Goodbye, my love

as she left her womb,
thrust out by a violent birth
i knew that she and I
were destined for the most
intimate of all relationships
time stood still
as I watched her
inexorably sail towards me
so she and I would join
in one final embrace
to complete an event
born in eternity
for since the first explosions
that formed the universe
and the first metals had been created
she and I had been preparing for this one event
how may forms must she have taken
how many hands must have shaped her
and how many eons must have formed her
and how many men must have used her
before she left for this final journey
between me and her
as I looked around and saw
the head of my friend’s daughter
explode, the blood sailing outwards
and the drops, finding their own individuality
falling on the table cloth, astonishingly
in the most even geometric pattern
and yet as I looked up
she was still travelling towards me
I said my silent goodbyes
to loved ones that could never be part
of the intimacy with which
the bullet and I would meet
in one final embrace
I looked at the eyes
of the young man
that held the rifle
that had exploded her out
to her final journey
do you know me, young man?
as you avert your eyes
so casually looking for your next target
did you think of me ?
of who I might be
of my loved ones
or yours ?
do you not think
that in the sheer carelessness
of this one event
that you and I now know each other ?
that we will be tethered together
forever too ?
your life as altered
as has mine
as has
all those I love
and who love me
I want you to remember me young man
I would hate to be someone random
that you had no interest in
but the need to squeeze the trigger
occupied as you were
with thoughts of greater glory
of martyrdom
in your own inevitable death
yet you were the mere instrument
one small cog
almost insignificant
in the bullet’s journey towards me
as we finally meet
the anticipation of pain
never coming
as the embrace of death
flowed through my body
goodbye my love
if only I had known
this would be the last time
I would see you
I would have touched your cheeks
looked into your eyes
softy caressed your hand
looked back and smiled
and tried to make time stay still
just for a little while
but little did I know
that the bullet and I
were destined to finally meet tonight
after waiting for an eon

Is India ready for change ?

Change in India is not going to happen by the resignation of the Home Minister. Nor by high profile dialogues in high profile news channels by high profile people. One of the reasons that India has not been able to change is it is still a feudal society where hundreds of millions of its citizens barely survive in degrading inhuman conditions. With no right to justice, education or dignity. Our greater crime is not just that this state of the nation exists, it is that we, the more fortunate ones accept it so easily. Yes we pay lip service, but do we really care ?
Change in India is not going to come from elections either. 60 years of freedom has proven that to us clearly. The political system has been subverted to serve only those that manage to push their way into the so called ‘elitist club’. Through any means.
Change comes from HOPE. And the majority of the people of India live without hope. It is a true indictment of our political system that we have not been able to give the people of India hope. We need a leader that can give us hope.
We need another Mahatma Gandhi. And if there is a movement we need in India – it should be a movement to look for that leader. One that has no affiliations to a party. One that is outside the completely corrupted political system, but one that the people of this nation, the rich, the poor, the downtrodden, the elite, the young, the old, will completely follow, trust and respect. Hindu’s and Muslims, Sikhs and Christian – all of them,
is there such a man or a woman that can lead us to our ‘true tryst with destiny’ ?

Did Mumbai escape the worst ? Are there terrorists still walking around Mumbai ?

As I had written earlier, all indications are that despite the high cost in innocent lives and terror, this was a failed attempt on Mumbai. Precisely as it had been planned, something went wrong with the terrorists planning. They had planned to kill 5000 people and blow both the Taj Hotel and the Oberoi, making this truly India’s 9/11. While nothing can be quite clear and one captives testimony cannot reveal the whole truth, thiis does show how vulnerable we really our. Terrorists can hit us at will, land anywhere n our coast, carry explosives anywhere they want and hit us with impunity. Nothing and nowhere seems safe anymore. Especially there is no indication that other terrorists are not holed out in the streets of Mumbai.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that the government will punish the perpetrators of this crime ruthlessly carries no weight. Those of us that saw his address to the nation were taken aback for his lack of conviction and determination. He seemingly was being told what to say and looked like a man scared of the events that had overtaken his government. For the first time I actually believed that Mr Manmohan Singh is a great economist and completely non corrupt, but is an ineffective leader, or is not allowed to lead.
This an appeal for a strong leader in India. The US has found Obama, will India find a leader that is strong and determined ? One that is compassionate yet ruthless when needs to be ? One that has the love and the respect of the people ? Someone that can lead us to greatness ? Out of corrupton, out of dirty messy impossible politics, out of casteism, out of communalism, out of elitism out of ignorance and into the country that the people of India deserve, aspire to and are capapble of but for the political non leadership they have been subjected to – a leadership that has kept a whole generation downtrodden under the illusion that we were a poor country with insurmountable problems. What a lie ! We are a great people kept downtrodden by a corrupt political system and by a false democracy.

Mumbai in mourning : express YOUR opnion

Posted by Maddy on November 29, 2008
I write this with tearful eyes as I watch the nation salutes its martyrs. The operation in Mumbai has come to an end after sixty hours. I have spent all these hours, like billion others in this planet, following what the enemy would call their most spectacular attack on Indian soil.
I am seething with anger and I am not alone. I have little connection with Mumbai , but does that not mean that I am any less angry.
I believe that we are a great nation with very competent people, but the defining hours from last two days have changed my views. How can so many competent people allow themselves to be ruled by a state which is so callous?
I have lived through this hell since my adulthood, first as a young sikh man who was a soft target for both the police and the militants during days of terrorism in Punjab.
I remember getting out of my house everyday and wondering if I would ever return back to its safety. The militants would drive and spray bullets on all and sundry on streets. Every loud noise would seem like an end. As a young Sikh, one would not know who would get you first, the police or the militants.
Twenty five years later, the grit and intellect of the people of India has transformed India economically. But, the same people have allowed its leaders to continue playing havoc with their lives.
The people of India have chosen to be swayed by leaders, who havenít been able to provide the very basic that the civil society needs. Security, water, roads, energy and health and education. I have always been proud of Indian Defence forces. But our political leadership with its skewed thinking and narrow vote-based agenda., has reduced even that to tatters…..

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We, the People of India

Its time to stand up. Its time not for exasperation, but for action. Its time for Indians to stand up and not allow the Politicians and the politics of this country to hold the people of India to ransom any more. Just as our nation stood on the brink of being one of the world leading economic powerhouse, the ineptness, the self serving interests and the corruption of our politics have once again brought us down. This country belongs not to the politicians but to the people of India.
It is a pity that it took a massive terror attack for te people to take action. It is a pity that innocent lives must be lost for the people of India to rise against the barbarians that rule us. It is also a great pity that it takes an attack on our our elitist bastions for us to to be motivated to take stands. For all the farmers that committed suicide, for all the bomb blasts in not so upmarket areas, for all the horrendous crimes perpetuated against the people in the rural areas have never created so much furor as this attack in Mumbai has.
Never mind. It is better late than never. It is time to take matter in our own hands. It is time to make amends for our own casual and selfish attitudes. It is time to make the voice of the people heard so loud that that our governments and politicians, those people in authority who seem to think they are the feudal lords and rulers are frightened into action.
It is time that we the people of India recognize that that the government is not our ruler, but our servant. They are elected by us, and paid by us to serve us. They have taken an oath to protect the very Constitution that they desecrate with impunity through all their actions.
And now technology has given the people of India a powerful voice. A voice that cannot be controlled by newspapers or by the media – for they too operate for the profit of their shareholders. It is the voice of the new media. Through the blogosphere. Through twitter. Through sms. Technology has given the people of India the means to take their destiny in their own hands, by making their voices heard loud and clear. By making our Democracy a true Democracy. Not a corrupt one that manipulated people’s minds through deliberate misinformation and ignorance.
If we the people of India want to see a Golden Age of India – we need to take it’s future in our own hands.

Mumbai terror attacks – this gets more confusing

Sitting in NY in my hotel room, trying to work out what is actually going on ! I woke up to search the internet and understood that it was all over. Now I am watching CNN and watching images of the battle still going on ! And now I am getting texts of people I or my friends knew that died in the attacks. How come such a small group continue to hold the Indian armed forces and Mumbai’s security and police force off ? And what are all the people doing hanging around watching the goings ? There is something completely tragic and surreal about what I am watching.

What was the purpose of the Mumbai terror attacks ?

As Mumbai mourns and limps back to semblance of normalcy, the inevitable questions arise. Who was behind this attack, who were the terrorists and why was our intelligence such a failiure and will our government continue to be so pathetically inept at leadership. But one question that will keep lingering is, what did the terrorists want ? What was the true purpose of their attack ?
Yes, to create chaos and fear at the heart of India’s financial capital. Yes, to make a statement of how easy it is create mayhem. But there seemed no pattern to their behaviour, other than random killings. At one time the media kept talking about them taking hostages – especially Westerners – but you do not take hostages without either using them to escape or make demands. These terrorists did not even think of escaping, reconciled as they were to their own deaths. Nor did they make any demands. While we thank God that they did not – if just random killing was their only motive, then they could have killed many more people than they did. With grenades and automatic weapons in a railway station – or with the taking over of two major hotels, the death toll could have been far far greater. Imagine if they had just randomly killed all the hostages instead of herding them together ?
Was there an objective that failed ? For all the carnage and death they caused, was this a failed attack where the primary objective was not achieved ? Or ( I would like t believe that ) were these attackers young men – almost boys – that could not carry out the initial objectives. Is it possible that once you are faced with people who’s eyes you can look into – who can talk to you – they cease to become perceived enemies, but human beings. Is it possible then that even a trained terrorist, would begin to doubt his fiery passions as he looks around and recognizes the sheer inhumanity of what he has done or is about to do ?
We may never know the answers, but it is important to search for them. Terrorism has to be stopped not only by by tight and ruthless security, but also by understanding the mind of the terrorist. For all the rhetoric of some of the terrorists being from Pakistan, all accounts seem to lead to the conclusion that a large number of the group were from India. We must at all cost try and stop our own people believing that the only way for them to make their statement is to kill their own people so indiscriminately. We as a nation have failed if we alienate our own people so much.

Who were the terrorists that sruck Mumbai ?

So who who were these people ? who are these people that we so easily brand as fanatics and terrorists, or muslim extremists ? It is so easy to hide behind ‘isms’ and tribalism. I saw only one picture of a young man that looked barely 19 years old. He looked like a boy who I would expect to see in college in Mumbai. I put myself in his shoes – and at 19 I was barely discovering the meanings of my life and was spending most of my time coming to terms with myself. What motivated this young man to come out with an AK 47 and a few hand grenades and kill innocent people indiscriminately ? Its easy to write someone off as a muslim extremists and fundamentalist. That is usually a mind that is looking for simplicity and easy answers. Unfortunately that is exactly the mind itself falls prey to fundamentalism, of any kind.
The search for simplicity and the inability to look at life in it’s complexity is often mistaken for the search for purity. It is not. Purity is far more deep and far more complex than simplicity and can only be arrived at through compassion. I am not saying we should be soft on terrorism. I am trying to fathom it.
The world is in turmoil. We cant just write of everything as fundamentalism. We need to understand why it happens, and strike at the root cause. The root cause cannot be Islam itself. It is the deviant expression of a religion that leads to such acts of barbarity. Such barbarity was prevalent even in Christianity n the dark ages – just look at the horrendous stories of the crusades and the Spanish inquisition. It has occurred often in Hinduism too.
What goes on in the mind of a 19 year old when he decides to kill innocent people indiscriminately ? Knowing that he will probably die doing this himself ?

Mumbai in mourning

Yet again. And as the day dawns in Mumbai the city will wake to count its dead and injured, and inevitably, as it always does, the count will rise painfully. And yet again the government of India and its members, whether on the national or state level, will make the right noises. And yet again the government will soon forget and go back to blaming each other and make political capital out of the tragedy of the ordinary citizens of India. And then back to electioneering it is. Back to political machinations and negotiating it is, with only the next elections and political power in mind.
Or maybe not this time. For this time the very bastions of the elite were attacked. The Taj and the Oberoi Hotels. Where some of the rich and powerful were caught in the cross fire. Even a delegation from the EU parliament. Maybe this time the political bosses of India will accept that a cancer of communal disharmony and terrorism is destroying the fabric of our society and we stand at the brink of the end of a society and civilization that the fathers of our Constitution dreamed of. Destroyed by the politics and politicians of our nation.
But all that does not help those who’s loved ones were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those that have lost their lives or injured. Those that were just ordinary citizens going about their daily lives expecting that the least the elected government would do is protect their lives. The war is not at our borders any more. It here at home against the forces that are trying to destroy our society from the inside.
Why are we spending all our resources fighting for an inhabitable piece of moving ice called the Siachin Glacier when our major cities are under threat ?
Yes, the people of Mumbai will once again show courage. As they have done before through floods and bombs and terrorist attacks. I just hope that the Hindu fundamentalist forces do not come out in the streets, provoked as they usually are by political powers. That is exactly what the terrorists want – a disruption of our society and fighting, killing and carnage on our streets. We need to mourn and we need to be compassionate – and when the period of mourning is over, we need to re evaluate what is happening to our society.

Paani- Coca Cola and Water tables in Rajasthan

I often wonder why the Indian press does not take up this issue – nor does the Indian government. The huge calamity looming over India right now, that will potentially make economic growth grind to a halt is not the US subprime crisis, but the shortage of ground water that is gradually eating away at agriculture. This is not about a bad monsoon or drought. It is about accelarating erosion of ground water levels in India. 60 % of Indian agriculture depends upon ground water. I remember as a kid in Delhi playing in the small vegetable patch kept by my grandfather in Nizamuddin. There was a hand pump that would bring water up at the first stroke – and then in a few years the hand pump went completely dry. As did the vegetable garden.
As part of the sustaining an ‘agriculture revotion’ in India, the ‘tube well’ as it came to be known was encouraged and promoted as the mantra for the agricultural revolution. It was successful at that time – but we are now getting to grips with the ecological consequences of that ground water becoming more and more scarce. It needs to be managed, and better ways must be found to replenish it through management techniques like water harvesting. With our glaciers retreating and rivers becoming more unreliable, its our only hope.
However it does not help that companies like Coca Cola are allowed to freely suck up ground water in areas that are already water stressed. First in Kerala – where the Coca Cola factory sucked up so much of the ground water that paddy fields in surrounding areas went dry ruining the farmers, and now the same in Rajasthan. It is not an equitable competition for a scarce resource between the farmers and Coca Cola, who has the capital to build deeper and more powerful bore wells. And get electricity (through the government as they are classed industrial or by their own generators) 24 hours a day – while the farmers are only able to operate their bore wells based on a very interrupted and non reliable power supply. Lets not blame Coca Cola – they are a multinational committed to a return on shareholders value. Lets blame ourselves and our government policies. Here is a link to PBS interview with farmers and Coca Cola – click on the streaming video link within the site.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/july-dec08/waterwars_11-17.html
Actually if we put an ‘environmental’ cost to a can of coke, or branded bottled water – both should cost at least 4 times what they are available at now. So we consumers also carry a large part of the blame for what has become an effective privatization of water resources in India. We consume carelessly….

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