkers to seamlessly switch over to UPI payments because, even the villagers and rural artisans who have not have received elementary education have turned out to be tech savvy today when it comes to smart phones and can follow maps and keep track of bill payments etc. Digitalization therefore materialized in India more out of necessity as the nation ran out of cash overnight with demonetization. Recently I was in Kerala. As we thronged the streets of Guruvayur, I and my friend found that we did not carry enough cash and our cards were not being accepted anywhere. We were not exactly shopping for big brands whose franchisees had opened posh showrooms or chains in the backstreets. The petty shops, arguably, may not have impressive volumes of turnover. We shopped for papads, nendram (a kind of banana) chips (deepfried in coconut oil) (that Kerala is famous for), lamps, sweets etc. Our bills in the snacks shops couldn’t have exceeded 200-300 bucks. The shopowners too were not the kind to wait for credit card payments settlements. As we know, the credit cards have a window of 3 months for final bill honour and settlement from merchant banks. Running cash remains crucial for small businesses. Plus since I have a phone from Middle east where some features in Playstore are disabled, I do not have Gpay. I have though downloaded desi Phonepe that the shopowners did not have even if they did have the universal payment method Gpay. In which case I had to scan the QR code and make instant payment. The places were not as crowded as the fastfoods in Mumbai that may necessitate speaker announcements for payments received. But the billing clerk and the salesmen did verify and confirm with each other on the spot in the shops in the Guruvayurvappan temple Sannadhi street whether payments were received. Before anyone left the shop,t the verifications were done superfast. These are small things that do not come packaged with qr codes printed in the merchandise to emit the beep sound if someone left with a stolen item. The shopowners needed to be super alert given that the chips packets, pickles and other nibbles and edibles were displayed right through the small shop and were also hanging from roof in suspenders. It must be tough to keep track. But they seemed to have perfected a way to keep track of sales and payments. It would be interesting to see what they would do should there be a crowd. When we were shopping, there weren’t more than a dozen shoppers that made it easy for the petty shopkeepers to keep an eye on every transaction. Even so, the small shops seemed to be stuffy. Its true, from the tender coconut vending woman in the street side to the pani puri wala hawking everything from bhel puri to sandwiches and steamed dimsums in busy market places, everybody has gone cashless. Last two years I have been paying bills for all labour thro UPI. These include the plumber, the electrician, the tailor, the janitor etc. All you have to do is make a phonepe payment or scan the qr printed in the push cart or wherever to make a payment. I haven’t witnessed this level of digitalization even in Middle east where normally tech facilities are enabled better especially when it comes to banking. The advantage with digitalization and cashless economy is that, there is more transparency than ever before and the black market shrinks significantly. More incomes and individuals under taxable net as transactions leave an electronic trail that you cannot erase or refute. With the Aadhar (national/personal) ID linked to our bank accounts alongwith PAN (permanent account number for income tax), when you make a UPI payment, like the credit card payment these minor bills are accounted for. Which was never the case earlier when you bought something or anything from the street stall or an icecream during the park stroll or when you took the giant wheel ride in the fair or sometimes as simply as chewed pan outside the restaurant you dined in. Now the paan vendors have UPI qr code displayed on their stand and would rather prefer you to scan and pay. So what happens? You leave a record of your lifestyle, your habits, your preference, your tastes etc., so far not covered by the credit cards. This can give a totally different perspective to the ways of spending by netizens. The more you make digitalized payments, the more white is the national currency from black. I insist on making cash payments sometimes for groceries because I want to make use of cash – as I have to necessarily swipe my cards at least once in 6 months to keep them active. Otherwise frankly, I have no need for cash at all.

Where Gods and Goddesses accept UPI : In all temple hundis, qr scan code is printed for donations, for special puja services etc! The last time I visited Kapali temple in Mylapore, there was a queue so I opted for a shorter queue for which I had to buy a ticket for 50 bucks. The receipt with qr code was scanned in the queue by a temple worker before I was allowed a darshan of Kapali-Karpagambal! You no more can sneak into any queue even in temples!

The far reach of the digital payments: now its possible to go cashless in the remotest corners of the country where your credit cards may not be accepted but where UPI payments are more than welcome for the safety and security and convenience they present. As good as cash, UPI payments have cut down the ATM precipitation especially in rural areas.

I visited the PDS (public distribution shop) last month where there is smart card in use for 4-5 years now. The latest addition is thumb impression verification matched with your Aadhar to prevent misuse of govt rations. Its a good move and can check corruption – provided the state govt fat rats and central govt don’t eat into the rations literally (pun intended).

How many loopholes has PM Modi plugged. Quite a few. Very smart. Yet it agonizes me that the common man is made to sacrifice whereas those like the Adanis can get away with it all.

Posted in Economic

Great Going!

how one brand captured the lion’s share in the leggings market in India and became a household name in a remarkably shorter time…

One of the most promising starts in recent times, smart entrepreneurship with high yields on low cost investments could be the GO COLORS chain of legging shops that have sprung up in every nook and corner of the city and perhaps entire India. Starting like a typical kirana shop abutting the street corners, not a square inch over the size of a walk-in closet, Go colors boldly sold the lycra stretch pants (leggings) exclusively to go with kurtis, limiting their scope (initially) to mere leggings which was a courageous move that at that point of time could have been considered foolish. There were established brand names doing good business that majorly sold kurtis when Go colors made a modest entry in the sector. Matching the pants was the natural corollary for retailers, so the shopper felt no need to step out of the air-conditioned environs to pair a matching pant/legging to go with the top/kameez. Leggings thus were an add-on and never an entity by themselves, at least until Go colors gave them their due. Leggings market in India also was new and limited in volume mostly because, harem pants, baggies, jeggings, culottes etc., were yet to make a splash if not a proper beginning in the country where mostly the favoured trouser for womenfolk was the unimaginative and simple stringed shalwar. The bigger the better it got, with the Patialas remaining top pick uncontested, complementing too very well the short kurtis. We Indian ladies would not even adapt easily to the elastic waistbands. Traditional Indian clothes continue(d) to be the preferred formal attire. So why should anyone want to open a shop that sold only the leggings that were a curious mix of the east and the west. They went well with the kurtis. They went well with short tops. But then lycras are lycras, aren’t they. One conjured up images of fitness routines with leggings. To connect them to traditional clothing was out-of-box thinking if not vulgar. The boundary was breached but market stayed unexplored. In summers, why would girls want to wear the spandex tights over cool ballooning shalwars. To go for the close intimate fit for outdoor wear, the pair of leggings needed to be real good. Go Colors captured the market with quality fabric, desired length (like ankle length rather than mostly gatherings that was one weak point with brands like Biba or Twin birds), neat finish, thinner strength of material that made it more stretchable, lasting elastic and neutral colours even if pricing was at par with ruling brands. As one of their earliest patrons, what made me go for them was their stretch quality, durability and chic shape and fit. Ankle length suited petite me and the elastic waist band held fast without twisting back or rolling down. Machine washes were fine and the fabric fit exactly into your body contour. To me this is what made Go colors get a sizeable share in the market pie in a hitherto unexplored line of business. From the shelves of mall outlets and retailers as an innocuous ‘also ran’ brand (as I first discovered them years back), the chain took baby steps opening up closet-sized nooks from ceiling to floor pigeonhole display racks neatly and nicely stacked with convenient sizes xs, s, m, l, xl, xxl, xxxl etc. Both gatherings (like churidhar) and ankle lengths were available but the ankle lengths were a massive hit. Even today mostly of the Go color outlets operate out of walk-in closet size nooks only. The trial rooms may be a 1×1 square foot space. Go colors are now simply everywhere: a cubicle in the center of a busy market to open stall in the lookout gallery down the corridor of a posh shopping mall. Curiously the brand is not sold any more by other retailers making it available only in the brand outlets. This single move to me makes Go colors an exclusive club. Only very lately Go colors have expanded floor space wise as slightly larger showrooms surface in shopping districts, strictly catering to ladies bottoms segment. A big risk by the venturer but the gamble paid off in my opinion. Today, Go colors is here to stay and a label to reckon with when it comes to ladies pants. The brand outlets have mushroomed in dozens. Whether they are the chain or franchisees – I have no idea. Whatever, the market share of Go colors has been steadily climbing, as is clearly evident. From leggings, they have now cautiously diversified into jeggings, nightwear, culottes, three fourths, seven by eights and even denims but the bottomline stays the same (pun intended)! There are then the elasticated shalwars and straight pants. The colour range includes sheers and shimmers. For anything and everything to pair with your kurta or kurti – the single brand that comes to your mind these days is GO COLORS. The rules are unlaid: you don’t have to sell designer brands or lacy lingerie or plush accessories to carve a niche in women’s retail. You can do just what Go Colors did, restrict yourselves to a specialized service and excel in the limited scope. Wherever I go now, I try to look for a street or thoroughfare without Go colors! I spotted the brand in Thrissur. In Tirupathi. In Kumbakonam. Where not? In a world where increasingly perfection is deplored to be a weakness, Go colors is living proof as to how perfection is key to success.

Posted in Socio-Cultural


Sometimes, its hard to believe that these Afghans ruled India for a while.

As the Pathan picture gets into controversy, I would like to blog of what I know of Pathans. They are of Af-Pak origin and I have exposure to them in Middle east. Right from the airport you cannot miss them and they are tailormade for some semi skilled professions where they have made their mark. Our locality in gulf is mostly Pathan dominated although the labourers were moved to Labour city with all facilities for them at one spot as the city grew and the world cup preparations were on. I saw a few buildings torn down that were very old and were leased to big pathan groups and obviously the men have moved over to labour city. Otherwise, whichever part of the country you are in, you can find the pathans crouching and huddled together in groups in the traffic islands between busy junctions! Wherever I go for walking, again they would be there as gangs, sharing a common bread. I live in a housing colony where 95% of households are Indian. In fact that’s the reason I wanted to live here. You can opt to live in mixed community but there is the comfort factor. My previous flat was in a largely arab dominated apartment complex where I sincerely could not tolerate the beef smell that would ooze into my home from all directions. See, most people who talk about secularism just cannot understand a vegetarian’s delicate senses. Its not about hate for beef at all. Its that we cannot even stand the smell. I don’t find fault with others’ food habits. Its just my level of tolerance or intolerance that’s all. Moreover, you can be friendly with other nationalities to a certain extent. There are filippinos and arabs among others who are very nice to befriend. But beyond a point, that intimacy that we Indians share can be had only with those from India or with those of Indian origin. I am saying this because, I have instant rapport with Sri lankans, Nepalis even Bhutanese, Bangladeshi and Pakistanis. That kind of closeness I find only with people of the INdian subcontinent.

As for pathans, we find them very handy because they live among us in this locality. I could call them for any plumbing, electrical work or tank cleaning. I wanted Ikea for my kitchen here but when I was in India, my hubby cleverly booked our counters and cabinets from a pathan at throwaway price. Actually the quality is better even if the aesthetics are sacrificed! But my kitchen fittings have been serving me good for over seven years now whereas all the expensive posh Ikea ones that my friends got had to be replaced. There is an exclusive pathan shopping complex near where I live where you can find anything to everything such as nut and bolt and curtain rods to curtains, clothes, winter jackets, boots, fabrics, leather ware etc., etc. And yes even furniture and plumbing, electrical appliances. Rates are okay, and in fact much cheaper. So most of us settle for the pathan stuff as this is not our real home. We are living in rented place. Mine is a 25 year old flat but it is in ship shape except for some minor complaints. Our painting works get done by the pathans. The dry cleaning shops here are run by them. There are a few exceptions though: barber shops have been taken over by Bangladeshis and nobody can beat Indians when it comes to groceries and provisions. There are some restaurants run by pathans and obviously we can’t eat at them. However even the pathans visit our Kerala bhais restaurants to sample Indian food. My street would be flooded by the pathans haphazardly parking their trucks. Yes, mostly they are truck drivers. Or they drive trailers. Before world cup, my area was spruced up. Here nobody questions them. Their lifestyle is part of the community fabric. I miss them now and wonder wherever they went! Now the look of my street is kind of European! The roads are clearly marked and any wayward parking is ruled out. Mysteriously the pathans have disappeared. One reason could be that the free zones left for parking their trailers etc., have been converted into parks and parking bays for the world cup. They have since been closed to easy access. Without parking, the pathans cannot exist. So may be they have moved to wherever they have parking facilities. Some even sleep in their trailers.

The well doing pathans ( khans) are all mostly Indian! But I understand that the labour class pathans are also very rich – some of them, not all. They may be shabbily dressed but they earn handsome from subcontracts. They are in employment of major multinational oil and gas and civil construction and electrical and mechanical companies. They do tough job and get paid very well. I once saw such a pathan hold a family wedding in a star hotel where I went for a speech club program. They seemed out of place but they were real dressed well. Obviously a rich pathan!

But I would always wonder aloud, how simple their life is. They probably own not more than 2 or 3 sets of shalwar kameez. They eat from common thali their bread and biriyani. Beef is very cheap here so they have plenty of it. Their place of worship is everywhere. Their entertainment is gossiping in groups, as I said, huddled together in traffic islands! They go to public parks to access free wi fi to call back home. Their cost of living is way too low. Living conditions not that bad. I believe, most of them don’t even repatriate money to their native countries. They go home once an year to their families, get their wives pregnant and come back happily to resume their life in middle east. By the time their sons may turn 18, you can find them join their fathers. Family business! You need people of all kind to carry on with normal life. so many, many invisible links in the chain that make our life livable. Pathans to me are one such a main connection to comfortable life in middle east even if they are hidden from public view. If you drive down the desert, you can see the old bedouin settlements leased by pathans. Out of nowhere these camps crop up. Their job in the great arabian desert is to rear the camels and tend to other works in the area. Highway drivers to some 99% are the pathans. Nobody can handle trucks and trailers like them! In India, its the Singhs (Punjabis).

Pathans in India are comparatively very well accomplished and doing a great job. Of course not all pathans are blue collar workers. Back in their own countries, they must be prospering in all walks of life. In middle east or anywhere, the Indian domination cannot be ruled out. Indians bulldoze every other nationality frankly with their immense talent pool. We reduce others to middle level or lowest levels of employment and that is what I always think when I see the pathans. But as I said, we need men for every job. Pathans carved their niche in middle east with their tremendous appetite for manual labour and semi skilled jobs. They are best at it and most reliable.

Generally Indian women stay careful with pathans. Not because we fear them. We in middle east have to always keep in mind that we are dealing with men who don’t get a chance to be with women for years sometimes. They don’t booze either. So to be on safe side we are weary of pathans who we engage for all kinds of work at home, that’s all.

One pathan gave me his visiting card knocking on my door telling me he lived just the opposite of our compound and that he was available 24 hrs for carpentry, plumbing, electrical works and house painting, tank cleaning etc., etc. He went door to door giving the card but I was really impressed by the interest he took in his business. The details printed in the card had so many errors still, that was a wonderful effort!

I have a soft corner for the pathans always because they work so hard and they are very contented in their simple lifestyle. My hubby jokes in my previous janam I was a pathan (before 1947) and probably a Kashmiri or Paksitani Hindu (before 1965) who got massacred at the hands of Pakis. So in my present janam I was graced with a birth in proper Hindu dominant India. But my affection for pathans is proof that I have karmic connection with them! Our Indian husbands can be impossible. My hubby would dutifully point out pathans to me wherever we drive and say, ‘look your cousins!’ I would say had I married one of them, my life could have been simplest and happiest! Very few pathans have their families with them in middle east and those who do are considered pretty wealthy. They live here for generations but they are not citizens.

The Khans of India must realize how well placed they are and in fact fortunate that they find themselves in the other side of the border. I would not like to stereotype the pathans but the truth is, the exception is a miniscule percentage. Most have no education but aren’t concerned either! Or may be their sense of righteousness is better than ours. Perhaps their lifestyle is far more peaceful. But then why are their nations so war torn.

Even last evening I went to a pathan shopping place. Almost all shops here are owned by the pathans but the Bangladeshis have been steadily taking over their spots. Except for the truck and/or trailer driving, the Bangladeshis have forayed into every single sphere of the pathan stronghold. They are much smarter, more intelligent and hardworking. Their physical strength cannot match the pathans which is why they have left out the driving of trailers I guess!

Meanwhile you cannot even find much of Indian manual labour, as Indian labour is very expensive and Indian community has moved much ahead in the ladder, with being placed in executive positions and professions. I have watched pathans salute many times Indian men with respect. Pathans do hold Indians in respect. That respect comes from the Indian’s social hierarchy. We all do our bit in my opinion and we can coexist in this world filling gaps in each other’s hemisphere.

I have heard of gossips about pathans but I can’t obviously share them here. Crimes happen everywhere. We, especially, women have to be vigilant because whatever said, we are still vulnerable.

Once long back we dined in a fine Afghan restaurant. On seeing us the pathans did not know what to do. They had a sumptuous hot bread basket and surprisingly a couple of veggie dishes. It was my son’s idea really and this eating place looked upscale. The breads were too good from the land of tandoor. For subzi I ordered a bindi stew. The men went for a lamb dish. We weren’t given plates and we were expected to tear into the bread and dip it directly in the subzi! We made a special request for plates. The staff were amused but gave us individual plates as Hindus never will share a thali. For us its abhorrent.

Brings back memories of a group of pathans in Dubai terminal waiting for their flight. They had a 20 hour transit. They were all hunched over a mammoth paper package that was thrown open. A dozen hands reached into the biriyani at the same moment! That comradeship always would impress me. But my hubby as usual came with a retort. ‘You know why they have that custom. In olden days like mogul times if the food may be poisoned, it was to ensure that everybody died the same time!’ Trust was deficient he said because, Aurangzeb killed his own brother to ascend the throne. Whatever, I was looking at the pathans sprawled in the airport floor without a care in the world, not bothered who is looking, who is not. Snoring loudly they went to sleep fitfully! I wished life was easy and uncomplicated for me!

Posted in Political

Should only Delhi be the capital of Bharat, ji?

Delhi was Indraprastha in Mahabharat from another plane of time. Delhi has been in the thick of things for centuries, believed to have been the capital of the Pandavas. India’s destiny is closely linked to how Delhi evolved with time. So the significance of continuing to have Delhi as India’s capital is understandable. Even so, why should not there be an alternative to Delhi. Today I was watching the you tube video of building plans for a new Indian parliament in Delhi. I was struck by a thought. Our capital city was also the seat of the Delhi sultanate. Aurangzeb ruled from Delhi. The British Raj functioned from Delhi where the viceroy’s residence was turned into Rashtrapathi Bhavan, the presidential palace, on India’s independence. India retained much of the colonial architecture from the British days and Delhi profusely was Mugal in make-up. I am yet to visit my capital city frankly! But from what I see in media I feel no soul connection to India’s capital. That kind of India is something most of us Indians cannot identify with. Lost is the Mahabharath umbilical cord to Delhi. Delhi is now more and more identified with its residual mogul imperialism. So average Hindu, especially a south Indian, can hardly connect to Delhi. We cannot reckon with our invaders from Middle east, Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan. Taj Mahal has got nothing to do with us. The south largely remained insulated to mogul invasions. Indian history still has the point of view of those who invaded and occupied India over native Indians. We seem to celebrate our invaders and we have forgotten our own golden ages of Chandra Gupta Maurya, Ashoka, Vijayanagara empire, Maratha empire and Shivaji, the Chera, Chola, Pandiya, Pallavas of the south. We have forsaken our ancient Bharat when our Maharajahs ruled just from the Delhi throne. Our history text books underplay local heroes and glorify the invaders. Good to have a multicultural society but not at expense of losing our own perspective. India’s Hindu heritage must be preserved. India’s soul is Hindu not anglicized or arabized. Delhi is hardly representative of the real Bharat. Why should not India have Her capital moved to, say, Orissa for instance. My vote is for this not-so-developed state of India which lies to our south east. The new capital city must not be raised over destroyed forests. Orissa and southern states were hardly touched by the Moguls in direct conflict even if some princely states down south could have become their vassals before falling in step with the British, the Travancore and the Mysore states being the glaring examples. Arcot in Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad in Andhra were administered by mugal vassals who reigned the region without winning a war. So south mostly retained the essence of Bharat without much of distortion. It is vital to build a capital for Bharat from where neither the British nor the Islamic invaders of India governed us. While we accept our pained history as it is, it is also important to break away from the slave mentality or the colonial mindset. We have to disconnect with our troubled past for which moving the seat of power to somewhere outside Delhi can be crucial. India is not merely the mugal empire or the british raj. India is an enigma and the Indian subcontinent is flanked by seas on three sides. We are a varied landscape and diverse population. We need to centralize things. The capital must be reachable, identifiable to all and by all Indian citizens. Even Andhra Pradesh or Telengana is a good choice to build our new capital. Tamil Nadu and Kerala may not be advisable because of easy access by sea. Orissa is a larger state and the capital can be situated far away from the coastline. Madhya Pradesh and Bihar have vast extent of reserve forest areas. We wouldn’t want India’s new capital to be built across our elephant corridors. Moving our capital to geographical center of our nation could give us better sense of inclusiveness in my opinion. Security issues need to be studied in detail. Just wondering!

Posted in Political

Perception of popularity also can breed popularity!

That’s my takeaway today from international media. I don’t own this quote. I have borrowed the idea for my own contemplation in this private space of mine where I don’t have readers. So please don’t give it the plagiarist tag.


I can cite quite a few political and economic developments/fall outs owing to this so-called perception of popularity. And then there is the timing. Ruling governments do advance the general elections if the going is good for them to cash in on their reigning popularity or perhaps the perceived popularity among masses. They probably bank their decision on flash midterm poll wins and local Panchayat (civil body) election seats. Media role also cannot be ruled out. Media invariably become mouthpiece for those in power projecting a false reality with their own opinion polls, exit polls, expert panel discussions etc. The center is always on the spotlight. Sometimes this can backfire as it happened when the BJP government called for early elections in 2004, a good six months ahead of the schedule by December. The Lok Sabha and Rajya sabha (lower and upper houses of parliament) went to polls simultaneously in phases in the April and May months (as it is always in India – in some six or seven phases considering our geographical extent and the mammoth 1.3 billion population – we are the world’s largest democracy) that the ruling party shockingly lost on very narrow margin. Their record was unblemished in that 4.5 year period and they were riding high on the popularity wave. The exit polls and opinion polls were in their favour. Finally the election fiasco was pinned on anti-the incumbency factor. Had the 2004 general elections in India been held by December, BJP could have won the elections hands down. Ironically their constructive term had been rudely cut short by their own making. It was the very first time in modern Indian history that a non Congress government completed a full term at office at the center. The surprise Congress win put the nation’s oldest party back in charge for the next ten years. BJP finally returned to power only in 2014. In 2019, they were reelected to power.

Opinion polls and exit polls are but about a selected sample and they cannot be used to extrapolate general predictions about a future outcome. This is especially true of India where the electorates are huge. A slice of sample is hardly representative of a vastly varied and diverse and populous electorate typical of the Indian subcontinent. There are variations to consider and it is entirely possible that the sample collected and analyzed could be that standard deviation. However, in favour of TRP ratings, the media houses miss this simple logic. No wonder their projections are skewed and are drastically different from ground reality. The media did predict rout of the BJP once again in 2019 that the party went on to win on a massive scale unprecedented in history.

There is this take on our EVMs, the electronic voting machines which have come under introspection. It is ironically always the opposition that is weary of the EVMs. When Congress was at the center, the BJP blamed their losses on EVMs. Now when the BJP is at the center, the congress party would like to attribute their dismal rout on the EVMs that they found to be faultless and defended when they were elected to power. INdia’s population makes it advisable that the EVMs are operational in our general elections. Battalions of election officers are enrolled all across the country and the actual election exercise in India starts two years prior to the election date. Mooted by the Election commission of India, the classroom hands-on training for official staff kicks off months earlier, and the materials and the EVMs are prepared and plans devised with a roadmap for the upcoming elections finalized accordingly. Its a gigantic national exercise worth a Phd for interested political studies candidates. I would recommend foreign journalists to study our case with our government written consent. Last elections in 2019 were held in seven phases over two whole months for both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha across our 29 states and 6 union territories. I have been casting my electronic ballot for over 20 years now. Its a great indigenous democratic exercise that India has perfected that even some first world nations have lost. Its not that easy to rig the EVMs and there are foolproof checks at every stage to rule out manipulation. Finally the manual voting is punched for the electronic vote that can be counterchecked for rigging if any party contests results. Even I have to agree that no one hundred percent foolproof system may exist when it comes to voting process. The EVM debate hots up every year before elections and there are the two sides for and anti EVMs as expected.

Sometimes the masses are taken for granted when it comes to their voting preferences or rather prejudices, which will not serve any purpose. Today in India, even the lowest middle classes or the BPL (below poverty line) families are politically aware and know the differences between the Lok sabha/Rajya sabha polls for the lower and upper houses of parliament as against the State assembly polls. You can see the way the public vote for the two. When it comes to Lok sabha elections, the masses vote for a strong center sometimes bypassing state interests. When it comes to state elections, they go for performing governments. Linguistic and regional politics take a natural precedence. If you are non performer, you will stand to lose your constituency in reelections. Modi is reelected not because of his BJP party or Hindutva alliance. Modi is winning because he is good for India and he has pushed for economic development raising our living standards. He has passed on benefits to rural India, the business community, to the common man and the industrial sector all at the same time never neglecting any quarter. Typically you can see the anti-government or pro-west or the left media focusing on nonperforming areas whereas his track records in reality may speak of a different story.

Perception of popularity breeding popularity sounds interesting! This is especially true of conspiracy theories. Brainwashing was happening all around in India during and after demonetization and GST introduction that without a shred of statistical evidence, based on media reports and on the rants and raves of the influential and opulent elite stashing black money, the public who willingly bore the brunt were made to wonder whether they were put to suffering to serve vested interests. The sacrifices of the common Indian on the street in this phase of time was phenomenal. Grudgingly the aam aadmi chugged along serpentine queues until the stroke of midnight for those freshly minted notes of currency in lieu of the old rendered useless overnight. The timeframe for tendering the old notes back to the reserve bank in exchange through commercial banks was limited. The lower middle classes I spoke to were happy participants in the exercise not grumpy always as made out by the media. The familiar leftists were on the discussion forums downplaying all that was received well in reality by the general janata. I am seeing how GST works only too very well and can recall the stiff opposition it met with. Now for whole of India, just one point tax and no more queuing up in the borders for our trucks: remember we are a 29 state country with trailers running on all-India permit. This saves time, precious oil, manpower and over all that double billing or double taxing.

As in Biden’s case, actions speak louder than words. The benefits realized will outweigh the criticisms.

Which is why I have totally stopped reading the Indian print media and don’t watch our mass media anymore. I directly discount our social media propaganda posts as well. Like fellow citizens I watch for translation of bills and/or legal statutes and accords and pacts into actual benefits for the public. I watch for the social development indicators. I will not gauge my country with the imported Audis. I measure my country with the locally made drab Ambassador which is the true indicator of my nation’s economic health. I don’t go by the stockmarket boom that can have no correlation with actual industrial growth and output. I go by the bonuses dispersed based on quarterly results booked by an FMCG corporation for instance. I go by the books. I look for the export quantum of wheat over imports. I keep tab with the varying interest rates. I watch for the infrastructural developments and how that directly affects my life. Metrorail saves the day for us and any government that mooted the project can hope for reelection. Not surprisingly the next state government is only adding more routes and further many kilometers to the viable project to win the popularity match. Today in India, whichever party is to form the government at the center or state level, they have got to perform. We cannot rule out bribes and red tape entirely from my country but the strong governments see to that this social corruption does not weaken the momentum of their economic engine.

You don’t have to be a literate to factor in the social indictors into your assessment methods to decide on who to vote for. I have seen how the mind of the blue collar workers functions. They are far smarter. They are even better politically aware. Nobody voted for BJP in Tamil Nadu, but the masses all got the Modi app in their phones and have subscribed to Modi health insurance! My maid’s mother received 40-60 radiations without paying a single paisa thanks to the state-central govt sops (still the woman died, can’t help) with the Modi health card and a driver’s aging father got a cardiac bypass surgery done for free at the state of art govt multispecialty hospital in Chennai with the same Modi card. The opinion on BJP is fast changing in the state. There is almost no Indian citizen today without at least a zero balance bank account introduced by Modi and the Aadhar ID is a great leveler.

Perform or Perish: now this is the slogan in India. This applies to any government that gets elected to office. Its not about Modi or BJP or Congress or even the State governments. Corrupt state governments are thrown out in the very next round of general elections. Perceptions can persist but practicality is different.


I record my gratitude to my Journalist-writer guru who is a big influence on my spectrum of thoughts. I am a housewife and I write for just me myself, still it counts. I am interested in learning anything and everything and this is an offshoot subject from mainstream that has relevance to today’s political-economic scene we have here in India.

A juicy bit of news: General elections date are not fixed just like that in India. Astrological consultations are done in alignment with the birth star of the leader of the political party to ascertain which date is auspicious to contest elections and from which constituency from whatever direction. It reminds of me of how Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia used to fix election dates in consultation with astrologers in Malaysia as the locals would tell us. Mahathir’s grandfather was Kerala muslim who migrated to Malaysia. As far as Indian general elections are concerned, more than anything, believe me or not, the kundalini (birthchart or horoscope) of the PM candidate plays a vital role in deciding dates and even the winning of the polls!

Posted in Political

Is Cricket Overshadowing All Other Sporting Activities in India.

Yes, the game of cricket overshadows all other sporting activities and achievements in India sadly. There are more sponsors for cricket than for any other sport. As the T20 world cup for cricket in underway in Australia, we also had some jubilant sporting news pouring in other parts of the world when fellow Indian sports(wo)men have made us equally if not even more proud. Indian junior mens’ team went on to win the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament gold cup in Malaysia. Indian Shooting team has had its best stint winning 15 medals including 5 gold in Changwon ISSF world cup emerging on the top of the table. Former world no.1 Saina Nehwal once again moved into world top 5 in Badminton women. And the icing in the cake is winning the French Open Tennis Men’s double by the Indian duo Chirag Shetty and Swastik Sai Raj Reddy that hardly made waves in the media. Add to that the men’s Badminton laurels and the Chess ratings. India has been having a phenomenal sporting time but none of these seem to catch the attention of the masses or our media which is deplorable. As much as I enjoy cricket I would really want our news channels and sports channels to cover more of Indian sporting taking place not only in India but also in all corners of the world. I can imagine what cricket is to India as I stayed tuned to the India-Zimbabwe T20 match with 90,000 other spectators watching it live in Australia this sunday. If so many thousands of Indians had to spend their sunday at the stadium watching the game of cricket, then clearly cricket is religion to us. The french open tennis men’s double win almost meant nothing to fellow Indians as I observe. Tennis is kind of popular in India with us regularly playing/winning mens doubles etc., with Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathy in the past and not to forget Sania Mirza. There has been a lull ever since our tennis stars retired I know. To rekindle the latent interest in tennis, its going to take a few more wins for the Reddy-Shetty pair. All said, hopefully we have unequivocal coverage for all sporting events in India in future in our media.