Saturday, April 9, 2011

We have won, Anna but....

 Sumeet Ponda
It was a Saturday yet again! A strong country of 120-billion people force-fed with heavy doses of corruption, bad governance and deep-rooted apathy rejoiced once again on yet another weekend. If last Saturday, Dhoni and his 10 men won the highest title in the game that this giant country loves passionately, this Saturday, it was the turn of Anna’s Indians that won the bigger game – Politics, another, that keeps the denizens of this country pepped up – beating the long-time indifferent Indian Political Royals.

I whole-heartedly supported the mission Anna and his colleagues undertook for a great cause. They spoke for a common man and I was one too! I too went to the Yaadgaar-e-Sahahjehani Park, the local destination for Anna’s support and fasted between breakfast and lunch, got a few photographs clicked, posted them on the facebook and won accolades, took a stroll of the place with a candle in the hand later in the evening, spoke about how corruption was eating into this great nation and felt great when I heard that the Government had almost relented to the common man’s demand while I drove back home.

En route, I saw people happily skipping red light at the cross-roads with the traffic policemen chewing, gutkha sitting comfortably on a scooter parked in the no-parking zone. It was only then that a car bearing a non-Government number-plate with a red-light atop zoomed past me from the wrong side. Nobody even took notice. When the light turned green, I started to move only to be stranded a few metres ahead as people disregarded the traffic-lights yet again. I and a few others found our own way out of the chaos with no one from the Cheetah vehicle parked a few feet away even bothered to clear the disarray on the heavily rushed road. As I steered past the bedlam, I got into one of the numerous bottlenecks that the road network of Bhopal has to offer. Stranded, I stood for the numerous errant motor-cycles and scooters, some speaking on a mobile phone with head tilted on the one side and controlling the bike with the other, from all sides to let me off. No law-maintenance authorities were to be seen. Suddenly an auto-rickshaw passed by with two drivers and loads to passengers and there I was with my windscreen coloured red! Someone had spewed the remains of a delicious pan from the auto-rickshaw. Cautiously, I began to tread again. Then started the endless patch of rough road that was dug up for some World Bank project almost half a year ago and I was once again, like every day, reminded of Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the moon. Potholes galore! No signboards that cautioned the commuters were to be seen. Reached home and heaved a sigh of relief. My family rejoiced in me reaching home, safe in a lawless society. One acknowledges the very fact, that a country of this size survives, to the God of corruption – the politicos! It is for this uncivilized country that Anna fasted, most of the citizens of which want the stick of fear to abide by the law and flout civic laws on their own sweet will.

On the late evening news, I saw a jubilant Anna and his supporters celebrating the so-called surrender of those in power to the demands for erasing corruption. The jan-lokpal bill, held back by successive Government since 1964, will see the light of day soon. I saw it as a victory of the common man, for the common man and by the common man. Period.

Suddenly, I was flooded with a flurry of thoughts from left, right and center! This was a clinical trial. God forbid, if anything happened to Anna…. With the huge support from the media and common man and the time bomb ticking, it was foregone that the Government had to concede the first round. This isn’t a victory! Anna, the tiger-heart he is, has no bank balance, no business, nothing to lose and everything to gain. People like him are a few! They live and fight for us. People like him are gems that need no polish to smoothen out the rough edges. They shine on their own.

Haven’t we, the common people, who have so many things on stake, instrumental in enhancing corruption? Haven’t we paid bribes for getting even the straightest of things done? Haven’t we offered money to those in power to let us home from a bye-lane that the complicated network of laws that our Nation has to offer? Haven’t we corrupted the ordinary, under-paid policewalla to get a fast mandatory clearance for passport even when no criminal case exists in our names? Haven’t we given a fifty-rupee note to the traffic constable who stopped us for non-observance of smallish rules that make us wear a helmet or a seat-belt, for our own safety? We all have. Let us have the guts to admit.

I am the common man and I have the bouquet of fundamental rights to let me live a respectful and peaceful life. But the irony is that the same constitution that awards me these rights is so out-dated, complex and complicated that it contradicts itself hundreds of times.

A jan-lokpal bill is not going to help. It will only convict an official, politician, minister found guilty of asking and accepting money for doing something unlawful or adding speed to the slow movement of files or finding a way out of the confusing constitution. My biggest worry here is, can we devise an objective system that will keep a check on the jan-pratinidhis – 50% of the committee members – from becoming vulnerable to the mouthful and pocketful that will be offered to them, keeping in mind that the remaining 50% political representatives will not be clean and keeping in mind that Anna and his team will not live forever? This will be the biggest challenge to Anna and his team.

We can penalize the corrupt ones but can’t we have a provision to penalize the one who corrupts and offers bribes? Can’t we find a system that doesn’t corrupt? Can’t we amend our existing constitution or re-draft or accept a new one for the sake of a corrutption-free society?

Anna, we have won but….

Saturday, March 12, 2011

An attempt to baptize Bhopal!

BHOJPAL is ruled out! I am all for BHOPAL and I have my reasons for it. Till today, I have not been convinced by anyone about the time-period in history about the existence of Raja Bhoj, his supposed sushasan (Good governance); his appearance (the gym-built disproportionate body, six-pack abs included as we see today in the statue that rests on the upper lake!) and the justifiable historical relevance, as in the case of Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai and Pudducherri, of reverting to the original name.

I have been observing the ongoing debate of Bhopal vs. Bhojpal practically every day ever since the announcement regarding the same has been made. I chose to maintain a dignified silence over the entire issue except for making my feelings known to my friends in person and on the facebook till....I saw the status update of an elected Member of the Legislative Assembly on his facebook home page. Stunned, I sat!!

Following is the exact copy-paste (original spelling, punctuation, typographical errors and those of grammar included!) of the statement that I saw:

Frieds the name Bhopal has got no meaning in fact its a distorted verson of bhoo-pal. So if the BJP is trying to give some meaning to the name what is the harm in it...why such an hue and cry....people should take it in a sporting manner and in a stride....The name bhopal does not indicate any religion so the name every body jai bhoj pal...

It, apparently, conveys the meaning that because Bhopal does not indicate any religion, so the name Bhojpal must be given and hence everyone must hail Bhojpal! What does it convey? From whatever little I can understand, I can easily infer that the renaming of my city, our city, is an attempt to give it a religion! I see it as an attempt to baptize my city at the sweet whims and fancies of a few. Is it an attempt to divide the various religions that exist peacefully, in full harmony with each other in my city? It is going to be a unique case in the entire World history where an attempt is being made to give a religion to a city. And the elected representative of the ruling party is blatantly accepting it on a social networking website! Interesting!! Doesn’t it sound of a communal touch?

I am a bona fide Hindu and I see no problems identifying myself with Bhopal but I cannot recognise myself with the proposed name. The entire exercise is an effort in futility and sans solid logic. There is no solid reason for the case. That some Raja Bhoj existed, is a fact. If we go by what the historians have to say, more than one king by the name Bhoj apparently existed in various periods of time. Which Raja Bhoj are we talking about? Is there a valid historical reference about Bhopal before the advent of Dost Mohammed Khan on the scene? Did a city, by any manuscript or scripture or any portion of validated history, by the name of Bhojpal ever exist? Is there evidence that, at any point of time, any of the erstwhile rulers of Bhopal state changed the name of the city from Bhojpal to Bhopal? Should the name of a city need to have a religious meaning? And finally, merely by changing the name of the city, the Government can replicate the good governance model of Raja Bhoj? If I can be convinced about the questions, I have risen with fitting logical replies; I will accept the change to Bhojpal – even though it stands grammatically incorrect! Bhojpalya – it should be!!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I am here

Hello friends all,

feels gr8 to be here....