Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Perhaps, it may be a bit early to write a blog when obituaries and eulogies have not totally ceased. Nevertheless! The guy is dead and gone and he had left a decent bounty that he would not have made if he had not chosen politics as a career.

How far did he get in up the ladder? Well he was the councilor of a city ward. That is a not an awfully exalted position by the way. If you ask about his education, I seriously doubt if he reached near matriculation.

He was born to poor subsistence labourer parents in a hamlet few kilometers to the north, outside the city. I guess he lost his father very early, for when I saw him first as a boy of ten or eleven he and his mother had moved into a single room –makeshift home in a rundown apartment  near my house in the town. She eked out living by doing menial work and chores at different homes in the neighbourhood.
He was certainly unable to cope with school and was an indifferent student. Later when he dropped out of school, or as some say when he decided that he cannot pursue school exams with moderate marks to pass, his distant uncle took him into his fold as an errand boy at the Lawyer’s office where the former was an aid.

He was dark skinned and was muscular for his age. Even at the age of thirteen or fourteen he had strong limbs and broad chest. He excelled in Kabaddi kicking opponents down and tackled mercilessly and roughly while playing football. Kids, skinny as I was stood not even a fortuitous chance confronting him at Football or Kabaddi. He simply elbowed us down, jostled us flat as a beaten pan. I remember he was merciless. His career graph I presume was aided by that quality, to take his rivals head on and bulldoze his way. He must have been tactful in later life. Some say, people preferred to not confront him and let him have his run.

The eulogies that came from political bigwigs who flocked to his house hearing his sudden death was enviously rattling and umbrageous too. “His early inspiration for public service came while he was a student”, the State president of his party, clad in white spotless cotton fabric remembered him. “That was when he joined the student wing of the party and became an active and dedicated party loyalist.” Some spoke about his foresight, his uncanny acumen, his passion to toil for the needy, the poor and the marginalised. The paeans seemed endless. Every day after he was dead, local vernacular dailies carried his picture and a glowing obituary.

When he died he was on the director board of a cooperative bank, (what he knew of banking and the cooperative movement is mystery. His middle school education was not a constraint. But then we have a plus two dame running the country’s Education and Human resource ministry), he was the party district secretary, he was nominated to the University senate (again defying the pathetic limit of his education), and he was the president or treasurer of the local temple (where, locals allege in almost muted tone that he was in cahoots with God and made enough from the temples revenue). Above all he had always put his money on the political party horse that won. He, in the little world of politics that he could travel, always ensured that his finger was in the pie.

If he did not achieve greater success or amass more wealth than he did, it must be because that there were bigger chisellers in the party than he. It is astonishment unrivalled that if an ordinary political party member who could go no farther than being elected councilor of a ward, could generate as much wealth as he could, the extent of booty that bigger sharks in politics siphon off is impossible to gauge.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Much has been spoken about the richness of Indian culture, tradition, values and so on. The subject, in recent times has been more out in the open, now that a rightwing party has its wings spread wide and almost everywhere. Erosion of values, of ethos, of true Indian culture due to the malevolent influence of alien culture and faith….! The list of angst is fairly long. ( But it is much ado about nothing when one looks back to the fact that 90 percent of the present day Indians are descendants of migrants and the original inhabitants of India where aborigines or “adi dravidas”).

I wonder what is it great about the culture and tradition that we claim to uphold and bray often, beating inflated chests, with incessant eloquence and hysterically. What is it perse?

The Prime minister proclaimed from the Red Fort that he looks forward to leave behind an India that is clean- “Swach Bharat”, he said. He chose to sweep the streets on October 2, Gandhi’s birthday as an ostensible act, hoping the message percolates; that, the idea touches the chord of an India that is downright filthy. His act was obediently aped by his ministers, and bureaucrats – clad in pristine white. The custodians (sic) of Gandhi (sm) – the Kadhi clad Congress men were caught off guard! Government employees of Banks and PSUs were ordered to their offices on October 2 and ordered to swear oath and pledge on civic duties. Perhaps a shade of Soviet Union era here!

The visuals of ministers scraping about streets with brooms was replayed seemingly forever on television. Did that make any sense? Did it prompt you and me to bend our backs and knees to pick up the stray crushed cigarette pack on the street, or the empty coke plastic container left casually on the path? Did it stop the ones who throw away nonchalantly on to the kerb garbage piled from their homes? To desist from making streets and bus stations receptacle of spit and human waste? No. I think it will not. For, Indians are wanting in civic sense. Guess this must be the culture and tradition that some bray about proudly? The hyped, publicised images on televisions were for public consumption. Something we have been fed with every year on the day Gandhi was born. And only an obstinate person who refuses to be cynical would swear otherwise.

Well, one can say that the PM means business and intends good.

What is swaccha Bharat about? Is it just clean streets and building a few thousand toilets (which eventually will be veritable filthy, disgustingly dirty dumps)? From what it is made out to be, it seems so.

I guess we need to define what amounts to cleanliness.

Foremost, shouldn't we realise that cleanliness is not next to Godliness and it is and has to be a few yards before Godliness? Isn't this a country where people cried foul, offended, when a former minister suggested that we need more toilets than temples? Alas most temples in north of India are spittoons. Benares is a holy slum with filthy streets, cadavers floating down the mighty river Ganga that sustains the town. half-burnt corpse pushed into the river and half submerged they seem to float down like orphaned souls. A river that is the source and sustenance for half of the country’s population is relentlessly raped and violated by man. What have the puritan Hindus who claim sacredness for the river, call her “Mother Ganga” done all the while, the factories that spew sludge and sewage into its waters? The RSS who claims to be the bastion, guardian , caretakers of Indian culture and whatever greatness that was identified with her in the ancient, should rather use its cadre to cleanse Ganga , the slums, rivers and nook of India than unleash its frenzied volunteers to demolish ancient structures to build temples.

The wholesale give away of pristine forest lands to commercial interests? Driving away native dwellers to oblivion? Watering down a well-researched and empirical report on the Western Ghats to appease vested commercial interests? Are these acts too part of “Swach  Bharat”?

There was a report on the capital of Sweden, Stockholm. The city recycles 90 percent of the garbage it produces. It is evident from this that the technological wherewithal to sustainably dispose or recycle garbage is available. But we differ from the Swedes in the mindset and civic sensibilities to use it.

Hysterically braying about a rich cultural past and heritage is naïve and useless while we nervelessly rape our land, air and the water. It only emphsises the fact that we have done nothing to deserve a rich past and has no right to deny posterity a meaningful life.