Category Archives: Opinion

A Look Inside Myanmar’s First Real Year Of Democracy – 3

Jack continues his photo exploration of Myanmar’s first real year of democracy. Presenting the third part of the 4-part series.

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Sunset from Ubein Bridge. Locals and tourists flock to the bridge to witness the spectacular sunsets.

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A young girl plays with her skipping rope outside the tourist jetty in Mandalay. Tourism in Myanmar has boomed over the past year, topping over one million foreign visitors for the first time. However infrastructure still remains underdeveloped.

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A passenger smokes a cheroot out of the train window.

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A trishaw driver, fishing in a flooded field hopes to catch something, while a cow wanders past.

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A young boy drags a bag of recyclable rubbish, which will be sold for small change. Often people of all ages work to support themselves and their families.

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A toddler sits by himself on the banks of the Irrawaddy river.

A Look Inside Myanmar’s First Real Year Of Democracy – 3

आज़ादी मुबारक हो….

independence day

By Joybrato Dutta

पसंद न था

खेतों में टमाटर प्याज़ उगाना

हैसियत में  नहीं

आज बाज़ार से उन्हें ख़रीदना

कभी सोचते थे

दुनिया को इशारों पर नचाओगे

आज सोचते हो

बिना प्याज़ टमाटर के घर में क्या बनाओगे

तुम्हे आज़ादी मुबारक हो

तुम किश्तों में कटते हो

कभी हिस्सों में जुड़ते हो

चाल है तुम्हारी नवाबों वाली

जाल में फंसे हो EMI वाली

तुम्हें भी आज़ादी मुबारक हो

गाँव के साथ तेवर भी छोड़ दिए

कड़ी धुप में अटल रहने वाला सर

आज AC कमरे में झुका दिए

भूख मिटाने के सपने देखने  वाले

आज दो वक़्त के आगे तुमने घुटने टेक दिए

तुम्हे भी आज़ादी मुबारक हो

कहीं कांग्रेस ने फैलाया जाल

तो कहीं माओवादियों ने किया बूरा हाल

प्रेमिका के साथ long drive का सोंचा

तो traffic jam और खड्डों ने टोका

अकेली बेटी को बहार भेजने से डरते हो

जवान बेटे को गाड़ी देने से डरते हो

कभी सिनेमा घर के बढ़ते rates

तो कभी auto-rickshaw के बढ़ते fares

बच्चों की फीस हो

या दिवाली में सिलवानी नयी कमीज़ हो

पेट्रोल के बढ़ते दाम

घर का बढ़ता किराया

सब ने मिलकर तुम्हे बंधी बनाया

ख़्वाबो के महल में आज़ाद रहने वाल़े

आज तुम्हे आज़ादी मुबारक हो

Zanjeer Review: Not Cult But Not Bad Either

zanjeer

By Ankush Kumar

Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt, Ram Charan & Prakash Raj.

Introduction: The original Zanjeer was not a cult classic yet was a good movie. Its remake is no different.

Premise: An angry cop and his angst against the system. A revenge saga that is brutal yet very fresh and convincing.

Plot: Same as the Bachchan original.

Acting: Ram Charan makes an impressive debut, he was never going to be compared with the legend, but still if comparisons are drawn he has performed no less. Priyanka is in to do very little. Mahie Gill & Prakash Raj have done a splendid job. Watch the two when they spoof Bindu & Ajit from the original. It is hilarious.

Tech Spec: The script is very well crafted, retaining the essence of the original and meshing it with modern day drama can get very confusing, but the writers have got this one spot on. The action of the movie is very well choreographed. Apoorva Lakhia holds the film together very nicely. He has smartly created an intelligent masala potboiler.

Kela Moments: None to be honest.

Citizen Kane moment: The scene of Mahie Gill & Prakash Raj spoofing Ajit & Bindu, the opening scene where Ram Charan bashes up a goon on the streets with Chiranjeevi’s poster in the background. The one-liners which are used judiciously and generate laughter.

Brownie Points: 3.5/5.

Ram Charan stands out as the men amongst the boys!!!!

Raja Bhoj And The Crow: The Story Of The First Whistleblower

raja bhoj

By DP Sakunia

Once Raja Bhoj was encircled by his nobles who were chanting eulogy as they always did. Suddenly a crow came from nowhere & scratched at a noble cum poet. Raja Bhoj became furious & directed to execute the crow. The crow prayed for a last hearing & took Raja Bhoj & his noblemen to a cave full of diamonds.

The crow told the entire kings caravan that the wealth dates back to Lord Ram’s time. She narrated the story that was as follows. A rich person of Oudh invited Sri Ram once for lunch at his place. After lunch the rich person presented Sri Ram with these precious stones. Lord Ram, the gracious self that he were, left the same at the verandah of his palace for someone in need. Time passed fast but no one came forward to take it and in course of time the wealth got hidden in the cave.

After narrating the story, the crow came to his point & prayed Raja Bhoj to search his so called noblemen who had already unscrupulously pocketed some of the valuables. These were the same folks who harped eulogy at Raja Bhoj and kept harassing and looting the subjects. The crow scratched at such a nobleman-cum-sycophant who was actually coaxing Raja Bhoj with self-ill motive.

Raja Bhoj immediately sent the noblemen to prison and asked him to be given the harshest punishment. He also called for a detailed investigation and personally went about asking his subjects who are the culprits and made sure all was happy once again.

Moral of the story: Alas there is no place for such whistle blower in todays time because Raja Bhoj and the noblemen have become equally corrupt towards the subject.

Goli – The Bitter Candy

candy

By Yogesh Om Potaliya

Someone somewhere at some point has been given this ‘Goli’ the Candy. A boss must have given you, your teacher when you were a kid; anyone trying to sell something to you, our government does that during pre-elections time; why even think so far as it could be a friend trying to convince you go shopping with them.

If still it isn’t clear to you what I am talking about then Giving ‘Goli’ is a slang phrase that has its origin in India referred to a situation when a person convinces someone to do something they didn’t want to do yet they do it for the false promise or hope “Given” to them which is referred as Giving ‘Goli’.

Why the word ‘Goli’? In India, ‘Goli’ is the local Hindi word for candy and just like you give a candy to a kid who isn’t rational enough and gets convinced on being offered a candy or agrees to do what you want in exchange of a candy, similarly you could give this candy of false words to any Tom, Dick, and Harry to get through him for your own benefits.

Just when Jim thought of quitting his miserable demanding job after not getting the much awaited appraisals, his boss gave him a ‘Goli’, that he is going to talk to HR head for getting Jim the prestigious employee of the month award; to which Jim agreed only to realise after a month that he wasn’t the chosen one at the end of that month. Upon enquiring into the matter with his boss, he gets another ‘Goli’, that this month’s employee of the month was already decided and that he would propose his name next month for sure. Annoying for Jim this still did not happen the next month as Jim fell marginally short of his targets due to extended week he took off for taking care of his mom who was due for a doctor visit for a long time.

Jim isn’t one guy who is getting tricked however we all have been Jim at some point. Today, everyone is Jim in a way and is trying to make a Jim out of the next person by giving the easy way out ‘Goli’.

Picture an advertising agency where there are senior client managers, creative team, production team, strategic team and a client. Agency people often go to meet client for pitching in a boasting unique out-of-the-box idea and sounds convincing that it’s going to do wonders for the client however largely that’s not how the marketers on the client side see the picture and hence a ‘Goli’comes in the chain of communications that happens from there on. Client initiates this Goli’ chain by giving those usual marketing agenda excuses to the client management team that the idea is great however with budget constraints and different campaign targets we would think about doing this mega campaign next year and that the agency needs to come up with a different and more subtle practical idea.

Now that big fat juicy ‘Goli’ which was given to the client management team from the client is then divided in to several small ‘Golis’(plural)  and are then distributed among the teams. First ‘Goli’ is given to the client management junior who is asked to come up with a different creative brief and is said that this particular client is highly exceptional and particular in his requirements. The next in line to receive ‘Goli’ are strategists who are now asked to work on different sets of campaign goals considering the competition which is doing something usual; next comes creative team who are given the ‘Goli’ of how important the timeline is for client and how he can’t afford to spend so much and do something unique. The sweetest portion of the ‘Goli’ then is given to production team who is asked to give the end result in over a Saturday night to save client some precious time and go live as soon as possible as client is already late with the campaign because of the agency.

‘Goli’ is awesome as it gets you going and keeps your work from getting stuck. Give your wife a ‘Goli’of a holiday in Shimla and she would stop bothering you from constantly GPSing you from time to time in your busy schedule throughout the day.

‘Goli’ can get you through but it won’t save you from a rubbish output if you use it often. Transparency might take time and is a lengthy process however in your career and personal life refrain from using ‘Goli’ in just about every situation you get stuck in.

In fact, not just to others but sometime we are giving ‘Goli’ to ourselves by not facing the reality of the moment and have a face-off with the truth.

If you have been doing it so far then may be about time you face the jingles. A ‘Goli’ is good only for tiny quick fixes but not for building strong bridges or a strong foundation.

#Morning Walks And Some Benefits

morning walk

By Malathy Madathilezham

There is something about getting up early morning. Its like once you get up, there is no stopping you but more often than not you end up hitting the snooze button on the alarm and sleeping on till its time to get ready for office or school or whatever else.

It is definitely more tempting to cuddle back with you soft pillows into the blanket and sleep for another hour but its also wonderful to get up, put on your walking shoes and just get out for walk in the park…

Morning walks are a great way to get in touch with you and de-stress apart from the fact that they energize and rejuvenate the soul. It helps in increasing your metabolism and blood circulation.

In Hindu philosophy, early morning or dawn is considered to be the ‘brahmamuhurat’ or the most auspicious time of the day. One of the reasons may be that early morning our mind is free from stress and tension. The world is silent and serene, before the hustle bustle of the routine daily life begins.

The cool early morning breeze soothes the nerves and helps in flushing out toxins. Thus it is also the best time to bond with nature and may be even kindle the poet in you! For the religious among you, a walk to the temple, church or mosque right in the morning would be a greater motivation. A morning walk is also a great way to reduce your weight. In addition, morning walks help in inducing good sleep.

The health benefits that a quick stroll through a park gives you are another reason to adopt this into your daily routine.

So wake up!

Walk!! 🙂

Yes We Know Its Time For #Sachin, Yet We Want Some More

Sachin Tendulkar

By Ankush Kumar

A spider and its climb tirelessly inspired a king to fight again. Victory was still not guaranteed but the fear of failure did not act as a deterrent to the man’s attempts. Great warriors have died in the lamest fashion, but none are remembered for their end, history still talks about their life and their efforts to conquer the world.

Tomorrow modern age heroes will adorn pages in different textbooks, they will inspire generations, but for many they will just remain a reference point. Nothing more and nothing less.

Yet for some bizarre reason we still want to cling on to a few of them forever. Why are we not ready to come to terms with the fact that ‘All good things come to an end”. Is it our insecurities or is it the fear that we do not have too many people who will inspire us again?

I guess its a bit of both worlds. The few good men, who have entertained us, given us a ray of hope, have made us believe in ourselves, in the process have learnt nothing but that. Shahrukh Khan has said it umpteen numbers of times that his biggest fear is that ‘one day he will get up and the arc lights wont be around’. He still is in a profession where his fans can get entertained at 70. But what about heroes who play on the field? How can they entertain us till death separates the genius and its soul?

The bitter reality is that they cant. Beyond a point defying age is stupid. Yet the fans that want to see Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar bat again outnumbers the critics who don’t. So what does he do now?

Imagine how tough it must be for the man itself to think of hanging the boots if its so tough for the fans. There is a entire generation for whom cricket has started and ends with Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

Few good men like him can adorn roles of mentors or coaches or teachers, but the reality is great sport stars make very average coaches. So how will the man entertain us? The answer is he wont. Once he walks back to that dressing room one final time, an era will be over.
Maybe the time has come, yes the BCCI has possibly squeezed in one tour before the SA series, maybe money was their priority, but then for once fans like me are not complaining. Maybe it will be his last test, maybe in bradmanesque fashion he will end his career, but that one chant ‘Sachiiiiin Sachiiiiin’ will reverberate through the roof of Wankhede this November.

Bruce triumphed, his failures are stories of folklore, warriors won, their battles are part of history, sport stars have fallen, lost, yet the only stories that are remembered is the number of hearts they have won.

His recent failures, have given a chance to his cynics to prove that he is Human not God, his fans knew that long back, its just that GODS were made by action and deeds and Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar falls in the same category. One part in me and possibly many others will go numb when he will be gone. But till then let’s savor each run the legend scores as possibly even we know that the time is up.

The Pursuit For My Voters ID

voter id

By Malathy Madathilezham

The article is a tad old but is very relevant to the day and time as well

I am an Indian citizen, true, but I haven’t had the opportunity to cast my vote till now. Just recently I completed my voters ID formality and am just sharing my experience.

Initially I and my mom submitted our forms at a nearby school on the given dates. The teachers were given the duty to help us in filling the form, etc. They were quite helpful and that experience was a pleasant one. The date allotted for us to complete the rest of the formalities was December 1st, 11 am at the Village Office at Maradu.

So, I took leave on that day. I was pretty happy cause I would be finally be able to Vote for the next elections and I had the copies and originals of all the prescribed proofs of Identity and address. We reach there well before the allotted time and there was a board saying we are to go to the community hall nearby. We go there and its utter chaos. In addition all eyes (even the women stare!) are on me and my mom, as if we are some alien creatures. May be its fact that I am wearing jeans (with a Looooong kurta though) and my mom is in her Kurti and Churidar, may be it’s that outsider feel that both of us still exude or just the attitude. But this is quite normal so we ignore that.

There are a number of counters (read benches and desks with some people with a self important air around them), but there is no order or boards indicating where we go first. So we just stand in the first queue that we stand. Thankfully it turns out be the right one and there are not many people in front of me. Thus we submit the receipt kind of thing there and are handed over a few more forms and asked to go to the next counter. We find out which one exactly is the next counter and rush there. On taking my form there, the lady says I need to give a reason why till now I did not apply for voters ID Card. So I write that down. Then she raises another objection that I need to have a ration card as proof of address and my passport wont do!! Or else I need to go to the village officer in the next counter and get a temporary residence certificate with my passport as proof. I go there and then he tells me this is not the correct ward number, or the house number and lot of other things which frankly I could not understand. Now I am really frustrated and angry and look at my mom. She knows I am about to blow my top. Then she asks if on the basis of her residence proof he could issue me one. Fortunately for him, he says he can do that. He asks me to make some changes here and there. And Voila! He issues me a temp residence proof. Then back to the same counter where the queue has grown long by now. She fills up some forms and sends me to the next counter.

The man at the next counter is kind enough not to ask too many questions or bring more objections. He signs the forms and sends me forward. The last counter was where the photos were being taken for the Voters ID Card. Now I think the old man in front of me liked the young photographer as he did not seem to keen on getting up from the seat. So some questions and answers later, finally I got my photo taken (I guess my photo will show the level of my frustration!). And thus ended the ordeal of finishing the formality to get my Voters ID.

What I cannot understand is, if the website of the election commission states some mandatory ID proofs are required and that Passport, Driving License, Statement of your Bank account, Ration card; any of these can be taken as proof of residence, then why this insistence of taking only the ration card as proof of ID. Why make life difficult for people like me who may not be fortunate enough to have one. You cannot question the fact that I am an Indian, I have an Indian Passport, and my driving license proves that I am above 18 years old. Instead of making procedures like these simple and uncomplicated why the tendency to make the experience difficult, tedious and frustrating?

Hard Work, Determination And Dreams Succeed: A Short Story

dream hard work quote

By Ganesh Subramanian

It was a hot and dry afternoon in Laxmangarh in the Sikar district in Rajasthan. Rampal was driving a nail into one of the legs of the broken wooden chair which he was trying to repair. Oblivious to the beads of sweat forming on his forehead, Rampal was focused on mending the chair.

“Dharampal, Arey, Oye Dharampal”, echoed a voice from the gate. Rampal shifted his gaze towards the gate in the direction of the voice which had called his father’s name. He saw the landlord Dharamveer entering the compound pushing the wrought-iron gate.

Dharampal, Rampal’s father came out of the house. He was a frail man in his early sixties and wore a pair of spectacles right on the edge of his nose that it threatened to fall down at any moment. “Namaste, Dharamveer Ji, Aayiyae” said the old man.

“It has been two months since you paid the rent. I am not leaving this place unless you pay me now”, Dharamveer said with a firmness in his tone. “Give me a week’s time, Dharamveer. As I told you, business had been dull for the last 2 months. Our regular buyers have not placed their orders yet” pleaded Dharampal.

Before Dharamveer could say anything, Rampal interjected, “We have been paying the rent regularly without delay for the last 2 years. It is only now that we are asking you to give sometime. As Papa says, give us a week’s time”.

Dharamveer thought for a moment. “Alright. If I don’t get the money in a week’s time, you better look out for a new house to move into” said the landlord and left the place.

Now Dharampal makes and sells handicrafts like jute bags, purses etc. to mostly foreign tourists who visit Laxmangarh. These tourists repeat their purchases either for new designs or they buy products for their friends and family. Due to the hot weather, Dharampal’s business suffered a dip in the last two months.

“Father, why don’t you pay the rent with the money that you have set aside for my education?” Rampal questioned his father.

The old man gave a weak smile. “Son, the money that I have saved for your higher education will be used only for that purpose. We will find another way to manage the rent. You are the brightest graduate in our whole town. Let all these troubles besieging our family go with me. I want you to do your post graduation and get a good job so that you will have a comfortable life thereafter.”

Rampal quietly nodded. He decided against saying anything that would cause displeasure to his father. Rampal is a science graduate and has been hailed as the brightest student in his college. Now Rampal’s dad and the family believed that with a post graduation, he will well be on his way to leading a trouble-free life.

Next day, Rampal was sitting in the footsteps of his house reading a newspaper. He saw a small group running past his compound gate. When he asked a person in the group, the person replied that Vikas met with an accident and before he could be rushed to the main hospital in the city, he died. Rampal could hardly believe his ears. Vikas is his closest friend and hails from a not-well-to-do family. He was sincerely preparing for his Civil Service exams and was hoping to get a good posting so that he could wipe away all the problems in his family.

Rampal rushed to Vikas’s house along with the group. The scene there was nothing short of traumatic. Vikas’s parents and sisters were wailing in grief. When Vikas’s mom saw Rampal, she hugged him and started sobbing uncontrollably. Rampal’s heart sank. His initial sorrow turned to anger. Why should this happen everytime? Is basic medical facility a luxury to be afforded only by the rich? Questions kept flooding his mind like a torrent.

He was determined to start a hospital in his town so that no one faces the same situation ever again. Rampal’s dad vehemently objected. His mom shouted at his foolish decision to be an entrepreneur. Rampal started speaking to bigger hospitals in the main city for tie-ups. He lobbied with the government agencies. After two years of struggle, his efforts bore fruit. People from nearby towns also visited his hospital for excellent facilities at a very cheap price. A year later, the hospital was one of the most thriving businesses in the town. The national newspaper carried an article about Rampal citing his resilience, never-say-die attitude and hailed him as a visionary. Rampal’s father read the article and was proud of his son. Tears flooded his eyes. He apologised to his son for not listening to him earlier. Rampal smiled a contented man.

An Emotional Letter To The Economist, Dr Manmohan Singh

manmohan singh--621x414

By Anupam Singh

Hope you are okay, healthy & kicking!

The Food Security Bill has been passed in Lok Sabha, but should I congratulate you?

No! I would rather congratulate Her Highness the visionary Sonia Gandhi for her Vote Security Bill. You know it better than anyone that its the worst time to undertake such a bill but you are helpless seeing the interest Her Highness has shown in it. Passing the Food Security Bill is good politics, passing it not is good economics. And we all know who wins the unfortunate battle of Politics Vs Economics, that too when the elections are lurking round the corner.

Sir, people have known me on social networking sites as one of your most vocal adversaries. I have hammered & bludgeoned you through my writings in letter & words for most of your tenure as the PM of India. But today, am in a different mood. I’m writing this letter to exhibit a different sort of emotion. Today, I sympathise with you & understand the predicament you must be going through. I know that when the world sleeps you remain awake to self-pity & imprisonment. Every morning while having the morning tea you helplessly ponder over India’s deteriorating economy. You represent a 100 million people but deep inside you are a loner. I know you might feel embarrassed reading this letter, thinking how could a young little chap decipher your state of mind so well.

Mr Prime Minister, I’m writing this letter to you based on some of my recent observations. In the Lok Sabha, Her Highness had to take the mantle into her own hands. She had to personally lead this initiative to get the bill passed because you, Mr Manmohan Singh, as a learned economist must not have been in its favour at this point of time. I know that you clearly understand the bearing such an act would take on the economy. Unfortunately for us, the highest moral ground you could take was to simply NOT BE IN FAVOUR because you don’t have the guts to steer the government policy as per your discretion.

Today, the nation is in a fix. Investors, who once entered into the Indian market thanking your liberalisation policies of 90s, are fleeing our market. The Rupee has stooped so low that its shamelessly in position 69 with the dollar on the higher side. An economy which boasted of high Forex reserves, healthy account deficit, growth & robustness not very long ago is caught in a quagmire. You know the state of economy far better than me but you can’t disagree my saying that the situation in India is of a crisis, an economic emergency.
Fortunately, the best person to sail us through these turbulent times is in the chair of the Prime Minister. You have done it earlier & most of us Indians are a fan of how you helped recover the economy in the 90s. I personally liked the manner you got the Indo-US nuclear deal done, infact that was the only time in your tenure that you looked in control of the proceedings.

Whatever the upcoming 2014 election results, there is no way you would be the next PM. And I must remind you that you’ll go down in history as one of the worst Prime Ministers ever. Leave aside opposition or the media, your own party will discredit you, disown you once your term is over & every congressman will label all that was wrong with UPA rule as the PM’s personal failure. This is what happened to Narasimha Rao & this is what will happen to you. History will repeat itself. I know you are not that bad a PM as the history books will project you, but you have neither acted with the dignity & style that a prime minister of the world’s largest democracy should have.

This economic scenario might be a threat for India, but I see an opportunity in it for you. An opportunity to salvage what you’ve lost. An opportunity to establish that the countrymen’s belief in you was not unfounded. Sir, doesn’t your heart bleed to see people’s loss of hope in you!

In a crisis like this, any country would have died for an economist to be at the helm of affairs. And no Indian has a better CV than you have as an economist. This is the last ditch moment to rise above your helplessness & break the shackles that tie you. This crisis can be a saving grace & blessing in disguise to help you unburden. The Food Security Bill is through in the Lok Sabha & it might very well help the congress garner some votes but will surely take away the last bit of respect people have in you. If you show the courage to stand & speak, the country, opposition, the media will speak with you in the same tone. No Sonia or No ruling party can overrule what the PM wants & stands for.

I really wish that the Prime Minister of my country gets a dignified exit with his head held high. And if you don’t I’ll continue bludgeoning you as my daily routine, you being my favourite object of ridicule!

You know, every Indian except the concerned person in power has a solution to any damn serious national problem. Giving unsolicited advice is our favourite pastime & I’m no less! So, Dr. Saab, I would conclude my emotional outbursts by advising you on how to resolve this economic crisis.

You have only two options Mr Economist..

1st)  Stand up for what you believe in. Take your cabinet in confidence. Talk to Her Highness. Take the bull by the horn. Stall the Food Security Bill. Follow the principles of good economics, leave the rules of good politics aside. The power is with you. You are still our Prime Minister & the most able man to ride this crisis.

OR..

2nd)   As your Commerce Minister has already suggested we might have to pledge Gold to save our economy as we did in 1991. My suggestion is why put the country’s Gold on collateral when we have so many highly qualified Gold Medallist economists in the government. Please collect your medals & we shall have enough Gold to sail us through. Furthermore, none of us would then say that your Gold medals are of no use.

So Mr Economist, take a stand or sell your Gold medals..!!

Your’s critically,

Anupam Singh