Thursday, December 26, 2013

Indian Democracy with A new found positivity

Varun (making a hurried phone call to Rahul): Hey, are you free tomorrow afternoon for a conference call?

Rahul: Conf call about what? Not again about office (with a grimace on the face). I can adjust my calendar if it is not about office and that important as it sounds from your tone.

Varun: It is about a volunteer meet up session by the president of LokManch, the new political party launched in Bangalore one year back.

Rahul: Oh! No, not again …Varun, I have told you n number of times that politics is not my cup of tea and you won’t let me be…That’s not fair.

Varun: You are my best buddy and believe me this is not any more unethical politics with goons or powerful landlords.  Please come and see for yourself. Were you not involved in India against Corruption movements and violence against Women rallies? We made so many things to change and it will be absolutely ridiculous to be indifferent and stay away from all these burning issues around. What do you think, my friend?

Rahul: I don’t have any problem with issue based discussions but ….

Varun: But, What? Now we are all talking about issue based discussion in same line of IAC for Politics. Is that clear or are you still in two minds?

Rahul (with a deep sigh): Ok, baba… I will come…

Varun (with a laugh.): Thanks buddy. There is a Facebook page created for the event… Pls sign up to indicate you are going and invite your friends…Got to go now to get many more Rahuls and Varuns. We are the future and can’t let others drive us to nuts anymore.  See you tomorrow. We will talk in detail….

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Though the above kind of conversations are getting more attention in last few months or years so to say, it is perceived in many countries – not in a state of war or revolution, that democracy is a granted phenomenon and do not have any direct effect on our day to day lives not  evoking much interest from commoners.  This was the situation in India till few years back. Media, the fourth estate of democracy playing a responsible role, has been sensible enough to bring up the details about the sordid state of Indian democracy out of the ditches and people - especially youth, have taken a note of it and retaliated. Some of the burning issues like corruption, public health, women’s safety are at your face and youth has been at the forefront of leading against the perpetrators.

In my view, Indian democracy is at the cusp of a change -a change with a positive momentum to drag it out from the slumber of age old dirty politics as it has been subjugated to from the day of Independence towards a more self-aware institution.  Democracy is on the verge of driving itself rather being driven by a handful of people with vested interest.

There used to be a thought process that politics is a game where only people with muscle and economic power or with a strong family lineage can succeed and this arena is something out of the bounds of common people and mass. Good people are only harassed here as “Power corrupts; Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. With the hegemony of these powerful atrocities all around, the educated and suave lot, with the sheer diffidence of being crushed down physically or mentally, has stayed away, indifferently, from the realm of politics. Now, in the changed scenario of the digital age with distance between countries narrowing down and the result of actions -political , social or whatsoever having a worldwide repercussion, social media technologies have played a pivotal role in tying things together . With the involvement of technology, there is indeed a changed perception in the sense that today’s politics can’t be handled anymore if you are not aware of things around you -be it technologically or socially. This all pervasive awareness is drawing youth more to this melting pot of clean politics with a sense of urgency never seen before. This very thought process has created a positive inertia in society in general and youth in particular to have a say in the thick and things of what is going on. This has drawn a lot of us to take serious interest into it and making voices heard.

Traditional Media channels, playing a pivotal role in this whole transformation, have embraced the new kind on the block -ways of communication through social media channels which are proved to be by far the best channel for anything to be communicated to the section of the society called “youth”.  Barriers of physical distance have fallen apart and an Indian in America is able to voice her or his opinion through social media applications. While there are few significant initiatives taken over social media in the form of websites used for vote appeal and or usage of SMS, there is much scope to auger further interest in politics. Let us think about a situation where a voice, data and video chat session is happening connecting political leaders with the local community leaders of populace to get insight into the local problems and how things can be improved involving the community. Taking a step further, a conference call can be thought about as a serious alternative meeting point to a mass rally for the targeted audience who choose to stay away from them for various reasons.  I am sure that with issue based politics backed by technological advancements –there will be good amount of emotional connect that can be created within the youth. The future might lie in the whole voting process being conducted in a controlled manner by use of technology and people might execute their rights seating at the corner of their homes.

With this positive notion already observed in youth, am sure, that with right kind of messaging, the mental barriers of youth and commoners not taking part of politics will be washed away in the deluge of cleaning up the mess of your own backyard.  The counting of the soldiers in this movement is growing from one to two, two to four, four to eight and numbers are growing each day. We are already on the run and positivity of clean politics has been let loose first time after gaining Independence – the time is “Now” and the action is to “join hands”.




Friday, November 29, 2013

Mangalayan: The search of truth for me

Mangalayan or Mars Orbiter is right in it’s path of trajectory. In another days’ time, it will start its 300 day voyage towards the Red Planet, moving further away from earth. The tiny little thing is to cut loose from the apron strings of Mother Earth and will be setting sail towards a dark void, a nameless emptiness – a territory that is both mysterious and unknown. With life ascribed to both, this will be the usual parting moment between a mother and the child on a journey to a faraway land.

Getting emotional? Huh…. J

PSLV-25, spewing fire through its tail and with deafening sound, injected India’s Mars mission into space on 5th Nov to get toehold in Mars exploration.  Though there have been twenty four such launches in the history of Indian space Odyssey, this is the first time I took interest to be a witness to the event and it triggered a surge of tremendous emotion in my heart and goose bumps all over my body. I felt proud that day, being one of the tax payers, funding this historic project for my country.

At the D-moment of the D-day, the situation unfolded like this. The ISRO chairman turned the special key, auto control took over, countdown started, 57-56-55…..the heart started beating faster as the counts climbed down to a single digit and it was all unfolding on my television screen.  

According to subject matter experts and scientists, it could not get better than this and they were all hailing the first phase of the launch against the given criticality and the innovative way of putting the orbiter under the influence of Mars. 

Some nations and a few other wise men, criticized the 15 month, USD 73 Million project to be an unnecessary one, given the context of India, even one day before the launch day. They were all taking a bow and seeking the hand of co-operation the next day.

While it cannot be ignored that India still remains the land sheltering the largest set of people below poverty line, a frugally built space mission can’t be hijacked with the argument of feeding the entire populace. We, as a country, need to focus on all round development, where, on one hand, the scientific mind continues to query the unknown and on the other, there is a determined effort to improve the living conditions for people from all walks of life. 

I take this opportunity to convey my regards coupled with a deep sense of gratitude and pride, to all the scientists, technicians and employees of ISRO – not to forget their partners and all those souls who contributed to this mission some way or other, for once again helping us as a country, to raise our morals and head. 

Not knowing if the number of Indians praying for the success of the most complex operation (Trans Mars Injection) of this mission is more than who were praying for Tendulkar’s century, I am keeping my fingers crossed for next 36 hours.

--Jayanta Tewari

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Those agonizing moments

Just a few days ago, India woke up to the news of a massive fire disaster, a blazing inferno – a bus on Bangalore-Hyderabad route, in southern part of India, bursting into flames. Though the final number needs to be confirmed, around 40 people including 2 babies have been charred to death. It all occurred when mother earth was getting ready to welcome dawn and the bus was speeding at a high speed 110 kilometers before reaching the destination.

The central locking system of the bus shut itself down and the emergency exits- not the glass ones, could not be broken open. While the fire continue to engulf the bus inside,  inch after inch, foot after foot  propelled by the circulating neon gases through the AC ducts, the luckless passengers, barring a handful seven including the driver could do nothing but kept staring at the inevitable – the death. All their efforts to free themselves went in vain.

What was going through their mind during those horrific moments, dreadful minutes and the terrible hour?

Were all of them awake and conscious to what was approaching them?

They were getting burnt but could do nothing. How were they enduring the pain inflicted by the violent and turbulent flames?

The panic stricken babies were crying on top of their voices. What were the equally frightful mothers doing?

Did the young ones think about their loved ones or the old parents with whom they were planning to spend some time? Probably the mother is still waiting to hear the door knocking having prepared the choicest food the son or daughter liked during the childhood.

Did the old ones feel more helpless not able to get themselves out?

Did the girl by the window think about her would-be husband one last time?

Man and wife - some remained united in death and some others got separated for the life. The husband and the father, in the midst of the plume of black smoke got choked and asphyxiated while a glimpse of the sleeping faces of beloved daughter and wife crossed through if his brain was still alive.

So much of dreams were decimated, so much of possibilities were destroyed and that set of 40 people experienced the traumatic ordeal but not in a position to share.

Did the mother see the baby die before her? Was there a drop of water that trickled down from her eyes to the baby’s neck not being able to do anything to save the baby? How painful was that?

I hear seven lucky people survived from this tragic experience and will someday tell their stories how they returned from near-death situations while the others have lost their chances to the feet of Almighty.

Were they destined? Did they have only that much to live?

We don’t and won’t know the answers from those departed souls.

--Jayanta Tewari


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Going back to School

In my last blog, I took a shot at reminiscing of my school days while watching the Teachers’ Day celebration by the tiny-tots in my daughter’s school.  Yesterday I got another chance to visit one of the renowned schools in the neighborhood and glimpsed into their mind during a half an hour conversation.

It felt good within.

To be associated with young minds of this generation after a gap of 23 years from my twelfth standard passing days is really an enriching experience from my current standpoint.

I have volunteered for Earthian 2013 (, a sustainability initiative sponsored by my current employer, Wipro Technologies, and am mentoring 4 schools from the nearby areas. As I have always looked forward to doing something extra towards contributing to betterment of society, in addition to discharging the professional and personal responsibilities demanded by my daily life, this engagement provided me with a pertinent platform for me to create awareness in the future citizens about Water as a valuable resource for a country like India.

Coming back to my experience of mingling with the teachers and students, I could clearly notice a sense of quest mixed with panic, anxiety and a determination to overcome the challenges. The tentativeness, the awe about interacting with someone from the corporate world and the innocence of the interactions made me face myself during my school days. I could see reflection of mine in their faces and body language. They faulted at the very first step as to how to initiate the activities and were looking for some guidance. Once we started talking, a good number of ways and means came out in due course and situation was coming under control.  The experienced teachers also came out openly and candidly about the lack of knowledge in the subject and how they also need to learn few new things. Yes, they need to do some finding out and work and am sure, in the process, they will be more aware.

To me, education is not about feeding a horde of information rather opening up their analytical mind, thought process that questions and imagination that is out of the system to a boundless extent. As we, elders and seniors, will not be around them all the time they face a challenge in life, we need to make sure that they ask few questions in the face of it and can figure a way out. To me, there lies the real success of seniors and teachers in kindling that light inside them about all the things in life.

I will consider my effort meaningful if an iota of fruition about water related problems get into them.

Thank you, Wipro Sustainability team, for giving me this opportunity.

--Jayanta Tewari

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teacher's Day

In this article, I do not plan to write about what Teachers’ day is or its significance or anything about Dr. Radhakrishnan.  Keeping aside those data and information, I just thought to pen down my own feelings about my teachers and the days of my student life.

Today I was at my daughter’s school to celebrate the occasion with her and her friends.  In her not so long life of nine years, she has observed this day in the last few years but this was the first time I happened to be with her.

While watching the cultural program arranged by the students for their loving teachers I was unknowingly transported to my own childhood not because of anything related to me but for my teachers. Along with the teachers, came up the school in totality on the canvas.  I could very well see all my teachers vividly starting from my first school days of Sarojvasini Sishu Bhavan to my secondary school, Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith Purulia.

While Sarojvasini Sishu Bhavan and Sunil sir, Acharya sir, Jayanta sir, Head sir, Bardi mani  and gatekeeper Nepal da all helped me to sow the seeds of my life, Birbhum Zilla school with Head sir, Sibnath Sir and others helped the sapling to grow. Ultimate realization of student life however came only during my hostel life in Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith, Purulia, about which we all, the supposed “Vivek Dynamites”, are proud of. ( . I still see all of them moving around me as if the events happened just yesterday, frame by frame, not having aged by the time and remaining as lively as ever.  The absolutely majestic buildings, the vast stretches of playgrounds, the ever beautiful rose garden tended by Kalidas da, and the cool shadows of mighty trees protecting us from the Sun, they are part of my inner being, have been ingrained in the soul.  Our school was blessed by the midas touch of many scholars in the field of arts like Sunil Pal, Ramkinkar Baiz, and Ramananda Bandyopadhyay, bearing testimony to the rich cultural and architectural heritage of India. The feel of touch by the bricks of those walls, the wet smell of soil of that land, the magnificence of the temple building – all still flow through my blood whenever I think about my childhood days.  Being in a hostel and completely cut-off from the din and bustle of a city did not make us feel, even for a single moment, that we were being deprived of the pleasant things of life. We used to enjoy them in our own ways, be it watching the same movie (1942) again and again, the sports day celebrations in the company of P. K. Banerjee, or our very own drama performance on the 15th of august or the Janmashtami days.

Bengali lessons and stories from Phani da and Dilip da , Phonetics practices from Sushil da, history lessons from Asit da and Chandi da, all were top of the class by any standard. During story telling sessions, Phani da could keep the whole class silent in a jaw dropping suspense. Lakshmi da and Rakho da made Physics lessons as lucid as they could be whereas Bimal da, Ajay da, and Pankaj da effortlessly made Life science almost a part of daily life. During Panchanan da’s and Ashok da’s geography classes, we used to travel to many countries of the world through the pages of the ATLAS. There were so many great teachers in Mathematics, English, Physical Education, Work Education, Music, Drawing, Gardening and others that I am bound to miss at least some of them.

While recollecting my childhood I will now allow myself to look back my life as a student. After class VI, academically I came down a few rungs below the top but my tenure in RKMV Purulia from class VI to class X is the best part of my life. This is not because I enjoyed everything in the school but because of the overall atmosphere that used to prevail out there.  Though I was not the most popular jock in the class, the gentle breeze along the campus, the fatherly affection oozing out of the teaching and the non-teaching staff, and the overall guidance and care from the Maharajas, brought a new lease of life in me since class VI. Class politics, as they call it, was very much there in the school and I indeed was at the receiving end a few times. As there are quite a few such unpleasant memories, I won’t say that I was perfectly happy all the time, but I was fortunate to acquire a place of my own in the class in many ways. The entire experience gave me some very useful and robust perspectives of life, some of which I still cherish even after so many days from student life.

Standing today, when I look back, I do feel that a few things could have been done differently. But I am not ready to exchange anything of that life with anything else either. I can go on writing about RKMV for  a few more pages but would like to conclude now after a brief discussion of Swapan da. He was such a respected teacher by one and all that each and every boarder used to think that probably he was the best student of the class and got his maximum attention. Trying to inculcate a strong character in everyone in the model of Vivekanada, Swapan da gave all his life for Vidyapith and his students. His latest book, “Esocho Jyotirmoy” was his pronam towards Swamiji on his 150th Birth Anniversary. He has influenced and touched many a life in many ways and I salute him for his rock solid support to all of us sacrificing everything in his own life.

Long live Swapan da and all the other teachers who are still around.

--Jayanta Tewari

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Durga Pujo -A Festival of India : The journey

DurgaPuja – The Journey

This is not about Devi Durga’s journey from Kailash (Near Mt. Everest) to earth  but that of few of the women and men - who take pains year after year of adding one more pressing demand in their already over-sandwiched life for last five years.  This journey, for some quite unnecessary and for few rather fulfilling, is bit strenuous and adventurous at times without the physical heroics. For Some others, though they aspire to get involved but succumb to the burden on daily life.
They start rolling their sleeves at the start of August.

It can be well concluded that this whole saga is running an enterprise barring the enforcement hierarchy. In the social context, this poses challenges proven to be extremely  difficult to handle. By no means, this is a small feat to stitch things together end to end without hurting sentiments and ego of your fellow journeymen and women in the process. Besotted by the love and passion of doing something different, the immensely intensified two-three months pose a new set of challenges to their lives - balancing professional and personal front to the extent whatever is left and adding this third dimension – they graduate to be multifaceted in their own circles.

Ultimately one day, over tea and snacks, the journey starts with a planned and re-planned kick-off meeting to break the inertia. During the course , life presents itself with varied experiences in different forms,  on one side be it group politics, polarization, heated arguments, overpowering opinions and on the other hand appreciation for sealing a good deal or collecting few hundreds of bucks for subscriptions or completing a task. People play, yes, People do play in various way and means- some to get the work done, some to do the work. At times, it looks hilarious if seen from a distance and dispassionately but we, human beings, live with all these, amidst all these and end up being a part of it. This is the very psyche of human relationship and there is nothing wrong about it.
The dynamic chaos propel the momentum day by day.
While on my association on this journey over the years, life has thrown a plethora of surprises - pleasant and unpleasant, for my social landscape through a myriad of interactions, reactions and happenings which were hitherto unknown to me. Foolishly I used to think that logic and truth are universal and absolute and failed to notice their very relevance to the contexts or perspectives. My this very understanding that all disagreements and disputes are solvable through dialogues across the table, got a new dimension that made me wiser.  Being tolerant to other opinions -how absurd or intelligent they may be to you but not to the person making the opinion, being heard and listening to the debate, going with the flow at times, adjustments to situations, remaining dispassionate about issues close to your heart,  keeping your personal thoughts bereft of ego and above all not being judgmental are a few significant practical lessons for me being there all through. All these experiences with fellow human beings – how venerable and/or young blood ,have shown me different shades of human character and behavioral aspects , otherwise un-being  and unbelievable of them . That’s a gain and I am stronger mentally. I have matured.

Though these are nothing new in the game called “life”. Encountering them first hand ,in the context of social life, in addition to family and corporate personas , has enriched me to the extent beyond any limits.
This account can go on and on but without prolonging this any further, I would like to bring up my particular personal association with our beloved Sarojda, much senior to me by age but much more spirited, motivated and energetic - a true soldier, guarding every bit of our association as a towering father figure.  Though I fail to keep up with his big strides in this journey, I do cherish the lovely bonding that has developed over chanda collection from door to door, making innumerable calls, sending SMSs, driving miles after miles, taking a sip of tea with Jelabi or Samosa in the gulleys of HSR or Koramangla. I feel this bonding has tested the time through thick and thin, highs and low and has not been broken even pushed into situations with dire consequences. There have been as small as 5 minutes catch up ramblings at the end of the day almost every day to go over the progress of the day and plan for next day. This year, he recovered from a somewhat serious nephrology operation few months back and I had a faint of doubt  that probably his feet will walk slower than ever and not run as usual but he proved me wrong day after day in all the activities. Defying all the odds, the relationship is a lasting one and is of a brotherly nature – respected by our close friends and associates.

At the end of it all, once Durgapujo is gone, they get onto something else. 
Did I say it is someway fulfilling? 

Unconsciously, probably yes.

--Jayanta Tewari