Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Forgotten Hero...Subhas Chandra Bose !!!!!

Yesterday, I landed in Delhi & went across to Red Fort with a small National Flag in my hand, but felt so lonely, so desolate, so lost.
Yesterday was the birthday of one of the greatest sons of this Nation, Netaji Subhas Chandra Basu. It was on 23rd January 1897, that Subhas Chandra Bose was born in Cuttack to a rich & affluent family.

A brilliant student, Subhas topped almost all exams he sat for & ended up clearing the Indian Civil Services Exam ( equivalent of what is IAS today). Suprred by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, the revolutionary spirit in Subhas guided him throughout his life & he jumped into the freedom struggle of India with all that he had. Becoming the President of the Congress Party, even when pitted against Mahatma Gandhi’s candidate, showed how truly people were behind him & his ideologies. However, Subhas, who had the highest respect for the Mahatma, decided to step down & carve a separate path for himself. Though under house arrest in Kolkata, he managed to escape from under the nose of the British intelligence & managed to travel to Europe via Kabul. He got in touch with the Germans under Hitler & attempted to form an army out of the POW Indians. When, one fine morning, Subhas addressed the Indians through an independent radio channel, saying , “Ami Subhas bolchi”(I am Subhas speaking), thousands of patriotic Indians could not believe themselves. Their favorite Leader had appeared again, rekindling the hope of throwing out the Imperialist British. The British Empire apparently panicked, as they were well aware of his capabilities. Subhas had already humbled them by escaping their intelligence & now he was out in the open gathering support & ammunition to fight against them, a fight they knew would be very difficult to control or thwart.
Netaji, as he was popularly known, then embarked on another long & arduous journey, this time traveling all the way to Japan in a submarine. Here taking help of the Japanese High Command, Netaji founded the Azad Hind Fauj, also known as the Indian National Army (INA), & became Head of the Free India Provisional Government. The INA comprised of almost 50,000 POW around Singapore, who pledged their life to see a liberated India. The soldiers were a mix of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, South Indians,……there never was any soul who had any communal differences. Under Netaji they all dreamt of a sovereign India which would give equal merit to each individual. Netaji had a way with words, & it all came genuinely from his heart. He cared for his people & was always leading from the front. His famous words, "Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe aazadi doonga"(Give me blood & I shall give you freedom), ignited the souls of all the soldiers & they were ready to lay their life & take on any hardships on the way to freedom….all so very smilingly. Netaji had declared “Dilli Chalo” (lets go all the way to Delhi. His love & respect for Gandhi ji & Nehru is best illustrated from the fact that in INA, Netaji had created Gandhi regiment & Nehru regiment…….an honor that neither Gandhi ji nor Nehru could ever reciprocate. ‘Jai Hind’ was the slogan which reverberated the air, as the Azad Hind Fauz made their march for Delhi.
While Netaji & his INA did cross over to Indian soil through Kohima, forcing back the British armies, the forward march was stalled due to serious lack of food & medicines. The iron will of the soldiers took a heavy beating for want of reinforcements. Meanwhile, with America bombing Hiroshima & Nagasaki with Atom Bombs, Japan conceded defeat & ultimately withdrew support to INA. The story of retreat from Imphal, is one of the greatest tragedies of the world War II. A story of misery, hunger & death. Netaji’s dream of marching into Delhi with his INA remained unfulfilled.

However, Netaji’s contribution to the Indian freedom movement can never be overlooked. He probably created enough mayhem & fear in the British ranks, & they knew that their regime over India was nearing end. It was declared that Netaji died in an air crash over Taiwan, a fact that has been debated over many years, as there has been serious disputes to this claim.
But maybe, Nehru & Gandhiji did not find it appropriate to keep the legacy of Netaji after India achieved her independence ( a compromised independence in so many ways). In so many ways, he remains in our hearts as the Forgotten Hero…….

And yesterday, when I visited the Red Fort, (I flew down from Mumbai) to pay my humble tributes to one of the greatest Leaders of all times, our dear own Netaji, my eyes were filled with water. Not a soul seems to be aware of his Bday. All this after what he did for our country, so selflessly. I surfed through the TV channels, and watched again at the airport, for at least a mention of this brave soul,….but alas,…. not a word…… as an Indian, my head hung in shame. I blame the entire congress party at the centre for such blatant display of disrespect. I also lambast all the so called political bigwigs, who are only busy in combing political brownie points. We have interviews on Sanjay Dutt & Manyata Dutt entering politics, we have hours of news time consumed on our current PM being admitted in AIIMS for a heart surgery, we have Veerappan Moili advocating Azharuddin as a true Indian(someone who has been banned for life for bartering Indian cricket for money), we have hours of news time consumed in describing useless & mundane topics, but as a Nation we forget to even recognize the Birthday of our dear Netaji. Neither yesterday, nor today...in the prominent news dailies of our country....not a word in respect for this great leader......how utterly shameless can we Indians be???????
When will we wake up???......when will we be able to drop the fa├žade of all this???? When ???? when??? When????

I just remember a song from Rabindra Nath Tagore, which was very inspirational to Netaji….."Jodi tor dak shune keu na aashe, tobe ekla cholo re……"(If no one listens to your call, start walking alone, on the path that you believe in)
And I take the que from our favorite Netaji, that we need to make a beginning, even if there is no one coming along.

Let the Centre declare 23rd January as a day of work, (no holidays please) irrespective of whether it is a weekday or a weekend. Let a billion plus Indian work on this day….sincerely & contribute to the growth of the country. For this one day let every single Indian be allowed to donate just this one day’s salary / wages to a Central fund that may be called, “Netaji Bharat Nirman Fund”. This fund would then be utilized for all kinds of developmental activities, which will make India, one of the globally strongest.
A Blue print of this plan is already in place & I would be happy to discuss this with able minded people.

Jai Hind!!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire !!!

Danny Doyle’s Slumdog Millionaire seems to have caught the imagination of almost everyone. Almost all the people I spoke to, have already managed to see the pirated version of the movie. Am told, the pirated version is like the uncensored version……making it that much more captivating.
It’s a movie that depicts Mumbai slums with stunning reality…..it has criminals, politicians, communal bloodbaths, sordid underworld activities…..scenes that apparently make you cringe. Danny Boyle, it seems, has been extremely efficient in getting authentic pictures of Dharavi….Asia’s biggest slum!!!!....symbolically showing the darker side of Mumbai, ugly secrets exposed, raw & brutal. A slum which continues to thrive & catch the imagination of foreigners, while we are just sitting & allowing it to grow beyond control.
However, with the movie winning almost all categories in Golden Globe awards, India gets a lot of attention & media glare. AR Rahman, with his music score has been among the most popular faces in front of the camera. As expected, on the dais, he thanked the one billion Indians, who he believes are behind his success. Kudos for keeping our country’s name & fame AR…..we are indeed proud of your achievements. Known for his originality & immense talent, AR was destined to touch international fame & accolades. May he continue to revel & mesmerize us with his repertoire of music in days to come.
With Tare Jameen Par out of the race for Oscars(that’s really sad), we are left to rejoice the awards, Slumdog Millionaire has managed to get.
Am told that the central character, Jamaal, is a protagonist from the slum world of Dharavi, who is hopelessly romantic & dreams of a life beyond all the dirt, mirth & dark of the slums. He believes that Love would show the way & have answers for all problems. Hope & optimism prevails.

Just a word for many of you who visit my blogs, Art of Living has been working towards rehabilitating Dharavi. The active volunteers, first managed to convert a big dumpyard area into a beautiful playground & a garden. The place earlier was a den for drug dealing, country liquor, & other antisocial activities. As a garbage dumpyard, it was also a haven for spreading various diseases. With the help of the locals, educating them & empowering them, Art of Living volunteers, managed to transform the area into a beautiful garden & a playground.
Today, Art of Living also runs a school in Dharavi, which has more than 250 students. The school takes care of the uniforms, books & other study materials, breakfast & lunch, for all children. The funds are generated through various donations & help from people across the country.

Now thats, what I would call as a positive step towards improving our society. Let us all come forward & help the cause. For any information on this, do write in to me.

New Tennis Prodigy !!!

In Somdev Devvarman, India has finally found a prodigy…..this rabbit toothed, youngster, hailing from Agartala, a small town nestled in the North East of India, has all the spunk & courage it takes to reach him in the elite club of tennis professionals.
Having already created quite a stir in US as a junior talent, this boy showed rare aggression to reach the finals of the Chennai ATP Open, where he eventually lost out to the hard hitting Croat, Cilic. However, on his way to the finals, Somdev, whose ATP ranking was 202 before the tournament, scalped major players like Carlos Moya, Ivo Karlovic & Douchebag Chuck on his way to the finals. All these players have been in the circuit for quite some time & have been in the top 50 rankings.
In his first appearance in an ATP finals, Somdev did look a little overdone & rattled by the pressure, but showed quality signs of becoming a champion in years to come. However, this appearance in the finals of the Chennai ATP Tournament has made him richer by almost 150 ATP points, & he has now reached the 150 rankings in ATP.
In fact Somdev has been on the radar of Indian Tennis for some time now. Leander Paes, Vijay Amritraj & other Tennis stalwarts of yesteryears have been very impressed by this new talent.
Looks & game wise, very much like Michael Chang(when he first hit the circuit), Somdev, seems to be quite at ease with his new found fame…….he speaks with unadulterated confidence. Armed with americanized accent, a toothy smile, & a tennis racquet,and also a guitar(when he is not playing tennis Somdev has been hailed to be the next big name in the International circuit from India......

Lets wish him luck & look forward to his laurels ahead.....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Welcome 2009.......no more smoke.....we hope life blossoms !!!

The New Year Eve’s evening was simple & quiet for me. Deciding to drop all of five invitations to jazzy & starry night programs, I finally went for dinner to a Sizzler joint with a close friend & enjoyed a Paneer Shashlik…..they really make it very well at Yoko’s. This along with a steaming hot soup of spinach was just appropriate for us to usher in 2009. After that we drove down to have a lovely chocolate dark temptation(it’s warm chocolate served with ice cream & whipped cream, topped with hot chocolate fudge) at a Barista close by…..Ummmmm, it was sinfully divine.
A long drive across the city showed, how heavy the security had been…. At times it seemed that there were more policemen on road than the common man. For a New Year’s Eve, this was quite different as an experience. Almost every car/ two wheeler, was stopped & checked every five hundred meters. Back home around 2.00 am in the morning, I pampered myself to some light music, before wishing well & tucking into the bed.

However, the new year has not started the way I would have wanted it to. On the first day itself there were serial blasts in Guwahati, leaving us all with an eerie feeling ….how safe are we???? The terror plans & activities seem to be hitting us hard & catching us unawares every time. This time its terror from Bangladesh. Whew!!!!
While all this mayhem continues, Pakistan maintain their well rehearsed stand, “these terrorists are not from Pakistan, Kasab is not from Pakistan, LeT, ZuD, are all, not housed in Pakistan, India should provide with proofs,”etc, etc, etc…….the dialogues continues. While our leaders at the centre keep the dialogues on, with a moderate stand, & our media keeps putting up various debates on their channels, each giving a burly opinion, we the common citizens of this country, keep hoping for a better & a safe tomorrow.
The other day, I read that our former Prez, Dr Kalam, said at a gathering in Himachal Pradesh, that while India, continues its dialogues & creates international political pressures on Pakistan, we should also strike on the terror camps in Pakistan, thereby ensuring better & positive results towards controlling terrorism. Now that’s the kind of aggression & positive framework, we Indians are waiting for from our Centre. Hope our PM, along with the UPA Govt is listening…..time for some tough action guys!!!!…. Its long overdue….. else, we are just playing into the hands of these Jihadis…..

Meanwhile, winter seems to be playing hide & seek with Mumbai…….barring one night when the air had some nip, its been quite warm....we are already in Jan & winter seems far away. All this when, Delhi & north India is reeling in cold. How very unfair!!!!!.

One of the resolutions for the New Year for me, is to give time to music…..maybe learn to play an instrument…could be guitar or a key board. Am also planning to start paying badminton …..just so that I keep in shape….what with six packs becoming the way of life with men nowadays, the least I can do is to keep in shape. Almost every second man that I walk past seems to be flexing his triceps, bulging his fists & look with disdain, all in various haird styles…….Wow……the young brigade is all shaping up….at least physically.
Keeping them busy & confused are the daintily clad damsels, who certainly don’t look to be in distress(like good old days). Nowadays, it seems to be fashion to put on a couple tees / shirts / chaddis etc together & give that rough & lean & mean & crumpled look. Also donning the shoulders, the chests, & the forearms & wrists are tattoos of various shapes & sizes(even the ladies are not far behind, in this).

Incidentally the ban on smoking publicly seems to have lost its effect. And I note with rising concern that its young girls who seem to be more attracted to it. Life up in smoke!!!!!..... all up in smoke !!!! Chal diye hain fikr yaar dhuyein mein urake,; Jaane kya hoga raama re, jaane kya hoga maula re!!!!!