Saturday, June 29, 2013

वो मासूम बारिश !

जाने कितने दिनों से,
तेरे लिए तरसा हूँ मैं ।
जाने कितने पलो में,
मैंने तुझे याद किया ,
और आज जाके जब,
तेरी इन छोटी छोटी बूंदों ने,
इन प्यारी मीठी बूंदों ने,
जब मेरा स्पर्श किया,
तो कही जाके इस दिल को चैन मिला ।

तेरे आने पे,
इस हवा में जो ताजगी हैं,
मौसम में जो मदहोशी हैं,
इन चेहरों पे जो मुस्कान हैं ,
वो अप्रतिम हैं ।

पर जाने क्यूँ, ये दिल उदास भी हैं ,
शायद तेरी ये  तेज हवाए ,
तेरी मगरूर अदाए ,
पानी से लतपत ये मैदान ,
मुझे याद दिलाते हैं, उन लोगो की ,
जो चले थे देव दर्शन पर, उन पहाड़ो में,
जिन्हें तूने अपने आलाप में ले लिया,
उन्हें उनके परिवारों से अलग कर।

मैं जानता हूँ दोष हमारा है,
हमने तू झे नकारा हैं,
स्वार्थी हो गए है हम सब,
पर सच तो यही हैं,
ये संसार कल भी तुम्हारा था ,
और आज भी तुम्हारा है।

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Heart of Incredible India: Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh is often referred to as the Heart of India not only for its geographical position but also for its unique cultural history and rich natural resources. It is arguably the most diverse among the Indian States with vast forests, ancient temples and rich wildlife.

Unlike most other Indian States, the history of Madhya Pradesh (MP) dates back to pre-historic times. This region was primarily inhabited by the Gond tribes and hence this region came to be known as the Gondwana Land and even today the modern MP is majorly inhabited by various tribal groups. In fact, MP has the highest population of tribal people in the country. The proofs of pre-historic civilization in these regions can be found in various areas of Bhopal, Raisen, Panchmarhi, Bhimbetka and Hoshangabad in the form of rocks and cave paintings. The famous Historian Brewer asserted that the Aryans were well acquainted with the valley of Narmada and its surrounding areas and it was in these times that regions of MP gradually became thickly populated especially those near the banks of river Narmada. Subsequently the influence of the Mauryas, Guptas and the Mughals shaped the dimensions of the civilization of this region. They influenced the art, culture and lifestyle of the region which can be seen and felt even today. During the revolt of 1857 many of the significant contributions came from the central province in the name of Rani of Jhansi, Tatya Tope and Nana Saheb. After achieving independence various provinces were merged creating MP but the Marathi speaking southern regions were ceded to Maharashtra. And thus was born the modern state of Madhya Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh is a confluence of many cultures, religions and traditions. It is often seen as a melting pot of cultures coming from all four cardinal directions and creating a unique combination in itself. Since ages, the music and dances are the most common ways of humans to recreate themselves. The folk music and dance has a cultural connect with the common men, which is a true expression of his emotions and feelings. The folk dances and music of MP are very colorful and beautiful. There are more than twenty tribes found in the State and hence in terms of tribal folk culture, the State has a lot to offer. One of the famous dance forms is called the ‘Rai Dance’ which is the traditional dance form of Beria tribe. This dance is performed in group with a single female dancer in the center. This dance is to celebrate the beauty of womanhood. The dancer at the center is called berani. As far as the Folk Music is concerned, the major ones are the Phaag Songs which are devotional songs based on Lord Krishna and Radha and Garba Songs which are sung at Navratri and are accompanied by claps of hands. Talking of contemporaries, various artists well-known and respected throughout the length and breadth of the country belong to MP. Ashok Kumar, Annu Kapoor, Birju Maharaj and M.F Hussain are just few names from a plethora of national artistic figures.

The land-locked state of MP was the largest state till recently when Chhattisgarh was carved out of MP making it the second largest state behind Rajasthan. Geographically MP can be seen as a confluence of central highlands, Satpura Range and the eastern plateau region. The climate of the state is sub-tropical monsoon type but due to large geographical variations, it may differ at various places. The state of MP has an extensive network of rivers having great river basins and watersheds of a number of rivers. Ten major rivers of India originate here which includes Narmada, Tapti, Chambal, Sone and Betwa among others. The numero uno state of India in terms of the area under forests is also a pioneer in field of conservation and prevention of these forests and flora-fauna in them. The Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha National Park and Satpura region are among the major National Parks in the country. MP also has a significant Tiger population spanning across the five major Tiger Reserves in the State viz. Pench, Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Panna and Sanjay –Dubri.

In terms of tourism as well, MP has variety to offer right from rich biodiversity and wildlife to spiritual and religious sculptures and monuments. Moreover, the Ghats and valleys of River Narmada create a picturesque outlining along the banks. Every year MP attracts lakhs of tourists both domestic and international and tourism forms an essential component of the State revenues. One of the famous must visit city is Amarkantak which is situated in Shahdol district in Maikal ranges and is considered to be holy among the Hindus. It is the point of origination of rivers Narmada and Sone. It is well known for the 24 temples of Amarkantak and the Kapildhara falls. Then comes the beautiful Khajuraho which if famous for its beautiful artifacts inscribed on stones. The famous temples of Khajuraho were built by the Chandel rulers around 950 AD. Majorly the stone art and paintings of Khajuraho are the unique example of love and sensuality in Indian culture. Among these the places of must visit are the Kandariya Mahadev, Chausath Yogini and Beni Sagar Dam.

The capital city Bhopal apart from being the administrative centre is also a well known tourist destination of MP. Bhopal was established in the 11th century by King Bhoj and today sports both new and old sections of the city and thus becomes a unique feature of architectural brilliance. It is situated over five hills and has two beautiful lakes.  Among various destinations to choose from, one cannot miss the Jama Masjid, Sadar Manjil and Bharat Bhawan. Moreover, Sanchi known majorly for its Buddha Stupas is situated on the outskirts of Bhopal itself. Over the years it has become a major tourist destination for Buddhists all over the world. On the entrance gates of these stupas one can find inscribed various Jataka Kathas i.e. the stories related to the birth of Buddha. Besides the stupas, the place has other attractions like Bodh Vihar, Ashok Stambh and the temples of the Gupta dynasty which are the epitome of temple building in India. And for those who enjoy the spiritual side more, there is the city of Ujjain which is considered to be a major pilgrimage centre for Hindus. This is a place of mythological significance and has appeared in various Hindu Texts. Ujjain is the city of temples and to name a few we have the Mahakal Temple, Kal bhairav, Jyotirlinga Mahakaleshwer and many more.

Madhya Pradesh has some historical caves in its various mountain ranges significant of early civilizations, ancient history and mythology. Most significant of them are the Bhimbetka caves which is a UNESCO world heritage site. These rock shelters situated in the Raisen district of MP have a number of interesting paintings which depict the lives and times of our predecessors, who lived in these caves including scenes of birth, communal dancing and religious ceremonies and rituals. Besides Bhimbetka, the Bagh Caves situated near Mandu and the Pandav Caves of Panchmarhi are something one should not risk missing. Also, the large number of forts in the State are a testimony of the rich cultural heritage and the major ones are located in Gwalior, Deogarh, Chanderi and Narwar among others.

India is an agrarian economy and the heart land is painted in the same colors throughout. Nearly seventy per cent people of the state are engaged in agriculture or allied activities and they account for nearly 20 per cent of the State’s gross domestic product. The good news is that the agriculture and allied sector has been registering significant growth. A State which was earlier considered as a backward state has shown tremendous character and zeal to register all-round growth and even the capacity for sustaining that kind of momentum. Recently MP was honored as the “fastest emerging state” among other big states moving into double digit growth figures. Besides the socio-economic developments, the focus has also been on tourism, new industrial corridors and development of human capital.

Even with all these efforts, experts feel that still the tourism potential of the state is under-utilized and the rich heritage and diversity which it has to offer is still not reaching masses. Let us hope that in the times to come, we witness an infrastructural overhaul of the State, so that the world can see for itself the jewel facet of Incredible India, the heart of India- Madhya Pradesh!

Published in Pardesi Pulse

P.S. Had made this video for India day about Madhya Pradesh. Sharing it here.

Police Reforms:The Stubborn Sentinels of India

Even after 65 years of having freed ourselves from the repressive colonial rule, the Indian Police has failed to transform itself amidst the colors of democracy. It is still a symbol of oppression, cruelty and corruption. Let us examine what stops it from becoming an epitome of security, neutrality and integrity.

Change is inevitable and so are the challenges that crop up with the novel conditions. And with these swirling environmental factors, any system must adapt in order to survive and more importantly to perform efficiently. The status of Indian Police today is retrograde and the shortcomings are conspicuous but still surprisingly nothing concrete is being done regarding it. It still carries that repressive outlook that the British painted to help themselves by nipping in the bud any kind of rebellion against them. It was meant to be coercive then, but why the uncanny continuance and the unfair silence of our so called representatives.

The Police administration is no different and like other bureaus it is too plagued with corruption. The corruption is more visible in the lower rungs as those construe the interface with the people. But one cannot confidently deny the possibilities in the top levels. People struggling to make a living in this country often feel that knocking on the doors of Police can prove to be a costly affair and decide otherwise. Justice apparently has also become a commodity. Corruption is though, only one of the numerous problems of the current day policing in India. The police force of the country is heavily overburdened and has one of the worst policeman-population ratio in the world. Moreover, the arbitrary transfers of senior level officers in the Indian Police is a big hurdle before attainment of efficiency and effectiveness. Though the appointments are facilitated by a panel-system, still they do not reflect the consideration of ability over seniority. Also, the reluctance of registering FIRs by the policeman is a big concern. Untrained policemen equipped with age-old rusted arms cannot fight the super equipped militants. 

It is not that efforts have not been made to reform the policing system. Numerous committees have been constituted over the last three-four decades but there recommendations have been lying in the dusty corners of our bureaucracies and thus implementation remains a far off dream. It all started with the constitution of a National Police Commission in 1977 which had many eminent personnel of the government but somehow the reports could not be materialized amidst the political transitions in the country. And as it happens with every other committee, even this one was forgotten over time. The indifference shown by the political leaders was frustrating for those who understood the importance of police reforms in the country. And at precisely this moment, the country witnessed a small step which was to become a major determinant to the fate of police reforms in the country and in fact to shape the instrumentalities of the reforms. Two retired Director General’s of Police (DGPs) in 1996 filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court directing the governments to implement the recommendation of the National Police Commission. It was only in 2006 that the Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgment requiring the governments to implement the seven directives as listed by the court.

In tune with these directives, the union government constituted various high profile committees like the Ribeiro Committee, Padmanabhaiah Committee and then more recently the Soli Sorabjee Committee. All the recommendations given by these committees headed by erudite people in the field of policing have the potential to overhaul it and make it efficient, transparent and accountable. Throwing some light on these recommendations helps us present a clearer picture of the state of affairs.

First and foremost, the investigation part should be bifurcated and given to investigation agencies which will help the overburdened police to maintain law and order efficiently. The dual burden has been hampering police functioning and both the dimensions are suffering badly. And as the priority lies with Law & Order, the investigation part has always been ignored and thus lacks the institutional support and level of sophistication. Secondly, the tenure of higher officials should be fixed for at least 2-3 years. That would check the political interference. Every other day we hear and read about IPS officers being transferred at the whims of politicians drowned in the tainted waters of nepotism and favoritism, this needs to be curbed.

Thirdly, an independent commission should be constituted for the appointment of heads of armed forces and higher level appointments in the police. This would help to curtail the preponderance of political interference in the high level decision making process of all such organizations. Another fundamental flaw with the whole arrangement is that in case a civilian has a grievance against Police personnel, he has almost no option to pursue. Apparently there has been an assumption that the police personnel will never err or will never abuse power. In this view, Police Complaint boards need to be established at state and district levels to be headed by retired judges. This would bring accountability and would check the arbitrariness of police working. Lastly, we need to train the policemen in general warfare and provide them with modern arms and ammunition. Consider the growing instances of insurgency and naxalism across the length and breadth of the country. These military outfits have sophisticated arsenal with them and the mildly equipped police forces are no threat to them. Recently there have been numerous instances of our policemen being killed by these outfits. A large part of the blame goes to the government which is clearly not providing them adequate training and the necessary skills and weapons to handle such situations across the red corridor of the country.

Another dimension that needs to be touched is doing away with the repressive image of the Police and replacing it with a friendly & approachable outlook. These are no colonial times anymore and we are a democracy now. People still fear going to the Police for their problems, they have lost faith in them and only think of them as the last resort. One of the classical ways to build up relationship is cooperation and in this reference, many projects of Community Policing have proved to be very effective. Community policing is a platform where the Police cooperates with the local residents and citizens to facilitate maintenance of law and order. Moreover, in some cases the locals are entrusted with a larger responsibility by means of forming an organization. For instance, Delhi Police have initiated various Neighborhood Watchmen Schemes in collaboration with the Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) of Delhi. Such models which facilitate locals working with the Police are proving to be excellent avenues of inculcating faith and building effective relationships.

Moreover, the agitations taking place in the country over the State’s inability to protect women have further aggravated the need for police reforms. The women folks are the major victims of the harshness shown by our protectors and most of them fear to go to the Police stations to register complaints. This situation is worse in rural areas which are still eclipsed by the shadows of patriarchy. The percentage of women personnel in Police is nowhere near the global trend and a lot needs to be done in this direction. To start with, we should train the lower rungs of the Police regarding how women victims should be dealt with? This can be done by sensitizing the Police personnel on feminine issues. Another way is to open All-Women Police Stations and Tamil Nadu which has the maximum such stations in the country can be the torch bearer for the other states to follow. As per recent reports, the country only has 442 such stations and 13 States do not have even a single such station which clearly shows the lack of interest by the states. The central government needs to follow up on this in mission-mode so as to ensure security for women throughout the country.  

At the commencement of the Constitution of India, we rechristened the Indian Police force to Indian Police Service (IPS) but unfortunately this transformation has only been on paper and not in spirit. We desperately need to conceptualize a framework to implement this transformation so that these stubborn sentinels realize that they have been inducted to serve the people of this country and not to harass them!

Published in Pardesi Pulse

Friday, June 14, 2013

Man of Steel * * *

Months ago when that little teaser came out, it became a contagion. It had nothing great. But a soothing background score But a classy vintage outlook. But a bunch of wonderfully written lines. It gave us hope. Hope which the 'S' actually stands for and not for Superman. Not many people know that. Who am I kidding, even I didn't . It gave us hope that another grand trilogy is in the making on the lines of the Dark Knight. The Christopher Nolan connection sure helped to get our hopes high.

To be honest, it is nothing like that. The direction of Zack Snyder is more conspicuous than Christopher Nolan's writing. In fact, the movie is more about the grandeur of action sequences rather than the spurts of super-cool dialogues by dramatic personas. But the symphony of both is such that the narration comes out us gripping and novel. The screenplay ushers in a new era of story telling where you whisper eons worth stuff in a matter of minutes. Its fast, its superficial and its intriguing. Its Generation Y stuff.

The portrayal of how a human couple treats their alien baby is touching How they are always protective of him? How they want him to find the truth even when it means separation for them? How they want him to wait a while, so that when the world is ready, he can embrace them. And how the choices he would make would eventually determine the future of all mankind. Although the masala-movie lovers would find this a collage difficult to unfold. To them it would appear as bad editing.

The action sequences are simply out of this world. May be of Krypton standards. The fight scene with the humanoids from krypton is brilliantly shot and nothing short of breath-taking. The frames move so fast that you cannot even afford to blink in between. Too much of anything though, kills the fun. Same happens here. Awfully long fist-fights, too many collapsing buildings and then their recursive loop makes the whole experience a little dull.

Don't expect much from the plot either. It's just the story we all know. It's just the initiation of Superman. May be the coming parts will offer us more. This one is for die-hard Superman fans or those who had a great time watching Transformers.  Those who are contemplating to watch given the Nolan connect will only find themselves going into the limbo. And there is no DiCaprio to get you out of it!