Friday, March 27, 2009

Inner voice of an Indian - Sonia as PM?

I had written this article after Loksabha elections in 2004 to post it in a discussion forum. Blogs were not famous by then. Thought Sonai Ghandhi is not a prime ministerial candidate she is the shaddow PM, anyway. So I feel the arguments still hold good.

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The inner voice of Congress president Ms. Sonia Ghandhi was much on the media after the poll results. This article, tries to debate on the violently discussed topic of accepting Ms. Sonia Ghandhi as The Primier to the Nation, with an average Indian’s view.

Ms. Ghandhi may be qualified to become the Prime minister as per the papers. But it is the sentiments of the individuals that differ, which is most important. Let me throw few points on why she is not acceptable to the top position in the government.

The first one that I want to give emphasis is the emotional bond that one would have with his motherland. Here I give you the transliteration of a Tamil poem written by great poet Subramanya Bharathiar during freedom fight.

“This is the land where my Father and Mother lived gracefully,
This is the land where they got tremendous intuitions and got laurels to the country,
This is the land where our forefathers lived for thousands of years and handed-over
us the treasure,
Let’s solute the incredible land saying, ‘Vande Matharam’ “.

Now, would Ms. Ghandhi have such a bond with this country? Can she look in to the issues of this country as how YOU and I look in? She can administer the country just like a corporate head but nothing more than that. A person who was born and brought up with the spirits of one Nation can treat the other only like how a step-mother would treat a kid.

Secondly, let’s deal with the ‘People’s Verdict’. It has been propagated that the People had voted to elect Ms. Ghandhi as the premier. The fact remains that Congress never ever announced that Sonia was their Prime Ministerial candidate. Then, how could Congress conveniently claim that people had chosen her to be the Premier? It is not ‘Sonia wave’ that made congress to the power. There are a few good causes which helped Congress to win 182 constituencies. That includes, the ‘Rahul and Priyanka wave’, the disappointment over the state governments in Tamilnadu & Andhra Pradesh and the mindset of a part of people to always outvote the ruling party. Even after all these, Congress failed to get majority and got just about 20 seats more than its rival BJP. So, the media highlighted “People’s Verdict” is not at all true.


Thirdly, the qualification of Ms. Ghandhi has to be vigorously discussed. Her experience in politics is less than a decade. Neither she has grown step-by-step in the party nor did she enter politics on her interest to serve this country. Friends, remember that she entered politics only because Congress party could not accept one among themselves to be their National leader. Further, Congress needed a person who is familiar to the whole Nation, who is also attractive. Ultimately they found Sonia who got the attraction of being the wife of farmer Prime Minister and being a member of Nehru’s family. This is a shame to Congress party. We should not allow this vulnerability of Congress to deteriorate the Pride of the Nation and the pride of its civilians. It is high time to rule out that having ‘Ghandhi’ in one’s name becoming the satisfactory condition for becoming Indian Premier.


Fourthly, the broad-mindness of Indians. A section of people argued that we should have broad-mind to accept Sonia as the Prime minister irrespective of her origin. Most of the Indian media maintained that raising question on Sonia is narrow-minded. She was born and brought up abroad and had acquired Indian citizenship only when she was 37. I would like to throw a question to you gentlemen and ladies. Suppose that you have migrated to another country. Will you be able to treat both countries similarly? Where your heart and sole will be? The American example comes handy to my counterparts. They ask me that while US citizens could accept an immigrant to occupy higher positions, why we could not. No one in US other than Red-Indians is a native of the land. Consider European countries where the citizens are natives-of-the-land. Can a first generation British immigrant become Premier of German? Would it be possible for a first generation French immigrant to assume chief of PMO at UK? Just think…

Soon after the political drama ended up in Delhi, a French author wrote that Indians still had not come out of, slavery, falling to the feet of white skin. This comment had delivered after seeing the demonstrations by congressmen and others against Sonia’s decision, not to take over as Prime minister. I am afraid if his statement could be true. To disapprove this can you give me a single reason why Congressmen and few ugly politicians preferred Ms. Sonia Ghanthi to Dr. Manmohan Singh?

To conclude, what I want to reiterate is that it may not be a legal or constitutional issue but it is an issue of one’s sentiments. Therefore it is a threat to Nation’s pride and to the self-respect of its civilians. Let’s take oath not to allow any such threats in the future.

Jai Hindh!

some relevant articles:

Sonia, the inner voice and Gandhi

Sonia's inner voice

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Come on let's transform the society thru' micro-credit

Welcome! Your interest to read this post shows your interest in the social development. I would like to introduce you the concept of micro-lending and how easy it is to take part in that through the World Wide Web (www.rangde.org) and thus facilitating economic growth and prosperity for rural-poor.

What is micro-credit?

The concept is very simple. The rural-poor typically needs small principal amount to start or expand their business. For instance, to start a vegetable shop under a hut, to start a tea shop on a hand-pulled cart, to buy raw materials for agarbathi making, to procure tender-coconut and sell it on a roadside, one would need anywhere between Rs.2000 to Rs.5000. If they were given this small amount they could stand on their own. But in the current system such a small amount of loans are not given by any public/private sector banks or by the government. So they end up taking such loans with a local person where the interest shots up even to 100% per annum. So instead of uplifting, the loan taken drives them to a deadlock situation and the poor could never come out of their poverty. The idea of micro credit is to reach out to those people give them loan of such small amount with a nominal interest.

How successful this concept is?

Well, this concept was extremely successful in Bangladesh. In 1976 Muhammad Yunus devised this concept and started giving micro-credit. The rest is history. He made revolution in rural economy of Bangladesh. To quickly let you know how successful the scheme was, read the following facts:
1. His micro-finance institution grown to become an independent bank by government legislation in 1983. The project initially called Grameen transformed to Grameen Bank.
2. The organization and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for their contribution to human kind.

If you would like to know more about Grameen please go through a.

How micro-credit is implemented?

Generally the people in need or grouped in to five member teams. And mostly the members are women even if their husbands' are in need of loan. The group is held responsible for the repayment of the entire loan. Thus the system makes sure that even if one person couldn't repay due to genuine reasons the other members of the team jump in to help him/her. If one is not repaying because of in-sincerity it creates peer pressure and it gets bad reputation. In a village setup a bad reputation is serious taken as a shame. Another strategy that makes sure of the repayment is making women of the family to be responsible for a loan. This is psychological approach that women are more sincere and sensitive. The repayment happens on every week or every month based on the nature of business they do.

Does micro-finance system exist in India?

Yes, there are several micro-finance institutions and NGOs' availing micro-credit across the county.

What is New?

The new thing in this is to get more individuals as investors of micro-credit or micro-lenders. www.range.org is one such organization which allows you to take part in this scheme using simple mouse clicks on World Wide Web and online banking. The details of people who are in need of money are screened and posted on the website. People like you and me can look at their profile, the business their going to do and the amount of loan required. Once you pick the beneficiary you transfer funds in multiples of Rs.1000. You would get back your money with an interest of 3.5% at the end of the loan tenure. Please visit the site it has more information and inspiring stories of how a micro-loan transformed lives for few.

How Rangde operates?

Rangde is a non-profit organization that bridges the lender and borrower through their field partners. Field partners are NGO's are similar institutions who work on field to identify borrowers. They identify, analyze and post the borrowers to Rangde. Rangde again re-examines the person and his/her need and post the information on their website, www.rangde.org. You and me select borrowers on the site and transfer funds online. Field partners disperse the loan with and interest rate of 8.5 % which is lowest even compared to other micro-finance institutions.

Why micro-lending is called Social Investment?
It is called social investment because you get back 3.5 of interest. The remaining 5% goes to the field partners for their operation cost. Rangde is just a bridge in between.

Is the return of money assured?

We all know micro-credit is a non-secure loan given on trust. The rural-poor wouldn’t be able to give any security to get a loan and that's the reason the regular financial institutions don't have any schemes for them. But the system has preventive mechanism in place as explained above and historically the repayment rate is close to 100%.

Well, I believe that this inspires you and excites you to take part in the revolution which could drive away poverty from our country!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Lively Waves

My God!" I mourned. The clock showed 7'o clock when I woke up from my siesta. If I had slept more, I would have really regretted it. Without going out on the weekend, it is not possible to start afresh on Monday. There would be some mental block, some disappointment. Already the day had passed by without any fun for me, cooped up alone in my room. My room mates had gone to spend the holidays at home.

The tea was not good. Though the warmth helped me to shake away the drowsiness caused by a heavy lunch and nap. I wore a casual shirt and formal trousers (have to wash plenty of clothes, no water!).'

Marina,' Chennai beloved beach, was filled with charm. It was 8 p.m. but still I could see a good crowd, a blend of rich and poor; young and old; men and women; people of all religion. It is the only place where fun is assured for all, whatever their socio-economic status. Where people do not exhibit their status. Where all the entertainment comes free of cost. Everyone keen on having fun without worrying about the people around them or what they did.

I started walking along the beach. Passed big families sitting on bed-spreads, eating home-made delicacies, gossiping, laughing, kids monkeying. Passed tiny families, couples on romantic tête-à-têtes unmindful of what their children were doing. Passed gangsters teasing passers-by and fighting among themselves. Passed boys playing volleyball. Passed ice cream vendors and 'fast-food stalls.' Reached that dark area reserved for pairs. Some looked married, some unmarried, some decently behaved and some indecent (may be I am old fashioned).

Bought a cone of boiled peanuts. Nibbling on them, I walked among the crowd, sometimes casually looking up at the sky or looking at the waves, sometimes even closely watching what the pairs were doing. As I am used to seeing such scenes, I was not disturbed by them, though I couldn't help watching them deliberately. Yes, it might be a little crass, but I am curious. If they are not shy of making love in public, why should I feel embarrassed to watch what they do? Passed those pairs too.

Walked farther with the ultimate goal of tiring myself out. As a software engineer, I had to physically tire myself out at least once a week, to get good sleep and maintain good health.

I bet I was the only one alone on the beach. Recently I have started worrying about the loneliness. I am used to spending time alone, even entertaining myself. Never before have I missed company. Back home I would go to movies and parks on my own. When those memories struck my mind, I turned towards the sea. I decided to have some fun on the shore and walked fast. I walked almost 2 kms. Breathing fast I sat down on the shore. There were people sitting on the shore, on the catamarans (I have a deep desire to travel on one of them) and playing with the waves.

"Sir, sundal," a hawker disturbed me. A "No" came from my subconscious mind.

The waves were too quick. The sea was a little ferocious. I haven't seen the sea like that before. The wind blew with great force. The new moon day was only a couple of days ago. There was an even trail between the darkness showered by the sky and the 'floodlights' from the roadside. I finished my peanuts. I could no longer just watch the marvelous scenery. I entered the inviting waves. Every wave was overcome by a successive one. But the waves were not high enough to touch my knees. I moved further into the water. I felt like I was being healed. After a while, I thought it was time. I decided to walk back to the lighthouse.

To immerse myself further into the joy, I chose to walk along the shore. I always enjoy walking on the beach bare-footed, my footwear hanging from my fingers. It feels like mild acupressure. The waves touched my legs and receded. Again they reached me and departed from me. Only then did I see the crackers lighting up the sky, with some attention. The people of the nearby colony were celebrating Vinayaka Chathurthi. The flowers of fire appeared suddenly with great thuds and made the stars look dim, then slowly submerged into the sky.

This time I passed the scattered people playing enthusiastically with the waves, trying to go into the water, neglecting the warnings of elders. The sea was fierce then. I walked through the crowd again. This time with a smile on my face, a symbol of a satisfied mind. For no reason I smiled at the kids and cuddled them in my mind. Reached my room. I could still hear the sounds of celebration from the beach. I had to cook myself some dinner.

The FM radio beside my pillow was still playing when the newspaper came flying through the window!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sound of Life

Translation of “Uyirosai” by S. Ramakrishnan, published in Ananda vikatan dated 12.10.2003. It is one of the articles from the collection, 'Thunai ezhuthu'.

Durga has come to chennai for the third time. She was married to a Bengali engineer just four months ago. When they had been to Andaman Islands for honeymoon her health failed. Medical results showed that she was pregnant. That drove her to Chennai for the first time.

Doctors detected that she was carrying triplets. The state-of-the-art mediscan showed three small dots throbing. The doctors said that her children might be born with congenital defects, as she was weak. They advised her to be very careful.

Without expressing her grief, she went to ASTALAKSHMI temple in the evening. Unlike her, her husband showed deep sorrow in his face. He paid homage with shivering hands. Both meditated at Sai Baba temple.

At night, she was not able to eat. Her husband asked her, “What are we going to do?” She answered biting her lips, “ 'am scared.” They didn't sleep the whole night. They consulted another gynecologist the next morning. She underwent the same tests. There were three foetus. “The mother as well as the children will get affected,” the doctor's statement made them phobic of medication. Nonplussed, they returned to Kolkata.

Durga's parents prayed to Goddess DURGA. Her husband's family came forward with many suggestions. They consulted an astrologer too. With great hesitation her husband told Durga that the doctors told him that there was only one solution for their plight.

“One of the embryos can be killed.”

“Which one?” she asked in perfect panic.

To decide that, they had come to Chennai again. All the three had grown equally. Her health condition was not fit to carry three. Doctors warned her that the children would become handicapped if continued in uterus. Durga went to Kabaleeswarar temple. Prayed earnestly. She gave fistful of coins to each beggar.

Before starting to Chennai for the third time she prayed to all the Gods known to humankind, to forgive her sin. She asked excuse to the baby that would leave her before birth.

When she entered the hospital she thought, “Should I return to Kolkata without taking the treatment?”, though she knew about the risk for her life if she would fail to take the treatment. But she was not courageous to tell that to her husband. Her sister-in-law and mother-in-law were accompanying her. Another scan was taken on that day. In anesthesia she could hear the doctor. In few minutes one of the three embryos was cut, as easily as breaking the edge of a thorn. She was admitted for two days at the hospital. Everyone were delighted.

Among the three which one was that? How to know that? What would have been its name? Male or Female? Why did the life end for that baby so early? How did the doctors choose that particular one? How does an embryo emerge? Its felt that embryo grows in pregnancy. But where does a life come from? Depression increases as she continues her thinking. With her tired eyes she cries through the whole night thinking of her unforgivable sin. The other two creatures are still throbbing. The next day she decided never should she visit Chennai again.

What's happening around us, indeed? The phobia of advanced medication seems to be of higher degree than the fear caused of ignorance or helplessness. Does any other creature destroys its own embryo? A pomegranate grows with hundred seeds in it! Has mercy been sacked of this world? Is a life so cheap? She is scared.

Durga will not come back to this city. But it is the city of her unborn child, isn't it?

A story... written by Re. Fradry of America.

A woman gives birth to a female child. It is a city affected by nuclear radiation. Her husband hurries with excitement to see the baby. The baby, placed in the cradle looks like an aluminium sheet. So weightless! Like a sketch on a paper, she has small eyes… small mouth... He is able to feel her breath. Only her breathing announces that that is a living object. They fear even to touch the infant with the tip of their fingers.

After few weeks they carry their baby to home. They always keep her in the cradle covering the infant with a cloth. She does not cry, does not laugh either. Instead she makes a little sound that the pen makes with the paper. Although, it is their first child... isn't it? They name her. They dress her with new garments. They bring her up happily.

Several months pass by. Suddenly one day they hear a whistle like sound from the cradle. They understand that it is from the baby, but they are not able to console her.

A doctor comes to diagnose. He tells “your baby started speaking and this is her language. Listen to her whistle keenly.” The mother learns the whistle sounds daily. She understands which sound is for hunger and which one is to express happiness. She whistles similarly. The baby replies with another whistle. The whole family learns to whistle.

They have learnt a new language from the baby. There are no words in that. As the baby grows they stop talking among themselves. The whistle sounds are enough for them. One rainy day the child gets hyperventilation. They pray to God day- and-night. Alas! The baby passes away. They are greatly depressed with grief. Time moves on. Then they never speak a word between them. Seldom they whistle to each other. But, there is no one to identify whether that means hunger or happiness.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Gorgeous festivals

I just stepped out of my home. Everything looked dim as if I was wearing dark spectacles. The sky appeared in dark-blue. It was 5’o clock in the morning. Some contours in red announced that the sun was rising. I happen to see these beautiful dawns once or at-the-max twice in a year. It was a Diwali day and that’s why I had got up so early.

My neighbors had started the celebrations already. It was very colorful. Every adult and child glowed with happiness and looked bright in new garments. Their faces wore a special kind of smile that is unique to the mood of celebration. The children, not necessary to say, were thrilled firing up the crackers. The fire sparkles, smoke, early morning light and the mist of winter, all together produced a unique atmosphere.

As I was entering my home (going in doors), I noticed that the right side of our house was still calm. There were no sign of any celebration. It was a slum.

I was an adolescent then. Naturally, my interest in crackers was deteriorating. Neither was I interested in following the ethics of celebration, like taking an oil bath early in the morning, praying to God and bowing to elders to get their blessings. These practices were meaningless to me.

A boy appeared in the door when I was watching television after having breakfast. “Anna Pattasu, ”* the boy from the slum called me. He was not begging! In fact I was a vendor, a cot-vendor. Cot-Vendor? Yes, I spread crackers on a cot and place it in front of my house and sell crackers in retail. In this context “retail” has a different meaning. We used to sell crackers as individual pieces. You can see many such cot-vendors during Diwali season in small towns and in villages. He bought 10 bijilis for 2 rupees. I wondered if one would buy such a small amount on Diwali day. Was that enough for his celebration?

I was new to this small business. The children start firing the crackers few weeks before the actual date. My goal was to sell crackers on that pre-Diwali celebration days, not for the big day. I could not imagine that someone would buy crackers from my small shop ( shop?) for his Diwali celebration.

As the day was passing many boys came and bought crackers for small amounts. They usually come as a mob but only one of them would buy. In the evening a couple arrived. They might be newly married. The ecstasy in their faces showed that it was their “Thalai Deepavali.”** They bought 3 pieces of flower-pots, 2 pieces of ground-wheels and 8 pieces of sparkles. I was extremely shocked.

Suddenly I thought about my childhood days. I was very much interested in crackers. Our family was a lower middle class family. After finishing up our crackers we would move to our rich neighbor’s home and would watch. We would see a variety of crackers. They always had plenty. Sometimes the elders would call us and ask us to participate in the celebration. I don’t know even now, whether they did so in sympathy or by generosity or for courtesy. The situations become further worse during my transition to adolescent from child. My dad took many loans and we became poorer. We could not buy new clothes or crackers for Diwali.

My past experience made me perfectly understand the situation of the children from the slum. Every time a boy bought some crackers others would just watch him with curiosity & envy, mixed equally. Even such small amounts were uneconomical for those boys. And their parents could not hide the shame that they had, because of their inability to satisfy the desires of their children.

As I thought seriously I developed a philosophy. I told my self “Festivals are great disasters to the poor. It makes them envy others. It violently hits them by teasing them of their buying capabilities. It makes them to loose their confidence and makes them to feel inferior to others.”

Thereafter, ‘FESTIVAL’ means good grief to me.

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* “Anna, Pattasu!” -> “Brother, Crackers!”

** Thalai Deepavali -> The first Diwali festival for a married a couple.