Thursday, April 1, 2010

Empowered State, Belittled Nation

Empowered State, Belittled Nation

Who are we supposed to be? Residents of this country or citizens of this country? Or are we merely natives of a particular place belonging to a particular state; having total loyalty, obligation and sense of belonging to that State only, relegating the Country to a secondary status?
There is a major difference between a mere resident and a bonafide citizen. Though it seems we are bent upon forsaking this citizenship for the “myopic regionalism”. Also on innumerable occasions we are forced by the socio-economic and socio-political system to accept the superiority of regional loyalty over love for our nationality.

This I state, without malice towards my fellow citizens. Rather these are all statements of facts rooted in my own experiences. And I am sure each and everybody has had his or her share of fling with regionalism---at times voluntary and at other times involuntary. I have been at the receiving end of such loyalty towards regionalism and herein I would like to share with you all some of them, which have had profound impact on my life.

I was born and brought up in Bihar, the much-maligned state for reasons galore and at times without any, as well. Well, that is not my contention here, rather my experiences are. My father was a University Professor and a teacher of great repute, and is still much loved and respected. He superannuated from his service in December 1999. During that time he held the post of Dean, Faculty of Science. Incidentally, he too has been born and brought up in Bihar, my grandfather having shifted his base there for his profession.
I had my entire education there. First, school and subsequently, B.Sc, from a college, which is over 100years old, followed by M.Sc from the University. We moved to Kolkata lock, stock and barrel in the year 2000 after my father’s retirement from service. In the meanwhile I qualified in NET (National Eligibility Test), a must for Lectureship in India, from a center in Kolkata.

These are the facts. Now come the effects and experiences.

In spite of our long, to say the least, association with the place, the respect that my father gets there from his students and colleagues, it couldn’t become our home. Time and again, we were discriminated by the people, in general, as, “Bangali hai na (After all is a Bengali)”, “Bangali aisa hi hota hai (Bengalis are like this only)”, etc. True, at the same time, the love that we continue to get from our acquaintances is unparalleled and we feel blessed for that. In fact when we left that place, I didn’t find single such an eye, “tear-less”.
But still, the discrimination hurt beyond expression, graduating to Rejection.

Well, this is not the end of the story. There are two more to follow.
Let them be in the chronological order of their happening.

After securing high marks in my Class 12th exam, I was fortunate to get admission in Miranda House, New Delhi with Honours in Chemistry. But I had to forgo the admission after attending classes for about 8 weeks as I was denied an accommodation in the hostel despite my having maximum marks in my stream. All because I hailed from Bihar and had dared to speak the truth during the interview conducted for admission to the hostel. How could I be taken in? I was a Bihari sitting in the confines of the Principal’s room in India’s capital and still daring to speak the truth!

Then comes an incident that took place later. In an earlier paragraph, I’ve specifically mentioned that my center was in Kolkata for the NET, which is conducted, twice a year, jointly by CSIR & UGC and qualifying in the test is a prerequisite for getting appointed as Lecturer in College/s in India. Thus having cleared the “net of NET”, I was assured of Lectureship, in a college with vacancy in the relevant subject. In the interim, I started my PhD programme in a renowned institution, where I got chance after a rigorous interview and due to my “NET qualification”. The research got discontinued, due to certain physical limitations that developed subsequently and the rigidity of the people concerned. They didn’t want to modify the working condition nor the approach towards the assignment was changed.

I knew that I would face stiff competition for Lectureship, but my candidature would be summarily rejected, that I didn’t envisage. Because I had the “specified” credentials. Even my “demo” class impressed quite a few in the interview panel: in the interviews that I faced.
But I was not considered. That didn’t hurt me because in interviews such things do happen. You can’t succeed in all. But the reason angered, hurt and perplexed me. The reason that was made to do the rounds “pseudo-officially” was my lack of a PhD degree. With due regards, PhD can’t be the deciding parameter for Lectureship and teaching acumen. To become a good teacher, it is not essential and that is what has been stated by the UGC, though NET is the decider. To be a good teacher the communication skills plus the grasp over the subject are quintessential. Furthermore, it is not my fault that I don’t have a PhD. I won’t get into it as it is a different issue altogether in the given context.

The actual and unofficially aired cause for the rejection of my candidature, that did the rounds of the corridors that mattered, was my Bihar connection. Lo and behold, I appeared in the NET from Kolkata, withstood interviews and made my dedication towards my chosen profession very clear. But it is the stigma of Bihar, which became my undoing.
At present, I am a part time Lecturer in a reputed Government College, where I have been teaching since November, 2003.I got the job because of my NET eligibility.

But then I could’ve had full time lectureship.

I am not complaining, but merely stating that now I have become a “Bihari”. If my degrees, from Bihar, were false, how did I clear NET, faced long interviews, have my students well placed abroad by competing in various relevant competitive examinations? Here I do not want to extol about my capabilities but want to lay the bare facts out in the open.

Just imagine, in an Independent Country, I do not know who I am: a Bengali or a Bihari? Nobody (people who decide the fate of a person’s career) considers me as an Indian. While in Bihar, I was a “non-resident Bengali”, in Delhi I was a “resident Bihari non-resident Bengali” and in Bengal I have been labeled a “non-resident Bihari, speaking Bangla”! And amidst all these, the concerned people have overlooked my Indian citizenship. So it is with many others, I am sure, Maharashtra projecting one of the most glaring examples in recent times.

I am afraid that this problem will rise exponentially, with the demand for and creation of many more states. The country is being fragmented or rather fresh boundaries are being drawn as new states, in our country’s map. True, this might help in better governance and addressing the local issues, by the decentralization of power.
But a serious backlash would be a further rise in this regional feeling; as if other discriminations based on caste and religion are not enough. Rather with more and more states, this uprising of regionalism will get a license to be exercised: nationalism being torn while the boundaries are etched.

I sincerely hope, the states do not become malignant tumour crippling the working of a united nation. We should’ve the right to exercise our rights as Indians instead of being pushed into the regional quagmire of being a Bihari, Bengali, Punjabi………etc. the number of such “names” being equal to the total number of states!
States are building blocks of the country, like a “dx” in Calculus, which when integrated over a specified range gives the entire picture, here the country. But they can never supersede the country in significance and importance.

I am sure of my identity. I am an Indian.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
11th January, 2010

Self-Proclaimed Judge

Self-proclaimed Judge

We are all self-proclaimed judges, albeit to a varying degree. Simply because we are judgemental. But “judgement” means, as per the dictionary (yes, again that sacred book which is indispensable to me and without its help I refrain from using words: from fear of misinterpretation on the part of the readers and unintentional distortion of views and facts that need to be expressed, on my part!), “ability to make sound decisions”; while “judgemental” is scripted as adj (i) of judgement, (ii) being overly critical of others.
Whence I don’t know whether “being judgemental” can qualify at all as a positive trait. “Judgemental” can indicate towards a positive lineage only if the judgement is a judgement in the true sense (which it seldom is when one is judgemental) and not a proxy, which is primarily based on hearsay and prejudices. Judges are supposed to pass sound judgements instead of being judgemental. Judgemental, brings an element of self-involvement and makes it all the more difficult to elevate the self beyond the horizon of “bias”.

We as human-beings, on being exposed to various happenings: from downright mundane to outright adrenalin pumping----come up with theories behind it. We pass our judgement on the role of the participant/s and the validity or otherwise of the incident/s.
Theorizing, which we as students of Chemistry do quite a bit, is an outcome of, either or combination or all, the following factors:

(i) Generalisation :- When the same outcome is had from similar ingredients: participants, circumstances etc., we generalize that given the similar situation, the interaction between amimate or animate & inanimate subjects will yield the same result.
(ii) Retroanalysis:- Analysis done in retrospect . It is somewhat analogous to generalization, rather is its precursor, differs a bit in as much as a generalization is laid only when it attains the tag of “ being unarguably true” after innumerable analyses & retroanalyes. In analyses we need to keep an open mind instead of being rigid. We shouldn’t be afraid to find faults in our assessment of the situation. Rather should be our own biggest critic, as it is quite possible that we might be wrong (to err is human). Only then, possibly, we will attain the absolute truth.
(iii) Call of Prejudice:- This makes us do things which we deem to be correct. Prejudice blurs our vision with a wrong notion that we are right and others are wrong. We wish to see events unfurl according to our thought-to-be correct way/s. We want others to behave as per our dictates (doesn’t that make us dictators?!). If they fail to do so, we adjudge them to be in the wrong. All this because prejudice as a word, ‘has its root’, if I am not wrong, in “prejudge” which means “to form a judgement before knowing all the facts”, while “prejudice” is “an opinion based not on reason or experience”. In other words, being predisposed /pre-committed towards a particular judgement irrespective of the facts, which aren’t cared to be considered in totality.
Thus, prejudice leads to bias, rather is synonymous. Whence theories when lean upon (i) more, with help from (ii) but not entirely on (ii) and definitely not even a bit on (iii) for their existence, are successful in doing so. If not they end up being mere smear on the pages of time.

We all are liable to such indiscretions: intentional and unintentional as well, if we are not careful with our views. True, our Constitution accords us the “Freedom of Speech” but while speaking, either through our voiced words or written words, we should remember that the “freedom” is not from the underlying responsibility that comes with it as a “combo-pack”. In trying to utilize the freedom of speech the barrier of responsibility is not to be breached and domain of irresponsibility is better left un-encroached, at least by the educated, in the true sense, people. Issues need to be raised; more so if they have a high controversy quotient, in proper manner at a proper place at a proper time, instead of trying to encash its publicity possibilities. That is, if the corrective measures are really meant and desired.

Thus, when I came across the two articles in Pune Mirror (of TOI, Pune), dt.28th Oct.’09, I was stunned, to say the least. One has the excerpts from the book “Who Killed Karkare” by the honourable former IG Police, Maharashtra, Mr.S.M.Mushrif and the second one, a review of the book by Dr.Sumit.S.Paul.
As we approach the day of 26/11 a year after the deplorable acts of indefinable magnitude, I can’t quite express the feelings welling up within and so it is, I am sure with all my fellow citizens. I have no words to express my solidarity with the people who have lost their loved ones in the incident. But I am with them, for sure, in however minuscule way possible. All of us, as a whole nation and human-beings have lost our fellow beings (there were many non-Indians too at the receiving end of the massacre) and I pray to the almighty to empower them with more strength, to combat their grief, that they have been doing so courageously for the past one-year.

And to decide to pass his own judgement, in the form of his explosive book, to “shed light” on the “factual” happenings: I don’t know how responsible it is. We don’t want to see light in an explosion. We already have had too many real ones and now we want to be spared of the metaphorical one too.

I do not want to question the authenticity of the data he has been supplied with, which he has compiled in the form of the book and complied with his urge to tell the whole world about the “actual” culprits. I am not that qualified nor do I have the requisite privileged information. But I too want to utilize my freedom of speech, as I can’t refrain from asking the following questions:

(a) Whether the case pertaining to the whole chain of spine chilling incidents of 26/11 has been completed & the real and authorized judge has passed the judgement?
I think not. The court of enquiry has not yet been closed.

(b) If so, then the matter is subjudice , pending with the specific court of law.
Under the circumstances coming up with a book with parallel views on the issues (sorry, I haven’t read the book as yet but as much I could envisage from the excerpt) on a subjudice matter is nothing short of “contempt of court”(as much as I know about it).

(c) If he really wants to bring the truth out in the open in the truest of senses, why didn’t he go to “the court” with his findings?

(d) By his insinuations, the evidences collected by various investigating agencies: international as well, and most importantly the FBI; and theories forwarded subsequently by them will be projected as false, at least partially. Did he meet with them and try to “dispel their notion” based on “their less than accurate findings”? He has said that IB will not help in his mission of unraveling the truth. But what about the FBI? He could have surely talked to them. Or has he?

(e) He has tried to solve the mystery of who killed the top cop Hemant Karkare. In that he has adjudged the “Brahminists” (for the first time I was made aware of the existence of such a sect and for that I am really thankful to Mr.Mushrif) as culprits and those as “criminals” who carried out the rest of the very meticulously planned heinous chain of events. Well, it has been proved beyond doubt that our friendly neighbouring nation was involved in it, at least indirectly by allowing the perpetrators use of their soil for the entire planning, if not directly by supplying them with the necessary logistics (that they are strongly denying).
So does Mr.Mushrif wants to state that the evil spirits from the neighbouring nation joined hands with their religious and ideological rivals, “Brahminists” in this country and worked in cahoots sending the “criminals” for the purpose to our country? Does he mean to say, the murder of Hemant Karkare formed a part of the planned mass murders of innocent people? Then how are the “Brahminits” different from his “criminals”, as all perpetrators of crime are criminals in the broad sense? And then who are terrorists? Definitely who spread terror by their dastardly acts. So is spreading terror not a crime? By redefining of terms, as I perceive (I might be wrong), has he not ended up lessening, if not obliterating, the participation of our neighbouring nation? And if so, what message will it carry to the world as a whole when they are trying to help us out on this matter?

Questions can be aplenty. I too have a compelling one, that which has disturbed me for the past one-year: why the three top cops, heads of three different wings, the slained Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte were moving together? Who had given them the orders to go to the same place at the same time in unison? What was the logic behind centralizing/localizing all three, instead of decentralizing them and allowing them the freedom to plan counter attacks from three different sides? God only knows, but I feel in that circumstance they wouldn’t have, at least not all three of them, met with such a cruel fate.
I too can add two and two to get four, but I refrain from doing so, as my retroanalyses might lead me to different two’s than the actual ones in action and would thus make my arrived at four to be inaccurate.

So instead of passing my judgement on a subjudice matter, that which is not pending at my court of law, I pray that the real perpetrators are brought to book via a process that will not utilize the religion of the people concerned as a tool to either falsely implicate them or illegitimately exonerate them. Only then the souls of the departed will rest in peace. My religion, as a true Indian, has this indelible philosophy and ideology imprinted on my heart, soul and mind. And I am sure, so it is with the majority of the fellow citizens. We want justice to be delivered. This is the least that could be done to assuage the pain of the still mourning families and a bleeding nation as a whole.

Lastly coming to the terminal lines of Dr.Paul’s review of the book. He has urged us to read the book, not to discard it and even if we do not agree with the author, we should challenge his views and not the individual. Dr.Paul further states that the sign of an educated and enlightened mind is to entertain an idea, even though one doesn’t agree with it. Very true. Though, I don’t know whether I am properly educated and posses an enlightened mind, at least in this context. But I do know that I wouldn’t have written a book on a subjudice matter. If I had the requisite information worth vouching for, I would have gone to the court of law.
Yes, I challenge this very concept of the author. I challenge the prudence of writing such a book in an already volatile situation. True, the urge to proclaim self, as a judge, is an irresistible lure. But writing a book (which is a finished product of a reaction) on a subjudice matter (which implies the reaction is still in progress), can be LEADING, MISLEADING or MANIFESTATION OF PREJUDICE, if not CONTEMPT OF COURT.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
21st November 2009

The Dilemma of Innovation

The Dilemma of Innovation

If necessity is the mother of invention then the urge to improve is the father of innovation.

As per the dictionary, when something new is introduced it is known as innovation. But when does the need to improve arise? Though as such one doesn’t need any reasons to improve. The term improvement, catalyses its own cause. Still it is dearly wished for, specifically, under the circumstances when the existing situation is either incapable of explaining things pertaining to the matter or falls short of absolute clarification. When faced with such predicament we try to come up with new and additional parameters: applying novel methodology, to overcome the barrier of “in-complete” understanding; even “mis-understanding” falls in that category!

If the quantum of luck is loaded heavily in our favour, we are successful and thus applauded for our innovation/s. We then are labeled as being innovative persons. Well, I too thought that my case would not be an exception (as far as acceptance was concerned). But till date, being faced with the contrary, I am being forced to repose my faith in: “ Exception proves the rule”!

All of you might be asking yourselves directly and me, indirectly, as to what I am trying to state? It is simple. I too tried to innovate and bring about a long awaited change, which unfortunately has still not been accepted, even though it has not been rejected outright as such! Well, it is always better to reject something by keeping mum on the project instead of directly saying no! Forsaking it in the wake of the “crippling power of negativity”! So without saying no, they are transmitting the very implication. But then I do believe in the “power of positive thinking”, as they do too, having proved so by not saying “no”! The identity of “they” shall be made clear subsequently.

Well, I didn’t do any crime by trying to innovate as it is being made out to be. I simply have tried and shall continue in this endeavour of mine, to dispel the wrong notion people have about the subject of Chemistry. It would be more appropriate to state that I am trying to tell people that their inhibition for the subject is because of an illusion that I intend to dispel. When I was a student, I had felt my mates’ discomfort with the subject, which I didn’t. Thankfully. Though it was so because I got the best teacher, one could imagine of. Naturally, Chemistry was a subject not to be shunned but to be admired, to me. More so because it served as the window of understanding finer nuances of life as well. To me, Life and Chemistry have intermingled so homogenously that it is impossible for me to draw a “line of control” between the two!
Also as a teacher now, I find students initially appalled by the subject. This incidentally seems paradoxical to me. Why do they take Chemistry if they have such an impression of it? Well, that’s besides the point. Seeing the unaltered feeling for the subject from my student days till now as a teacher and being armed with the answers to unlock the mystery surrounding the subject of Chemistry, I want to share what I know, what I keep on accumulating as time progresses, for the benefit of all. This is a truly selfless intention on my part. Well, generally all innovations are so, barring the ones used for destructive purposes.

You might ask as to how I planned to do it, who would benefit from it, how would it happen; I would like to answer chronologically.

(i)I enlisted my experiences, gathered as a student and later as a teacher in a classroom, till date. They surprisingly had immense similarities with the chemical happenings. So much so that they could be analogized. Thus theories of Chemistry could explain our day-to-day to experiences and vice-versa. I decided to give a shape to my realizations and share the benefits of my understanding. And in trying to do so I ended up creating a book. Written with the best of interests in my heart and mind. Naturally, now I need someone to publish it.

(ii) Speaking of its “benefit quotient” and range of applicability, primary thing it will do is remove the inhibitive halo surrounding the subject. I have heard umpteenth times that “Chemistry is a boring subject. Requires cramming and whence, naturally is felt to be boring and repulsive”. Well, there couldn’t be anything more inappropriate. To me cramming is memorizing without understanding which can have only one outcome: indigestion! The approach towards the subject has to change.
Thus students, who are having and will have in the near and distant future, a harrowing time with it, will find it a handy handbook. An illusion-dispelling manual.
Teachers too stand to benefit, if they are open to the idea of looking at things from a different angle. I don’t intend to say that they have to follow all what has been put down by me. I never for once, mean disrespect to teachers. It is just that they might find a new window, providing a different view, which allows them to think differently. We evolve everyday and if this evolution is for the betterment, then the theory of profit and loss impels us to embrace the profit!

The next area wherein the manual of my ideas might make its presence felt is our regular dealings with our fellow human beings .

(iii) It might seem that I have taken leave of my senses. Yes I have been termed “abnormal” time and again. But to prove my point I need to be heard through my written words. That is why I wrote this book. It is a book having a concrete manuscript, though time and again still being edited by me. Why I say that it has been written with the best of interests is the fact that it is the fact! I felt that by sharing my thoughts I would be giving back the subject something, that has given me so much. Well, I can never dare to quantify what I have got but at least I can try and help others to love the subject so that its appeal increases and subsequently, followers too.
I know for sure the potential of the book, which is a result of innumerable retro analyses and high percentage of successful predictions.
Apart from the student and teachers of the subject, we human beings as such stand to learn a lot from it with respect to the human behaviour. Human bonding, in other terms, relationship (check my blog “relationship” on page, or lack of it too, can be explained with quite a bit of accuracy. I take guarantee of that. That is why I refrain from calling it a book of Chemistry. Rather it is a book on Life from the angle of Chemistry and vice-versa. So it would be foolish to bind it in the realms of Chemistry. It transcends all boundaries.

But for all of this to happen the book needs to be published. The reputed publishers, some whom I had contacted earlier, don’t want to take the risk of taking up the project, which they think will incur a huge loss. I can understand the predicament of the publishers and what I state here is with due regards to them. After all who spares a moment of thought for a mad person who is a writer by passion and not by profession.
Though at the moment I am in talks with some of them. I want myself to be taken seriously only because of the potential of the book and its wide range of applicability. It is not that this is my first writing. There are many but I am not trying to promote them or publish them. They are merely my thoughts. But this one, I know will be beneficial to many. So this ardent desire to publish it.

I was even asked to frame it in the prose form with a flowing style. With due regards to the suggestion, since I didn’t know how such a topic could acquire the form of a prose, I did the best I could thereof to suit the requirement. I am thankful to that person for the suggestion, as I could know what was lacking. But then I tackled it in a way I felt appropriate for the cause.

In this regard, people find it easier to flow with the stream of conventional writings and when translated to authors, established ones. The impulse to invest in an amateur author, that too with an abstract idea will be in the negative that I do understand, with due regards to the publishers and the various vagaries of the publishing world. But still I don’t understand this high degree of difficulty in accepting innovations. Why? Is it because of inertia of apprehension? It seems that “no” is a reflex answer. An amateur will remain so, an eternal debutante, unless given the first chance to shed that tag.
And in my case, deadly innovation coming from a first-timer is a seemingly hopeless situation! Two negatives do not make positive always! Thus I have landed myself in a dilemma: as to what to do which to use my manuscript for the desired purpose; all because of my innovations. I never envisaged that an innovation leads to a dilemma, and even if I had, it is true, I wouldn’t have shelved this project. It has consumed much of my sparse time that I have happily devoted, and continues to do so. But for a good cause. And now it is up to you all to put and end to my Dilemma of Innovation. This can so happen only in if it culminates in publishing. All other means of getting it published have met with roadblocks till now.
This is a petition to help me out in this endeavour to end the dilemma, otherwise people will think not twice, but many times before innovating. Innovations if aborted, prohibit the birth of conventions.

16th December, 2009

Economics of Economy

Economics of Economy

The status of our country is now defined in terms of “inflation” and “growth”. Various analyses are being incessantly forwarded in validation of these arrived at conclusive definitions. The advent of a plethora of TV channels, private, is deemed “a must” for creating awareness amongst us, the common people, regarding the supposed “burning issue”. True, burning issue it is, but not in the sense it is being projected. Rather the “literal implications” would be a better advertisement, as it is literally burning the wallets!

I cannot quite fathom the depth of such in-depth analyses that we invariably find ourselves subjected to whenever we switch on our television sets. As I am a person of the “chemical field”, my neurons are not that receptive to finance. So I am at a loss when confronted with such discussions. Instead of appreciating the efforts of the people, experts of their field: who try to so hard to explain such “terms” with respect to their implications and applicability, I end up more confused. Confused because I do at least tackle my own finances necessitated by my required visits to the market. It is here that the disparity between what is being projected and what we are actually facing, comes to the fore. Thus the aura of the percentage analyses compounds the confusion.

Inflation, the word, is sourced to “inflate”, which means an amorous increment over the present status (of the parameter under consideration). Inflation is noted as price increase. Whereas, every other day, we are being informed that the rate of inflation has touched a record low. Then quite inconspicuously the statement is reversed projecting an upward inflation.
This swinging projection of inflation has left me perplexed. And further inexplicably India is in the forefront of the countries with “Growing Economy”. We too are concerned with “Economy” & “Inflation” & “Growth”. And we’ve a right to know as well. True, we do not understand the technical jargon but are being forced to face the hard ground reality. We can feel the severe pinch on our pockets when the hard earned money is being drained without allowing us any scope to provide a friction on this flow! We have been reduced to mere hapless martyrs at the altar of our growing economy.

Let us consider some of the basic realities affecting all, though the extent might vary. The price of 1kg “potato”, the maximum consumed vegetable, crossed the Rs 20 mark and even hovered around Rs 30. Onions, have activated the lachrymal glands manifold with its pricing at Rs 36-40/kg. Other vegetables too are not lagging behind. Pulses have hit the century mark with cereals too vying for a high score. Cooking oil with its price makes one wish to be endowed with talent so as to cook without oil! All other edibles are gradually stretching people to their limits.

I refrain from mentioning the state of the non-vegetarian items to make this petition universal in applicability.

Then there is the case of drug pricing. Drugs too are giving all other essential goods a run for their money.
Herein I have restricted myself to one of the most rudimentary requirements, edibles.

Amidst all this mayhem the poor common man is made to run from pillar to post. And at the end of the day is left panting like an overworked Alsatian!

Just imagine, with India having a huge population below the poverty line (BPL), what these people are being subjected to, if we, the middle class, are hit so badly. Without having an even a proper shelter, they have been rendered miserable with the price of essential and elementary (just imagine, potato has become a big revenue generator leaving these hapless people wondering!) goods skyrocketing.

Yes, I am aware of the “Supply & Demand Theory”, with the parameters having an inverse relation. Given the exponential rise in population, demand will always be much greater than the produce and availability of the goods. This naturally implies that there should be a sharp increase in the prices. But to what extent? Is the rate of increase infinite?

Leave aside the increase of prices and its extent. This I can understand to some extent. But what intrigues me is the correlation between this mindless price rise vis-à-vis economy and growth. When the lower middle class and the middle class is finding hard to make ends meet, India’s economy is growing! True, even people BPL are surviving. “How”, is nobody’s lookout. The natural instinct and craving for survival is keeping them afloat and not their affluence. So is there any need, even to try, to bring down the prices?

Here I have focused only on food and drug. The trend is seen to be prevalent in matters of covering (clothing) themselves and procuring a shelter (house). All taken together, this presents not a rosy picture of an economic growth, but a frightening proposition, of decimating such people.

I don’t understand anything of conventional economics. But I do know that people don’t buy luxury items everyday; even those who can, don’t. But yes, goods of daily needs need to be bought: both by people who, can, and even those who can’t! Those who can’t are forced to spend beyond their limits to survive. It is not the affluence of the affluent, which makes any difference to the growth of the economy. They will spend, without any stress, under any circumstances.
It is the major cross-section of people below that level, who should decide the economic growth. Nobody buys a TV, refrigerator, air-conditioner etc., daily. But everybody has to buy edibles and medicines. These are essential and emergency items.

So if the price of the essential goods were increased there would be a sharp growth of the market. But the saddest and the cruelest part is the “manipulated projection” of economic growth. People are being forced to spend more, which is being deliberately advertised as an enhanced spending capacity, as a manipulated extrapolation. This in turn implies an increase in the income. Though salaries have been hiked but so has the market rate, which has increased for one and all. But the fact remains that the pay packets of all have not been graced by increment. There are sections of the society who have been denied of this blessing of bulkier pay packet. But given the universality of the increase in the market rate, they now stand cursed by this exorbitant price rise.
Do they, rather all of us, have any option but to accept the situation and aid in “such” a growth of our country’s economy?

If the spending capacity of the citizens is one of the parameters on which the economic growth depends, then isn’t India’s economic growth manipulated? If not in totality, at least even partially? The motto seems to be: increase the price of essentials, force people to buy them by spending their hard-earned money and project a country whose citizens are apparently so well-to-do that the economy is thriving.

When common man is barely surviving, how can that country be on the path of a growing economy?

Though I am not a person of Economics, I am not economical with my words. And though I do understand price rise to be an inevitable outcome of population blast, I do not understand how this can be the reason of economic growth.
I would definitely like to get under the skin of this Economics of Economy. So long I don’t have the answers, to me, this projected economic growth is nothing but an outcome of manipulation mechanism.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
23rd December, 2009.

Intention vs Repercussion

Intention vs Repercussion

The intention of the HRD ministry to do away with the Class-X Board Examination in the CBSE schools by relegating it to the status of “optional”, in lieu of the “soon to be” erstwhile (is to be implemented from the year 2011) “mandatory” must have been based on some valid reasons. The decision makers are all learned people and as long as the policies are introduced with the benefit of the students as the sole catalyst, they shall be welcomed. The future of the country (and the world, when looked at the larger picture) is actually in the hands of the kids of today.
But normally no “vision” that is translated into policy attains its full potential in our country, however well-meaning the policy-makers are. Maybe this is a case of “Statistical Improbability”! Though the purists might disagree with my interpretation of the cause, the glaring evidences can’t be ignored even if various theories are forwarded after the retro-analyses of such instances.

The actual problem lies in the fact that the policy-makers, the people who are entrusted with the job of implementing them and those who become the custodian of the policies by executing the policies are not the same people; they are all different. The same set of people can’t look into the three different aspects simultaneously. The inherent impossibility requires decentralization of the labour to see the fruition of the policy. But whether the policy will fully blossom into a beautiful flower or will have a stunted blooming depends upon the intent and sincerity of the people involved.
The policy-makers, having envisioned the idea, have an attachment with it like their own baby. But the ones who implement these to be subsequently executed by the executors need to share the same vision by being sincere in their share of the work. But this seldom is the case even if the policy-makers come with some great policies with the best of intentions. Thus the chain either breaks completely or loses intensity and direction.

I am apprehensive of this very fate awaiting the decision of abolishing the Class-X Board Examination by the HRD ministry. Well, this is not a negative thinking which it might apparently seem to be. “Frequent occurrences of coincidences lead to generalization”- to quote myself! As then coincidences lose their identity. Still I am keeping my fingers crossed!

While formulating the policy it has been decided that there shall be internal assessment through Class-IX and Class-X. The assessment is being called Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation, CCE, spread out over a specified number of class tests and evaluation procedures. I quite agree with the method, as the continuous evaluation will necessitate a student to be regular with the studies.
But the problem lies in it’s implemention by the schools concerned. The interpretation of the policy should not be ambiguous, rather be absolute to maintain parity and thus avoid victimization of students of different schools.

Furthermore, the most fearsome factor here is the party who will execute it—the teachers. Yes, you have read the last sentence absolutely correctly! I would be a hypocrite, if I ignore this fact I myself being a teacher.
Teachers, though not all but a very high percentage of them, have forgotten their “actual calling”. Rather it would be more correct to say that instead of educating the kids in the true sense, they consider “minting money” their actual vocation. Their main aim is to “earn” and not make students “learn” the nuances of the subject, leave aside helping in the character building of the students.

I am aware of the various methods they adopt to coerce the students of their own school in enrolling for private tuitions with them in spite of the kid’s utmost dislike for and disillusionment regards, the teacher. If they dare to defy, they face the wrath of the teacher in the form of “being failed” in the examination or secure very less marks (that is if they are lucky enough).
Still do you feel that my fears are misplaced? The absolute powers in the hands of the “in-house” teachers might boomerang. There is multitude of options with varying degree of corresponding misappropriation. Situation can become highly volatile given the deceit and conceit prevalent, shamefully and unpardonably in this “once” noble profession.

Though the policy is worth a try and I also know that it will have its teething troubles, I think it should primarily incorporate a “rider” on the assessment powers of the executors—the teachers. Maybe by creating a panel of teachers in each school, comprising of a select few of unimpeachable integrity and highest caliber as teachers, will see to the attainment of the full potential of the policy. If not, this intention of the HRD ministry will have far reaching and hurting repercussions which will force the policy makers to mull over the “retro-intention” of chucking off this new “intention” proposed towards the betterment of education.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
14th September 2009

Illusory Success

Illusory Success

How I was misled into believing that my protest against the electioneering process has met with success. And likewise my blog, “Success for Protest” posted on the 13th of October, must have misled my readers into believing the same. I express my apologies from the bottom of my heart.
Oh! I am sorry, you all must be wondering as to what I am apologizing for. Then let me tell you that it pertains to the information I had shared with you all about the incorporation of the “None of the above option (NOTA)” button in the EVM during the recently held assembly polls in Maharashtra. I had expressed my elation and the corresponding relief on coming to know from the TOI, Pune, 13th October,2009 that this time around the Election Commission had taken the right step towards truly empowering us with our voting right. Because that is what NOTA would have done, where voters are not coerced: by people around as well as conscience, to go to the polling booth to exercise their franchise. This actually leads quite frequently to voting in favour of somebody by default and not by natural choice, in absence of a candidate truly worthy of being people’s representative.

Going through the TOI of the said date, I got the impression that NOTA had been incorporated as an option in the EVM. But alas, in the Pune Mirror (a supplement of the Pune, TOI) dated 22nd October, my illusion, as it turned out to be, was dispelled. It was not so. Rather those who wanted to cast their “no-vote” had to ask for form 17(C) for such type of voting. Thousands did opt for it, but it was possible only where the polling officials were aware of such process of “negative voting”. Contrary to this there were various booths where the polling officials didn’t know of such a provision and thus voters with wanting to opt for NOTA were turned away just like the incidents that happened during Lok Sabha polls in Kolkata on 13th May,2009.

I don’t know why the provision wasn’t included in the EVM itself, when otherwise electronic machines are being preferred over the old format of paper/hard copy. This would have made the implementation and execution of the idea possible in the correct sense. Of course, if there had been a sincere intention for the purpose it would have been there. When the names of the candidates, their umbrages (parties/independent) were being included why couldn’t this NOTA button be not included. It would have required much less space!

God only knows what made its inclusion in the EVM, wherefrom its accessibility would have been total, impossible. Or was it a case of “God Forbid” for the parties and persons concerned. Because had the voters had the access to this total empowerment then the possibility of success for the parties would have been bleak and the political scenario would have been spared of the political pollution: pollutants are known to all! Thus the imminent feeling of, “God Forbid, if the people are allowed to voice their true opinion we will be jobless and most importantly shall suffer from the dreaded disease called cold pockets” might have been the decider against its inclusion. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and needless to mention how these public servants (netas) shamelessly flaunt their power for all imaginable as well as unimaginable purposes: all as self-servants. Servants they are of self as they are not able to curb their vices. They suffer from the impression of being masters of all when the truth is that they are not even their own masters in the true spiritual sense. So if they are not elected the inherent perks too will become non-existent! The mere thought is enough to turn them into insomniacs.

I can’t think of any other reason for this incomplete effort towards the required improvement, when it could have been completed with lesser effort. Even if I accept the fact (?!) that it was impossible for the incorporation of NOTA in the EVM in such a short time, I would like to be convinced then why the Election Commission didn’t take the adequate measure to educate the polling officials during the training that is held for the recruited officials before they head off for their respective duties. It is either the failure of the EC or the officials feigned ignorance of the provision: chances for the latter are feeble. How far the EC is an independent body is not too difficult to fathom. Whatever is their status they can’t wash their hands off the issue. It is they who have been entrusted with the duty of carrying out the electioneering process in the best possible way with the sole option of improvement! It is high time the EC proved its independence by rising above the political manouvering.

Me on my part am very sorry for giving you all information that was not exactly exact. Maybe my interpretation of the news was wrong or I was too eager to believe that my much thought-of suggestion was being implemented. Drawn into feeling of being successful, which unfortunately turned to be illusory, elated me. But I am sure one day everyone will realize that the only way to convert the “illusion” that we now have, of real voting right, into “illusory” is the inclusion of NOTA option in the EVM (multiple of two negatives is a positive). Only then it will be the real voting right and not an illusory one that it presently is. I am waiting for such a day of disillusion, as not always disillusion signifies enlightenment.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
7th November,2009.

Success for Protest

Success For Protest

Whenever there is a “Success For Protest”, it gives a sense of accomplishment. And if the “protest” is for a greater cause, this “sense” increases manifold, transcending the boundaries of satisfaction that is associated with self-gratification or ego-satiation.

The reason for this post of mine is a decision arrived at and being implemented with immediate effect as well.

My valued readers must be aware of a blog of mine, “Right of Right”. It was a result of a thought, given my disillusionment with the electioneering process and which furthermore forced me to stay put in my house on the day Kolkata went to vote for the Lok Sabha polls on 13th Of May, 2009. The need that I felt for the incorporation of a “None of the Above Option” button in the EVM’s was later on vindicated, as far as the ethos behind it was involved, by the existence of Rule 49(O) of the Constitution—effectively the Right to exercise a “no vote” (which I came to know of after the birth of the thought).
Today, as reported in the Times of India (dt.13.10.09), Pune I find an acceptance for my idea, by the incorporation of a “No Vote” button as a protest vote, verbatim as “None of the Above Option” which they have abbreviated as NOTA, in the EVM’s for the Maharashtra Assembly Polls which is at the moment underway today, the 13th October,2009. That is, exactly five months after the day Kolkata voted for the Lok Sabha and I voiced my protest and also the way to combat the malady. This shows (quite unprecedented!) that the people involved in the process and the ones who throng the corridors of power and have the final say on such matters, really want to bring about whatever little improvement that can be brought about.

I don’t proclaim that it was I and only I, who came up with this idea as I am sure that many more like-minded fellow citizens feel and felt the same way and are thus instrumental in bringing about the welcome change. Such things require a collective push.

But yes, I am happy that this “Protest” of mine has met with “Success”.

This will definitely help our “Democracy” to inch a bit closer to the real “Democracy”. Henceforth, people like me, will throng the election booth even if it is for the sake of lodging a “protest vote”, in the absence of any acceptable candidate. Of course, that depends on the extension of the same decision to the subsequent Assembly Polls all over India and also in the Lok Sabha Polls.
And yes, this decision of incorporating the “No Vote” button has warmed the cockles of my heart, filled it up with a sense of achievement for having thought-of something worthwhile which will touch the lives in the long run of “ALL”. This is a self-confirmation for having done something, however minuscule, and thereby justify and honour to some extent my existence on this earth.

This also proves that we all should shed the feeling of “What’s the use?” when faced with happenings worth protesting. Engulfed with a feeling of futility for protest we end up being inactive. Maybe at first one will not be heeded to, but if one persists with it and has the intentions of sincerest variety, ultimately it will be “OF USE”.
Furthermore, our job is to go about doing our bit and leave the outcome on “Time”. We should be and are responsible for things in our hand, instead of things that depends on others. If we keep on saying “they won’t do anything about it, so we won’t protest”, then we behave as irresponsible citizens. How can we expect others to act if we ourselves don’t?

So I thank from the bottom of my heart for accepting my proposal as also of all other fellow citizens. This will really empower us with the “Right of Right” to reject the candidates if none of them is acceptable instead of choosing a person by default, a case of bad person among the worse being better, merely for exercising our franchise. It will be a “choice of choice” and the percentage of voting will increase exponentially and the indifference for the process will decrease likewise.

I sincerely hope that many more such suggestions will be given a serious thought. Together we can all make a difference. And if I am a sharp critic of the establishment, I shall be the first one to applaud and appreciate the efforts made towards creating a better tomorrow.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
13th October,2009

Existence of Realisation

Existence of Realisation

I am not a bonafide philosopher nor do I dare to consider myself even as a fake one! I simply draw conclusions with respect to the cause and effect of the experiences that life subjects me to. Of course these retro analyses are facilitated by my training as a student and teacher of Organic Chemistry.
But still Life has an elusive quality wherein it eludes the “cause and effect” theorizing: be it a chemical or philosophical approach.

This very elusive nature of happenings around me, and involving me in as much as encasing my actions and reactions, has forced me to delve deeper into the innermost recesses of my heart and mind in search of answers. And as I have been successful to some extent I hope to continue in the same vein in the remaining years of my life. Life, which, apart from many things is a journey. As of the other facets of life to me, I can’t deal with it now. They have been compiled in what I call as of now, my proposed book, which I am afraid, one has to read if there is a corresponding urge. Of course that will be possible only when the book is published! Till then sorry to keep you all in a suspended suspense!

Coming to my introspective study, I must confess that this made me aware of the “Existence of Realisation”, within, which was present earlier as well but I had failed to acknowledge its presence. So caught up I was in the factors around me that I had overlooked the finer factors that gave me my individuality: engrossed in things outside, instead of those inside, waiting for it’s deserved due.

Quite contrary to the reflections off this piece, I don’t intend it to be a spiritual discourse. I am too small a person. I rather prefer to be an able disciple of my conscience. And I don’t know whether there is any concrete connection between soul and conscience. In fact my conscience tells me not to get bogged down with such a complicated matter! Though I must admit that it is not always that I am able to follow the directives of my conscience. Situations do crop up that force me to act in contradiction instead, by way of a compromise mechanism.
This continuous learning process has made me realise that all our life we crave for satisfaction. Satisfaction, which is a precursor of peace. As the level of satisfaction increases more facile incubator of peace we are rendered.

The experiences of my recent past, as also the cumulative experiences that stretch well past the recent past, have forced me ask myself what actually is satisfaction? Is it the same thing as contentment? As to the second question I got “no” for am answer. And for the first, when I honestly looked around and within, myself, the conclusion I arrived at is that most of us set “conditions as parameters” for satisfaction and the most common of them are two.

The first in my list is, Ambition. We have ambitions depending upon the goals that we set for ourselves. On fulfillment of the ambition/s we feel satisfied and if not, the contrary makes its presence felt. Well, there is no harm in setting goals and having ambitions. Rather it is quintessential for having a meaningful life. But don’t you think that we end up “overdoing” the ambition aspect to an extent of obsession at times? This forces us to go to or stoop to any extent to achieve it. Our ambitions are generally restricted to achievements, which are essentially of physical/materialistic nature. We crave for high position in a company we work for the corresponding power (to wield), prestige (at times a namesake of mere ego) and money (to buy all imaginable things). True, intellectual satisfaction might sneak in, though the priority accorded to it is not the topmost.

Unfortunately, seldom our ambition is to become a good human-being primarily, with an honesty in our efforts towards lighting up at least the face of one person with a genuine smile, per day. The feeling that wells within is overwhelming and my perception gives it the name of satisfaction to me. Though it is a fact that ambition and satisfaction are two faces of a coin, still if a line, a proper one is not drawn between the two, the coin turns out to be fake. Thankfully, I have freed myself of this confusion and now my ambition is satisfaction with no ambiguity lurking in my mind.

The second factor and the one that had taken a frightening grip on my perception was the urge to be appreciated. I used to feel that if I am appreciated then the feeling generated within was satisfaction. But this is not the truth. In trying to impress others I suppressed my natural instinct and protests of my conscience.
Now with age and commensurate maturity I have recognized the Existence of a thing called Realisation, within. And this tells me that I was not correct in my assessment of satisfaction totally, if not being wrong completely.

It is not that now I do not appreciate being appreciated! But appreciation to me is another mode of encouragement. And I too had loved to merely please others but the emotions don’t quite compare with what I feel when I find my actions have profound and positive effects on my near and dear ones and also the various people whose lives I have been honoured to touch, actions that do not contradict my conscience as well.
It now gives me the sense of fulfillment and contentment, which to me is the actual satisfaction. It soothes the conscience which I can now face without any guilt. While I teach and the face of the students light up with understanding, the feelings within is quite inexplicable. Priceless. To be able to do something meaningful justifies the purpose of my existence on this earth: coming in handy in however small but yes, meaningful way.
This fulfillment is the essence of being. Because, it is felt only when things are enacted as per the wishes of the conscience, which is seldom wrong.

Contrary to this, the craving for an appreciation (of the selfish variety), gives many a times false sense of acceptance and equally superficial feeling of redemption. Though it is true that at times we are not able to assess ourselves properly, still we need to hone our self-assessment powers. Acceptance and appreciation are relative words; they are neither universal in nature nor are they so in their applicability. Too much dependence on them leads to “else-satisfaction” and “self-satisfaction”, whence unable to act as a true source of true satisfaction.

On the spiritual and intellectual levels self-satisfaction == self-gratification.

But this is not so on the physical level, wherein these are equated and conscience ignored.

If appreciation is immaterial but actions are carried out with a genuine intention to be profitable to others and at the same time are intensely satisfying to self, then those actions obliterate materialistic reasons for the deed.
Then “else-satisfaction” == “self –satisfaction”.

These are my perceptions and I don’t intend to push for the tag of “universal” for them. But when I defy my conscience even if unintentionally, it gnaws at the core of my being as this defiance doesn’t augur well with me. But please don’t have the notion that this narration of mine is intended to paint myself as a perfect individual. That is not true as it is an impossibility. Nor I am trying to brag. I am a simple person, who has been enlivened by this realization that has led to an irrepressible urge to share it with you all. I myself have been guilty of grumbling as I used to feel that I have got (from life) less than what I felt I deserved. To me accomplishment of visible things were real accomplishment and food for true satisfaction. I cribbed over what I didn’t have quite conveniently ignoring to appreciate what I have. Now I realize how wrong I was.

This “Existence of Realisation” has carved a special place in my life, specially, over the past one year. It has made realize my errors committed over the years. I cannot rectify those errors as one’s actions and reactions in life are like chemical changes, given their irreversibility. But yes, I can promise myself that I shall try to avoid the repetitions of errors: same or of different type, as well. That will be the true fulfillment: personal as well as professional (there is much scope for improvement in my teaching, as also some commitments made to self).
The realization of the “Existence of Realisation” has made me realize that my ambition is attaining the satisfaction, of my definition. Becoming a good and true human-being is the ultimate achievement thus. All other physical and thereby visible accomplishments, though necessary to an extent, are mere “Punctuations” in this journey called Life.
Sushmita Mukherjee,
6th August, 2009

Admirable is Enviable

Admirable is Enviable

“Neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride”. This was the line used in the advertisement for Onida TV many years ago. Most probably it was their advertisement for launch of the product. Whatever it was, I do remember one thing related to that advertisement: I simply hated it. There were, rather are, as I still feel the same, two reasons for that. I was a kid (studied in Class-V) at that time and the visual effect of that advertisement affected me nauseatingly. Secondly, I didn’t quite agree with the inherent philosophy. To me envying is a negative trait and pride if not tempered, takes the form of ego, again something, which I only like, till the extent it symbolizes self-respect. To me the optimum, limiting and acceptable value of ego is respect for self. Thus far and no farther. It prevents me from being spineless and at the same time helps me to respect others. While in excess of it, will make me an egoist and a snob. Hence the proud use of “pride” and “envy” was not acceptable to me. Little did I understand about “catch lines and phrases”, which, I do now. Though I still stick to my feelings! I can’t envy anybody’s pride!

Well, my esteemed readers and more specifically who have been kind enough to go through my earlier posts, might wonder as to why I am wandering away from my normal areas of concern, that I deal with through my words? Why this departure from the sensitive issues: affecting our society and the country as a whole? Rest assured. I haven’t become insensitive, even to the slightest extent. It actually pertains to a promise I had made to all my readers, would-be, at that time.

In my introductory blog, “Hope to be Read”, I did promise that I shall frequently post my views on the condition that you all will frequent my URL to read my blogs and thus catalyse my subsequent regular posting of views. You all have kept my request, which is evident from the web page views recorded for the respective blogs and I am sure you will continue to do so. And I expect many more new valued readers to visit my web page in the days to come too. But it is I who has failed to keep my end of the bargain. Encouragement I am not lacking, but somehow I have not been able to write as frequently as I would have liked. I apologise for that and for the future as well, because the trend shall continue, in all probability.

Since the intention is there but not the results to vouch for that, I analyzed the malady and its cause. Malady is how I look at it.
As I have stated already encouragement is there. Furthermore I love to write as it takes me to some other world totally and ideas I am not lacking in. In fact they are aplenty. All these factors should have catalysed my writing frequent blogs as promised. But that hasn’t happened. Is it then a case of “malady of excesses”?
It seems to be so! There are so many ideas in the anvil simultaneously that I am failing to prioritize them. Too many ideas craving too come out all at once, the consequence being an outcome akin to a severe traffic jam! None is allowed movement out of the brain!

Apart from that there is another factor that is contributing to the cause. As you all might agree, I am too inclined towards writing on serious stuff. Too thought provoking. I can’t help it as it comes naturally to me in keeping with my bend of mind. As a consequence, it fails to frequently provoke me to write! An excess of deep thinking goes behind each of my posts that leaves my brain exhausted. It takes too much out of me. Thus in spite of the intentions I do not get the adequate driving force for writing frequent blogs. I need time to regroup my thoughts and recharge the cells of my brain before I can again write something meaningful, which satisfies me. The intensity dips and surges periodically forming a wave like pattern for intensity. This makes me a hopeless blogger because I had heard that blog is an online diary. Entries should be made in a diary daily. At least that is what happens with a conventional paper diary.

Last but not the least, the fact that writing is not my profession also has a significant role to play. It is a passionate hobby. And hobbies are attended to only in spare time. Though I must admit that I do accord more time to it than that! Furthermore, I am a teacher. That too by choice and not by default. Whence naturally I love my job very much and am no less passionate about that as well. Teaching to me is a process that requires evolving continuously. The problems faced by students catalyses the improvement of teachers. At least my experiences bear ample evidence of that. Well that is besides the point but what is not is the fact that teaching is not robotic job. For that there is no fixed software to improve and maintain the efficiency of teaching and the teacher. It is an outright profession of “deep thinking” and expressing in as lucid a manner as possible. Thus one part of the brain is engaged 24x7 (of course as the involvement of the sub-conscious cannot be ruled out) in matters pertaining to the academic growth of both self as well as the students. The residual portion of the brain not only has to take care of the penchant for sustaining the hobby but also cannot ignore other things that are important for life sustenance. That means too diluted an attention can be accorded to it. It is how things work for me.
So I thought that before I can write something in my natural genre, in the now synonymous (with me) style, it is better for me to apologise for maintaining an irregular online diary.

But then this doesn’t mean that the people who post blogs regularly are any less busy. In all probability it is just the reverse if not more. My mental make-up limits my all-round efficiency and thus frequency of the blogs. Of course I don’t have any regrets but I do regret promising something that I could not fulfill.
That is why I really admire those who churn out philosophical and social/national awareness generating literary beauties at regular intervals. They do so effortlessly and without much time consumption. Nor do they require much preparation time belting out piece after piece with very little time gap in between.

Very often when one wants to possess the qualities that others have but fail to, it generally ends up in envy towards the person and the capabilities. I too would love to be endowed with the qualities of my fellow writers, but I don’t envy them. Rather I admire them. This blog is a tribute their quality. Had I too been blessed with the same I might not have realized its importance and this piece wouldn’t have resulted.
It is true that generally admirable qualities end up being enviable ones. But to me admiring something admirable is commendable (as is against the normal human nature!) while envying (a normal human reaction!) that which is admirable is not admirable is at all; rather pitiable. “And this nature of mine is neither a matter of pride for me nor should it be a cause of envy to others”! Whence, though admirable is enviable, it is definitely not advisable.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
17th July 2009

Secular Religion

Secular Religion

My favourite pastime is not “system-bashing”, contrary to the image that I might have created for myself through my blogs. Nor I am a political person. But I am a person who is deeply perturbed by the manipulative designs of the people around us. To me, intentional misinterpretation of facts is nothing but distortion, with an ulterior and ultimate aim for manipulations.
Manipulations are best left for the mathematical and scientific calculations. Herein, I really feel for our politicians who try so hard to don the coveted mantle of the “Best Manipulator”!

I know the first paragraph didn’t offer anything in conformity with the title of the piece. But before delving into such a topic I felt it is my duty to pay tribute to the hard work of these manipulators. Maybe they do so even at the cost of sacrificing their sleep! Their effort acted as a driving force for me to take up this subject when actually I was feeling a bit undecided with regards to the topic of my next blog.

I have no qualms in stating that I am a religious person with a strong belief in the Supreme Power, called God. For me religion is a way of life. It helps me to see the light on the other end of a dark tunnel. It is not a binding, being just the reverse. Because of my faith in God, I never can even think of insulting the religious sentiments of others. It has helped me to realize that it is not necessary for a person to be religious by merely belonging to a religion. It is purely an individual’s prerogative. A domain that should not be breached under any circumstances. I think this feeling is shared by majority of the people. Still it is the manipulative intentions of the handful people that are overpowering the sentiments of the majority. You, me or collectively, we; none of us are concerned with the religious polarization of the person who stands next to us. It is only our too well-meaning politicians who are.
In this context and as also otherwise, the word “Secular”, in our Constitution is the favourite word of politicians. Simply because it helps them to reap rich Demographic Dividends. I shall prove my point, but prior to that I will take up the meaning of the words in the title.

The word “Religion”, as per the dictionary means:
(i) system of faith and worship,
(ii) human recognition of personal God or Gods entitled to obedience,
(iii) monastic state.
And being religious means:
(i) imbued with religion
(ii) devout
(iii) person bound by monastic vows.

When I turn the pages for the meaning of the word “Secular”, the following are the findings:
(i) concerned with affairs of this world,
(ii) not monastic or ecclesiastical,
(iii) not religious,
(iv) not sacred,
(v) occurring once in, lasting for, age or century.
And “secularism” is a doctrine that morality should be based only on secular consideration.

Another word that is highly loved by the “well-wishers of humanity” is communal, which according to the dictionary is:
(i) of community,
(ii) for community or common use,
(iii) public,
(iv) of antagonistic communities in district.

The meanings of the “high in demand” words, gives rise to questions that I would like the politicians to answer.

Q.1. It being quite clear that being secular inherently implies being not religious, are all our politicians, Atheist or Agnostic?

Q.2. Don’t they have any religion inherited, by birth?

Q.3. Why do they then visit places of worship, quite demonstratively to appease a section of a particular community while visiting the places of worship of their own religion almost surreptiously or without fanfare that usually accompanies the former?

Q.4. How does a mere statement; letting known one’s religion (by birth or conversion) makes that person communal antagonistically?

Q.5. Wherefrom do they get the perception, thus, that communal and secular are antonyms?

Q.6. If so, then why do they pamper a particular community and by doing so, they claim to be secular, as it can only make them communal as per their own interpretation of the words?

Q.7. For them, why is it only one community that matters, while others are pushed into realms of oblivion to the extent of either being non-existent or at the most are taken for granted?

Given what the politicians practice, it makes them “Communally Secular”. And it is to their own advantage because pampering a distinct community gives them the liberty of doing so without having to necessarily follow the religious inclinations and rituals of the community. Thus they become secular (not religious) by becoming communal.

India is a country, where the majority of the people are Hindus. That automatically relegates the followers of all other faiths to minority. Be it our fellow citizens who are either Christians, or Muslims, or Sikhs, or Jews, or Buddhists: they all belong to the minority community. But still in our hearts we thrive in the Unity amongst this Diversity of beliefs. So why the politicians are concerned mainly about only one minority community, the Muslims? My tirade is against the politicians and not the community.
By doing so the politicians are trying to create a Demographic Divide, simply for political gains. And for that they can go to any extremes of hurting the religious sentiments of the people. Why are not they concerned about the other communities alike?
What I state might seem harsh, but truth is always bitter. I could come up with a sole reason for their discriminatory approach after many thoughtful sessions. It stems from a fact and not any intention of hurting or maligning anybody. The politicians keep pampering the Muslims not because they are genuinely concerned for their rights and well-being. They do so simply because they feel that the Muslims have a greater NAV (Net Asset Value) in the long run in keeping with their high NVV (Net Vote Value), in direct variance with their fastest rate of growth and expansion. Thus they assume that this Demographic Dividend will keep on rising even amidst severest of recessions.
So it is high time that the community itself realizes that it is basically looked upon as a mere vote bank. Instead of asking for special rights, it is better to become miscible with all and stay as one. Because at the end of the day, discrimination in any form is not healthy, more so if it happens to be on the basis of caste and religion. Why to ask for special favours and in the process be singled out? Once we start believing in the concept of oneness it shall become impossible for anybody to divide and hurt us.

To take a step forward in this direction, the first thing that needs to be done is, the removal of the word, “Secular” from the Constitution. Because while taking an oath of office, a minister-to-be, proclaims, “In the Name of the God” (implying God of one’s faith; there being a negligible number of non-believers who affirm that they would bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution while taking oath), to serve the nation. While its presence doesn’t protect common people from the antagonistic activities of various communities from time to time, at the same time it doesn’t provide immunity to the citizens from the misfortunes resulting out of the distortion beyond recognition, of the word, Secular. It is being used as leverage for political gains at the cost of dividing the nation, shamelessly, “In the name of God”. An act of direct defiance to the Power Supreme.

Secular and religion are juxtaposed by definition of the terms in the accepted and universal dictionaries. Being religious can never render a person secular and vice-versa. Religion is a way of life, a guiding light when exercised in the right way. When a religion is given a name, even then, no religion preaches intolerance of other religious inclinations. It doesn’t ask for the sentiments of others to be hurt, because God is “One” Supreme Power, Who never advocates instigation of violence in the name of religion. What we see of a religion generally is an illusion: a deliberately misinterpreted version, implemented by a handful of self-gratifying people.
The politicians by following their brand of “Secular Religion” don the mantle of undisputed “Propagators of Communal Disharmony”. As it is a path, “Religiously Irreligious” (Secular Religion)! So our dear revered leaders and self-proclaimed servants of the nation, “In the Name of God”, before claiming to be secular, think innumerable times. The moment your secularism is flaunted it is actually communalism that gets reflected.

Sushmita Mukherjee
May 29th,2009

A Friend called Foe

A Friend called Foe

I am aware that billions of articles have been written, though all against the move, in direct variance with the amount of financial aid, America has showered on Pakistan in the past and is upholding that legacy in the present, with the same likely to continue in the foreseeable future and ultimately to eternity.
So my views are like a needle in the haystack. But as is with the haystack that ultimately reveals the needle, more often painfully, when the haystack has been searched completely, I feel that my views too shall find a place in the haystack of archives preserving articles on the issue and will reveal itself, albeit not painfully.

I remember an incident from my student days. Specifically when I was a post-graduate student. On that day, our seniors were according us “Freshers Welcome”. In the course of our assessment by seniors, I was asked:

“What would you do if you are made the President of The United States of America (in short America)?”

The perceivable improbability of the option, forced me to answer with the smug logic: “For that I will have to become an American citizen first”.

The seniors that they were didn’t budge an inch and refused to accept my reasoning as the answer and pressed on.

Out of the blue and without my conscious articulation of words, I blurted: “I would stop helping Pakistan”.

Such was the deeply entrenched conviction on the subconscious that Pakistan is sustained by America, their main patrons. And today after so many years have elapsed, I see no reason to have doubts regarding that conviction. The continuing American foreign policy on India and Pakistan has convinced me of the accuracy of my conviction.

I am neither a diplomat nor a bureaucrat and I care a fig about the diplomacy that plans to dissolve our sovereignty by forcing an abject submission at the feet of Uncle Sam.

The question that everybody keeps asking and whose answer is also not that unfathomable is: Why America helps Pakistan, that too unconditionally (at least the world can’t see the conditions, though if they are invisible then the visibility of the conditions should be made conditional!)?
Who has made America the guardian of the World? Oops! Nobody decides anything for America; rather it is the other way round!

Without getting into the details of its various policies, I seek to delve on the one that concerns us, Indians.
Naturally, the burning question in every Indian’s mind, not to mention globally as well, is why America continues to pamper Pakistan? The reason this query crops as an irritant is because of its impact on the international political scenario and more specifically on India. Apparently it seems queer, with the whole world’s knowledge and by the admission of the Americans as well, of the fact that Pakistan is the epicenter of international terrorism with India and anything Indian being their prime target. So even after acknowledging this fact if they keep on providing unconditional financial aid to Pakistan, which is enjoying a borrowed life, reasons are not what are being projected.

The reason America forwards for their sustained sustenance of Pakistan is that it wants to stabilize Pakistan by helping it to eradicate the terror havens that are wrecking havoc in Pakistan as well, along with elsewhere, with India being its major victim. As if the terror havens have sprouted overnight, without the knowledge of Pakistan!

America has been doling out its taxpayer’s money shamelessly and insensitively, as “non-military aid” to Pakistan, to apparently help fight the terror outfits and for the betterment of the life of the innocent Pakistani citizens. But this aid is without any “riders” attached to it, till date. America knows fully well that the money is being used, but not for the purpose implied. Rather, it has been, is being and will be, used for strengthening Pakistan militarily by garnering more and more ammunitions: conventional and nuclear, with the sole objective of using them against India. They have the license too to do so, having quite conveniently evaded the commitment of “no first use”. Thus it is very clear that the term “non-military” as in “non-military aid”, is nothing but a “Burkah” (forgive if the spelling is incorrect) to conceal the actual identity and nature of the aid. It can’t be anything else, under the apparent circumstances. It seems that it is in the interests of the American diplomats and politicians to do so. Because, it is at least not in the interests of the American citizens and various other immigrants who throng that land neither it is in the interests of the world as a whole.

Please correct me, if I am wrong. Why is that after the grievously unfortunate 9/11 incident, America has been spared of such inhuman and dastardly attacks of such a large scale? Not that it should’ve happened anyway. It should not be happening anywhere in the world. But the rude question keeps staring at us, more so with our nation bearing the brunt of such attacks, that too very frequently. The images of the Mumbai tragedy, one out of many that has been inflicted upon us, have left an indelible imprint on the mind and I think has made innocent people more God fearing, if not God abiding. And if that was not enough, India has shook with further terror attacks.
This stark contrasts in the aftermath of such deplorable incidents in the two countries, has thrown up one and only one answer. America, post 9/11, has taken various security measures and God knows what else, to ensure that the great all accommodating nation isn’t ravaged again. Commendable.
But what about us? Post 26/11 Mumbai tragedy, we were not allowed a free hand to take adequate action and prove that we have the spine called self-respect. One word that was given enforcing prominence was: restraint. When Indian Government complied with the American version of restraint, America extended the salvo of praise that added insult to injury. Because this when extrapolated, meant praise for not doing things that should have been done. We were defensive when we should have been the aggressor, the motherland being injured and insulted, not to mention the lives lost and families curtailed. We had to take permission to defend ourselves! So much for the sovereignty of the sovereign, independent country of India.
And paradoxically (no, no naturally, as for them offense is the best defense) what did Pakistan do after 26/11? They increased their troop strength on their border with India, which they scaled down only after pressure (Oh really?) and reassurances (yes, that might be true!) from America. Thus we, despite being the victims where victimized further, as always, by being prohibited from taking adequate counter actions. While Pakistan was, and is being, and shall be, if the trend continues, rewarded for its terrorist activities with billions of dollars. It is like punishing the victim and rewarding the perpetrator!

I have nothing against America or for that matter Pakistan, personally. But when their policies are, in direct conflict with, and attacks, our sovereignty, to an extent of making a mockery of it, it hurts. Whence, harbouring benign thoughts becomes impossible.

Our country, in 1947, got Independence. But by paying a heavy price. In terms of lives lost and a curse called partition, which dissected the country. Has America faced such a dissection? It being the United States of America, it can’t feel the pain and the irreparable damage that accompanies the dissection. Thus, the dual standards, it has set for acceptable reactions in the wake of terror attacks on India vis-à-vis such attacks on its own soil or air or sea. It seems that while taking the oath of office, the people concerned there take the “Hypocritical Oath”.
It is blatant hypocrisy on their part. They proclaim to be our friend. So is it a case of friendly hypocrisy or hypocritical friendship? Because that is what the Indo-American relationship is. Instead of reining in Pakistan, it fills their coffers with the money that quite easily gets translated into destruction inflicting and unleashing items. And paradoxically, India, the land of the great Mahatma Gandhi, is asked to exercise restraint!
Don’t they know, we need not be taught a lesson in restraint? We naturally carry the legacy of Ahimsa with the inertia of Gandhism too strong to overcome and carry out any retaliation, leave aside an unprovoked violent military action. Rather we can teach the world a lesson in restraint, gracefully digesting humiliations more often than not, with our heads held high! So instead of worrying about our actions and reactions, America should tell Pakistan to learn from us. And if it fails to convince Pakistan, at least it itself should take a lesson on Ahimsa from us. Because America is in need of this lesson very dearly. It is America that has started this menacing terror chain and reactions thereof, by supplying the chain sustaining money.

Its first step was to clinically dismantle Russia, the erstwhile USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic), the then only Superpower, apart from its own self. That demolition completed, it stamped its authority as the sole Superpower by extending its own monopoly and exercising its self-proclaimed guardianship (albeit divisive) over the world. In the meanwhile with Pakistan’s help, it created Taliban, to evict the Russian troops from Afghanistan. Now it says that there is a good Taliban and a bad Taliban, with the latter perpetuating terrorist activities. What does this imply? That America created Mr.Jekyll but not Mr.Hyde? Simply absurd. But then they can get away by saying and doing whatever they wish to.
In their very list of nations to be suppressed, India ranks quite high. Because America is perpetually perturbed by the potential of India. It fears India as the intellectual intelligence and talent of Indians can take our nation to great heights wherefrom we shall be a force to reckon with. More importantly we will have the bargaining powers. This is what America doesn’t want. Otherwise what is the reason of providing a lifeline to Pakistan, which actually is diverted and directed towards the sustenance of the terror groups that are hand in glove with the Pakistani militia? Pakistani plea that they themselves are victims of terrorist activities and that these people (terrorists) are “stateless actors” doesn’t convince me. Pakistan with its acts can put even a chameleon to shame; past and present bear enough proof of it to enable its extrapolation for the future as well. Knowing all this and not acting adequately on it, thus makes apparent that it is in America’s interest to keep us occupied with malignant thoughts of subversive activities of Pakistan and on ways to counter it, which again, it will not allow us to use appropriately. By hook or by crook it wants to keep us on the tenterhook.
Thus it is America, which promotes Himsa and not Ahimsa. By shelling out unthinkable amount of money repeatedly to Pakistan, it is sustaining the “Incubator of Terror”. The definition of “incubate” is “to cause bacteria etc. to develop by maintaining temperature”. Well, some bacterias too come to the aid of human beings, but not the terror outfits, that are being incubated by the temperature of American money. Once you create a monster you should control it and if you fail to control it, you should demolish it. America has powers unlimited for the purpose, but instead of doing so it is seemingly intent upon empowering the monster (albeit indirectly!), as it can’t deny the fact with a hand on the heart that Pakistan cannot be believed. Since it is not ready to act sincerely and accordingly, in my eyes America is to be held responsible for all such acts of terror. Mainly American money sustains the terror outfits (along with some other countries as well), so maybe their motherland is spared a bit. After all, there is honour even among thieves and here we are talking of nations. So naturally, one doesn’t dishonour one’s own patron, more so with an eye on long term further gains.

Well, I can’t change the way of things. But as usual can give an unsolicited view, which I have done.
I know American diplomats and policy makers will be peeved by my views. Though I am not quite sure of the reactions of common American citizens and immigrants as they too are reeling from this siphoning of their hard earned money they pay as taxes. So, I challenge the people concerned, there, to defy me, deny me the satisfaction that accompanies a fact when one is right, and prove me wrong by taking some concrete and sincere steps towards the cause that is not a mere eyewash. I assure you, that defeat shall be the happiest defeat of my views and I look forward to that day eagerly. But as of now and as in the past, America with its apparent intent of “brokering peace” has ended up as “breaker” of peace, in Indian context, “brokering tension” by not “brokering” appropriate action. And like all brokers in their varied field, must be gaining commissions. What all are they, I can’t enumerate, but one of them is the loss of the “Sense and Confidence of Independence” of the citizens of Independent India. America says that it has our best interests in its heart. It is our friend.
But what are we to call America, actually?
(i)A Friend?
(ii) A Foe?
(iii) A Friendly Foe?

None of them, as I feel the most suitable tag would be,
“A Friend called Foe”.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
June 14, 2009

Parting with Party

Parting with Party

Whom do we vote for? A specific party or a specific individual? Yes, the questions are distinctly specific! The first one means, irrespective of the person, should our decision be party-dependent. Whereas, the second question asks whether to consider the “person” all-important, relegating the party to irrelevance.
Apart from various other factors, these two too, add to the dilemma during elections while one prepares to exercise or not exercise the franchise. Generally, with the given democratic political system people tend to go with the parties, making the choice of the candidate secondary. Since it is a party, which needs the required number of seats to form the government. But then this has a serious inherent lacuna. True, by opting for the party first, we can make sure that our party of preference has a major, if not exclusive (given the coalition theory in vogue), say in the governance. And this makes us assume that the party, through its candidate, whosoever it might be, will bring about improvements of the amenities in our area. Our problems will not be treated as insignificant. But the fact of the matter is that once the elections are over, the party as a whole doesn’t have the time nor does it spare the time to look into the problems of the different constituencies individually. It is considered to be the prerogative of that representative of the party, people have selectively chosen, to push for their cause. I don’t deny that this is how the system works and the circuit is completed, but somehow in general, the problems, instead of getting solved keep compounding. The reasons are two fold. Primarily the candidate once chosen, drifts into “selective amnesia”, wherein the promises made to the people of the constituency are conveniently forgotten and only the means of personal gratification are remembered and engineered. Since they carry on them a transient baggage of ideologies, shedding it is quite effortless!
The second reason, in this context crops up when the person concerned does put in the effort for the purpose but meets with the resistance of and from the party, who by then have already prepared a post-poll priority list of “things to do”. That person can only try to make the other party members see the merit of the cause. But only to an extent. Thus far and no farther. Farther, would render his/her action an act of indiscipline and push him/her farther from the party! Because party has the final say. Solution of the problem is at the mercy of the sympathy of the party, but invariably it meets with apathy.
Then the option left is to vote for a person-specific. This too has two implications. That candidate might belong to a party with which one has an ideological contradiction. In that circumstance voting in favour, would mean hypocrisy. When one doesn’t agree with a party’s policies but still votes for it simply because the candidate is liked, then voting right is not exercised in a proper manner.
The second option for person-specific case is that of an independent candidate. Under such a situation, the decision-making becomes easier. All the more, when the candidate is known to be a person of impeccable integrity, unquestionable commitment, unwavering sincerity and who is a workaholic as well. We, the people then can rest assured that a sincere effort shall be made for our cause. Such a person truly feels him/her self, accountable to the people. Being unfettered, that comes with the independent stature, will fight for the case without any inhibition. The result, notwithstanding, our faith in that person shall be vindicated and reinforced.
But in spite of all good intentions, the execution can come only if the powers-that-be supports the cause. For that to occur, in the context of this piece as also the various others I have doled out on the related issues, the “power structure” needs to change.
How can that be done?
I know the answer that I propose is next to impossible, as that would imply a total overhaul in the system.
The first thing that needs to be done is to prioritize the issues involving the citizens. Then finalizing a sincere blueprint for tackling them needs to be prepared, followed by an earnest effort towards its execution. I am not sure of the ways this can be done with a party or parties at the helm of the government. Primarily because parties function on very vague and transient ideologies. And the members of the parties are knitted together by these very ideologies! Consequently, they try to become more important than the cause.
Contrary to this scenario, if we can have a situation in which earnest individuals, courageous enough to fight for the cause come together, all unfettered by reins of a party. And a single and simple ideology of serving the nation and the people acts as the cohesive force. The motto being to serve the country in its truest of senses, they will not find it hard to overcome the ego problems, when the time comes to choose the captain of such a team. The need for election will not arise, the purpose being easily attained by selection! A captain is necessary for various reasons and with sincere and committed team members, the captain can take decisions knowing that their execution will be proper.
I know I am proposing a highly idealistic situation and it is easy to theorize sitting in front of the computer, but still don’t you think that such a situation will be simply wonderful. I myself feel incapable of doing anything for the cause directly. So I am trying in the only possible way I can, that is through my words. I hope that in some ways these words shall catalyse an improbable revolution and cause a humongous evolution of the system. I am not purely against the existing system, but the human vices cloud the vision of our leaders to an irreparable extent. And I shall keep waiting for the day when I can truly call an elected government to be caring for us, as a guardian. Though very frequently citizens are made to feel like orphans, with unabated attack from terrorists: both internal and external.
That is why I feel that Party Politics is basically Petty (no use trying to insert “r” between “p” and “e”!) Politics based on invisible ideologies. Policies are harder to fathom for common people, with “transparency”, in the governance, finding no place in the dictionary of words liked by our representatives.
When the country is attacked leaders feel that we need the permission of other countries to take the necessary rightful action. As if in the instance of a burglary in the house and knowing the perpetrators, the same people would first go around generating consensus amongst the neighbours to take appropriate action against the culprit/s. Such a reaction to counter a heinous and dastardly act of terrorism not only compromises security and sovereignty, but also compromises on the dignity and prestige of an “IN-DEPENDENT” nation. An insult inflicted by external forces and propagated by internal entities. Which one is more Anti-National?
If such were the governance, necessitated by the policies of Party, it is better to PART WITH PARTY. Instead a team will do, comprised of heterogeneous members who are homogenised by a collective singular ideology of “for the people of the nation”. Each shall play their PART effectively by not being PART of a PARTY. BY PARTING WITH A PARTY, WE TRULY SHALL HAVE A DEMOCRACY WHOSE THEME WILL BE, “OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE PEOPLE”.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
25th of May, 2009