Friday, August 29, 2008

The Great Divide

Just when the nation was recovering from a terrorist attack in Gujarat and its embassy in Kabul, it seems to have another daunting task at hand in handling the religious crisis that has erupted in Orissa (besides the ominous rioting in kashmir)

We seem to have done it again! The Indian brand of secularism is a failing apparatus and needs to be reworked upon with a great deal of conviction and force. With one debilitating blow we have rendered ourselves to be portrayed as uncivilized neanderthals vying for blood all in the name of religion and caste!
While history has been consistent in witnessing bloodshed over religion, in today's democratic system, there is a need for tolerance and understanding that will foster a better and peaceful coexistence which is essential for the social structure to survive and further itself. As a country we cannot afford to be thrust in the face of problems, especially considering the tremendous people and intellectual resources needed to help shape the economy. Political factions and vested interests will continue to encourage factionalism to foster hatred among communities in order to politicize the issue. However, it is extremely distressing to note that people take up cue from such instances and act as savages against their fellow beings. Sadly such communal incidents seem to be prevalent in an environment that is devoid of basic necessities that facilitate a decent lifestyle. People entrenched in such places need to devote their focus on subjects such as self-reliance, food, sanitation, health care, education and most of all tolerance.

Yesterday, a prominent newspaper carried a photograph of a radical someone tying a VHP flag onto a Cross above a church. Such an act does little to help the world understand India better but on the contrary represents the fanaticism of a certain community and labels the country and its inhabitants as mercenaries rather than peace loving people. Taking suo moto cognizance of the ongoing violence, the Orissa high court directed the government to desptach armed forces to take control of the situation and defuse it. It is shameful that we have to be herded like cattle and our movements restricted and monitored all as a result of our own actions. In doing what we did in Orissa we have displayed that despite echoing the need for prosperity and peace across the nation, we live on a fragile platform that can miserably fail at the drop of a feather! We also fail to understand that such incidents result in deep wounds that take light years to heal.

It is 2008 and the world is focusing on development, knowledge management, efficient technological and people resources and above all else an environment to foster good living conditions. Maintaining peace and tranquil is not an option, it is a mandate that has to be followed by the people rather than being imposed upon them top-down by a governing authority. We cannot continue to live in the medieval ages and encourage lawlessness and disdain for that would lead us to a path of certain devastation (if there is anything left to be devastated i.e)

As I close this post, I leave you with a disturbing image that portrays the aftermath of the carnage. Take a moment to notice the poverty stricken family and their misery. Is this how we would want the world to see us? Is this our representation of ourselves coming of age as a people and a nation? Will this be the legacy that we would foster our children to inherit?

Image courtesy: The Times of India

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Olympics in India?

The recently concluded Beijing Olympics undoubtedly put China on a world pedestal unlike any we have seen or known before. Journalists across the world called it one of the most spectacular showcasing of sporting events yet. Adding one glory on another, China walked away with a hundred medals. Hu Jintao beamed in all glory and had all the reason to do so. His country has done him and the entire Chinese communist establishment proud.

Only several months ago, vociferous protests echoed across the globe condemning China's atrocities in Tibet. Television channels beamed a series of saddening pictures of monks breaking down. A number of world leaders made "tall-order" speeches calling for China to exercise restraint and also lost no time in bellowing their support to Tibet by promising to stay away from the opening ceremonies. (The American & French two-facedness is well known and needs no special mention). The much awaited touring of the torch was marred by protestors who succeeded in putting out the flame which resulted in the Chinese government taking unprecedented measures and stepping security to torch bearers. India's National Security Advisor, M. K. Narayanan was given the task of overseeing the security of the torch while it 'toured' India. Besides, India's Ambassador to Beijing was summoned at an unearthly hour to listen to China's security concerns. (I'm wondering how much more degrading a task the NSA & the Ambassador needed to be assigned for the Government of India to be China-sucking and beaming it for the sake of appeasing the Red Dragon. It did not matter that an Indian Team comprising Army & Intelligence personnel were chased away by the Chinese Army while conducting a border-patrol)
All China-bashing (mere statements i.e.) stopped in the same steam and urgency as they begun as the days to the countdown inched closer.

While invitations were rolled out, it was not the Indian Head of State whose name appeared as a guest to the opening ceremony, but those of a 'prominent' ItalioIndian family who lost no time in accepting the 'courtesy'. So called 'diplomatic sources' pointed out that this should not be viewed as China having snubbed Dr. Manmohan Singh! (I'm confused! And will not be surprised if one day the North Block would be seen flying the Red Flag with Stars) In truth, China had indeed snubbed the Indian government by not inviting its leader to the games (Double-Whammy!!!)

On the evening of August 8 when I watched the Opening Ceremony at the 'Bird's Nest' via the Internet, I was nothing short of having been stunned by the wonderful display of carefully and superbly choreographed stretch of events that were undoubtedly beyond India's capacity of attempting to display (Facts might hurt indeed) What the ceremony showcased apart from its fabulous accompaniment of fireworks and cultural exhibits, was the superhuman effort and discipline that had gone behind making the event. Which brings me to the centrality of this blogpost............ Can we ever host the Olympics in India? Why is it that in a nation of a billion plus people, quality is a very sparsely available commodity? It is surely not because of the Indian population in its entirety being non-committal to excellence! Or is it? I begin to fear! Are we in truth deteriorating as a people with the passing day? Or is it that the system is so riddled and beyond repair that its revival can well be likened to the process of evolution itself? The Common Wealth youth games, to be held in Pune are less than two months away from start while the local government is yet to complete many an avenue designated for the games! Accommodation and infrastructure woes continue to plague authorities as time speeds by. It is estimated that Seventy countries would participate in the games. An opportunity such as this comes rarely and the Government and civic bodies should do all they can to capitalize on events such as these not merely to host a wonderful event but also promote India as a tourist destination and cultural hotspot that will play a vital role in attracting people world over. The never ending problems of inadequate security, pot-hole ridden roads, poor infrastructure and an indifferent people are so malicious that they grow upon the international community who will lose little time and opportunity to label India as an 'unfriendly' destination. It is time we as a people change and ensure that enough pressure is exerted on the Government and civic authorities to ensure that we provide a world-class reception to people from across the globe. We lack training facilities and world-class equipment to facilitate our athletes to perform better. It is a shame that in a nation of Arjuna and Eklavya, archery takes a back seat. Despite hockey being our national game, we failed to qualify in the games! Is the Indian endurance high for the wrong reason? Are we a satisfied lot in mediocrity shying away from excellence since it involves efforts?

Think......, Imagine........., the Indian flag being raised, the national anthem being played in the background, a curtain raiser to the Olympic games. Is it a dream? Can it not be an Indian dream? Will it remain a mere dream?