MIGRATION

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On 24th March 2020 at 8PM our Prime Minister Respected Narendra Modi ji announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days that was to take effect in the next 4 hours i.e. 12PM. This was done in order to combat the deadly Corona Virus.

Since the disease was first detected in India we all were anticipating it, however in absence of any clear guidelines most of us went about our daily routines and subsequent to the above announcement entire country came to a standstill with a notice period of 4 hours.

The mayhem that followed was unprecedented, with workplaces shut and with that the sources of livelihood for the marginalised. They had no one to fall back to and this started a mass migration to their home states. This migration was something that continues to surpass to the migration that happened in 1947 i.e. The Partition.

FACT :

  • According to one World Bank estimate approximately 40 million people will be migrating from their workplaces to home states. While during Partition 12 million estimated people crossed borders in both directions.
  • As of 16th May 2020 Indian Railways has operated 1,074 Shramik Special trains ferrying more than 14 lakh workers. While during partition between August and November 1947 around 673 refugee trains transported 28 lakh people.
  • As per a recent survey of 18,000 households across 10 states in India since the lockdown, they have found that most of the above have lost 60% of their Income in April 2020, 20% have already run out of money and supplies and a further 60% will run out in next 2 weeks.
  • The lockdown most definitely has not flattened the curve and nor has it reduced the growth but we have been able to buy some time to fight the disease.
  • Lockdown 4 has resumed most of the economic activity with questionable availability of manpower. However there is simply no other way but to resume economic activity and learn to live with the virus because we got to be ‘AATMANIRBHAR’

HINDSIGHT:

Cambridge Dictionary defines Hindsight as: The ability to understand an event or situation only after it has happened.

In view of the above facts we can now in hindsight state the following:

  • Due to this virus other countries has started imposing lockdown much before ours. Government had some idea what had happened in other countries and what needed to be done to make lockdown less painful. It should have done a better anticipatory analysis.
  • The Government could have allowed the trains/buses to run to ferry labour/people to their home states after announcing the lockdown. Lakhs could have been saved of the hardships of the ardours journey home.
  • Now when Lakhs are returning home thru the Shramik Special Trains, there are more virus carriers than what would have been if they were bought back home in March itself and yes this should in no way disqualify them from going back home.

How many generations will it take to wipe out the suffering of millions of our migratory fellow citizens? To the lives lost, to the dreams erased and to find answers to questions that could never find a voice.

Economic Lockdown

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It has been more than 45 days of Lockdown and we are nowhere near reaching a plateau, on the contrary we are now witnessing an upward trend. To put it in perspective ; the day the Janta Curfew was announced there were 403 COVID+ cases in India and now that number stands at 53000 and counting.

The economy has crumbled. The last modified lockdown has started opening up the economy but we still have a long way to go. The livelihoods are lost; the lives are being lost because the doctors are too scared to treat patients; millions are on the roads trying to reach their birthplaces.

After the man-made tragedy like that of Demonetisation and GST, the Central Government is still walking in dark alleys of lockdown and Corona to find a foothold.

To see how this government has tried to navigate the first two catastrophes, we need to see how they behaved in them. Below is the no of notifications/ clarifications that the government issued during their implementation:

This government has had many meetings with the Finance Ministry but yet to announce a stimulus package. Between the clapping, the Lighting of the Lamp and the showering of petals; we are still awaiting an economic relief. In absence of which some of the SME’s, MSME’s and others will shut shop forever. If the government cant work one out, take the help of experts for in difficult times its OK to ask for help.

For some who will question the intent of this article I would like to say:

Yes I am a Congressman and the role of opposition is to ask questions.

Yes my hardships are nowhere near what most of my other countrymen are facing.

Yes I am willing to stand united as one but that doesn’t stop me from questioning an elected government.

As a Citizen of this country questioning an elected Government doesn’t equate with questioning my Country.

In the end request you to Stay Safe, maintain Social/Physical distancing, boost your immunity and Pray to God to give us strength to Passover these troubled times.

Lockdown Diary

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For starters we all deserve a pat on our back for staying indoors and surviving the first stretch of the lock-down. If not for the foolhardiness of some, things would have been better. However we are still in much- much better position as compared to most of the so called developed countries of the world.

There a few things that I have realized over this period:

  • How important it is to have a hobby – the ones that you can enjoy doing from the comfort of your home, without anyone’s company.
  • The people you call, message and try getting in touch with are the people that matter. Henceforth whenever you have to choose, you know who to hold on to.
  • The neighbors are and will remain our first source of contact in case of an emergency. If we can’t be pals with them at least be cordial.
  • I have survived till date in 2 pair of shorts & T-Shirt and a pair of nightwear. I can also do away with processed food.
  • Those of us who are gloating over the fact that our needs have become less and we can live with these curtailed wants are absolutely wrong. There is a term in Mewari “मशानों का वैराग्य”, all the above feeling is just that. All this back to basics bullshit is till the time lockdown remains. We are once again going to jump head on into this materialistic world with much more fervor.
  • The political leadership will always have the best interest in their mind in times of crisis irrespective of cast, creed and region. We also need to get above these narrow boundaries.
  • There is a saying, “Hands that serve are holier than the ones that pray”. To all the religious leaders – we have enough places of worship what we need more are the Temples of Healing i.e. the hospitals.
  • There are some genuine people who are doing their job and helping the needy. If they want then they must do their publicity, for the others please spare the theatrics.
  • Our elected representatives, who have not stayed in their constituency to monitor the aid-work, have a lot to answer for in the next elections.
  • For other political workers – not everyone needs to be on the field, you can contribute by staying indoors and stop the spread.

This virus that has shaken the world has its origin in China and they have lot to answer for and pay for.

Corona & Financial Aid

 

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The mighty Corona Virus is on a war path devastating everything that it touches moving from city to city, country to country leaving behind mayhem both in terms of human loss and economic meltdown. However I am sure that it is matter of time that we will surmount this devil with our resilience, scientific progress and more importantly by community outreach or rather lack of it, thru social distancing.

Places of worship closed, travel restrictions, closed airports, countries on lockdown etc. governments across the globe are taking whatever it takes to curtail its spread. On an individual level we also need to keep the social distancing, to flatten the curve of its spread and while all of us do this it will have a massive hit on the economy.

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For starters the tourism, airline and hospitality have taken a massive blow and there is no immediate relief in sight. It is only matter of time that the effect will be seen across industries. There will be some who will be able to take this hit while for some it will cripple them. Some will grow back but for some it will be a death knell financially.

While the government is able to pay its employees in spite of shutdowns same cannot be said about private enterprises. Thus I request the government whether of the Local Bodies, State or the Central level to ease out the financial burden of its citizens to help them cope up with this crisis.

Here are few of my suggestions to tide over this Economic Tsunami:

  • The Local Administrative Bodies i.e the Municipal Bodies and Zila Parishads defer the collection of taxes for at least a quarter.
  • There should be no late fees charges for the deposit or filing of returns for GST or Income Tax. However the government should pass on these benefits to small business owners like shopkeepers, SME etc.
  • Hospitality Industry should be given Tax Rebate and concessions for 2 Financial Years.
  • To ensure that no hoarding takes place of essential food items, medicines and items of daily necessities.
  • The citizens should be given the option to pay their bills of essential utilities in installments.
  • New academic sessions will be starting soon and this entails a major outflow for a middle class family and keeping this in mind the education department should take some steps to ease this burden.
  • Worst hit are going to be daily wage earners; government should ensure opening affordable, subsidized kitchens to ensure proper nutrition to them.
  • Loan servicing and Interest for SME’s, Home Loans should be kept in abeyance with no penal action.
  • CSR funds should be mandatorily be used to fight COVID-19 and ease out financial discomfort.

These are some recommendations, I am sure there are better suggestions and views to fight and shield us against CORONA!!

PS: Last but not the least: – No sitting government should be destabilized and no No Confidence Motion moved against them. Let them handle the CORONA and not waste time in safeguarding their law makers.

Elections 2019

Last evening voting finally ended of perhaps the longest fought General Elections of the biggest democracy of the world i.e. India and with that started the debates and opinions on the numerous Exit Polls conducted by one and sundry.

I do not know what will happen on 23rd May 2019 and I also do not want to believe these polls but what I do know is that these elections have laid bare our deep seeded hatred for each other, our communal outlook.

I am ashamed of the utter rubbish some of my social media friends have vomited in their posts unabashedly and unapologetically. They talk about US and THEM !! I mean which previous government has ever stopped them from practicing their religion other than some fake news they read, share and quote from some obscure social media updates.

What will be the takeaway for our future generations from all this. We all have our own individual allegiance and choices. We may not agree with one another but to fester and feed on fault lines of what happened 70 years back is helping no one.

Why have we come to point where everyday thing are measure on communal lines:

पशु बाँट दिए गए, भाषाएँ त्याग दी गयीं, बात ग़ज़ल/क़वाल्ली से लेकर दादरा/ठुमरी तक होने लगी, एक मासूम हारमोनियम को तानपुरे से लड़वा दिया. सियासत और चली तो शमशान और कब्रिस्तान को भी नहीं छोड़ा गया और बात तो तब सर से गुज़र गयी की जब ठंडाई और रूफ-अफज़ा के गुण गिनाने लगे गए !!

और फिर मित्रों ने कहा की इलेक्शन में यह सब तो होता है अब आगे बड़ते हैं.

नहीं भाईसाहेब नहीं!! जब गोडसे का आप खुलेआम महिमामंडन करते हैं तो यह सियासत नहीं आपकी कुंठित मानसिकता है. इतनी कड़वाहट और ज़हर को ना जाने निकलने में कितने साल लगे. ७० साल के घाव तो  भरने दिए नहीं, नए और दे दिए.

रहिमन धागा प्रेम का, मत तोरो चटकाय, टूटे पे फिर ना जुरे, जुरे गाँठ परी जाय.

रहीम कहते हैं कि प्रेम का नाता नाज़ुक होता है. इसे झटका देकर तोड़ना उचित नहीं होता. यदि यह प्रेम का धागा एक बार टूट जाता है तो फिर इसे मिलाना कठिन होता है और यदि मिल भी जाए तो टूटे हुए धागों के बीच में गाँठ पड़ जाती है.

मालूम है की शायद ही फरक पड़े, पर पढियेगा और सोचियेगा ज़रोर !!

Enron & Political Corruption

Dabhol Power Project at Night

Deep inside one of today’s newspaper pages was a small report about the closure of corruption case of Enron’s Dabhol Power Project. As per the report the case has been closed on an application moved by the BJP-Shiv Sena led Maharashtra State Government. What an Irony!! https://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/300915/04120254190935/0/12042019/18/image/

I remember this controversy vividly as it was during that time I had moved to Mumbai in 1993 for my further studies. NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar who was then in the Congress had just been moved from the Defence Ministry  to take over as the Maharashtra CM to control volatile situation post the Babri Masjid demolition riots and the Mumbai bomb blasts.

Indian Economy was then just opening up and the Government had got a major FDI for a Power Project in Dabhol, Maharashtra which was to be set up by Enron Corporation. Reports started coming out about opacity and underhand dealings in this project. The opposition led by Shiv Sena Supremo Balasaheb Thackeray went hammer and tongs about this alleged corruption and his newspaper ‘SAAMNA’ was filled with stories about it. He went so far to say that if his party was elected to power he would throw the project in the Arabian Sea.

Balasaheb Thackeray with Enron’s Kenneth Lay and Rebecaa Mark at his residence ‘Matoshree’ in Mumbai.

Riding high on this above point besides the Hinduvta card the SS-BJP combined formed the government for the first time in the State and guess what nothing like promised ever happened to Enron’s Power project. Balasaheb went on the entertain Enron Chief Kenneth Lay and the alleged face of everything wrong with Enron deal – Ms. Rebecaa Mark at his residence. The controversy was soon put in the back burner and twenty years later it has died its natural death.

Our political discourse is filled with narratives like these that the political leaders use as a stepping stone to power. Hearsay, without sound legal backup, playing the emotional card, blaming the other side and playing holier than thou!!

From The 2G Scandal’s absurd loss figures that were dismissed by the Special Courts, to tall claims of putting the entire Congress Leadership in jail in 2014 election rallies the list is endless.

The current NDA government is once again asking for mandate on these very alleged cases without acting out on its claims in the last 5 years or managing to get even a single conviction by the courts. For they know it makes out for an excellent vote catcher but a really bad legal case.

Till we have people who are constantly fed on propaganda and are ready to lap it up, we shall have cases like ENRON whose initial wildfire quickly turns in cold ash and helping bring political gains without ever managing to jail a single alleged culprit.

ADVANI JI

भारतीय जनता पार्टी ने आगामी लोक सभा के लिए अपने उम्मीदवार हाल ही में घोषित किये, चर्चा टिकेट मिलने से ज्यादा जिनको नहीं मिला उनकी थी, मुख्यतः आदरणीय लाल कृष्ण आडवाणी जी की!!

उनके बारे में आज कल कम ही सुनने और पढ़ने में आता है जब से उनके शिष्य और हमारे देश के प्रधानमंत्री मोदी जी ने उनको मार्ग दर्शक मंडल में डाल दिया है. कभी कभार आप श्री के हाथ जोड़े वाले विडियो ज़रोर वायरल हो जाते हैं.

लेकिन पिछले दो दिन से अडवानी जी सुर्ख़ियों में नज़र आ रहे हैं जब से उनकी पारंपरिक सीट पर मोटा भाई को लड़ाने का निर्णय लिया है. कारण कोई भी चाहे उनको टिकेट नहीं दिया या उन्होनें स्वयं मना कर दिया , एक बात तो पक्की है की वाजपेयी जी के युग के नेताओं का युग का समापन. वह युग जहाँ राजनेताओं में थोड़ी बहुत आँख की शर्म और आपसी सामंजस था और अब की तरह विषैला, संकीर्ण और कटुता भरा नहीं था.

एक बात कुछ दिनों से ज़रोर सुनने को आ रही है की उन्होनें अपनी पुत्री प्रतिभा जी को अपनी जगह टिकेट देने से मना कर दिया क्यूंकि वह वंशवाद नहीं फैलना चाहते. आशा करता हूँ की इस सिधांत पर उन के परिवार जन हमेशा द्रढ़ संकल्पित रहे क्यूंकि यह भले ही सुनने में अच्छा लगा लेकिन सत्ता के मीठे फल को छोड़ने का मन आज तक इतनी आसानी से आगामी पीढीयों में देखने को नहीं मिला.

इतिहास उन के राजनीतिज्ञ के रूप का आकलन कैसा करेगा? एक ऐसे नेता के रूप में जिसने १९८४ की 2 सीटों वाली पार्टी को श्रीराम के सहारे मात्र एक दशक में सत्ता के करीब ले आने वाले या एक लौह पुरुष के रूप में जिसने कंधार में आतंकियों को छोड़ा था ??

या उस व्यक्ति को याद रखेगा जिसने भारत को धर्म के नाम के दो हिस्सों में बंटवारा किया और जिनके मकबरे पर आपने उनको सबसे बड़ा धर्मनिरपेक्ष व्यक्ति कहा, मैं बात कर रहा हूँ क़ैद-ऐ-आज़म मोहम्मद अली जिन्नाह की.

मेरे लिए अडवानी जी हमेशा वोह व्यक्ति रहेंगे जिनकी सोची-समझी रणनीति के तहत निकाली रथ यात्रा जहाँ जहाँ से निकली दंगे और समाज में अविश्वास फैलाते चलती गयी. ऐसी रथ यात्रा जो शरू तो हुई थी १९९० में लेकिन जिसके पहिये ना जाने कितने घर दबाये आज तक हमारे दिलो में एक दुसरे के खिलाफ शक और पूर्वाग्रह लिए निरंतर घुमती जा रही है. मैं उनको हमेशा याद रखूँगा जिनके कारण मैंने पहली बार मेरे शहर में कर्फ्यू लगते हुए देखा 6 दिसम्बर की घटना के बाद. जहाँ तक मुझे याद है तब शायद ही मेरे शहर में कोई दंगा हुआ था, शुक्र है उस समय व्हात्साप नहीं था वरना ना जाने मात्र अफवाहों से कितनों की जानें और चली जाती.

आशा है की अब सार्वजनिक जीवन से अलविदा ले अपने सगे-सम्बन्धी और शुभ चिंतकों के बीच सुख-समर्धि से रहे.

Dear Mr. Kejriwal

Dear Mr. Arvind Kejriwal,

I write this letter while you and some others are busy in back room maneuvering to have a tie-up with my party i.e. The Indian National Congress.

I do not know what my party’s Central and State Leadership is going to decide on this tie-up but what certainly I do now know is that you are no different from the others you so vehemently criticized from the grounds of Ram Leela Maidan and can henceforth take no moral high ground on the basis of principles, ethics for being a party with a difference.

In not so distant past you had painted the entire political class with one stroke of brush as Corrupt, inept, inefficient, unprincipled etc and garnered these anti-establishment votes to a spectacular win in Delhi Assembly. A model you tried so hard to replicate pan-India but failed with most of your candidate forfeiting their deposits in Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections barring a few exceptions.

I was never a fan of your kind of politics because you offered the people of India Utopia when you yourself knew there was none. One by one people started leaving or were made to leave the movement that Anna Hazare had started and whose fruits you were the only one left to devour and relish.

From swearing on your children never to have a tie-up with the Congress to actually doing it and now bending over backwards to accommodate them is not surprising to those who have watched you closely. Let the truth be told you are a Delhi Centric Party with an influence over 7 Lok Sabha Seats and 70 Assembly Seats, other than that it is just an exception.

During the heydays of the Lokpal Movement I was made to feel guilty about being a Congressman by your fans and now when I see your antics I feel sorry for them.

I just hope my party leadership listens to Ex. CM Shiela Dixit ji who successfully led the state for a record three terms and hope you too focus on your core competence i.e. Delhi and not spread yourself too thin !!

Regards,

A Congressman

SHAADI MUBARAQ

Ambani-family-at-Akash-Ambani-wedding

प्रिय नीता भाभी,

सर्वप्रथम आकाश बाबू और श्लोक बिटिया की शादी की बहुत-बहुत मुबारकबाद !!

दो दिन से नवदम्पति की फोटो देख-देख कर मलाल हो रहा है की काश इनकी शादी में आ के उस फूलों वाली फोटो वाल के आगे अपनी तस्वीर खिंचवा पाता, पर यह हो न सका !!

खैर आपके परिवार की दो शादियाँ छोटे से अंतराल में सम्पन्न हुई. एक की वैभवता तो उदयपुर वासी होने के नाते करीब से देखी और अब यह वाली सोशल मीडिया के माध्यम से.

वैसे पहले वाली जैसे चर्चे इस बार नहीं!! ना ही इस बार बादशाह, शहेंशाह और भाई को बैकग्राउंड में नाचते हुए देखा, ना ही इस बार पुरुस्गारी / मेहमाननवाज़ी करते दिखे और ना ही इस बार आपके नृत्यकला और मुद्राओं को देखने का मौका मिला.

वैसे कुछ सवाल जिज्ञासा वश मेरे मन में उठ रहे हैं जैसे की :

  1. यह जो सेलेब्रिटी आप बुलाते हैं यह फ्री में आते और परफॉर्म करते हैं या कुछ मेहनताना लेते हैं ??
  2. अपनी संतानों की शादियाँ कराते हुए जो ख़ुशी आपके चेहरे पर दिखती है वह शायद हर माँ के चेहरे पर दिखती है, लेकिन कई बार ऐसा मुझे क्यूँ लगता है की they all dwarf in ur shadow, क्या आपको भी यह लगता है?
  3. घर घर माटी चूल्हे वाली कहावत तो आपने सुनी होगी, क्या आपके यहाँ भी फूफा / मौसा / देवरानी / ननद का रूठना मनाना शादी में चलता रहता है ?
  4. क्या आप डिज़ाइनरज़ मुख्यतः सब्यसाची को पाबंद नहीं कर सकते आपकी शादी में पहने हुए कपड़ों का सेल्फ-प्रमोशन करने का, बहुत ज्यादा इन-योर-फेस टाइप लगता है मुझे ?
  5. हमारे यहाँ बहु से सबसे पहले लापसी बनवाते हैं, आपके यहाँ क्या बनवाते हैं ?
  6. क्या नव-दम्पति पर अपनी दादीजी को सोने की सीडी चडाने का प्रेशर है ?

खैर सानू की ? आपकी शादी, आपका घराना, आपका धन मुझे क्या ??

अभी आप से इज़ाज़त लूँगा क्यूंकि अभी-अभी मेरी शरीक-ऐ-हयात (बीवी) ने आकाश बाबु के फेरों का सात मिनट का विडियो व्हाट्सएप पर भेजा है जिसको तुरंत देखना अति आवश्यक है.

सासू माँ को अनेकों बधाइयाँ,

आपके परिवार की हर शादी को बारीकी से देखता एक भारतीय

PS : पिछली बार जब ईशा बाई सा की उदयपुर में शादी हुई थी तो एक मेरी FB पोस्ट पर टिका-टिपण्णी से उखड़े एक जानकार को अन-फ्रेंड करना पड़ा था. आशा है की इस बार ऐसा नहीं करना पड़ेगा.

War

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My heart goes out to our Brave hearts – Our Soldiers who lost their lives for our country. More than 40 soldiers were martyred by the dastardly act of terrorist organisation that is sheltered / promoted and trained by our neighbour – Pakistan.

It is time we must all stand behind our Government for it to take whatever steps necessary to give a befitting reply. The government has definitely acted swiftly by withdrawing the Most Favoured Nations Status granted to Pakistan, security to separatists and killing the mastermind of this act.

rama sea.jpgThere is this famous doha of Tulsidas ji in Ramcharitra Manas-

बिनय न मानत जलधि जड़, गए तीन दिन बीत।

बोले राम सकोप तब, भय बिन होय न प्रीत।।

This incident happens when Lord Rama after requesting and waiting for the 3 days for Lord of the Sea – Varuna to make way for Him and His army to reach Lanka does not relent and then He threatens to use his arrows forcing Lord Varun to finally relent. To put my point across there can be no peace without fear and this has to put forward in no uncertain terms to Pakistan that we have defeated them in wars earlier and can do the same again if need be.

There has been an outpouring of emotions and rightly so – from rage to grief to sadness. In times like these it is difficult not to vent out emotions but this clarion call for war is baffling, it has to be thought over and then waged. I am sure that our armed forces are fully capable to give it back to Pakistan but this jingoism is certainly uncalled for.

हम अमन चाहते हैं, मगर ज़ुल्म के ख़िलाफ़,

गर जंग लाज़मी है, तो फिर जंग ही सही …

But let this call be taken by the highest echelons of our Military, but not on TV News Shout Matches, not thru Self Promotion on Social Media, not by having one to prove their patriotism and most certainly not via making videos on Tictoc app !!