Saturday, November 29, 2008

Let's stop being divisive

Headlines in the TOI and the Mumbai Mirror reading ‘SMSes lampoon Raj and MNS stand’ and ‘Missing Raj Thackeray’ caught my attention. One of the TV channels also talked about Raj Thackeray and other political leaders attending the funeral of Late Hemant Karkare and gaining political mileage.

The media is losing sanity and without rhyme or reason slinging mud. I think we need to be just and fair. I have personally seen the ambulance vans of MNS at the sites of tragedy ferrying both the injured and the dead to the hospital. Where credit needs to be given , it needs to be given, whoever it is. Then why talk about lampooning Raj, and ask where was he missing on that fateful day. Why send an SMS – quote: “ Where is Raj Thackeray and his ‘ Sena’? Tell him that 200 NSG commandos from Delhi (no Marathi manoos, all south and north Indians) have been sent to Mumbai to fight the terrorists so that Raj can sleep peacefully tonight at Shivaji Park. Please forward this so that it finally reaches the coward bully’.

This is vindictive and more than that ‘truly divisive’. Do people expect Raj and his men to combat the terrorists? Can Raj not attend a funeral and pay respects? Why call this gaining ‘political mileage? Why look at everything with a jaundiced eye? Is it only the South Indians and the North Indians that fought the terrorists? Did Karkare, Salaskar and Kamte – all of them Marathi Manoos not do so?

I was taken aback at the degree of degeneration that has enveloped us. I guess the media is going berserk. A lot of responsibility rests on the media to keep people together, understand the public psyche, provide right and appropriate information, and not indulge in divisive politics. Degeneration is at its lowest ebb. I am reminded of what Mr. Gopalakrishnan, Director of Tata Sons Ltd had to say ” Degeneration happens over a period of time, and thereafter it is considered normal”.

I thought I should step in and protest, lest it becomes the norm of the day.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not any more, again!

What and how does one comment on all this? Creating terror, causing panic and spreading mayhem – what are they up to? What is the super ordinate goal, or what on hell are these terrorists imposing their faith on? What of those innocent victims who never expected the sudden turn of events, what of Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar and others and their grieving families, and what of the police, national security guards force, army personnel and volunteers who going beyond the call of duty are ever willing to help at the cost of their own lives? What a contrast, but both these disparate groups claiming it is their call of duty.

This will also have to end but are we sure it will never ever start again? The impact of the residual feelings and the scars it leaves is indelible and unimaginable.

Some days back, I had read what Sardar Ali Jafri had to say – I quote – “ The war planner boasts that he can destroy everything under the enemy territory within five minutes”. He then adds ’what about the sixth minute? A great thought to hold. Will the terrorists be moved as much as I am?
Yes, I am mentally disturbed and shaken, but definitely not deterred. We need to offer our salutations to our heroes who disregarding their own personal safety have plunged to restore balance. A great lesson learnt from our protection force consisting of the police, security guards, the army and the many volunteers – it is ‘sacrifice before self’.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Strange Brew

Some days ago, I read a news item in Mumbai Mirror entitled 'Shiv Sena Kerala Mandal'.It intrigued me, my imagination ran wild and some of these are being put to paper.

What gave birth to this strange combination? Is it opportunism, a concoction because of the environment or just a convenient marriage? The Shiv Sena, I guess, has a clear agenda compelled by the forthcoming assembly and parliamentary elections, and the sibling rivalry with Raj Thackeray. The Keralites, as I have known them, are an enterprising and enigmatic lot. It is said of the Keralites, Sardars and the Marwaris that there is no place on earth where one cannot find them. Back to our Keralite brethren and their omnipresence, I have come across a lot of interesting stories.

Neil Armstrong descended on the moon and was heartily welcomed by (you know whom) with the question 'Cha ya veno ?' - (do you want tea?). During my visit to Ludhiana, I came across a shop - 'Manikandan Tyre Service'. I have heard that the Sheikhs in Midle East/ UAE are adept in speaking Malayalam, and it is only a question of time when it will be declared the official language. The icing on the cake, of course, was when Misbah ul Haq spooned the famous twenty - twenty overs catch behind the keeper, and we, once again, saw the 'Malayalee presence or omnipresence'. It was our own Sreesanth who gobbled up the catch and brought smiles, cheers and joy to our countrymen.

Yes, they are a dynamic and enterprising lot, who seek opportunities and very well know which side of their bread is buttered. What better confirmation can there be to 'Darwins Theory of the Survival of the Fittest'- with the ubiquitous Keralites claiming the honour. The sad part is that the whole of their dynamism seems lost in their own hinterland, where we see their dynamism in the form of hartals and bandhs, critiquing politicians, and gulping innumerable cups of tea reading the newspapers end to end.

Now having said that, it is not all surprising that the Keralites embraced the Shiv Sena in Thane, Maharashtra. I hope this marriage is consummated well, and to quote Mills and Boons, wish 'they live happily ever after'. What, however, left a lasting impression on my mind was what Shreekumaran Nair, Secretary of the Malayalee Samajam had to say. He said that the Keralites could never forget the sacrifices rendered by the Late Shri. Anand Dighe , and it was in his memory that they had joined the Shiv Sena. I have personally heard a lot of late Anand Dighe, and his innumerable sacrifices and contributions to the cause of the common man. Irrespective of caste, creed or religion, people revered and respected him. It was often said of Dighe Saab that whoever went to him returned with a patient hearing, and resolution of their problems. When he breathed his last, there was a sea of mourners, vocalising the selflessness of Dighe Saab, and his endearing and helpful nature.

That the Keralites joined the Shiv Sena is a testimony to the fact that good work and selfless leadership is never forgotten. Let this country be blessed with more such great leaders.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Vada Pav - the golden goose

I was amused to read the news item - ' Engineering Vada Pavs' in today's edition of the Mumbai Mirror.

I recall that years ago I along with the editorial committee members of our Company's inhouse magazine 'Tutari' had met the Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray for an interview in connection with the Deepavali issue. As we entered his room at "Matoshri" , we saw Balasaheb seated on a huge chair resembling a throne, with the Shiv Sena symbol, a growling tiger right above his head. Indeed it appeared to us as "a tiger riding on another tiger." The interview was full of facts, puns (mostly intended),sarcastic wily barbs and regaling humour. I remember he had at length mentioned about the 'birth of the Vada Pav'. He had initiated the idea of vada pav to provide employment to the sons of the soil, at a time when 'abundance of people and scarcity of jobs' was the phenomenon. He was rather emphatic when he mentioned that the sons of the soil preferred cushy and comfortable jobs as compared to the hard but lucrative and stable jobs that he had offered to them at MTNL,Ceat Tyres and other companies. Hence it is not very surprising to see that majority of those employed at MTNL and Ceat Tyres hail from UP and other places in the North (hope this statement of mine does not provide fodder to Rajsaheb and his followers).

Balasaheb and his party did ensure a lot of opportunities for employment to the sons of the soil in many big companies like L&T. However, to ensure that others who were still unemployed eke out a decent living, he announced the setting up of Vada Pav stalls throughout Mumbai, Pune and other places.The Vada Pav has continued to be the delight of one and all and offered 'value for money'. I fondly remember when in college with barely anything in one's pocket,it was Vada Pav,Usal Pav and Misal Pav that satiated one's hunger.To this day, I remain committed, especially, to the Vada Pav. I will for the benefit of vada pav lovers like me, recommend the 'Golden Vada' shop at Lonavala. It's just amazing wth the 'chatni'.

It was extremely pleasing to read the news item that vada pav has once again become the platform for providing employment to the unemployed engineering and other graduates.The Shiv Sena, this time, has professionalised the Vada making and is holding a workshop on 24th November at Shivaji Park where it has invited the top 25 Vada Pav vendors, food experts and chefs to provide training to the wannabe vendors in the making.

I am extremely happy that by continuing to provide jobs to the unemployed, the'Vada Pav' has been living upto its promise. Can we say the same thing about the Government of India ?