• Featured Image BigB (A STORY)

    My fifth grade exams were just days away and, I was doing everything to ignore them. I was out in the small town near my school. It was 10 AM of a Saturday morning, some boys were flying kites and the others waiting for an opportunity. The opportunity when they can run for a kite. Kite running is very common in Indian small towns and villages among the school boys. The irony is that there are more kite runners than those flying them. Suddenly, we saw a kite dancing down the earth. It was a tragedy for the boy who was flying but a hope for a flock like ours. A bunch of boys started running in the direction of the kite, no need to say I was one among them. During schooldays, a walk to the school tires you easily, even if it is at few meters from your house. But, when running for a kite, even a kilometers or two seems easy. We were all running behind the kite across narrow streets, stumbling over people; who in turn were rewarding us with some cursing words. Hmm ! but who cares. Suddenly, I stubbed against a person that kept me away from the kite.

    It was my elder brother “BigB”.  We studied in the same school. He was three classes senior to me. I was in class fifth and he studied in class eighth. Gerontologically he was 6 years ahead of me. I was ten he was sixteen, so he was the lawmaker as well as the law enforcer for me. He was supposed to take care of me and I respected and obeyed (or at least tried to obey) whatever he instructed, like a civilized citizen of his small kingdom. He was a very studious, always busy with books or writing, although some of the shapes he use to draw on his notebook were strange and meaningless to me. Some unique nonsense words were often found there. I use to assume them as some kind of encryption that can be deciphered only by someone studying in those higher classes, or as a type of entertainment for my brother; when he is finally bored with the studies. Obviously not as entertaining as kite running or playing street cricket. Anyway, I could never dare to ask him about his personal script. The irony was that his studious nature never paid for him rather making a strong foundation for him in every class. 

    I was altogether a different boy, who always tried to abstain from studies looking for excuses to execute my will to maintain a safe distance from books.  Kites, cricket, football and roaming around were more magnetic for me than history, science, maths and literature. I could not understand, how a multiplication table of 19 be more interesting than a cricket match with the boys in another school. My studies were limited to my homework, that too to save myself from the insulting punishments of the teachers.

    Well, after losing the kite that evening we came to our hostel.  He started-  

    “what do you think you are doing? You have few weeks left for exams and if you continue with your ways you will be in 5th class forever. You have an example in me. See how much I study, how hard I work still I had to be in the same class for 2 or sometimes 3 years. Don’t I feel like  going to play cricket, hover around with friends, going to movie? I prefer to study than being involved in these stuffs. If you continue to behave in this fashion you will never go further. Whats the use of spending money on studies if you are not interested in studies. Why do you waste dad’s hard earned money for nothing.” 

    The piercing words were exasperating my guilt. I really felt of having committed a sin. I started loosing my confidence and thought I am really not good for studies. Tears rolled down my face. Then he came to me and hugged. But the preaching continued. 

    “Whatever I say is just for your good. Dad has sent us here to study, do something in life but this is not the way to achieve it and so on.”

    These reprimands are like fall of pebbles in stagnant water. Creating ripples for the moment and then back to stagnancy. The night I decided to study and made plans. Possibly, the most difficult time table was drawn, morning 8-9 history, 9-10 science, 10am to 5 pm school, 5-7 Maths and so on . A strict time table has no time to play and relax and so was it. No time slot was provided for cricket or roaming around. Well, its easier to draw plan on paper but hard to follow them. The breaching started the next morning with a long sleep. The time table soon found a more apt place in the waste-bin. 

    Finally the exams came and went and the result day arrived. He failed and I passed and even was ranked first in my class. Somewhere in the back of my mind a question popped up for BigB. Where is the hard work? Look at me played a lot and passed with such a good grades, but I managed to suppress this ugly thought. The clutch was a bit released on me now; for sometime. The devil of pride tried to make its home somewhere in my mind  but I could manage to shake him out. Our results had led to a less strained grip of my brother on me. I was less often obstructed in my daily life and hence was more confident at my mischiefs. He perhaps found I am getting overconfident with all this (I think he was excellent in understanding the behavior and could read the mind). 

    Once I came back after a cricket match, and he was waiting. The lecture started- 

    “It seems you are swimming in a sea of overconfidence and pride. I know you have passed and that too with good grades. But that does not men you have all the knowledge. Don’t feel proud of this. No one has ever won his life with pride. HItler was also proud and this destroyed his thinking power, do you know where did he reach finally. Think about Raavan he was also proud of his power and kingdom and messed up with himself. He was a great king, if his pride could not stand the test of time, what do you think you are? You have just passed class five and flying on cloud nine.” 

    “Your grades are not the outcome of your hard work but just some favor of the goddess of luck. She will not come to rescue you every time. It was just fifth class when you come to my class you will see what is study. Your struggle with algebra and geometry will prove my point. Write BCA for a triangle in place of ABC and lose all the point. Whats the difference? whether I eat bread and egg or egg and bread. But, no you are supposed to know everything in the words of the book. Cram everything and call it education. You are supposed to write an essay on importance of time and waste hrs to write this simple thing in 500 words. We  all know time is important and we should manage it in proper way but why the hell should I waste my time in writing this in 500 words which can be written in less than 50 words. And to add to it they call it write in brief in 500 words, otherwise it would go to the size of a book. Read the history of England and you will find the most complicated families. Poor kings were so deprived of names that they had to use “alphanumeric names”. Just used to add numeric suffixes with common names, tens of James, dozen of Charles and every other king was Williams it seems. The only difference was their suffix. If you just misplace their suffix in the exam you get a completely round figure. Is it my fault if they did not get proper names. If they would have asked I could have suggested sufficient number of names for all their generations. When you go through this hell you will regret what you are doing. My failure in exams is another issue, I have more experience than you. Remember whatever I say. These activities will never fetch you anything.”

    The lecture has shaken me entirely(at least for the evening). The image of studies that was drawn before me scared the hell out of me. In fact for the moment I thought I should not continue with studies, its not my cup of tea. But, I stayed , as usual spending more time with open sky than closed library. The fear created by BigB was gone, and I was busy in kites, cricket and fun. The exams came and went. The results were announced. I again passed with good grades and BigB had failed. He cried and so did I. His failure halved my joy of passing the exams. He studied day and night. Mugged up every lesson but the results were disastrous. Perhaps BigB would not have cried so much, If I would have failed.

    A disgusting thought came to my mind; if BigB fails again and I pass, we will come to the same class, and then I will see how could he boss me. I just shook my head to put such nasty thinking out of my mind. With my promotion in school, I promoted myself even in sports. I was no more a kite runner but, a kite flier. All the time after school was now dedicated to kite flying. People who blasts kite fliers telling that you do nothing just flying kites. Let me tell them its a difficult and demanding job. Tying the kite at the right points, sharpening the string for the kites, its al not as easy as it appears. Collecting glass pieces (sometimes even stealing the working electric bulbs and lamp glasses from houses), crushing to fine dust and making a paste with glue. Above all I had to do all this hiding from BigB as I respected him and did not want him to have any kind of suspicion on my ways. That day was lucky for me, I had almost cleared the sky of the kites. My kite runners were hoping around with me enjoying our day. Eyes stuck to someone coming, it was bigB, and he was approaching me

    I tried to hide my kite equipment but he stepped towards me and blasted. 

    “Does it suit you to play with these boys? You are much better than these boys, show some self respect. Tomorrow you will be at a very good position, you are the one who deserves that. You are talented and intelligent but someone who does not have self respect is not intelligent in real sense of the term. You must be thinking that you are just one year behind me academically, therefore, I have no rights to say you all this. Next year you will come to my class and if the teachers continue with their ways you may turn out to be senior to me in studies. But do you know my little brother, I am 6 year senior to you in terms of life. Even the God cannot eliminate this seniority of 6 years. Tomorrow you will be graduate, post graduate even doctorate but I will always be your elder brother. Knowledge does not come only from book, rather from experience.  This is the way in which you learn to handle real world things, and I will always have more of it. Our principal holds so many degrees, but when it comes to managing the real world problems, he asks for advice from his mother and father who are not so educated. Look at our home before taking some important step we seek guidance from our mom and dad and they seek from grandpa and grandma who are much less educated, but my dear brother they are more experienced with the real world. So just throw this idea out of your mind that since you have reached a higher class, I cannot check you for your misdeeds. If I feel that something you are doing is not good for you I can always scold you and if required I can even use a slap to awake you. “

    This was an argument I could not counteract even in my dreams. How true was he? It kept me standstill for the moment and the silence broke with my confession. 

    “You are right BigB” I said and hugged him with my wet eyes.  

    He said- “don’t I feel like flying kite, playing cricket and all. But how I can I show you a path with myself deviating from it. I am supposed to take care of you; it’s my responsibility and I would love to fulfill this responsibility,  because I am your BigB and will always be.” With this he took the control of my kite and cleared the sky of kites completely. Now there was only one kite in the sky that belonged to us. BigB flying it and I was cheering for him.

  • PM And The Speech-Writer…

    On August 14, 2010, inside a quiet, leafy, guarded bungalow on Race Course Road, a stressed old man shifted uncomfortably on his sofa. A young man next to him offered solace. 

    “You’ll be fine. You’ve done it before. It’s only the Independence Day,” the young man said as he stacked sheets of paper. 

    “Do i have to give a speech?” the old man said, “I hate to talk.” 

    “But you are the prime minister,” the young man said, “And I am here, your speech-writer. Why worry?” 

    The PM remained uncomfortable. He looked at his phone. No calls or messages from high command. Without direction, life was extra hard. 

    The writer continued, “It’s mostly school kids who attend. There is no Q&A at the end. Unfurl the flag, stand for the national anthem, take the gun salute, read the speech it is standard stuff.” 

    “Everyone gets a holiday on Independence Day,” the PM said, “why can’t I?” 

    The speech-writer was speechless. He changed the topic. 

    “Should we talk about the content?” the writer said, “what do you want to focus on?” 

    “I don’t know. What do you suggest?” the PM said. “Is there anything worth talking about?” 

    The speech-writer paused to look at the PM in disbelief before he spoke again: “So much has happened. Just in the past months.” 

    “Like what?” the PM said. 

    “Like the Bhopal verdict no real punishment.” 

    “Yes, but i don’t have to talk about that,” the PM said, “that story has died.” 

    “Along with the thousands,” the writer mumbled. 

    “What?” the PM said. 

    “Nothing. How about the crazy inflation? People are truly sick of it,” the writer said. 

    “Really?” the PM said. 

    “Really what? That there is inflation or people are sick of it?” the writer said. 

    “Both i guess. I never buy anything. People do it for me. And i can’t talk about inflation. It’s too sensitive an issue.” 

    “But it affects your people,” the writer said. 

    “Next,” the PM said. 

    “Corruption? Look at the Commonwealth Games full of murkiness. Why don’t you resolve to put the criminals to book.” 

    “Criminals who?” the PM said. 

    “The politicians and officials who did it,” the writer said. 

    “But they are important people,” the PM said. 

    “They’ve broken the law. Isn’t the law the same for everyone?” the writer said. 

    “It is?” the PM said. 

    The writer could only raise his eyebrows in response. 

    “It can’t be the same law. Have you ever seen any high-profile official in jail for corruption?” the PM said. “Any?” 

    The writer shook his head. 

    “I don’t like to make false promises,” the PM said. 

    “Of course,” the writer said and cleared his throat, “how about Kashmir? Violence has flared up there. Or maybe we can combine it with the Naxalite disturbance and talk about internal strife?” 

    “Talk what?” the PM said, “why do people like to talk? Why?” 

    “Talk to show you care,” the writer said, “and talk about solving the issues, of course.” 

    “Is that my job?” the PM said. 

    “You are the prime minister. The most powerful person in the country. You can make things happen,” the writer said. 

    “Stop making fun of me,” the PM said, “other topics?” 

    “India-Pakistan relations,” the writer said. 

    “I am not allowed to talk about that,” the PM said. 

    “Not allowed?” the writer said, confused on who could disallow the PM. The PM raised one eyebrow to the framed pictures on the wall above. The writer saw the person the PM was referring to. Both exchanged half smiles. 

    “It’s OK. I am used to it now,” the PM said. 

    The writer stretched his arms out. “I’m out of ideas. You guide me, sir. We don’t have that much time.” 

    ” General topics,” the PM said, “just make it broad enough that there is no controversy. But not so boring that the guards and kids go to sleep,” the PM said.

    The writer bit his upper lip to mull over the PM’s suggestion. 

    “Like i’ll tell you,” the PM explained, “talk about poverty reducing it, of course. And education. And stuff like we won’t tolerate injustice and inequality. Oh, and use the word superpower a couple of times just don’t mention a specific issue or put a real opinion.” 

    The writer nodded slowly as he absorbed the instructions. 

    “OK, sir, in that case, all i have to do is look at last few years’ speeches and cut-and-paste to make a new one.” 

    The PM’s eyes opened wide as he shook his head. “Don’t!” he said, using his rare loud voice, “don’t do that. The TV channels catch on to the cut-and-paste. Who’s that feisty TV anchor?” 

    “Barkha Dutt?” the writer said. 

    “Yeah, her. She’ll rip it apart. Not to mention that Rajdeep Sardesai and Arnab Goswami and Deepak Chaurasia. They track all the copy-paste stuff, they’ll talk non-stop about it,” the PM said. 

    “OK, OK, won’t refer to the past speeches,” the writer said. 

    “No you can. Just make sure it is from speeches at least 20 years ago, before these anchors started work.” 

    “Oh, OK,” the writer said, “the content is the same anyway. Fine sir, you’ll have it in two hours.” 

    The writer stood up to leave. The PM escorted him to the door. 

    “You are a quick learner, i wish you all the success in life,” the PM said. 

    “Thank you sir. I wish you…well, what can i wish you? You have everything.” 

    “Wish me freedom, real freedom,” the PM said, looking at the writer in his eyes as the door shut between them. 

  • Assassinating the Mahatma

    30th January 1948 evening, Birla Bhavan, Delhi saw an irony being realized. The apostle of peace and non-violence was brought down by violence. 22 months after the assassination pens were broken for two of the convicts while third of them got life imprisonment. But, all this must have preceded by a series of events that brought the outcome. 

    The worst thing with history is that very often, it is biased to one or the other side and this case is no exception.  Peeping into the controversial part of the history is a although a daunting task but becomes obligatory for an illumination.

    The incident on the penultimate evening of that January was not the first attempt on Mahatma Gandhi’s life. The period between 1934 and 1948 saw 5 such attempts, last of which was a success. More socking is the fact that the last three involved the same person. 

    The reasons speculated by the people, politicians, convicts and historian amass from all the  possible corners. Some call the assassinators religious fanatics (Who was an intellectual and scholar), they call themselves patriots or revolutionaries and so on. Was it just about these handful convicts or some multidimensional conspiracy? Why did the trial of the convicts were kept secret for a long time?   Did the over stature of Mahatma Gandhi in subcontinent politics, play a role? Hard to reach a conclusion, different opinions- different theory.  

    The reasons that come up from different sources are the partition of the country, the 550 million episode and so on. Is there something more that all this. If its about 550 million what about at least two of the early attempts. If it is about partition of India, how far was Mahatma gandhi responsible for it?  

    Politics behaves like a blackbox model; no one knows how it worked, only the outcome pops up. The partition, as known, was always opposed by Mahatma gandhi (“My whole soul rebels against the idea that Hinduism and Islam represent two antagonistic cultures and doctrines. To assent to such a doctrine is for me a denial of God.”).  It will not be so obvious to deny a third tussle in progress among the men in power at that time, fueled by their personal ambitions. Mahatma Gandhi had to accept it when it became inevitable. 

    Thinking about the 550 million issue might have created anger in Godse’s mind, but here Pandit Nehru’s point  of view was Pakistan may use the money against India whereas, Mahatma Gandhi’s logic might have considered a less harmful Pakistan when it is financially stable. And even if this was a reason, what about the earlier attempts? 

    Accusing Mahatma Gandhi for misuse of his repute and stature is although hard to accept, but if true, can anyone consider it fair for a nationalist assuming himself to be above the nation? I wish I could hear the complete trial using a time machine, to get closer to the truth.

    As of now I am not in a position to draw some acceptable conclusion. As I said History is biased, politics is blackbox and finally we love to live in ignorance and illusions created by it around us which, sometimes brings peace and stability.

    Paurush Praveen Sinha

  • IPL auction row

    Its great to see IPL season 3 kicking off, but the start has been in news because  of controversies (Which are usually a part of iconic events).  The role of Indian media has been good (even if it is biased) as they are presenting the Pakistani side as well (Which is not so often expected from their counterparts in Pakistan). When the talk about the government involvement, it becomes hard to believe. In India government hardly involves itself with these issues, as the event is dominated by privately governed bodies. Pakistan really has awesome talent in the sports (I personally, will miss the heroics of Sahid Afridi and Akhtar (if they click)) and particularly in this version of the game; an IPL not featuring them will miss some entertainment no doubts.

    From the point of view of the franchise, its not very wise to put millions on someone critical in the your plans but not sure if he will really join your plans. Keeping my fingers crossed, what if a terrorist strike occurs again (which even Pakistan does not guarantee [http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?page=3&cp-documentid=3564580]). A 2009 will be repeated and none of these million dollar players will feature in the event. Its not just the money but also plans and strategies are at stake. Next big thing, a business is a business, its up to the holding person to decide where to invest and where not, so if they decide not to put the buck at someone, no one has the rights to interfere.

    Now lets take up the snubbing issue from another point of view. Assume some one has interfered in the issue (be it government or the governing board, which is too imaginative), the reasons will probably be the security issues or at the zenith; politics. But, if it is as such, better we look at the reasons behind these concerns. Is anyone there who gives his word and keeps them for no anti India activity in Pakistan, bring the perpetrators of the previous terrorist strikes to sentences if no extradition is possible. You cant and should not expect any good return if you are creating problems for them. Trust will always play as the missing element in such situations.

    Now finally we look from the other side of LOC. Its really a frustrating for a champion side to have no representation in the most cash piling event. 66 players for 11 positions; tough competition, but 55 had to fail, and unfortunately no one from current champions. Taking it as personal insult or in the worst case national insult can be an emotional decision, and we know how emotional are people in the subcontinent when it comes to India-Pakistan relations or cricket.

    Anyway, no further comments, hope to see Pakistan players in next edition of IPL