Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008....

Year 2008 has been a tumultuous year for almost all of us. A year full of challenges, achievements & stark realizations. To say that the year has been action packed, keeping us on our toes throughout would not be out of place.
The year started with high expectations of Sensex going beyond the tizzy heights of 25K. However, contrary to the popular voices, & projections, the Sensex bull kept getting beaten down & today at the end of the year its tottering below 10K…… a huge let down for numerous people who traded on stocks & tasted the bitter pill of bankruptcy.

If the steep fall at the Sensex was any indicator, the financial world came crashing down in US. Subprime crisis showed its ugly face. With Goliaths like Lehman Brothers, AIG, GM, Toyota, major financial institutions, etc , all entering a free fall zone……endlessly going down, the GDP went from low growth to no growth to de growth!!!! The world stared into the prospect of probably the largest economic depression. Job cuts, pay cuts, headcount freeze, pink slips, large stock pile & inventory, closing down of production units, cost cuttings…… we could not have expected anything worse than this. For a recruiter, like me, it has been nightmarish since then.
Cheap politics was the norm of the day....sorry the year. UPA Govt had the Leftist Communists withdraw support on the issue of Nuclear deal with US. This led the UPA to seek support from political leaders like Shibu Soren & Amar Singh, more known for being the political mafia. This also showed the ugly side of politics, with money laundering coming to the front in seeking the confidence vote. Opposition bench showed how bagful of cash was handed over to them to trade loyalties. The brazen show on cash at the parliament could not have been more deplorable. It showed our politics in complete shame.

Amarnath Shrine(one of our most holy pilgrimage) came under serious threat, as the Centre played an inept role in the game of politics. The whole of Jammu valley came under carnage & bloodbath as the basic core of Hindu beliefs were thrown to swords. Instead of making attempts to bring peace in the valley, various political parties were busy playing cheap politics….as usual & common man had to bear the brunt of religious discriminations. I guess, its time to bring amendments to the Section 370 of our Constitution. If Jammu & Kashmir have to be an integral part of India, Centre needs to take a firm step towards this. We cannot have isolated rules, thereby creating more divide than bonhomie.

The worst impact of course has been the Mumbai terror attacks on the fateful evening of 26th Nov, when all the hell broke loose. To say that utter chaos & cold scare ran through the spine of every Mumbaikar would be putting it quite mildly. The terrorists, with their lethal attacks & mindless killings had city under siege……. The future of peace looked blurred & uncertain. Suddenly we all are vulnerable. We go out & we don’t know if we will return safe & sound……death in the shape of terrorism, seems to be stalking each one of us. The political warfare again showed its ugly side & inept & spineless politicians kept playing their personal agenda, much to the chagrin of the public. The backlash from the common man that followed was only expected. Hope this works as a wakeup call for the politicians of our Country.

However there have been brighter sides as well…..something to cheer about. Operation Chandrayaan, took India on the global space orbit permanently, with Moon becoming within our reach. Surely the soul of world’s first teacher of astronomy, Aryabhatt, would exult in pride with this achievement. May India have more laurels to produce in the near future.

Our Olympics gold rush improved (3 Gold medals)in China, though I am not so sure if this is any reason for major celebrations, as, by any standards, its still a poor performance. However, in cricket, we seem to be doing it right for some time now. We brought the mighty Aussies to ground by defeating them fair & square, & paving the way for the South Africans to then plunder them down under. Aussies are surely a spent force now. The battle for the top slot is now between India & South Africa, and as an Indian, I surely hope to experience the peak asap. It was also heartening to see Saurav Ganguly & Anil Kumble retire gracefully from the international arena. Of course our pin up boy Sachin continues to go from strength to strength. A word of praise for Sehwag, Gautam, Dhoni, Bhajji, Yuvi, Zaks etc to take India ahead is only in order. All the best for Team India…may there be many more reasons to celebrate.
IPL(Indian Premier League)in April, was the begining of T20 getting absolute fanfare. Players from across the world came under the auction of talent....With Jaipur finally winning the tourney under Shane Warne, it was indeed a global cricket playing extravaganza for the lovers of this game. It was a feast for the eyes.
Also in badminton, Saina Nehwal shows definite signs of featuring in the World top 10rankings(first time ever by a woman from India) & V Anand took India to new heights in Chess.

A small but very important event also happened in Delhi in November. Called ‘Bramhanaad’, this event showcased more than 1200 sitarists on one stage. Sitar is one of the ancient musical instruments that is India’s contribution to the world of music. This attempt was to reinstate & rehabilitate the basic roots of ancient Indian classical music. A jam packed crowd was left asking for more with the serene music that captivated the audience & their musical imagination. The program was organized by the Art of Living, an NGO, constantly & constructively involved in various developmental activities across the world. A huge effort to bring about global peace & sanctity. I am told that the proceeds of this event is going for the rehabilitation of millions who lost their homes in the devastating floods in Bihar this summer.
A Supreme Court Ban on smoking in public places was another very good initiative according to sure many would agree with me.

Barack Obama has been the President elect for US, & he takes over the responsibility in the New Year. He becomes the first ever non white to reside at the white House!!! His slogan through the rigorous campaigns has been on change & the world now watches with baited expectations on the changes that he ushers in. Lets hope, the world sees more peace & prosperity under his leadership.

On the personal front, lots of happy marriages took place in 2008. Sumit(My Sumtai, from our Rock Band Abhilasha....he calls me BhaiJaan)got married in Kolkata. Bumba (Paula’s cousin brother, & my very loving bro) got married to Saswati in an arranged marriage at Kolkata. Soma(NE) got married to her beau at Shillong. Amruta(Ana Don - Anagha's sister) got married at Nagpur. Dinesh (I call him Din Bandhu Dinanath) got engaged & then married to Madhavi(I call her Mads) at the Bangalore Ashram. Selma(my colleague) got married to Satyam at Madh Island, Mumbai. Incidentally, I ended up not being able to attend any of these events. Each one of them have been very close to me & I know how they were extremely unhappy & hurt at my absence, but then such is life….it always does not go as per plans. Anyways, I wish them all a very happy & loving wedded life ahead. My parents came to stay with me after many years…..its been a reunion of sorts.
Finally, I have been inundated with one single question by so many, "When are you tying the knot????". well I dont know...really....Is there someone insane enough to try her luck & life with me???.....who it would be??, when it would be???, where it would be???..... Guess, 2009 will have the right answers...maybe !!!!Either ways, we shall celebrate.....Like they say : There are two kinds of men, one who is happy & the other who is married!!!....Both a formidable challenge to maintain......

Before signing off, lets take a moment to pay our sincere homage to the gallant soldiers, our police, ATS, NSG, & all others who contributed with their lives to ensure that we stay alive & safe. May their souls rest in peace knowing that we are all proud of them & their selfless disposition.

So as the Sun sets for the last time in 2008, I pray that there is peace & prosperity & happiness & smiles for all of us in the year that is dawning ahead.
A hearty welcome to 2009, with hopes & aspirations for solidarity & social security, for more reasons to smile,……is that too much to ask?????...............Only time will tell…..

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rab ne Bana di Jodi.

This indeed is a good movie. Good performances by King Khan & debutante Anushka Sharma along with Vinay Pathak makes it a certain watch. The music is quite hummable & the voices are refreshing. In times of slick action, fascinating locales, & fast pace, this movie is a beautiful & romantic rendition of a common man. Shahrukh is seen sporting a drab moustache along with a common man’s specks, well oiled hair neatly combed, donning oversized shirts of faint checks, pleated loose pants along with cheap sneakers,…..a wonderful presentation of a common man in the streets of a small town in India. This along with a Bajaj Chetak scooter to drive to work, where he sits in a non descriptive cubicle attending to the customer issues over the phone….all look so dull & boring but certainly real life like. Surinder Sahni (Suri) is the character in front of you. Amol Palekar of yesteryears should be proud of this performance.
The alter image metamorphosis, to become Raj, with the help of his best friend, Bobby (Vinay Pathak, as an owner of a hair saloon) is quite interesting (though loud & crude at times). All this to win the love of his pretty wife, who finds the original Suri ‘nice & honest, but quiet, dull & boring.’
Anushka, for a debut has put forward a wonderful performance. The vulnerable girl, as Taani, who starts with vivacious big dreams in her eyes, & then fatefully accepts the real & hard drab world, is very endearing. Her attempt to live her dreams through a dance competition is also very real, & she does justice to her role. Wonderful performance for starters. Very expressive eyes, which makes her look stunning, both when she is in pain & when she is exulting. I think she is a good find for the industry.
Vinay Pathak is the good friend, who will do anything to make his best friend happy. Wearing loud & tight colorful outfits, sporting hair gel, he is just brilliant in his role of Bobby.

Yash Raj banner is known for romantic movies like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge, & this Love story of an ordinary man is very well depicted. Music scores by Salim – Sulaiman is refreshing & hummable, & so are the vocalists in performance. Sukhwinder Singh in Haule Haule, Roop Kumar Rathod in Tujh mein Rab dikhta hai, Sunidhi Chauhan in Dance pe chance, all are good numbers to listen to.
The song sequence, Phir milenge Chalte Chalte attempts to reproduce the magic of yesteryears of Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor & Rishi Kapoor etc. Shahrukh is with all his favourite actresses like Rani, Kajol, Preiti, etc (something similar he tried in Om Shanti Om as well).

Worth watching, at least once.


Going for the first day night show to watch Ghajini at Fame Adlabs turned out to be quite a headache…….very close to memory loss ( would have to observe whether its long term or short term!!).
I’ve been an ardent Aamir Khan fan since Kayamat se Kayamat Tak days……& expectations on his movies & his roles have only increased with every performance. From a chocolate hero dancing in lush green backdrops, to natural comedy, to emotional melodrama, to serious subjects, Aamir has entertained movie goers over the years.
Ghajini in that sense, turned out to be quite a letdown. To start with, the story line had too many obvious loose ends….in fact it made me wonder, if the story writer, the director & the editor had memory losses as well. The music was average, the violence & fight scenes quite gory. However, cinematography was good at some parts. Nothing outstanding really. The film at times reminded me of a typical B grade Mithun Chakraborty movies of the eighties, flexing muscles & mindless fights.

We have this young & hot & happening billionaire, globetrotting in private jet, going around in BMW / Merc cavalcades,……so very rich & famous that no seems to have seen him ever!!!! Neither the pretty actress (the next door neighbor, always a good Samaritan girl), nor her advt film director, nor the cops !!!!! The pretty lass, (in an attempt to save her bungling advt boss from bankruptcy), cheekily gives an interview to a magazine & it’s a raving news that our Prince charming is having an affair with her. Interesting…quite interesting, but while she gets all the reviews & accolades & glitz, & press coverage, our billionaire Prince is left without even a photo shoot or a press release on denial!!!! I don’t know of any tycoon who would have so much time to drive the cavalcade himself to meet the distressing damsel (to set records straight) & the eventually fall for her!!! ( love has strange ways of shaping up). Even when our Prince Charming takes out his cheque book & gives a five lakh rupee donation to a charitable cause at a New Year party, our pretty & otherwise intelligent girl stays in dark about his true identity(she thinks he is a struggling actor himself, till the very end). Its difficult to consume that someone so rich & famous, who should be getting treated by the best doctors of the world, is confined to a flat in Hiranandani (which he had bought for his lady love), left to his own self(with his manager, his lawyer & doctor appearing once in a while to remind the audience that our Prince is still heir to all the wealth & power he wielded once!!!!!) So much of violence in that flat, & yet no security measures!!!

Aamir, as always, gets inside the skin of any role he takes, & he has maintained that in Ghajini as well. The eight packs look great on him, the two shades of the character (prince charming & the killing machine) has been done extremely well, the memory loss & the struggle to come to terms with his mission revenge, et all has been brilliant. The chirpy pretty lass Asin, is actually very pretty, very fresh(reminded me of Juhi in her hay days). I think she will do well ahead. The other girl, I forget her name (memory loss again!!!), looks completely out of place in the medical student role. She could’ve certainly added more sensitivity to her role (she had enough scope to do so). The bad man (forget his name too!!!....looks like a serious memory loss for me), was average, & so were the other non descriptive characters, including the police inspector who dies in a freak accident while being chased by our Prince Charming, now turned Killing machine.

Interestingly, the name of the villain becomes the name of the movie…Ghajini(first time ever in Hindi movies, I think). Watching it more than once can actually dull your brain cells into some kind of a memory loss !!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Aussies are a spent force now !!!!

With SA defeating Aussies at Perth & in the process successfully completing the second highest run chase ever in the history of test cricket, one observation that is doing the popular rounds is that “Aussies are a spent force now”.

It was the Indians who had brought down the mighty Aussies first in their own backyard down under(narrowly missing on a historic test series win, but blanking them in the one dayers)& later humbling them in front of the home crowd 2-0 when the Aussies travelled to India. The swansong series for Saurav Ganguli & Anil Kumble would remain ever memorable for them, having beaten the current ICC World Champions comprehensively in all quarters.

Aussies as a team has enjoyed a dream run on top for more than a decade. Since Alan Border had resurrected the team & combined it into a world beating outfit, the Aussies have gone from strength to strength. Border had put the team on a winning track after the 1987 World Cup win & then Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh & the current skipper Ricky Ponting have taken the team to newer heights in the cricketing world.
But now the mighty Aussies are showing definite signs of cracking. Over the last three four years world class players like Gilchrist, Warne, McGrath, & a few others have retired & the replacements have not been anywhere near the same standards. Barring Ponting, Hayden, Brett Lee (all three are showing definite signs of waning form), & Clarke there is no one in the Aussie ranks who can be a potential match winner in his own rights. Symonds is dodging between form, disciplinary issues, injuries & fitness & therefore is more of a spent force. In many years, suddenly the bench strength of the mighty Aussies look very weak……in all departments.

Clearly the coveted No 1 slot both in test matches & one dayers is under serious threat from countries like India, South Africa & Sri Lanka. Incidentally, the Aussies could never lay strong contentions on T-20, where India is the current World Champions(no one gave them a whiff of a chance though!!!).
Over the next 12 months this should become more clearer, but one thing looks certain, team Australia is no more invincible…..they have been cracked & are really going Down & Under !!!!!

Kya Sab........Kasab!!!!

26/11 is almost 30 days old now…… the lone surviving terrorist, Ajmal Amir Kasab, is still in police remand / custody, having gone thru series of interrogations….where he has cracked & is singing like a canary…...spilling beans about the involvement of Pakistan in the attack (as if the world already did not know!!!). Over the last couple of weeks, he has come up with statements like “ All the ten of us are from Pakistan”, “I need a legal counsel…..someone from my country”, “I want to visit my village….. I want to meet my mother”, “I have sinned…Allah knows it all”, “ We were misled by the LeT Leaders”. In fact he has even written a letter to the Paki Govt, asking for diplomatic help!!!! (which has been handed over to the Paki Govt).

However, the Pakistan Govt seems to maintain a uniformity in their statements, “Give us indisputable proof of Pakistan involvement in the terror attacks & we shall take action!!!”. What more proof do you need Mr Zardari???.....It’s a common knowledge for any common man in the streets of Pakistan(as it is to the whole of the world) that numerous terror outfits like LeT, etc are funded, housed, trained & supported in Pakistan over the years. Wake up Mr Zardari, before it’s too late…..these terrorists have no religion, they are nobody’s friend, & they will consume you & your country in their mindless journey through carnage & destruction.
And now we hear that Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani has come out saying that Pakistan ‘will respond in minutes’ if India strikes!!!! This along with Taliban coming out in open support of the Pakis……. While our Govt is still engaged in diplomatic support across the world, to put pressure on Pakistan to accept its covert involvement in the current global terrorism, the Pakis are showing clear signs of defiance & and are building up their base across the border. All this because, our Govt continues to soft pedal the subject. When will we learn to take a tough stand???? When will we send out a strong message to these neighboring terror outfits, which thrive because of our inaction????? It’s really a Frankenstein in the making……..

Coming back to Kasab, suddenly the Shiv Sainiks are active again……..they have threatened with dire circumstances if anyone offers to defend Kasab!!! News is that the premises of three Mumbai Lawyers (who had offered to take up Kasab’s case) have been ransacked by Shiv Sena activists. Where was all this action, when the terror strikes ravaged us Mumbaikars??? Why can’t they be constructive in their actions rather than being just demonstrative????We need to understand that by doing so we are not letting a trial begin for Kasab....they are unknowingly doing a favour to Kasab by allowing him to live that long…….they are playing into the hands of these Jihadis, who continue to prosper knowing that they can get away inspite of committing the most heinous crime. We forget that by delaying the trial, we are breeding options & possibilities of another Kandahar to happen. Today the released terrorist Mohammad Masud Azhar masterminds numerous attacks from within Pakistan, where he enjoys royal patronage. Can we allow that to happen????

Since there is so much of uproar against anyone standing for Kasab, let there be a lawyer appointed by the Judiciary, who is given protection for any untoward vandalism. This lawyer plays the role of piecing together all that Kasab has to say & ensures that Law gets to capture every bit of information that is generated. The trial, which should be done at an undisclosed location for security reasons, (like a military court martial), should be filmed for future records we need to show case this to the UN or any other World body on the Pakistan involvement in global terrorism).

Let us join hands together in showing to the world that we know how to deal with terrorism……..boldly & strongly.

Jai Hind !!!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Vande Mataram......The History (Part2)

Unfortunately Vande Mataram also faced a lot of opposition within the country. As early as 1908, Muslim League opposed the singing of Vande Mataram and at the League's session in that year, presided over by Sayyed Imam, the song was condemned as sectarian, for it advocated the worship of the Motherland as a Goddess. Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar had set the tradition of singing Vande Mataram in all Congress Sessions since 1915. However, in 1923, at the Kakinada Session of the Congress, when he rose to sing the song, Maulana Mohamed Ali, who was the President, objected to it. During the non-cooperation movement, when the Congress leadership adopted a policy of appeasing the Muslims, the objection to the song raised its head again. In 1922, to appease the Muslims, the singing of Mohammad Iqbal's 'Hindustan Hamaara' along with Vande Mataram was introduced. The Muslim leaders wanted the song Vande Mataram completely replaced by Iqbal's song. The All India Muslim League passed resolutions condemning Vande Mataram. To appease the League leaders, the Congress Working Committee in 1937 decided to shorten the national song by allowing only the first two stanzas to be sung. The League still persisted in its objection and in 1938, Jinnah placed before Nehru his demand for completely abandoning Vande Mataram. To please the League further, the Congress decided to allow the singing of a song by Basheer Ahmad, reciting Quran and also a prayer in English in the Assembly.
When Nehru in his politically correct approach expressed the view that the song Vande Mataram did not lend itself to orchestral music, a patriot-musician of Poona, Master Krishna Rao Ramachandra Phulumbikar disproved it by setting it to instrumental music. When he came to know that the Government would not approve Vande Mataram as national anthem unless it got clearance from the British band experts, he went to Bombay and with the help of the British band Commander, C.R. Gordon, got a record of Vande Mataram rendered to British Band music. In spite of all these efforts, the Congress leaders did not like Vande Mataram becoming the national anthem for obvious reasons. They were busy appeasing the Muslims & in their efforts to do so, they put a strict prohibition on singing Vande Mataram at All India Radio. It was however, the concentrated efforts of Master Krishna Rao that the ban was finally lifted, & even before an official decision was taken by the Constituent Assembly on this issue, Jana Gana Mana was played as India's National Anthem in the UN General Assembly in 1947.

After Independence, our first President elect, Dr Rajendra Prasad, while presiding the Assembly on 24th January’1950, said the following : “The composition consisting of words and music known as Jana Gana Mana is the National Anthem of India, subject to such alterations as the Government may authorize as occasion arises, and the song Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle of Indian Movement, shall be honored equally with Jana Gana Mana and shall have equal status with it. I hope this will satisfy members.” (Constituent Assembly of India, Vol.XII, 24-1-1950)

Today, we the Indians need to rise above the narrow political & religious beliefs & embrace the song Vande Mataram as our source of inspiration. We need to believe that this song does not smell of a particular religion. Which beloved son/daughter of this country will not hold this pious land as “Sujalam, Sufalam, Malayeja Shitlam & Sashya Shyamalam Mataram”…..Which true patriot of this country will not salute the motherland who is prosperous, meritorious & bestower of riches??????

We need to understand that when a message is conveyed, there has to be a reference point….Maa Durga was the reference point…a symbol of Shakti…the ultimate power. Just because the mythology of Durga Maa emerges out of ancient Hindu scriptures, it does not make it communal. The message of Maa Durga is Universal. She drives away the evil & protects every human being as her child. Rishi Bankim Chandra Chatterjee hailed from Bengal & was inspired by the Sanyasi Movement that took place in Bengal. The Britishers had first come to India through Bay of Bengal, as East India Company, as traders. Undivided Bengal then was the nerve centre of everything.
As a true son of India, Rishi Bankim Chandra took inspiration from Maa Durga & saw her as Mother India…Bharat Mata. The song Vande Mataram is a reflection & rendition of our own Bharat Mata.
That Vande Mataram is secular in its core can be understood from the fact that during Quit India Movement, communist leader Nani Gopal Dey died at the hands of police lathi charge for hoisting the National Flag & singing this song at the city centre of Chinsurah, Hooghly. Lala Lajpat Rai started a journal “Vande Mataram” from Lahore. Matangini Hazra’s last words before dying in front of police fire were “Vande Mataram”. Azad Hind Army of Subhas Chandra Bose had people from all religion. They would shout Vande Mataram without any qualms, without any doubt in their mind. For them it was the Mantra, the force that bound them together towards one goal… Mother India from the clutches of the foreign rule.
When someone objects to singing Vande Mataram, they should remember that countless martyrs sacrificed their lives singing Vande Mataram, while fighting imperialism. Thanks to them, today we breathe in a free & democratic country.

Interestingly, in 2003, BBC World Service conducted an International Poll to choose Ten most famous songs of all times. Around 7000 songs were selected from across the world & people from about 155 countries voted. Vande Mataram stood Second in the Top 10 songs.
Do we still need an excuse to push our National Song away into oblivion????..... Its time we do some serious soul searching.

I impore to every fellow Indian to come forward & embrace this song...our National Song & sing it with fervour & pride.....we need to bury the hatchets of narrow communal & pseudo political feelings. We need to ensure that our next generation understands the history & true implications behind our National Song.

Vande Mataram !!!!
Jai Hind.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vande Mataram......The History (Part 1)

Born in a prosperous family in Kantalapada, 24 Parganas, Bengal, on June 27, 1838, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was a young student at the time of the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. What he saw & heard from his elders, made him weep in anguish. A true patriot at heart, he took up the inspire millions to rise against the slavery.
It happened in 1875 when, on a holiday, Bankim Chandra boarded a train to his native place, Kantalapada. The train passed the outskirts of the small town and glided through vast tracts of land, wrapped in enchanting green foliage, decked with multifarious flowers, nourished and nurtured by hurrying streams and beautiful lakes and unveiling the bewitching charm of nature in all its splendour. The poet's heart was thrilled with the vision of his exquisite Mother...the Bharat Mata...and he burst into a song....'Vande Mataram' was born. However, a few years later, in 1881 the same song found a more profound meaning & place in his novel, "Ananda Math".

Inspired by the Sanyasi Movement(1763-1800), Rishi Bankim Chandra Chatterjee wrote this historic novel. The song, Vande Mataram, has been written in Bengali & Sanskrit, worshipping the is said that Rishi Bankim Chandra had the vision of the Supreme Mother, in the form of Dashapraharana Dharini Durga Devi, to reveal to the Nation, that was groping in darkness, to give them a new light, to awaken them from their slumber & free Bharat Mata from the chains of slavery.
Durga Maa denotes Shakti....the ultimate power.....a power to whom even the mighty Gods have bowed down to.
The greatness of Mother & the Motherland is the essence of Hindu culture. Every ruler, right from Lord Rama to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to Leaders like Swami Vivekananda to Subhas Chandra Bose, has had a deep sense of belonging for the Motherland. After the killing of Raavana, when Lord Rama was presented with a proposal to stay back in Lanka, His very famous reply was, “Janani Janmabhumishcha Swargaadapi Gariyasi” Lord Rama says, “My mother and motherland are dearer to me than heaven (let alone Lanka)”.

Around 1870, the British Raj had made it compulsory to sing "God Save the Queen" at all public gatherings. The common man had been beaten to submission & the general morale of the country was very low. It is said that in the darkest hour of despair, comes a beacon of light, a ray of hope, to show the if Nature is planting the seed for a new life to usher in.
The song caught the imagination of the people & when Rabindranatha Tagore sang it for the first time in public at the National Congress in 1896, it became a rage. Every province, every street, every house of the Country gave voice to the song. Through this song, overnight, the Country seemed to have united in one free Mother India(Bharat Mata) from its slavery. The British had not expected such a tumultous response to a song. They resorted to repressive measures & immediately imposed a ban on uttering Vande Mataram in schools, colleges & public places. Thousands across the country defied the ban & courted arrest in protest of the ban. The National Movement had truly begun.

The Bengal provincial conference of the Indian National Congress at Barisal(now in Bangladesh) was scheduled to take place on April 14, 1906. On the eve of the conference there was a mammoth meeting in the small town of Barisal in which an effigy of Lord Curzon was burnt and a thousand voices cried Vande Mataram with a firm determination to root out the British rule from the soil of the Motherland. At once the District Magistrate issued a proclamation prohibiting the shouting of the slogan Vande Mataram and singing the enchanting song at meetings or processions. However, a procession led by prominent leaders like Surendranath Bannerjee, Sri Bipin Chandra Pal and Sri Aurobindo took to the streets of Barisal to the venue of the conference. Hundreds of policemen (sadly most of them were Indians, serving under the Britsih Raj), armed with lathis, fell on the crowd & beat them up, even as the shouting of Vande Mataram grew louder. While the place bled, with people lying on the ground writhing in pain, Vande Mataram became a Slogan. This news spread like wildfire across Bengal & then slowly across the country. The movement had begun.

Sister Nivedita,(an Anglo-Irish social worker & a disciple of Swami Vivekananda) dedicated herself body and soul, for the cause of Motherland and she even resigned from the Ramakrishna Order to enable herself to plunge completely into the national movement. It was Sister Nivedita who requested Sri Aurobindo to shift the centre of his activities from Baroda to Bengal in order to carry out his Bhavani Mandir scheme. Another fierce patriot and prophet who came under the spell of 'Vande Mataram' was Brahmabandhav Upadhyaya who remained a sannyasi throughout his life. He insisted that a man from every house should dedicate himself to the nation's work, like the sannyasins of Ananda Math, and that every father should offer a son for the service of the Motherland.
In 1907, Madame Bhikaji Kama created the first version of our National Flag, & hoisted it in Berlin, which had Vande Mataram written on the Saffron middle strip in Devnagari script. The upper strip was green in colour with eigth lotuses, & the lower strip was red in colour with a Sun & Cresent Moon to represent the Hindu & the Muslims.

Freedom fightors from Sarala Devi Chaudurani to Lala Lajpat Rai to Matangini Hazra to Veer Savarkar to Madan Lal Dhingra to Jatindranath Mukherjee to Rash Behari Bose to Subhas Chandra Bose to Bhagat Singh to Chandra Sekhar Azad to VVS Iyer & so many more.....all had Vande Mataram locked to their up their entire life for the freedom of our country...our beloved Bharat Mata. The heart lifting & soul stirring song had something about its fervour...its spirit that aroused one & all.

Even today, while singing the song one can experience a lump in the throat, and wet eyes, that comes out of sheer reverence for the innumerable patriots, who gave up their life, their happiness, so that we could be free, we could be happy, we could breathe in Independence.

(to be continued......)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vande Mataram.... the Translation !!!

The National Song "Vande Mataram" was composed by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, in 1875 as a poem & then came up in his immortal novel, Ananda Math, in 1881. In 1896, Rabindranath Tagore, set the song to music & sang it for the first time in public at the session of Indian National Congress. While the song had four stanzas,(first two in Sanskrit & the later two in Bengali), it is the first two stanzas that became popular...... it became a movement....

Given below is the translation of the song done by Sri Aurobindo(first two stanzas). According to Sri Aurobindo, Bankim Chandra precieved three main elements in his poem, which constituted the moral strength, so necessary for serving the Motherland. The first was Tyaga(complete self sacrifice), second was self discipline & third was patriotism itself as a religion. These ideals found perfect lyrical expressions in the song & aroused the spirit of Nationalism amongst Indians all across. It became a battle cry for all freedom fighters....a common song....a common expression...a common goal.

"Vande Mataram is not just a song...its a recharging magic potion - Sanjeevani, an effective tool for the freedom struggle", these words crystallised the feelings of all Indians in the pre Independence era.


Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving Mother of might,
Mother free.


Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.

Time has come to unite the whole of India under this inspiring song.... our National Song...... lets all come together & sing "VANDE MATARAM".... towards a new prosperous beginning......

Monday, December 15, 2008

Indian Cricket is coming of age !!!

With Sehwag showing us the way with a blistering knock yesterday afternoon, Sachin & Yuvraj have taken us to victory over England at Chepauk Stadium, Chennai. Achieving the fourth highest run chase (highest in India ever), Indians would be cock a hoop in delight. The little Master notched up his 41st test century, & scored the winning runs (his first ever for the country in a test match). It was picture perfect for the Indian Cricket team, a ruthless professional batting display & the whole of Chepauk lapped it all.
Last time a similar victory was achieved was in Port of Spain, West Indies against the mighty world conquering team of Clive Lloyd, way back in 1976. That time it was again two Little masters, Sunil Gavaskar & Gundappa Vishwanath along with Mohinder Amarnath, who won it for India by chasing 406 runs.

From having dominating the test match from the beginning, it must be heart breaking for the English to lose the plot & eventually the match. Having put India to chase a near impossible mark of 387 runs, Kevin Peterson & his barmy army had been hammered to submission by Sehwag first & then clinically finished by Sachin & Yuvi. There were notable contributions from Gautam & Laxman as well, with the only blemish being that of Dravid.

While Virender Sehwag is redefining how to attack the bowling of an opposition, Rahul Dravid, seems to be going through the worst patch of his career. Nothing seems to be going right for him. He has been dismal with the bat, & his fielding has been less than ordinary. If he does not make a swift comeback, he might find himself unceremoniously chucked out of the National team. With youngsters like Badrinath, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Suresh Raina firmly knocking the door, time seems to be running out for the former captain.

In the end, Dhoni, seems to be really riding the lady luck….. four tests & four wins… can’t think of any better statistics to back up. To add to that is the T20 world Cup win & also the one dayer against the Aussies, Sri Lankans, England…..the list will continue to grow longer & longer…..

Mahi ve….tune to Dho dala……. Keep it up…..

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Enlightened Butcher & his Dharma !!!

Many years ago, there lived a Brahmin by the name Kaushika. He was the only son of his parents. He was very inclined to spiritual studies. He wanted to study Vedas & gain spiritual powers.
So he told his parents about his wish to leave for the jungle, where he would devote his time in meditation & spiritual practices. His parents were aghast. They were old & completely dependent on him. They tried their best to refrain him from going, by reminding him of his duties & responsibilities. But Kaushika was adamant. He left his parents in tears & pain & left for the jungle.
In the jungle, Kaushika started his spiritual studies in earnest & was completely consumed by the practices. In course of time, he became an ascetic & gradually started gaining spiritual powers. In the process, however, he became proud of his achievements.

One afternoon, as he was meditating under a tree, a bird flew in & perched itself in one of the branches, just above the Brahmin. A little later some bird toppings fell on Kaushika’s head & his meditation was broken. He was upset & looked at the bird with anger. Due to ascetic powers that he had gained with his spiritual practices, Kaushika’s gaze burnt the bird to ashes. Though saddened by the death of the bird, Kaushika felt that justice had been done. He also realized that he was gaining powers, & this made him proud.

A few days later, late in the afternoon, he was at a village to beg for alms. Those days, it was a regular practice for a Rishi, or an ascetic to go to any doorstep and ask for food etc as bhiksha(alms). It was considered auspicious by the household to give away such alms. So the lady of the house came out & on seeing Kaushika, asked him politely to wait, while she went in to get some food. At the same time, her husband also returned home. The lady, immediately set aside the pot of food she was taking for the Brahmin & attended to her husband. After making him comfortable & attending to his needs, she excused herself & came out to give food to the waiting Brahmin. Kaushika felt insulted & angry. He said,“You put your husband before me in your duties!!! Do you know the powers of a Brahmin??? Do you know wht I can do??” The lady was calm & composed. She said, “According to my Dharma, I need to attend to my husband first & that is what I have done. Please do not threaten me with your anger. I am not a simple bird that will die in front of your gaze. A true Brahmin is one who has mastered his anger.” Kaushika was stunned into silence. “How does she know about the bird?? How come she is not afraid??”, he mused. He immediately apologized to the lady for his outburst. Realizing that she was very learned, he asked her to give him knowledge. The Lady said, “Oh holy one! You are a learned Brahmin, but you have not understood the truth of virtue, the Dharma. Right now, I have to go back & attend to my husband who has come back from work, so I cannot attend to you. I have just come out to give you your food, as you have come to our doorstep. If you wish to be enlightened & want to understand Dharma, go to Dharmavyadha, who lives in Mathura. Any one will guide you to him. Kaushika, immediately thanked the lady & hurried to Mathura. “He must be a great & a learned sage!!!” Kaushika told himself.

On reaching Mathura, & being directed to Dharmavyadha, he was completely taken aback to find that it was a butcher’s shop. A very ordinary looking man came out and said, “Welcome home, oh holy one, I am Dharmavyadha. Please make yourself comfortable & rest, but I will not be able to give you time now. Right now I have to attend to my duties. I have customers waiting at the shop. I shall attend to you in the evening after I close my shop. Meanwhile, you may rest at my place or go around the city.” Saying this, the butcher went back to work. Kaushika was horrified. He could not bear to be in this place. “How can a butcher be spiritually enlightened?? How can this man of a low caste give me supreme knowledge on Dharma???”. However, the quest for knowledge made him wait till the evening.
As the day came to an end, the butcher closed his shop & then taking Kaushika along, he returned home. There he first touched the feet of his parents & then introduced the Brahmin to his family. “He is a very learned Brahmin & has come from a far off place. He will stay with us today.” After that he attended to his old parents & complied with the duties of the family. Then he asked Kaushika to join for dinner. Having completed all this, Dhramavyadha then sat with the Brahmin. He said, “I know the story of the bird & also about the lady, who sent you here. Tell me how I can help you.” Kaushika asked, “Butchering animals is sinful. How can you be spiritually enlightened then?? Are you not ashamed of your conduct & living???” The butcher had a calm & serene smile on his face. He said, “I am not ashamed of my living. I am engaged in my family trade. I work hard & honestly at it. I do not inflict injury to other creatures as you did to the bird. As we walk on the soil, so many creatures are being trampled under our feet. When a farmer tills the land, he kills so many animals that thrive under the soil. But it is his Dharma to do what he is doing. For me, my parents are my Gods. Taking care of them is our greatest duty. My wife & children attend to them with devotion & love. We live together as one happy family & each one of us adheres to our duties with a smile. In doing one’s duty cheerfully, lies true virtue. This is what the dutiful lady sent you here to learn. Oh learned Brahmin, you have run away from your responsibilities & deserted your old parents, who are completely dependent on you. All the spiritual learnings, power & achievements are of no use, if you neglect your Dharma.” Kaushika remembered his mother crying, when he left home, “Who will look after us when you are gone, my son???” He became repentant. He lay prostrate in front of the butcher. “You have shown me the path of true virtue, the true meaning of Dharma. I am deeply indebted to you.” Saying this, Kaushika immediately returned to his parents, who were overjoyed to see him. He served them lovingly & dutifully till the end of their lives. Along with that, he continued with his spiritual practices & meditations.

This story from Mahabharata brings to light that our spiritual achievement is useless if we neglect our duties or Dharma.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dharma --- Responding to the need of the Hour !!!

Often we speak of responsibility. What does it mean??? What does it signify???
In simple words, it means 'responding to the need of moment, moment to moment'. So today we need to respond to the call of uniting our country against the growing terrorism that threatens to tear us to pieces....our Integrity, our basic Values, our basic Structure!!!!

So let us start by understanding our National Flag....its Values, its Essence, what it Symbolizes....

Our National Flag has three colours. The top of the flag is Saffron, which symbolizes sacrifice. Every child in our country is taught the importance of sacrifice. Its considered to be a divine quality. Over the centuries, our country has been known to make selfless sacrifice for the upliftment of the masses, for the Values that we stand for, for the Valor that our country represents.
White symbolizes peace. We Indians are known to be a peace loving country. We have always welcomed & embraced people from all walks of life. Over centuries, invaders have come to our country with the sole purpose to plunder, ravage & go away, but then have stayed back to become an integral part of our country. They say that there is something about our soil & water that changes the heart of even the most hardened soul. That is why our country has people from diverse cultures & religion. The love & warmth with which we welcome our guests, makes them feel completely at home. We have been taught in our childhood : ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’.
Green symbolizes abundance. Abundance of righteousness, abundance of Love, abundance of food & shelter, abundance education & spirituality, abundance of everything that you can think of. This is best explained by our National Song, ‘Vande Mataram; Sujalam, Suphalam, Malayaja Sheetalam…..’ (Will write a separate article on this).
In between is the Ashoka Chakra which represents the wheel of Dharma. This teaches us to maintain our Dharma, our righteousness, our responsibilities.

Today, we need to vote for a person who is dignified, who has a personality, who has a long term vision. We need a lot of youth in politics. It is the youth, who will define our tomorrow. If you have to fight against the system you have to be in the system. If you want to set right the house, you have to enter the house. You have to enter and see where all the change is required. It cannot be done from outside. Violence is not the answer. We need to join hands together in rebuilding our past glory.
As a leader, we are not looking for a prime minister who is giving reservations to a particular caste and religion, to ensure vote banks. This is absolutely deplorable. A prime minister should be able to look at all with a sense of equality. He has to make efforts to bring everyone on one common platform. Voting must be made mandatory, along with the right to exercise Section 49-0 of the Constitution (read about this in my previous article).

There are around 600 districts in India. Out of that, about 205 are affected by the communist naxalites. In these areas, they only believe in violence. These are backward areas which have no industry or business. One of the main causes of poverty in these regions is due to the naxal violence. There is so much of fear around these places. Though their objective is to uplift rural people but the action is counter-productive. We have to open our eyes and ears and see how Russia and China have modified and progressed. Their existing system has changed the entire condition of their country and almost eliminated poverty.
The second point is lack of self confidence. When there is violence, there is lack of self-confidence. The rural Indian youth lacks self esteem and confidence. They are repeatedly being told that they are no good. This is coupled with very few options available to them to come forward. We need to provide them with a platform to perform & bolster their image. India is an agricultural based country & we will prosper only if our rural sector prospers.
The third point is the lack of useful education. A recent survey revealed that about 31% graduates are unemployed. As a recruiter myself, I believe that it’s not really a dearth of jobs, but on the contrary, in India we do not impart job oriented education. Most of you would remember one of the recent ads on TV from a popular Job Portal, “Caught in a wrong job? Apply now to….”. This leads to frustration & probably prompts individuals to look into unethical & wrong means of income which in turn leads to more corruption.
This brings us to the fourth point that is the lack of spiritual education!!! There was a time when people would conduct Satsangs every evening and Bhagwat Gita chanting would be an integral part of it. Today, people are forgetting spiritual education in the land of spiritualism. Spiritual education will bring peace (both internally & externally) & that will lead us to prosperity. We need to inspire the youth of this country to imbibe spirituality in their life. They need to know that Spirit is the essence of Life & to live in the awareness of the Spirit & its teachings, is Spirituality.
The fifth point is that people should be freed from the menace of prostitution, alcoholism, & tobacco. A recent survey shows that, in the villages, more than 60% of income is spent on alcohol & tobacco by men. A lot of the hard earned money goes down the drain in brothels, in gambling & other related vices. If properly guided, the people in the villages have enough income to sustain a healthy & prosperous life. But vices like gambling, alcohol, tobacco & prostitution etc consume hard earned money, & leave the household to poverty. This creates domestic violence. This further leads to unrest & people resort to other forms of violence & cruelty. It’s a vicious cycle, which ends in destruction & chaos.

The Art of Living runs a rural development program called the 5H. This covers Health, Hygiene, Home for the Homeless, Harmony in Diversity & Human Values. Under this initiative, the organization has adopted more than 25000 villages across the country, where volunteers are working closely with the youth of the villages to create model villages. For more details do visit

The above article is inspired by the words of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who started a movement called The Art of Living, an organization, dedicated to bringing peace & harmony across the whole world, building together a seamless One World Family……”Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.”

Friday, December 5, 2008

We Can because we believe We Can !!

The terror attack last week on Mumbai has stirred a hornet's nest. People have realised that mere words wont do,its time for action. To show solidarity, we all congregated at the Gateway of India on 3rd Dec evening, & the Nation watched with renewed optimism, at what we can achieve.

One of the messages that has been doing the rounds over the last few days through blogs, internet sites, emails etc was :

Section 49-O of the Constitution

Did you know that there is a system in our constitution, as per the 1969 act, in section "49-O" that a person can go to the polling booth, confirm his identity, get his finger marked and convey the presiding election officer that he doesn't want to vote anyone! (This applies to polling booths that use EVM’s as well)

Yes such a feature is available, but obviously these seemingly notorious leaders have never disclosed it. This is called "49-O".

Why should you go and say "I VOTE NOBODY"?? Because, in a ward, if a candidate wins, say by 123 votes, and that particular ward has received "49-O" votes more than 123, then that polling will be cancelled and will have to be re-polled. Not only that, but the candidature of the contestants will be removed and they cannot contest the re-polling, since people had already expressed their decision on them. This would bring fear into parties and hence look for genuine candidates for their parties for election. This would change the way, of our whole political system. It is seemingly surprising why the election commission has not revealed such a feature to the public.

Please spread this news to as many as you know. Seems to be a wonderful weapon against corrupt parties in India. Show your power, expressing your desire not to vote for anybody, is even more powerful than voting.

However, I am not so sure this alone would work. So we exercise our rights on “49-0” & don’t vote for all these corrupt politicians. None of the current parties & their inept politicians are voted to power. Then what?? Who runs the country then?? The various ministries under the State & the Centre has to function. There are daily administrative activities which are governed by the various ministries. So are we saying that the Country comes to a dead stop???? Or are we saying that polling happens again, in search of a popular party to win, thereby the country incurring huge expenses????? In the current economic situation (in fact in any situation), it’s a callous waste of our treasury.

I therefore propose the following :

First, let us make a nationwide petition that we do not want the forthcoming general elections. Let us all clearly join hands together to convey this single message to the Government. Next, let us all gather together & bring back Mr Abdul Kalam as our President. He is known for being capable, along with being straight & clean. In fact he is one person, I remember, who the country wanted to remain as our President, even after his term was over. But for the political backhand moves, he would probably have continued to be our President.
As a Supreme Commander, we give him one full term & empower him to take all decisions necessary to clean the system completely. We also choose people through consensus from across the country, who would be his advisory committee. A good place to look for could be the people whom we had voted, when the lead India Movement program was initiated by the Times of India Group. The contestants were within the age group of 25 – 45 years. Young in body, mind & spirit, with a vision to lead India. A lot of very interesting & interested candidates had come up thru systematic voting.
These people would be given specific portfolios & they would assist our president elect Mr Abdul Kalam to clean up the country completely. This action could be similar to the sanitizing process that the NSG conducted last week after establishing control over the The Taj, The Trident & the Nariman House. Its like a doctor doing an operation & then cleaning up the wounds.
Once this exercise is over, the country goes through a proper general election & chooses the most efficient party to power. There should also be proper eligibility criteria for a candidate to stand for an election. Factors like education, social work done till now, age & physical fitness, etc should be taken into consideration. During this interim period, when the President & his team is cleaning up the country, various political parties would be expected to work at all levels, including grassroot levels & display significant improvement activities across the country.
During elections, each political party would be allowed to spend only a pre decided amount for campaign, which will be fixed by the election commission based on fair criteria. An audit would be done to ensure that no corruption is involved in the whole process.

It is said that terrorists & other unsocial elements constitute only 2% of the total population. The balance 98% constitutes of good & peace loving people. However this 2% is extremely committed to their task & act without worrying about the consequences. That is why they create such a telling impact on us. In contrast, the 98% have very high tolerance & they just keep quiet & watch. If this mass were to raise their voice & respond to the need of the hour, the terror would not exist at all. We would establish peace & prosperity all over. So let us wake up & raise our voice. Let us act, before it is too late. Let us join hands in wiping out terrorism once & for all.

I implore people from all walks of life to come forward with your valuable suggestions & support this movement. I am sure, that further suggestions from each one of you, who reads this message, will only make this a more concrete plan. Do not sit quietly & wait for others to respond. I implore people from all walks of life to come ahead with their suggestions.

This is the time to shoulder responsibility, to contribute towards rebuilding our country. If each one of you join hands here, we shall soon see Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam….. One World Family for World Peace.
Jai Hind !!!!

Gateway of India..... Gateway to a new awakening !!!

3rd Dec’2008. It was a day to show solidarity, it was a day to spew venom on the inept politicians, it was a day to show that we are united in our appeal against the injustice meted out to the common man…..
Tens of thousands poured onto The Gateway of India, shouting till the throats croaked, screaming till vocal chords gave up, displaying banners in all sizes & shapes, conveying one common message “Enough is Enough”.
Ironically, this is the same place, from where the last of the British troops left the Indian shores, in 1947, after the Independence. Today the youth of India is coming together to a new awakening. Is this a symbolic repetition of history???...only Time will tell.

Spurred by the cause, I also decided to join in & along with my colleague, Chris, took a local train (surprisingly empty by Mumbai standards at this rush hour) from Andheri to Churchgate. The crowd there was spilling over & almost every individual was headed to Gateway of India… cabs, in cars, on bikes, or on foot….. just one destination… was like a movement….every face showed solidarity & compassion for each other, but taut with anger against the politicians,...... against their inaction till now.
It was not exactly a rally……it was not well defined, people were on their own in various groups ranging from two & threes to tens to twentys to hundreds, waving various placards, posters, banners,…….some shouting ‘Vande Mataram’, others shouting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, still others shouting ‘Attack Pakistan', some singing the National Anthem, with candles lit in their hands. While different groups took up different topics, the intensity, the emotion & the sentiments were the same. We have had enough of outstanding promises from the Govt, but they have remained outstanding till now. So no more words… we need to see action…..decisive action. More than one lakh people (some quoted a larger figure), crammed up in that area, the din was deafening….. but the determination writ clear on the faces……

Some of the popular views expressed were :
1)Lets not pay our taxes till we see action from the Govt. ( I don’t know if that could be implemented & monitored with success)
2)Avoid voting / boycott voting in the forthcoming elections. (Again I don’t think it’s a good idea…. It does not serve the purpose that we are seeking)
3)Attack Pakistan immediately. (Very patriotic & of course the most vociferous of the sentiments. However, I have doubts on its really happening, as neither India nor Pakistan can afford a full fledged war in these times. Hitting out on terrorist camps in Pakistan sounds more doable, as long as we can gather solid international support. Here we can pressurize the Pakistan Govt to provide support as well, …..they would have very little choice otherwise)
4)There were placards lambasting the likes of Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, VilasRao Deshmukh, RR Patil, the Kerala CM, Ram Gopal Verma, Congress, BJP etc .

Mingling in the crowd, I felt a lump in my throat….this same place was like a war zone just a few days back….. so many lives snuffed out….just like that…. It all feels so horrific & unreal.

Like many others, I felt my eyes go wet & emotions choked…… but for sure the heart screamed with never say die optimism….
"We shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome someday,
O deep in my heart I do believe, we shall overcome some day……" the crowd singing in the background was indeed symbolic.
I, along with millions of my fellow countrymen believe, we shall overcome this crisis….& soon.

Jai Hind !!!!