Self above Everything
Nothing Stays for Ever
Think it Through
One abidingly fascinating attribute of the Congress party is to identify winnable candidates. Damn party loyalty which is just a commodity in the electoral market place. The chosen candidate must know how to deliver results.
Take Harsharan Singh Balli. He had been a former BJP Minister in Delhi. Denied the party ticket this time he chose to join the party of both deserters and loyalists in equal measure. He is now the Congress candidate from Harinagar constituency which he had earlier been representing as a BJP loyalist.
Balli has replaced the incumbent MLA. Balle Balle.
Remember Sajjan Kumar? How can Delhi-ites ever forget his heroic deeds, most especially the survivors of the butchered Sikh families in 1984? The Congress Party has a small problem. They cannot award him a Padma Shri but, instead, miss no chance to give recognition to his family members. So his son Jagparvesh has now been named as the party candidate from Sangam Vihar.
It will indeed be a symbol of the maturity of Delhi electorate to dump both Balli and Jagparvesh.
Different countries have different names of the opium their masses are addicted to. Karl Marx believed religion serves as the intoxicant for most countries. But no. Football – Americans who don’t play it much but call it soccer – is a far better substitute in almost all Latin America and most of Europe too. If you’ve some reservations today wait till the next year when the FIFA World Cup fever sets in. Remember June 12 is the date. I unfailingly watch all quarter finals, semi-finals and, of course, the clincher.
Now for days and days we have been reading about Sachin Tendukar - the great Indian cricketer who chose – I’m sure most reluctantly from within – to retire from the game on November 14, 2013 after playing his 200th and final test match against West Indies at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.
We have been reminded how he made his test debut against Pakistan as a 16-year-old, becoming the youngest Indian test player. A year later, he hit his maiden test hundred in England. The Factbox (a new term by the way) on him depicts him as the most prolific international run scorer in cricket history.
Though I rate Tendulkar as a great cricketer, I also think we are overdoing all that has been done or is planned to honor the man and his performance. He was, I maintain, not a great team player nor a good team leader. And cricket is, all said and done, a team game.
Which match, I ask you to recall, was won by India on account of Tendulkar’s performance like VVS Laxman’s personal best of 281 off 452 balls at Kolkata in March 2001 where his sterling batting performance helped us snatch victory from the proverbial jaws of certain defeat? Incidentally, that was the match after which started the eclipse of Australian Test supremacy.
Tendulkar was a disaster as captain. He had two unsuccessful terms as India captain, the first when he was 23 in 1996. He was axed 17 months later after his batting suffered. He was re-appointed in 1999 but stood down after a 3-0 test series rout in Australia the following year.
And aren’t we too lavish with Bharat Ratna awards? Shouldn’t the country’s highest civilian honor be conferred most sparingly lest it should get devalued like everything else in our society? Personally, I think we shouldn’t have conferred this honor on not more than half a dozen Indians so far for their really outstanding achievements. And the practice of conferring it posthumously is abhorrent indeed. Shall we go back to the Buddha and Adi Shankar?
Self above Everything
There’s a quaint provision in Government rules governing Padma awards that the awardees are asked year after year to recommend names of people whose accomplishments in life, according to them, entitle them to similar awards. That’s an opportunity to recommend the names of one’s friends and cronies for similar award to join the exclusive Club of Padma Shrees. This year some enterprising activist has, through the route of RTI, accessed the list of recommended names. And lo and behold what does it show?
For most Indians there is no loyalty higher than that to the extended family. Poet Tagore’s eldest brother was the first Indian to qualify for the then coveted ICS. His father told him not to opt for service in Bengal if he didn’t want to be pestered by the recommendations of baro-di and masi-ma and host of other relatives. Wisely, did he opt for the State of Baroda.
Things haven’t changed since. The above list tells us Lata Mangeshkar recommending the name of her dear sister Usha and the supposedly great sarodist Amjad Ali Khan naming his dear sons Amaan an Ayaan. Thank the good Lord he has only two. The great SP leader Amar Singh’s candidate is MP Jaya Prada. Don’t ask me about the relationship between two of them?
Who coined the profound saying: charity begins at home? There is proverb in Urdu which says when a blind man is asked to distribute sweets to others he repeatedly passes each hand to himself.
I’ve a suggestion for UPA. How about putting Padma awards on sale like everything else?
Nothing Stays for Ever
How long can you hold on to what you’ve achieved or happen to possess? Sooner or later, you’ve to let it go or else it is very likely to be snatched away from you. And how you choose to part with it shows your maturity and level of spiritual growth. Do you remember the famous Verse 12, from Vairagya Shatak of the Sanskrit poet Bhartrihari: “Everything around us is beset with fear – the fear of losing it: but if we voluntarily renounce them, they conduce to the eternal bliss of self-possession.”
The reason why I mentioned this is how Vishwanathan Anand lost his title to Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian challenger. Suppose after first few draws Anand had concluded that it was time for him to call it a day and voluntarily surrendered the title to the 22-year old young challenger, he would have gone down in history as great player who at the height of his glory passed the baton on.
Rahul Gandhi has been talking of changing the system to build a new India. What on earth is this system – the hydra-headed monster that just refuses to go away? It was built by our erstwhile rulers, the British to enable them to rule over us. That it was on the foundation of rule of law and a representative form of governance, is more because of the characteristics it acquired from its founders and certainly not from Indian roots.
After Independence, the Congress Party chose to retain it lock, stock, and barrel without giving it a new orientation i.e., its purpose being not to rule but to serve the people of India. Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi never made the slightest effort to give the system the much-needed new orientation so much so that today it has acquired a being of its own irrespective of who rules India. Today, a real Herculean effort is necessary to make some dent. Progressive measure like the Right to Information gives us from time to time glimpses of how rotten is the state of affairs in the Kingdom of Denmark.
Narendra Modi has no magic wand to either wish the system away or change it radically. All the new government in 2014 can – and must – do is to start thinking how to give it a new orientation. If there is will to do, some meaningful beginning can occur.
Depression is a real killer like any other medical condition. That it takes its toll on the mind is all too well known. It can also ravage the body by speeding up the aging process. We learn from a study in the L.A. Times that researchers in California and the Netherlands have found a direct connection between major depressive disorders and accelerated cellular aging. The study focused on the white blood cells of more than 2,400 Dutch participants. Those with clinical depression had shorter telomeres than healthy people. The pundits tell me that Telomeres are DNA strands that cap the tips of chromosomes within a cell. Whenever a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter and they eventually reach a point where the cell itself shuts down. “The most severely and chronically depressed patients had the shortest telomeres,” said the main author of the study.
How wise indeed were our ancestors who coined the adage: Chinta chitta saman. Worry and depression are like the funeral pyre which literally consumes us. Hence, don’t worry, be happy.
Think it Through
“The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die,” said the famous black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
He was shot dead in1968 when not yet forty. He at least had the consolation of not dying bit by bit before the end came because he had the courage to live up to what I’ve quoted. And look at us who day after day turn our head the other way to pretend that we don’t see.
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