At just 40%, Pune saw it’s worst ever voter turnout for the Loksabha elections. Mumbai was slightly better at 44%. The dismal voter turnout numbers have shocked most of educated India. Political leaders are smirking on TV saying things like “You blame us politicians for not caring about the country, but even the ordinary citizen does not care.” I have no insider info on the matter, but am just trying to apply some common sense to figure out what could have gone wrong. Continue reading “Voter Apathy Or Election Commission Incompetence?”
Over the past couple of years, the left bank canal of the River Mutha between the Prabhat, Bhandarkar and Agarkar Road has morphed from pretty much being a dump to now a beautiful garden. The area of about six acres now has lush green lawns, a jogging track and many trees. It’s like an oasis right in the heart of Pune city.
The Pune Municipal Corporation and an NGO, Hirwaee have been jointly running the project as yet. However maintaining the garden, caring for the trees, keeping it clean and free from encroachments is an ongoing challenge that requires the support of residents in the area.
It’s good to know that the Health Minister has challenged the name of the Bangalore Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team, “Royal Challengers”. It’s however sad that it takes the Health Minister of the country to speak up before the authorities looked at such an obvious and blatant form of surrogate advertising for liquor brand “Royal Challenge“.
Right from childhood, stories that had their foundation in magic and ‘chamatkars’ always appealed to me. I must have watched 10s of combinations of stories like – Ramu’s son is ill and no doctor is able to cure him; Ramu goes to a godman who whips up a magical powder; Ramu applies the powder on his son’s forehead and the kid is magically cured. As a child, I remember being in awe of the godman and thinking, “Wow! This man is amazing!”. Friends readily contributed their own stories of how the godman was indeed magical.
A new Pepsi ad has coined the phrase ‘Youngistan’ by combining Young & Hindustan. The actor in the ad claims to be an alien from the planet Youngistan. However is Youngistan really a planet in outer space or is India and Youngistan one and the same? I say this as I can’t help but note that India is being totally customized for the young, rich and the healthy. I certainly don’t have anything against the Youngistanization of society. The young definitely should enjoy the prosperity and the growing disposable incomes of new India, but not by steadily ignoring other segments of society.
Continue reading “Land Of The Young, Rich & Healthy – Welcome To Youngistan”
I get into arguments at billing counters so frequently these days that I wonder if it has subconsciously become one of my favourite pastimes. I have a fairly wide range of causes for these disputes. However the most common cause is that of the cashier gobbling my hard earned paise. The amusing and strange part of the story is that I seem to be losing these arguments with alarming regularity.
The events normally go something like this – I buy goods worth Rs. 99.25 and the cashier announces Rs. 100 as the payable amount. I ask him why he could not even show the courtesy to tell me that he was charging 75 paise extra. The reply is “Ok, Pay 99”. I tell him that it is not about the 75 paise but about business ethics. I next complain to the store manager who barely listens to me before ordering his staff “Take one rupee less from Sir!”
“World Spitathon Champs”
Indians might have the strongest lungs on the planet. Not because of any genetic reasons but because of the exercise that they make their lungs undergo by firing spit missiles every couple of minutes. Across the country we have great exponents of this art, hard at work on every street. While walking, driving, through cars, buses and every other vehicle you will find spit missiles fired with great dexterity and regularity. Although the best performances come from tobacco consumers, even those who are not, often put in scintillating performances.
The chiefs of the 3 armed forces were recently exempted from security checks at airports. In the build up to this decision, you got quotes like “It is a shame that India cannot accord a small privilege for those who guard the country”. Since anything related to the forces always gets linked to patriotism and national pride, so naturally references to the same were made from all corners. Finally the government gave in and extended the privilege of exemptions from security checks. The minister added that it was “absolutely appropriate” that the people who defended the country’s borders should not go through the security check exercise. So ended the matter. The VIP list for exemptions got a little longer for another service. “No big deal. All’s well that ends well. Right?”
Not really. The basic premise for this or any VIP privilege is that a certain person’s time or pride is more important than that of ordinary citizens like you and me. This goes completely against my understanding of democracy and people’s rule. VIP privileges for a chosen few cannot be a part of a democracy. It’s understandable if a dictator is a VIP, but in democratic India, no minister, politician, military officer or even the Prime Minister can be a VIP. He is just another citizen of India chosen to lead and not to rule. Privileges to bypass the queue is just one aspect of the mammoth VIP baggage that the nation carries. In a supposed equitable society, the time and pride of my cook, driver, my boss or the Prime Minister of India should have the same value, at least on paper. There cannot be a government sanction for discrimination.