10

Radical Solutions are needed for today’s radical problems

Indian National Congress and its bunch initially, came to be known as Moderates, who considered political pressure and voicing opinions as the only solution to increase their share in the British India Government. As a matter of fact, the idea initially never was to attain complete independence from the Britishers. Moderates and their “moderate” philosophy, well, wasn’t quite successful. While initially they were successful in increasing the elite’s conscience and common man’s understanding of the “drain theory”, the economic conditions of people became worse and neither were they successful enough to pressurize the government to increase relief when famine and plague took place in 1896-97.

It was only after the “extremists” were born within the group, that things started to change. The partition of Bengal, Moderates’ failure to influence major changes and the unpopular dream of having a “self government” was apparently switched to “Purna Swaraj” or “complete independence”. Was this radical group within successful? Not really. How was is better? Well calling it better would be an opinion, but it sure increased the base of struggle-increasing the nationalism within the divided society of ours and hence their long involvement with the revolutions to come in future, which is one of main reasons India got its independence.

What we see here is, a radical group and its radical solution of fighting by both sword and words were better than being a passive-elitist-intellectual-base-supported struggle for “self-government”. Would it be possible if there wasn’t this radical group? Quite possibly. But it would have taken years. Maybe while I write this up, India would have still been seeking independence.

Radical solutions are needed for today’s radical problems, because as the popular saying goes, it takes a thief to catch a thief . But does that mean that for fighting the thief, being a thief is the only solution? This would require some analysis from the current set of problems.

Patriarchy still continues. Females continue to be considered inferior, not only in the rural, but even in the most advanced societies of ours. Dowry tradition continues to dominate the society, although its illegal in India. Thus, Indian girls are considered a “liability” by her own parents. “What will she do by studying so much“, “She’s ageing, get her married” (when she’s 20!) is quite common in our Indian society. Not only a developing country of ours, even developed countries like USA continue to be patriarchal. Women representation in political power or even business(considering CEO’s) continue to give an irksome picture.

Feminism has taken over the world. Infact, radical feminism has taken its shape too. Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that calls for a radical reordering of society in which male supremacy is eliminated in all social and economic contexts. Fair enough, right? Well not really. Radical feminism and some of its propagators have taken the path of pseudo-feminism too. The other day, I was taught by one of my friends how “feminism” was not about equality, but about “female superiority” because that was the only way that the excess of male domination could be brought back to its level. It was like “since patriarchy ruled us such a long time, its time for matriarchy”. Cringe was when a fact was shared by me about how 53.2% of the rapes in India were fake, according to government figures and this was lauded, by the radical feminist idolizer (my friend). So as we see, some if not all, are supporting radical feminism completely ignoring the fact that feminism is all about “equality” and no ones superiority. Surely, radical solution is a solution yet not a solution. Manipulating ideas and calling it “Radical” is not equality.

The world around has been changing from the hitherto liberal society to a change into a more radical one. Political leaders all around the world are using this changed mindset of the original inhabitants of a country, to cook their political cookies. Talking about isolationist policies, moving away from trade agreements meant to increase laissez faire, regulating the people who can travel their country are some of the “radical steps” being taken. Are these steps in the right direction. Yes and No. Yes because, well, every country and its inhabitants must have the right to get a job in their own country. How can you feed the neighbor’s child when you own children are hungry? What if the people entering my country make me skeptical because of the ideology they follow? Fair enough? May be not.

What’s happening in Europe and USA are some examples. Isolationist policies can be accepted, but nitpicking in the name of religion cannot. This only creates a rift in the society, and makes people more vulnerable to clashes. While radical steps like ending free trade agreements and closing gates for further immigrants who are creating chaos in the society can be understood, it should be made sure that things are not biased because of political vendetta and certain pre-conceived notions about how a particular religion and its people are the only culprit.

On November 8th, 2016, Prime Minister of the country demonitized high currency notes. The step was surely a radical one considering the immediate impact that it had, both for hoarders in cash and poor. Right or wrong step? Again becomes subjective. But as we say, each step has to have both positive and negative effects. While it kept the black money hoarders on toes, with CBI raids disclosing unaccounted cash from many, ended the Kashmir unrest for sometime which was allegedly funded by fake currency, and brought down the cost of real state by about 30%, it had a major impact on India’s GDP projection for the coming years. Not only that but the daily workers had to leave their jobs to go back to villages because of being removed due to the cash crunch. The lack of liquidity in the market was a major blow to the shopkeepers and manufactures from all sector.

Black money and cash hoarding is a problem of the real world. Demonetization is a laudable step, but not the most important one. Supplementing it with better legislative laws, steps to catch big fishes and increasing tax base hence would have been further steps. Thankfully, the government has tried its best to bring in these.

While talking about global issues, the issue of climate change is the most apparent one. Clearly, the increasing temperature of the earth allegedly since the Industrial Revolution days has to have solutions to fight the evils hence. Some of the most laudable steps taken in these directions are conventions and Protocols like that of Kyoto, and also the recently concluded Convention of Paris 21 (COP21). Surely, the steps to be taken upon, specially the intended national determined contributions (INDC’s) can bring in positive. But some radical bizzare solutions have also been talked about in the recent past.

Non-vegetarian culture of ours is apparently one of the major contributors to the increasing global temperature. The social movement has been finding places in our ad column of pages we surf where talks of going “vegan” or vegetarian is called for. Livestock population uses a LOT of water and land, it also pollutes air quality and waterways. The UN estimates that livestock production contributes around 18 percent to climate change, while the World Watch suggests a more staggering number—51 percent. If people all around the world switch to a vegan diet, we may contribute to a pleasant world with cleaner air and not-so-warm summers! But quite obviously, thinking that the world will switch to a vegetarian diet is like imagining a horse being friends with grass (which, ironically, doesn’t even contribute to the greenhouse gases)

We see how the world is changing, not only the problems but also the solutions. If not solutions, then surely the ideas. This isn’t a one day event, as history teaches us that we have fought wars to fight a radical, and then cried after it all ended (world war 2 reference). Socially, politically, economically, environmentally, we all have had radical solutions. Whether they are good or bad are all together different, but what we consider as “radical” surely changes everything. Radical – can be called as being “forced” or “violent”, or “conservative”, but the radical that we must believe in is “revolution” and “reform”. Why do we think Raja Rammohan Roy was able to the end the menace that was caused by conservatives, like Sati and Child Marriage? It was surely radical, not “radical” like the ones who believed in Sati, but radical which changed this thinking. Radical is the new liberal, not the new extreme.

7

If development is not engendered, it is endangered

The place is Kundli, a small industrial area at the Delhi-Haryana border. While cycling to the shoe-making industry just the 2 km away from the chaul she lived in, Hasina remembered that her daughter Noor had asked for the crayons while coming back from work. The school her daughter went to was the same that every child in her chaul went to. It’s wonderful how time had changed. Some years back her family along with the most in the locality had so less of the purchasing power, that even providing proper education for their children wasn’t possible. It was only after the industries started setting up in the Tier-2/3 cities that men from the nearby locality started to get skilled and earn their living by getting the job. But was it enough? Was only a working male enough for the family?

Apparently, the initial NO’s equivocally by all the men in the locality had started to turn into affirmations after the one women-Hasina, fought her husband to join as a worker in the shoe-making industry. It was when her daughter Noor had started to go to school that people realized that women empowerment was real, that a women could equally be useful in improving the living condition of the family.

Development needs to be engendered, because if it’s not, it endangers. What exactly is the development that we are talking about here? Growth and Development, while being assumed as synonyms, have a difference. Development can be as small as building a toilet in the home where people have to go out to defecate, to as big as being the CEO of a start-up which adds to GDP of the country, along with increasing job opportunities for the people. Development can be a change at social level, at the economic level, the political level, and can even influence the environmental development and preservation.

But the thing is, in a patriarchal society of ours, it is a preconceived notion that while the building of toilets has always been a MAN’S job, being built only when the male member felt so, the neo-liberal-capitalistic society also presumes women to maybe just be an employee in the start-up, surely not the CEO herself!

Examples from the everyday society are the testimony to the fact that when a women takes over or voices her opinion, changes, changes that are for the good take place. An interesting piece that covered the print and electronic media in the recent time was a married women who disagreed to come back to his husband’s house because he wasn’t getting the toilet built. It was only after the husband built the toilet under Swacch Bharat Abhiyan that his wife came back to him. This small incident went viral and many such instances influenced by this came into being.

ASHA workers and Anganwadis in the villages have been the single most influential step in making women realize their potential, that has been a major factor in influencing women to not merely be a child-producing machine. A study on Effectiveness of “ASHA INCENTIVE” on enhancing the functioning of ASHA in motivating couples having two or less children to undergo permanent sterilization shows contribution of ASHAs towards achievements in female sterilization shows that maximum motivation was done by ASHAs. Similarly, Anganwadi workers have played a very important in providing antenatal health facilities.  In addition to this they provide post-natal care to nursing mothers. All this has had its impact in even small and underdeveloped states like Jharkhand, where IMR was the least among all the states in the country.

This engendered development was not a phenomenon back when we were fighting our war of independence. Post Independence or rather Post cold war where countries were coming together, the feminist movement around the world was on a rise. The nexus of women and (economic) development was only started after Women in Development movements gained momentum. The idea was women’s disadvantages in society may be eliminated by breaking down customary expectations of women by offering better education to women and introducing equal opportunity programmes. Thanks to these feminist movements, gender equality has been a thing in our society. Women continue to realize their potential and are becoming lawyers and doctors contributing their bit in development.

Gender equality has had its influence on environment too. It was only when the Chipko movement in Gharwal started that prevented the large amount of deforestation while the women hugged the tree and tied rakhi around them. Women have played equal roles as in accordance with men in the tribal societies. They have played major role in conservation using sacred groves. The Donariya tribe of Orissa who fought against the corporates for their forest rights. Not only within our country, but internationally too in the countries like Ghana, women have started what is called the Ghana Bamboo bikes which provides incentives to women who want to build and use high-quality bamboo bikes, minimizing their carbon footprint.

Political development in past was more or less confined to the male members of the society. Right from the Vedic times where sabhas and samitis had forbidden involvement of women in the gatherings, their role played in the higher machinery was limited. Even in the medieval times, apart from Raziya being a sultan right after Iltutmish before being thrown off from the crown just because she was a women in front of who nobels refused to keep their heads down, we find barely other examples.

But it was only with the involvement of women in the French Revolution that equality found its true meaning. It was only their involvement in the American Revolution that the war for freedom became strong. In the Indian war of Independence, the role played by Annie Besant, Sarojini Naidu and likes cannot be ignored. Thanks to the role played by the women from the society who were hitherto confined to the four walls of house, that the Dandi March against salt tax and Non-cooperation movement came so strong. Clearly, a major political development with including 33%-50% reserved seats for women in local bodies wouldn’t be possible if the clamor of women wasn’t heard.

We saw how social, economic, environmental and political development has been influenced and nurtured in the past by an active gender equality through the changing and evolving history. But their are still certain problems associated which becomes a hindrance in realizing the full potential of this “engenderment”. Women continue to be repressed and objectified in the social order. Patriarchy, although lessened, is still prevalent. The age old concept of women not being physically compatible to men is a lie that has been repeated since centuries to become a truth – atleast in the minds of the people who still consider women inferior. Women have lost jobs. Politically, women are becoming nothing more than mere tokens/proxies who fight elections on behalf of their influential male counter part.

Things need to change. Women In Development(WID) movements all around the world is an evergrowing. Women are becoming aware like never before. Reports have shown that 50% involvement of women in economy is a necessity is economic development has to flourish more. Women like Angela Merkel are becoming Times Person of the Year. All this shows that the world is changing. The change is happening for good.

If development is not engendered, it may endanger, because when a women gets involved, it makes sure a toilet is built and the whole family is prevented from the disease that open defecation may cause. Development needs to be engendered, because if it wasn’t for both the genders coming forward, we wouldn’t have the Forest rights Act in this country. Development needs to be engendered, because it is only a women who can make sure a women gets involved in family planning. Women like Hasina is what we call real engendered development. While coming back from work, Hasina bought the crayons Noor had asked for, who was waiting for her mother with glittering eyes. This glitter is a hope for a good future to be.

 

 

8

Geography May Remain the Same- History Need Not

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now that time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.

At the stroke of today’s midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.

Tryst with Destiny” was a speech delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, to the Indian Constituent Assembly in The Parliament, on the eve of India’s Independence, towards midnight on 15 August 1947. The same ground, the same geography, but a changed history. The “idea” of India had lived, albeit a bit fragmented. The world saw two new histories in the making : the birth of India and Pakistan.

This was the same place where Hindus and Muslims united fought with the foreign power for the idea of India, a nation knitted in the fabric of secularism, drawing inspirations from the world revolutions against the tuck of an alien power – the wounds of imperialism. The above example clearly showcases the topic of this write-up. While Geography remained the same, the history of slavery, the history of suppression, the historical idea of “one nation”, the clutches of exotic power changed.

We have evolved – the human species, the animal and plant kingdom has evolved with time. The earth was the same, but the species kept changing. While inherited initially by organisms as small as amoeba, the earth evolved in diversity, division, genes, species, organisms, and even as big a division as us humans. Apes ate the food from the nature, they evolved and eventually the new “homo sapiens” started having the same food the apes used to have, only that the way changed. Only that now we started having cooked food, that history of eating habits changed.

Caves from the upper paleolithic times tell us stories about the different tribes that may have lived there, the likes of Lakhudiyar and Bhimbetka which possessed images of stick like figures resembling humans changed into figures becoming more humanly, only with the change of time. History kept on changing, but the caves remained the same. The fact is propounded more by superimposition of the images that caves illustrate.

History within a geography changes in various aspect : be it cultural change in history, economic history, political, social or as far and wide as changes in the way people behaved with the women in a place.

It’s really hard to believe that America : the self proclaimed and widely acclaimed superpower of the changed world order after the disintegration of the USSR, was once fighting for it’s own history : the history which eventually made it change from a subordinate slave producing power house of Britain to one of the first democratic and industralized nations of the changing world history. It is hard to believe that once relying solely on Britain for it’s foreign export has turned out to be the biggest economic super power in the world : being inspiration to the other economies including India.

While India (or Aryavrata as it was called back then) changed from a very highly modernized, clean and an inspiration for today’s “smart cities” mission : The Indus Valley civilisation – from a Pashupati worshipping hindu dominating civilisation, to a highly peace loving and non violent religion like Jainism and Buddhism spreading in Mauryan and Gupta period. This eventually saw changing into an Islam dominated “Hindustan” by Minaj-I-Siraj or even “Hind” which Amir Khusrao, the great scholar from Akbar’s court once called the subcontinent. Not only that, but thanks to the coming of the Britishers from the European continent and the highly criticized Charter Act of 1813 also saw the coming of Christian missionaries which led to conversion of masses of the Hindus and Muslims into Christianity.

Is it the only change that history witnessed, in the same geographical location? Surely not. History also saw a change where a women who was respected as a deity in the early Mohenjodaro along with Pashupati, to a changed scenario in the later Vedic times where eventually women joined the lower strata of the society. It changed from highly acclaimed scholars representing womanhood from the likes of Gargi Meitri and Lopamudra in early Vedic times to a time where women were not even allowed to participate in public meetings. Not only that, but the considered “liberal” religions like Jainism and Buddhism also saw a subordinate status of women, who were not allowed to leave home or join viharas without the consent of their husband. This has changed to times when Raziya was allowed to take the throne to govern to as far as joining the national struggle for freedom, joining cabinets and being active in present day political scenario.

Social condition of the people has seen an upside down change since time immemorial. The countries and it’s people have evolved from the how they were back when feudalism prevailed, which eventually changed to capitalists and socialist classes. Land was divided, but unlike the older times, where it was held by the monarchs, it now became a private property. Now those who could afford were the ones who owned it. But was this change enough?

Karl Marx and his classless society theory eventually provoked the thought of a communist class owned and controlled by the state and zero difference between the different strata of the society. The condition of the people changed from lowest strata with negligible income group and sole tax payers(feudalism), to a “little” wage earner living in filth and misery still, and eventually to a state controlling the heavy industries and equal income distribution in order to minimize the class divide, the idea initially adopted by most countries after their independence. Clearly, the history has seen changes in the way people lived in the society, in the same geographical location, from feudalism to a mixed economy.

Mahatma Gandhi made similar efforts in bringing together different sections of society. He played a pivotal role in imbibing the people with the spirit of mutual respect and the abolition of untouchability.

The changes in the education system through the waves of history is quite evident too. What we read from the Ramayana and Mahabharata about how Kshatriyas used to go to the Gurus for learning the tactics of an ethical fight to defend the empire, to win over the fallacy is no more the norm. Today, bright students in this country have been nurtured in elite Indian institutions like IIT/IIM’s and have gone on to serve modern day scientific, astrophysics setup and as far as serving the nation’s political system. The change eventually serves and enriches the same geography with entirely different history.

With internal history of the nation and the world , the harmony in and among nations, different type of evolution as far as women rights are concerned, education, economics, politics etc could be changed by a mutual respect, consent on wordly issues. Attitudinal change is a pre-requisite of the evolution of the history in a way that would remembered by the upcoming generation in a better way.

 

 

 

 

15

Trust takes years to build, but seconds to Break

When Madhav told those poor and old parents about how her daughter could earn and send them money at the same time too, they readily agreed to let her daughter accompany him to the city. After a long time, her parents were actually feeling better. Madhav was like GOD’s own child. He had been like the idle “Babu” as we say it in the suburbs. He was among the richest in the village and people knew him for some business he had in the city. Anyway, her daughter went to the city with him

Days passed and things were going well. But their daughter wouldn’t call. Parents received the money on the first day of every month. They thought that her daughter was earning well and must have been busy. It was only later that the old parents found out that whom they once regarded as the “messiah” and God’s own son, was actually a snake in the grass. He had pushed their daughter into the marsh of prostitution.

What consequence did it have? It broke the trust of the people in the suburbs, who thought that times had changed! It took years for them to trust the changing environment, change the patriarchal mindset giving preference to a male child, that cities had actually become a place of equal opportunities for girls. Will it change? Well, a trust broken once, takes some time to heel back. It broke the trust of all those parents, who thought their daughters could earn in the cities. It broke the trust in the “cities” too, which people considered as a place where just another “Raju” could become a gentlemen, and just another Preeti could be lady!

Trust is like a paper. Once it is crumbled, it can never be perfect again. It’s like a flame. You need to let it glow with all the “oxygen” of truth in it, or see it vanish with a cup of lies. It holds water in the different dimensions of the living world.

One of the most important attributes of a “better” relationship is trust. Trust is the glue of life. It’s actually the most important ingredient in an effective communication – the manifestation of a healthy relationship is supported on the threads of trust. Relationship here doesn’t mean merely about a girlfriend and a boyfriend or a husband and wife share, it’s about every relationship. A father would always give his son a hefty amount as pocket money, because he knows he swore on him once that he doesn’t smoke –  he trusts him of not swearing a false lie on him. A women out of trust wouldn’t question his counselor husband if he leaves at midnight to counsel his female client. Why? Trust. This letter word may be smaller with those characters, but has a deeper meaning imbibed.

But have you thought how will one father react if he gets to know that the thing for which he trusted you so much, the same thing was being committed by you too much too often? Will you be ever able to ask forgiveness from your wife when she gets to know that you used her trust to be in an extra marital affair with your client? Of course you wouldn’t.

Trust issues can arise in professional life as well. It takes some time till the manager of the company starts to recognize your work, that he starts appreciating your efforts. But this trust may blow off immediately if at any instance you start to bluff and make plagiarized reports. This leads to recognizing another dimension accompanying mistrust. The manager may question all your works hither to. All the hard work till now, vanishes just by that one stray incidence. He questions you for each time you submitted your complete report. What can be worse than this? Chances are low that you may ever be able to build that broken trust again. So, it’s better to be ethical and moral each time you are required to prove yourselves, because a trust broken once takes something hard from you to come out.

Trust need not be a car without fuel, as an empty car can be used to stay but never to move forward. We trust someone because we think that what he does won’t leave us vulnerable, rather, will bring in a betterment of the society as a whole. That our mandate of trust that we bestow on him/her/it would be better if not best. The same thinking is followed while we vote. We accept the manifesto’s promises, get swayed by it and give our consent to a particular party. So basically, the party won the “trust”, the trust which it gains after a hard work of winning the people, taking 5 years minimum as for our country. But the outcome isn’t on the expected lines. We tend to get bored, or rather feel “mis-trusted” by the ruling power, every time. Is is really mistrust? Maybe. But one thing is for sure – once you loose that mandate, it may take years again to win it back – or you may never get it back.

This is how diplomacy goes too. Diplomacy goes on this thin line of trust – although it is always said to “NEVER TRUST A POWER IN DIPLOMACY”. But if this was the case, the world wouldn’t be as free and liberalized as it is now. For example, the recent surge in the “negativity” for our Indian government that is quite evident from the social platforms regarding how the “people-to-people” contact between India Nepal is going clearly goes in line with the quote. India-Nepal signed the Treaty of Friendship in 1950, just after India became a democracy, and since then friendship only knew the “growing side”, but what happened after the accused unofficial blockage made the people there anti-Indian government. Although there are many other unclear pictures involved, the broader picture is – India is being hated to some extent by the people in Nepal. It’s strange how people can forget just a month old help that knocked their door after the earthquake crisis- But a broken trust is a broken trust!

Apparently, trust has a spiritual element too. The trust in GOD. Any form of worship, be it from the deists, pantheists or those of the panentheistic character – everyone believes that GOD is present. Even if a person is an atheist, he indirectly acknowledges the fact that there is a pre-established harmony that is being accompanied by someone other than nature- the testimony being some unanswered questions about nature. These atheists(mostly) always appreciate the good things that happen in their life. But there are always some people who are quite vocal about how GOD broke his trust while the earth shatters, they are low with grades or when financially weak. It’s strange how trust of one moment changes into a mistrust in the other.

Is trust always earned in years? According to the abstract in the beginning, this may not be completely true. There are certain needs where you need to trust someone, only because you are tied by this social string which obligates you to have a better life, and may be the opportunity you are given is the only opportunity to come. What it means is, there are always certain circumstances, like when you have no other option but to trust a man who has an umbrella while you are stuck in a rain, or trust a stranger giving you water when you are very thirsty with no source of water!

What we concluded till now is that trust is actually a very fragile attribute in a relationship, that once it is broken, it takes some more years or even a lifetime to mend. But why to trust someone blindly? Every attribute has certain objections, little criticism and a certain lining which shouldn’t be crossed. We need to make sure we don’t cross this line. We can always trust someone relatively, i.e “more than someone”, but trusting someone blindly, you are ought to get hurt – be it in seconds or after years.

How can we make sure we win back someone’s trust? First thing first- you need to apologize. Show him what he/she means to you. If you are on the other side- forgive him. God regards the forgiver more than the one who commits the sin. You could write him, sing for him, or try to make it up with you expression. Also, this time, you need to be more honest – infact, only honest with you confession. Pray. This is important too.

While being important, trust has its own dangers. Firstly, it is paramount because as it helps us building stronger relationships with people – help us grow in it. But the fact that trust also involves the risk that people we trust may not be worth out trust – that our trust may go in vain only for us to be on the loosing side. But do we actually loose? Not completely. It is better to get your trust broken at an early stage and that you become aware than waiting for the final ounce till the very end only to get hurt like never before. But we need to realize that the reason is because of “US”. We need to understand the types of people we meet, to judge people, analyze people before we gain trust in them. We need not do it in the first instance, and should take years to build it- this time not to loose it in seconds.

 

20

Honesty is the best Policy

Saket is student of 5th standard. He hadn’t prepared for the Mathematics exam, and so was expecting the least from that exam. When the results came and he received his answer sheet, he was literally astonished as he had got one of the highest marks in that particular subject. 89 read the bold numerals on the top right corner of the answer sheet. He was overjoyed, though a little puzzled. On calculating the marks awarded in the individual questions, he realized that his teacher had wrongly given him 89 for what should have been 69.

The next thing what he did is something we would hardly expect from the grown ups nowadays, let alone a kid maybe 10 years old. He went to the teacher and politely asked him to deduct the marks as he had been wrongly awarded.

“Bad for your marks but good for your honesty. But why would you come back to me and get your marks deducted while I would have hardly noticed it?”

“Sir, honestly, this is what I have been taught by my parents. I can work hard and get it by hook, but my parents never taught me to do something by crook.”

What is honesty? Is it the best policy? If yes, why are there so less of people who are honest nowadays? Does it have some escape clause that people don’t stick to being the “honest” types? The following passage will try to look into the various aspects of honesty, and try to find out if honesty is really worth being the best policy.

Many children understand the definition of honesty to be “not to lie”. But a complete definition of honesty also means that an honest person doesn’t do things that are morally wrong. It also may include aspects like being truthful to yourselves, which is the initial part of being the “honest” types. Another way we can understand being honest is being blunt, straightforward and hence giving the right criticism or feed back required. Being an honest person means being honest to your profession, family and relationship – practically every aspect of your life.

Honesty is the best policy as it brings the best from inside of you, shows your respect for truthfulness. Honesty is showing respect for what is the practically the right thing to do. If your father is himself in Police, knows all the laws of Indian Penal Code and knows how domestic violence is a crime.Now you see him beating your mother and don’t complain to the Police about his atrocity and cruelty against the women who bore you keeping you in your womb taking the pain for 9 months, you are not an honest person. You share the same share of dishonesty as your father. Had you been honest to what is morally correct, you would have made a complaint to the Police. Being honest in this case would prevent further atrocities against your mother – showcasing how it is the best policy indeed.

The fable we heard long back of how the Shepard called for his fellow villagers lying about the fox that never attacked is very well known. When the fox really came and attacked him, despite him calling again for the villagers, they never came. They had lost trust on him and had developed this pre conceived notion that he must be lying. Had the shepard been honest, he would be alive even after the fox attacked. He should have considered honesty as the best policy. Be it now or later, a lie is going to get exposed. It’s better to say the truth and win people’s trust, then to lie and loose their trust forever. It takes thousand truths to build trust, just one lie to loose it.

What else? Honesty is being honest to yourself. If you are not being honest to yourselves, you are the biggest loser in the game. You siting in front of the television with book in your hands, showing your parents that you are preparing for the upcoming test while the corner of your eyes is ticking with the scores of the match being played is being dishonest to yourselves. It’s not them whom you are fooling. You are fooling yourself. How can you think to score better this time, when you are not honest to your preparation?

Be it the Jaina, Buddhist or the Vedas, each philosophy talks about a life spent with simplicity. A simple life can be regarded as a life devoid of the non-essentials, be uncomplicated. This simplicity cannot be achieved without honesty. An honest person can live without simplicity, but the opposite of this isn’t always true. Whenever we lie,we have to use several other lies to cover the first one. The memory of the first lie isn’t long lived. As pointed out in the Shepard fable, truth always finds its way. The result? Pain, sorrow, complications. Stress can thus lead to long term psychological and physical problems – even heart strokes.

Being dishonest is creating a virtual world, an alternate reality. The other person thinks it is the truth, which is actually not the case. You have to carry this burden of the lie till the truth gets leaked. A dishonest person thus formulates two different world’s, the true world and the virtual world, the world with an alternate reality. While an honest person has to live in the true world whole of his life, a dishonest person keeps on balancing in between. We see lots of cases about how a marital affair led to murder, conspiracy killings and divorce in most cases. Why to destroy life of not only yours and hers, but also the children! Honesty leads to simplicity, while dishonesty leads to duplicity – the exact opposite.

Our country has acquired the “bureaucratic” type of government from the Britishers. But there is something more we inhibited from them – being corrupt. Now the corrupt officials of the East India Company is well known. But the bureaucratic government that follows till today has had its webs of dishonesty and corrupt officials since independence. The result? We still are one of the most corrupt ridden democracy, with little implementation of schemes and intermediaries eating up what is allotted to the poor. What has been following is a storm of poor, hungry, depressed. Wouldn’t it be so better if the bureaucrats were honest?

When you lie to someone, you are always in a fear of getting caught. But when you are honest with your inputs, however blunt you maybe, the person seeking your advice may feel bad for sometime, but will come up with his best later. It’s better to be straightforward with your constructive criticism and let the seeker improve now, even though he feels bad, then letting him cry because you couldn’t manage to be straightforward and honest when he/she needed you the most. Similarly, it’s better to call your boss and tell him about your fallibility before taking up the project than being dishonest, first by taking up the project even though you cannot complete it, and second by plagiarizing only to get caught later – and suffer from humiliation.

An honest friend will always love the honest you and not the virtual you. When Nehru gave the statement “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai”, he wouldn’t have realized that this was the fake side of the now friend, who would initiate the enmity and in a way be the reason for his death. Hadn’t it been better if China had been honest about his intention and been the same from the start? Wouldn’t it be better is it was the “Honesty” policy that was propagated by it and not the “String of Pearls” policy?

What goes around, comes around too. GOD is that infinite soul who decides the fruits (fala) of the deeds(Karma). But in this era, the fala comes to you in the same birth. Suppose you are walking on the road and the person in front drops his wallet while trying to put it in the back pocket. When you pick it up, you see that it has enough amount to buy the long awaited diamond ring you promised your wife. An honest person would keep himself in the owner’s position, realize what is right, run to him and return the wallet. But if you are dishonest and use that money for personal gains, be assured of the coming loss. You may be in the same position as the owner of the wallet sometime ahead, regretting your decision in the past.

But is being honest always the best that can be done? There is something called “misleading truth” too, which can be used to save a friend of yours. Suppose you are gifted a tie from your best friend, which you don’t like. But you don’t want your friend to get hurt. So what can you do when he asks if you liked it? You may just say  “I haven’t got such a gift before”. All it means is, sometimes being misleadingly honest is good to not hurt a friend’s feeling.

What is the reason that people nowadays have lost all character and are hardly honest? Stiff competition. To be the best by hook or by crook. But is it how you should be? When you choose a life of character, you’ll realize that you’ve nothing to hide. You are like a free bird. You have a life less complicated, less stressful and more satiated than your colleague who plagiarized. To be honest from outside, you need to be honest from inside too. Follow you commitments, but if you cannot, simply call and say NO to you boss. It’s easier to say an honest NO than a dishonest YES. Deducting marks may not help Saket today, but his honesty may get him a better position when he goes for an interview. If you don’t love her, tell her than having an extra marital affair. If he isn’t doing good, criticize him now and see him succeed later.

 

13

“Before criticizing a man, walk a mile in his shoes”

When a small town boy leaves his hometown to pursue his higher studies, loads of aspirations go with him. These aspirations are not only his – it has been the dream of his father who took a loan to fund his coaching for the IIT’s preparation, a mother who dreams of his son bringing her a saree after getting placed, a brother who thinks of joining one of the IIT’s soon after he joins, taking the necessary guidance for the preparation. The whole community feels proud of this boy when he makes it to the rank list – thinking that if this boy can do it, their son can too. Everyone except from some stray elements. These are the ones who now realize that this guy doesn’t deserve this seat.

They shout all around the colony how he had cheated in the exam, how he belongs to a particular reserved category and hence got the seat, how he didn’t deserve it because he was a weaker student than their son. Little do they realize that it requires sheer hardwork to crack it through, little do they realize that it costed him those kilos he gained while sitting and preparing on the chair the whole day calculating those sums, little do they realize that he didn’t play holi for preparing for the next test while their son was was roaming around with colors in his palms. Little do they realize that getting that “reserved seat” required hard work too.  They certainly needed to take a walk in his shoes before criticizing him- at least a mile ahead.

So the question arises WHY? Why do we criticize people? Is it a human nature, or a characteristic of a self that is inherited due to our surrounding? Is it really natural to criticize someone? What are the reasons we criticize someone? Shouldn’t we look forth, ahead on time or may back in time to understand the context of his misery, ideology, self belief, that we criticize it too often too soon? Let us look into the different aspects and reasoning behind this nature of ours.

One aspect of criticizing someone is being judgmental. We live in a society that judges the well-off and that judges the poor. The society- to an extent-is always judgmental. Now is it worth judging someone after a short span, maybe a meeting or so? Of course not! During our graduation, we judge the people who come from a small town. We judge him for his shaggy clothes and his “native tone”. The act of criticism being our way of “backbitching” about him, certainly not on his face because we consider him of a different league altogether. But do we realise that maybe he comes from an extremely poor background, that maybe the money we spend for a time of dinner in a fine dine- he spends only that much for the whole month as his pocket money? There must be some reason he doesn’t buy new clothes, that he doesn’t celebrate his birthdays, that he doesn’t eat out except for the college mess. Little do we try to know why he got this “tone” of his- maybe this was the first time he was out of his village.

We live in a patriarchal society. A society which judges a single mother for being single, without his husband, and also being judgmental to her meeting with a male who takes her to dinner on weekends. But do we try to walk a mile in her shoes before criticizing her of not abiding to the “social norms” as they say it. Maybe he lost her husband who was fighting for the country on the border, or maybe his husband was an unsocial sociopath who beat her up and hence she being an independent women decided to part her ways. Maybe she has her aspirations too and hence she doesn’t rely solely on her husband giving her concessions, may be she is meeting that new male because she has realized that he may keep her happier and also look after her child.

A different aspect of criticizing is when our ideologies don’t match. A right winger liberal capitalist type may criticize a left winger socialist who revolts and compels the government for the freebies- the food people are denied of, the education they are deprived of- just because they cannot afford it. It’s easy to say that he doesn’t wish to work and that he is being a “pseudo-socialist”, but may be he has been through all this struggle himself. Maybe he was denied the job he deserved as the industrialists had took away his land promising him the growth. Maybe he had to go through the same plight that the people he is fighting for now are going through.

Different case studies show how the negligence and radicalization of the youth that takes place have been subject to mass inattention and laxity. We judge how terrorist are from a particular religion, but we never see what was the reason he left the country and joined a terrorist organisation, only to get killed sometime after. Same goes for the naxalis.

Another type of criticism is when we criticize someone even though we cannot do the same work we are criticizing him/her for. When Yuvraj Singh couldn’t perform in the WT20 worldcup final against Srilanka back in 2014, people criticized him for not being able to finish the match for the country. They threw stones at his house and criticized him. Most of the people who criticized him are those who mustn’t have even played a match in their locality’s corridor! Did we ever think how the guy, who had won it for the country not once but twice, must have felt after this loss? We cannot judge someone, for something we are not an expertise in. There must be some untold reasons and scenarios that he/she couldn’t perform.

The fourth type of criticism is when we “criticizing without realizing the inclusive role”. For example, we may have heard people criticizing the government being an impotent in bringing in change through Swacch Bharat Abhiyan(SBM). Now, little do we realize that the government has already done his work by spreading awareness about importance of cleanliness, it requires the effort of all the individuals combined to make it a success. Criticism won’t do the work, working against the criticism would!

The fifth type of criticism is giving someone a “destructive” or “demoralizing” criticism. These are those people who know that they cannot perform better than someone and criticize the other only to demoralize them. Leave alone walking in their shoes, they already KNOW that they can win the game only by using the tricks of crook. We must try to ignore such type of people and their criticism. But won’t we get the same kind of people everywhere? We should rather skim through the good points of his criticism, the ones that can make us better and convert his destructive criticism into a “constructive” one.

We create bubbles in which we allow ourselves to settle into a comfort zone. When we are criticized, the illusion of this bubble is burst as we are forced to acknowledge that reality is far different to the world we have been inhabiting. Different people lash out in different ways, but these are varying responses to the same problem.It is only by forcing ourselves out of our comfort zones and accepting our limitations that we can learn to deal with criticism better.

Different people have different perspectives. The idea should be not to criticize someone, but instead walking in each other’s shoes, putting each other in the rival’s place, looking into all the positives and negatives, and coming up with a consensus that may be a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.

What further needs to be done? We should realize that being critical or giving a critical note to someone also wants us to expertise in that subject. Even if we aren’t an expert, the criticism should be a rational one and not because you have been asked for a criticism. We need to make sure we haven’t missed an aspect ourselves before concluding about someone or his/her something. Before we criticize a women who couldn’t abort her girl child, we should realize that she has developed a bond with her, before criticizing the government for being incompetent of implementing SBM, we need to put the wrapper we threw on the road into the dustbin,before judging the cricketer, we need to ask ourselves “Did he really want to loose himself?” , before judging someone of his clothes, we need to realize it wasn’t by “choice” but helping him would be our choice.

26

Fortune favors the bold

It was the finals of an India-Pakistan match for the World T-20. Last over was yet to be bowled. Everyone’s eyes were struck to the new captain of the team- M.S Dhoni, who was leading a relatively young team. The pressure was immense. Even the best cricketing legends would have been in dilemma in a situation like this – give the bowl to Harbhajan Singh, the most experienced bowler in the Indian side- or to some other player. Dhoni- the captain- took a bold decision. He gave the bowl to Joginder Sharma, a new player to the side who had no experience in bowling hither to, and was also not a successful bowler so far in the match. Cricketing experts in the commentary box were surprised by the decision- which was evident from their criticism for the new captain’s decision after the batsmen hit a six of the first ball.

The captain went to Joginder and whispered something in his ears- the next bowl was delivered – a cheeky shot indeed by the batsman going up to the third man inside the circle- the whole crowd was on their feet supporting their respective teams.

“And Sreesanth takes the catch. India have won in style.”

The crowd went mad. The same commentators who were criticizing the captain cool were now appreciating his bold move.

The above abstract was to explain how fortune favors the brave. We saw how a brave decision could make your life change within seconds. So, does fortune favor the bold?Sometimes, taking an out of the box decision is what is required to get noticed, because the thing which follows can change your life and the way people look at you as a leader. The following write up will look how this proverb holds water, and also being critical to it.

“Asli power dil me hoti hai”

                                                  (Braveness lies in the heart)

Fear- as it is, is more of a state of mind. It was the time of April back in 1971. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister,was furious about the way West Pakistan had spreading and instilling fear in the minds of the East Pakistanis.But that wasn’t the only fear. Indira feared the large scale immigration of the Bangladeshis refugee fleeing to India, which was putting pressure on the Indian resources. In the Cabinet Meeting, she asked Sam Makenshaw- the then Army Chief if we were ready for a war against the Pakistani army. He refused. After Indira dispersed the Cabinet meeting and asked Makenshaw to stay back, he said that war could be won if the things went his way- the way he took decisions. It was certainly a brave decision considering the fact that the month brought in incoming floods from the Himalayan Peninsula and India was still recovering from the injuries of the 62′ war with China. He lead the army, fought the war- and the rest is history. 

Not only was it brave on the part of Sam Makenshaw to lead, it was also a lionhearted decision of Indira to go to Russia and sign a pact of mutual cooperation with Russia, in case of war, going against Nehru’s Non-Alignment concept.Certainly luck was favoring the bold decisions being taken.

Moving on, it was the year 1991 and the country was facing an economic turmoil. We couldn’t afford imports for more than 2 weeks, as our foreign exchange reserve was at an all time low. We could have declared our selves bankrupt- and hence depending on the elites of the world to pity on us. It was then that a leader emerged- P.V Narasimha Rao. He was leading a minority government at the centre, and seeing the economic condition, he decided of a bold, no mass base and a mostly unpopular decision to open the economy and introduce the liberalization, privatization and globalization reforms. Lucked favored him. This bold decision- albeit saw criticism- changed the history of Indian economy. and experts believe that India’s growth now wouldn’t be possible had the decision not been taken then.

The times moved ahead and then came 1998. In the midst of the dark in the deserts of Pokhran, was carried out the Operation Shakti – India’s first nuclear test using indigenous technology. Was this a brave decision? India knew that if such mission was executed, the elites of the world- specially USA would impose sanctions on the country. It was bold also because India had only recently passed the state of economy turmoil. It showed the world that a country which was going through economic pandemonium only 7 years prior- was no more the same. It showed that India had emerged- that it was there to stay. It gave the world a message that India was going to shape a new world order in the near future, that the unipolar world hither to wouldn’t remain unipolar in the coming years. How did the luck favor? The sanctions imposed initially by the USA were lifted in a short span – showed how ineffective the decisions of the world had become on the country. The sanctions according to experts went into a dead dump – the luck had changed for the country.

In the recent times, the decision of the new government to cancel foreign secretariat talks with Pakistan after getting an invitation can be seen as a bold move from the state. It sent shock waves around the sub-continent and also showed the tougher side of the country. It showed good results as the ever “denial” mode of Pakistan changed into “acceptance” mode and they took responsibility of the Pathankot Attacks. Simple bold decision, changed the fortune of this country as now, both countries have vowed to demolish the non-state actors from across the respective borders.

Let’s take a personified example to understand this. Ratan Tata is known as the business tycoon who revived the falling Tata enterprises. But little do people know that before joining the descending family business, he rejected the job offer from IBM, which was certainly bold when the country had little job opportunites and youth was clutched in the jaws of unemployment. He rejected a well paying job to work in the USA, stayed back in India, and served for the indigenous factory in Tata Steel Jamshedpur. Luck favored this decision later as Tata Steel is one of the fortune 500.

But does bold decision always bring in the “luck” factor with them- giving it a success? I’ll explain it through my story. I took the bold decision to take up an IT job ditching my graduation subject which was Mechanical Engineering. Now, initially, it felt like a good decision as I got promoted in merely 6 months of joining. I thought luck was favoring me, until I realized IT wasn’t my cup of tea. 2 years after my graduation, when I looked for a job in my graduation field, I was rejected from most major industrial houses because I had no experience in my field and the experience in IT didn’t count. Initially, what felt like an empowering decision for my career, changed into the worst decision I had taken being bold. Luck wasn’t favoring me now, because of the decision I took then.

Well apparently, some bold decisions are always taken in haste. The solution is to have a long time vision of the outcomes that may follow. The idea is to try to look at every aspect of the decision that is to be taken. Life decisions, professional decisions, decisions to run a country or an institute shouldn’t be taken in haste. It’s not just our life that is involved but various stakeholders who are directly and indirectly affected by our decisions – may be our family, maybe the citizens of a country, may be the employees of your firm. We need to document crucial assumptions and then go bold. Further, luck wouldn’t have favored if no decision was taken in first place. Dhoni wouldn’t have lifted the cup, India wouldn’t have won the 1971 war and it would still be in the clutches of economic unsteadiness. What was common with all those decisions?The idea was to BELIEVE in the decision. If we believe, we are already half way through. The confidence in ourselves is what brings about a confidence in the stakeholders. A worthy man once said :

“If you take a bold decision, it’s more-less likely that you win.

If you don’t take any decision, you’ll definitely not win.”

 

P.S What doesn’t kill you, makes you….Stranger 😛

Thank you.

 

16

Quick but steady wins the race

The world knows of Aesop’s fables. One of its best and widely popular story talks about how a hare lost to a tortoise, with a moral saying : Slow and steady wins the race. Albeit this has been accepted for a way too long period of time, if we look closely, it wasn’t the “slow” walk of the tortoise that won him the race, but more of its “steadiness” that helped it achieve success. Had the hare been moving with the same pace along with being “steady”, may be we wouldn’t have this fable altogether. So, does being quick along with being steady does the trick?

The world today is all about competition. If we sleep, we loose. If we work slowly and steadily, we have chances of winning. But what if we are quick along with being steady? It is like icing on the cake. So we can say, the speed we always talk about is relative. We may think that the pace we are going with is very good, but somewhere someone is working with a better speed and a better efficiency. The word steady here can have different meanings. It can be efficient work, better implementation of plans, time-bound completion, stable and safe or being balanced throughout the process.

Let’s take different examples to understand better the cogency of the statement. 2 guys Mr. X and Mr. Y are preparing for the boards, 3 months prior. Now Mr. X starts slowly, but is steady in the initial days. He starts with 2 chapters in a week, which with the passage of time increases to 4 chapters a day, and the chapters keeps increasing for each week. On the other hand, Mr. Y, an enthusiast, started off with a vigor, completed 7 chapters in a week, lost the vigor in the 2nd week and couldn’t complete any, the third week he picked up but could complete only 2 chapters.

We we calculate the average :

Mr. X = (2+ 4+ 6) /3 =4 chapters a week.

Mr. Y = (7+0+2) /3 = 3 chapters a week.

Clearly, the chances of Mr. X completing the syllabus in a much better position is high, if the pattern continues. What’s the philosophy behind this? Albeit Mr. X was slow in the beginning, he didn’t realize with his consciousness that he was actually increasing his relative speed. Why on the other hand, Mr. Y, started off with full zest, but at the end of three weeks, was lacking due to his inconsistency.

What we see here is ,in this world with fierce competition, speed counts, but steadiness does too. 

While India got Independence, the 500+ princely states were left with 3 options : Join India, Pakistan or be an independent state. Needless to say, most of them wished for a sovereign state. Now, if Indian administration comprising of Nehru, Menon and Vallabh Bhai wouldn’t have been quick enough to hold talks with those independent princes, and if they weren’t active(steady) enough to keep their conditions in front of them, may br the Indian Map would have had a Pakistan in the heart of South India(then Hyderabad).

Moving on, when we think of business, the one thing that hits the youth is Start Up- a firm of its own. What makes a start up successful? It may happen that many people have the same idea for the start-up. But if they aren’t quick enough to get the idea patented, if they aren’t quick enough to get an angle investor to invest in their idea, the chances of the firm of their dreams because dimmer. But is being fast the only way ahead? What else is required? The whole process of getting the firm set-up, finding investor, getting patented and everything else sometimes becomes so hectic and cumbersome that some people give up. What is required is a more steady approach – The will to NEVER GIVE UP.

When the fight against corruption was started by Anna Hazare, the demand for the Jan Lokpal bill saw a huge pandemonium. People had started to quit their office works, and went on strikes, conducted marches and what not against the Government to bring in pass the LokPal Bill, giving greater transparency to the government functioning. Now, what started off with such an uproar and with lots of exuberance, lost its steadiness after a week or so. Why? People started to realize that albeit too quick to quit, they couldn’t make sure the people remained motivated for the fight against corruption. Maybe the outcome would have been different had the people not given up so early so soon.

India and China became independent much at the same time. According to reports, the condition of India and China was the same in terms of economy uptil 1980’s. But what was different about them, that they grew with a pace of 25% annually to become the fastest growing economy? India’s focus on the socialist principle pushed it to the debt cycle, not able to afford much to the growth of the Public Sector Units, and moreover, much of the amount which was spent for the human capital, went unutilised. Furthermore, the pace with which China bettered their ease of doing business, the amount they spent to increase human capital was far better than India.

The world is moving towards a better, safer and sustainable growth and development. For this, the United Nations came up with the Sustainable Development Goals. Now, while the goals have been majorly derived from Millennium Devlopment Goals which was a “previous birth” of the SDG’s, it(SDG) came into existence more because most of the goals of the MDG’s had a slow snail’s pace to be implemented. The same continues for the SDG’s as well. Wouldn’t a better pace with steady implementation plans transfigure the predicted outcome of the SDG’s?

A stitch in time saves nine. This is basically a synonym of the quote, showing how those moments of high efficiency needs to be capitalized upon.Slow and steady is not a physical attribute of the fable initially. Its the mental stability and patience that will do the trick for you. Steadiness has had a relationship with a calm and composed mind, along with the vigor to achieve,which comes with the determination to fight back. We need not be Mr. Y from the abstract above, but try to inculcate the habits of Mr. X. The more we do this, the better we can expect our results to be.

 

33

Dreams which shouldn’t let India sleep

 

It’s early morning and local travellers are stringing up for tickets at the Gomti Nagar railway station in the Uttar Pradesh’s capital, Lucknow. Across the tracks, a different flock is gathering – each person on his own, separated by a bijou distance. These are amongst the 48% of Indians who do not have access to proper sanitation. Making their way from the houses below the flyovers, these are pavement dwellers with no proper housing facility as well, squatting beneath the few trees and bushes along the elevated railway line – defecating in the open. Not so surprisingly, this is what they call the morning ritual when the nature calls.

Dreams shouldn’t let India sleep, because albeit we have achieved a lot after the short span of independence, it isn’t enough to bring in inclusive growth and development of all the spheres in the country. The dream of seeing an independent country, by the myriad number of freedom fighters was fulfilled, but the dream of seeing a clean India : as thought of by Mahatma Gandhi : Still remains unfulfilled.

While India got independence, it was divided into a number of independent princely states. What we think of when we say INDIA wasn’t really this way back then. It was a vision – a dream of one leader – Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel which made India what it is today. If it weren’t for him, India’s one part would be in Pakistan and a lot many of them(the princely leaders) would have gained independence, hampering the sovereignty of India – which was more of an IDEA back then. Devoid of a fatherly figure after the death of Gandhi, it was he who marvelled at his organizing capacity and superhuman ability. The integration of 600 Princely States and the elimination of autocratic rule of the Maharajas and Nawabs will ever stand out as his unique and greatest achievement. He did it without bloodshed and in the short span of two years.

Was it not a miracle? To him rightly goes the credit of completely changing the map of India. Tribal raiders and Pakistani troops attacked Kashmir and tried to secure accession by force. He saw the writing on the wall. The Indian armies landed in Kashmir by air.  Clearly, the dream of Idea of India, took his dreams, and made him work hard for these dreams, to get fulfilled.

The Government Factor.

The Government of India dreams of seeing the people as becoming job benefactors, rather than job appellants. But little efforts have been made to provide finances to the poor till now. Dalits have to go through rigorous clearances to prove they are Dalits, which hurts their confidence. Lack of finance is also a main reason behind their misery.

Each of party which takes power in India thinks of utilizing the demographic dividend. This is imperative if we want to be a developed nation. But to utilize this demography, it makes little effort to skill them. Likewise, small efforts are made to improve the human capital. Recently there was a cut in the budget share for health and education. Can the dream of a fully skilled labor be fulfilled with budget cuts?

Admittedly, an able educated workforce is what we people dream of for our country. As a matter of fact, we even have a well educated workforce. But what’s the use of it if we cannot give them enough employment opportunities. Furthermore, lack of enabling environment for new start-up’s hither to has been a major impediment for the burgeoning educated youth, who move to other countries for better jobs and opportunities, and never return, a process dubbed Brain Drain.

Furthermore, the dream of seeing a developed country cannot be fulfilled if important bills continue to stay unpassed in one of the houses without coming to a consent to pass the bill. One of the most important bill the Goods and Services Tax is still pending in the Rajya Sabha. Adding to that, our country has been has always been kept under a “watchlist” by the US 301 report for the liberal Intellectual Property Rights regime. Slow work continues to thrive in this, making our country etiolated  to attract foreign investments.

We dream of a country where democracy has its meaning intact. One of the virtues of a good democracy is conducting of a free and fair elections. Now the condition in this regard is an unprecedented one. Booth capturing, liquor for votes, voting not with our intellect by driven by community voting practices, criminals going for elections and winning – this isn’t something what Gandhi would surely have dreamt of for the country. Laws are present, but loopholes, delays in judicial hearings against convicted offences, too much of money being spent(more than what Election commission allows) needs to be changed first.

In a similar way of events, security of our country has been experiencing a major setback, specially after events like the Mumbai Terror attacks and the recent Pathankot attack. Studies have further proven that there may be instances of “financial terror” too, and that may be executed by a group of online hackers eyeing the Indian market. Did Subhas Chandra Bose ever dream of a country which would have to experience a set back in these type of attacks, while he was busy forming the INA?

The “We” factor.

Likewise, we dream of a country which is inclusive of all the religious traditions, language, cast, creed and cultures. But still we give adequate air to controversies surrounding differences of opinions, religions differences and ethnic diversity. We even think that all the people live in harmony, accept the diversities and the environment be gnarly and gratifying. But we do little efforts to feed the poor who asks for food.There are still instances where a Hindu hesitates in eating in the home of a Muslim because he fears his religion doesn’t allow this and he may be punished to hell- dubbed cultural nationalism. Is this how harmonization can be brought about?

Furthermore, we dream of seeing a clean India. But never do we put our efforts to throw garbage in the dustbin, or differentiate between what is biodegradable and non-biodegradable. We wish India was pollution free but we neglect small things like switching off lights and fans and when no in use or turning off the engine when on the red light. We make little efforts to car pool or use metro at least on alternate days, and then we blame the government for making the city polluted.

Similarly,we all dream of a country which is corruption free,where the officials are not corrupt and the work that needs to be done by them doesn’t increase the extent of collusive corruption. What is collusive corruption? We give bribes to get the work done. So basically, we as a counterpart are equally responsible for the growth of the corrupt money – the parallel economy in this country. We dream of a country which is corruption free, but we don’t do our bit. No doubt the government needs to clear the air too, but the responsibility as a citizen is equally important.

“Wo khaate hai, kyunki hum khillate hai!”

                                                                          -(They take bribe because we give them!)

In addition to that, we dream of a country where men and women are treated equally before law. According to a recent McKinskey Report, the GDP of the country could see a boost by 60%, if the women involvement in the workforce increased manifold. But we still are struggling through the patriarchal mindset of the country. The child sex ratio has been registering a declining trend since Independence. A female is killed in the womb before being born. This isn’t how we can dream of being the largest economy in the world, right?

Is there a way forward?

Albeit so many of problems in the country, there have been major changes in both the Government factor and the WE factor to bring about changes – to fulfill the India of everyone’s dream. Government started the MUDRA yojana to give finance to the poor, and started Stand Up Start Up to provide opportunities for the educated youth to innovate, provided an enabling environment so as to increase job opportunities in the country- become job benefactors. Similarly, Skill India aims at imparting skill to the youth, along with placement opportunities. Criminalization of politics, code of conducts for various departments are for ethical and moral principled works in the democracy. India has also made remarkable achievement, increasing the budget for defense sector and focusing more on indigenous technology development under Make In India.

But the one thing that needs to change is the mindset. We people in the country, though tied in the knot of respect for each others religion, still we have communalism around, riots happening every day and people dying. We dream of a clean country, but we litter around blaming the government for it. We want corruption to end, still we depend on the  Rs. 100 note and not wear helmet while travelling. We worship Durga, but still we kill a girl before she is born. Can we be the change which we want to see? Can we fulfill the dream of the idea of India, which is clean, corruption free, harmonized and inclusive, waking up and working our bit for it?

 

 

 

33

Lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole

While moving through the narrow lanes in the small village of Korba in Uttar Pradesh, the sight of youth sitting idle at home, who at this time should have been either studying or doing  a job, was worrisome. Under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act(MGNREGA), people who didn’t get job for the whole 100 days got “free allowances”, which made their slothful and indolent, reluctant to find job, study or increase their skill. Clearly,this scheme wasn’t actually lending a hand, but was actually proving to be a dole.

Let’s try to comprehend the meaning of this statement. “Lending hands” in literal sense is supporting someone. This support may be in the form of consoling wordsimplementation of schemes on ground level, instilling faith by providing basics (education and health),empowerment,humanitarian support and technical assistance. The second part of the statement says “better than giving a dole”. Dole here means “grant“, an “allowance” or a “benefit” being transferred basically understood in economic terms. The following write-up will find an interconnection between the two statements, and look for different aspects including economy.

First,let’s try to look into history about how this statement holds water. Despite the plight that the Women and Dalits had to face in the Indian society, Gandhi made sure they participated in Non Cooperation Movements. This idea evolved not only by announcing the fight against the colonists, but by making sure women and dalits were accepted by the majority. The impetus to national feeling wasn’t evolved as a dole(for free), but it took Gandhi’s helping hand to invoke that feeling in them.He himself did the works of the harijans and fought for the rights of women.

After independence, reservation was provided for a period of 10 years on the premise that the dalits had suffered years of  injustice, grief and dejection. But little focus was given on empowering them. Result? Reservation still continues, not for the betterment, but for vote-bank politics.

In the present national context, while the 14th Finance Commission recommended for the devolution of power and revenue to the state government, the other necessary budgetary allotments like for health and education along with maintenance of biodiversity was cut to eliminate duplication of efforts and hence putting oil in the fire already burning. But what the GOI forgot was that most of these benefits needed an expertise. Teacher training, capacity building and opening  new government colleges for future doctors, necessary recruitment for the trained teachers was their work, they have been failing in these.The solution lies in the problem itself.

Apparently, India’s poverty index is calculated on a very narrow basis i.e the family income. While it may be one of the basic parameters, it doesn’t count the people who are “extremely poor”, those who can’t even think of earning because of their infallibility to move, due to social depreciation or due to low confidence. We call this strata the “pauperists”. What did the government do? They went for Public Distribution system. This effort of the government, though a welcome step, proliferated the infallibility of the poor to come out of misery, because now they were getting food without working for it. Can we think of eliminating pauperism merely by giving them food, or instead instilling confidence in them?

Apparently,the government is focusing on Direct Benefit Transfer(DBT). Although a good step, it may be utilized by households for non-food purposes and end result will be adding to malnutrition. Increased responsibility towards health, higher education and marriage of a girl and hence dowry eliminates the basic idea behind DBT, it is instead pushing people towards more miseries and more debt traps. The solution lies in changing the mindset of sahukars, and not merely giving money to the poor. Dalit Capitalism is on a rise and Dalit India Chamber of Commerce and Industry is focusing on Dalit entrepreneurship to socially uplift them and pave a way to end caste discrimination.

Thankfully, there has been a paradigm shift in the thinking of government and now it focuses more on making “job befactors” rather than “job appellants”.The coming up of SETU, Start up and Stand Up India has enabled this. Government is now focusing on research and technology driven start-up’s and hence working on giving an enabling environment for these and also techno-financial benefits and incubation centers are being started. But the solution isn’t only about giving these “benefits” but making sure the funds are actually allotted, there are no bottlenecks and there is a commissioner in place to look for the loopholes in the system.

Moving on, nowadays there has been a rising fudge about how women have been denied cultural rights and how they are not allowed to enter the temple to offer the praying to the deities. The constitution, although under Article 15 calls for the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender, and Articles 25-28 talk of right to freedom of religion and its practices, they are denied equal rights. Why this discrimination that too in a country where women is worshiped as Durga and Kali? The solution is not in giving provision in the articles under the constitution, or setting up of National and state commissions, but the solution is in changing the “mindset” of the people, so as to make sure patriarchy is uprooted.

How can this be done? Many recent surveys reveal that as the inclusion of women into the Panchayati Raj Institutions increased, there was a steep decline in the cases adjoining domestic violence, alcoholism, dowry and child marriages went down. So, empowering women is a solution. The same goes for the menace of child labor. Although various laws in place to eradicate child slavery, the real solution is in providing education to the children and maybe some pension schemes for the families who are forced to send their children to work for living.

Moving on,at the Banking level, Priority Sector Lending quota is a way to penetrate the financial support by the banks to the rural areas, but banks shift it towards NABARD and SIDBI to reduce risks.So basically, there is an enabled provision but their but no ground implementation. Similarly, Indira Awas Yojana aims at free housing for the poor, but their is corruption in allotment processes,lobbying issues.So lot of poor become mere pavement dwellers. They want to make smart cities but they don’t want poor to reside there.

For coping with the aftermaths of disasters, National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) was made and various agencies took power. Funds allotment took place at various level. But no nodal agencies was made which could integrate the works of the various departments, which leads to duplication of efforts, leakages and delays in field work. Also, much of the amount is spent on post-crisis management, the bulk expenditure of which could have been used for better plan of basic reduction risk infrastructure. The solution lies in a better framework for technical assistance to prevent the disasters instead of focusing on mitigation.

For curbing corruption, a legal framework was made and acts like Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) was enacted. But instead of just giving the PCA, enforcement procedure needs to be focused on. Even though there is a code of conduct of various government official levels, but there has been no commission officer in place to punish the wrong-doers. So even though means is provided, the “helping hand”( in this case a commissioner from the house of legislature) isn’t provided.

Internationally, there is a focus more on “long term investments”, on “soft loans” rather than donations. Japan’s assistance to India with a soft loan worth a $100 Billion to build the Bullet, or be USA’s assistance to Vietnam and China’s building of Chabadar port in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(POK), isn’t merely a “dole” but a “helping hand” by giving technical assistance and “special status” for trade too, though with a more focused motive of long term interest.

Similarly, during the earthquakes in Nepal, India was one of the first countries to provide the relief funds and the Indian Army was the first to give assistance for evacuation and rescue operations. Was monetary help the only way for showing out empathy for the misshaping? No. Apparently, the humanitarian support that was provided by Indian Army was much appreciated both by Nepal and around the world. Mere dole wouldn’t have increased this reputation of India.

Thus, we saw that the solution doesn’t merely lie in allotting funds for a particular work, but it has a social, humanitarian and political motive that needs to be connected too. The solution isn’t merely giving money, the solution is finding a long term measure. The government shouldn’t merely be focusing on how “laws” are made, but how they are “implemented”, not on how much “money” is given, but how they “earn” it themselves, not on how “reservation” should empower, but on how “instilling faith” would help us eliminate the menace due to reservation, not on how they get the “free money”, but on how they “give money” to others.