We The People Of India

I wrote this post out for a website, however, it couldn’t be published there in time. Just wanted to share it…

I owe this post to Jerry Pinto, a well known journalist, poet and a writer. As a professor whose aim was to introduce us to journalism, he asked us to read a couple of books, one of which was the Constitution of India. “You are living in the country, na? You should find out what the country is all about otherwise each one of you pay me Rs.17.56 paisa! Most of your education comes from the taxes I pay and if you don’t know this much also na, my money went to waste, I want it back. Ok?”

That’s when it dawned on me. We take pride in being Indian, we get a lump in our throats when we hear our National anthem and we take pride in slamming the politicians for totally screwing the system up, but how many of us bother to find out what being an Indian legally means, what are the fundamental factors that built India. How many of us have ever read the Constitution leave alone possess it?

As we approach the 2009 elections, various groups are being proactive in urging citizens of India to vote. The tedious process of registration is being simplified and a lot of questions are being thrown at the political parties hoping to get power.

Most important of all though, is self-introspection. It is important to understand your own civil duties and rights before you choose the leaders of the nation. It is your duty to find out what we stand for. It’s easy for us to blame the government and ministers for debacles but we as a society are to be blamed.

Here is what our Preamble says. Read it and ask yourselves, is this what my country stands for, am I, as a citizen of India ensuring that these words do not remain just words:

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a _1[SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the _2[unity and integrity of the Nation];

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”
Source: http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/coifiles/preamble.htm

While there’s poverty, while there’s corruption and while there exists communalism how can these words ever be held true?

So as we ready ourselves to vote and exercise our right, let’s take it upon ourselves to make sure that the preamble stands for more than just words. Lets fight for a better tomorrow, for you, me and the generations to come. And that’s where I recommend you watch this ad campaign featuring Aamir Khan.

So lets make sure that each one of us uses our vote sensibly and sensitively. Jai Hind!

War Is Not The Answer

The attacks on 26/11 have scarred Mumbai, but Mumbai has bounced back. The streets, the hotels and the stations are all back in business. In fact, Leopold opened its shutters within two days and as a symbol of defeat to the terrorists, has been crowded with people sipping from beer towers throughout.

One thing that will not bounce back is the faith in the government and administration. The citizens are enraged. They want answers and most of them have solutions themselves too. The political parties are red faced, and they might do something but that’s a whole different issue.

For one, many people I meet are convinced that we shouldn’t be tolerating Pakistan’s support for terrorism and we should attack Pakistan. Hang on, the terrorists are trained in Pakistan, but that doesn’t mean the country supports it. My friend who’s a journalist in Pakistan says that they too, face the same issue. She attends a concert and two days later the venue is blown up. We should support and help Pakistan figure out effective means of combating terrorism.

There was a video on YouTube, in which a Pakistani journalist criticises India for pointing finger to Pakistan, every time there’s an attack. Certain points are true, but, you clearly see that the media in Pakistan is creating an anti-India sentiment. ‘They ask me why I am pro-India, and I tell them of the love I found in my Indian friends. But they’re so shallow they do not understand,’ writes my friend. She is my soul-mate, somebody who held my hand through tough times and somebody who loves me for who I am. And without a word exchanged, she knows I reciprocate the same.

Just as we are pointing fingers towards Pakistan, they will soon point fingers right back at us. At such a stage, a war will only add to the animosity between the countries and undo all the efforts that we have put in for the peace process.

History stands witness that a war only kills innocent people and rarely targets the real cause that stands behind a war. The innocent lives, the enraged emotions give birth to a hatred that knows no reason. These symptoms breed innocent minds that are vulnerable to terrorism. They are trained in the name of the ones they lost, in the name of revenge and in the name of Allah to wield weapons and kill even more. This doesn’t do much for their cause, but yes, some larger power out there ends up using them as a puppet to execute a horrifying plan that unfolds in the darkness caused by terror.

If we go to war right now, I only see more hatred, more lives lost and more destruction. The terror outfits will have succeeded. They want us to be Indians vs Pakistanis, Hindus vs Muslims etc. They want us to be divided.

I stand for being one. One power, one religion that believes that lives are precious. A power that believes in fighting as one and learning from the diversities. Am I dreaming? Yes, maybe I am. But I will not let the bastards grind me down.

I love my country, I am just as enraged and disturbed by the acts of terrorism. However, I do not want a war of any form. Not a religious war, not a inter-country war all I want is a movement to develop higher value of emotions and people.

Twittering Upto A Revolution

26/11 has changed many people forever. Those who have survived it, those who escaped it and got lucky, those who lost loved ones, those who came face to face with the terrorists, those who were reporting on location and then there were those who monitored the news closely and kept contributing to an online newsfeed with timely news reports, analyses and opinions.

I was on twitter and I sincerely want to thank the community for using this unique medium to create awareness about the situation across the globe. The phenomena brought forth the power of citizen journalism. Of course, it had its pitfalls too. Rumors can spread quickly etc. But then, think about it. Those living abroad and concerned about the situation in Mumbai could constantly keep in touch via this medium.

These twitter feeds were being used by the international media as well for the speed and precision with which it functioned.

Unfortunately, the one thought that hasn’t been letting me rest is that the terrorists’ aides could have been monitoring twitter too. The TV channels couldn’t stop giving out key information about the NSG operations at the three locations, which I am sure was being conveyed to them. The terrorists were equipped with SAT phones and blackberries. Did I unknowingly help those b*stards?

But I think some people on twitter deserve a mention here.

Right from the list of emergency contact numbers to the victim names, Asfaq was constantly mobilising info to help out concerned individuals across the globe. Your contribution is immense. Thank you

www.twitter.com/asfaq

He heard a blast like sound in his south-Mumbai residence and immediately put a question on twitter. His tweets on my phone made me realise the magnitude of what happened at 10.30 pm on the night of 26/11; thank you, Gaurav.

www.twitter.com/gsik

Lives abroad, but didn’t lose touch with the city while it withstood the worst terror attacks ever. Used to be a student at my Uni. Thanks for interesting reads you put up, Shriansh.

www.twitter.com/shriansh

I don’t know this person, they followed me and I followed them. They’ve been putting up amazing articles that give you an indepth read into the situation.

www.twitter.com/crypticvalentin

This person has been speaking of communal harmony and just been supportive of the sentiments of the Mumbaikars. It didn’t matter that they’re far away in LA, US.

www.twitter.com/goldenheart

He got together with his friends and organised a candle light vigil at Carter Road. Thank you.

www.twitter.com/ajeshh

These are just a few of them. There are a lot more. These guys make me believe that our country has people who think and will not be scared to run the country if they need to.

At a time where me and billions of Mumbaikars were distraught about the terror struck in their city, seeing these guys constantly putting up info, selflessly, was heart warming. I am glad I could put in my two bits. And as I write, there are about 20 tweets going up under the #mumbai tag every minute. Bravo guys! Bravo!

Mumbai Terror Attacks: Pieces of the Puzzle

I have been tracking all major news channels and twitterfeeds since early last morning. The feeling of anger has subdued and I am in an analytical mode now. I scanned through the papers and I recommend you read the cover page of ToI thoroughly. A report that has caught my eye is ‘Search for Sabina Still On’. According to this reported Sabina Sehgal Saikia was resting in her luxury suite on the top floor of the heritage building.

When she heard gunfire and activity, she immediately called her friends and relatives. She was in touch with many people through SMS. She kept saying that she was alone and a final message from her to an employee of the Taj says that ‘they are in my bathroom now’.

They have not found Sabina yet. The police traced no activity on her cellphone until seven hours later. It was used from Raigad.

The last line has left me numb. How did her cellphone get out to Raigad? Were the terrorists posing as civilians to get out safe? Have they split into groups to hold the show at the 3 locations while the rest of them have made a run for it?

Last night the Taj Mahal hotel was declared flushed and empty. Then late last night, the reports said that there was an injured terrorist who was putting up quite a fight and moving room to room. A fresh report this morning says that there is more than one terrorist in the old heritage wing of the Taj and an unknown number of guests stuck. They are NOT HOSTAGES, but they are stuck inside none-the-less.

Our Prime Minister, Chief Minister or even the nation’s President, have failed to make an impactful speech that makes the citizens believe that we can get over this ordeal. What’s worse is that they do not even appear shaken. At this point, I keep thinking of Mayor Giuliani, who emerged as a New York hero post 9/11 and built the city’s morale back into shape. Do we have such a leader? Do we deserve such a leader?

I have never felt this helpless. A stranger following my twitter feeds kept asking me about the Rabbi at Nariman House. Turns out he was known to this person and was a close family associate. I tried and tried, I still don’t know if the Rabbi is in the building, is he dead or is he alive? No idea…

This whole incident has changed me forever. I will never trust the stranger standing next to me on the bus, just as you might never trust a harmless person carrying a haversack next to you in the street. My dad was in Istanbul 4 years ago when there was a bomb blast there. He asked his taxi driver how he dealt with the uncertainty. “We assume there’s a bomb between our two feet!” the taxi guy replied.

I do not want to be a part of an India that makes us or the future generations think on those lines… Is somebody listening?

Ps: I am writing from my phone. Please excuse the bad grammar and spellings!

Dostana- Different and fun, but not quite awesome!

Dostana has all the makings of a masala hindi movie, but I was pleasantly surprised that it’s a completely new Bollywood experience! Hot guys, hot girls, beautiful locales, an OTT Punjabi Mom, gorgeous designer clothes (minimal but beautiful!), dhinchak music and I can go on and on.

The plot is nothing new. Two guys falling for the same girl has been done to death but this time it’s different! There are two men vying for an apartment and are ready to go to any length to get it. Kunal and Sam fake a romantic gay love story to move into a plush Miami apartment. The hitch? They share it with a super sexy Neha, who works in a fashion magazine, but has the ever so slight makings of an Indian girl (She doesn’t share an apartment with guys because of valid reasons and also respects her deceased parents’ sentiments). A few songs, a few twisted comic situations and major emotional turmoil later, the boys fall in love, not with each other silly, with Neha.
Kahani mein naya twist is the silent, intense and confident Abhi, who transforms from mean, hard to impress boss to a sweet, simple guy who adores Neha. Which of the guys’ heart is about to be shattered? Will Neha forgive Kunal and Sam for the web of lies they’ve spun?

The plot is obvious, but the way it’s presented is fully entertaining. Abhishek is absolutely brilliant as the male nurse Sam and John is just concentrating on looking hot and succeeds (Oh! How hot he looks!). Priyanka’s performance is awesome but with John & Abhishek’s chemistry, she is sidelined
(maybe it’s just that John’s yellow trunks made a far better impact on my oh-so-feminine mind than Piggy Chops’ golden bikini)

Why must you watch Dostana:
– John’s butt
-John’s abs
-Abhishek’s effortless portrayal of a loving, gay boyfriend.
-Delicious beaches of Miami!
-Music that’s sure to set your foot tapping and the videos will almost inspire you to get up and dance
-Just for fun guys!

Questions I’d like to ask Tarun Mansukhani:
-Ummm… I don’t see how they end up bonding! Coffee, shopping sprees and stuff are regulars! Why weren’t a scene or two dedicated to show their inter-dependence beyond sharing the house? The song (Jaane Kyun) would have been awesome after establishing their friendship
-How do the dudes manage falling for Neha? What is it about her that makes them go crazy? We know Neha is ambitious, we know she’s sweet n caring but what beyond that? I want to know what are the little things she likes, dislikes etc.
-What’s with the hamming and corny giri? KKHH dance in the rain scene replayed! Really?!?!
-is Neha really daft? Doesn’t she get the vibe? Whether Gay or not, when guys are whisking you off to a surprise romantic setting and doing super special things, you kinda figure or at least question the motives!
-Where’s the magic gone from movies? I wanted to feel the magic I still feel watching KKHH or a DDLJ!

Dostana lacks a plot, has a lot of loopholes and doesn’t exactly make you feel like hugging your best friend pronto! (Remember how you felt after Dil Chahta Hai??)
But wait, it’s not an absolute waste of money or time. It’s worth a try. Keep your brains aside, take a chill and enjoy the first (almost) movie that openly talks about homosexuality even though it’s all humored. At least its not poking fun at a gay side character by dressing them up as half woman half man, right? This is a huge step for Indian cinema, I truly believe.

Kudos: John and Abhishek! You need to be very secure about your sexuality to pull off a Kunal and Sam! And you guys look so good together! Bipasha and Ash will get jealous with the sizzling chemistry!

I am inspired: To go and dance to Desi Girl! And yeah go on a strict diet and exercise regime… everyone in the film looks hot! Except Kirron Kher and Sushmita Mukherjee, of course…

Spare us the telly drama!

Reality bites. But these days it sells. If your career is stuck, it’s time to choose a buzz worthy TV show and problem solved. Don’t have a career? Still waiting for that big break? Television can help there too. Appear on a TV show, go over the top with whatever it is that you do, watch your face sprawled over the papers and the world will fall at your feet.

You might not want to believe it. So let’s take a look at a few celebs who are back on the map thanks to their stints with Television.

Kashmira shah: probably her hot item numbers in movies like Jungle, Aankhen etc. made her a recognizable face but only for a short while. Her antics on Big Boss got her all that was missing from her life. . A media cat fight with a co-contestant, a loser boy friend who’s also a nephew of a big star and a million other shows to give her the much needed screen time. What more could this girl ask for?

Shakti Kapoor: Everyone had forgotten this golden hair bad boy until India TV exposed him in a shocking expose about the casting couch. One would think he’d be embarrassed, but our man was the topic of all discussions in the country. It didn’t stop there, the dude received quite a few film offers after this.

Rahul Mahajan: His father was murdered, he was caught in a drug scandal, a rushed wedding and a publicised divorce after a difficult marriage. He’s had all the attention for the wrong reasons. And he’s seeking more of it. He signed on to the show with item girl/actress Payal Rohatgi, now is wooing Monica Bedi! Everybody in the house is talking about his late night escapades into the girls’ room. He is making news and how? Frankly, I don’t care and I don’t give a damn. The first season was a good one but the second season of BIG Boss fails to make a big impression despite this notorious boy!

Amitabh Bachchan: Game shows were restricted to Antakshari and Sa Re Ga Ma Pa when Amitabh asked the question that rocked the nation and his failing career. Neck deep in debt, with bummers like Mrityudaata and Lal Badshah, Kaun Banega Crorepati brought a drastic change the Big B’s career. People adored his classy Hindi, they longed for his goodnights and then Mr. Bachchan found his way into every possible advertisement on the television. The second season didn’t make a big splash but Big B got the necessary push from the first season itself.

I can name many a names who piggy backed on television but Mr. Bachchan is the only success story. Everyone else has successfully made a fool out of themselves and have created an icon keeping the small picture in mind. And other wannabes follow suit. They are ready to beg, plead or die to be on these shows because of the hyped figures it’s created in the past. Some even choose to break up in front of the electronic media just to have 2 minutes on prime time. Some will pay the media to include them in an expose… But how long will we find their antics amusing? How long will the media hound them? What when the media and we forget them? Another show? Another scandal? Another spectacle?

Please spare me!

Fame or shame!

Radio in Mumbai is pretty bland. They all play more or less the same kind of music, and every now and then an RJ pops up with some gossip (yawn!) some random callers and sometimes some crazy games.

However sad it may be, I still listen to radio when I can. While driving back from work, my de-stressing ritual is singing along to random songs over the radio. Today, I was too tired to do that. In fact, I was so tired that I didn’t bother changing the frequency when an RJ started talking about something I didn’t care two hoots about. And then he said something that made me go, “Uh, what?”

Apparently, he had dared one of his listeners to give her boyfriend’s number and the radio station would have someone call the guy and flirt with him. She, like any naïve girl, said that she completely trusted her guy and gave the number. Now, a girl in a very pretentious sexy voice calls this dude up and starts ‘flirting’. The guy tries to figure out who it is and with a few giggles plays along. She says he’s cute, she says he looked hot when he went down for a smoke earlier and then she asks him what he’s wearing. The guy chuckles and actually answers.

The mad woman then asks him if he wants to know what she’s wearing. The dude says yes!

The woman says, ‘I’m wearing nothing.’

Now correct me if I’m wrong but that does not qualify as flirting- its seduction and a very lame attempt at that!

Anyway suddenly the male RJ comes into the conversation with a creepy voice and announces that the dude’s girlfriend is on air too. The dude panics, the girlfriend is in shock and the RJ is trying to laugh at this situation.

Huh!

I couldn’t believe it. Firstly, I couldn’t believe the girl actually gave some girl the license to flirt with her boyfriend, all for 2 minutes of fame on radio and some sad gift vouchers. Secondly, how can a radio station take the liberty of playing around with people’s relationships like this?

My sympathies are with the guy. He genuinely seemed to be playing along to what he thought was a prank and he wasn’t wrong. He wouldn’t expect his girlfriend to be party to this prank. He still apologised profusely, while his girlfriend just hung up. If I was him, I would be mad as hell.

We seem to put everything, right from our joys and sorrows to our relationships, on the line for a little fame. Are we seriously that hungry for fame?