Dear Prime Minister Mr Modi…

At this rate, there will soon be a time when there will be no more room for anyone in India!

sindhuspace

By 2028, India will be more populous than China, says the recently released OPEC World Oil Outlook. I have no reason to contest that report, my only doubt was: do we really need those many years to top that list?

Mumbai A normal day in Mumbai, uff

Garbage on a Mumbai beach

The report made me aware of one of my worst fears, namely crowds. I am very scared of crowds. My other fears include dirt, dust, anger (my anger included), violence and love. There are a few other things as well, but not as scary.

Anyway, this blog is dedicated to my country, India. Some of the things that keeps me away from my country include its ever growing population and the continuing government apathy, overflowing garbage bins, and the role of women in the society.

Slums, housing senseless migration to citiesI wish the Prime Minister, Mr. Modi, would take up population control with as much enthusiasm as his clean India campaign (which…

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Theatre of the Absurd

Funny Indian Political Cartoons1(1)So today, former Bihar chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav (who was once invited for a guest lecture at Harward, while he was the union railway minister) has gone to jail. Something we did not expect, 17 years after he was known to be involved in a $310 million fodder scam.
Great news!
Mr Sreenavasan has also been re-elected as the cricket board chief even though he faces a probe.images
And ‘godman’ Asaram has again had his detention extended, Ram Jethmalani notwithstanding!
Absolutely great news!
Narendra Modi receives a hero’s welcome at Mumbai and asks diamond traders they should help India “shine”, even forgetting he still has a long way to go before he wins the Race Course race – if at all!admin1358478780Family politics cartoon best explains how the Indian politicians develop family politics Funny politics picture
Fantastic.
And then we have an old war-horse from the ruling Congress party, Digvijay Singh, who “regrets” Laloo Yadav is in jail and blames political “conspiracy”. This after he said he also regrets allotting land to Asaram to build an ashram in Rajasthan.
Excellent.
And, over and above all this, we have the “prince” – Rahul – who wants to tear up an ordinance his party so meticulously drafted, primarily to save Laloo, just to get the numbers in the ensuing elections.indian-politicians
Superb!
And what about our own premier Manmohan Singh? He refuses to even react when the “prince” belittles his Cabinet’s move for the ordinance as “nonsense that should be torn and thrown”, when he should have stepped down immediately and flown back home from New York.
Of course not, he wouldn’t do that. After all, he has already pledged to work “under” Rahul. What a pity!
But that’s not all. There is a certain Shinde who “directs” all state chief ministers not to “harass” minorities (read Muslims). Does he mean harassing the others (Hindus, etc) is all right? And he happens to the country’s Home Minister! Bravo.
I am reminded here of a certain Anna Hazare, and another soul called Baba Ramdev, who both, in their own different ways, tried to make a difference and were systematically pushed into hibernation, courtesy Sonia “Gandhi” and her gang of goons.
But at least the Anna movement gave birth to the enterprising and spirited “politician” Arvind Kejriwal who is thankfully (and patiently) waiting in the wings to strike during the coming Delhi elections.
I am not an AK fan – far from it. But I believe someone has to bell the cat – and its this enthusiastic soul who is most likely to do it. I would support him only for one reason – the others are so useless and corrupt and all ganged up when it comes to protecting their corrupt raj!
In all this hullabaloo, one cannot be blamed for forgetting the comeback the real Yuvraj has made in the Indian cricket team – in spite of the Srinivasans and Lalit Modis and their ilk.
Mera Bharat Mahaan! Jai Ho!!

Killing Honour

indexAnother so-called “honour killing” has taken place in India – and the culprit, yet again, is Haryana state.

And I find myself writing about relationships twice in as many days!

Though this is not the first time such an incident has taken place  – there have been several in the last few years – we have yet to see a conviction take place – and the perpetrators are reportedly roaming free.images

In this latest case as well, though there have been a few arrests, including the members of the girl’s family, nothing more has been heard in the last two days since the incident took place.

The Indian Supreme Court has ruled people convicted of such crimes face the death penalty. But how many have been given that sentence? No such instance comes to mind. Young couples wishing to get married continue to die. But the government, and the media, remains unfazed.

This brings us to the age-old question; why is there so much opposition to two people in love getting together in wedlock? Is it right to prevent them getting married just to satisfy the egos of those who continue to live in the dark ages? Will it not be right for everyone to be happy? And why have such violent “punishment?”

honour-killing-480x238There was a time not long ago when this happened in Punjab state as well when couples not following the family diktat were shot dead, often by close relatives. Thankfully, the state has modernized enough in the last few years to put an end to the practice.

Our societies have to evolve with the times and the time now is different. Why make it so difficult for everyone?

It is also time for the government – and the media – to wake up. The media are so self-centered that they fail to “see” this incident and are more interested in what Manmohan Singh is to do in the United States or what Narendra Modi is talking about in his quest for Race Course Road.

This incident deserves the utmost attention. As much as the Nirbhaya case, if not more!

Poll-arised!

imagesThe debate rages on in Indian politics. Modi or not, that is the question. And this question has no clear answer.
Unfortunately, the “frontrunner” in elections to Parliament around eight months away, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has no clear “winner” in its ranks. The choice, unfortunately, has fallen on Modi, who is seen as a rallying point for all sections.
The truth, however, is that he has an image of alleged divisiveness that continues to haunt him and that is, perhaps, what BJP old-timers are looking at when they oppose his “nomination” as the Prime Ministerial candidate.
That is actually true because a very large section of the Indian voter will be “isolated” at Modi’s elevation if it happens. The whole country threatens to divide itself on religious lines and that the nation can ill afford.
The flip side is that in the absence of anyone else, the BJP is forced to “elevate” Modi, but what they do not realise (perhaps they do) that by this elevation, they will play into the hands of the ruling Congress which is, perhaps, waiting for only this chance to start playing its cards.
The BJP also has few allies as of now (they do not add up to anything anyway), and no one is expected to come. On the other hand, the Congress has a bunch of them, even though they are opportunists, but will be good enough to rustle up the numbers when it matters.
The bottom line is clear. If the BJP names Modi, they play into Congress’ hands; if they do not, they are “leaderless” and cannot hope to get anywhere.
The Congress is no better. There is already talk of the inexperienced, reckless and childish Rahul Gandhi being the Prime Minister if they win. That will be a pity.
That is the story of India. There is no clear leader. There is nothing to look forward to. The country may face yet another period of uncertainty in the months and years to come.
The choice is between an alleged fanatic and a confirmed fool. And that is not a happy situation!

India’s NaMo-sis

In India, Narendra Modi is the talk of the “town” these days – be it for all the right – or wrong reasons. He may well end up being India’s new Prime Minister less than a year down the road.33
I would, however, like to share a few thoughts, my personal experiences, on how deep-rooted a divide is  between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat State, where NaMo, as he called now, comes from.
For two years, starting immediately after the Babri Mosque demolition and later riots in Gujarat, I was workingin Ahmedabad, the state capital.
I landed at Kalupur station on New Year’s Day 1993, just about three weeks after the mosque came down, straight into a curfew and walked to the office escorted by policemen and Hindu vigilantes who roamed the streets looking for “prey.”22
A day later, I saw a stabbing where a young Muslim boy attacked a Hindu gentleman and ran into the lanes and by lanes of Teen Darwaza, police in hot pursuit.
I thought I had seen enough but a few days later. there was this incident where a respected Muslim elder was brutally stabbed, burnt and his burning body thrown out of his high-rise apartment in a posh Ahmedabad neighbourhood.
Things soon settled down and life became normal but as I worked on the News team, I increasingly became aware I was the only ‘neutral’ soul in the entire office, possibly the journalist fraternity – and could move around freely all over the city, sometimes with the family on a two-wheeler – and not be scared.
No Hindu dared go into the Muslim-dominated areas and no Muslim ventured into the Hindu areas. The motto was, stay away if possible! Such was the polarisation and it baffled me.
Two incidents in my office also proved beyond doubt there are daggers drawn between the two sides.
Once, I was accused by Hindu staff of having helped a “mian” – used in a derogatory sense for a Muslim – when I put in a word on his behalf to a police officer friend and at another time, a Muslim colleague accused me of being soft on a Hindu who had sought, and received, my help in another matter.
As far as I was concerned, I had only helped colleagues and taken some advantage of my position as a crime reporter who had friends in the city’s police force. But these incidents rattled me.
I became increasingly skeptical of both sides, a feeling that was re-inforced when the annual rath yatra took place.
The two camps were sure the other would start trouble and trigger disturbances but when nothing happened, the peace was attributed to the “strict steps” the government had taken.
But, yes, as the procession passed through Muslim areas, the participants refused water and snacks from some who had set up stalls to serve the devout.
Some among the processionists also appropriately changed their chants as they went through to give a ‘message’ to the minority community.
All this was devastating and deeply distressing.
Now, more than 20 years later, I have heard, things are better and there are now no regular riots.
But we have had a Godhra and a Gulbarg Society and an Ishrat Jahan as well as some smaller skirmishes since.
But, now, “Hindu Nationalist” Modi is going around the country espousing his merits as a leader and an administrator.
Has he changed? Has Gujarat changed? Will the country change?
Is India ready for a Prime Minister from a state that is so heavily polarised? Have the wounds healed? Have those times been forgotten? What if there are more Godhra’s? More Ishrats? And what will happen when every other person is looking over his or her shoulder all the time?
The Indian voter has to look at all that – and more – before he takes a decision on who is fit to rule.
The tragedy, however, is the Congress has done so much of so little in the last decade, what choice are we left with?
God, not Modi, Manmohan or Sonia, can help us.