Category Archives: Musings

Celebrities in Parliament

This article was published on August 18,2014 in “The Political & Business Daily”. The clipping is attached. 

The Parliament has seen some of the most famous personalities (sans Politicians) as its member, due to the power of Article 80 of the Indian Constitution. The said article confers upon the President, the power to nominate (not more than) 12 members to the Rajya Sabha. The Article 80(3) further states that “The members to be nominated by the President under sub clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall consist of persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as the following, namely: Literature, science, art and social service”.

Rajya Sabha (Council of States) is the upper house of our bicameral Parliament (Sansad). The Members of Parliament for Rajya Sabha are elected directly via a collegium consisting of elected members of assemblies of the sates of India.

There is hardly any doubt over the fact that this rule has helped the Parliament to adopt a diverse culture, along with getting expert opinions by these members over the issues pertaining to their field of expertise. But on the other hand, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that any of these has hardly made a significant contribution to the Parliament’s proceedings. The recent voices of dissent against these members for ‘short attendance in the Parliament’ have done more harm than good to the reputation of Article 80. Sachin Tendulkar, who faced the most criticism for short attendance, made a statement that he couldn’t attend the Parliament as his brother was undergoing a surgery. While no one in the country would ever doubt the integrity of Sachin Tendulkar, this recent incident has surely given a food for thought regarding the sincerity of the Nominated members towards the Parliament’s proceedings.

Apart from Tendulkar, the other celebrity who came under fire for the similar issue was Rekha, who currently has a measly attendance of 5%. The particular article in question has given the Rajya Sabha some of its most learned members, such as Dr. Zakir Husain, Dr. Alladi Krishnaswami and Satyendranath Bose.

Speaking about the nominated members, Jawaharlal Nehru said in the House of the People on 13 May, 1953:

“…The President has nominated some members of the Council of States who, if I may say so, are among the most distinguished, taking everybody in Parliament altogether—it is true, distinguished in arts, science, etc.—and our Constitution in its wisdom gave that. They do not represent political parties or anything, but they represent really the high watermark of literature or art or culture or whatever it may be”

Since the inception of the Rajya Sabha, more than 150 members have been nominated by the President under this rule. Among these are some of the brightest minds in the country including scholars, jurists, social workers and artists. Over the years, these exceptionally talented individuals have undoubtedly raised the level of debating in the Parliament.

Here, it must be mentioned that these nominated members aren’t given any special privileges over and above the rules for the elected members. These members also need to fulfil the minimum attendance requirement of the house or else face disqualification. But the bone of contention is that these exceptional individuals were, at the first place, nominated to the house because they exhibited utmost integrity and work ethics in their field of work. They are expected to showcase exemplary behaviour and show the other member how it is done! Consequently, they are constantly under the radar of everyone. But if there is one thing we have seen from these champions’ past, it is that they know how to answer their critics with their work. Let just hope that the history repeats itself yet again!

मोदी हैं सपनों के सौदागर मात्र!

मोदी सरकार के 100 दिन होने को आये. इस विषय पर तथ्यों पर आधारित आलेख को थोड़ा व्यंगात्मक लहजे में कहने का प्रयास कर रहा हूँ. भक्तगण मित्र भी उसी भावना से लें!
प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेंद्र मोदी हमेशा से कहते रहे हैं कि मुझे सिर्फ विकास की राजनीति करनी है, मैं बदले की राजनीति में यकीन नहीं रखता. मगर उनके  प्रधानमंत्री का पद संभालने के बाद से ही जिस तरीके से यू.पी.ए. सरकार द्वारा नियुक्त राज्यपालों को चुन-चुन कर परेशान किया गया और किया जा रहा है तथा संवैधानिक पद पर बैठे व्यक्ति की मर्यादा को तार-तार किया गया, इससे तो यही लगता है कि मोदी की कथनी और करनी में कोई समानता नहीं है.

श्री मोदी कहते हैं कि वो सिर्फ विकास की राजनीति करते हैं. हां, वे विकास की राजनीति तो करते  हैं, पर आम आदमी के विकास की राजनीति नहीं बल्कि अपने दल के नेताओं का विकास करने की राजनाति में जुटे हैं. उनका एकमात्र एजेंडा है कि साम, दाम, दंड और भेद, किसी भी तरीके से अपनी पार्टी के रिटायर्ड नेताओं को राज्यपाल के पद पर आसीन करवाना, ताकि पार्टी पर उनकी पकड़ और मजबूत हो. इसके लिए उन्हें प्रशासनिक और राजनीतिक हथकंडा अपनाने से उन्हें कोई गुरेज नहीं है.

कई बार मंच से श्री मोदी ने महंगाई घटाने और भ्रष्ट्राचार मिटाने का सपना आम लोगों को दिखाया है. सत्ता पर उनके आसीन हुए 100 दिन पूरे होने को आए मगर महंगाई से किसी को भी राहत मिलती नहीं दिख रही है. रही बात भ्रष्ट्राचार के खात्में की तो उनकी सरकार भ्रष्ट्राचारियों का साथ देती नजर आ रही है. एम्स के संजीव चतुर्वेदी मामले से तो यही लगता है कि उनकी सरकार ईमानदार अधिकारियों को ही हटाने की मुहिम में लगी है. फायदा सिर्फ करीबी नेताओं और कॉरपोरेट घरानों को पहुंचाया जा रहा है (crony-capitalism).

जिन युवाओं के समर्थन से मोदी प्रधानमंत्री की गद्दी पर विराजमान हुए, आखिर कब बेरोजगार युवाओं की सुध लेंगे? देश के युवा दर-दर भटकने को मजबूर हैं पर मोदी हैं कि गुजरात के ‘विकास’ की ‘खुशफहमियों’ से बाहर निकलना ही नहीं चाहते. आखिर उन्हें कब एहसास होगा कि अब वे प्रधानमंत्री हैं, गुजरात के मुख्यमंत्री नहीं. आखिर पूरे देश को ‘विकास’ की झांकी कब दिखाएंगे!

मोदी कहते हैं कि लोकतंत्र में उनकी गहरी आस्था है. मगर अफसोस, चाहे-अनचाहे वे लोकतंत्र की जड़ें खोदने में ही लगे है. क्या बगैर विपक्ष के एक स्वस्थ लोकतंत्र की कल्पना की जा सकती है? मोदी हैं कि उन्हें विरोध के स्वर पसंद ही नहीं हैं. अपने जयकारे की उन्हें इस कदर आदत लग चुकी है कि सरकारी कार्यक्रमों में भी दूसरे दलों के मुख्यमंत्रियों की उनके सामने हूटिंग होती है और वे मौन रहते हैं.

मत भूलिए, मोदी जी! ये लोकतंत्र है. निंदक को पास रखने में ही भलाई है. शिकायत सुनने और विरोध सहने की आदत डालने होगी. वरना जिस जनता ने सर पर बिठाया है, वो गिराने में भी वक्त नहीं लगाती है. हाल के उपचुनावों के नतीजों से जनता का मूड भांप लें और जो सपना दिखाया है, उसे पूरा करने के लिए कुछ काम करें.

Murder of an 81 years old in GK and AAP connection

The news of murder of an 81-years Mrs. Rekha Duggal – a resident of Greater Kailash in Delhi- drew widespread attention for the brazenness and inhumane behavior of the domestic help who killed her. The alleged killer – Neerak Saki- has also admitted to raping her before killing her. Just heart-wrenching news that makes you feel absolutely sick!  She was murdered on Monday, July 7, 2014. Here is a link to the news-item.

However, such anguish becomes much more intolerable when you come to know a personal connection to the person. Same day, July 7, she attended a Mohalla Sabha organized by our Aam Aadmi Party in the area in the daytime. Mr. Saurabh Bhardwaj- our MLA from Greater Kailash- told me that he vividly remembered an old lady (who he did not know personally) not only attending the meet, but she got up and drew attention to a civic issue in her neighborhood. She also gave a couple of good suggestions, said one of our volunteers. Mrs Duggal signed the sheet of the attendees also and one of the volunteers of the party ruefully showed me the diary. And after a few hours, such a gentle loving soul was taken away by a psychopath and barbaric man!

These days, I am attending to the party work in a few assembly areas, including Greater Kailash. When my attention was drawn to this news, it just made our hearts heavier.  And think about the family that is bearing the loss of the deceased. As someone said: These kind of brutal incidences are an indicator as to how low we have touched as a society!

 

 

Culture of Politics needs to change in India

Having returned to Chicago  after spending 6 weeks in Delhi, yesterday I called a young friend of mine who lives in Delhi. I was narrating my experiences of volunteering for Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi that I did in last several weeks. Even though he works and stays in Delhi, he asked me when are the elections in Delhi. I explained that the Delhi assembly elections are due in next 90 days, hardly 3 months away.

This young man is professionally educated, a socially spirited guy, wants to make a career in non-profit sector and in general well-informed. But he also represents the one catch that is typical of Indian youth: total indifference to political action! I was surprised that he does not know that Delhi- the Capital of India- is facing state assembly elections in next 3 months and that the current Chief Minister Sheila Dixit has already started doling out freebies at the expense of state exchequer to cling to power. He does not know that last 15 years have witnessed the governance of Congress Party in Delhi and the living conditions in Delhi have gone from bad to worse. A few years back, he decided to come to Delhi from a small town because he rightly felt that Delhi would provide better opportunities, but clearly never tried to see why Delhi as a city was so sick. Is not the poor governance responsible for the poor health of Delhi?

This dichotomy is a bit perplexing!

The youth today knows and understands the poor infra structure that the country has: poor roads, poor public utility services (educational institutes, hospitals, and so on).

The youth today knows and understands that there is a massive corruption and un-accountability in the government.

The youth today knows and understands that the politicians are not up to par. They are in general corrupt, incompetent and self-centered.

The youth today knows and understands that despite India having a massive pool of talent and wealth, as a country we are poor and not developing at the expected pace.

The youth today knows and understands that many other parts of world provide better quality of life to their citizens.

Yet, the callousness of the youth to politics is appalling. Their hesitation to be politically conscious is a matter of concern. The youth of today knows the ills, knows the diagnosis, yet is unwilling to align for a political engagement to seek solutions.

He/she thinks that the first job is to make a professional career for himself or herself and somehow the ills of country will be taken care by some other guys! (s)he fulfills his societal role by volunteering for an NGO or at religious places, but somehow wishes that some other well-intentioned guys will go to politics and give the citizens a better life. The Indian youth is very find of saying: “I hate politics”!

The youth understands and demands a better India, but shys away from the arena of political engagement and civic engagement. I always feel that unless we align with political action, the  less brilliant minds will continue to occupy the political arena and we shall continue to get sub-standard quality of life in India.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When hands are full!

January 26, 2013: What a day to start the Republic Day! While I thought I would write a piece on my blog later today. I was sleeping in my call room, when I got a call from the nurses that I am needed in the ER for a mother who had just arrived with a prolapsed cord. I rush to ER, to be told that the mother is on her way to L & D. I reroute myself to the L & D. Here is a G6P4 mother who has a visible prolapsed cord and is in  agony. Surprisingly , she had no prenatal care and tells that her EDC is March 13 (thus, approx 33 weeks) Now, do not ask me how she knows her EDC.!
She is taken to the OR and an emergent CS is performed. A much younger preemie (approx 31 weeks) is handed over to us. As if that alone is not sufficient, I am immediately told that another one is on the way! So, she has a twin pregnancy! With 2 preemies under one radiant warmer, both needing positive pressure ventilation, the reader may well know how my situation might be! With my hands full, I summon a  resident doctor to help us. We scramble for 2 sets now: 2 ambu bags, 2 intubations and so on. Luckily, the babies had decent spontaneous breathing and decided not to give us too difficult a time.
For next couple of hours, with adrenaline rush, we were able to stabilize the babies, start ventilators, give surfactant, and place umbilical lines.
As the saying goes, when it rains, it rains cats and dogs! Thus, we  had a stormy start to my Saturday morning, it being a Republic day!

 

Why We Need 2nd Independence and Who Will Get Us That?

India is still not independent. I still call it under rule! This time it is not Moguls, nor Britishers. It is under seize and rulers are we Indian ourselves. The characteristics of our rulers who continue to exploit the common masses are:

1. They are not foreigners, hence look very much like common Indians. Of course, they will wear ties and suits (which are of no relevance at Indian soil where temperatures soar to 40s and 50s. Or, they just wear white kurta pajama and shamelessly denigrate Gandhi ji.

2. Political leadership: They are either elected by voters in polls where voters have limited options ( have no choice to reject them). In the electoral process that we have, these candidates exercise all means to get elected: by hook or crook. The parties have more or less no ideology. The only standard they look up to is victory. Once we keep our political affiliation aside, we will realize that they just want to come into power, means are not important, end is what they are targeting at.

3. Bureaucracy: The babus are selected by merit or by bribery. Either way, the end result is same for the most: educated and intellectual class they constitute, but sooner than later, become self-serving. They are the guardians of rules, but let the political class bend them instead of confronting them. They are eager to become appease their bosses, start focussing on promotions and filling their own coffers and wallets.
Tell me honestly, why there is so much craze among Indian families to see their wards become IAS, IPS officers and SDMs? To serve the country: no, that is not the first reason. If my son becomes an IAS, IPS: kothi, gaddi, naukar, fat dowry and life long aaraam! These are the considerations thta we aim for.
It is a common knowledge that in HCS (Harayana Civil Service), the seats are for sale. If I have to pay 20 lakhs for my son to become an HCS officer, shall he serve the state: it is easy to guess the answer.

4. Police: Unrestrained is the best term for pur police forces. The training does not translate in this simple message: you are here to bring culprit to the book.Instead what happens is: bullying commoners, extracting money and distorting evidence to their suitability. In UP, recently we came across the news of a 6 year old girl beaten mercilessly by police at the police station. That one incidence is not an exception. It represents the real mindset of our police forces.

5. Judiciary: Slow and lethargic. Jutstice delayed is justice denied. Corruption at lower level is well known.

6. Media: Has not matured into a socially responsible media. The lust for making money has made distanced it from reality. Do we know of any code of conduct that the media seem to follow. The unashamed beaming of Mumbai terrorist events has exposed the real character of our media. This does not mean there is dearth of professional journalists in our country. But the lack of self-regulation, ethics has driven the current media into a bazaar.

7. Public: Feels helpless. Has resigned to the fate of bribery, corruption, nepotism. Over-populated hence every chore seems to be a competition. So, what we have become: aapna ghar pahle, samaaj baad mein. Self-conceited, self- centered we have become. Do not take me wrong, majority of people still want to live with conscience, but the monster of unregulated democracy seems unsurmountable, hence selfishness is the first trait that creeps in.
Those who are away from the country (Indians abroad): they too seem to be wary of the the way our Indian system works. As one of my friends Dr Vidya put it: }The charity in India is highly unregulated, no one knows where your hard-earned money will go! If you donate here (USA), you know that where your money is being used.”

So, what are the solutions?

The fight against foreigners was not easy, but it was easier to define an enemy, a looter! It was easy to descriptively conclude who our enemy was: The one who invaded us. It made sense to the people!
Today, the enemy is from within us. That is a big problem! It is not easy to convince all that what is wrong, who is doing wrong to us.
The good news is that we are not at the mercy of some individuals (Kings or queens or senators or MPs sitting in a different country in a buidling – call it Parliament- and decide our fate by their whims or whishes). But the democracy that was bestowed upon us almost 6 decades ago has not been able to fulfil our needs. It did not bring in corrections and fixes as the time passed on” rather the changes were not incorporated by our political leadership!

1. Hence our democracy needs updates. Bring in the needed reforms to make our system really workable. Not just toothless democracy.

2. We must- each must- think what we are doing for our society and nation. We need patriotic individuals who are there to serve and not extract. To be patriotic, we do not have to wear a Gandhi cap, or leave our job or business! To do the things with sincerity and conscience: that alone will help us a long way.

Mindset And Attitude!


My parents live in Faridabad. The whole of North India is reeling under heat. Yesterday I called them and my sister who is visiting from Nagpur was also there. I asked them that they might be able to ward off the heat with air-conditions. She replied that for at least 8 hours a day there is no electricity and that balances out everything. The inverters are hardly able to charge!


My friend Vijay from Faridabad sent me an email and told me while we were talking on the phone that to send that email, he had to restart his PC 3 times. Sometimes electricity is not there, sometimes the voltage is so low that you cannot work effectively on PC. He was replying to my complaint as to why we were not able to chat on internet!


My young son (along with family) has just reached New Delhi from NY and I was curious to know whether the Air India flight bound for N Delhi (via London) was in time. Sitting here in NY, I googled to find IGI Airport website. The website is a shame if we compare web-sites of other air-ports, like JFK, O’hare and Heathrow. The web-site doesnot let you see the status of flights, though it does provide schedules. In the menu, ‘Contact Us’ provides no telephne numebr. Typical Indian mentality or “chalta hai” attitude”.

I know it is easy to criticize the things, particularly sitting far away. But I feel while we talk of rising India, we must realize that the qualitative differences that exist are difficult to fill.

Stem Cell Research: Bush vetoes it again

Toda’s news tells us that the US President Bush has once again vetoed the Stem Cell Bill, thereby blocking the new federal funding for stem cell research. This effectively means that scientists will continue to feel handicapped in fully researching the potentials of stem cell. As we know, stem cell research has the potential to cure many seemingly incurable diseases. It can be revolutionary.

By doing so, the Republican President has put his beliefs (conservative) before science, and has tried to mix science with religious beliefs. But the fact remains that science remains in relentless pursuit of truth and thus one can not suppress it. One can try to defer the things in the name of religion (and religion is at best a man-made thing), but how long will you suppress the truth!

Stem cell will one day truimph and give the much-needed succor to the humanity.

The Namesake

Last week, we took some time off to see Mira Nair’s newly released movie “The Namesake” in one of the Long Island’s far eastern Seaford Theatre. It was a late night show and the gathering was really small (considering the fact that desis donot live in large numbers in that area)!
Based upon Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, this movie depicts the typical theme of confusion which continues to besiege an Indian (family) in a foreign land even after decades of adopting the new land! Old wine in a new bottle, but keeps you engrossed!