Monday, March 4, 2013

Jis Desh Me Ganga Behti Hai....



I don’t know if it is merely the power if music,or something in my mind,but almost every song describing India suits it perfectly,be it the candour of Aisa Des hai mera,the soothing passion of Bharat Humko Jaan se pyaara hai,the earthiness of Des Mera Rangrez,the fervour of Saare jahaan se achcha,the classic Mere Desh ki Dharti,so on and so forth,each describing the greatness of this vast yet sometimes hugely underestimated country of ours. Everytime I listen to these songs, three thoughts go  through my head: a)The people who wrote,composed and sang these songs deserve nothing less than the Bharat Ratna b)the clichéd and true “I am so lucky to be an Indian” and the third( and often dismissed faster than an unruly student in class by demi-optimists like me) Why this country,once the “sone ki chidiya” or the Golden Bird, praised by everyone from Apolloneus to Max Mueller to Albert Einstein to Vladimir Putin for its culture, civilization and spirituality, is now a corrupt,unsafe,messy (in every sense of the word),scandalous nation which  uses its diversity to fight each other instead of embracing it?
Scams, rapes, murders, bomb blasts-all this and many more have become a part of our lives now, each  new case a few degrees worse than its predecessor. If the 2G scam framed our politicians and confirmed our beliefs that they werent as innocent as they seemed,CWG showed us how low even high ranking officials could go,by inflating the cost of toilet paper to a ludicrous $80 per roll,mirrors to $220,and soap dispensers for $60,leading people to wonder if the mirrors were framed in silver,the soap dispensers rimmed with gold and if the toilet paper was handmade and hand embroidered.Even then I doubt they would have costed that much.We led our way through international scams as well-the Bofors scam still echoes fresh in everybody's ears,about 25-odd years after it took place,dragging the then PM with it.The VVIP chopper deal seems to be going the same way,though ironically,in this age of media and communication,it still hasnt reached the frenzy the Bofors scam did in that age of limited media and expensive and slow communication..In both cases the blame fell on people who were away from public glare-the defence secretay and the agent of Bofors in the former and the ex-IAF chief in Finmechanica.Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, perhaps) both scams involved Italy-the latter with Finmechanica, the former with Quattrocchi .No surprises there.
Moving on, the Geeta and Sanjay Chopra case was once the worst rape and murder case we had seen ,then came the Priyadarshini Mattoo case about 20 years later,and now,the Nirbhaya case. The gap between each subsequent rape is decreasing and ironically, the time taken to deliver justice (read : punish the culprits) has increased manifold (3 years for the  Geeta Chopra case, and 10 years for the Priyadarshini Mattoo case). It’s even more shameful that the national capital is referred to as the rape capital as well, but what’s more sad and shameful is that we have gotten used to it. Ask anybody and they will unabashedly say that it deserves that tag,without even stopping to consider the gravity of the statement. Even murders  can be categorized  on the basis of their motive.For example, the Nitish Katara murder was ostensibly due to  love,the Satyendra Dubey murder- due to  corruption, the Nithari case -due to poverty, the Jessica Lall case--well,I guess there was no motive, except that the perpetrator was a show off and a drunk moron. Yes, young, innocent people paid for their lives to love somebody, to expose corruption, to say no and yes, for being poor. We saw all this in a span of just ten years.
I don’t think I need to elucidate any more on blasts. The 1992 blasts in India was just the tip of the iceberg, or to quote JK Rowling, the tip of the dungheap. It was followed by the 2001 parliament attacks, the26/11 Bombay attacks interspersed with some more attacks in,Bangalore,Ahmedabad,Manipur,Malegaon,Pune and Hyderabad,to name a few. We couldn’t stop any of them,but we did hire a few more security guards in malls and had atleast one constable at each railway station with an X-Ray.Whether that X-Ray machine actually worked, or whether the cop worked or sat eating samosa,is a different question altogether. We saw this as well,through our . Unlike, Julius Caesar’s “Vendi,Vidi,Vici”(I came,I saw,I conquered),we simply came, saw and forgot. Oh, but not totally forgotten. On 26/11,we change our display picture on Facebook (generally it’s a picture of Bombay,of the national flag, or simply, white) and post patriotic statuses. Just like our patriotism, we remember the innocent dead on fixed days.
Meanwhile we hardly see (pun intended) a good day in politics. Half our time goes in washing dirty linen in public, in making foot-in –the mouth remarks and yes, retracting the aforementioned remarks with unrepentant eyes on the vote bank. It amazes me that our leaders somehow fail to listen,let alone agree, to the very aam aadmi because of whom they can call themselves “leaders”.Maybe they need reminding that they work FOR the people,and not vice versa. The indiscipline of some of our leaders shocks me.One wonders why the Speaker, whether incumbent or previous, has to request the members of the parliament to settle down repeatedly,sometimes even resorting to yelling themselves!One would think that a group full of grown men and women who are capable enough to win over the people’s confidence, are somehow unable to  express their views in a dignified manner. Maybe that’s also why th resort to pinpointing the faults of the opponent party. I have rarely seen a dignified politican.”Brash” is be the first adjective which comes to me when I think of politicians,closely followed by “shrewd” and “selfish” I remember this one particular MP whose constituency included the colony I used to live in. I saw him only once in 6 years, both time campaigning.After the elections (which I don’t know how he won) our grievances were still unheard. I wonder how shameless one can be. The leaders are our representatives .The system of the parliament was developed only so people with power in hand could use the resources in their control to solve any difficulties faced by normal people .Instead,we have one party pointing fingers at the other,and as rightly written in a Sunday’s editorial of TOI by Mr Chetan Bhagat ,don’t find a solution!Or maybe they just don’t want to find a solution,and this is a tactic to simply delay the matter till either the public decides to protest and /or it fades from public memory.
The public isn’t the deer caught in headlights either. Thanks to reality shows and sensational journalism, everybody craves for their 15 minutes of fame and wishes to be in the spotlight,by hook or crook. I am notadvocating against it;it’s a matter of personal choice,but to use (what began as) a noble cause to get your fame,is just not done.I remember the Anna Hazare rally and the Protest against the Delhi rape vividly,(as I happened to be in Delhi both times).During the IAC rally, there was a sea of people covering the major streets of Delhi. The people leading the procession were totally into the cause-or atleast looked like it-shouting slogans,displaying banners,and profusely sweating because of the exertion.They comprised at max about 10% of the crowd.The remaining crowd was what one would see on an average Sunday at India Gate-families with children playing with their balloons, romantic couples strolling hand in hand , a few local cricket teams,seen munching a packet of chips after their match and people who came to watch all  he above mentioned people for the lack of anything better to do.All of the above mentioned people,upon spotting a few news cameras closeby,forgot any existing thoughts of the rally,or corruption,and started waving,cheering and whatnot in front of the rolling camera,just to be on TV.Ditto with the women’s rally,except that people who already got their fame wanted to get more,and nothing today is possible without the masses.Hence,busloads of people invaded Delhi, disrupted the already chaotic traffic, and yelled in a futile attempt to protest,for a few people to hog the limelight. What did the masses get in return? Ice cold water cannons in freezing December. What did the common man of Delhi get? Section 144.What happened to the case? Citing the widespread protests and the potential violence the proceedings might cause, the government made it a closed door case.Quite a lot of people forgot who Nirbhaya was till PC announced a Woman’s security scheme  after her name in the annual budget.
This is again, the tip of the dungheap. There are many day to day incidents happening all around us and we simply turn a blind eye to them. You find people spitting everywhere (especially in Bombay)-from the railway tracks to the platforms to the railway bridges to the roads-you name it,and there you will find red streaks of paan.There is another group of people who spit simply for the sake of it.The same people who tend to their house carefully,hring 2 maids ,throw empty packets,unwanted receipts etc on the road,and later complain that India isn’t a neat place.It will be if people want it to be. It will if people treat this country as their own.How would the same people who litter on the tracks be made to clean them?Well,how do you think the tracks are cleaned during a megablock in Mumbai?Workers meant to fix repairs on tracks end up picking litter with their bare hands.It shouldn’t be difficult,should it-spit into the bins,if you absolutely must spit,and throw useless stuff into the dustbins.They actually have “Use me”,”Keep Mumbai Clean” etc written on them.Considering we have resorted to using people and keeping every inch of our house clean,it should work perfectly on unanimated objects.But we are more attached to the materials,and detached to emotions and feelings..
 But where there is darkness, there there is light.There are some people who defy societal norms and break the mould to make this country a better place. There are people who leave their plush office jobs and the comfort of air-conditioners to sweat it out in an NGO teaching the underprivileged, feeding the hungry or providing a decent shelter to the homeless,to ensure that each citizen ofIndia has access to atleast food,clothing,a roof over their head and baic education. Believe it or not, there are still un-corrupt and honest government officers, journalists who want the impartial truth, doctors who truly care for the patient’s health,teachers who believe in education and not mindless rote,sportsmen who play for India and not to break their personal record,scientists  and engineers who work tirelessly to improve the quality of life,a few politicos who dedicate their lives for this country and last but not the least, some common men and women whose heart swells and nerves tinge with patriotism while singing the national anthem ,even if its in a movie theater,before the start of the show (and they don’t lip-sync,they sing) So why not be one of them,and make it our mission to restore our country to its past splendour by taking one step at a time?At a lower level,help keep your neighbourhood clean.Feed a hungry man.Teach atleast your uneducated help to read and write,and dont be cheap and take money for it.The smile on their face when you see them read and write their name is priceless.At a slightly higher level,refuse to be drawn into the vicious circle of lies and corruption,because, face it,it has taken a lot of lies,secrets and chai paani for us to reach this place.We dont want another generation to a) live irresponsibly thinking that they can get away with anything by adopting the above tactics and b)Spend half their lives doing the job we should have done when we had the chance. It's a difficult path,considering at times its easier to pay a few extra bucks and plus,the very authorities we depend upon for may be corrupt in itself.But,as the adage goes,truth will conquer. 
It's very easy to divide on the basis of caste,creed,social and economic status,but very difficult to remove these barriers and unite.The greatest honor is to selflessly work for your country,and the biggest dream one can have is to see their country restored to its former glory,with a  little golden bird and all its citizens truthfully singing "होंठों  पे सच्चाई रहती है जहां दिल में सफाई रहती है,हम उस देश के वासी है,जिस देश में गंगा बहती है"....

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