Baba lives on…

It hurts me when people keep crying about corruption, and complaining that nothing is being done for the society/common name blah blah blah. But it hurts even more when the people responsible for dissemination such vital information do not “play their part” responsibly.
Yes! I wish to blame the media. I’ll, however, resist and put it on hold for some other time.

This post is dedicated to Baba Amte. The man who dedicated a big part of his life for the “not so common men”. The meaning of “not so common men” can be understood by watching this small documentary.

Baba’s life is also a lesson for people who doubt in the power of one. His mortal structure is no more, but he’ll continue to live in the hearts of thousands…

p.s. Thanks to Amrit for sharing the video. It can be downloaded from BabaAmte.net

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Tum Chalo… (India’s New Anthem)

Update: You can watch the show, Lead India, every Saturday evening 8 PM IST on Star One. Trust me, it’s worth your time.

I suggest that you read further only after watching the complete video, even if you have seen it in the past… even a few minutes ago 🙂


If you wish to download the video, I have a copy on my server.

leadindia_logo.gif

It’s one of the various promotional ads for the Lead India initiative (another reality show) by the Times of India group. It’s written by Gulzar Saab, music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, and sung by Shankar Mahadevan. It’s being termed as the new anthem. An amazing number of people find it inspiring, and a few find it a wave similar to Rang De Basanti.

The “different” aspect, however, of this reality show is that it promises to deliver leaders (or politicians) who have the potential to lead and to change things that we all keep complaining about, but never stand to oppose. It’s unfortunate that not just other news channels, but even we have all have been ignoring, if not mocking, it. IMHO, it’s a pretty amazing move. Try to keep an eye on the happenings.
To appreciate the video even more, I thought it’d be good if people could understand the lyrics.

Falak pakad ke utho, aur hawa pakad ke chalo, –2
Tum chalo, to hindustan chale –4

Lagao haath ke suraj subah nikala karein, ]
Hatheliyon mein bhare dhoop aur uchhala karein, ]–2
Ufaq pe paav rakho, aur chalo akad ke chalo,
Falak pakad ke utho, aur hawa pakad ke chalo, –2
Tum chalo, to hindustan chale –4

Although the song has only too pretty uncommon urdu words -Falak (Sky), and Ufaq (Horizon), yet the video is so gripping that a number of people just ignore the magical web of words that Gulzar saab has created.

The video attempts to convey a very simple message –stop complaining and be the change.
It reminds me of Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lines:

Main akeyla hi chala tha Jaanib-e-mazil magar,
Log saath aate gaye, Kaarvan banta gaya!

Similarly, the lyrics of the song convey a very simple message –have a pride in your existence and your actions. Nothing is “big” enough for you. This message has a very special significance. Most of us, the Indians, have a good inferiority complex. Leave other aspects, we don’t believe that an Indian movie can be better (or may be even as good as) a Hollywood movie.

Here is a literal translation of lyrics of the New Anthem:
Disclaimer: The lines below are just translation, not a poetic translation.

Hold the sky to stand, and walk with the wind in your hands,
Be the front-runner; because when you walk, Hindustan (India) walks with you.

Lend your hand to pull out the Sun in the morning,
Fill your hands with sunlight, and throw it around,
Keep you legs on the horizon, and walk with pride,
Hold the sky to stand, and walk with the wind in your hands,
Be the front-runner;
because when you walk, Hindustan (India) walks with you.

If it doesn’t shake you up, just imagine yourself doing all this literally. Imagine yourself pushing the Sun and being the reason for the sunrise. Imagine yourself walking with your leg on the horizon, as you walk holding the gusty winds like a rope.
That’s the kind of pride and courage needed if ones wishes to change and challenge the world.
Remember, the Tank Man?

Anyhoo! Here’s another video (not from the Lead India campaign), that I found on YouTube.

Who am I? I am Spide…errr Man :P

Similar to my other emotionally charged posts (I mean when I am emotionally charged), this one too comes from a weird place. I am sitting on the wall of my balcony, with a little fear that my Bittu (laptop for the less enlightened) might fall with me.

//www.flickr.com/photos/surajchauhan/182062828/

Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/surajchauhan/182062828/

I am in a very strange mood right now. Full of nostalgic thoughts. These thoughts have enlightened me about things I wasn’t aware about myself. Since I do not share everything (I am li’ll selfish you see), I won’t post everything. Selfishness reminds me that I could never share my troubles with Everyone. When I left Bhubaneswar (in fact a few months before leaving it), I was left with none to share. It’s pretty unlike-me to accept it here, but I realized that an increase in blogging activity was an outlet in disguise. It’s not that I’ve written everything I feel (it’s just unlike-me), but I could share something. 🙂

Today again, I need an outlet when I’m tangled in this unmanageable web of questions.

Looking at my life, I’ve things that I’ve wanted and worked for (well, except a few).
I am financially independent, and don’t have to bother my parents.
I am working on web security, and that too in a computer services company, with geeks around me.
I also have permission to work from home, pretty unlikely for a beginner on some internal work. Complete freedom, to be precise.
I, with all probability, will become an author in a few months (unless something extremely goes wrong).
…and most importantly, I am ideal son in eyes of my parents (except one issue that I don’t take care of my health).

Still, there is disturbance caused by dissatisfaction… and at times, by overflow of energy. Don’t mistake it to be a job dissatisfaction issue. Computers has been one of my teenage loves, which has grown stronger with times.

Looking again at life, I realize that I don’t have everything I ever wanted…
I wished to contribute to the society; started a few times with SPICMACAY and AID; won a few times; lost a few times. Nothing to complain about really. Obviously, you don’t get all you want.

However, I feel I am entangled between things I wanted, and things things that are my responsibility (like changing the world 🙂 )

Going to an orphanage on a weekend, donating money, etc. are not my cup of tea. I believe they aggravate the problem more than they solve them, IMHO. A weekly visit makes them feel distant; a donation of money, or related things, makes them dependent. These issues need to be attacked from the root.

I have this feeling that I WILL be able to execute my plans someday… but what about now 🙂
Why do I feel like loosing patience, considered one of my biggest assets in the past.

Honour Insignificant Compared To Hunger!

I am a self proclaimed feminist.There are issues (which I do not cite) that disturb me… and I’ve been disturbed again by a piece of news titled “Sex for Survival” on the Al Jazeera (english).

From the article:

When Rana Jalil, 38, lost her husband in an explosion in Baghdad last year, she could never have imagined becoming a prostitute in order to feed her children.

A mother of four, Jalil sought out employment, but job opportunities for women had decreased since the US invasion.
She begged shop owners, office workers and companies to hire her but was treated with what she calls chauvinistic discrimination.
Within weeks of her husband’s death, a doctor diagnosed her children with malnutrition.

Fighting tears, she recalled the desperation which led her to the oldest profession: “In the beginning these were the worst days in my life. My husband was the first man I met and slept with, but I didn’t have another option … my children were starving.”
She left the house in a daze, she recalled, and walked to the nearest market to find someone who would pay her for sex.
She said: “I’m a nice-looking woman and it wasn’t difficult to find a client. When we got to the bed I tried to run away … I just couldn’t do it, but he hit and raped me. When he paid me afterwards, it was finished for me.

“When I came home with some food I had bought from that money and saw my children screaming of happiness, I discovered that honour is insignificant compared to the hunger of my children.”

I discovered that honour is insignificant compared to the hunger of my children.

We are all aware of such issues, but this time I could see a series of events leading to a sheer helpless situation. Quite ironically, I used to think that some, if not most, of the these people choose the easier path of flesh trade instead of working. I might still be right but the situation in places like these is vexing. Does anyone see anything good coming up from the US war against terrorism. If Yes then are the trade-offs worthy? (Or may be I currently too disturb to make rational calculations.)

By the way, I couldn’t finish the article. If anybody finds anything good in it, let us know.

[YART]:The First Time(s)

I have been transferred to Bangalore. I got a flat to stay even before landing here, thanks to Manas. We get to eat home-made food, thanks to Ajay. Got a part of relocation money in advance which I needed desperately, thanks to my company.
And the best part of all this is that I’d be working on my field Web Application Security with amazing people around, one of them being Peter Thomas, author of JTrac.:)
Now, so many nice things scared me initially but I’ve adjusted somehow. 😉

This post, however, is not about my Bangalore experience. Nor is it about how frustrating the first day was because not even one of the 9 floored building had a single working coffee machine… this crisis continued for straight 10 days.
Can you imagine “Engineers without Coffee”???
The policy makers need to read Dilbert.

Anyways. In another news, I bought a bicycle to commute to office, which is about 10kms from my house. I had a tough time the first day as I was riding it after a gap of… mmmm… 5 years. But again, this post is not about my bicycle. It’s about a very small incident that generated Yet Another Random Thought [YART].

We had a blood donation camp in our premises on 26th. It was an awesome experience riding back home on my bicycle after donating blood. 🙂 On the way back, I recalled the first time I had donated blood. It was something that made me Happy (with a capital H). The Feeling of being (virtually) present and save someone’s life. It was overwhelming.
This time, however, I didn’t feel anything special. To be pretty honest, it was an it-has-been-too-long-since-I-did-it feeling.

The typical Piscean, that I am. It lead to a series of other similar thoughts.
The first time I rode a bicycle.
The first time I left home for studies.
The first time I returned home.
First time I spent my salary on my parents and relatives.
And several other first times which are a little personal…… 🙂

These random thoughts made me happy. The Sadist in me, however, doesn’t like to see me happy. He’s happy when I am miserable. He injected in me the comparison table to compare the “first times” with the regular and natural follow ups.

Of course the latter ones don’t provide me with the same feeling of ecstasy. Especially because they are not meant for it. They are simply meant to be a part of life. All the first times provide the view to a new road which would take us forward; but only if we wish to.
People give-up, change lanes…. break up with their loved ones…… all because “things-are-not-the-way-they-used-to-be”. They don’t feel the excitement that used to be.

I wonder why don’t we understand the simple thing that the excitement the “thing” (job, venture, relationship) brought was not just because it was exciting. It brought excitement because it made a change in our lives and made us Happy. The same thing won’t bring the same excitement. It’ll, however, bring Happiness (with a capital H)… always. 🙂

Love (whether for our job, or our loved ones) is a Gift.
The story, however, doesn’t end here. This Gift is also a responsibility… a two way responsibility, between me and my Gift.
Sometimes, it has to make me Happy, other times I have to sustain the faith that it’ll make me Happy.

I know this a very very complex philosophy. I wouldn’t have dared to bare it, had I not come across this dialogue from the movie “Captian Correli’s Mandolin”. Here, the lead actress’s (Penelope Cruz) father sums up this strange philosophy very beautifully in just a few sentences. He takes the support of Love between couples to explain it. I believe it extends to anything you Love.

When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No… don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!

I pray that every time my friends (or I) give up on something, HE reminds me that we are choosing the easier path…
He reminds us all the moments when we fell and hurt oursleves, physically..
And he also reminds us what we did after falling down. 🙂

I love the following two lines (Hindi):

Kaun Kahta hai Aasmaan mein surakh nahi hota,
Ik patthar to zara tabiyat se uchhalo yaaron

I won over the Sadist… this time 🙂

India versus Development

According to Wikipedia:

Developing countries are in general countries which have not achieved a significant degree of industrialization relative to their populations, and which have a low standard of living. There is a strong correlation between low income and high population growth, both within and between countries.

The concept of “development” is pretty well defined and is measured in terms of HDI (Human Development Index). It’s interesting to note that the index was developed in 1990 by Amartya Sen (Indian Economist & Nobel Laurette), Mehbub ul Haq (Pakistani Economist), Meghnad Desai (London School of Economics) and Gustav Ranis (Yale University). The value of HDI lies from 0 to 1.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to determine and indicate whether a country is a developed, developing, or underdeveloped country and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life.

The 2006 UN Human Development Index Report provides the HDI for 2004. The top 10 nations are:

  1. Flag of Norway Norway 0.965
  2. Flag of Iceland Iceland 0.960
  3. Flag of Australia Australia 0.957
  4. Flag of Republic of Ireland Ireland 0.956
  5. Flag of Sweden Sweden 0.951
  6. Flag of Canada Canada 0.950
  7. Flag of Japan Japan 0.949
  8. Flag of United States United States 0.948
  9. Flag of Switzerland Switzerland 0.947
  10. Flag of Netherlands Netherlands 0.947

The HDI for India lies somewhere between 0.500 to 0.600. Since the HDI points to the year 2004, we have no need to worry. We have a come a long way since then. In fact, each day has been (and is) an big leap. Experts, scientist, philosophers, politcians… all around the world have announced that India (and China) will be the next Super Powers.
Sounds satisfying and ecstatic. Isn’t it? 🙂
But is it really the reality?

We have made exponential progress in almost every technical and modern field. Today we have internet in almost every gully. The electronic items and luxury products are in everyone’s reach. Every kid in your family has a personal cellphone.
But does that really mean that India, as a nation, is developing?

You might think that it’s stupid of me to talk about such developments and still question about “development”, which is nothing but plain measurement. If you are then let me put some simple questions for the Reality Check.

  1. How big is your India? What is the percentage of India that comprises of villages and tribal areas?
  2. The price of tubelight might not have risen, but are you aware of the price of kerosene (if available)?
  3. KFC’s providing an amazing “Bucket offer”. What about the rise in price of Wheat and Rice? …and aa yes. Which country does the KFC belong to?
  4. You oppose Medha Patkar’s Narmada Bachao Andolan because the stupid movement is disrupting the government from building the proposed 30 large, 135 medium and 3000 small dams; which will provide ample water and electricity, and hence help in achieving a higher HDI. But did you think about the rural (repeatedly called handful) people who will be dislocated because of these 30 large, 135 medium and 3000 small dams? If not then just imagine being driven out of your house because the government suddenly discovers that your house lies on the shortest possible train route from source A to destination B.

I spent so much of my time, which I could’ve spent with my family after 6 long months, just to mention (and remind myself) that development in India cannot happen on one single track. We cannot build a highway, if the farmers are committing suicide. We need to find alternatives for development which will target, not only the elite class, but also the handful few.

The HDI needs to rise on both fronts.

Be the Change…!

During college days, I was a part of the team that worked under the guidance of Dr. D.K. Mishra to revive the SPICMACAY – Orissa Chapter. This was time when we had the privilege of meeting Dr. Ravi Kuchimanchi, founder of AID. He was working with Medha Patkar on “Narmada Bachao Andolan” (probably still is). I wanted to work with AID but couldn’t.

For the past one year, I’ve surrounded with codes, vulnerabilities, technologies… I am even a part of the social wing of my company but haven’t really done any work.

I couldn’t gather enough time to contribute to any of the above… or so I used to think. Now, I realize that my biggest mistake was treating them and *technology* as separate entities. It’s now I realize that both can complement each other…

Very ironically, it is not a matter of surprise that the media has been *pathetically* highlighting the dirty features of the society. It has been deleting all its beautiful aspects. Well, why not!
It’s business after all… and in such a business; Dirts sells. Beauty is just a filler.
Most of us are aware of it and criticize it too. But seriously, what is it that we have been doing for it?

I decided to experiment with my above mentioned belief that technology and social work are complementary to each other. Have taken certain initiatives with a motive to bring in at least some change. Expect my personal blog to be one of these changes.

I’d strongly suggest reading this essay by Pandu Nayak, a fellow classmate of Dr. Ravi. It gives an idea how corruption has been one of the biggest reasons for blocking the country’s development.

The video embedded below is an interview of AID-Montreal volunteers, Papia Raj & Aditya Raj on (Bangla TV) CHTV Montreal. The interviewer is Dilip Choudhary. It is in English and Bangla, and gives a little idea of what is AID and what it does.