I have always been a great fan of writings of Khushwant Singh. That’s because his style of writing made reading an interesting affair, an engrossing episode. In fact, I did not subscribe to his ideological leanings but, nevertheless, I always found enough time to have a look at his write-ups. In literary circles, he was known for bringing forth history of Sikhs. It was a voluminous affair and he did that with perfection. Besides that novels like Train to Pakistan substantiated his fame as a writer.
I remember well that I had habit of reading novels in college days but slow reading never allowed me to finish the novels in one go. Being student of English Literature my bond with English novels deepened with each passing moment in those years. One of my classmates, who loved to buy novels in his limited pocket money, bought this novel but kept it a secret, knowing well that if by chance I came to know about the whole thing, the novel would soon become a history for him. Unfortunately, all things hidden secretly are spotted easily by me. I carried this novel to my home, much against his desire, but I returned this novel to him just after few days. It came as a huge surprise for him since I was infamous for keeping novels for months at my home. I told him that this novel was written in such a lucid way that it made reading a pleasant affair.
Train to Pakistan records tragic events related with Partition of India. It was a complex theme of which I had become aware of through TV serials like Tamas. And so I was not interested in reading again anything related with same theme but once I started reading this novel not for a moment I found reading becoming a dull task. It was written in such a soul-stirring manner that you were left with no other alternative other than to read from start to finish, devoid of long breaks! That explains as to why he emerged as such a popular writer among all the class of people. His writings were devoid of flamboyant and bombastic expressions. He wrote in simple English- something that you also notice when you are reading works of R K Narayan- which attracted even those readers having aversion for anything written in English!
Nowadays I meet many readers who complain that reading has become such a difficult task because modern day writers, especially award-winners, have given way to complex phrases, weird expressions, and meandering sentence constructions which more often than not leave them confused and irritated. However, this was not the case with Khushwant Singh. His column “With Malice towards One and All” which featured in English dailies and “Na Kahu Se Dosti Na Kahu Se Bair” which found space in Hindi newspapers broke all records of popularity. The anecdotes, and daily dose of humour which marked these columns served as life-line for many readers besides ensuring a respectable circulation.
Now having turned writer myself, I feel grateful to writers like Khushwant Singh, R K Narayan and Ruskin Bond, who taught me the art of writing simple English. I mean they taught me how to narrate serious episodes in easy language without compromising with seriousness inherent in them! I would not remember Khushwant Singh as a writer who dealt with women, wine, kisses and sex in his writings, but I would always remember him as a writer who made it easy for me to write simple English in an age when writing has got wedded to complexities!
I curiously awaited the screening of the movie “Ship of Theseus“, which had managed to elicit great remarks from leading directors of Indian cinema landscape. The film festival in Allahabad, organised by Dainik Jagran, provided me an opportunity to watch this movie. In eyes of Shekhar Kapoor, the movie marked the arrival of “a brilliant new filmmaker” while Shyam Benegal could not resist himself from stating that it’s a “rare film that engages your mind, emotions and senses in equal measure providing the viewer a cinematic experience that is both hugely entertaining and stimulating”. The movie was inspired from the dilemma whether or not the object remains same if its components undergo total replacement. In this movie the promising young director, Anand Gandhi, has interconnected three different short stories, each dealing with a different issue, but underlying theme remains the same. The first one dealt with visually impaired photographer, who lost her intuitive ability to capture striking images after a successful cornea transplant operation. The second story depicted an ailing monk, questioning life and death via his ongoing fight for rights of animals meant for conducting experiments during preparation of medicines. The third and the final story highlighted corrupt practices prevalent in medical world, wherein a stockbroker tries to place in dock persons involved in organ trade racket.
I am not the sort of person to go entirely by the rave reviews by big names from the world of cinema. In fact, even the sentiments of well-known directors fail to impress me. “Seeing is believing” has always been the principle which defined my approach, especially while anticipating the worth of a movie. And thus, contrary to the general consensus, I found the acting of Aida El-Kashef ( Aliya in movie as visually impaired photographer) and Farza Khan (Aliya’s live-in-boyfriend in the movie) absolutely horrible. The exhibition of emotions was synthetic and loud. Great movies do not begin that way. The agony that should have hit her, in the aftermath of loss of her intuitive abilities, never got reflected in her mannerism. The saving grace came in the form of crispy thought provoking dialogues: “Does reality exist when no one is looking?” It’s the deep concerns which the characters portray compensates the poor acting.
The movie gained substance with the arrival of crazy monk Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi). Not only humour element got elevated but even the thematic shortcomings got balanced due to superb acting skills demonstrated by Neeraj Kabi and Vinay Shukla ( Carvaka in the movie). This part of the movie successfully conveyed that contradictions rules the lives and a perfect life is healthy assimilation of contradictions. A person should not be too rigid while pursuing noble cause since it comes in the way of fulfillment of goals. It might also limit one’s ability to make better choices. The rigidity displayed by Maitreya is in the eyes of Carvaka- the lawyer who believed in learning arguments of both the sides- was not very different than fundamentalism exhibited by a suicide bomber! This lawyer, follower of Pastafarianism, induces great deal of pragmatism when he tries to create a fitting place for the contradictions. Anyway, Maitreya does impress us all when he places reasons above crude sentimentality!
Well, it’s crude sentimentality which always makes its presence felt in Indian movies. It’s not always the case that movies devoid of melodramatic elements manage to evoke mass attention. The average Indian cinema lover’s connection with melodrama is so intense that a director’s take on critical issue without this element is akin to self-goal in football! Anand Gandhi, at least, need to be credited for the fact that he manages to tell the story for Indians without being in awe of sentimentality! The last scene of the story showing the monk’s decision to live the life fully proves one thing quite well that healthy compromises for an elevated cause is not a bad thing. Well, the monk didn’t talk of Krishna’s Bhagvad Geeta but I feel the realization of monk is on par with view of Lord Krishna who in Bhagvad Gita stated that “every profession is world is tainted by some flaw”. So the summum bonum is: Healthy compromise should not prick the conscience!
The stockbroker’s case in the movie is pretty interesting but I need to differ from the reviews which have appeared in mainstream media and elsewhere that humour element in this part delight us. That’s not true. The humour appears as some sort of forced entry into a well structured plot. It also baffles me that reviewers have ignored some greater aspects related with this part of the movie wherein an young stockbroker trails the missing recipient of the stolen kidney! The reviewers failed to remember the heated conversation between stockbroker and his maternal grandmother, who happens to be progressive thinker, confined to ideological orientations spread in progressive literature churned out by the leftist. The impression she generates, and which irritates this guy working for American companies, is that one can pursue a noble cause only when one is in tune with such literature. The young stockbroker hits hard at her this “fallacious notion” when he tries to ensure justice for the poor labourer. The another myth which gets shattered ( and I really found it pretty interesting) is that fight for greater cause leads to its perfect attainment. Ask a real life hero and you would realize that he/she often feels cheated. The people for whom he/she comes to fight often leave their saviour in the lurch. The stockbroker wanted justice in real terms for this unfortunate labourer whose kidney got stolen for a rich foreigner ( the recipient). The labourer retracts from his promises after his petty interests get fulfilled. The protagonist has to remain contend with limited achievement.
In real life also we find that similar dilemma occurs. For instance, the moment one tries to make the purpose of education an extension of values, one has to face stiff resistance for all quarters of society, which feels that only purpose of education is to earn huge money, no matter if it means adoption of unethical means. The film does not end with a specific message but it does symbolically shows via the passage through the cave that life is full of immense possibilities, which allows nurturing of different perspectives. Hope we come to choose the one which best serves the cause of not only humanity but also our own personal causes close to heart!
The flash floods and landslides caused havoc in Uttarakhand, and it’s now totally devastated. The actual number of deaths remains an unknown figure. “Tourists, migrant labourers and others had not registered on government lists, so they cannot be counted. Every time a place is cleared of debris, more bodies are found.” ( Barkha Chakrabarty, programme officer with ActionAid) That’s the state of affairs prevalent in Uttarakhand. One of the news reports says that more than 5,000 people lost their lives. Considering the lack of real picture, regarding actual number of deaths, it’s understandable that real figures could be more frightening. That’s because another news report published in The Times of India suggests that 4,028 people have gone missing, which includes high officials and government officials. Surprisingly, most number of people gone missing are from Rajasthan, 820 people; followed by Uttarakhand, 795 people.
It’s not hard to imagine that had army officials, risking their own lives, not swung into action immediately, the situation would have been terribly grim. Anyway, the flash floods and landslides once again exposed the disaster management mechanism prevalent in India. The National Policy on Disaster Management (NPDM) “mandates the State Governments inter alia to take measures for preparation of Disaster Management Plans, integration of measures for prevention of disasters or mitigation into development plans, allocation of funds and establishment of early warning systems.” It also talks about “promoting a culture of prevention, preparedness and resilience at all levels through knowledge, innovation and education” ; “encouraging mitigation measures based on technology, traditional wisdom and environmental sustainability.”
In real life- the so-called practical world- the story is altogether different. The bureaucratic machinery works in tune with interests of political masters than working for the cause of environment. In regime of Mayawati, Ganga Expressway Project got started in Uttar Pradesh, keeping at bay norms laid down in Environment Protection Act, 1986. It’s only after the intervention of Allahabad High Court, the project got stalled. Such a grand project got started without obtaining the environmental clearance certificate! One needs to ask how buildings like guest houses got constructed in flood/landslides prone areas in Uttaranachal? At the time when dams were built on rivers in Uttarakahand amidst deep protest, it was argued in its favour that such dams are vital for progress story of the state. None realized that such dams were obstructing the natural course of rivers and their ability to channelize the flood waters. No wonder, the state today is reeling under scary developments.
The Central government, which is supposed to assist the State as per Disaster Management rules, used the disaster effectively to promote Rahul and Sonia Gandhi. The relief material sent to Uttarakhand on behalf of Central government had pamphlets showcasing images of Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh! If that’s not enough, the people refused to accept the relief packages, sent by the Central government, after they were found to be rotten! In fact, the government effectively roped in Ishrat Jahan’s encounter episode to hide its own shortcomings . It diverted the attention of media ( the paid media), and tried hard to cover its misdeeds. Well, in the age of online journalism, it’s naive to assume that blunders could be shoved under the carpet.
Anyway, let’s hope that those gone missing might have miraculous chances left to get united with their near and dear ones. May the souls of departed rest in peace. And yes, let’s hope that such tragedies teach both Central government and state governments the right way of dealing with disasters. At least, they come to realize that politics over the death signifies bleak future for democracy!
They say ‘helping hands are better than praying lips’. Let’s people come to contribute for the welfare of people trapped in unfortunate condition in Uttarakhand. They can contribute following the instructions given on this website’s appeal section of CM. The site is managed by Uttaranchal government: Relief Fund
“The course of true love never did run smooth.” (Shakespeare). This became evident in cruel fashion in case of Divya and Ilavarasan. Ilavarasan and Divya belonged to different castes. Ilavarasan belonged to Dalit community and Divya came from a higher Vanniyar community. When their love story attained pinnacle, it did not evoke sweet episodes as one witnesses in Hollywood/Bollywood candyfloss movies. Last year, the girl’s father, unable to digest the vituperative remarks of people belonging to his community committed suicide. And now the news arrives that Ilavarasan, after Divya came to disown the marriage in blatant fashion, has committed suicide by jumping before the train.
Their love story from the very beginning was marred by series of unfortunate developments. It first resulted in a typical caste bigotry, which this time did not remain confined to a small section. The mounting tension took in its grip whole Tamil Nadu. They got married amid unprecedented developments.” I was on my way to Trichy for a football match. When I was in Omalur, I got a call from Divya saying that people in her house are trying to get her married to someone else. She asked me to take her with me. We went to Andhra Pradesh and got married there.” ( Ilavarasan in an interview to Tamil Edition of India Today).
When they got married, it led to huge tension in whole Tamil Nadu. A political party named Pattali Makkal Katchi entered into a campaign, triggering the impression that marriages between Dalit boys and non-Dalit brides were mainly for the purpose of extorting money. Fake cases got filed against Ilavarasan so as to block his appointment into police department in which he got newly selected. The issue further deteriorated when girl’s father committed suicide last November. Many colonies in Naikkankottai village got burnt- the village of boy’s father.
For Divya, these developments seemed a bolt from the blue. After her father’s suicide, she went into state of depression and decided to separate from Ilavarasan. Naturally, her decision left Ilavarsan in a state of shock, who was determined to seek better days. Just a day before his suicide, it’s learnt that Divya categorically informed the reporters inside the Madras High Court campus about her decision to disown the marriage and not to return to Ilavarasan at all. Unable to withstand this dejection, the very next day Ilavarsan jumped before the train and ended his life.
Divya might have decided to disassociate with Ilavarsan but Ilavarsan remained true to her till his last breath. The only thing found in his possession, near the railway track, were the letters which he wrote to her during 2011.
Globalization Is A Great Leveller: Patterns Of Exploitation And Corruption Now Become Same In India And Peru!
Globalization has reduced differences in geographical terms. But, at the same time, it has also changed the geography in a crude way by mindless destruction of flora and fauna. The sad thing about whole affair is that the stories depicting better aspects of globalization do reach us regularly but the negative sides either get censored or, for that matter, fail to get extensive coverage. Just to take an example, the commercials promote McDonald’s pizzas and burgers but are there enough advertisements which highlight the negative effect of consuming them? Globalization believes in the fact that “all that glitters is gold”. It has nothing to do with pains of exploited workers who work in MNCs like a caged parrot, having no power to execute their discretion other than one serving the interests of global masters.
Sometimes back S Ambika, a 22 year old woman factory-worker, permanently employed at Nokia Telecom Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Sriperumbadur in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, got killed in a tragic way when she tried to repair the jam inside the loader machine. It proved to be fatal exercise for her since she was not a technician, but she still came to do that to meet the production targets. A wait for the technicians meant slowing the pace of production! That’s one of the stories, which reveal in sad way the plight of people working in MNCs.
Vaibhav Mani Tripathi, a by-product of Jawahar Lal University (JNU), in his research paper titled, “Democracy and globalization: Are they really compatible”, highlights the ways and means employed by the MNCs to ensure growth in democracies across the globe. ” In democracies of third world, which are new and have lesser degree of accountable governments; methods of bribery, and loot system were adopted by MNCs, in order to get established. By dealing in such ways MNCs get some illegal relaxations and manage to cut cost by getting cheapest labour and denying rules of pollution control etc. In democracies, which are most established and transparent, MNCs change their techniques. By promising high taxes and employment to countrymen, they demand for special industrial estates or special economic zones. This is the biggest irony of Globalization. They demand tax relaxations in order to get established and they promise government to pay huge aid for fighting poverty, pollution and social evils like AIDS!”
One having a close look at the progress stories of various countries, especially the nations trying to emerge as economic giants, one would find that exploitation of workers along with rapid destruction of ecological balance are the integral part of every such story! Before I contrast the happenings in two different countries, India and Peru, to highlight the woes of globalization, I wish to highlight grave tale of negligence which suggests that so-called progress is not only destroying cherished values but also destroying cultural artifacts. One of Belize’s largest Mayan pyramids, which remained in existence for more than 2,300 years, got destroyed by a construction crew involved in a road project.The company used the structure’s limestone walls as road fill! In fact, Time Magazine reports that “much of the monumental architecture at Belize’s San Estevan site, which dates back to 800 B.C., was bulldozed during the late 1990s to provide material for roads.”
From Belize in Central America, now, let’s move to Peru in South America to notice the impact of gold rush in amazon! The lust for gold in other nations keeps increasing but the heavy price other nations pays to satiate the lust never becomes subject of discussion in mainstream media. True, there is lack of jobs and illegal gold mining ensures survival of large number of families but then how can one ignore the dangerous consequences of deforestation in Amazon? A report issued by NASA says that ‘with the price of gold skyrocketing (360 percent in 10 years from 2001 to 2011), unlicensed miners began pouring into Peru’s Madre de Dios. They cleared 12,500 acres from the forest between 2003–2009. Landsat images showed local deforestation increasing at a rate of 26 percent per year.”
The report also highlights the fatal consequences of mercury used in the mining process. The extracts of mercury which after vaporization turn airborne contaminate the water resources, which later enter into the bodies of residents. A very recent study suggests “unsafe levels of the toxic metal in almost 80% of adults and 60% of fish sold at local markets” in Peru. The Peru’s mining department taking stern steps against illegal mining began raiding Madre de Dios. That has led to tense formation between miners, environmental activists and the authorities. However, it appears that such strict steps are now a necessity to reduce the loss of forest area in amazon, which has already lost 18,000 hectares. Needless to state, that Peruvian amazon is remarkable for its large degree of biodiversity.
India is also facing severe consequences caused by deforestation. One of the major causes of deforestation has been depletion of forests to extract minerals of various types. Expansion of agriculture, timber harvesting and shifting cultivation are some of the prime reasons for loss of forest area in India. However, another grim consequence has been displacement of tribal people, leading to militant movement like Naxalism. It establishes something quite well that pattern of exploitation in India and Peru is one and the same and in both the places original inhabitants are in direct conflict with the authorities. If Peru is tormented by illegal gold mining, India is haunted by illegal coal mining and diamond mining! The “Coalgate scam” has clearly revealed that how sensitive rulers of this nation have been while dealing with mineral resources of this nation. In other words, globalization has ensured huge profits for government and private bodies but the same profit never got distributed to tribal people-ones who were responsible for protecting these resources. On the contrary, they got displaced and faced bullets instead of receiving rewards for their indigenous efforts. Now if we see such developments in light of environmental issues, like erratic weather pattern in Indian subcontinent, the situation is pretty grim.
It’s good that people, the ones affected by government’s poorly planned projects, have learnt to come in conflict with the authorities. Nandigram bears testimony to the fact that the Special Economic Zones, not taking care of interests of people in judicious way, shall always meet fierce opposition from people. The farmers in Uttar Pradesh also entered in violent protests in year 2011 over land acquisition policy framed by the state government. The trend pattern involved is that big corporate houses either forcibly acquire the land or they come to acquire it in fraudulent means by keeping in dark the actual content of the deal. The Allahabad High Court staying Ganga Expressway project, expressed deep anguish the way it got initiated without having environmental clearance! This project involving JP Group required acquisition of huge lands situated in the alluvial belt and still no homework was done on part of state government.
One can notice that how rules get manipulated to benefit big corporations, caring a damn for the interests of people. In fact, the concerns related with environment also get neglected. It’s not hard to decipher that two nations even if they are situated in different continents could still exhibit similar pattern of exploitation and corruption. Globalization has not only roped in similar lifestyle patterns across the globe but also introduced identical methods of corruption. And who is the victim? The underprivileged, who never gets a chance to visit McDonald, who never gets a chance to buy gold ornaments, and who also never gets a chance to drive SUV on Expressways! Noam Chomsky sounds quite right when he says that ‘ Market discipline is perfect for poor people in El Salvador, or working mothers in the slums. They have to learn responsibility, but not the rich and the powerful. They have to be protected.”
“Democracy and globalization: Are they really compatible”- An article by Vaibhav Mani Tripathi in Aavartan.
सरबजीत की मौत बेहद दुखद खबर है। ये अलग बात है कि मुझे आश्चर्य नहीं हुआ। ये मौत सम्भावित थी। ये एक तयशुदा मौत थी। पकिस्तान जैसे कानून विहीन और अराजकता के शिखर पर स्थित देश के लिए किसी की मौत क्या मायने रख सकती है! वो तो केवल ओसामा बिन लादेन को शरण दे सकती है फूलप्रूफ। दाऊद इब्राहिम और अजहर महमूद को ही बेहतर पनाह दे सकती है। सरबजीत की हिफाज़त करके उसे क्या मिलता? लिहाजा सरबजीत का मरना तय था। कसाब और अफज़ल गुरु के फांसी लग जाने के बाद अन्दर ही अन्दर सुलगते पाकिस्तान के लिए सरबजीत से बेहतर बलि का बकरा तो कोई हो ही नहीं सकता था। सरबजीत की मौत तो उसी वक्त तय हो गयी थी जब पाकिस्तान समर्थित दो आतंकवादी कसाब और अफज़ल गुरु फांसी पे लटका दिए गए।
ये शान्ति वार्ता की नौटंकी, सरबजीत को माफ़ी देने की नौटंकी, उसका बेहतर इलाज़ कराने की नौटंकी ये सब आवरण उस कुटिलता को छुपाने के लिए था जिसकी झलक हर नज़र रखने वाले को साफ़ साफ़ दिख रही थी। सिर्फ ना देख पाने का भ्रम भारत की सरकार कर रही थी। खैर सरबजीत की मौत से एक बात तो साफ़ हुई। दो राष्ट्रों की राजनीति में मोहरे बनते है आम आदमी। जब मै राष्ट्र शब्द का इस्तेमाल कर रहा हो तो इसका मतलब ये नहीं है कि पाकिस्तान को मै एक राष्ट्र के रूप में देख रहा हूँ। ये एक राष्ट्र नहीं है। शैतानी लोगो का हुजूम है। शैतानी लोगो का भीड़ तंत्र है जहा पे राष्ट्रपति कोर्ट से भागकर नज़रबंद हो जाता है। खैर मै बता रहा था कि दो राष्ट्रों की दुश्मनी का शिकार सबसे कमज़ोर और मासूम लोग होते है।
कोई बताये सरबजीत का गुनाह क्या था कि पहले तो सोलह साल जेल में काटे बिना किसी गुनाह के और फिर इस तरह बर्बर मौत? उसकी मौत का जिम्मेदार कौन सा राष्ट्र ज्यादा है? रीढविहीन नेताओ के जरिए शान्ति की बात करता भारत या गुनाहों को साए में पलता पाकिस्तान? खैर एक बात तो समझ में आई की जेल में कैदियों को न्याय पाने की आशा से नहीं रखा जाता है बल्कि अक्सर सरकार की आँख की किरकरी बन चुके लोगो को चुपके से खत्म कर देने के लिए रखा जाता है। चूकि मौत पाकिस्तान में एक भारतीय की हुई है लिहाज़ा मानवाधिकार की वकालत करने वालो का ना भौकना लाजमी हो जाता है। ये तब भौकते है अगर भूले से कोई जम्मू कश्मीर में कोई भारतीय सैनिक के हाथो मारा जाता है। इनकी मुखरता तब देखते बनती है।
सरबजीत की आत्मा को शान्ति मिले। मेरी तरफ से यही विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि है सरकारी नौटंकी के इस दौर में। सबसे दुखद यही है कि मरते सिर्फ मासूम आदमी ही है। बिलखते है शोक संतप्त परिजन ही है। मुल्क के नेता तो हर अवसर को कैश कर लेते है। दुःख हो या सुख हर रास्ता सत्ता की तरफ ही मुड़ जाता है।
” तुमने जिस ख़ून को मक़्तल में दबाना चाहा
आज वह कूचा-ओ-बाज़ार में आ निकला है
कहीं शोला, कहीं नारा, कहीं पत्थर बनकर
ख़ून चलता है तो रूकता नहीं संगीनों से
सर उठाता है तो दबता नहीं आईनों से
जिस्म की मौत कोई मौत नहीं होती है
जिस्म मिट जाने से इन्सान नहीं मर जाते
धड़कनें रूकने से अरमान नहीं मर जाते
साँस थम जाने से ऐलान नहीं मर जाते
होंठ जम जाने से फ़रमान नहीं मर जाते
जिस्म की मौत कोई मौत नहीं होती “