Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is simply getting an education being educated?

Greetings Earthlings!

It's the season of farewells. Before your mind gets distracted towards all the people dying of Hepatitis in Gujarat, let me assure you the farewells I talk of here are safer and more fun too. I refer to the all the kids who have just finished attending their farewell parties at school.

When we turn 18, our Constitution allows us the right to vote. The perfect age, not so young anymore, neither too old. The golden age when everything is possible. Petty things like doubts, and low self-confidence usually crops up after we start ascending the stepping stones of life. When you are 18, you want to change the world, you want to make the world what it ought to be.

Most of us would agree to this panoramic view of life and it's myriad landscape. However, that is what I used to think. The events in the past few weeks and months has changed my thinking a little bit. I am forced to accept the brutal loss of innocence in kids today.

While I really understand that not all kids are alike, and where is there bad, good also exists. However, more than the existence of this negativity, its the extent of negativity in most kids that baffles me. Negativity is bound to exist in some form or the other in most of us. However, usually, it is very subdued in kids, as they are not yet fully exposed to the harshness of life. In most cases, this harshness or hardness would set in when one has to struggle to step up in life. Also, earlier, harshness or negativity in character was mostly attributed to poor children. Now, it is different. Kids from all backgrounds, races, countries, etc. have broken such bonds. Now all of them suffer at the hands of this innocence-less harshness.

This is my personal experience. Very recently, I while I was using public transportation, I happened to notice a bunch of noisy, rowdy kids. My initial thought was biased. But when I turned around to check who it was, it turned out they belonged to a good school. I was left agape. I narrated the incident to my mother, who is a teacher, she just commented that the condition was more or less same in most schools. It no longer matters which school you go to, most of these kids are all the same.

Moving on. Recently, there has been a spate of reports in newspapers and television about all kinds of kids getting in the news for all kinds of reasons. There are kids who are prioritizing work over studies. There are kids who kill friends for money. There are kids who molest kids younger than themselves. There are kids committing suicide for seemingly no apparent reason. There are kids who will go to Oscars tonight. And for finale, there is also a kid in UK who is already a father.
I don't really wish to get into intimate details about any of these incidents. It's the undercurrent that bothers me the most. Before I go any further, a thought - when India was in her Golden Days, one of the things that India was widely famous for, was her Universities. Scholars and seekers of knowledge poured in from all over the world to study at Nalanda and other existent universities at that time and age.
Apparently, between then and now, a lot has changed. Society has changed. Parents and teachers have changed. Students have changed. While I understand that change is the only constant thing, I regret some of the changes that I see in the social scenario around me. The Guru-Shishya parampara for which India used to be famous, is a rare commodity now. With the rapidly declining parampara, the ideal guru and the ideal shishya too are fast declining.
Now, before I you think I am procrastinating or that I am a hypocrite, pause and think. What I am talking about is the value system here. Life, society and education moves the way the society is moving. So, when you look at the bigger picture you realize, that it's not just in the education system. The sense of mutual respect that is usually expected from elders and kids is diminishing, and it's disappearing rather fast. And talking about the bigger picture, this loss can be experienced anywhere and everywhere imaginable.
And no, I don't expect Harishchandras or Eklavya's. But I sure do hope that I have the right to expect decent kids who respect their elders and those around them. I expect kids to behave themselves, and not like riot mongers. I expect kids to have ingrained values that will help secure the future of my country and this world.
A lot more kids are getting educated than they were 20 years ago, yet the standards and morals are worse than ever before. That is what made me wonder - is education enough? If education is not enough, then what is? Where have we erred? Can we still do something to change it?
The kids today are a pointer towards the future that we shall have 20 years from now. I surely do not want these blood-stained hands to rule my country.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

HAPPY

VALENTINE

DAY

शुभ

वैलेंटाइन

दिवस!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright - Who shall save thee??

Greetings Earthlings! I am an Indian, an Indian by the virtue of having been born here. I know my national anthem. I savour my national fruit. I believe in my national game & adore the national bird.

But I cry for my national animal.

Very recently, there was a report in the Hindustan Times that said that the Panna National Park had only one tiger remaining.
Only one. I cried for that lonely tiger.
Tiger. Panthera Tigris. Wikipedia states that the maximum number of tigers can be found in India. It's grace, it's beauty, it's agility - no wonder it's one of the most favorite animals world wide.
However, this royal that we are talking about here is also an endangered species. In view of all this, in 1973 Smt. Indira Gandhi had started Project Tiger and had earmarked 25 locations in India where tigers were to be conserved. Thanks to that the number of Bengal Tigers had tripled to roughly 3500 tigers. However, since then, thanks to poachers, the tiger fraternity has steadily been dwindling and is estimated at approximately just about 1000 more remaining.
The official website of Project Tiger : http://projecttiger.nic.in/ does not state the number of tigers at all. It does however provide a complete listing of the tiger reserves that we have and the areas covered under it. It just gives a basic geographical count. The tigers are somewhere missing all along.
So, where do all these tigers disappear?
There was a show on National Geographic, that showed Tibetan & other foreigners flaunting their tiger skins. It also mentioned tiger skin is easily sells at several thousand dollars apiece. The most royal animal, shredded away for people who do not value it.
Not very long back, there used to be a tiger reserve close to Delhi. Sariska. It is no longer a tiger reserve. All the tigers disappeared. Or shall we say they were poached and then sold away. Even on Project Tiger's website, the official numbers as far as poaching is concerned is meagre. Moreover, the Indian statisticians still do a tiger count using pug marks.
This is the most outdated way to count tigers worldwide. There are a variety of ways in which tigers can now be counted and tracked. Yet, things have always taken longer to change in our country. What I am scared about is by the time the government updates itself, all tigers will have been poached away!
But why should we care? In the worst care scenario, we will just have to change the national animal. After all, why should an extinct animal be our national animal? There are a plethora of animals, we can always vote for the cow, dog, rat, cat or maybe elephant. This is another interesting article on this topic : http://fractalenlightenment.blogspot.com/2009/01/india-to-get-new-national-animal.html
The way I see it, the problem is that no one cares. The government does not care. Project Tiger officials do not care. We the people of India do not care. And last but not the least, the poachers could not care less. They will rake all the moolah they can. They will happily kill the last tiger they can find - just for a few bucks. And we, we have have been told to look the other way. We have so many problems of our own, who cares about the last 100 national animals.
I will end with this thought. After reading the report when my mother put down the newspaper, she just said - That tiger must be so lonely. Just one. What must he do? If there were at least a couple of them they had a possibility of reproducing. What will a single tiger do?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Who decides the future of India?

Greetings Earthlings!
Hope life is keeping you all spice & very nice...
Some more uncontrollable activities and happenings have taken place since I was last here. One very noticeable thing - there seems to be so much negativity around us all, it keeps getting tougher and tougher to stay positive. Not wishing to indulge too long in the positiveness and negativeness' around me, I will just ramble on, for now.
There are two most prominent issues that are raising their ugly heads even while I type this. One is the avid discussion about who is the most capable of leading India into the future (in other words, who shall be the next Prime Minister of India!). And the second and equally disturbing is the movement that is catching on like jungle fire - the plight of the Hindu. Right at this point of time, these are the issues that shall rule the roost in the next couple of months. More importantly, these are the issues that will stand as a benchmark to the world - they will tell the world who we really are. Let's ramble on.
First things first.
Campaigns are on. All parties are out promoting themselves. "I am the cleanest of them all!" - so they all proclaim. And yet. Whether it's Advani, Kalyan Singh, Mayawati, Narendra Modi or most other "political leaders" - are they any different at all? I don't think so. Not in the least. As far as India is concerned, you cannot enter politics if your hands are not dirty. In any case, your hands will definitely get dirty by the time you get there.
The two major players for PM-ship are going to be Congress and BJP. Most other parties come in to complete the numbers and form coalition governments that fall more than they rise. In a beautiful consequence to the last elections (which were thankfully 5-years ago!!), Congress, with the help of coalition parties has managed to keep BJP in the opposition. Looking back at these 5-years, I personally think, as a country, we are far ahead from where we had started. So much for the able leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh. I know a lot of people are complaining about recession and that the Congress-led Government did not handle it correctly - I would just ask them to look at the larger global picture. While recession has already put half the world out of work, in India, it's only now that we are beginning to feel the heat of it all. A lot of us have lost jobs and the anger and anguish is understandable. I too am out of work at this point of time. However, had it not been for an able Prime Minister, who has also been a Finance Minister and Governor of Reserve Bank of India, we would have been down in the dumps by now. The situation of recession in our country is at a controllable level. It will take some time to heal, but I am sure with the right governance, we will be back on our feet soon.
The sixth pay commission that was being haggled over for the past several years has finally been released. With the fifth pay commission in action, government employees were receiving far less than their private sector counterparts. With the sixth pay commission the divide is finally filled up. Where people would quit government jobs for better pay slips, the tide is now turned.
Coming back to the topic of the contenders for the Post of the future Prime Minister. Two big contenders are rising at this point. While the Congress is rooting for Rahul "India's Obama" Gandhi, the BJP are swearing by Narendra Learned & Versatile" Modi.
The present global scenario shows a consistent trend towards youth power in politics. The biggest example is the US selecting Barack Obama over McCain. The idealist and supposed knowledgeable leaders are usually the most corrupt as well as tainted. Most of them have had the opportunity to make their mistakes and eat it too. And these leaders are going to be our allies and adversaries in the times to come.
The Prime Minister and his allies are usually the ones who pave the way for India's future. With Manmohan Singh leading the lot, we have seen our economy booming. We saw India being ushered into the powerful-8. There have been a lot of mishaps, no doubt - however, the government has steadfastly been secular all along. These are tumulus times where people and parties are creating rifts in society. If we want to move from our current position of number eight to number, India has to move together. There can be no other way. It is a secular India that will go forward. An India that is split into a million tiny regional and religious groups will never get anywhere.
I can never forget the day the terrorists attacked my Mumbai. Similarly, I have been unable to forget the Babri Masjid riots. I cannot forget the Godhra carnage. These incidents were a shocking news to me. They reminded me that I belonged to a minority community in a majorly Hindu country. I am constantly reminded that I should have no say in any matters for my country, just because Rama was a Hindu & Ram Rajya his dream. Even today, I know there might be a non-secular group waiting to strike out at people like me. I am sure after the Godhra carnage, no Muslim has ever felt safe in Gujarat. Mr. Modi's assurances do nothing to assure me.
Yes, he may have contributed to Gujarat's economy, but at the same time, somehow I am sure the economic progress he is talking about might be a greater proportion of lies than truth. If economy is really booming in Gujarat, how come the diamond workers were not provided any support. And mind you, the diamond workers of Surat are India's largest group.
More importantly, if I remember correctly, 5-years ago, BJP had run a campaign called India Shining or India Rising - something to that effect. Later on, it turned out, most of it was lies. I believe BJP might be using the old trick again. I refuse to be tricked along. L.K. Advani and Kalyan Singh were known to have openly made rousing speeches during the Babri Masjid Riots. It may be more than 15 years since that episode, but I truly believe you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. If I cannot forget that incident after 15 years, I am sure they are also incapable of forgetting the hatred that exists within them as far as minorities are concerned.
At such times, with such people, I will always choose to go with the most secular party. The Constitution of India proudly proclaims itself to be a secular & democratic country. I will stand by a party that stands by the people of India, not just the people of a region, or caste, or community. Rahul Gandhi may not have as much experience as Advani or Modi, but to me that just means he is still not tainted. He is young blood and the face of India's bright and shining tomorrow. I just hope he does not fall pray to the Gandhi legacy of assassinations.
I have decided. I will place my vote with the most secular party in India. I place my vote for Rahul Gandhi.
Jai ho!