May 31, 2009

Attacks on Indians in Australia

For the past fews days ,there has been an upsurge in the attacks on the Indian students in Australia. Shravan Kumar is still in Coma while Baljinder was stabbed in his stomach. These incidents among others has bought into picture the debate of "are foreign countries racist towards Indians?" I have lived in USA for about 4 years. I lived in around New York City for the whole time I was there. I would like to say I never encountered any racial discrimination acts against me, atleast not which were obvious. People were in general friendly and accomodating. I have heard stories of friends facing discrimination but honestly I haven't experienced it. It might be because I lived in a metropolitian city like New York City and people here are seen more open to other cultures. Residents of cities like New York interact with citizens from all over the world ona daily basis and this might just bring out a positive change in their attitude. I faced discrimination only on British Airways. The attitude and manner of speaking of the air hostess was not friendly towards me while on the other hand she would talk to the white man besides me with all the love she has. That when I have decided never to travel by British Airways. People feel there is a underlying current against Indians because we are seen as taking away their jobs. There are the specific "curry bashing" which is said to take place in Australia. Stories of racial discrimination in UK are known to all. Haven't we heard of stories of Indians in Middle-East do treat us Indians as second class citizens? Just today a friend told me about someone who had garbage thrown on him while walking on the street. These incidents occurs and there is no denying that fact. Indians tend to ignore these incidents, not lodge any complains as they azlso want to create a better life for themselves in those countries and they don't want any problems in this process. But then these people are just rotten apples who are not welcome to change, who see Indians as a danger to them in some way. Maybe it is just their own frustration which they are venting out on our people. I don't know if there is any way to explain these people our side of the story because such people are too blind-sighted by their own faith to accomodate any new ideas. It is upto us to be careful and try and lead a normal life. We are a new country which is not our own country, we have to always remember this. Mahatma Gandhi himself was a target of racial discrimination. We just have to make our voices heard to the authorities and let them know we are not soft. As we live in their country, our security is their responsibility even if we are not the citizens of that country. Lastly, I would say that be it USA, UK, Australia or any other country there would be some things that are good and some things which are bad. We need to always remember why we are there, absorb all the good and discard the bad.

May 29, 2009

Movie time

I stumbled upon my thing for today just by accident. It was already 10.30 in the night and I still had not figured out anything new to do for today. Just then as I was surfing the channels I came across the movie "The Battle of Algiers" being aired on UTV movies. I have heard rare reviews of this movie and have always wanted to see it. Luck was with me, I reached this channel just as the movie was about to start. So I found my new activity for today, watching a foreign language movie, also a movie that I have wanted to see for some time now. This movie is in Italian. It is a movie which showcases Algerian War of Independence. This war was a conflict between France and Algerian independence movements from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria gaining her independence from France. The film depicted the scenes of Algerian city life with stunning realism. The movie was realeased in 1966 and completely in Black and White; that adds to the beauty of the movie. The cinematography and screenplay of the movie is outstanding and so are the actors. I love foreign language movies, not Hollywood types but movies of Iranian, French or Italian origin, these movies are realist in their approach. The technical details which go into these films is world class, be it the screenplay, camera work or direction. Most people complain that you have to concentrate to your lst breath as we hardly understand these languages but then there is fun in watching a foreign language movie. If want a fun filled, happy go luck, time pass movie then please don't watch this one. It is not for the faint hearted. I would recommend this movie for any true movie buff.

Mumbai Meri Jaan

Welcome to my home. Mumbai is the place I call home. A city full of life, a city that never sleeps. The heart of Mumbai is its people. The people who give you a feel that life stops for nobody; one always has to be on the move. The people here are always trying to get somewhere; where do they aspire to go is something only they know or maybe even they don't. I have lived in Mumbai for most part of my life. Like many Mumbaikars, I came from a different part of India to this city for better opportunity. I did get many opportunities here to advance in my life. This city makes or breaks you. This city has given me a lot that I have today. I have traveled around the world, visited many places, even lived in different cities but my heart belongs to Mumbai. Every time I land back in Mumbai from my visits, I feel alive. There is something in the air of this city that makes you want to come back. I would love to share this love for my city with everyone around. If you haven't come to Mumbai then you should. It is the city that will get your heart racing. Welcome to Mumbai...Welcome to my home...
Mumbai is home to the oldest stock exchange in Asia, the Bollywood film industry, slums of Dharavi and some of the priciest real estate on earth. If Delhi is the administrative capital of India then Mumbai is the financial capital of India. From the glitz and glamour of South Mumbai to the slums of Dharavi, you will find a picture of Mumbai to suit your interest. From watching the sunset over Marine Drive, to hangout with friends on Bandstand or going for a stroll on Juhu Beach, the Arabian Sea is intergral part of your life in Mumbai. I always loved going to Marine Drive or Bandstand and watch the sunset on the horizon. It gives you a feeling of oneness with nature. Even going for walks on Marine Drives during the monsoons is the most thrilling experience. Rains and Mumbai; you can’t imagine one without the other. I still remember being stuck in the torrential rains that lashed Mumbai on 26th July 2005. I was coming back from work and my car broke down. I met two good-hearted strangers who dropped me home helped me. The soul of this city is its people. Strangers who will come and help you in times of need, they won’t think twice before offering a helping hand. Mumbai would never think if you are from Gujarat, Bihar or Tamil Nadu. The city will welcome you will open arms. There might be no place for the existing people here, but still the city will take in whoever knocks on its door. It never turns anyone away. Mumbai is home for anyone who wishes to call it home.
I already told you guys how much I love walking in the rains, hanging out at Marine Drive or Bandstand. But the best thing of about Mumbai is its trains: the lifeline of Mumbai. If you haven't traveled by trains in Mumbai then you really haven't experience the real city. But do it on your own risk because it is not for the faint hearted. We all friends use to take the trains for college and always struggling to just get into the trains. Forget place to sit, if you even get a place to stand properly you are lucky. The best part was trying to get off on your station. You start preparing for this battle well before your station comes. We loved to just stand on the door even when the trains were empty. It was to feel the air of Mumbai brushing against your face. Oh, how I miss those days. I love driving through Navy Nagar and then going to Bade Miyan for awesome food. If you ever go to Bandstand, then I would say walk a little uphill and visit the Mount Mary Church. Just being here gives me complete peace of mind. And how can I forget Elco Pani Puri. I have seen this place grow from a small roadside stall to a full-fledged fast-food restaurant. Now that what I call business development. You will find numerous success stories like this in Aamchi Mumbai. There is an array of things one can Mumbai. You can never get tired of this city. If you do, then it is entirely your fault. Just open your eyes and this city will present you will place in front of your eyes its real beauty, you just have to have the heart to take it all in.
I might move to any corner of the world but Mumbai will always be my home. I always leave a piece of my soul back in this city; I am always longing to return back to my home.

May 28, 2009

Bucket List for 30

This is my new activity for today. I am putting on my blog the 30 things I want to do before I turn 30. Actually there are zillions things I want to do at every passing moment but for the readers sake, I will restrict the list to 30. I want you all to come back and read my other blogs. My request to everyone, try and work on such a list. You might not be able to everything but you still have goals towards which you can strive to work.

Everyone has a "To-Do" list. We always make list of things we want to do, things we have to get or just things which which will make us happy. I am a Seeker by nature. I am always in search of something. The search can be for knowledge, meaning of life or search even for the materialistic things of life. I am going to turn 30 sometime in near future. Nope, won't tell you how much time is left for it. C'on a female never reveals her age. Anyways there a tons of activities I would like to do before I turn 30. I sat down today to make a list of 30 things I would like to do before I turn 30. We all have such list and this is my bucket list. A list I wish to complete. This list included only the thing I have yet to do, not the things I have already done.
  1. Backpacking across Western Europe
  2. White Water Rafting on the Ganges
  3. Sky Diving (Missed the chance due to bad weather. Hopefully will get a chance soon)
  4. Bungee Jumping in New Zealand
  5. Learn Foreign Languages (Chinese, French, Spanish. I have started learning Chinese, now will have divert attention to other languages)
  6. Visit New York again (I say again because I have already lived there before. I want to just go back to the city again to relive those days)
  7. Work in a Media Company, read News Channels.
  8. Visit the North East region of India
  9. Learn Salsa Dance
  10. Go on an African Safari
  11. Go on a Cruise, preferably Alaska
  12. Visit Greece
  13. Read all the books in my list "100 Books of my favorite books"
  14. Watch all the movies in my list "100 must see movies"
  15. Road trip through North India
  16. Visit Goa (Yup. Believe it or not I haven't yet visited Goa)
  17. Go on a wildlife safari in India (Corbett or Ranthambore)
  18. Learn Swimming (Surprise as it may be, I can't even swim to save my own life)
  19. Go Scuba Diving and Snorkeling (Naturally this would be after I learn to swim)
  20. Start working on my book and make efforts finish it.
  21. Learn to ride a Bike. After learning to ride a bike, buy one.
  22. Skiing in Switzerland.
  23. Write Poetic Poems.
  24. Work for NGO.
  25. Adopt a Pet Dog.
  26. Visit minimum of one country in Each continent other than the ones already visited.
  27. Get a student's pilot license.
  28. Meet minimum of one person from my list of "People I want to meet before I die". There is no limit on Maximum.
  29. Watch F1 and Football match in a European city.
  30. Visit Dubai during the Dubai Shopping Festival.

May 27, 2009

Filled with Colors

I was never good at drawing and painting as a kid. I still remember making my younger brother complete my drawing book in school. I always envied people like my brother who could excel at it. All my attempts to try my hand it never got me anywhere near my goal. Anyways I was not dishearted because I was always trying to learn something else which was new and fun to do. Anyways today my 9 years niece was visiting me. She was carrying her drawing book and it gave me idea for my new thing for today. I asked her for her book and crayons. She was still wondering what Massi is going to do with my book. That is when I told her that I would love to color in her book. She was a little surprised but happily gave me the book. I choose two pictures in the book. One of a Child and second of a teddy bear. Both pictures related to childhood. I went crazy with the colors, never thinking what color would suit there. I just filled the pages with the colors I loved. It was like I was coloring my life with those colors as I was coloring in the book.

May 26, 2009

Writing to the Author whose book I loved

Whenever I love any book, I always wish there would be some way I could tell the author how much I loved reading his or her book. I never end up doing it. But this was my new thing for today. I recently finished reading the book "Stranger to History" by Aatish Taseer. I love this book. As the book say, "It is a son's journey through Islamic land". The author takes you an a journey through different Islamic cultures. In every country he encounters different facets of the culture. His journey is such that the reader feels part of it. I felt a strange bond with his character. I believe each of us is in search of something in life. We spent lifetime trying to figure out what it is. Even if we know what it is we never go in the search of discovering this thing; the discover which will give a new meaning to our life. But here is a person who took up on himself to take this journey. He decided that he is not going to spend his life just thinking about it. He wanted to really know who his father is and what makes him the person he is. His journey took him through the heart of Islamic land. I felt I was part of this journey in someway. I wanted to tell all this the author. For the first time, I wanted to tell author how I loved his book and how it has made a difference to me. This time I just din't think about it but actually acted on it. Somehow I found his email and wrote to him. I told him how much I loved his book. And guess what he wrote back to me. So the new thing for today was a success. Look forward to tomm.

Start of a new idea

I always make resolutions at the start of the new year and half way through I lose track and never end up completing the resolution. This year I had decided that every day I will do something new. I don't say I have kept the resolution completely but I have made an effort this year to follow as much as I can. I just want to share it here with you all what I new I have done for that day. I know you will say half the year has already passed, what am I doing starting now. But I say it is better late than never. I wish to share this experience with everyone and maybe inspire you all to do the same. It is a great thing you can do for yourself.

P.S.: I would love to hear ideas from you my friends on what new things I can try for each day. I would love to implement it.

May 25, 2009

People I would love to meet in this life time

There are people who leave a mark on your mind and heart. They impress you in some way. These are people I look up to, they have influenced me in some way at different stages of my life. These are also people who have generated interest in me about them. These people are from all walks of life. They are the people I would love to meet in this life time. I want to talk to these people, know who they really and what makes them who they are. I am sure I will be able to realize this dream some day. Till then I will keep on wishing and being optimistic.
If you read this blog before I put up the reasons, then wait I will even put up reasons but I first want to compile the list and then work on it. So please wait and you will know the reasons.

  1. Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam
  2. Dr. Manmohan Singh
  3. Barack Obama
  4. Sonia Gandhi
  5. Bill Clinton
  6. Nelson Mandela
  7. P. Chidambaram
  8. Pranab Mukherjee
  9. Vladimir Putin
  10. Wen Jiabao
  11. Stephan Hawking
  12. Prannoy Roy
  13. Sachin Tendulkar
  14. Steve Waugh
  15. Micheal Schumacher
  16. Steffi Graf
  17. Pete Sampras
  18. David Beckham
  19. Pele
  20. Tiger Woods
  21. Fareed Zakaria
  22. Shashi Tharoor
  23. Amartya Sen
  24. Thomas Friedman
  25. Bill Gates
  26. Larry Page
  27. Sergery Brin
  28. Laskshmi Mittal
  29. Narayan Murthy
  30. Azim Premji
  31. Ratan Tata
  32. Field workers of the United Nations and its affiliated organizations
  33. Kiran Bedi
  34. Queen Elizabeth
  35. George Clooney
  36. Brad Pitt
  37. Kate Winslet
  38. Steven Spielberg
  39. J K Rowling
  40. Jeffery Archer
  41. Khaled Hosseini
  42. Gregory David Roberts
  43. Amitav Ghosh
  44. Suketu Mehta
  45. Dan Brown
  46. Prakash and Mandakini Amte

P.S.: I am writing down only the people who are alive. Hey, I am optimistic but also realistic. Also the list is not in the order of importance.

May 22, 2009

To the Prime Minister of India

Please accept my heartiest congratulations on being sworn in as the 17th Prime Minister of India. You have immerged has the choice of the Indian people for the top job. You bring certain degree of credibility to the office of Prime Minister. In you India see its better future; a future which will develop India to its actual potential.

I am writing today to you an Indian; an Indian who believes that her country can go great heights if she gets the right leaders to guide her. The people of India have put trust in you and your government. Now the responsibility falls on the chosen leaders to steer India into the future. The leaders have to work with the people in ensuring the overall sustained growth of our country. In this letter, I would just like to write as concerned citizen of this country and put forth the problems which the new government would have to tackle. I know I am not an expert on this matter but I wanted to write because I want to have my voice heard.

In the present times, the foremost problem facing our country and the world is the economy. The state of the world economy is grim and people haven’t seen a ray of hope for sometime. Steps should be taken to reduce the fiscal deficit and there should be check on inflation. The benefits of the steps taken by the government to improve the economy should trickle down to the lowest level of the chain; chain which starts from the government to the common man on the ground level. There is a rise in the unemployment. Unemployment is the problem not just of the educated urban population but also the rural population. Inclusive growth should be the mantra of the government.

Population of India is growing at a rate of 1.548% per year. We are a country with an estimate of 1.17 billion people and growing at an alarming rate. Despite the fact that India was the first country in the world to have a population policy, not much has been achieved in terms of population control. India is facing an intense crisis of resources. There is fierce competition for the nation's limited natural resources leading to quarrels between states, between communities and even families. Our land and water resources are being exploited to the hilt. The exploitation of mineral resources is threatening forests, nature reserves, and ecology. Seventy percent of the energy resources need to be imported putting constant pressure on us to export more or face currency devaluation. Over use of resources is contributing to natural disasters occurring more frequently and with greater devastation. The pressing need of the day is to at create ideal conditions for acceptance of the need for stabilizing the population and how it is an essential element of human welfare and development. The solution to this lie in spreading of education and enlightenment, and in the empowerment of women. Birth control programmes should also be integrated with medical and public health services to make them popular among the masses.

I have lived abroad and then moved to India. I might be among the minority population of Indians who has taken the reverse journey. I came back to India because I believed my true calling was in India. I know a lot of friends of mine who would love to come back to India but then the present system of India prevents them from doing so. When I ask friends why don’t you want to move to India, I just get one answer. I would not be able to rise to my true potential in India. People think that they will not get the kind of infrastructure, opportunity and development in India as they would get in countries like USA or UK. People are of the opinion that if they want a better future for themselves and their children then living in the western countries is the right thing to do. There is no denying this fact but then we also need the scientists, engineers, doctors and management gurus back in India. In one of his speeches Rajiv Gandhi said that it is not a brain drain if we can get these people back home after few years. After years of experience in the developed world, these people can contribute greatly to the development of our country. The government should try and implement policies and procedures to insure this transition takes place.

Poverty is everywhere we look. Visit a small town or a big city, we encounter people who are struggling to get just 2 meals for the day. My heart reaches out to these people, I can feel the pain for them and my heart is filled with desire to help these people. I can do whatever is in my capacity to help such people but I cannot reach out to the millions around India. Government needs to develop schemes for the poor. With poverty comes malnutrition. When one looks at the state of children in rural Orissa, I can never understand if I should feel lucky to get my meals or should I feel sad that while I eat in air-conditioned restaurants without caring for the bill there are my brothers and sisters around India who could be fed for a month on the same amount. I don’t dream for all people in the society at same level but then there should be some sort of equilibrium maintained. These people should atleast be able to get food to survive. There should steps taken to make sure that the benefits should reach the people and not get caught in the red-tape.

Mahatma Gandhiji once said that the true India lives in its villages. After 61 years of independence, the urban population of India has increased but I still believe that if one wants to know the true India then that person should visit the villages of India. It is where the heart of India lies. The farmers of our villages work hard year round to earn a decent meal for their families. My grandfather and uncles come from Marathawada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra. These regions for years have suffered due to lack of rains. This is the place where farmer suicide is happening. I have seen them toil day in and out, in scrouching heat. Schemes like NREGA and loan waivers for farmers need to be implemented rigorously. Stories are present all over India where the NREGA has been caught in the red tape. Workers are not paid wages, payment is below the minimum wage and research has show that of the total households which sought employment only 10% of the households have received employment for the full 100 days. Also, 70% of NREGA records are not available. No one is denying that this scheme was a noble one by the government but my only concern is this should not be lost in the loopholes of bureaucracy and loss the real meaning for which it was first passed. NREGA is just one of the ways the government has tried to help the rural population. Agriculture is still the most important income source for these people. Micro financing and ease in loans should be there to help the farmers. People in villages sell their babies to earn money. There was a story where a baby was sold for 40Rs because the parents could not afford to feed the rest of the family. Benefits should available to the rural poor so that no other family in India is faced with this situation.

29% of India lives in the urban areas. According to CIA data the rate of urbanization is predicted to be 2.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.) The cities of India are growing at a rapid pace. People see as urban areas as a place where one can get rich. People migrate to cities for better life but still most of the people in urban areas are poor. The slums in Mumbai standing besides the tall buildings give the picture of city that few want to see. The population of cities is on a rise but the infrastructure is no able to sustain it. You cannot drive on the roads because they are too many cars, you can’t travel in trains because they are always overcrowded. There is also the risk of the rise in security problems. The people in urban areas have to fend for their survival at each step. Government needs to ensure that there is sustained urban development.

Religion and caste has been used to divide our society over generations. In today’s times when one sees a Godhara or Kandhamal happening one is sad and angry at the same time. Sad because of the lives lost for petty reasons which are exploited to gain political mileage. Hooligans are out to destroy the peace and tranquility of our country. Any government should work to unite the country and not divide it on basis of religion or caste.

Internal as well as External security has been India’s concern since independence. We are surrounded by neighbors who have troubles brewing in their backyards; been it is rise of Taliban and strong hold of military in Pakistan or the Tamil crisis in Sri Lanka or the political situations in Nepal. We are in the middle of this entire storm. To add to this we have the situation with Pakistan. Also the problems with the Naxals in India have been on the rise. The recent attacks carried out by Naxals during the elections or the recent attack of Naxals in Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra has again thrown light on the seriousness of this problem. I was in Mumbai on 26/11 when the attacks happened on the city. It saddened me to see the city I love to be under siege. People lost their family and friends for not fault of theirs. Terrorism be it is Jammu Kashmir or Mumbai claims victims; victims who are mostly innocent people who are just trying to lead a normal life. Government needs to revamp the police force and military. Our soldiers need to be equipped with the best weapons to fight the enemies of the country. Insurgency and terrorism should be dealt with a strong hand for a peaceful society. Prosperity resides in a truly peaceful society.

We have world-class doctors. We are the hub for medical tourism. We have companies like Ranbaxy and Dr. Reddys that are leaders in the pharmaceuticals. But still in India, most people don’t get the basic health care facilities. My brother mentioned to me that they had taken his friend to a government hospital on account of accident. This hospital was in a small town. His friend had met with an accident but there was no way an early detection could happen as this hospital did not have x-ray machine. People die every day across India just because they do not get the proper medical care at the right time. In small villages and towns, the government hospitals need to be upgraded. Poor people cannot afford to go to private hospitals. It is in the government hospital that they come for their medical care. The facilities of the hospitals need to be improved at the earliest. No one should loose their life due to lack of proper medical care. Alcohol and Smoking are hazardous to health. I hear stories from my servants where husbands beat up wives to extract money for drinking. People loose their lives due to drunk driving. The “taadi” shops in Kerela or the numerous alcohol selling stores in Himachal Pradesh just kill people. Smoking can kill. It is know to everyone but still people smoke. Alcohol and Tobacco companies provide government with chunk of revenue. But then is revenue above the life of the people? There should be strict rules to keep a check on these companies and steps should be taken to ensure that health of people be protected from these vices. The UN estimates that 5.7 million people in India are carrying the virus of HIV-AIDS. According to NACO, as of 2006 estimates national adult HIV prevalence in India is approximately 0.36 percent, amounting to between 2 and 3.1 million people. There is also the danger of the transmission from mother to child. The figures can be from any sources but the numbers are grim. The people should be educated of the dangers of the disease, prevention methods and how to live with the disease. Steps need to be taken before it turns into an epidemic which none of have any control over.

Education is the base for any development. When the people of a country are educated they are all the architects of the better present and future of the country. Children should be entitled to basic education. Basic education should reach all children. The Sarva-Shikha Abhiyan should reach every village and city in India. With providing education to all, we also need to take care of the quality of education. The quality of education in government schools and regional language schools should be increased. Poor children have the right to a good education as the rich children. The quality of higher education has needs to be made up the mark. On one hand we have IITs & IIMs and on the other hand we have private colleges that spring up just to make money. Education should never be a moneymaking business. It should be the driving force to bring about a constructive change in the society. Proper Education at every level should be vision of the government.

I grew up in a family where the education of females was never given much importance. It was important here to groom the girl to be a perfect wife. But I thank my stars that my parents were different. For them there was no difference between my brother and me. They gave me the best education possible, always encouraged me to go ahead in life. I am lucky to have such parents but not all girls in India are this lucky. A girl is aborted in India. She is never allowed to even see the world. As of 2001 there are 927 females for every 1000 males across India. According the CIA world fact book the mortality rate of females is 25.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.). This is not present in only the poorer section of the society but the rich urban people also undertake such low level activities. Even if a girl is born she is never given the deserved status in the family and the society. Ever day we hear stories of females being raped on the street, brides harassed by families for dowry and abuse of even children. Incidents like the one happening in Mangalore makes us feel unsafe in our own backyards. Females should be educated so that no one will exploit them. As a female living in these conditions in India, my only request is to ensure a safer society for all of us.

The youth of India are the future of this country. They should be provided proper education and employment. Also, youth of India should be made an active part of the political system. I am aware that Mr. Rahul Gandhi is taking steps in this direction. The present parliament as a lot of young faces like Sachin Pilot, Agatha Sangma, Suriya Sule, Priya Dutt, Miling Deora among others. But more needs to be done to change the image of politics and politicians in the eyes of the people. The low voter turnout in Mumbai and other metros around the India during these elections is a testimony of the attitude of youth towards politics. I am not justifying their decision but then I would just like to say that if they see a cleaner and better image of politicians they might change their mind. I also want to state the fact that most of the young politicians elected this time around come from a long lineage of dynasty politics. They have a family name they carry which gives them the easy route into politics. They get party tickets because of their famous surnames. These MPs also have to prove their mantle to the people; but then what about the average Indian who yearns to be part of the political system? I was speaking to someone who wanted to get a ticket for this year’s Lok Sabha for a political party. He described me the levels of party workers he needs to go through to reach the authorities. Most of the times these people never get a ticket. The person who has the desire to work for people is left standing on the side-ways while the powerful trudge forward. The system needs to make sure that genuine people do get a chance to work for their country.

Justice in India is delayed. People die waiting for justice to happen. The courts are over loaded with cases. Many cases are dismissed due to lack of evidence. People are left waiting for justice to happen. The cases against the politicians are pending for years with no results in sight. Government has to act on speeding of the judicial systems. The commission reports need to be acted upon. Justice should be delivered to the people.

Corruption is a big problem anywhere you go in India. You cannot get work done in any government office but being an honest citizen. It takes ages to get just a small work done; which by the way would be your right to get in the first place. I still remember in the customs office I was openly asked for bribe defining it as “service charge”. When I refused to budge, they troubled my shipment by inventing problems. But I went by law and was firm so I could get my work done. But then I had to go through a lot of trouble to do so. People with their busy lives cannot always do it and hence have to give bribes to get their work done quickly. The Right to Information act has been proven effective but it should be made available on a larger scale; people need to aware of this act. There is an urgent need to improve the image of the politicians. Political system should be transparent to the general public. This doesn’t mean revealing the state secrets but just reaching out the people and showing that you do mean to work for their overall good. It is my request to the present government to take steps to put curb on the rising corruption in India. It is eating our system like a termite and very soon it might lead to a complete damage to a system that would be beyond repair.

SMEs need development in India. Like in Germany, where most of the industries are SMEs we also need to concentrate on developing these industries. Here is where most Indians go to work and benefits in terms of policies and laws should be undertaken. India also needs to concentrate on developing its infrastructure of roads, ships, air and railways. Better infrastructure leads to the faster development of a country’s economy. The Satyam scandal exposes the reality of India’s corporate sector. I believe Satyam is not an isolated case. There are many stories that are not out in the open but still happening. The culprits are looting the common man of their hard earned money. Investors are losing billions because of the greed of few people. These incidents tarnish the image of our country and the corporate sector. The outlook of the world changes towards India and it is never good for foreign investments in the country. Government along with organizations like SEBI needs to pass laws that keep watch on the happenings of the corporate sector.

We live in a world where countries around the world are interdependent on each other for their progress. Developing and maintaining amiable relationships with different countries around the world is increasing important. Be it our neighboring countries like Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka or United States, United Kingdom, Russia or any other country around the world, good relationship is always beneficial to the progress of the country. The Ministry of External Affairs and the PMO will be needed to work in sync for this to take place. Relations should be developed, business should be increased but we should also maintain dignity of our country. Government today is faced with handling crisis on all borders of India and immediate steps should be taken to ensure the safety of our people.

India is a country rich in heritage. We have Taj Mahal, Meenakshi Temple, Hampi ruins, Nalanda University, Himalayas, Ganga River, Corbett National Park and Ajanta-Ellora caves among the most magnificent sites to offer people visiting India. We need to preserve this rich heritage. We need to develop the tourism industry of India on a much larger scale. Tourism is in India has the potential to be a bring revenue generating sector and we need to make sure we market it to the people. Recently I visited the Humayun Tomb in Delhi and read messages of people written all over the structure. I lot of our heritage sites are in danger. The population of Tiger, the national animal of our country, is diminishing by each passing day. We need to preserve this rich heritage of India so that we can pass on this legacy to our future generations. Government and people have to work together for the preservation of environment, tackle the problem of Global Warming and implement strict rules to control pollution.

I have written this letter in all humility. I am concerned citizen of India and care of this country I call home. It is my request to you to take India on the path of development. Wish all Indians live in peace and prosperity. I wish for the India that our freedom fighters fought for. Jai Hind.

May 20, 2009

My Cabinet of Ministers

I am following all the election news on TV and Net and Papers and now after the elections are over the buzz is who is going to be included in the Cabinet of Ministers. I was tired of waiting around for the results so thought I will give my humble ideas here. No harm meant. I have just tried to name the people whom I would like to see in these jobs. It is just my personal opinion. I am not an expert so all this is just on the basis on my knowledge. I have listed the ministries are they were included in the last cabinet and included only the key ministries. FYI...I have just included Congress party MPs. I know I am no one to decide and I know it will not make any difference but Hey it is fun and no harm is caused here...

Prime Minister - Dr. Manmohan Singh
Home Minister - Dr. P. Chidambaram
Finance Minister - Pranab Mukherjee
Commerce Minister - Kamal Nath
Defence - A K Anthony
External Affairs - Shashi Tharoor
Women and Child Development - Priya Dutt
Youth Affairs and Sports - Sachin Pilot
Agriculture - Jairam Ramesh
Human Resources Development - Kapil Sibal
Road Transport and Highways - Jyotiraditya Scindia
Communication and Information Technology - Anand Sharma
Information and Broadcasting - Jaipal Reddy
Civil Aviation - Ghulam Nabi Azad
Rural Development - C P Joshi
Railways - Suresh Kalmadi
Panchayat Raj - Oscar Fernandes
Parliamentary Affairs - Prithviraj Chauhan
Oversees Indian Affairs - Ashwani Kumar
Minority Affairs - Salmaan Khursheed
Labour and Employment - Jitin Prasada
Corporate Affairs - Abhishek Manu Singhavi
Culture & Tourism - Ambika Soni
New and Renewable Energy - Sandeep Dikshit
Law -Veerappa Moily
Health and Family Welfare - Jayanthi Natarajan
Steel - Naveen Jindal
Urban Development - Milind Deora
Petroleum - Murli Deora
Social Justice and Empowerment - Meira Kumar

May 18, 2009

My Dream Destinations

I love traveling and if ever given a chance would just travel around the world. I want to see every nook and corner of the world. I don't want to see the typical tourist hotspots but I want to go on a trail of place less traveled. I want to see Paris, South Africa, Kenya ,New-Zealand, China and so many other places around the world. I also want to go to the Amazon jungles, Sahara deserts and visit the Maori tribes of New-Zealand. These are just few of the destination of the world that I want to visit. Through series of blogs, I will write about my dream destinations around the world. I would love to give everyone information about these places. Through this blog will try to give you some information about the beautiful places around the world and hopefully inspire you all to visit these places. So let the journey begin...

May 17, 2009

Exam time!!!

I had my exams today. Nope, not for any degree. I had actually appeared for UPSC exams today. I will be completely honest, I was totally not prepared for the exams. These exams require many many months of hard practice. I know of people who have put years into these exams as it was their ultimate aim. I guess I did not prepare well for all this. Anyways this time I just wanted to test the waters. I wanted to see how these exams really are and see if I could really give it sometime in future. My initial analysis atleast for the prelims is that if you study well you can do well. Anyways I don't want to bug you all with all this. I want to share my experience of the exam. My center was a School around my home. The room alloted to me was one which was normally used for class IV - A. It has tiny benches and beautifully decorated classroom. All the candidates being grown up were sitting awkwardly in the benches. I remembered my school days; the care-free days where I had no tensions of the world. Life was beautiful and the only worry was home-work. The first paper was of optional subject and lets not really talk about how it went. The second paper was General studies. Anyways I found some interesting questions in the paper and I wanted this information with you all. These questions were like interesting trivias and it is good to know. So here are the choicest of questions from the 150 odd questions I attempted.

1) With whose permission did the English set up their first factory in Surat?
a. Akbar
b. Jahangir
c. Shahjahan
d. Aurangzeb

2) In the context of Indian wild life, the flying fox is a
a. Bat
b. Kite
c. Stork
d. Vulture

3) How many letters of the English alphabet (capitals) appear same when looked at in a mirror?
a. 9
b. 10
c. 11
d. 12

4) In making the saffron spice, which one of the following parts of the plant is used?
a. Leaf
b. Petal
c. Sepal
d. Stigma

5) The Panda belongs to the same family as that of
a. Bear
b. Cat
c. Dog
d. Rabbit

6) To integrate cultural leaders into its meetings, which one of the following gives “Crystal Award”?
a. Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
b. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
c. World Health Organization
d. World Economic Forum

7) In India, which one of the following States has the largest inland saline wetland?
a. Gujarat
b. Haryana
c. Madhya Pradesh
d. Rajasthan

8) In which state in the Buddhist site Tabo Monastery located?
a. Arunachal Pradesh
b. Himachal Pradesh
c. Sikkim
d. Uttarakhand

9) The marine animal called dugong which is vulnerable to extinction is a/an
a. Amphibian
b. Bony Fish
c. Shark
d. Mammal

10) The Dul Hasti Power Station is based on which one of the following rivers?
a. Beas
b. Chenab
c. Ravi
d. Sutlej

11) Which one of the following is the country’s administrative capital/new federal administrative center of Malaysia?
a. Kota Bharu
b. Kuala Terengganu
c. Putrajaya
d. Taiping

12) At which one of the following places do two important rivers of India originate; while one of them flows towards the north and merges with another important river flowing towards Bay of Bengal, the other one flows towards Arabian Sea?
a. Amarkantak
b. Badrinath
c. Mahabaleshwar
d. Nasik

13) Which of the following scientists proved that the stars with mass less than 1.44 times the mass of the Sun end up as White Dwarfs when they die?
a. Edwin Hubble
b. S. Chandrashekar
c. Stephan Hawking
d. Steven Weinberg

14) Which of the following brings out the publication called the “Energy Statistics” from time to time?
a. Central Power Research Institute
b. Planning Commission
c. Power Finance Corporation Ltd.
d. Central Statistical Organization

15) Mahamastakabhisheka, a great religious event, is associated with and done for which of the following?
a. Bahubali
b. Buddha
c. Mahavir
d. Nataraja

16) Where is the famous Virupaksha temple located?
a. Bhandrachalam
b. Chidambaram
c. Hampi
d. Srikalahasti

17) Other than Venezuela, which one among the following from South America is a member of OPEC?
a. Argentina
b. Brazil
c. Ecuador
d. Bolivia

18) Under the administration of which one of the following is the Department of Atomic Energy?
a. Prime Minister’s Office
b. Cabinet Secretariat
c. Ministry of Power
d. Ministry of Science and Technology

19) Which among the following has the world’s largest reserves of Uranium?
a. Australia
b. Canada
c. Russia Federation
d. USA

20) Which among the following South Asian countries has the highest population density?
a. India
b. Nepal
c. Pakistan
d. Sri Lanka

21) In India, who is the Chairman of the National Water Resources Council?
a. Prime Minister
b. Minister of Water Resources
c. Minister of Environment and Forests
d. Minister of Science and Technology

22) Who of the following Prime Ministers sent Cripps Mission to India?
a. James Ramsay MacDonald
b. Stanley Baldwin
c. Neville Chamberlain
d. Winston Churchill

23) Who of the following is the author of a collection of poems called “Golden Threshold”?
a. Aruna Asaf Ali
b. Annie Besant
c. Sarojini Naidu
d. Vijayalakshmi Pandit

24) Which one of the following began with the Dandi March?
a. Home Rule Movement
b. Non-Cooperation Movement
c. Civil Disobedience Movement
d. Quit India Movement

25) Anekāntavāda is a core theory and philosophy of which one of the following?
a. Buddhism
b. Jainism
c. Sikhism
d. Vaishnavism

26) With which one of the following movements is the slogan “Do or Die” associated?
a. Swadeshi Movement
b. Non-Cooperation Movement
c. Civil Disobedience Movement
d. Quit India Movement

27) In which of the following places is the Shompen tribe found?
a. Nilgiri Hills
b. Nicobar Islands
c. Spiti Valley
d. Lakshadweep Islands

28) Who among the following is the founder of World Economic Forum?
a. Klaus Schwab
b. John Kenneth Galbraith
c. Robert Zoellick
d. Paul Krugman

29) From which one of the following did Kosovo declare its independence?
a. Bulgaria
b. Croatia
c. Macedonia
d. Serbia

30) Which one of the following pairs of countries fought wars over a region called Ogaden?
a. Eritrea and Sudan
b. Ethiopia and Somalia
c. Kenya and Somalia
d. Ethiopia and Sudan

31) The Security Council of UN consists of 5 permanent members, and the remaining 10 members are elected by the General Assembly for a term of
a. 1 year
b. 2 years
c. 3 years
d. 5 years

32) In the middle of the year 2008 the Parliament of which one of the following countries became the first in the world to enact a Climate Act by passing “The Climate Change Accountability Bill”?
a. Australia
b. Canada
c. Germany
d. Japan

Answers: 1) b; 2) a; 3) c; 4) d; 5) a; 6) d; 7) a; 8) b; 9) d; 10) d; 11) c; 12) a; 13) b; 14) d; 15) a; 16) c; 17) c; 18) d; 19) a; 20) a; 21) a; 22) d; 23) c; 24) c; 25) b; 26) d; 27) b; 28) a; 29) d; 30) b; 31) b; 32) b.

India elected an Indian Prime Minister

Yesterday the results of Indian elections were declared and the people of India gave clear mandate for its next government. The people voted for the government they felt best represented their interests. We did not vote for a dalit Prime Minister, Maharastrian Prime Minister or Extremist Prime-Minister. The people voted a person they thought best suited for this job. A person who is humble and intelligent at the same time. A person who can give direction to the country and would not divide the country on basis of castes or religion.
The Prime Minister has be an unifying factor. A person who works like an umbrella encompassing all the people working under him and work together for the betterment of the country. It is about creating an image that you do really care for the people and are genuinely interested in working for the people. This person has to convey to the people that he has the ability and the desire to work for the betterment of the people; he has to be a true leader. If people see those qualities in someone, they would naturally support him or her.
In our country, the people do not hold the leaders in high esteem. Politicians are seen as corrupt and opportunistic; people who knock on our doors just once in 5 years to ask for votes. Once the elections are over we would never get to see them ever again for next 5 years. There are few people who have a clean image in politics and very very few who actually connect with the people. Politicians who connect with the people are truely successful as the leaders. People put their trust and faith in such leaders and people feel that this person will really work for the benefit of the people. Maybe that person would not be able to fulfill all his promises, but if people know that their is a degree of genuinty in his efforts, people will give him time to work for them. I feel that people saw this image in Dr. Manmohan Singh. Dr. Singh comes across as a accidental politician who is has the supreme power in the country yet he is completely humble. He is an intelligent man who seems to work tirelessly for the welfare of the people. In this election, lot of people from the opposition seem to take advantage of him being a soft-spoken person. His image was bounced all across like a football and every image was made to tarnish his image in the eyes of the general public. He was called a weak Prime-Minister, people said he never took decision on his own, etc, etc. People of India have a certain image of Dr. Singh and it seems like this did not go well with the people. His mannerism appeals to the people, his simplicity attracts people and gives him a clean image. People seem to believe Dr. Singh and the politicians who were trying to malign his image. These politicians could have picked up the issues they had with the government and its policies. If they would have talked about the real issues, people might have listened to them. The people need to hear substance from their politicians, not empty noises. Every political party has to understand this core value. Enough of this back-bikkering and petty politics. It is time for the politicians to rise above this and become true leaders who will work together to take India forward.
People have given their verdict. We want politics of real issues. We want our government and leaders of opposition to work together. If their are disagreements between them then they should amiably resolve it for the good of the citizens of India. We don't want a Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Sikh Prime-Minister; We don't want a Prime-Minister from UP, Maharastra, Punjab , Tamil Nadu or any other region of India.We want an Indian Prime-Minister.

May 16, 2009

Mandate of People

The elections results are still coming in but I couldn't resist coming here and sharing my thoughts. For the past few weeks I was religiously following the elections. The only channels on my TV were news channels. All the predictions were for a hung parliament. No one believed that any party or should I say coalition would get a clear majority. In wake of this projection all parties are started talking to each other for post-poll alliances. There was hard bargaining going on behind the scene to see who can get what out of this situation. Political parties were coming out in the open and saying we are going to bargain for better share of benefits if we have to support the big parties to form the government. It was all game of taking advantage of the situation to your maximum benefit, something which is a slap on the democracy of our country. This is not real democracy. This is just dirty politics shooting its head up and opportunist people trying to fill their sacks with goodies. But guess what it is again the victory of the people of India. The people have spoken; they want a stable government. They have said that nothing doing, we are mature enough to decide whom we want as our government and we are telling you through our votes that stop this political business and get down to running the country efficiently.
I don't support any political party, I am just talking as a citizen of this country. I am a concerned citizen and would like to believe a mature voter who is saddened by what she sees going on in the politics of India. I was hoping that the people of India vote for a stable government. It can be any party but that party should get its complete 5 years to implement its policies and programs. There should be no one taking advantages or holding the alliances to ransom just to gain benefits from the situation of the government. I believe there are lot more people like that in this country and they have voted for stability.
I feel the people of India has voted against politics of revenge, hooliganism, hate speeches, negative speeches and religious fascism. The people are happy to get the government back if they deliver. It is not just about central government but also very important is the performance of the state governments. It happens that if the people are satisfied with the state government then they might just vote for the same party even in the parliamentary elections. The people are telling the government what they feel but sadly no one is the power is ready to listen. If the leaders listen to the people they will know the secret formula of winning and then they might not have to get involved in petty politics. The winning formula is simple; if you work for the people, the people would vote for you. The people of the country need to trust what you are saying and if they do they will be happy to bring you back. But the truth is if the politicians start listening to people they will not have time to play their political games, they would not be able to go one up against each other or try and show their counterparts who the "winner" is.
The people of any country just want their governments to work for their development. I just want my government to have a simple mantra "Peace and Development for the people", that is all I am asking for. The development I want is not just in urban or rural areas. Like Mahatma Gandhiji said that the true India resides in its villages. We need development of the farmers, there should be no farmer committing suicide and every house should to self-satisfied. Then only can we have a developed country. I want to urge the people in power, to please stop being politicians and become leaders that will lead India into a brighter future. We have given you the drawing board to paint the picture of new India, now it is upto you all to paint this picture on behalf of the people of this country.

May 14, 2009

Indian Alliance bazaar

The last phase of Indian elections ended on 13th May but even before the last vote was registered, the political parties had sat down for negotiations. The trading and cross-trading of alliances has started. The so called "exit polls" have predicted a marginal edge for the Congress-led UPA. NDA is not really far behind. The "third front" is predicted to have much lesser seats than it would have hoped for. And yeah there is also a "fourth front" and the remaining others who are not part of any front for now. Parties say we are going to stick to our allies, we will form the government together. In the present political scenario it is really hard to digest. To say it honestly I don't trust any party when it say we will stick to our alliance. I don't trust when Nitish Kumar says I will be with the NDA only or when Left says we won't support a Congress led government or when DMK and Congress say that we are partners. I have been a student of the Indian politics not for long but in these fews years that I have spent trying to understand the "khichdi" on Indian politics, I have learnt one thing, in politics there are not permanent friends and enemies. In politics "never" is not a word which exists in the dictionary of the politicians. When the struggle for power is in the drivers seat, ideology takes a backseat. Like one of the political party leader said, all parties who will support our prime-ministrial candiate are welcome to join us to form a government. This is just one example of how people are going to negotiate now as the elections are over. The funniest comments are from so called opposition parties in states across who say that we will support any government who will over throw the democratically elected government in our states. Some say it aloud and some say in the comfort of four walls of their negotiations. I find it really funny as well as disheartning when any political party says so. How can you over-throw a democratically elected government just for your gains. The people have given a mandate that they don't want you in power. Get the hint and shut up!!! Don' make a mockery of the system.
Parties say we are fighting the elections based on our party ideology and we have manifesto which we will stick to. I want every government which has come to power to tell me how much have they all stuck to their so called "manifestos" and "common minimum programs". Haven't they all trudged to a different route just to please their allies and be in power. I am not pointing fingers at any party here. I believe it is the same across all party lines and the party who says we don't do it is just plain lying. As a educated citizen of this country, I will never believe such lies.
I am just waiting for 16th May. The poll results would be announced on one side and deals would be taking place on another.
As a voter, all this alliance bazaar is an insult to my mandate. I vote for a party whom I agree with. I try to make an informed choice based on what I believe is the right thing to do. And then the party would go an ally with someone whom I as a party would not like to be associated with. How does the party I voted for explain this? I am a huge fan of the Indian Democracy in principle, but day-by-day as the educated people are losing interest in politics I feel that parties are exploiting the system for their own gains. I think we the people of this country are also to be blamed. We need to stand-up against all this. We have to make our voice heard in the corridors of the parliament. They say that we need to make a blast to make a deaf person hear what you want to say. The same goes here. The politicians today have turned deaf to our voices and we the country of 1 Billion people have to wake up and make our voice heard. It's time to stand up!!! It's time to show the world that people can move mountains once they decide they want to!!! Wake Up and smell the change in the air. If we don't do anything now, then it might be too late to save this beautiful country we call home.

May 12, 2009

Great Indian Democracy

Welcome to India. The world's largest democracy. India is just finishing to vote for it's new elected government. I as an Indian take pride in our democratic system. I know what you will say. It has so many faults. Look at the way coalition politics work in India. The horse-trading, mud-slinging, no permanent friends and foes and no so legal ways to influence voter decision. I agree the system has faults but still our democracy works.
I don’t think monarchy, anarchy, dictatorship or military rule will ever give that power to its people. These systems are all about power lying in the choicest few who would not care about the voice of the common person on the street. You will say, c’on democracy in today’s times in no different. The government normally does things to its benefits. I would say it would be true to some extend. I am not denying it. But the government is elected by the people. Not today, but in five years (in India) or four years (USA) the government does have to go back to people. It is then that they are really answerable to us. It is then we have the right to give our verdict to the policies of the government. We can tell them by our power of vote, if we approve with them or they need to rethink their policies suited to our voice.
I am sure most of you must be thinking that I am living in a dream world. This idea of democracy is not always what we see in real life. Call me an eternal optimistic but I do believe that through our vote we can give directions to the people in power in which way we want to take our country. By voting for the right candidate, we can get those people in power who do have the drive to do something for the common man. I am an advocate of exercising the power of my vote. My vote gives me the freedom to choose the person I want to see as my elected representative. I still remember how excited I was when I voted for the first time. This time also I am looking to make my voice heard. I have no right to complain about the government, if I don’t vote. It is right as if I know this is not the right government for me, then I went out to vote and made sure that my vote is heard. Whichever party we identify with, whose ideologies inspire us, and if we think they would do good for our country then we should always go out and vote.
I believe in Indian Democracy because when I look at India's neighboring countries I realize how lucky we are. In India, a common man still has the freedom of movement, speech and expression. Look at the state of people in Pakistan or Sri-Lanka. These countries are also so called "democracy" and the citizens of these countries are not sure if their government can really protect them from others. I know India has its threats. There is no denying that fact. I live in Mumbai and I know what threat to life is here. But then it does not really hamper our normal everyday life. I don't have to flee my home, leaving everything I own behind and live in make shift camps. In India, the media has enormous freedom. Through our present 24X7 live news channels we can get instant news. I still remember the amount of live television I saw during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. How many countries in the world would allow this amount of freedom to its media? These are just few of the reasons why I would like to have democracy in India.
I hear arguments from people saying China has progressed so much because they don't have a democratic rule. The government has thousand restrictions on its people. But then I will just say that look at USA and then lets compare.
I am writing this blog just to tell people around that take pride in our democratic system. It is a gift our freedom fighters have given us. Let us all work to make it truly successful. Be part of this system if you want to change it. Use it to make "India Shining".