Speak Up



I concede that it is a little late in the day to vent my anger and disgust against the recent rape incidents that has rocked our nation, but the recent polarization and crazy messages floating across the social media questioning this very angst and that also from the so called educated mass is surprising.

These people are questioning this angst and asking where were we when some previous incident happened?? Why such hue and cry now?? Just to answer them, we were there showing our angst then also!! It is just that you are so blinded by the communal hatred and in love with your so called emancipator, to not notice this and yes even if we didn’t protest earlier that doesn’t take away our right to protest now, does it??

It took months and the media scrutiny before The Supreme Leader, the state governments (incidentally both are governed by the party that is in Centre) for some action to happen. They were supposed to be a proactive / decisive and the deliverer from injustice weren’t they??

Action speaks louder than words and it takes a statement full of platitudes by The Supreme Leader for these state governments to take action. Words that should have been spoken much earlier like the birthday greetings that he is so prompt in making to the world leaders on Twitter. Yes he has been elected to power and we expect him to make a statement on such a heinous crime, that’s his job. He does us no favour !!

And yes this issue is about religion and how the nations treats its minorities, be it religious or otherwise and how a party that claims to be the voice of majority has failed them by inaction and delayed response. As a father of eight year olds, my heart bleeds making me want to throw up each time I hear the gruesome and chilling facts that are in the charge sheet. Despite this some of them have the audacity to take my Lord’s name and shout to protect the accused or defend themselves.

Yes I am a member of Congress and yes I will demand action from the Prime Minster as he is answerable to all Indians whether we voted for him or not, despite the name calling by his disciples. What pains is the fanaticism of the educated and the hatred for the minorities that was heard in private conversations which can be seen in not so subtle ways in the social media.

What have we become?? Is this the kind of hatred that we want to pass on to the next generation ??

It is time for all of us to ponder, make informed choices and question what we is being fed to our brains day in and day out.

ये दाग़ दाग़ उजाला, ये शब-गज़ीदा सहर,

(This stained tainted light, this night bitten dawn)

वो इन्तज़ार था जिस का, ये वो सहर तो नहीं

(That we were waiting for, this is not that morning)


Have we stopped reading??

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“It’s difficult to quantify precisely the effect of books on our lives – but generally speaking, it’s enormous.”

As per a recent survey, India is the eighth largest book producing country in the world. Its performance in the production of titles in English is seven times superior, ranking third in the world, after the United States and the United Kingdom. Out of these more than 36 % comprises of Religious Books and another 32 % is informative books. So that just leaves 32 % for Novels and Poetry. This says a lot about the kind of books we read.

A question that I always ask is when do we start developing the habit of reading? Does it run in the family or it’s a habit one cultivates as part of growing up and evolving as an individual.

download 20For me it was both, as a family we were reading and was hooked on to it from the first book that I read. Like movies books too transport us to a world beyond, Live and breathe characters that we want to be. As a kid growing up in the 80’s, we were brought up on the staple diet of Enid Blyton, Famous Five, Champak, Chacha Choudhary and likes. Most of these have not managed to survive the onslaught of the more refined Harry Potter, Batman, Lord of the Rings etc. But isn’t this also about evolving choices and tastes. Each decade brings with it new beginnings.

As part of growing up the only options of buying books would be a shop at Bapu Bazaar and the one at Chetak. We got to read what they had to offer, we didn’t have much of choice to pick from but again at least we had something. We shared our books with peers and would wait for them to finish so as to get our turn. The touch and feel of a book, the joy of opening a new one and also the accomplishment of finishing one is a joy only a book reader can truly understand. And now with the opening up of download (19)Crossword Book Store we have the luxury of browsing the books according to different genres at our own leisure. Though it is a different matter that we end up buying the books online, as it is always cheaper from the one quoted at the store. Yes it is a habit that is not only costly but also that requires patience but again the rewards at the end is also equally rewarding.

download (18)For me each book is revelation and but there is always one book that one can completely identify with. Books is like a piece of art or a painting and as Donna Tarrt said in her Pulitzer Prize winning book The Goldfinch “isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty? If a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, it’s a secret whisper”

Now with the advent of eBooks the complete book reading experience has changed. We carry our entire libraries with us on our phones / tablets / kindles. The search is easy, meanings are easy to find out, and the best example for me has been the cross reference while reading Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and likes. All the historical data are just a click away. Buying images (8)books are easy and they get delivered to us in an instant, we can sample read and millions of free books at our disposal what more can a book lover ask for ?? The trend is certainly showing an upward movement, however for me the only drawback is the inability to build a physical library, ever since the advent of eBooks mine has seized to grow.

As per a recent Forbes Survey 19.5% of all books sold in the U.S. that are Kindle titles and  E-books now make up around 30% of all book sales and Amazon has a 65% share within that category the rest is taken up by Apple, Barnes and Nobles etc. So I guess both the paper and digital versions are going to co-exist for a long time as there are votaries for both of them.

twiterInspite of all this we are building a generations that is far removed from the written letter and the most information that they gather is through the moving images i.e. videos. The attention span has reduced to now just 140 characters thanks to the age of the Twitter. And YES the random reading of magazines and articles on net do not absolutely count as READING!!

Let us start at the very beginning and catch them young to inculcate a habit of book reading in any genre of their interest.  The importance has been rightly captured in this beautiful couplet:

किसी को भी नहीं फुर्सत जो इन से हज़ उठा पाए,

किताबों में पड़ी हैं बंद अब तक कितनी तहरीरें .

(In the books lie concealed a fund of precious lore,

But none has time or mood to see this treasure trove)