Society

Islam, Where are your Role Models?


Stage

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!

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An Apology Letter to “Kailash Satyarthi” !


Kailash

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!

“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!

Will you be there for your Parents?


shutterstock_51858802-460x307I have been dreading about those days, when our Parents would be old and physically incapable to manage their daily chores. Those will be the days, when our Parents would need us, as much as we needed them when we were infants. That inevitable phase of our life frightens me. Will I be there for our Parents?

Today, in an urban phenomenon, both husband and wife are chasing money, through their respective jobs. In an era, when we as Parents have buckets of disposable income (although struggling to meet luxurious ends), the only thing we are in extreme dearth of is, “Time”. We do not even have time for our kids, and they are left over to maids, crèches, schools and retired grand-parents.

Our parents, in those ugly days, would need us, more than anything. They will like us to sit beside them, serve them, nurse them, manage their mood swings with a smile and love them. Remember, they did exactly all these things for us in our cradle days. Will our parents too, be left over to maids, nurses or hospitals? Can family be replaced by a hired maid or nurse? Can piles of money replace affection and care? Even if no, will we serve them unapologetically, selflessly with patience and love?

The thought frightens me. It asks me as I ask you the same, “Will you be there for your parents?”

बदलाव की आंधी !


आजकल बदलाव की आंधी है,
फै़ली अधीरता की माहामारी है !
सुना है कि अब लोग,
कपड़ों की तरह, किरदार बदल देते हैं!

आवा़म में बेमियादी बेसब्री का आलम है,
कि पाँच सालों में ही बोर होके,
हम अच्छी-बुरी सरकार बदल देते हैं!

ख़ूब सुहावने दिखते हैं, परदेस के ढोल,
कि अब तो उपलब्धि मान के,
देशभक्त भी, अपनी पहचान बदल देते हैं !

ऊँच-नीच के फ़ेर में पड़के,
बेमेल रुतबे के ख़ातिर,
हम सच्चे दोस्त, प्यार, परिवार बदल देते हैं!

इसी बदलाव की भीड़ में कुचल के,
कौड़ियों के दाम पर,
सुना है अब तो लोग, भगवान भी बदल देते हैं!

बस खु़दा की रहमत है,
जो नवाज़िश नहीं, हमें ये वरदान!
शुक्र है, जो नहीं मिला,
हमें मात्-पिता बदलने का अधिकार!

वरना तो…
आजकल बदलाव की आंधी है,
फै़ली अधीरता की माहामारी है !
सुना है कि अब लोग,
कपड़ों की तरह, किरदार बदल देते हैं!

Open Letter to Indian Voters !


Dear Indian Voters,

Hope you are not voting for somebody because you think, everyone is voting for him. Or because there is wave. Or because media, friends, family or society around you says so ! Be not of herd mentality !

Especially women ! Hope all Indian Women eligible for voting, are voting based on their choice and beliefs ! And not because their Father, Husband, Family etc. told them to vote for ! Be Independent !

Just listen to your heart, and vote !

Proud of Your Religion! But Why?


I have always been keen to dwell into the mind-set of anyone, who says, I am a proud Hindu, Muslim or Christian etc.! Most of us haven’t chosen our religion and were just destined to born into one. Moreover, it’s our parents and people around us who train us to follow a particular faith, again not by choice but destiny.

The counter-argument I have received is, that one should be proud of our parents, country and by extending the logic, religion too. Yes, we were just destined to born into our families and country, like our religion. But, unlike one’s particular religion, our parents and country nurtured our childhood. Parents through sacrifices groomed us with values, and the country through governance facilitated us with infrastructure. Religion prospers nobody, as Parents and Country does!

Then, people would argue, that the religion helps us learn values through spirituality. But then, every religion does the same! Then why gratification towards a particular religion, and calling oneself a “Proud Hindu” or “Proud Muslim” etc.?

Also, if anyone considers his/her religion superior to others (basis mythology and history), then that’s sheer communalism. One cannot be both “Proud Hindu / Muslim” and “Secular”. Such non-pluralistic views can be scary for a secular democracy.

Every religion preaches similar morals and principals, and each one of us should respect all religions!

Thus, are you proud of religion? But Why?

Why India should vote for BJP in 2014 Elections!


2014 General elections are not too far, and political parties have started their drum beating acts, vilification and slug-fest. Voters either already have or are in process of aligning themselves to preferred ideologies, leadership teams and parties.
Sooner or later, even I had to announce my loyalties for the forthcoming elections. Though I am not fully convinced, but still, here are the reasons, why India should vote for BJP this time.

Widespread Cynicism
Seems like majority to Indians (especially on Social Media) are at their heights of Cynicism. They are in no mood to trust our Media, Government, Institutions and Politicians (except “The Saheb”).
Pessimism is spread among the urban Indians like a wild fire, and the credit goes to both UPA and BJP. UPA Government through their unwanted actions and desirable inactions, have raised several doubts on the theory “India: The next Superpower”. And BJP, backed by RSS, also to be equally blamed, for their vilification tactics using social media and pracharaks!

And the only way to transpose them from Cynicism to Realism is by bringing “Change”.

No-Confidence Motion against Congress
Congress has lost any sought of trust in the Indians. Flurry of scams, minimal communication with the public, perceptive spineless leadership and opaque decision making have crashed their popularity index. All the decisions, statements, views of their leaders are seen with suspicion and usually termed as political opportunism. They have lost their moral ground to even criticize their opposition on every aspect be it economics or governance and more so, on the secularism. More so, Congress is been in power for 10years now, and fatigue factor is overpowering Indians, and thus considering change. Although all the political parties have deleterious baggage of their past, but “The Recency Effect” goes against Congress too. The only political party which seems to “substitute” them is BJP, considering AAP being too small. AAP also lacks the governance experience and the political muscle to win seats in 2014. As of now, they can be a good opposition party, if not more.

Stability

Indian economy needs a stable and decisive government, even if affects the social fabric of India. India needs quick economic, social and agricultural reforms, which only a stable and decisive government can provide. Federal parties don’t seem able enough to provide stability due to internal political tussle and deficiency of national approach to India’s problems. Thus we are left with no option but to vote for BJP.

New Era of Politics

The new-age India would now vote the basis of performance (economic and social). Congress and many other parties would soon realize that their style of traditional politics is now obsolete. Also now it’s high time for Congress to move beyond Gandhis and the Oldies. Thanks to emergence of AAP and BJP’s marketing strategy (based on their state Government’s performance), Indians would soon disown dynastic, corrupt and criminal leaders from politics.

NaMo Mysticism

To start with, I would still believe, India should vote for BJP minus Mr. Narendra Modi as Indian Prime-Minister. But since, now their paths are aligned, this possibility seems hypothetical.

Meanwhile, Indians overwhelmed by the Modi-Mania are dreaming of a mystical world with Mr. Modi with a magical wand, which would solve all of India’s problems, as he did in Gujarat. Many Indians are into idol-worship of NaMo, and see no wrong in the Mr. Modi. Let not their dreams not be shattered.

Mr. Modi, who mirages hope in impatient Indians, for a better future, has outgrown himself bigger than the party. Infact amusingly, many are fascinated with Mr. Modi but not with the party, BJP. Let not their hopes get crushed, because, if crushed, they will lose faith in India’s growth story.

If Modi remains “The Un-Chosen One”, India will keep harping on “If”s and “But”s. He should be given a chance to dictate India, because, sometimes, a country needs to go through the holocaust to realize its true character and to rekindle the importance of social framework.

 

 

Disclaimer: I would still not wish BJP to get 272 seats. A BJP (max 200 seats) led coalition government would keep a check on the right wing extremism in India.