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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ragini Chakravarty Gets Business Express Kala-Shree Puraskar For Music!

Reputed classical vocalist from Assam, Ragini Chakravarty has been conferred with the Maharashtra state level Kala-Shree Puraskar in a dignified ceremony held on Thursday, the 21st of August, 2014 in Sangli, Western Maharashtra. Shree Foundation Trust maintained by the Business Express group of Marathi newspapers and periodicals has been giving these annual awards for the last 19 years in different fields of Arts, Academic, Cooperative sector, Business, Administration—Society and Social activism. Ragini Chakravarty was chosen for the award in the Arts (Kala) category for her contribution to music and for her efforts to promote music in Assam and Maharashtra. The award was formally presented to Ragini by the Chief Guest of the ceremony, Dr. Ved Prakash Mishra, Chairman of Medical Council of India. The ceremony was presided over by eminent economist Dr. J F Patil. Seva Shree Awards were also presented to officials/officers/activists from various fields of activity for distinguished service and work. 
Talking to media persons Ragini thanked the organizers for selecting her for this great honor and for the exemplary hospitality offered to her. She said that being from the far north eastern region performing and working for music based in Mumbai the Award was of great significance and it had given her tremendous inspiration to surge ahead in the pursuit of music. Thanking all music lovers of Maharashtra Ragini said that this wonderful state has always been very appreciative of classical music and that she had got tremendous response in all her concerts across Maharashtra. 

Earlier, Ragini  Chakravarty regaled a packed auditorium with her light classical compositions and Bhajans.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Humor: The Big Bellied Bully!

All bullies do not have big bellies, but some big bellied ones are bullies. Such entities do not believe in the finer connotations of the phrase ‘throwing your weight around’; they literally ‘throw’ their weight around to their bullish benefits. You are likely to confront them anywhere, in every possible activity of life. In the school days you must remember some fat boys you have made fun of (not at all good behavior from you, of course), but there were indeed some others who intimidated you, threatened you and bullied you. In public transport you often curse if big bellied ones are around, even if they are not bullies. If they are you are in imminent danger of being dislocated.

That day the queue at the famous temple was unending and almost unruly. Maybe it was one of the innumerable auspicious days. In India you are often compelled by social or religious or family bondage to visit particular temples on particular days and there you see millions of such ‘pious’ people who stop at nothing to have a glimpse of their sought-after gods. If you come between them and their gods you stand the risk of being pushed out of the way, most…what should we say…non-religiously or religiously! 

We were inching ahead with minutes and hours going by unnoticed, so ‘religiously’ possessed we all were. When progress got hopelessly stranded, devotees cheered with loud intonations in praise of the Lord. In such moments a new spirit invaded the hordes often leading to jostling for no reason. Something pushed me at one such moment. I looked back in anger trying to catch the culprit behind me red-handed.  However, I managed to see only a huge belly. Crisscrossing over that anatomical delight I confronted one immensely disinterested and expressionless face. As if the owner of the belly was hardly aware of what his ‘partner’ was doing. That was the unmistakable sign of a bully, I decided. And I braced myself up for a rough journey ahead.

The big thing kept on pushing me every time there was some movement. I did try to give him stares, but he never noticed or pretended not to notice. He allowed his partner to do all the action for him. I also did try to create some distance by taking one extra step every time almost breathing over the neck of the one in front of me, but every time the thing made up for that extra space too.  I prayed to the deity of that temple to take that blockage out of my back. However, God too took no notice! Maybe the spectacle was entertaining for the divinity too.

At the final leg as we neared the altar the security personnel took over and added to the agony by trying to hurry up things. I vented all my anger accumulated out of the big belly on the security guard hissing out to him, ‘Don’t dare touch me! I can take care of myself, you idiot!’

With the divinity in full view now there was the usual commotion arising out of last minute desperation, and the big belly gave me a real big push. I faltered on my steps and almost stumbled over the altar. To my ‘divine’ surprise I found myself at the feet of the deity, and took full advantage of this unexpected bonus from the big bellied bully. Finally I could pray from the innermost depth of my heart. I then readily jumped to that typical Indian escapist philosophy—everything done at any point of time is for the ultimate good!  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Relationships: Misplaced Priorities…A,B,C, Drivers…Maids And…!

The family, particularly the Indian family, is supposedly the most closely-bound unit in terms of blood relations, in terms of proximity and in terms of unconditional love. In the joint family system, slowly dying even in India, there are tensions concerning the kitchen or concerning wives, husbands, brothers, in-laws and cousins. However, in all cases some people like drivers or domestic helps get into the thick of things. They understand the family moods, they know the underlying conflicts if any, have access to all the secrets and they are always conditioned to swim as per the waters. They are immensely capable of bringing a mere disagreement in the family into a shattering climax and can be a party to damaging relationships, sometimes irreparably. The members of the family in their effort to manage such ‘members’ often succumb to these third-party plays and the misplaced priorities catapult the happy family into an apparently insoluble crisis.  We will take examples describing the major players in a family by the alphabet and making them totally gender neutral to avoid any possible bias to any.

A and B are extremely close in terms of blood relation and friendship. One helps the other on every occasion possible like arranging cars, accommodation, get-togethers and so on. Now C is inseparable with B and by that bond is naturally close to A too. However, the level of priority for A is different as far as C is concerned. As it happened once C visited A’s place alone. A had to provide some facilities due to its closeness to B. C was provided with a car for some of its work assignments. As it happened again, one day C got very disturbed by the way the driver of the car behaved with it. C informed B first and then complained to A. Now A was furious thinking, ‘I gave a car to you, and instead of expressing gratitude you dare complain!’ B understood the case immediately. The driver behaved rather too politely, almost going out of the way, with B once after A provided the car. The intelligent driver understood that if it created problems with B the latter would complain to A and A like all other members of the family would believe B only. Now, in C’s case nobody believed it, particularly E who was extremely close to both A and B, all taking side of the driver fully. C was inconsolable lamenting the fact that despite being a member of the family it got no support from anyone and instead, all got angry with it creating a ruckus. Neurotic rants rent the air and continued creating a new low in the relationship matrix.

Once upon a time B and C visited E. As has been proved over the years C and E do not see eye to eye. They could never gel despite being members of the same family. On this visit too minor scuffles continued between C and E on petty domestic issues. Now, there was a concern for B. It was informed by A that E had developed a worrisome health condition. B took it to heart rather too seriously, maybe because of its bond with E. B was determined not to give E any kind of tension during their stay.

The minor scuffles continued and on two occasions B found E crying and complaining. Not to take further risks, B advised E to go to F’s home, another member of the family. However, E did not take the advice and B could not speak to C about all these due to work pressure of several assignments and B’s growing irritation with the state of things and the weather too. One day, finally having some time, B entered C’s room, closed the door and started a dialogue to try sort out things. But suddenly E threw the door open and baring its teeth started attacking C with most filthy language. Getting disconcerted and surprised B somehow managed to take E out of the room and almost ordered it to go to F’s place immediately. Later B came to know how the spark was provided for the shattering climax. C made a casual remark out of exasperation about the goings-on in the house to the domestic help. Feeling the simmering tension over the days the smart help put some colors to that remark and presented it to E finding it alone and sitting aloof one day at home. Misplaced priorities once again led to putting trust on a domestic help and distrust on a member of the family. The damage was already done.

Relationships are as brittle as they are beautiful. One should always try to nourish and protect them. Ensure peace, tranquility and everlasting love in your family.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Assam: Load Shedding Of The Third Kind!

Power supply in the state of Assam presently cannot just be said as erratic, it is atrocious. It cannot just be said as load shedding, because in load shedding there is a method. This is madness that has no method. It is raging across the state, although more tellingly in lower and central Assam where rains have been scanty over the last two months and people are faced with oppressively humid heat conditions. The sky remains cloudy and no rain falls eventually, not even welcome winds blow across. If you are inside you sweat on with a severe kind of consistency. If you are out you are almost roasted alive. Those who can afford an inverter still sweat at the thought of how to charge that relief-giving unit, because for that you need power. Evenings are even worse because gleeful swarms of mosquitos add to your dark sticky woes. Small time operators who depend on their desktops for the daily bread are finding it hard to survive.

Power supply comes for five minutes and goes nuts for 2-3 hours or more and then again for ten minutes and out for similar periods. Any time day or night, unfailingly when humid heat is at its unbearably oppressive best. If electricity stays on for quite some time people are incredulous and so they cannot even relish those heavenly moments. There are absolutely no prior announcements or intimation about possible hours of load shedding. At at any point of time you have no inkling of the coming blanking outs. As if sweating has become your latest fundamental right.

Scanty rains is just one reason due to which maybe power generation has reached a low. However, the other more important reason is a purely political one. BJP winning 7 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats here in General Elections-2014 has left the ruling Congress government utterly bitterly decimated and demoralised. They are at a total loss to understand what is best for them or for the people. Blame games after the debacle have divided the Congress into two distinct groups. While Assam sweats and suffers their rulers are busy making political moves in cozy air-conditioned chambers to fight dissidence or to accelerate the fight within. Hapless and desperate people are protesting, burning effigies of their power minister and cutting all kinds of dirty jokes on the rulers. But to no avail. Some wise souls are contemplating calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come and save them. Amen!

Post Script: This post was scheduled for publication 4 days back, but due to net problems in my mobile (maybe due to erratic power) could not be published. Meantime in a shocking and unbelievable car accident near Delhi airport Maharashtra's tallest BJP leader Gopinath Munde passed away on 3rd June. He was just sworn in as one of the super Union Ministers for Rural Development and other portfolios on 26th May in the Narendra Modi cabinet. Being from the OBC (Other Backward Classes) and a farmer's son Munde held immense promise for rural development of the country. We express our heartfelt condolences and pray for the eternal bliss of his soul. Gopinath Munde had been a constant part of our news stories and coverages over the years. We will miss him dearly particularly after his potentially new role.

This also puts renewed focus on the madness on our roads and highways. Rash driving, road rages and increasing number of fatal accidents continue to rule this God foresaken country where crimes against women have also picked up with horrific incidents in Uttar Pradesh and Meghalaya in the last few days. That women are not at all safe here is an accepted bitter truth. But, if even central ministers are not safe on our roads who are?

PS: Meanwhile in Assam the Congress dissidence drama seems to be over as the party's High Command has asked the main dissident leader to fall in line. The leader, Himanta Biswa Sarma, who has been campaigning for changing the present Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has offered to resign and said that nobody in his camp wants Ministerial berth and that all present ministers in his camp including himself are ready to be dropped from the cabinet in the possible reshuffle soon. The power scenario meantime has shown little improvement as the spell of humid heat and no rains continues unabated. The sweating is hardly over!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Humor: The Party Proletariat!

Parties have an intrinsic charm. It's some place where you can be oblivious of your purse. There is absolutely no need to dispense with your flush notes or to flash your credit cards around. And, there is no end to the delicacies you can gorge upon.

There is also an intrinsic competitive urge to taste, if not to devour, all the delicacies on show. You feel if you have not tasted all you are a poor loser. You change your habits too.
If you take tea only, and you see coffee being served you instantly free yourselves of all inhibitions and start relishing the pristine taste of coffee.
If you are a strict no-no to hard liqueur you feel the spirit of participation turning you on compulsively. If you drink, but your brand is not there you can do with any available.
If you are a vegetarian and cannot come out of your dogmatic beliefs you can only glower at all the non-vegetarians who throng veg. counters too for the fear of being declared a loser. Some vegetarians are smarter. They accept their affair with the non-veg food as a one-night stand.
Sometimes there are surprise parties. You attend some normal events or shows, and at interval, you discover freebies offered lavishly. You make a mad rush to get a safe place in the serpentine queues. If you manage to bring up the rear only you live in constant trepidation. The stocks may end anytime and you will be labeled a loser.
Well, if something is offered free you must manage to get a huge share. Otherwise you are a poor loser. And nobody wants to be a loser.
The long queues always disturb you. You glower at your fellow party animals muttering, 'Goddamned suckers! You get nothing to eat at home or what!' Once you get the platter on hand you just do not want to take any kind of risk. You 'upload' your plate with huge quantities of every possible item totally irrespective of what you can 'download' eventually.
We are not sure whether Sigmund Freud had ever dealt with this universal human party behavior or not. Maybe that time there were not enough parties to justify such an analysis.
In modern times big international events like film festivals, conferences or seminars are happening all the time and no event is meaningful without dinners or parties. The attending delegates are always focused on 'managing' the passes for parties rather than just doing what they have come for. This is such a prestige issue that they are ready to go to any extent of cajoling, entreating, beseeching, begging, enticing or bribing the pass issuing executives. Once they are laden with all the passes for all the dinners during the event, only then, they look around to examine the purpose they have come for.
Well, if you fail to 'manage' passes for free parties you are the worst and the utterly useless human creature polluting this planet earth.
When there are contributory parties you try for My Contribution Optimization (MCO). You strive for the maximum gastronomic benefits that can possibly be 'uploaded' to justify the hard cash you have paid.
The most fundamental lesson we learn from the party experience is that parties, like the French Revolution, are based on liberty and equality alright, but we are not very sure of the 'fraternity' phenomenon. Parties are totally devoid of class or creed bias and the 'bourgeois' division. It does not matter how much dough or credit cards you carry, what dress you wear, what company you keep and what background you belong to. On the party day you are an equal and you behave the same quintessential way as all the others. You can wholeheartedly participate in the free-for-all rampage and try by all means not to be labeled a poor loser.
This tremendous 'party psyche' of the homo sapiens needs to delved into by the experts to give us more lucrative details and tips so that we can walk royally into parties and enjoy totally.
So then, happy partying!

(This  article was published earlier Here. Party behavior has not changed much since, so why not have some fun!)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Politics Of Corruption: AAP Wants Kejriwal To Be CM Again!

Arvind Kejriwal's ambitions were rooted to the popularity and the national appeal of the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. Utilizing his proximity to Anna he formed his own political entity Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and  decided it was time to part ways with his 'mentor' as the great idealistic campaigner never wanted to have anything to do with political parties. When Kejriwal was given a stunning mandate by the people in Delhi he took it as a verdict for his party and his ambitions partially fulfilled Kejriwal and his party indulged in all sorts of politicking that any political party is capable of. He did not want to accept that people in fact wanted a corruption free government and voted for a government that could ensure a solution for this burning issue of the Indian way of life. With power and popularity peaking Kejriwal did all possible under the sun to create and maintain the hype around him. 

Like a person possessed by ambition Kejriwal looked ahead to further his success after the Delhi Assembly poll. He kept his sight on the coming Lok Sabha Elections and thought a person like him could not possibly waste his time being a mere Chief Minister while the post of the Prime Minister seemed to beckon to him constantly. His AAP had already decided to contest in 400 out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. Therefore Kejriwal decided to quit as Chief Minister and after 49 days in power let his government fall citing a whole lot of flimsy reasons. He conveniently forgot that his party betrayed his voters absolutely and made the fatal mistake of taking voters for granted. He even did not like the idea of the BJP trying to form a government in his place and so moved the Supreme Court seeking immediate dissolution of the Delhi Assembly. 

We have already told you what happened in the General Elections-2014. Apart from Kejriwal losing to Narendra Modi in Varanasi his AAP fared miserably everywhere except for the state Punjab where it managed to get 4 seats. In Delhi AAP could not get a single seat coming second to the winning BJP candidates in only three constituencies while coming on top only in 10 Assembly segments out of a total of 70 segments. People of Delhi rejected AAP in no uncertain terms and like the national trend brought in the BJP in all of the 7 seats of Delhi. At the moment Arvind Kejriwal and his party have nothing to do to stay on in media limelight. 

So then in a party meet top leaders some members of AAP mooted a proposal that Kejriwal try form a government in Delhi again and naturally take over as Chief Minister. Kejriwal was also present in the meeting and reportedly did not comment. Around twenty AAP members were in favor of this and they represent a typical political behavior. They cannot afford to stay starved of political power and clout, and so would like to grab that by hook or by crook. The so-called anti-corruption activists have come a full ironic circle now. What they are doing or trying to do now is moral corruption and India Against Corruption must take note of this. The Fight Against Corruption must now be directed against the very people who took advantage of the movement to grab political power and not having their plate full would like to devour some more. 

And to whose support they are looking for now? After receiving an overwhelming public mandate BJP would have no business of supporting some opportunists, and the party had already stated that it was for fresh elections in Delhi. Are they then looking forward to getting support again from Congress--a party so utterly rejected and bitterly dejected? Fittingly AAP got snubbed from Congress too as the party said clearly that it did not want to support again and would like to have fresh elections despite its present miserable condition. Kejriwal blossomed his political career by attacking the Congress endlessly and now he must pay heed to the same party when it tells him that he has no moral authority to try form a government in Delhi again. Anna Hazare was dead right when almost two years back he set some essential qualifications for a person wanting to fight corruption.

PS: AAP tweeted later today that some media are resorting to spreading rumors and that there was no question of forming a government again in Delhi because AAP wanted reelection in the first place.  Well, it will definitely prevent loss of sleep for many AAP loyalists! For the moment, of course! 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

General Elections-2014: Overwhelming Public Mandate For A New Government!

Perhaps only one of those exit polls ventured out giving around 340 Lok Sabha seats for the BJP led NDA and a number in excess of simple majority for BJP on its own. In the most emphatic mandate since 1984 that exit poll proved to be the most accurate one. On the counting day yesterday that saw India glued to television sets, almost empty streets and offices and live-wire packed newsrooms Indian citizens proved why democracy is still the raging spirit in this country. They did not mince words or showed any waywardness. They rejected the incumbent government and brought in a new government in all democratic glory. All small political parties including Arvind Kejriwal’s much talked about AAP could not even give a fight. It was a clear choice for BJP alliance rejecting the Congress alliance. Only in states like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal the regional parties continued to hold sway with Jayalalitha and Mamata Bannerji sweeping the polls promising strong opposition groups in the Indian Parliament. However, they are denied like all other power mongers waiting for a situation where BJP would need support to achieve the magic number of 272 in a 543-member Lok Sabha of having any horse-trading or manipulative hands in the formation of the new government. The Congress party got reduced to its worst ever performance since independence with a paltry 44 seats while the UPA got just 60, unable even to sit on the opposition effectively.

After noon yesterday trends started revealing the inkling of an overwhelming victory for the BJP under the aggressive leadership of Narendra Modi—the next Prime Minister in the new government to be formed shortly. The BJP led alliance, NDA, cruised to 336 seats while BJP got 282 technically allowing it to form a government on its own. If you leave out Gujarat as Modi’s state then you must take note of the spectacular performances of BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and of the BJP led alliance in Maharashtra.  Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra do stand out, because in the former the BJP overcame the Mulayam Singh Yadav led Samajwadi Party and the Mayawati led BSP capturing 73 of the 80 seats and in the latter in its alliance with Shiv Sena, Republican Party of India and farmers’ political parties BJP scripted the incredible defeats of some of the most dominant Congress and NCP leaders of Maharashtra including central and state cabinet ministers. BJP got 23, Shiv Sena 18 and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana 1, thus capturing 42 of total 48 seats. It has been a significant comeback for Shiv Sena that had been sort of languishing after the demise of its father figure Balasaheb Thackeray and due to leadership issues and continuous attacks by its breakaway party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Shiv Sena is now rejuvenated and set for the potent future with Assembly Elections due in October this year in Maharashtra. The coming Assembly Elections will be the biggest challenge for the staggering ruling combine led by Congress.

And of course, Mumbai. As you know Mumbai hit its second half-century in 25 years this General Elections when it voted in excess of fifty percent. That was supposed to be a wave and we explained it in details for you recently. Indeed, it was such a wave that the saffron alliance (BJP-Shiv Sena) swept the city winning all six seats. Standing, outstanding and traditional candidates just lost and lost by huge margins—another trend visible nationally as BJP or its partner parties won with margins of hundred thousand or more. The all-time record of the biggest win margin was made by none other than the next Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi when he defeated his Congress rival by over 5,70,000 votes in his home state Gujarat.

With the new government in place it will be hardly easy for BJP and partners to rule India. They have to perform on issues like corruption, inflation, economic policies, foreign policy relating mainly to Pakistan and so on. In the role of the national opposition BJP had been attacking, harassing, cornering the ruling coalition and stalling Parliament most of the time. Then there is the ‘fear factor’ associated with the BJP or Modi Government. They will also have to overcome the fears of the minorities who are suspicious of their religiously aggressive Hindutva, communality and polarization. Would-be Prime Minister Narendra Modi must take all these into account and must continue to respect peoples’ overwhelming faith in his leadership.Today Modi flew to New Delhi to attend BJP's Parliamentary Board meeting. Then he visited his second constituency Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh where he defeated Arvind Kejriwal by a huge margin.

President Obama talked to Modi over phone inviting him to visit the US. Many other countries including France expressed willingness to associate with the new Indian government closely. International media gave wide coverage to BJP and Modi’s thumping victory.  Meanwhile the outgoing Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has tendered his resignation to the President of India today after giving his farewell speech. The Parliamentary Party of the BJP is going to meet in the capital on Tuesday, the 20th of May to formally elect Narendra Modi as their leader and the next Prime Minister of India.
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