Category Archives: India

The Great Indian (Before) Marriage Tamasha – Part 1

By Shwetha Kalyanasundaram

arranged-marriage-597x400

As customary it is in India, for girls to get married as soon as you enter the 20’s, I was no exception. A few days after I turned 21, my parents sat me down for an “adult ” talk. (The last time that happened was before I entered my engineering college where I got a discourse on the do’s and don’ts at college). My parents bogged me down with questions pertaining to my social life, more directed towards my “preferences” to the opposite sex. When my parents were convinced that I wasn’t seeing anybody, out popped their question – “Are you ready to get married?”

Boy that did set me to think. I set my grey cells in action and tried to introspect if I indeed was ready for marriage. After days of pondering, I decided that the answer was a “yes”!! When I told my pals’ bout my decision, I received a variety of emotions – some rolled their eyes, some laughed it off, some cried (honestly!!) but most of them were shocked. My girl pals bombarded me with a lot of (silly) questions like:

What happens to your career?

Why do you want to settle down so early on in your life?

What happens to your identity?

and many more!! Does this drive me to another state of confusion?!? No!! I was sure that my decision was spot on. Here’s why.

I’m blessed to have wonderful parents, who belong to a small group of people who have evolved with the times and they have always been very liberal with me. They have been very supportive in whatever I have done till date and have always ensured that I carve a niche for myself in whatever I do. Till date, I have been able to do just that and I know for a fact that people recognise me for who I am and what I stand for. They have made sure that my head is held high all the time and that has indeed made me a better person. And I am sure that my partner would respect my ideals and give me the same encouragement that my parents have showered and I am absolutely sure that he would support me in my every step towards success. So, getting married is definitely not going to stop me from achieving my goals.

The entire concept of an arranged marriage, these days can be compared to an online dating process with parental control! My parents, who are very liberal, did give me an option of finding my partner while I pursued my masters, within their reasonable expectations and by far, the only expectation they set forth was that the guy had to be a Tam – Brahm!! But with my studies occupying most of the time, I just found it to be a humungous task and removed it off my list of things – to – do.

I find the whole concept of arranged marriage very appealing. I like the fact that there is commitment before there is love – there is a strange allure to that. In arranged marriages, two people make a commitment to each other and then embark upon the voyage of really getting to know each other – trust before anything else. This is what drove me to ask my parents to hunt down a groom for me.

That’s when the whole fun started! Stay tuned for the fun ride J

Advertisements

Indian Cricket Since Independence: Why Not Much Has Changed In 66 Years

world cup team 1983

Kartik Kannan delves deep into Indian cricket since Independence and brings to you his opinion as to why he thinks not much has changed though we think otherwise. 

66 years post Independence in 2013, the Indian cricket fan must be elated looking at the way India have progressed from wanting to draw test matches, to wanting to compete, to wanting to regularly win. We’ve found our icons, we’ve made biopics on our heroes, we’ve become the central power in world cricket, and as audiences we’ve made cricket a central source of our happiness. We’ve won 2 cricket World cup’s, a T20 world cup, and mildly basked ourselves in the sunlight that Test cricket affords to the number one team. We have the crowning jewel in the IPL where the world comes to play cricket, where computer analysts and commentators dissect every 1/120th of an innings. Not a bad journey, for a side that was left to fend for itself in the post-colonial hangover of the British Raj, Isn’t it?

Not Quite! Indian cricket finds itself today, not too far from where it started, looking at patterns that and the big picture, despite the highs of Indian cricket, that are reminded to us in various re runs on the sports channels. Indian cricket has always resembled a Renault Duster, by the collective aura of its individuals, but when it comes to the seminal moment of the 4-wheel drive working in tandem with the steering wheel and the accelerator on a rough terrain, the experience that’s more often been given has been that of a cranky Maruti 800. We always have some part that doesn’t work, and the other sturdy parts take the pressure. The end result is that we have a Maruti 800, which goes by a few pleasant drives, but still is continually searching for its service station, despite having the highest number of service stations. The service stations’ are exactly BCCI’s coffers. No cricket board makes the kind of wealth like the BCCI make, but still the Indian cricket team is searching for the recipe that makes their concoction consistently tasty.

When I think of why we are the way we are, I see the following reasons

a)   No Domination DNA– Indian cricket is reflective of its education system, where the focus is on numbers and individual merit, with little focus on teamwork. India also historically has been a nation that’s played catch up to its rulers, and has never gone on war by itself to conquest territories. So the DNA to dominate or ward off attacks has not genetically been there. India has seen a Tendulkar, a Venkatraghavan, an Eknath Solkar, but not a team like Warwick Armstrong’s ‘Invincibles’

b)   Lack of Worth Ethic and Discipline– John Wright and Greg Chappell’s notes on Indian cricket did briefly touch upon the lack of work ethic and discipline in Indian cricket, which never quite allowed India to get out of the quagmire they find themselves stuck in. Speaking of lack of the need to charter a vision, India has never quite had a moment to themselves to feel the need to start a revolution to having a world-class team in all forms of cricket. Not having a clear memo to climb cricket’s Everest and staying there, and not finding the right men to climb regularly has been India’s undoing.

c)    No effect from Drubbings– When the West Indies they were bounced out in the 70’s and shamed with whitewashes from Australia, they decided to meet fire with fire, and scouted for fearless cricketers who’s primary responsibility was to instill the fear of life into the opposition. They never looked back until Steve Waugh shot the Caribbean bubble in Sabina Park, that had grown 15 years without a negative result across countries. That moment of shame never happened to India, despite two incidences of 0-4 drubbings in Australia in 4 tours across 2 decades. As a result the strong urge to build the world’s best team has not originated from the stare in the eye.

d)   Passing Shower, but not a consistent Monsoon– Whenever Indian Cricket faced an acid test, it found its way out of a hole (Like Eden Gardens 2001, Cricket World Cup 2011 being instances), but never quite allowed the positive energy to translate into a culture or a DNA forthe full value chain to absorb (Selectors/Domestic Players/Current Squad). We’ve allowed talent and grit in the shape of a passing shower to give us our cricketing monsoon, instead of having steady rainfall. We don’t need drought, we don’t need floods, we just need a consistent and threatening monsoon, but do we have the right rainmakers who promise the parched Indian fans of cricketing glory?

e)    Rainmakers- The Administrators– The final point is the need of having a great administrative unit, to run the show. While great administrators have come and gone by, Cricketing administration is a combination of respect for the audience, financial acumen and a vision to run the game with growth in mind. India’s done brilliantly on the financial acumen, while Australia and England have done well in the other departments. India with the financial backing it has, needs to put its eggs in the right basket and bet on a vision, rather than allowing random politicians stripping the game’s sanctity through their misdeeds.

India will still manage to produce a leader like MS Dhoni, a run machine like Virat, but it will struggle to produce their version of the ‘Invincible’, unless India pauses to think where they want to be. Like just another Indian cricket fan, despite the passing showers, I keep hoping that the “Fire in Babylon” moment in Indian cricket is not too far away, as I pass yet another Independence day, waiting for Indian cricket’s independence from its prejudices.

indian-cricket-team-icc-cricket-world-cup-2011-champian-21

Defining Moments : India at 66

As India takes one more step forward, let us take a look at 11 defining moments after its Independence.

From Dominion to Republic, 1950.

From Dominion to Republic

The Dominion of India becomes the Republic of India on 26th January 1950 by adopting the newly drafted constitution. Today, we are the largest democracy in the world and the constitution is the largest one in the world and maintains its unique nature while adopting several portions from British, US & other constitutions of the world.

Biggest Gamble in History : First General Elections 1951-52

First General Elections 1951-52

It was like the biggest gamble in the history of India. Consider, first of all, the size of the electorate: 176 million Indian voters of whose more than 85% could not read or write. Each one had to be identified, named & registered. At stake were around 4500 seats – about 500 for Parliament and rest for Provincial assemblies. Again these figures are not enough, there were 224,000 polling booths, 2 million steel ballot boxes (made of 8200 tonnes of steel) and about 380,000 reams of paper were used. And with all this, India went to its first general elections.

Redrawing the Map : State Reorganization Act, 1956

State Reorganization

India is a land of many languages, each with its distinct script, grammar, vocabulary and literary traditions. And as we became independent, demand for states on linguistic and ethnic identities started growing. It was the 58 – day long fast of Potti Sriramulu that led to the creation of Andhra Pradesh and setting up the First State Reorganization Commission. Potti Sriramulu might be a forgotten man today but his fast and its aftermath sparked off a wholesale redrawing of the map of India on linguistic lines.

The Experience of Defeat ; Sino – Indian War, 1962

1962 India China War

As the Dalai Lama crossed into India in 1959 and China tightened its control over Tibet, the “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai’ slogans on the border were replaced by “Yeh Zameen Hamara Hai, Tum Wapas Jao”. Border & territorial claims of both the countries were starkly different and as China grew stronger under the Communist rule, it was determined to undo all the ground positions. As China attacked India in 1962, the war lead to a bitter defeat for ill-prepared India. The India-China conflict, then, was a clash of national myths, national egos, national insecurities and ultimately of the national armies.

Victory against Pakistan, 1965

1965 War

Pakistan’s ruler Ayub Khan and his company were encouraged by the debacle against China in 1962. But they forgot that it was in wet & slippery Himalayas, while war with Pakistan is on a terrain that Indians knew much better. The victory in the 1965 war came as a confidence booster to everybody, be it army, civilians or the Govt.

The Uncertain years and the Bangladesh War, 1967-71

Pakistan

Once the Congress was the national cohesive force, but by late 1960s, it was split into disputatious parts. Between Banking nationalization, slogans of “Garibi Hatao” and several other reforms by Mrs. Indira Gandhi, India was again facing trouble from its western neighbor, but this time on the eastern frontiers. The than East Pakistan was witnessing popular uprising for a separate nation and this lead to a war between India & Pakistan. Within 6 days, Indian army had marched till Dacca. It was hailed as the biggest victory ever in Indian history and it changed the map of the subcontinent.

The Emergency Years, 1975-77

images

After Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was found guilty of electoral malpractice, she declared State of Emergency in June 1975. The emergency revived the debate as to whether India could, should, or ever would be reliably democratic. The emergency was lifted in 1977, and India saw its first non-Congress govt, though a short-lived one.

Operation Blue Star and Assassination of the Indira Gandhi, 1984

Assassination of Indira

As militancy and violence was on the peak in Punjab, the Indian Government decided to attack the Khalistan movement and “Operation Blue Star” was launched in July 1984. As a consequence, in October that year, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards and this was followed by large-scale Anti-Sikh riots in Northern India. Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as the Prime Minister.

Mandal, Kamandal & Economic Reforms : 1990-92

Babri Mosque Demolition

In 1990, the controversy rose over PM V.P. Singh’s decision to implement 1980 recommendations of the Mandal commission for further job reservations to “other backward classes”. The same year Bharatiya Janata Party launched nationwide protests over Ayodhya issue. After the tenth General elections in 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by LTTE terrorists. The economy took a downturn, and gold reserves were pawned to stave off default on international debt. In 1992, Babri Masjid was demolished and riots broke out not only in India but in several other countries.

Peace & War, 1999

Lahore Bus Trip

As Prime Minister Vajpayee undertook a historic bus journey to Pakistan and signs a declaration of peace; within a few days, Pakistani soldiers crossed the LOC and infiltrated Indian Kashmir. India repulsed the attack and Pakistan lost the brief, but bloody, border conflict in the Himalayan district of Kargil.

Gandhi’s land in communal riots, 2002

Gujarat Riots 2002

As several Kar Sevaks were burned to death in an attack on Sabarmati Express in Godhra town in 2002, large-scale Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in Gujarat leaving over a thousand dead.

No Reason Celebrating Independence Day In Kashmir: A Kashmiri Writes For MSK

Kashmir 1

It was called as the “Paradise on Earth”, but has instead been one of the most violent & bloodshed regions in recent years. Ajaz Ahmed writes on what importance does the Indian Independence Day hold to a Kashmiri youth and how they see their relationship with India.

Let’s understand the literal meaning of independence and then decide who deserves to celebrate it. The Declaration of Independence prescribed the proper role of government to secure the rights of individuals and to affect their safety and happiness. Now let’s understand independence in terms of Kashmir, which has always remained on the edge. Since India became independent, Kashmir never celebrated or accepted 15th August as a day of celebration, and in fact the day was given a very tough name – ‘’Black Day’’. As this territory is marked with human rights violations, rapes, fake encounters and killings, brutal laws like AFSPA goes against the declaration of independence like securing the rights of individuals, safety and happiness.

Though I feel both India and Pakistan betrayed Kashmiris, it’s very important to understand the root of the problem. As India got independence, Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir was willing to stay independent. However, under the changed circumstances after the tribal invasion from the Pakistani side, Maharaja acceded to India with a promise for plebiscite after the restoration of law & order. A plebiscite that would give Kashmiris right to choose between India or Pakistan. Though this never happened, but India & Pakistan fought 4 wars over it and the Kashmiris on both sides are divided by a long LOC.

Kashmir is an untold story, it has no reach, people across the world hardly know about Kashmir conflict. Government has barred Internet service, news channels and is constantly gagging local newspapers. In such a scenario what and why to celebrate independence? Once could be also thinking who is celebrating 15th August in Kashmir. The cabinet ministers including chief minister and forced invited school children are celebrating. This day is a usual day for an average Kashmiri and its been recognized as (15th August ko Hartal hai) day of strike.

I always feel that whether it is India or Pakistan, what they only want is the land of Kashmir. The people, Kashmiris are just an unwanted addition to the piece of real estate they had acquired. Nobody cares about the people, whether they live or die does not matter. Even young children aren’t spared and this makes me wonder, how these innocent children are a threat to a great nation of a billion people, one of the largest democracies in the world.  I mean, please think from the perspective of a Kashmiri. We just want what was promised to us during accession. I am not anti-Indian. The common Indian has no role in our sufferings. In fact, they have more in common with ordinary Kashmiris than the corrupt Kashmiri politicians in the government. I don’t throw stones at the security forces, as my upbringing never taught me so. I will fight but I will not hurt you.

Democracy, Independence, human rights are words that do not hold significance in today’s Kashmir. The day our land will truly be ours and the air we breathe is free again, that day the winds in Kashmir will bring the songs of joy, peace and freedom.

छियासठ ने किया सफाचट

(FILES)In this picture taken 15 August 2

By सतीश तहलान 

छियासठ बरस की आज़ादी,
हैं छियासठ की ही सोनिया।
छियासठ के भाव प्याज हो गया,
गिरा छियासठ तलक ही रूपया।
इस छियासठ ने किया सफाचट,
मुल्क की डूबा दी नईया।
देखो कहीं कोने सुबक रही,
मेरी बेबस भारती मईया।
हर 15 अगस्त जहाँ उड़ती हैं
बस वादों की हवा-हैवईंयाँ।
उस लाल किले चढ़ बन जाता,
गूँगा भी कुशल गवईया।

        

When Raju Lost Faith in Ganga…

By Ankit Chandra

india_usa_011110

Remember that movie starring Raj Kapoor, ‘Jis desh mein ganga behti hai’ ? Raj kapoor played the role of a guy from I think Banaras, and goes on to use his sanskar and values to transform a group of dacoits. I think the assumption in the movie was that Raju had complete faith in the values of the mother land.

Cut to Champaign in US. I have met a lot of NRIs here. Some have no traces of India in them, some still have a very thick Indian accent, some dress in ways you wouldn’t imagine on Indians, and then on the other hand you would have people dressed in Salwar kameez, but as soon as they open their mouth, you get amazed at the American accent that hits your ears.

It is interesting to interact with these people, as they aren’t Indians anymore, but thats what they identified as, or they identify themselves as (when they have nothing Indian in them). So in a restaurant, you would hear an Indian American talking to her American friends talking about Aishwarya Rai and saying that Indian people have beautiful names, and that Aishwarya Rai has a portugese ancestory, as Indians don’t have the genes for such beautiful green eyes… Or I heard another NRI in a party saying that Indian people gang up against NRIs coz they are rich and if your car hits a person in India, they would get after you, coz you are a rich NRI and thus you should be punished for that.

I wondered, what was the reason for these people to leave India and come to US… Was it the land of opportunities, or was it something else? I was going for an interview to a Multinational company in a city in US, and my cab driver was an Indian. he said to me : ‘Hope that you are interviewed by a white guy. if you get an Indian, he might ask you for money to let you in…’. Oh my God! I thought. I knew thats so not true, but that exposed me to another perception of India, that I have mostly been unaware of. That of a very common man, who still undergoes a very torturous life of subsistence living, where bribery is still the order of the day, and you have to fight for basic amenities. Indians here are either the most prosperous immigrants who live in Silicon valley or they are these poor Indians who couldn’t find a place for themselves in India. Probably most of you who would read this blog from India , would invariably have come from backgrounds where we have either shut out the ugly side of India, or have created a comfort zone around it.

So why do people leave their own home country to come to such a culturally diverse land where you are mostly cut off from the main stream? I could come up with a few reasons, but this is NOT an exhaustive list by any means….

Lost faith:

One of the people I know here lost his home to a tenant, went to the courts, got nothing done for years, and then had to accept an out of court settlement, finally paid money to the tenant to vacate his house. In his words, there is no ‘enforcement agency in India’. Every time I talk to him about India, I can see his hurt face. The face of a man who expected his environment to provide him with a decent living standard. Most of his words seethe with a latent anger towards the system. He got a chance to get rid of it, and he did. He lives a modest and comfortable life here.

Never had faith:

Some people here came coz they always believed that India wasn’t a place for them. They prolly pick up the foreign accent most easily, curse India in everything they see, and eventually become the worst ambassadors for us. I have met these people in parties here, who would narrate their stories in India, when surprisingly all things that happen to them are bad things, and seemingly they find nothing bad in their current country of residence. (I can point out a few right here).

A special third category:

Is of the people who were born here, but were forced to remain Indian at home, and then left out in the open foreign air to convert into what we call ABCDs. These are a very special variety. Some of them would wear salwars and shirts which were in fashion maybe 20 years back, and when you see them, you would think they have just come in from a remote small town in India. But as they open their mouths, they spew out American english, with ‘Oh my GAAWDs’, ‘This is soo kewwool’ etc etc.

To a person I met recently, I had to say that India she knows and India that I come from are two entirely different countries! These people evaluate their India trip from the American perspective. So Mumbai trains are ‘Sow ppphackked’. And that you have to get into a local train while it is running! (Can’t you wait till it stops or till you get accustomed to it??). They are scared of lizards, and almost all lizards fall on them when they are in India (maybe coz they are NRIs and lizards want to punish the rich NRIs), and so on…

Some of the things that happened to them are real, and maybe, as Indians, we are just used to them. I was just reading the article in the Economist : “What’s holding India Back”, and the reasons mentioned there were pretty much on the above lines. I agree there still are differences in the standard of living here for an common man vs his counterpart in India. Maybe studying these NRIs gives us another perspective of what we need to change in our system to restore the faith Raju had in Ganga…

Bum Bum Bholey

By Shivani Gupta

Saffron clad thousand of man just walking with bare feet under sky, balancing decorated Kavad (a wooden stick with pot at both ends) on their shoulders. Every second person feet were wrapped in bandage but head high and face delighted. It was breathtaking scenery because I was in Meerut.

Driving courageously (I am a female driver) my car without wearing glasses and in MEERUT. Meerut surpasses all good chefs in their art of indigenous (very desi) culinary but when comes road, it does not even trespasses the standard definition of Good Roads for Transportation (Heil Uttar Pradesh Govt.).

However, the blog is nowhere related to murky politicians and their mindless (mint more) businesses. It’s all about devotional and unique walkathon of Bholey Nath devotees. This walkathon is an auspicious rally organized every year (for technicalities please Google) but this year it was indeed a happening event for me. So I will go back from where I started ….

I was driving courageously my car without wearing glasses in crazy traffic of Meerut. Few meters away from the main four lane intersection of Mall road, I saw swarm of people walking and it was nowhere ending. I drove to the nearest point where mixture of pot bellied city police and lazy traffic police men were busy diverting the erratic traffic (which was surprisingly quite under control).

Pumping hormones of curiosity and watching energizing walk of young and old (but still young) people was enough to send impulse to my feet on brake pedal and I parked my car on the roadside.

I have read many a times that continuous chant of mantra has enormous power and yes, it was evident with the wave of energy carried by these saffron clad men and women. This divine energy has stimulated the stationary people standing on the roadside to chant with them (shows the fan following of Bholey Nath in Meerut).

‘Small’ Meerut city became all more prominent in my life (not buttering my mother – in – law) after got a chance (by chance) to watch this energetic and divine walkathon of Bum Bum Bholey devotees which usually get lost in charming ‘Big’ city Delhi.

Enjoy Kavad Yatri

1

 

2

 

3