Oct 31, 2007

To all our wonderful mums...

(An excellent poem I got by email. It focuses on the greatness of the greatest ever personality Almighty created for human beings and other living creatures : MOTHERS. Hope this poem serves as an eye-opener for all of us...)


I was a just-born and she was thirty-one,
Though we were we, we were one.
I would cry out in Latin and she would respond in Greek,
I would learn nothing but she never got tired to teach.

I was surrounded by monsters eager to pull my cheek,
but they would vanish the moment i was wet and weep.
She would come running and hold me in her arms,
as if i had won the contest of the charms.

Now I was able to walk and chew,
hey, i was two.
I and she could now understand each other,
i was her everything and she needed no other.

I would try to walk and fall down,
But knowing she was with me, the fear of getting hurt was now gone.
We still could not converse that effectively,
But she would understand my needs so easily.

I could now roam about free,
because now i have turned three.
I was ready to join a new world,
my academic life was now gonna mould.

She would dress me as best as a prince,
but when i would come back, she would need at least an hour to rinse.
I was now able to talk,
I was a ferry and she was my dock.

I still remember the child, whose shirt I had tore,
Hey buddy, i have turned four.
I now came home a little late,
Nevertheless finding her waiting at the gate.

She would hug me and carry me in her arms,
it felt like flying through the farms.
We now did the homework together,
i would spoil the home and she used to work.

Years passed and now i was fifteen,
and with each year i would forget to lean.
I wouldn't care for what she said,
because now i had become mean.

She would ask me to study for a good future,
but i was busy in a different culture.
Now i had many shes in my life,
i dreamed of having one of them as my wife.

I changed a lot which she did not teach,
She would try to hug me but i was out of reach.
She still waited for me at the gate,
but i would look at her with utmost hate.

She would be awake till late in the night,
because i wasn't home, i was in a fight.
She had so much to scold, but she never did say,
hoping to find me better the next day.

Time went on and now i am grown,
lost in the world of my own.
I and she, between us have a river,
I have left her for my career.

When i was young, for me, she sacrificed her ambitions,
but i don't care, i now have my own mission.
I am not with her now, i am in a different city,
she is so old now but i don't even pity.

She needs me now but i am nowhere to find,
in the race for appraisal, i have become blind.
In a few years from now, i will be two,
there will be in my life someone new.

Then i'll forget even to bother,
I am her son and she my Mother.


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Daddy Prize

(a touching tale by Robert Fulghum)
The Cardboard box is marked "The Good Stuff." As I write, I can see the box where it is stored on a high shelf in my studio. I like beingable to see it when I look up. The box contains those odds and ends of personal treasures that have survived many bouts ofclean-it-out-and-throw-it-away that seize me from time to time. Thebox has passed through the screening done as I've moved from house tohouse and hauled stuff from attic to attic. A thief looking into the box would not take anything – he couldn't get a dime for any of it.But if the house ever catches on fire, the box goes with me when Irun.One of the keepsakes in the box is a small paper bag. Lunch size.Though the top is sealed with duct tape, staples, and several paperclips, there is a ragged rip in one side through which the contentsmay be seen.

This particular lunch sack has been in my care for maybe fourteenyears. But it really belongs to my daughter, Molly. Soon after shecame of school age, she became an enthusiastic participant in packingthe morning lunches for herself, her brothers, and me. Each bag got a share of sandwiches, apples, milk money, and sometimes a note or atreat. One morning Molly handed me two bags as I was about to leave.One regular lunch sack. And the one with the duct tape and staples andpaper clips. "Why two bags?" "The other one is something else." "What's in it?" "Just some stuff – take it with you." Not wanting tohold court over the matter, I stuffed both sacks into my briefcase,kissed the child, and rushed off.

At midday, while hurriedly scarfing down my real lunch, I tore openMolly's bag and shook out the contents. Two hair ribbons, three smallstones, a plastic dinosaur, a pencil stub, a tiny seashell, two animalcrackers, a marble, a used lipstick, a small doll, two chocolatekisses, and thirteen pennies.

I smile. How charming. Rising to hustle off to all the importantbusiness of the afternoon, I swept the desk clean – into thewastebasket – leftover lunch, Molly's junk, and all. There wasn'tanything in there I needed.

That evening Molly came to stand beside me while I was reading thepaper. "Where's the bag?" "What bag?" "You know, the one I gave youthis morning." "I left it at the office, why?" "I forgot to put this not in it." She hands over the note. "Besides, I want it back?" "Why?""Those are my things in the sack, Daddy, the ones I really like – Ithought you might like to play with them, but now I want them back. You didn't loose the bag, did you, Daddy?" Tears puddled in her eyes."Oh no, I just forgot to bring it home." I lied. "Bring it tomorrow,okay?" "Sure thing – don't worry." AS she hugged my neck with relief, I unfolded the note that had not got into the sack: "I love youDaddy."

Oh

And also – uh-oh.

I looked long at the face of my child.

She was right- what was in the sack was "something else."

Molly had given me her treasures. All that a seven-year-old held dear.Love in a paper sack. And I had missed it. Not only missed it, but hadthrown it in the wastebasket because "there wasn't anything in there I needed." Dear God.

It was a long trip back to the office. But there was nothing else tobe done. So I went. The pilgrimage of a penitent. Just ahead of thejanitor, I picked up the wastebasket and poured the contents on mydesk. I was sorting it all out when the janitor came in to do his chores. "Lose something?" "Yeah, my mind." "It's probably in there,all right. What's it look like and I'll help you find it?" I startednot to tell him. But I couldn't feel any more of a fool than I was already in fact, so I told him. He didn't laugh. He smiled. "I gotkids, too." So the brotherhood of fools searched the t rash and foundthe jewels and he smiled at me and I smiled at him. You are never alone in these things. Never.

After washing the mustard off the dinosaurs and spraying the wholething with breath-freshener to kill the smell of onions, I carefullysmoothed out the wadded ball of brown paper into a semifunctional bagand put the treasures inside and carried the whole thing home gingerly, like and injured kitten. The next evening I returned it toMolly, no questions asked, no explanations offered. The bag didn'tlook so good but the stuff was all there and that's what counted.After dinner I asked her to tell me about the stuff in the sack, and so she took it all out a piece at a time and placed the objects in arow on the dinning room table. It took a long time to tell. Everythinghad a story a memory, or was attached to dreams and imaginary friends.Fairies had brought some of the things. And I had given her thechocolate kisses, and she had kept them for when she needed them. Imanaged to say, "I see" very wisely several times in the telling. Andas a matter of fact, I did see.

To my surprise, Molly gave the bag to me once again several dayslater. Same ratty bag. Same stuff inside. I felt forgiven. Andtrusted. And loved. And a little more comfortable wearing the title ofFather. Over several months the bag went with me from time to time. It was never clear to me why I did or did not get it on a given day. Ibegan to think of it as the Daddy Prize and tried to be good the nightbefore so I might be given it the next morning.

In time Molly turned her attention to other things...found othertreasures…lost interest in the game.. grew up. Something. Me? I wasleft holding the bag. She gave it to me one morning and never askedfor its return. And so I have it still.

Sometimes I think of all the times in this sweet life when I must havemissed the affection I was being given. A friend calls this "standingknee-deep in the river and dying of thirst."

So the worn paper sack is there in the box. Left over from a time whena child said. "Here- this is the best I've got. Take it – it's yours.Such as I have, give I to thee."

I missed it the first time. But it's my bag now.

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A carrot, an egg and a cup of coffee...

(a beautiful article I got as an email)

You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again........

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see." Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity..boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.
When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

May we all be COFFEE.

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Blood Diamond - Unleashed

Blood Diamond:

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Djimon Hounsou
Rating: Amazing movie... must watch!!!

This movie is an amazing depiction of the reality in the world of conflict diamonds!!! It's truly moving to see the plight of the Africans and its even more painful to see how the rest of the world turns a blind eye to their plight as their women adorn heavy diamond jewelry!!!

Leonardo is amazing in this very different role. I've seen him only in Titanic before this and he's really cool in this one too.

Make sure you get your copy of Blood Diamond soon... its a collector's delight!!!

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Rama's tryst with Gandhigiri!!!

On the eve of Gandhi Jayanti, 'great' leaders of Tamil Nadu, with Mr. Karunanidhi taking the lead, decided to try their stint at some 'Gandhigiri'. A state-wide bandh had been forced down on the people despite a stay by the Supreme Court. All this to 'enable' the people of Tamil Nadu to support (blindly???) the demolition of the Ram Setu!!! What kind of support does a government project after 'forcing' a bandh on its people?

Ironically, the DMK's not so pleasant ways seem to have impressed the central government too!!! I always read that politics can get dirty. This one's just crossed the limits!!!

Senior Congress leaders at New Delhi are blatantly supporting the DMKs stand on the Ram Setu issue...obviously ensuring the DMKs continued support to the UPA!!!

Where are we heading to? Have the people of India lost their voice? Or are the people one with what they're witnessing around them?

India has always been recognized for its spiritual strength. Religion, customs, traditions and spirituality are terms used synonymously with India... both at home and across the seven seas!!!

The Ramayana and its inspiring tales have been passed down over generations now. Believing in it is a matter of personal choice. It's binary... you either believe in it or you don't!!! One may not believe in the Ramayana or for that matter anything to do with God. But the true spirit would be in reserving one's choice to oneself and respecting those around who choose to believe in it. An atheist is not an outcast and it's no harm to be an atheist. But a dignified atheist is one who doesn't speak ill of what he/ she chose not to believe!!!

People in power probably have 'be a hypocrite' as one of their points of action!!! The same people who are challenging Rama's existence today... would go all out and encourage celebrations for Deepavali next month!!!

The Tamil Nadu government has been really harsh during the last few weeks. Their anti-Ram remarks have hurt the sentiments of its people!!! What amazes me is that no one seems to be complaining. Guess the extended weekend matters a lot more to people who 'believe' in Rama!!!

Mr. Karunanidhi has been see-sawing with his remarks about Rama. His 'allies' at the Center are drawing similarities between Gandhiji and him. The people of India seem to be content with their quietude.

I'm sure Shri Rama would be laughing at us lesser mortals from the heavens above!!!

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Travelogues - Yelagiri

Fun time @ Yelagiri -- December 15-16, 2006


As always, the TBA team of the Covansys Allianz Offshore Team was enthusiastic about arranging the family outing for the team members and their families. TBA arranges for such outings and events at regular intervals to give the team members a chance to spend time and interact with each other on a personal level… a welcome break from all the usual discussions about change requests, requirement specs, project reviews, timesheet updates and everything else that’s so typical in the software world we live in.

After dedicatedly evaluating various tourist locations for this trip, TBA finally zeroed down on a small hill station close to Chennai - Yelagiri. The trip was planned for 15th and 16th of December, 2006.

The Team Building Activities (TBA) team took care of all the other logistics like travel, accommodation at the resort etc. A few team members were also preparing for the various events and games to be held once we reached Yelagiri. In spite of all the project deadlines and schedules, preparations for the trip went on with equal zest.

On the 15th our day started quite early in the morning. The bus left the MEPZ campus by around 07.30 am. Team members, their families - including the little kids were equally looking forward to the trip and two days of total masti.

About an hour and a half after we started we reached the temple town of Kanchipuram. That's where we stopped for our morning breakfast. When you're in and around Chennai the place to eat is obviously Saravana Bhavan - one reason being the tastes they create and the other being their 'everywhere you go you'll find a Saravana Bhavana' presence in Tamil Nadu.

Since it was quite early in the morning, most of the shops had not yet opened. The ladies in the group missed a chance to get themselves a couple of famous Kanchipuram silk sarees. All of us had a sumptuous breakfast and boarded the bus once again.

The bus drive was pleasant. The kids had a lot of fun dancing to the beats of the latest Tamil hits. The landscape outside got more and more pleasant as we approached the Yelagiri hills. The uphill drive was wonderful - the chilly weather, the breathtaking view, the 14 hairpin bends, the little monkeys that dotted the hills... just about everything!!!

After a while we reached our resort - The Yelagiri Hills Country Club Resorts. It looked really impressive and each one of us felt really good that we would be staying there during our time at Yelagiri. The lush greenery and the beautiful landscaping done at the resort completely flattered us. We quickly settled down into our rooms. I still remember how Bhuvana and I did a 'first impression is last impression' kind of inspection of our room. The result - we liked our room :-)

By this time it was close to about 2.00 pm and we were all quite ready for lunch. The weather was very pleasant and chill with the sun shining bright. We all had a nice lunch arranged by the resort. The kids were enjoying their lunch running around the garden... giving their mums 'n dads a tough time ;-) But as long as someone's enjoying... so be it!!!

With lunch done and with so many guys in the group a game of cricket followed quite naturally!!! The game went on for a while. Both the teams played really well... I really don't remember who won but all of the spectators had a fun time too!!!

After cricket, all the team members participated in some indoor team building cum fun games like Shopping List, Musical Ball etc. There were some really cool prizes in store for the winners. The games went on till evening and were followed by a round of evening tea and coffee.

We took a small break after this and decided to gather on the resort lawns for a bonfire later in the evening. By then it was really chill and everyone were in their warmest best - woolen pullovers, monkey caps, and shawls - all set for a fun-filled bonfire party. We played a game of Dumb Charades at the bonfire. It was good fun with all the team members and their families giving 100% participation!!!

Dinner followed by a Prize Distribution marked the end of Day 1 at Yelagiri Hills. Even as we said our goodnights we were looking forward to an equally refreshing time the next day!!!

Day 2 at Yelagiri - After an early breakfast of steamed idlis, vadai and pongal we all set out on a sightseeing trip. Yelagiri is a small quiet hill station with not many spots to visit. It's the quietude and pleasantly refreshing environs that makes it very different from the otherwise commercial hill stations like Ooty and Kodaikanal down south.

We made our way through a beautiful park and climbed a small hill to reach a temple of Lord Murugan. This temple is one of the must-visit spots at Yelagiri. The park was also very well maintained and had a lot of slides and swings - definitely the kids were more than happy.

There's a beautiful artificial lake near the park. We split ourselves into small teams and went boating in the lake. There were pedal boats and rowing boats and we had quite some funny moments in the lake. Nithya, Senthil, Rohit and Jagadeesh will agree with me without even thinking for a moment ;-)

After all this gallivanting till about noon time, we'd built quite an appetite. We headed back to the resort for lunch.

After a quick lunch, we all packed off and left the resort - we were headed back to Chennai after 2 days of complete fun and a nice break from the otherwise hectic schedules of our daily routines.

On the drive back to Chennai we stopped at this place called Ambur. It's a small town that is famous for its leather tanneries and reasonably priced leather goods. The guys did a lot of leather shopping - wallets, shoes etc. We had some evening snacks and continued our drive to Chennai.

All in all, the trip was a real refresher. All of us who had gone had a good time together. A few of our team mates couldn't make it due to some last minute issues. I'm sure we would have enjoyed even more if they were there.

But like the saying goes... 'There's always a next time...' - and with an enthusiastic TBA team like ours, I'm sure next time's not far away ;-)

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Educate... Empower!!!

‘Padhna likhna seekho… oh mehnat karnewaalo…’ – an oft heard jingle on Doordarshan… time we start hearing and seeing more of similar campaigns on the more popular radio and television channels. It is a shamefully accepted irony that in this era of information technology and knowledge booms many are deprived of the basics of education.

Illiteracy as a problem is growing and the obvious effects of illiteracy are growing in leaps and bounds too. Child labour being one of its direct fallout. Most families below and close to the poverty line believe in having big families. Their funda of ‘more hands to earn… means more food to eat’ is in fact widening the chasm between the wealthy & wise and the not so wealthy & deprived.

More and more children are being forced to working and earning for the household. They are forced to do manual work at public eateries, firecracker and matchbox factories… you name the place and you will find children of all age groups sweating their brows out. In many cases the working conditions are harsh and dangerous too. It is unfair to push them into something that could cost them their health and life, without even giving it a second thought. It is easy to justify that we are not directly involved. But the fact that we indulge in the resultant products like crackers, matches etc. without raising a voice against child labour is enough to feel guilty about.

I’ve been traveling by local trains in Mumbai for some time now. It is not uncommon to find young kids selling their wares in the ladies compartments. From vegetables and fruits to stationary to colour-me books to hairclips... they’ve got enough stuff to generate moolah for the day’s meals. What I found most amazing was that these young minds are really sharp. Managing and marketing their wares, active participation in bargaining, money management… all this done as deftly as one could. I saw this one little boy counting his days earnings… it ran into a few hundreds… the lad must have been barely 5-6 years old… in retrospection, I don’t remember myself being able to manage my lollipops as well at that age. I think it is time we harness such potential, nurture them with the right kind of education and stand back and watch how these young minds grow into little geniuses.

Child labour is an age-old menace. It has been recognized as a social evil in many a forum. Lot has been done to do away with it. Several non-governmental organizations and social service groups are playing a vital role in spreading awareness and eradicating the problem. However, given its enormity, there is a lot more that needs to be done.

Recently, I read that the government is planning to pass some bill that puts a ban on child labour. Such gestures are definitely a welcome sign; but one is never too sure of its success or how corruption-resistant it would turn out to be. What I personally believe is that issues like illiteracy and child labour are created by us. It is but fitting for us to accept that somewhere sometime we have been personally involved in adding fuel to the fire. As an awakened society we need to accept this mistake and work out ways and means to alleviate little children caught unawares in this wretched web of forced child labour.

Most of us work with established names in the corporate world. Thanks to the high quality of education we ‘experienced’. It is payback time now… and the least we could do is probably spread awareness… keep ourselves posted about the problem on hand and the various efforts being taken up to resolve it. Making people aware about it would increase the number of hands willing to cooperate and participate in various efforts. There are various ways in which one can help. Arranging for funds, volunteering for various social groups, educating a bunch of not so privileged kids in our neighbourhoods, expressing strong dissent to various forms of child labour, spreading awareness at corporate levels, etc are some of the many ways in which we can play our bit towards this mammoth effort.

The adage ‘more is less’ fits in here perfectly. It is not enough for us to sit back and applaud others doing good service. It is time to make our little contribution to society. A small step taken by us would play a vital role in bringing a smile to many a child that has been deprived of a fun-filled childhood like ours. If ‘more is less’ is apt… so is ‘small is big’… our effort or contribution may be small, but that should not detract us because whatever little we do would mean the world to some little genius to be.


‘ Knowledge is power… lets empower one and all ’

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IT in India

(My comments on the statement... "India's strength as a provider of skilled IT professionals is no longer an asset/ strength in the long run")

Ask any Indian teenager what he aspires to pursue as a career and the reply you get would be something to the effect of Information Technology। What makes this career choice the ‘perfect career’ choice is no longer a million dollar question.

The Information Technology (IT) sector in India has experienced significant highs in the recent years and the trend seems to be upward। The job market seems to be churning out a multitude of opportunities and money seems to be aplenty. People employed in the IT sector enjoy the experience of a lavish lifestyle together with the various technological challenges that keep young intellectuals craving for more.

In this context, India has grown steadily and has proven herself as a strong provider of skilled IT professionals। Many young minds have made it big, not just in India but all across the globe. The sheer number of Indians working in IT setups in the US would give the locals a run for their money.

However, in the recent past, India’s strength as a provider of skilled IT professionals seems to be challenged। Critics claim that the IT sector is growing in quantity at the cost of quality. With the kind of monetary and non-monetary benefits attached to it, almost everyone wants to plunge into the IT arena. Not all of us are cut to fit into an industry as challenging as the IT industry. However, with institutes of technology luring students with heavily endorsed advertising, the ‘number’ of IT qualified persons is steadily on the rise. All this has lead to reduced quality of technical skills making it difficult to differentiate between the ‘good’ and the ‘not good enough’.

Secondly, the youth today seem to take pride in job-hopping। This in the long run affects their dedication and respect towards the work they do. This, in more ways than one, contributes to the reduced quality of their contributions to the IT sector.

To summarize, we cannot ignore what the critics have to say about the state of India as a provider of IT skills। However, instead of lamenting over the issue we need to use it to do a reality check on ourselves. We need to identify and assess how we can emerge out of this potential problem that could bring a downfall in India’s booming economy.

Governing authorities should lay down, enforce and regulate stringent eligibility criteria and strict rules for the entrance examinations while accepting registrations to various technical streams of education। Proper counseling needs to be given to students at the right age to help them make mutually benefiting career choices.

The syllabi of courses offered by technical institutes must be redesigned to prepare young minds to face real life industry challenges। Various case studies and first-hand technical expertise needs to be shared with aspiring technologists. Essentially, India’s mantra to sustain herself as a super power would be to churn out technically strong minds that know when and how to use technology in such a way as to provide winning business solutions.

Another area that India could explore is that of the IT-enabled services sector। People wanting to take up a career in the services sector should be encouraged with the right blend of guidance and appreciation.

Yet another opinion that is commonly spoken of is that India should also try to focus on the hardware sector। IT is not all about C, Java and .Net. The hardware they run on need brighter minds to design and develop. With the right infrastructure, I am sure we can emerge as a hardware giant in the years to come.

Concentrating on building a strong workforce of young professionals in the ITES sector and exploring the possibility of making it big in the hardware sector will surely lead India to greater heights।

If India should ever be termed to have lost its asset value as a provider of skilled IT professionals, I think it is the responsibility of the techno-youth of the nation to stand up and project her as a leading nation that has emerged as an all round super power in the field of Information Technology।

There are a host of less trodden career paths in the field of IT that India can capitalize on and make the most of। Right from Biotechnology to Technical Writing to architecting and building homegrown software products and services… the list is simply endless.

What matters most is making the right set of choices and consciously making an effort to excel forever. India Shining could just about turn out to be a reality!!!

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Women's Liberation

(An article on how the women's liberation movement has affected relationships between men and women)
Liberation, in its true sense, means to free someone or something from rigid social conventions. Civilisations, world over, have undertaken various liberation movements to free themselves from oppression. Oppression, here could take on different meanings right from the pressures of an enemy nation in the case of warring countries to rigid ideologies and conventions followed blindly by society. History has been witness to several liberation movements that have helped mankind free themselves from the shackles of oppression.

Women, in and out of India, have also come a long away in terms of making their mark in the fields of education, career, family and society at large. This has been possible, thanks to women's liberation movements that have been propagated over the years.

In India, in particular, several ideas and rigid guidelines hindered the progress of women in society. Women, by convention were meant to be subdued, polite and take things as they were told to without reasoning or expressing their opinions about it. In short, they had to live their lives as written down by a male dominated-male biased society. The girl child was shuddered even when she was still in her mother's womb oblivios to the thorny path ahead. She was meant to live a childhood devoid of education and the fun times that her male siblings enjoyed. Instead she was blessed with the ultimate mantra of growing up into a 'good young lady' (read marriage material!!). The kitchen was where she spent most of her day. Cleaning and washing were an added 'bonus'. All this while her brothers invested their time learning the three Rs... Reading, (W)Riting and (A)Rithmetic. An early marriage followed by early motherhood only brought on more responsibility leaving her with no option but to blindly follow the trodden path selfishly etched out by society.

Sounds harsh, doesn't it? Not any close to what yesteryears women have actually gone through. Things have changed though. It is said that time is the best healer. Women's liberation movements pionereed by broadminded men and women, have paved way for a bright future of the girl child. It's hard to point out an area where women have not excelled. Women like Kalpana Chawla, P.T. Usha, Maneka Gandhi, Kiran Bedi, Madhuri Dixit, Barkha Dutt and, for that matter, Rabri Devi are all liberation personified. Each of them has made it big in their areas of interest. A clear case of 'strict no-no' turned 'go girl... way to go!!!'.

Women's liberation has had its impact on the man-woman equation too. Some good and some not-so-good ones. Relationships define the association between people. All the hullabaloo about women's liberation has changed the way a woman relates herself to man, the vice-versa being of more prominence.

A woman could be someone's daughter or sister, someone's wife, mother, colleague or friend. Each of these relationships have been altered by her new liberated avatar.

A modern day father-daughter relationship is characterised by the father planning out a girl child education investment for his daughter. Good education combined with an encouragement in extra-curricular activities are on the top of his list. Fathers of today don't really have to wait for their son's to grow taller than them or fit into their shoes to feel that sense of pride. Seeing their daughter walk the podium in the graduation gown would bring that glint in their eyes too.

When it comes to siblings, open-minded families try their best to create an equally promising and healthy growing environ for their sons and daughters. If practiced by all, this would infact prevent gender bias from creeping into the minds of young boys. Brothers of 'liberated' sisters would rather face tough competition from their sisters in a pillow fight, than have them to prepare their lunch boxes for school!!!

Career women make good wives too. Working women are the best proponents of time management. How she balances her career and home without comprising on either of them is awesome. Ofcourse, this is achieved by the continuous support and co-operation from her husband and family. Its important for both husband and wife to respect each other and here is where the husband would have to make a few compromises too. The age old funda of 'tired husband returns home and finds a happy meal prepared by his wife' could also be flexed and reversed today when the wife needs to put in extra hours at work. And surprisingly so, it happens!!!

An educated mother knows what is best for her children in terms of their health and homework too!!!

On the work-front too, male employees have started accepting women colleagues with a matter-of-fact attitude. While some women add that sensitive touch to projects they take up in their careers, others carry off challenging male-dominated careers with elan. This is made possible to a large extent because of the change in mind-set of men and women alike.

Looks like I've painted quite a rosy picture. Though women have made tremendous achievements and moved out of the rigidities of conservative societies, not all women have been completely fortunate. There's still a long way to go for them. Liberated women should take up their cause and help them with equal opportunities.

Also, this reform in a woman's position in society is not completely accepted by all of the male fraternity. There are a handful of people who still have second thoughts about it. This is because of their narrow-mindedness or inflated male egos or both. Like we agreed earlier, time is the best healer.

Similarly, all this has also had a negative impact in the man-woman relationship. Not all marriages are strong enough to handle the male ego of the husband topped with the career-woman ego of the wife. Clashes and differences of opinions are commonplace. Divorces and separations are a direct fall-out of lack of understanding and respect for each other.

It's important for the men to understand that things have changed and compromises need to be made equally. They need to harbour no kind of gender bias when it comes to their mother, wife, sisters or daughters.

Similarly, women need to avoid pushing this liberation thing too far. The ground work has been done, now they just need to build on it. Why get into things like a fight for a certain percentage in Parliament or other concessions when they can excel on their merit alone. Liberated women need to use their freedom to move forward in life, rather than promote their feminity as a case for sympathy and concession. Also, on the home front, they need to flaunt that natural flair to remain sensitive and keep their families strongly bonded.

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Terrible Tuesday

Tuesday, 26th July 2005. Just another second-day-of-the-week feeling for school children, office-goers et al. The monsoon was almost mid-way in Mumbai. But this Tuesday was different. The rain gods decided to open up on Mumbai, enough only to record India's highest rainfall.
The city experienced incessant rains throughout the afternoon... right through into the evening and through the night as well। I was at office and thanks to modern day buildings with closed windows and neat blinds to add to that cozy comfy air-conditioned feeling, I was not quite aware of how heavy the showers were.

Around 3.00 pm some of my colleaugues started getting messages and calls from friends and relatives about the heavy downpour and its impact on the rail services. If you are a seasoned Mumbaikar, the first thing that'll hurt your sentiments are troubles with the local trains... they ain't called Mumbai's lifeline just like that!!! We casually cracked jokes about the messages and passed them off as rumours that haunt Mumbaikars every monsoon.

Sadly, this time round the 'wolf... wolf...' cry was for real!!! Around 4।00 pm we had an official announcement that due to heavy rains the office would be closed at 4.15 pm so that all employees could try reaching their homes as soon as possible. It was then that all of us got serious and began to look out for options to get home. Frantic calls began... each one jabbing away at the number pads of their cellphones or the landlines trying to reach their folks. A glance at my mobile showed zero network connectivity... Orange was down and out!!! Only my colleagues with Reliance mobile service were able to receive and make calls from their cellphones. Hail Reliance!!!... (not so soon!!!)

With the 4।15pm deadline for closing the office little did we know that we would spend the next 2 days at office. It was one long drawn experience... with all of us stranded at Asian Paints House from Tuesday evening till about noon on Wednesday. I made an attempt to reach my friend who stays just across the station on Santacruz (West). The water logging in the Vakola Bridge and Vakola pipeline areas was just too much for me to cross over from the East to the West. We gave up the idea... back to office. By this time it was almost late evening... power supply was out. Reliance claimed that it had deliberately shut down power supply to avert the chances of short circuits in the nearby areas... point well noted!!! The next 2 days saw us parade aimlessly in office... a lunch and a dinner at the Grand Hyatt (cheers to the big bosses at AP!!!)... general gossips and food for thought... impatience... helplessness... an unwelcome breather from work... unwelcome coz we felt marooned with nothing to do!!!

Anyway, alls well that ends well। Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, all of Asian Paints House decided to walk it out to their homes... relief finally as the rains had stopped for a while after two days of continuous showers. People nicely tucked away their cellphones and cash to avoid them getting wet... wished each other luck and began a marathon walk. Finally, i got my chance to cross over from East to West. *chuckle*

Local train and bus services were totally disrupted। It was impossible to get a means of transport. Walking it out was our only option. I waded through knee deep waters to get to Santacruz station and crossed over to the West. *sigh of relief*

The roads on the West were not as bad। Water had drained away but the traffic was literally bumper to bumper. I was making my way through the traffic to my uncle's place. Upto that point of time, I had only heard of the kind of havoc the rains had created. Loads of stories about how people had to swim or wade through neck deep waters, how people on the roads made human chains to help the women and children find their way safely. I was totally cut off from my friends and family all this while. I wanted to reach them and ask them if they were ok and let them know that I was ok. What impressed me and more importantly touched me during my walk down SV Road on Santacruz (West) was the undying spirit of Mumbaikars. Hundreds of people were stuck in the traffic... many like me were trudging along by road. The local residents of the area were out on the streets distributing drinking water, biscuits, food, tea and coffee to all of us.

Finally, I got to my uncles place। Washed up. Had some grub. Chatted with uncle and aunty. Caught up with all the happenings over the last two days. Called up my folks and chatted a while. Orange was still unable to provide connectivity. Charged my cellphone battery in the hope that it'll be available as soon as Orange is bright and shining!!! Flicked on the TV... scanned for the News Channel and there it was... the rains had had a breathtaking impact on our city during the last two days. Mumbai was brought to a halt. What was more painful was to see how the rains had claimed so many lives - human and cattle as well. People living in the ground floors had to bare the maximum brunt of the rains. Their homes were submerged in water. I heard of lots of people who lost their certificates and other important documents due to the rising water levels within their flats. Sad stories of how people missed a step while wading through the waters and fell into open manholes, were coming in. All in all, the news channels were full of ghastly sights and the toll kept mounting.

Finally, now that the rains had stopped, the blame game began। Disaster Management seemed to be the order of the day. Ironicallly, it hasn't seen the light of the day yet. MPs, Area Corporators and other vote-hungry politicians went into hiding. Those who didnt try hard enough had to face endless questions from news channel and newspaper reporters. A few handled it clumsily... the rest managed to pull it off with the same elan they used to charm their vote banks. Am not anti-Congress... but I sure am anti-politician (and that covers them all!!!). News agencies had enough to spew over the next few days. There were heavy showers again over the weekend. Most people stayed away from office for almost a week. Public transport was heavily affected. The Railways and BEST reported heavy damages to their assets. There was a mounting fear of an epidemic breaking out. Lots of families have been rendered homeless by the wrath of nature.

Mother Nature had her way on 'Terrible Tuesday', but there's always a positive side to everything. The rains may have washed it all out but the time-tested attitude and spirit of the Mumbaikar was right up there. Not a drop of water to dampen it!!! Here's my chance to say thank you. Let's keep that spirit alive, come what may, coz that's what sets Aamchi Mumbai apart.

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Blindfolded Reality

India has a judicial system that had a stature of its own – one that personified excellence!!! Set up during the British times the system has evolved over the years. Sadly though, after over half a century of Independence the Indian Judiciary today fails to command the respect it used to till a few decades ago.

Corrupt officials across the cross-section of the system have ruined its very existence. Judicial bodies are looked up to as the last resort to ensure fair judgment and a society that keeps a tab on crime, injustice and anything else that makes life difficult for the people of the nation.

The judicial bodies in India, right from the tribunals, high courts and up to the Supreme Court of India have huge volumes of pending trials. Judgments are unjustifiably delayed. It takes years before innocent people get to see justice being done to them. Take the Jessica Lal murder trial for instance… a classic example of undue delays in completing legal proceedings. The system unfortunately ends up toying with the emotions of people!!!

Legal proceedings are extremely expensive too. Lawyer fees and all other forms of fees and charges (the black and white variety!!!) burn a hole in the pockets of those pleading for justice. Unwarranted delays and repeated hearings scheduled, only adds to their financial woes. No wonder British poet and satirist, Samuel Butler, rightly highlighted… ‘In law, nothing is certain but the expense.’ If this trend continues, seeking justice could soon be classified as a luxury service for the rich only!!!

To add to this, the deadly judicial authorities-politicians nexus and their impact on legal cases has only been widening. The white kurta clad mantris and their kith and kin have somehow managed to cast their spell in India’s courtrooms as well. Given the number of mafia-goon-local dada turned political ‘leaders’ today, it is but obvious that almost all of them have atleast a few cases pending against them. Politicians who enter with a clean chit are just one step behind. Nepotism is rampant among people with authority. In their case, money speaks!!! Judges, lawyers and witnesses – all available at a price – making it a lot easier for the moneyed to get away scot-free.

Not far behind are our most admired stars from tinsel town. Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt and the likes… their courtroom dramas seem longer than Ekta Kapoor’s endless family dramas!!! I think crazy movie fans have already given these stars enough space to dazzle on the silver screen. We can spare our courts from their endless celebrity presence!!!

In all this white-collared chaos the financially weak and innocent end up as losers!!! It’s time we all stand up and demand a total revamp of the system. We need to take several steps to restore glory to the black gown!!!

As rightly said by American politician, Henry Ward Beecher, ‘Laws and institutions, like clocks must occasionally be cleaned, wound up and set to true time.’

In my opinion the first step in this mammoth effort should be to clear the system of all its filth - dishonest legal officers, irrelevant and extinct laws, pending cases – all of it!!! Older cases should be quickly taken up and justice should be brought to the innocent. Pending and new cases should be classified according to severity and should be allotted to various courts for hearings. Several new local legal bodies like Lok Adalats should be set up. The system should set up certain predefined parameters to determine the maximum level up to which the case can be passed upward. This would reduce the unwarranted burden on the higher courts.

The system should be extremely transparent. Statistics about completed, pending and new cases should be made public. Stories of dishonest legal officials and action taken should also be shared with the citizens. Steps like these would slowly rebuild the feeling of trust and respect for the judiciary in our minds.

Third party legal moderators should assess cases that enter high courts and define a maximum time limit for the judgments to be made. This will help keeping a tab on undue delays.

Most importantly, fresh law graduates should be conditioned to work with 100% integrity and sincerity!!! They are the future of the Indian Judicial System… they are the ones who are capable of wiping away the tears behind the blindfold!!!

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Oct 30, 2007

Life...

Richard Bach (author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull) in his book 'One'
wrote - "I gave my life to become what I am now; was it worth doing it?"

Life is a beautiful gift each one of us has. Too bad we undermine its beauty and before we realize it’s almost bidding us goodbye.

Take the case of the Sharma household, our family friends for the last 15 years. Both husband and wife have spent years and years of their lives doing all they can for their children. Right from dawn to dusk they spend every moment helping their children do well in life… fulfilling many a dream that perhaps they left unfinished during their hay days. Unfortunately so, with the kind of social exposure, information availability and with the advent of an era where one can easily get influenced to do what they feel is right, it is not uncommon to see parents complaining about how their children betrayed their dreams, did not care about their feelings and how they made their lives ahead meaningless. The generation next of the Sharma’s, their only son, thought his parents were an obstacle to his career and decided to part ways. What a shame!!! Not really, not if you’re strongly influenced by a group of American teens for whom life begins and ends at Central P.E.R.K. or Pop Tates. All these years of efforts and dreams simply washed away. The Sharma’s and many other parents spend the rest of their lives wondering what went wrong. They start assessing why and how and finally sigh… ‘I gave my life to become what I am now; was it worth doing it?


Last fortnight, I read about this sportsperson who had made it big in his field of sport. The newspapers, sports magazines and television channels were all gung-ho about this macho star. Young girls and boys who wanted to be as famous were glued on to special television bulletins featuring their sports icon. All’s well that ends well. But in this ‘far from perfect’ world of ours all’s not so well after all. Last week people were mobbing the very same sporting genius just because he voiced his opinion over a sensitive social issue. Public protests, yellow journalism, bad publicity and the ‘wherever you go I’ll be there’ kind of paparazzi effect ruined his life. All this because he believed and said something that a group of immature people were unwilling to accept and respect as someone’s opinion. The last I heard was that the mobs got into some kind of brawl with him and in the bargain he had damaged his legs. The sporting community lost a potential hero. The sportsman sits by himself by the hospital window pondering over what had got the better of him. The next moment he must have sighed… ‘I gave my life to become what I am now; was it worth doing it?


There are many others from the field of entertainment and sport who face similar hardships in life. The life of a celebrity is not all that glittery as it appears on the ‘silver’ screen or on that hoarding round the corner. It is difficult to cope with the pressures of being famous. A lot is written about them; with most part of it being built up. It is not very easy to blame the media since some attention hungry celebs use the media to increase their rapport with their audiences. It is more like a ‘you win some, you lose some’ situation. Lady luck decides which of the ‘some’ lose and how much.


While skimming through the newspapers the other day I came across an article quoting instances of feuds and disputes in the most famous of families from the political and business circles of India. The Ambani brothers have done their bit, only to be followed by the Thackerays, Mahajans and the Mafatlals. Sibling rivalry seems to have taken a whole new dimension… straight into the business boardroom. Generations of hard work, strong values and a commitment to lead the business by setting the right kind of examples seem to be a thing of the past. With our country heading towards a new horizon in the fields of industrialization and development, it is up to the business bigwigs to gear up and stick to doing ‘good business’ rather than putting a premature end to our nation’s prosperity. If things get worse, or for that matter, if things do not change for the better, it will not be long before we hear the business legends of yesteryears sighing from their graves… ‘I gave my life to become what I am now; was it worth doing it?’


As I write this I came across some ‘breaking news’ about some gory incident by the Talibans. News channels have been focusing on the inhumane incident where the Talibans had beheaded an Indian engineer posted in Afghanistan. Is this what Jihad or ‘holy war’ means to the Talibans and others from the terrorist community? Is this what they wanted to achieve in life? Every book or movie that revolves around the life of a terrorist tries to justify how certain incidents in their lives have lead them into such ‘professions’. Is that justification enough? We need to create alternate avenues for people who have lost in life. Terrorism is not a solution. It is only creating more problems for even more people. Things need to change soon in the right direction. Humanity needs to be restored in these young minds before its too late… before they sigh… ‘I gave up my life to become what I am now; it seems to be worth it.


To sum up I’d like to include the perspective of the younger lot who’ve just begun their careers. Life, for us has just begun. We are setting goals for ourselves each time we wake up from our world of dreams. There are many milestones that we identify for ourselves everyday. Challenging career objectives, hectic schedules, rush hour traffic, balancing time between family, friends and work are speed breakers on our way up in life. Going through the mundane routines of life could, at some point of time, kill the zing out of our youthfulness. It is too early in life for us to sigh and say ‘I gave my life to become what I am now; was it worth doing it?’. Infact, I would like to reiterate the fact that life, for us has just about begun in more ways than one. I think it would be best if we could learn from the lives and experiences of our parents, relatives, eminent personalities and just about everyone around; learn from their mistakes and try to lead more contented lives. We need to make a conscious effort to do well in life. At the same time we could add meaning to it by helping others around do well. The not so privileged may need a helping hand to move on in life. We must try fulfilling some (if not all) of our parents’ dreams and bring a smile on their face. All of these are some of the ways by which we can, one day sit by the windowsill, stare up into the starry sky and let the glint of satisfaction in our eyes whisper… ‘I lived it up all my life to become what I am now; guess it is worth it after all.

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