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Musings of a Bystander
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Trigger Happy People

You don’t have to wink an eyelid to give the right answer if I ask: “In which country of the world five thousand seven hundred and forty children and teens died from gunfire just in 2008 and 2009?” Of course, the United States of America. It is indeed a country that loves guns as much as it loves Coke and hamburger.
 
The latter does satisfy hunger and thirst — never mind the calories you consume and high road to obesity you embark on. What human urge do guns satisfy? Well, human nature in the United States — God’s own land — is not what it is elsewhere in the world. In America, it includes the urge to carry arms. And that’s sanctified by the Second Amendment. More so, after Ronald Reagan landed in the White House in 1980!

The horrendous school massacre of six and seven years olds in the school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut along six adults, ... has reignited the debate that the gun laws in US need drastic revision.

Remember that the text of the Second Amendment is divided into two clauses i.e., “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
 
You needn’t refer to Henry Watson Fowler, the British schoolmaster lexicographical genius who authored the famous Dictionary of Modern English to realize that the construction is, as a whole, pretty ungrammatical, even by very lax standards of American English. However, legal luminaries (of whom there is no dearth in the US) maintain that the amendment conferred only on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon. Of course there are others – possibly affiliated to the National Rifle Association – who maintain that it confers this right on individual, and not just the militia. The debate, however, is rooted more in politics and less in law.
 
The horrendous school massacre of six and seven years olds in the school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut along six adults, including the principal, who died trying to save her charges, has reignited the debate that the gun laws in US need drastic revision. Everyone knows that in countries that have effective controls in place on the use of guns, rarely indeed do children die of gunshots. And should that happen – for example Dunblane killing in Scotland or Tasmania shooting in Australia or the unfortunate Montreal incident in Canada – there was action and not mere hand-wringing and massacre condolence. Unfortunately, with millions of gun-owners, it is impossible to make Americans legislate tough laws to avoid repeat of what happened. Gun-sanity is not for Americans just as speaking without a heavy nasal tone. And the reason is simple: the National Rifle Association which represents the interests not of rifle owners but the gun-makers who want more people to buy weapons and not less and less as other sensible countries are aiming at.

Taxes Are Not For the Affluent

In Pakistan, the biggest tax evaders are the law makers of the country. An investigative study by an intrepid Pakistani journalist reveals that last year nearly two-third of the country’s cabinet ministers and federal lawmakers paid no tax at all. The report tells us that President Asif Ali Zardari and 34 of the 55 cabinet members did not file a tax return in 2011, while Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar paid just Rs 142,536 (US$1,466) and 69,619 as income tax.

Some seven lakh Pakistanis have been identifies as enjoying a luxurious life but not paying tax. Imagine the consequences for a sagging economy with its own affluent citizenry continuously avoiding tax payments and leaving their government to depend on aid and grants from donor countries.

The country's ruling elite has gained considerable expertise in running the country on loans and donations, while talking of self-reliance, debt retirement and breaking the begging bowl in pre-poll public meetings.

Are we better? Our own Babu Jagjiwan Ram, the great Dalit leader, the senior most minister in Nehru Cabinet, chief aspirant to be Prime Minister of India after revocation of the Emergency and the father of the Hon’be Speaker of our Lok Sabha, forgot to file his income tax returns for ten years. Ministers have indeed better things to do. Haven’t they?

Cry, The Beloved Country!

"Here is a land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses remain abjectly poor. . . where freedom and its blessings are a reality for a minority and an illusion for the many. . . a land consecrated to democracy but. . . a land of privilege and rank. . . a republic dedicated to equality but mired in an archaic system of caste."

Can you guess, dear readers, who said the above and about which country? Hazard a guess. I’ll let you know next week.

Curve of Felicity

Long live our British connection. By the day we’re forging newer links. Obesity is on the increase in India, especially among the representatives of its over-fed middle class. And as per a study published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Britain has been declared as the fattest nation in Western Europe. More than a quarter of the population has been declared as obese. Whatever the Brits do they do it with aplomb!
 
Obesity rates are rising rapidly across Europe but the UK obesity rate of 26.1 per cent is more than twice that of their counterparts across the Channel in France at mere 12.9 per. It isn’t that the French eat much less. The red wine does the trick for them. And beer and stout add to John Smith’s woes. Remember your childhood image of John Bull supporting a red tunic over a huge, bulging belly, which the philosophical Spaniards call the curve of felicity.
 
Only Hungarians outrank the Brits in the European obesity league. For them, there’s an explanation. They had to make up for the undernourished years of Communist regimes. The British overeat and over drink to forget that they had once upon a time a Empire to rule.

Pants Down

In the midst of electioneering for the assembly polls in Gujarat, main opposition party Congress faced an embarrassing situation when it was found that in its advertisement on malnutrition in the state of Gujarat, the party used a picture of a Sri Lankan child.

It was almost – repeat almost – like Rahul Baba seen with his pants down.

INC: A Proprietorship

Later this month, the Indian National Congress will turn 127. What is it: a broad-based political party or a a closely held company or a mere coterie or a clique or an exclusive club?
 
Founded in 1885 by Indian and British members of the Theosophical Society, most notably AO Hume, it used to meet in this pleasantly cold month of December and pass innocent resolution. The first session was held from 28–31 December 1885, and was attended by 72 delegates.
 
From 1920 the Congress in the hands of Gandhi was forged into a powerful instrument that waged the war of India’s independence. In post-1947 India, Gandhi thought it should be divested of its political identity and converted into a social service organization. But Nehru was shrewd enough – and his successors shrewder than him – to know his usefulness to stay entrenched in power.
 
But what sort of organization has it come to be? I consulted a friend of mine, well-versed in company law affairs. A private company must, he explained, have a minimum paid-up capital of Rs.100,000.00 whereas a public company must have a minimum paid-up capital of Rs. 500,000.00. How much does the INC have nobody knows except one person. And also unknown is how much in India and how much abroad and how much in those safe havens of international finance.
 
A Private limited company must have two members – mummyji and her darling baba will do – while a public company must have seven, which is too large a number to find reliable cronies.
 
All said the composition of INC, today, is a complex web. From all appearance it is proprietorship with all details of share-holding and other relevant data withheld from the prying eyes of the inquisitive public.
 
Since the ouster of that old-time loyalist Sita Ram Kesri, Sonia Gandhi is the CEO for life. Gone are the days when a new President was elected every year. Why waste time and money, thought Soniaji, and everyone readily concurred.

Merry Xmas

It was Swami Ranganathananda – a distinguished head of the Ramakrishna Mission – who once said there are two brands of Christianity. True Christianity began with Christ and ended the day the Son of God was crucified. Then, began Churchianity.

That’s still continuing and flourishing. Western consumerism won’t let it die.
 
There’re, also, Christians and Christians. But have you heard of “Chreasters”? That’s the so-called American brand of Christians who attend church only on Christmas and Easter. On these two anointed days they throng into pews and sing carols and renew their annual acquaintance with whatever they deem is Christian.

Xmas being a holiday forces the Christians of all the above descriptions to celebrate the birth of Christ and exchange presents. And that promotes sales and the GDP growth rate. Perhaps, of the last variety, there are more Christians in the non- Christian world than in the so-called Christendom. India of course leads in that league.

Anyhow, let me wish you a Merry Xmas and with that the soon-to-arrive Happy New Year.

24-Dec-2012
More by :  Sakshi
 
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