Forgotten how to write a letter ? Guest column from Neelesh Misra

“Quick! Help me! I have forgotten to write a letter!”
My wife, who generally does not think much of my slow moving brain until she needs its help, shook me this weekend as she broke a long silence as we watched the TV together.
“Huh?” I said.
“Do you write the date on the left or the right?” she said.
I took several seconds to soak in the deep meaning of what she had just said. I turned around slowly. There she was, cross-legged on the bed under the Rajasthani quilt, a pink letter pad on her knees and a pen in her hands.
I realised that this was some sort of an event which was in the works for half a day. When we had gone out in the evening to New Delhi’s suburb of Noida, she had avoided walking into her favourite stores dragging behind her reluctant husband (as she is prone to), and instead looked for a stationery shop. Stationery? When was the last time we bought stationery or went into a stationery shop? We have so long ago catapulted from stationery to Blackberry. But she wanted to buy stationery. She said she wanted to write a letter. My wife is a television reporter and one of India’s more prominent news anchors. She had received a handwritten letter of appreciation from an 80-year-old gentleman and she wanted to reply with a letter.
As she spent the next thirty minutes trying to write out her six lines, my mind leaped into a beautiful Bermuda Triangle of memory. When was it that I wrote my last handwritten letter? I rummaged through it and found a lot of stuff in the letterbox of my past
Ever since I was in school, letters were everything….

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Slow poisoning of India

When death comes slowly, it does not create sensational news. We need to be vigilant on many fronts, especially on the environment, where corporations knowingly destroy communities and our land for short term profit. This is a difficult video to watch, but it is worth the effort

Is War with Pakistan an option ?

It is time for the Indian government to take action. India cannot be seen as being led by indecisive leaders who’s thoughts are more on the coming elections rather than grappling with national security. We are sitting on the borders of a country who’s government is loosing control. Over its own armed forces, over the fundamentalist forces. Pakistan is in danger of being completely Talibanized. It was a process that started when the US government armed and trained the Taliban through the Pakistan Army and ISI to fight the Russians. Afghanistan was turned into a battle zone of the major powers and Pakistan too allowed itself to get caught into the game, hoping to gain a few brownie points and much aid for its armed forces. Well, the game has backfired and Pakistan itself is in danger of being turned into battle zone.
So what should the Indian government do ? Whatever it has to do, it must do swiftly, for time is not on our side. We cannot continue to be seen as a soft target, and our people cannot continue to sit back and await the next terror attack while the government looks at the options in light of the coming elections. If India needed to do surgical strikes, they should have happened already, sending a clear message to the fundamentalist forces that targeting India is not an option. It is now too late to do that.
More than that, no terrorist attack is possible without ground support within our own country. I am afraid this is where it gets really murky as money, vote getting etc gets in the way of a clear cut policy. I am amazed that Dawood Ibrahim walks freely after being implicated in the Bombay Blasts years ago, and even travels to Dubai for his birthday. I am convinced now that Dawood knows too much for some politicians in India to allow him to be repatriated and put in trial in India. Our politics is so corrupt.
But is War with Pakistan an option ? Consider this :
a. Who are we declaring war against ? The people of Pakistan, or the government of Pakistan, or the fundamentalist forces ? A general war is exactly what the Taliban wants. It desires a Pakistan weakened further by war, so it can take control. It can then rip up more rhetoric and recruit many many more terrorists to its cause
b. What are the ‘goal posts’ of the War ? How do you declare a war as won. What do we want by going to war ? I think the government of India must make a list of the leaders of the Lakshar -e Tayiba – and others like Dawood, to be handed over for trial in India for crimes against the indian people. But the Indian government has not made any such clear demand. It has not taken any affirmative action yet
c. A war like this must be won within a period of 3/4 days. Beyond that collatoral damage in the cost of civilian deaths on both sides is too high. Bombing of each other cities and even a nuclear conflict is a real threat in any war that becomes long and protracted.
So what are the options now ?
a. First the Indian government must make a list of people and operatives it believes to have organized the terror attacks on India, and ask Pakistan to hand them over.
b. We must put international pressure on Pakistan through countries like the US and China to hand these people over.
c. Ask the UN to step in and ensure that the terror camps are dismantled with in Pakistan. After all the UN has been sitting for 50 years on the borders of the two Kashmirs. Time for them to get more active.
If nothing works then Military action may be the only alternative. First we should try and put together an international force, and if that does not work, then India should go it alone. But Military action must be the last resort. I believe though that the Pakistan Government too would be thankful to be rid of the fundamentalist forces that are destroying the fabric of their own nation. It is just that they are unable to publicly state that view for the fear of the reprisals from fundamentalist forces within their armed forces.
It is difficult to judge who is in control right now in Pakistan,

China, Hinduism, Pakistan etc

Rudra wrote : I am surprised at your ostritch like worldview vis-a-vis China. If your three days in upper crust Beijing can whitewash China’s un-pardonable misdeamanors in your Head…
Dear Rudra, i beg to differ. This is my second trip to China and I find Chinese people on the streets far more aware and warm towards India than people in India towards them. We, I am afraid are victims of media and our own insecurities. The Chinese respect us more because Buddhism came from India. I am talking about students, artists, taxi drivers, intellectuals, film directors, actors, people who work in hotels, and even people in government. There is a new found respect for their own ancient culture in China too.
I am not of the same opinion as Brahmshastra either. I believe there is a misled arrogance in his views on Hinduism and what he calls a misplaced secularity . Our ancient culture was based on consciousness and humility. On nurturing. In searching and on yearning. Hinduism is a philosophy that does not deny other thoughts. Hinduism is based on the ultimate search for reality, beyond the five senses, the search for universal consciousness. And anyone that says that he or she ‘knows’ Hinduism without that search in humility is converting Hinduism into a dogma, a religion, a system, which it is never supposed to be. It accepts the power of ritual, but never accepts that ritual as anything but the search for the truth.
And he is wrong about everyone else being misguided and assuming that the rest of us have closed our minds to the past glory of the Indian culture. An addiction to past glory is also a form of defensive arrogance. ….

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New directions in China : time for the Dragon and the Elephant to dance together ?

I have been in Beijing for the last 3 days, attending and speaking at a conference on the creative industries. Now I will take a day off to go to spend the day at the Beijing Film Academy and the Institute of Fine arts. I really enjoy being in Beijing, and its not just the food ! Its the architecture, its the warmth of their people and the sheer pleasure of interacting with a culture that is as ancient and as mythical as our own.
On the point of culture, China has now decided the next area of economic growth is in the fields of culture and the creative industries. And as China is prone to do, it stops at nothing to implement its plans and all over China new townships are sprouting up dedicated to the development of art, design, animation, film, literature and publishing and encompassing all of what the new media has to offer such as video gaming etc. The thrust is now to extend this idea of creativity into pushing for originality to be created and owned internally in all fields, rather than become the worlds largest outsourcing economy and the supplier of manufacturing goods to the rest fo the world based on patents or technologies bought from the western nations. Thsi is exciting and exactly the vision I have for India. There is a wealth of imagination and creativity that is sitting in both nations waiting to explode and express itself.
I have said this often – that culture defines the way we live, what we consume, how we consume it, and how we interact with the rest of the world and do business. Culture defines and underpins economic growth and any economic growth that does not take into account the culture and mythology of the people will ultimately cause huge contradictions and friction in that society.
I think the collapse of the world financial systems have been a great lesson to all of us on how a culture we all so readily accepted has come collapsing down. It is time for us to understand that we need to flow with our own paths and not so blindly accept Western ways, nor allow ourselves to be judged by Western points of view or goal posts of development. For example – what does gross domestic product really mean ? Does that mean that Tansen singing in Akbar’s court was an unproductive activity if there was no means of actually measuring its value in monetary terms ? We must now redefine how we describe the rise in wealth of our people, their happiness in terms of our culture.
It is also time for the two great cultures to come together now……

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Looking for me

If you want to look for me
i am there,
in the rising sun of the dawn,
look for me in the ray of light
that enters your room
and there you will find me
in a speck of dust,
floating amongst billion others
noticed only when the sunlight reflects off it
but look further
into that speck of dust
for within it exists
the same universe
that you see around yourself
and within that whole universe
you will find yourself
looking for me
in another speck of dust
within which
I may exist
in yet another universe
within another
speck of dust
and connecting all these universes
is my love for you

Dont we all need a good laugh

I just rolled over laughing when I saw this. Do watch, for this gentleman just got his 15 minutes of fame

We must be responsible bloggers

We are exploring very sensitive issues on our blog and I do not put any form of editorial control except for obscenity, or very personal and direct insulting behavior towards another member of our community. However we live in very sensitive times and I do not see why this blog should become the same mind set of the politicians media or extreme fundamentalists that we are against. This is a blog for intelligent discussion and exploration where all points of view are welcome and encouraged. We can be as passionate as we want about what we feel, as long as we respect the passion and arguments of other bloggers. But we must refrain from insulting each directly. I thank all of you for being so respectful of this new medium of discourse – but we must remember that the future of blogging, if it is to be a tool of social change, then we, the initiators bear the responsibility to nurture and shephard this new movement,

Not for the faint- hearted

if you are strong, and able to look, check out these pictures of the terrorists attacks from Suchitra’s blog:

We the people also need to do some soul searching

Now that all of India is soul searching, and blaming politicians for where we are at. Not just on terrorism, but almost everything else, is it not time to look into our own hearts and see whether we ourselves have become self serving selfish people ? So it is good to listen to P Sidhu’s point of view – who had a great romantic view of his ‘mother country’ which was shattered on his first visit. I do not share his views completely, but there is truth in what he says. I think we are changing :
“First of all I am a Canadian born Indian who has spent alot of time in India. Before I ever went to India my opininion of Indian people was based on my interactions with Indians living in Canada, both Canadian born and Indian born. What I had come to realize about our people is that they will do just about anthing to make a buck regardless of the morality behind their actions as long as they can get away with it. Before I had ever gone to India my beliefs about the country were based soley on the 1960`s to 1980`s bollywood movies that I grew up with, not to mention my parents stories about the India that they grew up in. So I always assumed that Indians from India were honourable and moral people. My first trip to India shattered this illusion quickly. A country were it almost impossible to get Government service without paying some sort of bribe. The people have a massive inferiority complex to the white race and have forgotten who they are. The vast majority want to be western and are throwing away their culture. Getting to the point, the country has always been divided and the caste system doesn`t help. Indians believe that some are better than others and so naturally assume that it is right for some to have so much while others have nothing. The country was sold long ago. It is overpopulated and may of its poor will simply die out as food is running out due to depletion of the ocean life and water shortages in the near future. Some of the money will trickle down, but not much. The poor will simply die out. Sad, but true. The rich and middle class will survive along with a smaller poor population that will function to serve the middle class and elite.”