Monday, 30 July 2012

Anna Hazare Rises! – Why it is so important for the movement to become successful!

1919, it was that time of the World history when First World War was going on. In India, the British Raj was intolerable. To worsen the situation, the Rowlatt Act was passed. The act authorized the government to imprison anybody suspected of conspiracy or promoting unrest without any trails and formalities. The very next year, General Dyer heard of major conspiracy that was going to happen among large gathering of people, then. He went with fifty armed men and ordered to open fire till the ammunitions lasted. It killed thousand of innocent Indians, including women and children. It was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Gandhiji launched Non-cooperation movement all over India propagating to boycott British goods and use of local made stuff, handicrafts, etc. The movement shook the very roots of British establishment in India. The movement was supported by Indian National Congress and freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Rajguru, etc. It could have given India independence in the early 1920s, had the movement been continued, then. In 1922, the Chauri Chaura incident happened where violent protest between local police and protestors resulted in setting police chowki on fire. It killed 22 policemen. Gandhi called off the non-cooperation movement since he was staunch believer of Ahimsa or non-violence. It took 25 years from then to get the Independence.

It left many Indians including people like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru devastated. There was anger in the minds of common masses. Efforts were made to restore the non-cooperation movement. All in vain. The freedom fighter continued their struggle for the freedom in their own way. A ray of hope that Gandhi’s movement gave got killed.

Today, we are Independent in a way that we have our own elected representatives to govern the nation. But the country has gone from bad to worse. Corruption appears to be a milder word these days, the way they happen are justified by the politicians in media. Tainted ministers head the committee and important portfolios. Land allotment scams, increase in FSI, Coalgate, spectrum scam, mining scam, buying of political support by tax payer’s money, misuse of development fund and the list goes on. The nation is divided into minority and majority to get the votes. The recent Assam violence is an example of how politics is played out with people for political gains.

Last year, when Anna Hazare started with indefinite fast, it shook the roots of corrupt government. Efforts were made to curb the peaceful demonstration. False promises were made to pacify the anger. The huge support that Anna received showed that Indians were fed up of corrupt and incapable congress government. Government tried all that it could to weaken the force over the period of time. The movement gave a ray of hope to billions of Indians. Even I participated at the Gateway of India rally and witnessed several such peaceful demonstrations at various places.

But if this revolution fails, it will kill hopes of million and no one else will dare to do what Anna is doing, in future. Everyone will fear to raise voice against unjust. People will fear from calling black, a black. It is really important for Anna Hazare and Indians to make this movement really large and successful. We need to come out of our homes and support whole-heartedly the movement. It is for our better future, for a better nation!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT:I know Anna Hazare won’t call off the movement the way Gandhi did, in 1922. More important is that people should realize and come forward to contribute towards the success of the movement to remain truly Independent.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Underachiever!

It was 1991, India was having a forex reserve of $ 1.2Bn. By June, 1991, she had reserves enough only to take care of another 3 weeks of imports, then. She was about a month away from making defaults on her external payment obligations. Time was running out. PM Chandra Sekhar decided to pledge 67 tons of gold for a mere $ 600 million. There was an out cry in the nation when the event came into light. Governmnet fell.

The new PM Mr. Narsimha Rao along with then Finance minister Mr. Manmohan Singh ushered series of reforms to restore the economic condition of country. The reforms done were more out of compulsion since IMF laid conditions for lending money to India. The markets were opened for foreign investments and as they say….the rest is history!

2012, today we are into a situation that is often compared with the situation we faced in 1991, though it is a lot more different than those days.

1991 crisis was mainly the consequence of Gulf war, which soared India’s Oil bills and exports dried up. Prolonged situation resulted into fiscal deficit and payment issues. The markets were closed for foreign investors then.

Today, markets are opened, though highly regulated. There is policy paralysis and lack of political will to initiate next level of reforms.  It is the vote bank that matters the most. The government is waiting for Presidential elections to get over so as to start reforms. On the contrary, it should be an ongoing activity and not when situation becomes dire. Corruption has reached to a level that speakers of ruling party shamelessly justify it on news channels at prime time. There is no accountability, no transparency.  Labour law reforms and Judiaciary empowerment are distant dreams.

It is a national shame that the man with highest dignity and holding most important position of the country is mocked about by the media. The ‘Underachiever’ tag is because Mr. PM had delivered things earlier. he has been an achiever throughout. But when he assumed the highest level of authority and responsibility, he acted as a mere shadow. He has the potential, the resources and the power. He could have done things differently.

The only thing that works in the favour of ruling party is weak opposition. The opposition has many internal problems to deal with, leadership issues to sort out with and stately affairs to manage with.

A country is as good as the leader. Unfortunately, Manmohan Singh could not provide the leadership the country needed. It is the political unwillingness which has created the mess. With European issues aggravating, things can go worse. I don’t doubt on the integrity of Mr. PM. But to allow wrong doing happening is as good as to support it. Nothing has been lost yet (and my mind says we have lost 8 golden years in inactivity since 2004). Yet we can sit back, sort out priorities and implement them. Execute them. Rest, the champions are there in the government to advice.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Proud to an Indian, not so proud the way economic mess is created. We need to set our priorities right and implement reforms taking tough stand. And we also need to spare amendments were not required like the IIT entrance and higher education system. Lets get the basic right and start with primary schooling first.

PS: Nothing against anyone, just the economic mess and insane politicians speaking on prime time news makes me think hard. This statement becomes important for me to write since we have ‘freedom of speech’ but it is highly regulated these days!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Being foodie

If I have to sit back and analyze myself to get an answer as to “what is that one thing I can’t live without?” I would instantly get an answer, “to eat, to eat good!” The love for good delicious food gets me going each day.

It is my parents from whom I got this nature, I believe. My dad is completely foodie. In a bite he can decide to continue eating more or drop it. He has an eye for detailing and a perfect taste for great food. This has helped my mom to bring out her best since it is difficult to please my dad with anything less than the best. With that upbringing, I am blessed with friends who also were passionate about great taste. There was a time when we use to go out for dinner every 3rd day, in search of taste that could satisfy our taste buds.

It was Samosas, kachoris,Poha with tarri as a pass time outside food. Dal-baati-churmaat home. Mouth watering Italian, Punjabi and Indian continental food with friends. Two years of stay at Hyderabad for my higher studies gave me opportunity to explore almost all big-small famously, infamous restaurants and hotels. I was introduced to some fine dining there with authenticate Hyderabadi dishes. The Hyderabad Biryanis, the lemon rice, Mirchi ka Salan, the list goes on… Not to forget the all time famous Karachi biscuits! I struggled to get good pani-puri, though. The taste buds were pushed to next level of experience in Mumbai. Some of the awesomest cuisines and presentations I witnessed in Mumbai. Be it Vada pav, Bombay Sandwitch or the Pav-Bhajiat Choupaati! Customized pizza at Jazz by the Bay, interactive kitchen counter at Masala Kraft to the revolving deck overlooking the bay…

My wife is a great cook and her experimental cooking has added a new dimension to my understanding about food and various ingredients. I had some of the nicest vegetables, chutneys, cakes and pastas at home cooked by her. I am particular about few things like the perfect taste of Kheer or Gajar ka Halwa for that matter. There are things that nobody makes better than my mom. The sambar that she makes beats any 5-Star, Udupi or a good restaurant. I tried to get that taste of sambar in Hyderabad and Mumbai too; nothing comes closer to what she makes. Infact, when I eat South Indian dishes outside, it the sambar and chutney that makes me decide if I want to visit the place again. Baigan ka bharta, Daal baat churma, Gatte ki sabji, Halwa are few dishes I prefer eating at home because the best is made there.

Now again in a new city, exploring the authentic local food and restaurants that could make me happy. The other day we went out to explore some Punjabi food. Overall the food was good. The daal makhani was 10 on 10. I never tasted that authentic dilli ki daal makhani ever apart from, in Delhi itself. The flip side is, it becomes difficult for me to appreciate food even if it good but not ‘that good’.

Different cuisine helps to understand the local culture of that city. The food habit has influence of the rulers who ruled the city. Hyderabad food is influenced a lot by the Nizams. It also gets influenced by people residing, location, culture, climatic conditions and lifestyle. Mumbai is heavily influenced by Gujrati food. Due to its fast paced life, you would find eating joints at every nook and corner – serving fast with high turnover per table.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: It is not just the spices, ingredients and kitchen that makes the difference. It is the cook, the chief who make the difference. I also feel that the nature, mood and happiness quotient of cook puts soul in the dish.


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