Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rain, waffles, cappuccino and turning a year older!

Birthday 2012 had some high points that no birthday of mine so far could match. So here goes:
  • Have never been alone ringing in the birthday, but I was on the way back home in office cab. Calls and texts gave me company all through!
  • Stopped the cab to treat myself to an ice-cream sundae at 12:15 in the night in CP!
  • It rained all day today!! Yes, I was carrying the umbrella all the time and it felt like Mumbai monsoon. Beautiful
  • Met up with a very dear friend who is like a soul mate at the diner and when we were coming out, felt like we stepped out of a New York café like the girls in Sex and the City! ;)
  • Sipped a Cosmopolitan for the first time. Have always been a LIT and Sex on the beach person
  • Managed to take a leave from office, but dint get a break from the calls. Only sore-point of the day
  • The day started with a hearty Punjabi Dilli-wala type breakfast- Puri chhole…and ended with Dal Makhni and Dum Aloo. Food is one of the biggest motivations in my life, I tell you!
  • Birthday wishes coming in from some really unexpected quarters…friends, ex-colleagues, family…all good
  • A beautiful evening it was, all complete with rains…and I was in CP. It was beyond words
  • This one is the best of all. Two of my closest friends told me that ‘I give them hope.’ I am humbled

All day I was thinking of myself as a mature 31 years old and when I came back home, cake was waiting to be cut. And I was a kid again.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A free and independent India, literally.

We are very lucky to have got independence for which our countrymen had to fight hard with all they had got. 65 years it has been for us as an independent nation. 65 years to be on our own, to form a constitution, set up the judiciary, start reforms, roll out infrastructure projects, bolster the agriculture sector, make way for industries to emerge, open up the economy to the world, get the tech edge and ring in the new millennium with a satisfaction of achieving a lot and hopes to become a developed nation from being a developing one.
Given the size and scale of a country like ours, it is truly a proud moment for us to be where we are currently. We as a nation have really come a long way since then. India is a hot-bed for investors from around the world; we are one of the fastest growing countries and ofcourse, the largest economy in the world.
The task, however, is not done. The freedom that we got from the British in 1947 was the beginning. It never was meant to be the end. Infact, with freedom come responsibilities to start afresh, build an entire nation and give its people the much-needed security. The independence and freedom of 1947 is celebrated in 2012, good. But have we asked ourselves, given the current state of affairs, are we really free?  We forget that this day and age comes with different set of challenges and problems. We forget that even after 65 years, some basics have still not been met. We are moving in those directions, but not at a speed that is expected of a country like ours.
The issues we must do something about are fundamentals and agreed, some are even my wishful thinking, a bit like an egalitarian society. But then, what the heck! Atleast we can all make a start towards these. When education, food and employment reach everyone, there is less or no reason for people to resort to unfair means. I truly believe, the day we become independent and freed ourselves from the shackles of most of these issues, will be the day the efforts of Gandhi and Bhagat Singh will bear true fruits. Also, there are issues where the government needs to take charge and there are issues where we as citizens of India should step in the ring, instead of pass comments sitting on the fence.
  • Education – Yes, it is a right of every child born in this country to get education. Primary, secondary, university and vocational education should be made available to all. Education reforms a person and a sound education ensures livelihood for everyone. We need schools, colleges to reach interiors of the country. Teachers from big cities must make a mandatory visit to the rural units, training must be given to the teachers in villages, education loans must be easily available to the deserving and help from aanganwadis, panchayats etc must be taken to reach every nook and corner of the village so that no child remains without education. At our level, we all can volunteer at the organizations and NGOs which are devoted to such causes. We can always do so over the weekends or may be taking an hour every day. Easy, right?
  • Medical facilities – It really breaks my heart to read news about a woman dying during child-birth or a child passing away due to malnutrition. Even after 65 years, our medical infrastructure is poor. When we cannot save lives caused due to dysentery or a viral infection, we need to do a reality check. Why can’t the government ensure primary health facilities in every village and specialty hospitals at zonal or district level? Why can’t the big corporates in health sphere like Fortis, Apollo and Max set up health care centers and assign their doctors on routine rural visits? Why can’t there be an agreement between corporations and government to divide the work, like one will give the capital and land and other will provide the resources (PPP is there, but is it working?)? Why can’t the corporations divide the areas and zones amongst themselves and cater to their assigned areas, thereby making it is easier to cover a larger part of untapped India?  Huge hospital bills and doctors fees scare everyone. We all must have a right to basic healthcare. Irrespective of caste, creed, color, gender and definitely bank balance.
  • Caste – If we still fight over being Hindu or Muslim; Shia or Sunni; Brahmin or Shudra; general or SC/ST, no power in the world can make us super-power. The shackles of caste are hard to break but once we all start seeing each other as a fellow Indian and not a Sikh or Catholic, we will grow as one nation. Education, jobs, politics, everything is covered with caste system. Only merit must count at every stage. You know why? Coz every religion says you will get what you deserve if you just work hard.
  • Women rights – Enough is already been said about this issue. Female foeticide, physical assault, rape, domestic violence, dowry deaths. Why do the women have to bear all this? Are they not the equal citizen of this country? Do they not have the right to live with dignity? Why is the justice being denied in almost all the cases? The judiciary must set a precedent by bringing the culprits to books. There must be stringent punishment for all the crimes against women, so the person thinks hard of the consequences before doing anything. The country needs to be safe to all.
  • Politics – Agreed we are a democracy. The opposition party has the right to question the government whenever it goes wrong. But, where are the ethics? The politicians have maligned the profession so much that every time someone says he wants to take up politics, people warn him off by saying it is too dirty for aam aadmi.
We may be battling huge fiscal deficit, but the crores and crores that the ministers made from the scams are filling their bank lockers. So, definitely we are not cash-strapped. We just need decent people to manage and run the country. Some of them are there but largely, there is a vacuum. Did they not rob the country and made money in these 65 years? Can they now please think about us, who religiously contribute to the government coffers through taxes every year? Since we also have put in our money in this country’s development, will we have some say as a stakeholder?
Politicians, please stop taking each other’s case on trivial issues like Abhishek Manu Singhvi ‘s CD, Valentine’s Day celebrations in a city club or should the girls wear jeans to college. The country wants you to debate, argue and discuss the dropping investors’ confidence in India, the education policy or for that matter, the Lokpal bill!  
As I said, most of the issues are basics and the last one is wishful thinking! But not all are impractical. We as a country need them all. And the time is now!
So even when we post ‘Happy Independence Day’ message on social networking websites or fly kites on ‘national holiday’, we must know that the day we overcome these basic yet critical issues, India shall be free. Literally!
Do you agree with me? Do share your feedback.