“I Could Have Done More”…


Driving with family, is fun these days. With my daughter aside me, dancing and waving her hands on every song, lifts our spirits. While peeping through the window, she yells “bhow-bhow”, whenever she sees any dog on the roads. And points out “Baby”, wherever she sees kids across streets. During one such exploratory drives to West Delhi from Ghaziabad, we halted at a red signal. While we were awaiting for the traffic lights to turn green, she sprang from my wife’s lap and pointed “Ball”! We gazed off our windows, and saw an underprivileged child selling “Balloons”.
And then, the reality struck!

In one frame, I could see two lives, of similar age group, separated by a car window. Inside the car, comforted in the arms of her mother, there was my daughter, pleading us to buy a balloon for her. And beyond the windows of air-conditioned frills, there was kid, just few years older than my daughter, pleading too, for us to buy a balloon from him!

Like every childhood should have been, my daughter craved for that balloon to play and have fun. But for that rain-drenched kid, that balloon was all about surviving that day, to be the least. Marred by destiny’s cruel joke on life (just by birth), one kid is blessed to savour the best of its childhood. While for the other, even being “child-like” in this cursed life, is a luxury. Seeing such kids begging or selling on roads have always made me heart cringe, and it was no different day.

Meanwhile, I bought the balloon, hoping to add some “life” to each kid. But no sooner I did this, many more waifs, holding balloons swarmed around my car. All eyes hoping me to buy another one too. The signal turned green, and “the Orchestra of Horns” brought me back to my make-believe world, and we moved ahead to our destination.

That day, my daughter relished frolicking with that balloon, with laughter and giggles being the icing. But trust me, deep inside, there was a wounded soul screaming with huge discontentment – “I wish, I could have done more”!
The image and the thought of paralleled lives of these kids and my daughter (both holding a balloon) still haunt me. Hope God helps me answer these anomalies sooner. Though today, I am back, juggling with our daily chores.
But I hope one day, I will do more, much more!
Will you too?

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For AAP and Kiran Bedi – Its “Do or Die”!


Amidst BJP’s marketing fanfare, AAP’s grassroots connect, Congress’s submission and Issue-bereft personality-led Delhi elections, I find majority of voters undecided! Nevertheless whosoever wins, I find these Delhi elections “Do or Die” for “Kiran Bedi” and “Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)”! If it would have been any other election, the losing parties always have an opportunity to rebuild their party using its strong organizational base and vie for the next elections by being a strong opposition. They also have other avenues by contesting elections in other regions and stay relevant. The losing leader too commits him to the organization, as he had spent years into the arena, climbing up the ladder and to be at the helm of party politics. In this case, can both politically novice, AAP or Kiran Bedi convert this fad into a cult? Have the forthcoming loser, either Kiran Bedi or AAP, thought about its political life beyond these elections? Because, believe me or not, I foresee either of them dying of their own sword. 305273-arvind-kejriwal-kiran-bedi-collage-dna

“AAP” was an idea emerged out of “India Against Corruption” campaign to break away from the conventional politics run mostly by the corporates, corrupts, criminals and godmen. These torchbearers of alternative politics had given a new hope to many voters as being harbingers of change.

But being a very young and small political party with Delhi being their only political foothold, AAP cannot allow itself to lose these elections. Because if they do, their party may crumble with internal clashes and resignations. AAP would not be able to even dream being in power anywhere till 2019. Powerlessness and Hopelessness would test each one’s loyalty and commitment to bring change in Indian politics. In the past as well, AAP had been creating headlines for its questionable organizational skills and nonsensical political strategies. Hope AAP leaders have chalked out their plans as a unit, beyond these current Delhi elections.

For Kiran Bedi, she have been avoiding entering into the electoral politics. Desperate BJP lured her into politics, with the CM position, and she grabbed the opportunity. Who in the world doesn’t salute to the rising sun? Kiran Bedi would have thought it to be a cake-walk, a safe bet, to debut as a Chief Minister in politics, from a party who is on a winning streak across India.

But what if AAP stumps them? Would Kiran Bedi sit as an opposition leader for 5years and be irrelevant ! Or she would be absorbed by the BJP Central Govt., ditching it’s Delhi voters, who assumes her to be with them through thick and thin. Or she would be used and then thrown into dump by the BJP itself, reducing her persona to nothing.

Politics is not only about being in power or planning for the event called elections. It’s a journey of untiring selfless public service and not the destination of designations. Politics is about being on toes, if being in power. Or keeping the government on its toes, if in opposition!

Personally, I believe in Ideas, Policies and Processes over People. One Kiran Bedi may come and go, but the idea of AAP shouldn’t die an early death!

Islam, Where are your Role Models?


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Every now and then, a terror attack is reported, and newspapers flash names of organizations like Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko-Haram, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ud-dawaa and many more. After every Peshawar, Mumbai, 9/11, Charlie Hebdo etc., wherever and whenever Islam is discussed, I see only stories of despair and pessimism. Thanks to “Messiahs of Terrorism” like Laden, Kasab, Hafiz Saeed, Dawood etc. who are discussed with disgust every nook and corner of the world. Meanwhile, every philosophy which has villains must have heroes too. But here’s my question to every Muslim, where are your role models?

Muslims, followers of Islam as faith are going through internal conflicts and social turbulence. Amongst wide-spread fear and hatred, through killing humanity and dissent, these terrorists are defaming the religion by calling themselves Muslims (also architect of Sufism philosophy). An average Muslim ends up proving and convincing others, its loyalty to the country and commitment to non-violence! One commits a heinous crime and millions face the brunt by being tagged as terrorists too! But if an average Muslim kid wants to follow the paths of any living role model in your faith, who are they? I am sure Ladens of the world aren’t. Where are those heroes, who can inspire millions to be like them? Where are your living legends, whose action ignites optimism and hope? Where are your Mahatma Gandhis, Martin Luther Kings, Lincolns and Mandelas? Where are your Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sachins and Federers? If there are any, this is the time for them to be counted! If they aren’t any, it’s time to build one and many!

I believe that behind this dearth of modern Muslim heroes, is lack of education. More the education seeps into the each and every member of this faith, more and more success stories would emerge. On a global platform, I can see Malala in the making of a role model for Muslim young women! Another reason I believe, is minimal participation of Muslim Scholars in public and political space. It’s time for the educated Muslims to jump into the political foray and create name and fame. It’s time for them to step up and be the torch-bearers of Muslim faith. So that no more Hate-ranter Owasis, Fatwa-generators Imams and terrorist organizations of the world can claim to be your leaders.

Indian sub-continent is still lucky to have local role-models in the past and present, though very few! We had greats across the era like Maulana Azad, Ashfaqullah Khan, Azim Premji, Yusuf Hamied (Cipla) and Dr. APJ Kalam etc., whose stories still inspire many. From glitterati world, we have AR Rahman and Aamir Khan, who have been and can be change-agents, thanks to their body of work and popularity. At present, Indian political space is crying to have popular, good and statesman like leaders from Islam.

Finally, hope this message reaches especially to the Arab world! Remember, until new global role models don’t emerge from the shackles of conservatism; until new heroes don’t spread their reformist vision in the public space, sadly (and unjustifiably) till then, Islam would remain tagged as a fundamentalist and a terrorist-breeding religion!

2014 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

2014 Movies Platter : A Review !


2014 Year is about to end, and the movie platter served though had a vast spread but lacked quality as compared to previous year. There were massy event-films like “Happy New Year” “Singham 2” and “Ek Villain” like Gol-Gappas – Tangy, Tingy and yet leave you hungry. And then there were crassy repent-films like “Action Jackson” “Humshakals” and “Entertainment”, which were like rotten  shit for stray-dogs. And there were those too like “Kick”, “Shaadi Ke Side-Effects” and “Bang-Bang” with promising appearances. Though when being tasted, were insipid !
Yet there were very few sumptuous finger-licking dishes with lingering tastes, as if served in Michelin-star restaurants! In no particular order, here are my top 5 favorite movies of the year 2014 :
– “Highway”
– “Queen”
– “Haider”
– “PK”
– “Hawa Hawai”

There were other few like “Dedh Ishqiya”, “Hasee to Phasee”, “Mary Kom”, “Mardaani”and “Bobby Jasoos”, who just missed being part of the above esteemed list.

There were few others like “Ankhon Dekhi”, “Lakshmi”, “Jal”, “Manjunath” and “Finding Fanny” which I wanted to taste, but couldn’t due to full-stomach (read budget constraints 😉).

Overall, I was happy to see Indian Cinema taking another leap with more women-oriented movies being released and faring better both at box-office and with critics.

In the end, if I have to chose One “Movie of the Year” at a gun-point, I would place my bets on “Queen” ! I just wish, many more such films are made.

If you have a different set of list, do comment and share your views. Till then, Bon Apetite !

Nisha, Cousins and Daadi !


Our “Idiot Box” is dumped with cloned “Daily Soap Operas”, which are cliched to the core with zero originality and all been framed in one “Saas-Bahu-Husband” format. Midst all these rubbishy-stuff, “Nisha Aur Uske Cousins” at Star Plus, is a stand-out. This youthful family drama, stirred with all emotions, is setting up new creative benchmarks on Indian television. nisha

Since “Shanti” and “Swabhimaan“, followed by “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi” and “Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki” (although regressive yet original considering those days), Indian Television’s “Daily Soap Opera” format has been a dead rubber. Though there were few like “Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi“, which were fresh and different yet they were extremely rare.

Although being a “Producer’s medium”, “Nisha aur Uske Cousins” scores highly on its lifelike screenplay and witty dialogues. But where the ace lies, is in its realistic, well- sketched and layered characters. “Nisha”, the tom-boyish girl, represents the third-generation of the “Gangwal Family”, a Jain joint-family in Jaipur, headed by strict and orthodox “Dadaji” !

Nisha and her cousins, “Umesh” an aspiring cook, “Kirti” the fashion queen, “Dolly” the shopaholic, “Suketu” the stud, “Jwala” the studious, and “Bunty” the kiddo, hold a strong bond among themselves. Midst the family fun and frolic, series of conflicts arise, triggered due to varied opinions of the 3 generations, with Nisha being the cynosure of most of them.

Nisha, like her loveable father, “Ramesh” (Vivek Mushran), understands the importance of togetherness. She always tend to go out of her way to help selflessly in cousin’s problems and solve family tussles. Beyond Ramesh, “Daadi” (my favorite character”) values this trait of Nisha, and thus always support her, unlike other elders. “Nisha aur Uske Cousins” thus is not only entertaining and emotional, but also helps align our moral compasses. Unlike all other currently running television programs, only this show oozes with positivity and happiness.

I hope other television channels and producers take a cue from this soap opera and try upgrading our “Idiot Box” to “Entertainment Box”. Its high time, our television producers to stop considering Indian audiences dumb, and start catering some high quality and varied-genre enabled television entertainment.

An Apology Letter to “Kailash Satyarthi” !


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Dear Kailash,

With great embarrassment and remorse, I must confess to you. I had never ever heard your name, until you were announced for 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Malala Yousafzai. Yes, never read your name in these 100-paged newspapers or in fancy magazines, neither via several 24X7 TV News Channels, nor via thousands of online posts and blogs. Although they all are now Ga-Ga over you, nevertheless I congratulate you on your latest recognition.

I have always considered myself, a fairly active news-chaser, reading across the categories through all modes. I know, almost every Tom-Dick-Harry in field of Politics, Sports and Entertainment. I follow all the news-makers and news-chasers on social media too. Yet, I missed knowing anything about you. I pity myself! But is it only me, or the fault also lies with the establishments too?

Kailash, you donated your whole life struggling to fight against Child Labor, primarily in India and across the world. Your efforts have helped rescue thousands of children from bondage, trafficking and exploitative labor. With the help of other NGOs and activists, you have organized hundreds of raids on factories and warehouses where children were being made to work. Although being an Engineer, you chose to work in interiors of India, for Children’s rights. You have received top-notch “Peace” awards for your selfless work from United Nations and countries like USA, Spain, Italy, Germany, Netherland etc., with Nobel Peace Prize being the prime. Yet India, Indians and Indian media chose to ignore your marathon-work before Nobel.

You are yet to be appreciated by any of Indian or State Governments through any awards or help. Still, you chose to silently focus on your day-to-day efforts, and work towards the cause. Its high-time, our Governments start recognizing and supporting causes and efforts of social activists like you.

India media failed to cover your story, not because you are a real news-maker, but because you didn’t chose the make noise about it. Our media is enamored with glamorous people, events and controversies. Across all the platforms, Politics, Sports and Showbiz rule the majority news. In pursuit of headlines and business-profits, news-channels spread “nuisance”, and have turned itself into “Entertainment” channels. We news-chasers need real stories of men like you Kailash, much before the world acknowledges it.

Kailash, despite any media or government attention, do continue with your journey to make the world a place for our children to live in.

With much regret,

A Proud Indian!

“Modi – The Marketer” in USA – A Report Card !


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After noteworthy interactions with Bhutan, Nepal, Japan, China and Afghanistan, “Foreign Policy Champion” PM Modi recently concluded his all-important trip to USA. With the background of Visa-row by Obama Administration and enthusiastic support of NRIs for Modi, this trip was surely an important event, if not historic. Sycophantic Indian media celebrated this event with full-time live coverage of PM Modi’s trip. Rather reporting unbiased and important news from all across the world and India, they chose to be cheerleaders! Nevertheless, contemporary Indian media has been an “Epitome of Exaggeration”. Meanwhile, after keenly following his itinerary, it seems, he had 3 major agendas to push through.

Firstly and importantly, the major agenda was of marketing the “Brand India” to the US Business Community. He scored full marks by meeting the top brass of the world’s biggest corporations in US. Through this effort, he may have induced some optimism into these corporations to come and “Make in India”. Although, Mr. Modi has been trying to allay fears of these investors, he has still loads of work pending, in creating a comfortable business environment in India. I think, that all these corporations will have now huge expectations from the next budget session. They will look forward to important policy changes in India and till then, they will “Wait and Watch”.

Second Agenda, was to step up the “Brand Modi” into an important International Icon. Like Nehru, Indira, Atal and Manmohan, he wished to make a mark by being a change agent in world politics. He failed miserably with that, but he should be excused as this being his first attempt. His fluttering speech at UNGA went unheard in an empty hall. Although it was very unlike Modi, but it seems that the formal setup, global platform and a written speech format got better of him. He did come to his own midway and made some important points, but who doesn’t. Remember even Manmohan Singh recieved much adulation from its international counterparts, previously at UNGA. Funnily, Indian media lost it senses and sensationalized his speech by equating it with National pride. Indian PMs have been speaking at this forum since ages, had put better points with higher impact. PM Modi also unsuccessfully tried his hand in reaching out to US youth at “Global Citizen Festival” rock concert, but ended up boring them.

Third agenda was about International diplomacy and to revive relations with US Government which were turning sour in last couple of years. Mr. Modi averagely performed as we weren’t able to make any new breakthroughs in our relationship with USA. His dialogue with Obama was not even note-worthy by US media. But again, Mr. Modi can be excused as realists weren’t expecting anything from Obama-Modi meet. Breakthroughs like “The Nuclear deal” don’t happen every day as it requires heightened levels of diplomatic mutual trust. US is also on the verge of electing new government, and India may have to wait for their new government to up-rise the relationship.

And yes beyond all this, Mr. Modi, held a “Tamasha” at Madison Square for his supportive NRIs, who left India for greener pastures. He acted upon previous government’s recommendations and appreciably promised important benefits to them. In his traditional style, Mr. Modi ended up entertaining usual narcissistic Indian audiences across the world, through his influential speech.

To conclude, I would say, I am little vary of aggressive marketing of “Brand Modi” and “Brand India”. A overly-hyped brand with no real actions or performance, crashes faster into unrecoverable troughs. “Reel Intentions” are commendable but India need “Real Actions”!

“The Lower Berth” !


While everyone was busy dressing-up their berths for the night’s sleep, I hesitantly requested them, “Can any of you please swap your lower berth with us? My mother wouldn’t be able climb to middle or upper berths.” And I heard a deafening silence! Many of you may have experienced the similar silence, while traveling through Indian Railways. I have had many, and it was one of those nights.

Before reaching to those “Herds of Men”, I have had made several attempts, reaching out to individuals asking for their treasured lower berth, but in vain. That uncle in blue-shirt said no, “I need to go to toilet several times, thus I can’t”! Considering his age, he sounded genuine. While the young hunks stared, I asked a young girl, “Can you”? She had a slip-disk problem, and thus she couldn’t too. I dared not asking that old women. She was lucky to get a reserved lower berth through the hara-kiri of online reservations. After several failed attempts and variety of excuses, this group of mid-aged men was my last resort in our compartment. I was expecting atleast one of those blank faces to break the silence.

Meanwhile, I was reading exasperation in my mother’s drooling eyes. My mother was sheepishly hiding herself, behind that young girl with slip-disk issue. She atleast cared enough to offer her a seat on her cherished lower berth. Today, my mother’s old-age has made her dependent on fellow travelers’ mercy. In her prime, she was a fit, active, hard-working and an empathetic woman, who lived her life with utmost dignity. But now, in her last couple of miles, she was witnessing lowered sense of core values, empathy, respect and chivalry. To her, it looked like a race to the “Lowest Berth”!

The train was about to leave its platform, and my eyes were still stuck on those men. Especially towards the man who was having his late dinner. Unlike others, he looked mighty strong and well-built to showcase his chivalry. And yes he responded before anyone did, “If no one turns up, I will”! He looked condescendingly to all men around him, and repeated the golden words, “If no one around here swaps your seat, then I will. Your mother is like my mother”! His impactful last dialogue, though filmy, reignited my faith in humanity, which was lost minutes ago. He said, “Give me 5mins, let me finish my dinner, and then let’s swap”! I thanked him, and was thankful to almighty, as I finally discovered someone (with 56-inch chest), chivalrous enough to honor my mother’s problem.

With the newly find hope, 5mins later, I went to see that man. He was done with his dinner and was casually lying on his berth. I asked, “Can we swap our berths now”? He lazily responded, “But now, I have already lied down on my berth”. I reaffirmed, “So now you can’t swap”? I felt robbed when he uttered, “No”! Though I have always been appreciated for my composure and patience, I must admit, I was about to lose it this time. His kind words spoken minutes ago now seemed a sham.

Suddenly to my surprise, the man next to his berth stood up, and said, “I will swap. What are your seat numbers”? This heavy bellied man went straight away, with me, to my seat with his baggage and stuff. Meanwhile, I prepared bed for my mother on her newly discovered lower berth, and allowed her rest her tired body. In the heat of things, I couldn’t thank that man instantaneously. I did show my gratitude later, and he chose to respond through his benevolent smile and with a “Silence”.

Action speaks louder than words! And sometimes, silence is more meaningful than rosy words! Next time, if you see someone, especially elders, in need or despair, help them. It may rejuvenate and re-assure them, that human values are still not swirling down to the “Lowest Berth”!

P.S. On my return trip, voluntarily swapped my Lower Berth with an old lady. Hope our good deeds get accumulated, to contribute in providing a better life to our loved ones!

“Modi Sir” – A Good Idea with Doubtful Intentions!


On the eve of Teacher’s Day (5th September) in India, Narendra Modi Government decided to reach out to “All” the students in India, through every school and live interactions. All earlier Indian Prime-Ministers (PM) have been interacting with few selected school students in a formal set-up, on every Children’s Day (14th November). It was a brilliant idea, to take the message across, from leaders like Modi (for his great oratory skills), to each and every school student in India. With the advent of technology, interaction with the Prime-Minister of India shouldn’t be for few fortunate (though bright) kids. Earlier PMs have had been exercising this constructive activity, but never envisioned it to be a great PR opportunity. PM Modi’s team, through this interaction on Teacher’s Day, helped adding more feathers to the Modi’s brand image.

Though from a bird’s eye view, it all looked inspiring, yet there seems to be an underlying attempt of political vendetta. Amusingly and questionably, why Mr. Modi and his team chose to interact with children on a Teacher’s Day? Teacher’s Day is the day to appreciate and express gratitude to all the Teachers across India. Earlier PMs used to award outstanding Teachers across India, on this occasion. To interact with children, just 2 months away, we have “Children’s Day”. Mr. Modi could have also planned this interaction on Children’s day?

And here enters the politics. 14th November, “The Children’s Day”, is also the birthday of India’s first PM, Jawahar Lal Nehru or Chacha Nehru. And incidentally, this year, will mark 125th Anniversary of Chacha Nehru. In an attempt to decimate both the Nehru legacy and “Nehruvian” ideology (and Nehru family too), I believe Mr. Modi preponed this interaction with children. As much as I know of Mr. Modi, he would either like to make 14th November a hush-hush affair, or would escalate his brand Modi into “Chacha Modi”.

Mr. Modi should focus in creating his own persona through his actions and efforts, and not by erasing the legacy of past great leaders. Nehruji, even though a political opponent of RSS, is among the greatest Prime-Minister we ever had, and should be treasured. I am keenly waiting for 14th November this year, to see if my political reading goes correct. Although “The Cynic” in me, loves to get surprised, by Mr. Modi, every time.