Indian Economy- Present and the Future

While all news channels are busy minting their way to higher TRPs, missing the real important issues in entirety and the Twitterati and all other platforms discuss #CAA someone needs to talk about #Economy too. Employment is at a 45 decade high. Economists attribute woes to a mix of cyclical and structural slowdown, triggered by a mix of policies and quarterly moods. Some pass it off as the regular economic dip which hits the global markets every decade. India has been sailing through these economic depressions and actually growing but this time the slump is far below. With GDP at 4.5%, and core sectors suffering overwhelming target of a $3 Trillion economy by 2025 and all this amidst the shockwaves of the ‘economy bomb’, we have got to get our act right before it’s too late.

Understanding the Indian Economy:

Indian Economy is characterized as a developing market economy. It is the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). The Economist Intelligence Unit had suggested that growth in 2019-20 will be 5.2% – significantly below potential and evidently, it has turned true, as India’s GDP hangs between 4.5-5%. Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee has pointed out, household consumption has fallen since Prime Minister Modi entered office in 2014, something that hasn’t happened in “many, many, many, many years.” His advice: Get money into the hands of the rural poor and “pray.” While the ruling government’s two top leaders, the PM himself and ‘hand to the king’ Amit Shah believe otherwise. If you ask them, this is just a global slump and the BJP has, in fact, made some revolutionary economic reforms that have fulfilled decade-old demands of this industry.

Speaking at ASSOCHAM’s annual conference, Modi said that before 2014 the country was heading towards disaster. “My govt not only stopped it but brought discipline to the Indian economy,”

By far, the passage below which I read in an article on livemint.com explains GDP and its manifestation in physical terms in the most simple manner. Read on then we discuss a little more of it in the Indian context.

“The rain has stopped. You step out of home to run a few errands. On the way, you find a Rs. 500 note lying on the ground. You pick it up and put it in your trouser pocket, thinking you’ll donate it to the local charity. But you give in to temptation as soon as you cross the local book-shop and buy the latest bestseller for RS. 500. The bookseller is an alcoholic and uses the money to buy his stock of alcohol for the day. The liquor shop owner takes the Rs. 500 note and walks across to the local cinema and buys a ticket for the latest movie, featuring his favourite heroine. He also buys some atrociously priced popcorn and a soft drink. The cinema owner has to go to attend a wedding at the other end of the town and he gives that very Rs.500 note to a taxi driver, given that his driver is on leave.

What’s happened here? The movement of the initial Rs. 500 has made everyone better off. The initial Rs.500 has been spent four times and has generated Rs. 2,000 worth of economic activity. In that sense, the first Rs. 500 contributed Rs. 2,000 to the Indian gross domestic product (GDP). The same wouldn’t have happened if you had taken the Rs. 500 and deposited it in the bank or simply kept it in your pocket.”

The example shared above (which is inspired by a similar example in Lanchester’s book) shows precisely how economic activity adds to the GDP. One man’s spending is, after all, another man’s income, and the income can be spent again. So, the cycle is supposed to work and add to the economic activity and the GDP.

GDP, Nominal and GDP (PPP):

GDP, in the most conventional sense of the term, is the “measure of all the goods and services produced inside a country” at current market prices. Nevertheless, as John Lanchester writes in How to Speak Money: “GDP can be thought of as a measure not so much of size… It measures the movement of money through and around the economy; it measures activity.”

GDP of a country is the value of all final goods and services in a nation in a financial year divided by the average population of the country. It is called as ‘nominal GDP’ when the value is converted to exchange market rates to US$. GDP with respect to PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) is simply the total value of all the goods divided by the average population in a given financial year.

Where the India economy stands today?

During the 2008-09 recession in the last decade, India actually registered constant growth at 6% through the 12 months of the global economic slowdown. Now this time Global impact is much larger than the last decade as India’s exposure to global economies has increased, MNCs now enjoy a bigger bite of the Indian marketplace. Weak consumer demand and credit squeeze since 2018 post demonetization and GST (Goods and Services Tax), the economy has taken a dive. The ‘core’ sectors of any economy, as they are called are the deepest hit. These include automobile, real estate, banking sector, services, and manufacturing activities. 8 core sectors fell by 5.2% from 7.3% in September 2018 to 2.1% in August 2019. Major corporations are deep in loan and foreign players are withdrawing themselves. The crucial sector of Micro, small and medium enterprises which are vital players in the Indian economy needs our special attention.

According to Jammu and Kashmir’s leading trading body Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), the imposition of curbs, spontaneous shutdowns and internet blockade in the Valley since August 5 has dealt a major blow to Kashmir’s economy as it suffered losses between Rs 14,295 and Rs 17,878 crore. This is just one state while there are several other cities losing trade and commerce due to conflicts.

The various reasons and discussions on the Indian economy clearly indicate that the usual market operations have been hindered which could be a fluctuation indicating an adjustment to change in systems of trade and taxation. However, the transition period should be shortened to ensure a good lift-off from here. Some external factors like America’s trade sanctions on China, India’s trade embargo with Pakistan and the global economic shockwaves have a major role to play in weakening India’s economy.

How to fix this?

In the recent rankings, India ranked 63rd in Ease of Doing Business Index and ranked 68th in the Global Competitiveness Report. The market is idling away in the hope of a demand boost which won’t be easy without reforms. While the supply side is focussed on by government demand creation remains grossly ignored. Indian markets are no good if supply growth and logistics management are bolstered but demand slumps. Generating more jobs would do the trick as it will help in generating income that will, in turn, boost the GDP. The government must shift focus towards MSME and controlling NPAs which are over Rs. 8 lakh crores now.

The Silver Lining: Why Now is the Time for Growth?

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, India stands to become the largest growth engine in the world in the upcoming global economic shift. The top companies have grown at 25-39% per year, banks grew north of 20% a year for over 2 decades. Urbanization rate which is a core structural growth driver in states and districts is north of 35%. India is not just a country it is a continent with 69 mega-cities with a million-plus population each. These smart cities possess immense growth opportunities. Agriculture, education and power sector have yet to see their due piece of growth and expansion. Programs like Digital India, Startup India, and Skill India have started showing their effects in the job market.

India’s Missile Man & His Message to India

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s speech in Hyderabad.

A must read for every Indian.

“I have three visions for India.

In 3000 years of our history, people from all over the world have come and

Invaded us, captured our lands, conquered our minds. From Alexander onwards.

The Greeks, the Turks, the Moguls, the Portuguese, the British, the French,

The Dutch! all of them came and looted us, took over what was ours. Yet

we have not done this to any other nation. We have not conquered anyone.

We have not grabbed their land, their culture, their history and tried to

enforce our way of life on them. Why? Because we respect the freedom of

others. That is why my first vision is that of FREEDOM. I believe that India

got its first vision of this in 1857, when we started the war of

independence. It is this freedom that we must protect and nurture and build

on. If we are not free, no one will respect us.

My second vision for India is DEVELOPMENT. For fifty years we have been a

developing nation. It is time we see ourselves as a developed nation.

We are among top 5 nations of the world in terms of GDP. We have 10 percent

growth rate in most areas. Our poverty levels are falling. Our achievements

are being globally recognized today. Yet we lack the self-confidence to see ourselves as a developed nation, self- reliant and self-assured! Isn’t

this incorrect?

I have a THIRD vision.

India must stand up to the world. Because I believe that, unless India

stands up to the world, no one will respect us. Only strength respects

strength. We must be strong not only as a military power but also as an

economic power. Both must go hand-in-hand. My good fortune was to have

worked with three great minds. Dr. Vikram Sarabhai of the Dept. of space,

Professor Satish Dhawan, who succeeded him and Dr.Brahm Prakash, father of nuclear material. I was lucky to have worked with all three of them closely

and consider this the great opportunity of my life.

I see four milestones in my career:

Twenty years I spent in ISRO. I was given the opportunity to be the project

director for India’s first satellite launch vehicle, SLV3. The one that launched Rohini. These years played a very important role in my life of Scientist.

After my ISRO years, I joined DRDO and got a chance to be the part of

India’s guided missile program. It was my second bliss when Agni met its

mission requirements in 1994.

The Dept. of Atomic Energy and DRDO had this tremendous partnership in the

recent nuclear tests, on May 11 and 13. This was the third bliss. The joy of

participating with my team in these nuclear tests and proving to the world

that India can make it, that we are no longer a developing nation but one of

them. It made me feel very proud as an Indian. The fact that we have now

developed for Agni a re-entry structure, for which we have developed this

new material. A Very light material called carbon-carbon.

One day an orthopedic surgeon from Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences

visited my laboratory. He lifted the material and found it so light that he

took me to his hospital and showed me his patients. There were these

little girls and boys with heavy metallic calipers weighing over three Kg.

each, dragging their feet around.

He said to me: Please remove the pain of my patients.

In three weeks, we made these Floor reaction Orthosis 300-gram calipers and

took them to the orthopedic center. The children didn’t believe their eyes.

From dragging around a three kg. load on their legs, they could now move

around!

Their parents had tears in their eyes. That was my fourth bliss!

Why is the media here so negative? Why are we in India so embarrassed to

recognize our own strengths, our achievements? We are such a great nation.

We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them.

Why?

We are the first in milk production.

We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.

We are the second largest producer of wheat.

We are the second largest producer of rice.

Look at Dr. Sudarshan, he has transferred the tribal village into a

self-sustaining, self driving unit. There are millions of such achievements

but our media is only obsessed in the bad news and failures and disasters.

I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the

day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place. The

Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a

Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert land into an

orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up

to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the

newspaper, buried among other news.

In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime. Why are we so

NEGATIVE?

Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign

things?

We want foreign TVs, we want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology. Why

this obsession with everything imported. Do we not realize that self-respect

comes with self-reliance?

I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 year old girl asked me for

my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life is.

She replied: I want to live in a developed India.

For her, you and I will have to build this developed India. You must

proclaim. India is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed

nation.

Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengeance.

Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice is

yours.

YOU say that our government is inefficient.

YOU say that our laws are too old.

YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.

YOU say that the phones don’t work, the railways are a joke, the airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their destination. YOU say that

our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits. YOU say, say

and say.

What do YOU do about it? Take a person on his way to Singapore. Give him a

name – YOURS. Give him a face – YOURS. YOU walk out of the airport and you

are at your International best. In Singapore you don’t throw cigarette butts

on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their Underground

Links as they are. You pay $5 (approx. Rs.60) to drive through Orchard Road

(equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU

comeback to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over

stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status

identity. In Singapore you don’t say anything, DO YOU? YOU wouldn’t dare to

eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai. YOU would not dare to go out

without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would not dare to buy an employee

of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds (Rs.650) a month to, “see

to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.” YOU would not

dare to speed beyond 55 mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the

traffic cop, “Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am?). I am so and

so’s son. Take your two bucks and get lost.”

YOU wouldn’t chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the garbage

pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand.

Why don’t YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo?

Why don’t YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston???

We are still talking of the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform to a

foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw

papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If you

can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why

cannot you be the same here in India?

Once in an interview, the famous Ex-municipal commissioner of Bombay,

Mr.Tinaikar, had a point to make. “Rich people’s dogs are walked on the

streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,” he said. “And

then the same people turn around to criticize and blame the authorities for

inefficiency and dirty pavements. What do they expect the officers to do? Go

down with a broom every time their dog feels the pressure in his bowels?

In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job.

Same in Japan. Will the Indian citizen do that here?” He’s right.

We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all

responsibility. We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government

to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We

expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking

garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick a up a stray

piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect the railways to provide

clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms.

We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and

toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity.

This applies even to the staff who is known not to pass on the service to

the public. When it comes to burning social issues like those related to

women, dowry, girl child and others, we make loud drawing room protestations

and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse? “It’s the whole system

which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons’ rights to

a dowry.” So who’s going to change the system?

What does a system consist of? Very conveniently for us it consists of

Our neighbors, other households, other cities, other communities and the

government. But definitely not me and YOU. When it comes to us actually

making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with

our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far

away and wait for a Mr. Clean to come along & work miracles for us with a

majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away.

Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their

glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to

England. When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out

to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and

brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape

the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is

mortgaged to money. Dear Indians, The article is highly thought inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one’s conscience

too….I am echoing J.F.Kennedy’s words to his fellow Americans to relate to

Indians…..

“ASK WHAT WE CAN DO FOR INDIA AND DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE TO MAKE INDIA WHAT

AMERICA AND OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES ARE TODAY”

Lets do what India needs from us. Forward this mail to each Indian for a

change instead of sending Jokes or junk mails.

Thank you,

Dr. Abdul Kalaam

(PRESIDENT OF INDIA)

General Superstitions & The Modern World

Have you ever given into beliefs like stopping when a cat crossed your path or tried to touch wood when you said something which you wanted to remain so? Then you will be instrugued by information which tells about the unexpected reasons behind seemingly simply superstitions which most of us follow.

But first let us know what superstition actually mean?

Superstition is a belief in something not justified by reason or evidence. It means to believe in something blindly without verification. When we fail to be skeptical and logical enough to do certain actions without observing or finding the reason of doing it, we submit to blind faith and beliefs, even though our actions may be right. When we do things just because we are told to or someone else does it, we label ourselves as ‘superstitious’. Superstitions are driven by a fear of the unknown and a belief in luck (good or bad) as a consequence.

 

1: Cats Crossing Your Path:


In ancient times, during night people used to travel through forests in bullock carts with a light of kerosene lantern. The carriage animals get past big cats like leopards, hyenas and jackals foxes. These animals have glowing eyes and scare the cows, horses or the bulls that pull the carts. That is why the travelling party halts nearby and help the animals refresh themselves before they pull the carts for the long journey ahead without any stress. Travelers shared their hard experiences and told other travelers not to proceed travel while the cats crossing the roads and in the course of time changing, the cat crossings got live and the people forget forest cats and took the domestic cats instead.

2: Touching of Wood:
One explanation states that the tradition derived from the Pagans who thought that trees were the homes of fairies, spirits, dryads and many other mystical creatures. In these instances, people might knock or touch wood to request good luck, or to distract spirits with evil intentions. When in need of a favour or some good luck, one politely mentioned this wish to a tree and then touched the bark, representing the first “knock.” The second “knock” was to say “thank you.” The knocking was also supposed to prevent evil spirits from hearing your speech and as such stop them from interfering. Alternatively, some traditions have it that by knocking upon wood, you would awaken and release the benevolent wood fairies that dwell there.

The idea that knocking or touching wood would ward off evil or bring you good luck, may have been adapted by Christians, as were many early pagan beliefs. In a number of Christian communities, the belief is that by touching wood, you are touching the wood of the Cross and as such are seeking the protection of God. On this same token, there were people who believed that by carrying pieces of wood or the true cross, that this would bring you good luck.

3: Hanging Lemon and 7 Green Chillies In shops and Business: 

Alakshmi, god of misfortune brings bad luck to the shop owners or business. In order not to allow her entering the shops they hang these 7 chilies and lemon. Alakshmi likes sour, pungent and hot things.


The science behind it is the cotton thread which is used to pierce the chillies and lemon absorbs the acid from the fruit whilst it is fresh. This smell keeps the pests and insects away from the shops. This is a simple pesticide which came into practice from ancient times, which is mislead now superstitiously as explained above.

4: Breaking Mirror Brings 7 Years Bad Luck:


During old times, mirrors were not cheap and they were low quality and easily defected. In order to avoid negligence it was told that breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck. That was simple scare tactic. Romans were the one who tagged to the broken mirror a sign of seven years bad luck. The length of the prescribed misfortune came from the ancient Roman belief that it took seven years for life to renew itself. If the person looking into the mirror were not of good health, their image would break the mirror and the run of bad luck would continue for the period of seven years, at the end of which their life would be renewed, their body would be physically rejuvenated, and the curse would be ended.

5: Menstruating women are considered impure and unclean:


In India, menstruating women are considered impure and unclean. This, of course, gives rise to many superstitious beliefs. Women who are menstruating are not allowed to enter the kitchen. They are also supposed to stay away from temples, mosques and all religious spots in the house itself. A woman on her period is not allowed to perform regular household duties like cooking food.
Some might argue that the reason behind this superstition is scientific, and that a woman menstruating loses a lot of blood and thus becomes weak and must refrain from strenuous activities. Others claim that there is nothing scientific in this belief and it is just another superstition created to subordinate the position of women in society. 

6: Twitching Of The Eye Is Inauspicious:

Twitching of the left eye is considered to be either a bad or a good omen, depending upon which culture we are referring to. These superstitions take into account the gender and the part of the eye in which the twitching is observed as well. Eye twitching or the sudden involuntary movement or spasms in the eyelids is a common condition. Although there is an established explanation for these constant or intermittent involuntary muscle twitches, including various medical reasons behind them. Apparently, these twitches are nature’s way of warning a person about some impending problem or indicative of some good news on the way.

7: Adding one rupee to a gift sum is auspicious:

It is common in India to give money for weddings and auspicious occasions. It is considered auspicious to add a rupee to the sum total.

There are various reasons, for some, it is a blessing, a token of love and luck. For some it is the beginning of a new cycle. For some it makes the sum an odd number and indivisible which is a good omen for the married couple. If the rupee is not added the sum total will be separable or it will end in zero which indicates the end, so adding the rupee will make the number odd hence assuring continuity.

Below is a video by a faculty of Development Studies in Journalism and Mass Communication department at Amity University.

​ 

“new superstitions are being created over a period of time ”

“scientific thinking is something which is not sufficiently given in an everyday life”

“We require a mass program over a period of time and a lot of effort to carb superstition “

                         – Dr. Asha Sigh,                           (Assistant Professor,ASCO)

 

 Written by  Sanobar Akram and Mayank Mishra

Images and ideation by Shilpi Paul

Video by Shilpi Paul,Sanobar Akram and Divyam

Blogger @Mayank Mishra

The Superhero India Needs and Deserves- Press Ombudsman 

‘My country is diverse’, perhaps, every Indian has said it aloud but never understood what it really means. Here I am, and I repeat ,”My country is diverse.” and when I say so, I understand the fact there are multiple religions, castes, sub-castes, ethnicities, religious, regional, geographical and racial diversity. I acknowledge each and every one of them with equal integrity. I know and understand that India has a long history and a longer background of events which keep revisiting the present repeatedly.

With over 22 major languages and over 720 dialects India publishes over a hundred thousand magazines, newspapers and other periodicals. We definitely need someone to monitor these media houses and these newspapers which open and close ever day.  The Press Council has indeed done a great job in uplifting media to its influential status and launching Press Commissions to save Media from the clutches of emergency. Perhaps we need another Press Commission which shall highlight the need for ‘Press Ombudsman’ in Indian media-scape. A Press Ombudsman can be understood as a Press Police, an office which monitors the media and points out their mistakes. Ombudsman which provide feedback to the management about the press.

The current scenario of Indian media is that of a parrot who can’t stop talking. Every news channel out there or newspapers have been accused of being controlled by their owners. Biased news, misinformation, paid news syndrome and mixing opinions with information is common among newspapers. I myself have spotted several mistakes of factual nature and logic in news reports of TOI etc..

As a student of journalism I currently observe the media divulging from the idea of objective journalism. The advertisement-news ratio is very high, the content too poor. Quality of news and words is satisfactory. Even the readers and viewers are able to recognize the patterns of their corporate media houses which breathe on Oxygen provided by ‘political backing’ and ‘wealth of shareholders’.  According to a journalist who chooses to remain anonymous, ‘every newspaper or media channel has an agenda to satisfy, an owner to answer to and a political power to bank upon.’ It is very true of my country.

Now is the time to introduce the concept of a Press Ombudsman who ensures that among the noises of these shouting journalists, the voice of people doesn’t get drowned. He will ensure that media becomes a medium for the voice of the people to be heard by the system. If media starts adding opinions of its own, the whole game is ruined and this where the Ombudsman comes in. He should be a vigilante who keeps a sharp lookout for crime made by media. A press Ombudsman will truly be an institution that belongs to people and only people. He must be unbiased and free of associations and stereotypes. Correcting inaccuracies, or pointing insensitivity in reporting are just the beginning of an Ombudsman’s task, the real task for him  is to read between the lines of editorial pieces and expose the agenda that hides behind a reporter’s words.

India needs a strict culture of watching the press, the editors of various news channels ought to know what to discuss and what to avoid. This is a matter of common sense and cannot be taught to everyone. India is on the path to development, so they tell me. At this time our duty as journalists is to show India in a good light, keep correcting us from the inside, but outside we should look presentable and always focus on the positive. The Hindu introduced the readers’ editor which works more or less the same way but is not so efficient.  The 1 lakh publications need an eye which can watch them and their words. IT would be criminal not too, because the content they now show on news channels and TV is simply not tolerable.

The ombudsman will ensure that the press does not uses its rights to its own advantage. Abuse of press rights will be punished by forceful action. There should be no tolerance of those who have no code of ethics. A better media will make a better India. A Press Ombudsman is the superhero that India needs and its media deserves right now.

Knowing the ‘Man’ in ‘Woman’

Note: this article is also published on wiki news by the title ‘Much Ado About Woman.’
International Women’s Day – 8th March

We have come very far as a civilization, grown at amazing speeds, done unexpected and seemingly impossible things and are going fast as ever in the 21st century. However, few problems have persisted for as long as humans and we still find it difficult to deal with such things on a regular basis. The fact that I was told to write for International Women’s Day pointed me to a question as to why do we even need such a day ? At exactly what point of time did female become the weaker sex ? Who said women were below men or anyone was below any other in that case ? Even if such ideas were propagated, why were women so gullible to accept such status or ideology.

I have tried to explore the social position of women throughout the history of human race, women have dominated and suffered just like any other. Their journey is a reminder that the universe we live in works by subtle balances of variations. Women have been the partner of men in every single journey and held the baton with equal grace and strength. You will find as you read along that the so called weaker sex is actually stronger than men and such has been proved by their valor and courage during tough times. The fault lies in ideology, how people have subdued women by calling it a weaker sex, a fairer sex and dishonoured them in royal courts. We forget that the same woman has been portrayed as shakti, strength, beauty, love, sacrifice and devotion. Respecting an entity in a symbol but disgracing it everywhere else leaves little room for the symbol to survive. We are committing a grave mistake if we symbolise women, we simply need to give them half the share. As the primary race inhabiting the planet Earth, men and women deserve equal share of everything.

As time has passed our women have bettered themselves as our companions, sometimes they are a step further than men. The definition of our attitude towards our women is at most generous that of contempt, we should rather face the reality and grow the courage to respect them instead of the nourishing the will to dominate them.

No more celebrating any ‘day’ until we remember and make sure to give our women their due place in society. There is a ‘man’ in ‘woman’, literally and when a woman is stretched beyond limits she is unstoppable and highly dangerous. We should accept their pivotal position and their importance and not make formal days to assert this idea. No more thinking and discussing this, let us all inculcate and practice and respect the woman. The world is incomplete without them, they are the yang to our ying. Universe strikes balance, let us too.

– Mayank Mishra. 

The Face of the Indian Crowd

Notions and notions about peace, intolerance, security, nationalism and sedition have been hurled to and fro for a long time. More disappointing is the fact that this whole game is being played by a few players, who at the end of the game win a lot of fame and newfound publicity overnight. The whole air reeks of selfishness and hidden agenda. If we were so worried about the integrity of our nation the scene would have been completely different. This noise is comparable to the ramble of attention seekers who are only there to hog the attention and never when they are needed.
     There is no freedom in our country, none which I can relate with an ordinary person who just wants to survive for a day and doesn’t know much about nationalism or agendas of any particular group. This man still finds himself being pulled into debates, forced to discuss “Rajneeti” over his meagre dinner which he procured by fighting those very propaganda. He has to choose a party, a flag , a colour. His identity is bartered in different pieces and ways as suited by the system. This man has to reluctantly  give his opinions over these issues which carry no importance to his petty existence. He only thinks of ‘live and let live’ and wants to be left alone. The whole scene is like a comic tragedy. It makes me laugh and cry at the same time.
    In a country which is fighting economic battles and issues ranging from ‘overpopulation’ to ‘gender inequality’, we are still far behind in the line of discussion to be bringing up matters of ‘nationalism’ and ‘sedition.’
The whole matter about Dadri, JNU or any other case lies in a frustration. Our actions, that of media and other important people of the country have not become so overnight. Rather this melodrama is the result of an old mistake which we Indians have been committing blindly over the centuries.
The current India is a fireball of youth energy. It lacks the experience which it hasn’t the time to get from the old ones.  The youth has fluctuating ideals and no firm base to put their beliefs in. The ideologies have become obsolete and the elders have failed to point in a right direction. The result is the youth making their own path. As an observer I have seen that we are simply addressing our issues the wrong way since a long time. This has resulted in violence and outbursts. Our problems are simple and so are the solutions, it is the hyped portrayal of it all which is delaying it. 

 If we look back in history we have always suffered because we were ruled by ideologies and not physically. The truth and depth of the matter is that in my country there is nothing like individual free thought. If there is any,it is too faint to be heard. In the words of Shakespeare it is a ‘fickle minded mob’, believing anything it is told. This is not a big problem, we only need to find a way to give each Indian a voice. A voice which will not be subdued under the noises of media channels, a voice which will be heard over the loud harangues of ‘netas’ and ‘andolankaris.’ The hungry, uneducated Indian cares less for nationalism and lesser for foreign policies. He just wants to live peacefully in a world where his child gets education and employment.
  Our political atmosphere is clouded by high floating ideals which we as commoners cannot connect to. It has always meant differently for each of us, it always will. The world works relatively and my only advice to the people is to strike a balance. It is the only way to survive.
    Perhaps we all need to rehear the famous speech of Charlie Chaplin. We need to revisit our ideals, be strong in our minds and free in our thoughts. 
– Mayank Mishra

The Quiet American- A novel by Graham Greene

This is Alden Pyle’s narrative of the protagonist Thomas Fowler. 
‘The Quiet American’ is a classic thriller novel on Indochina conflict which revolves around two characters. The  practical Thomas Fowler, and the idealist Alden Pyle. The book runs as a commentary by Fowler. I tried to look at the story from another angle, that of Pyle’s. 
So here it is : 

“Thomas takes me for a fellow who lives in his own utopian world of ideals and principles. He thinks I am ignorant to the ground realities and the practical perspective of life. He believes he has seen too much as a reporter and overestimates his point of view to the point where he gets personally involved. He cannot stay away, he has to be there, even with Phuong. For once I had found love which was already crushed under his crude practicality and utterly simple notions. Phuong is a kid who doesn’t understand right from wrong. All of Fowler’s cynicism is for naught because it originates from something that is not factual or even practical. He is sensible most of the times and logical always but Thomas doesn’t want to accept he has emotions because it will make him feel vulnerable. He despises me for being a thought experiment for Harding, thinks I am a guinea pig in Harding’s research which he berates extremely superficial and far from reality and truth. Fowler with all his logicalities doesn’t realize the shortest way to end suffering is through pain. He claims to know the problem from deep down below but he couldn’t be farther from the truth. 
    He treats Phuong the way he has treated every moment of his life, the way he has treated nations and people of high honour, as they passed under his ink. Fowler thinks everybody owes him a piece of their lives and he has always taken people the same way, handled them like objects. He longs for happiness while throwing it away for what he believes is the truth about the world. Fowler has a distinctive eye through which he sees a distorted world that he thinks he can change by his own indulgence, he doesn’t care about the killing of conscience of many as long as their bodies remain unharmed. 
  He has been a part of Saigon for the last two years, never truly understanding the way it all works. He doesn’t believe it is the war until he is neck deep in the midst of action and bombing. He poses to be tough and informed, but deep down he is beaten by fear and conflict. Fowler has been in here too long lying dormant and motionless while the enemy slithers around him. He has submitted to the comforts of physical love when he must seek mental peace. He has replaced love with sex, emotions with logic and plays a dangerous game where he loses everything and ultimately that which he loves most.”

The Hanging Question ?

Everytime someone is about to be hanged, the whole nation goes in a heated debate over the discontinuation of Capital Punishment or the Death Penalty.  The question haunts us forever and our capacity to forgive and our desire for vengeful retribution hangs in balance. This time, however when the fate of ’93 Bombay Bomb Blast mastermind Tiger Memmon’s brother Yakub Memmon was up for trial, the nation was reminded of the past horrors and were in the mood for retribution without mercy. The opinion of masses shifted once after much discussion over Salman Khan’s Tweet, but finally it is done and the matter has been laid to rest. Probabaly with the faint fear that the debate will surface once again when some one else is sent to the gallows. 

  We never look at the root cause of problems, just applying a quick ointment of death penalty is not going to heal our scars. We will heal only when we prevent future scars. It’s the shortest way to kill a perpetrator of heinous crimes, but we always kill the criminal and never the crime. We think that hanging people will scare the criminals and deter them from their ways, but we can not be more wrong. It is not the fear of capital punishment but the fear of swift, accurate and certain punishment that provides the largest deterrant to crime.

  Those who favour death penalty can easily come up with arguments like, ” a person who commits a murder has forfeited his own right to live by taking a life”, and that “the punishment must always be in proportion with the seriousnesss of the crime.” There is no simple way to go from the need for proportionality to the appropriateness of death. There are two types of arguments for death penalty or two kinds of ways to approach it. Retributivist and consequentianalist.  The retributivist is backward looking , with focus on the deeds of crime and believes that harming those who engage in culpable wrongdoing is intrinsic good.

 A consequentionalist approach is forward looking and focusses on future punishment. It claims harming those who engage in culpable wrongdoing serves any number of worldly justifiable ends,such as deterring future wrongdoing, rehabillitating the offender or protecting social order. Imposing death penalty projects the same mentality as the murderer. Retribution is undeterminative. According to Kant, ‘a punishment is retribution in legal form.”

 Statistically, the countries who have done away with the gallows have lesser crime rates compared to those who still impart death sentences.

  It beats the basic idea of humanity, the whole legal process works on the idea of defeating and ending the crime and not the criminal.  Who wants to take the responsibility for the order of those hangings , poison syringes and electrocutions? What new way would the lawmakers devise to punish those who commit war crimes, serial murders and genocides ? Should they be executed, resuscitated and executed again.

  There is already death and destruction everywhere, killing a thousand criminals can never make the impact that a single rehabilitated criminal will.

‘To Make the Deaf Hear’

To Make the Deaf Hear.

‘Friends I tell you today that if my marriage takes place in the slave-India, my bride shall be only death. The Baraat will take the form of a funeral  procession and the Baraatis will be the martyrs of the country.’             – Bhagat Singh

Sardar Bhagat Singh became a martyr along with Sameep Rajguru and Sukhdev on this day 23 March in 1931 eighty four years ago. He was sentenced to capital punishment for vitriolic rejection of Britishers and his acute hatred towards imperialistic rule of Britishers in India. He was accused of killing Saunders and for exploding a bomb in the Delhi assembly. Now let us take a look at the reasons why he did so and the ideology behind his actions.

Bhagat Singh was a born revolutionary inspired by his uncle who actively took part in the freedom struggle, at a young age of 13 he pledged himself to the cause. As he grew up and began questioning his faith in various beliefs which he saw around himself, he sought companionship of great revolutionary authors of the past like Lenin, Trotsky,Mark, Engels and Bakunin. All these were great philosophers who were also atheist. Bhagat Singh’s own faith in a superpower crumbled and he rigidly adopted atheism. When questioned by one of the inmates when he was serving his sentence before being executed, his reply is most extraordinary-

‘Let us see how steadfast I am. One of my friends asked me to pray. When informed of my atheism; he said “When your last days come, you will begin to believe.” I said, “no,dear sir,never shall it happen. I consider it to be an act of degradation and demoralisation for such petty selfish motives, I shall never pray.”

Readers and friends, is it vanity? If it is, I stand for it.’

                                   – Bhagat Singh (Why I am an Atheist ?)

First time in his life Bhagat Singh was moved by the ideas of the above mentioned revolutionaries. He studied them carefully and sincerely so that he  could spread his message to the masses of India when he was being tried in the court. In the prison too his indomitable spirit was always fighting for the rights of his brothers and fellow inmates. He went on a hunger strike to demand basic necessities for inmates like newspapers, books, meeting with relatives etc which lasted for 115 days from June 15, 1929 to Oct 4, 1929. This hunger strike alone was more than all the hunger strikes by Mahatma Gandhi during his years in South Africa and India.

To awaken the masses and ‘to make the deaf hear’, he happily embraces the noose and dies without hesitation or second thoughts,in his own words, ‘It is easy to kill individuals but you cannot kill  the idea. Great empires have crumbled while the ideas survived.’ After the Delhi Assembly bomb attack he willingly surrendered himself along with Batukeshwar Dutt because he wanted to show the world that he believed in his cause and was not just another violent revolutionary. He was denied a fair trial and he and his comrades were tortured in jail and brutally beaten up in the courthouse. In spite of this his courage and spirit were never shattered and his fight for freedom grew stronger by the day. In the pamphlets he and Dutt distributed in the Assembly after throwing the harmless noise and smoke bombs, he had emphasised on a world where the stronger would not oppress the weaker and one nation would not kill the sovereignty of the other. The question still stands whether we have thought upon his deeds and his words even after 84 years of his sacrifice.

Revolution is the inalienable right of the mankind. Freedom is the imprescriptible birthright of all.   – Bhagat Singh