Monday, April 28, 2008

When Time loses relevance…

I have had this uncanny sensation of all time losing its relevance in many places so far, out of which I am listing out two here in this post.

What is time but something which even while not always existing in the foreground goads us on like a stick?

Many of us feel its passage with the changing moods of the natural elements, some with the impending deadlines; some others realize its overwhelming presence due to their own happy or sad moods and so on…we even want it to move either slowly so that a happy and pleasant experience can stretch out or faster so that we emerge out of an unpleasant experience sooner…But rarely do we feel that at a particular place time ceases to exist; at least it does not matter what time of the day it is so much so that people around you do not bother about your presence and carry on about their work unaffected by the changing minute…

Sunday mornings at parks:

Reading the newspaper every Sunday morning in either of the two parks close to where I live in Jayanagar 9th block, I get this feeling. Anytime in the parks, the environment appears the same – Jogging youngsters, old men walking briskly, some chanting mantras and some others talking to themselves, kids running around, occasionally people like me reading newspapers or books, women discussing each other’s lives and men discussing politics, couples sharing “pleasant nothings” and fond glances… One feels an enormous sense of happiness and love for everything!!

The market near the city railway station:

A perennial sense of business permeates everything else. Vendors shouting, frenzied activity, people checking out numerous wares, beggars jostling people and people jostling beggars, theatric display of poverty and above all large number of people either trying to get to the railway station or coming out from it carrying larger bags.

Anytime in the day, it is the same so that time loses relevance; there is nothing differentiating from one moment to the next. Vendors don’t cease to trade, beggars don’t stop begging and people don’t stop moving!!

More importantly, all of us without exception would have experienced some moments in life which we would like to preserve for posterity and some other moments which we wish had never taken place in the first instance. But what if we don’t judge every moment of our existence, let the moment pass without commenting on it, what happens then, before we realize one moment would have left us in the next!! Then perhaps we would cease to care!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


What do I exactly want? I know not.
What do I crave for? I know not.
Am I happy or unhappy? I know not.

At times, deep down, I can hear the song of bliss…
At other times, there are minor disgruntlements…

One moment, the whole world is beautiful and rosy!!
The next moment, there is a jolt as if in a dream…

I long to venture off the weather beaten path,
I envy the lives of people bubbling with passion,
But plagued by questions and doubts, I dither,
Caught between comforts and uncertainty, I linger,
Wedged between content and wonder, I pause…

Time flies by, I continue to trod
On the beaten path, in what appears to be
A perpetual wait for a prod or a shake.
For clarity to reveal, I stay rooted
Even as times plays its cards and days trundle along,
Even as one moment passes to the next in this existence!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Natural, Lemon, Ginger, Salt and Pepper!!

Sugarcane foods – A small shop almost hidden in Jayanagar, Bangalore is a delight for lovers of sugarcane juice. I hope, I am not wrong in assuming that there are quite a significant number of people who take a particular fancy to this naturally rich juice.

Situated in the 26th main, near SSMRV college and the 4th T block bus stop, this shop attracts a good crowd anytime in the day. With uniformed people manning it and a young girl (at times, two elegantly dressed girls) dishing out the 10 Re token for the juice, instrumental music playing in the background, the ambiance is just about perfect to sip the sugarcane juice in all comfort. The BMTC buses going to/coming from the 9th block bus stand occasionally make one realize that the shop is located in the heart of the city.

Youngsters most probably from the college next door are regulars apart from some families with their little kids running around and parents running after then with a glass in hand. With Natural, lemon, salt and pepper, ginger and chat masala, there are quite a few options to choose from and having tried almost all of them, I can attest their taste.

Once I noticed a notebook for customer suggestions and comments and thinking it would have been barely used, I was surprised to find it more than half filled. It is another testimony to the customers’ satisfaction. Many people have expressed their sympathy for the girls who they feel “have been made to stand”. They have gone on to suggest the provision of a chair and table for them.

One person has written “The sales girls should be given a table and chair. It is inhuman to make them stand. If you don’t, I shall consider a complaint to the state commission for women”!! After leaving my comments, I came out feeling happier and more cheerful.

There are people with their own unique sense of innocence and if one looks for occasions to feel happy about, they are available in plenty right next door!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Reservation cauldron boils again, SC does a fair job...

With images of anti-quota protesters still lingering fresh in our minds, the build-up to the case was closely watched and now that the SC has delivered its ruling, its time to see what it means actually to both parties...

Politicians across the spectrum feel compelled to welcome the verdict which is most natural since no politician can offend the sizable OBC vote bank by not welcoming it or praising it as a step towards inclusiveness and equity or historic by taking things to an extreme. Many politicians had expected more and with the exclusion of creamy layer from the quota ambit, they can't hide their disappointments - our honorable health minister, Sharad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan fall under this significant category.

Before the day of hearing, one was waiting in an excited state of anticipation to see whether this verdict would let the "overstepping into the legislature domain" argument crop up. Well, it hasn't until now at least. The courts can heave a huge sigh of relief on that.

I have never studied in any "central institute of excellence". But one of my friends who has, gave the example of a rich SC/ST person showing the photos of the huge stretch of farmlands his family owned. Such a person no doubt got into IIT only because his family was able to afford the good primary education and later the coaching to take up the entrance. So, creamy layer exists well and truly and one is not even sure how much of benefits of affirmative action have truly went to the needy. With the absence of any such data, including the creamy layer under the OBC quota ambit would have meant shutting down the doors of opportunity to the truly deserving. Hence, whatever be the merits or demerits of saying that the 27% provision of OBC seats will stay, the exclusion of the creamy layer is a welcome step. To quote, the court seems to have said, the inclusion of "elite backwards" would go against the "basic structure" of the constitution. Hence, legal troubles can be forecast if the Government challenges this.

But this has opened another question. Since the court has now accepted the existence of creamy layer by excluding them from the quota ambit, what happens to the so called economically weak upper castes? Should they continue to bear the brunt of an alleged crime that they never committed in this generation in the first place? The politicians should give an explanation for this and people like Mayawati and Deve Gowda are already out with calls for more quota. Will this ever stop? Probably India is the only country which will pride itself on adding more and more castes into the backward category and certain sections due to "genetic accidents" will no doubt be able to claim the benefits of such "affirmative actions towards inclusive growth" for years to come.

Periodic review, which the court has mandated is another small welcome step. Considering the fact that 14% of general category students who entered IITs last year belonged to the OBC category and 6% of students shortlisted across India for interviews in IIMs were OBCs, review should be done periodically.When the court says, once a person is a graduate, he becomes "educationally forward" and hence would be ineligible for further benefits, (meaning post graduation) it holds perfect sense. But, politicians are already asking for political consensus and review!!

Coming lastly to the increase in seats (54% to make the general category seats unaffected), this will be very difficult even in phases more for the IITs than the IIMs. The scope for expansion is very less in terms of more land for IIT-M and IIT-Powai. Moreover as PV Indiresan, a former director of IIT-M wrote in a national daily, there will be immense pressure to stretch existing classrooms, laboratories, hostels and not to mention being forced to recruit more faculty. How is the Government going to ensure that quality isn't getting diluted with all its antics to keep the general category from feeling let down.

The problem with the whole development is that real progress on the education front seems to be the last in the agenda of our politicians. What else would explain the pathetic infrastructure for primary education in rural areas, teacher absenteeism and dwindling infrastructural provisions even in state run colleges of excellence? Well, I for once don't expect any answers to this either from the HRD ministry or the finance ministry. One thing is certain. We can look forward to "education cess" in the next union budget. As for the poor forward castes, I think somebody will extend them the "benefits" of quota soon. For, don't they also vote?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Insensitivity or plain indifference?

Of late, something very subtle yet deeply significant is taking place. The youth of today are forgetting the basic moral science lessons that they learn as children. Manners, courtesy and concern for fellow people are at danger of losing their very meanings due to the strange lack of sensitivity among a sizable section of youngsters. Perhaps, I may be a little wrong in attributing this to only the youth of today as no doubt some middle aged people are also falling prey. But in my opinion, it is the changing and increasingly urban lifestyle that is the catalyst driving this trend and youngsters get influenced more easily.

When one considers, how:

All the people want to get down of the bus (when it reaches its destination/stop) at the same time and nobody is in any mood to relent and give way to a fellow passenger. Waiting for a few seconds in anything that remotely resembles a queue leads to a barrage of complaints on the pathetic condition of the state’s facilities!! The old people and children suffer most as a result by getting pushed and jostled with least respect/concern.

People get impatient very easily on roads as they are being driven mad by the increasing traffic every day so much so that at times, they start honking a good half a minute before the signal turns green. The person at the head of the row is forced to violate the signal thanks to this supremely strange attempt at getting on one’s nerves!!

Hardly ever do people remember to say a “thank you”. The driver of an office shuttle in a very cautious manner gets a person to his/her destination. When the stop comes, all he gets in return for his patient maneuvering of traffic is a thud/bang of the door on his face.

Thanks to the omnipresent cell phones, people these days have the comfort of listening to their favorite music on the go. It takes a real marathon effort to get a few words by way of response/answer from such a person. One should consider oneself lucky if one gets any at all for the earphones rarely change their position. “Can you be a little louder?” is the standard response/expression. For God’s sake, one’s involuntary reaction is to close one’s ears for the poor indifferent chap is shouting thinking the other person to be deaf!!

Eye-contact is also becoming a rare norm. Instead people prefer having preoccupied expressions as if they are doing you a favor by listening to you. One gets the impression that they are indeed hard pressed for time!! Fiddling with mobiles, adjusting ear phones and checking messages are becoming the rule…

I left out washing dirty linen in public by talking private matters loudly over cell phones in public places!!

In summary, it would not be long before gentlemen and ladies would cease to walk this earth. Instead, it wouldn’t be surprising if all one finds are people with an inflated sense of self importance or plain indifference.