Swachh Bharat: The Time is now!

We voted for him and expected him to leave us in peace for next 5 years. Isn’t that the way things have been done since my grandfather started voting?

But the new PM is refusing to let us hibernate even though a good half year has passed since we voted him to office. With his “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan”, Mr. Narendra Modi has us, our conscience and our imagination; all in his tight grasp.

If my memory serves correct (without overly relying on trusted search engines; so that I can speak from my heart) it is the first time in the history of independent India when the reigning government is seeking active participation of aam aadmi to successfully achieve a goal. The precedent has been that the government ideates, advertises, implements and executes all and any – big or sundry projects, schemes, yojnas, abhiyans, programmes. People in general have not been made a stakeholder in projects in any way other than as a beneficiary; then too only a minor one who is always at the mercy of officials.singa

For the first time the onus of success has been laid on our shoulders. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan exhorts us – “We, the people”, to break out of our eternal “Kumbhakaransque slumber” and be a part of nation building. For nations cannot be built by a person or party alone. It’s the aam aadmis’ real and active actions that build a nation. That’s exactly how we got independence. Remember “Non-cooperation Movement”” and “Quit India”. Just as these two, a successful Clean India movement is beneficial to each and every one of us. For once the PM and his party do not have a self-serving political agenda in asking the people to join hands towards a common cause. I aim to rise up to the challenge and be counted amongst the “We”.

Mr. Modi has shown us the way how to involve people and how to make sure that they keep being involved and how to keep the hysteria alive too. The PM wielding a broom makes for an awesome photo-op and copy for a day’s news.

And his actions followed up with similar actions by a sportsperson here, an industrialist there, a sprinkle of Bollywood celebrities, cast of a popular tele-serial, few politicians are keeping the mass media interested enough to keep getting their regular photo-op and enough catalyst to keep the twitteratti twittering and the chatteratti chatting. If at the end
of each photo-op a bit of India is left clean, the day’s work is done.

If all the branding and advertising with cleanliness as their taglines pushes us to step out of our personal clean havens (read Homes) and ‘unlitter’ one pavement, the day’s work is done.
All the twittering and chatting should eventually translate into a Domino effect and push the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to all corners of the country to clean up India bit by bit, road by road, area by area and change our mind-set person by person.

For now a whole gamut of entities from corporates to brands, from individuals to groups are adopting the Swachh mantra. And how to make it everlasting? Well! I am no celebrity so I won’t wait for an invitation.I am grabbing my broom and heading out to make my bit of India clean!

Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS in India – Seriously!?

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a huge success. TIME magazine has reported that the ALS Association has raised more than $50 million in less than a month since the challenge went viral. http://time.com/3159673/als-ice-bucket-challenge-donations/
More power to social media!
A power that we Indians are exercising best as a mindless imitation of the west with nary a thought to whether the Ice Bucket Challenge even has any meaning for us.icebucket
In a country where thousands of women still trudge tens of kilometres every day for a pot full of drinking water – we are wasting bucketsful of water.
In a country where innumerable villages are still to experience the magic of electricity we are wasting valuable energy in cooling water and churning ice simply to dunk it over our heads for no consequence.
In a country which is still battling the dreaded Tuberculosis (TB); its elite (read celebrities) are championing a “technically orphan disease” of a land far away. http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2014/08/18/ok-the-ice-bucket-challenge-worked-now-where-will-the-dollars-go/
The killer TB affects 2 to 3 million Indians. We are dunking ourselves for a disease which affects about 30000 Americans. All in a good cause – yes – but at what cost and to what long-lasting effect?
A week later ALS will revert to ASL (age/sex/location).
We are so adept at aping the west mindlessly.
Nobody – neither we nor our revered celebrities – paused to give a thought to the relevance of the act.
How many of us have signed up to donate our eyes after death? It doesn’t even cost anything. The eyes are so useless to us once we are dead? Can we have a round of social challenge espousing this cause?
We are one of the biggest users of social media platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter etc. We can very well channelize our creativity, our energy and our celebrity endorsements to a cause closer to home in a manner where maximum benefit can be derived with the least wastage of essential resources.
And of course make it as thrilling as a rollercoaster ride!

A good time to bend it like Beckham!

The FIFA world cup is now climaxing … the big ‘O’ just hours away!

But who ever got the ‘O’ easily?! For this nirvana, your obeisance and penance should be consummate.

Yes, we have no personal or national stake in the tournament. Yes, we have been free to worship individual heroes or root for the underdog. Ah! Colombia.

But there have been upsets and tears, trials and tribulations. Of course the hurrahs and yahoos also have been renting the air. A self-respecting true football fan has been tested to his/her limits to the extreme.

We have witnessed the fall of the mighty. We have mourned the demise of heroes. We have borne the brunt of injuries. We have learnt to worship the rising stars. We have wished adios to 30 – odd favourite jerseys. My favourite yellow t-shirt is now fit only for a floor mop. Sob!

And not to forget the bleary-eyed, wan-faced persona we have been carrying around in the mornings. (Was that my client calling? Its ok I’ll call him after my 40 winks). The extra calories we have happily munched on in deference to the late night matches. And the credit card is bursting with the pub bills.

In other words if you have been flaunting the psychosomatic condition – footie fever – for the last month or so, you qualify as a true football fan.

And the elusive big ‘O’? Go ahead. Seize the day. Carpe Diem!

So what if your favourite jersey is out of the field. Follow the wise. The wise have changed their Facebook profile pictures from colours yellow-green, orange and red to white, blue and black. (like me from Spain to Brazil to Argentina – whoever is winning!
Learn from the enlightened ones. The enlightened ones tread the ‘in-denial’ path. Vehemently deny you ever supported Spain (who?) and tiki-taka (what?) or Brazil (whoa! Never). My favourite colour has always been White. There’s even a choice on offer. Take your pick from White with Blue or White with Orange/Black.
And the sagely ones like my wife Sylvia – well she has always believed in a good round of the game. It’s the performances and the sportsmanship that matters. Come July 13, Zen like, thousands of Brazilian ticket holders will be cheering for their arch rivals or their arch rivals. Won’t they?

Fashionable disease of the month – Footie fever!

Dust is still afloat at the Eden Garden grounds post IPL celebrations. Modi is still to complete a month in office.

But they already are a forgotten lot. Dynamic lot that we are, we have moved on to our next euphoria. Even as the FIFA world-cup kicks off we, the normally cricket-crazy people, have embraced the football mania with a frenzy.

The skinny kid from the neighbourhood –his cricket ball is always a pain – is dribbling dangerously around my car with a bigger ammunition – the football.

My “doodhwala” is already on to his second football t-shirt. Having already ditched German white he’s currently sporting Argentine colours.

Fuleco has the pride of place on the desks of the young (pretty) ‘uns in office. Armadillos have replaced Chihuahuas for the time being.

And as for the not so pretty young ‘uns – the discussion is on about the football stars’ tattoos and their WAGs. Bets are on who will get the golden boot.

The auntyjis on the treadmill in the gym are discussing jersey colors while the fit ones are discussing abs and pecs of assorted names.

The reclusive teenage nephew is beating the shit out of Brazil and Neymar on his android phone.

Yesterday the autoguy played Vengaboyz’s “Brazil” n Shakira’s “Waka waka” on auto rewind mode for the entire 35 minute trip.

Wifey cooked some gooey dalia concoction today morning and said this is a special dish Messi Messi.

Of course restaurants, pubs, advertisers and the boy selling memorabilia at traffic junction have all jumped on to this marketing bandwagon.

Football fever is all around me. We don’t have any national or personal stake in this global event so we have freedom to choose our idols. It is absolutely ok to cheer for Brazil and for Ronaldo in the same sentence.

We have found our reason to party for the next month or so.

The fever has gripped me too. Only I am not sure whom to cheer for Lionel or Messi –you see I love them both!

For a truly Mubarak Eid!

Will the miracle baby Shayma Shiekh al-Eid herald a long awaited peace in the Gaza region? By the latest news reports it doesn’t look like it. Israel and Gaza continue to pound each other even as I pen these words.


God’s ways are baffling then. Towards what purpose did God almighty bring this tiny creature alive and kicking in this world from a dead mother’s womb? Has God granted her life only to snatch it away in a few days? After all more children and civilians seem to be bearing the brunt of Israeli fire than the so called terrorists.

But then it is not the merciful almighty who is pounding the Middle-east with untold miseries.

God gave us a beautiful undivided – unbounded – unfettered Earth to be enjoyed, nurtured and cherished. It’s we humans who have made it a habit to draw lines of blood across the very face of our mother Earth.

First we draw lines in blood and then we spill more blood fighting over those lines. Lines which will either vanish or get replaced by new bloody lines in a few hundred years. Where are lines that marked the ancient empires of Assyrians, Babylonians, Byzantine and Ottomans? Each of these empires and many more have coveted and occupied the land under contention at different times. The empires have vanished and the lines have been redrawn in blood many times over.

We humans, specifically the fighting Israelis and Gazans, have forgotten that nothing that man makes lasts forever. Only what God creates is supreme and is blessed to last till eternity. And while the men are busy fighting it’s the humans who are suffering. Women, kids, innocent civilians are being mercilessly butchered but towards what end – towards the idea of an empire which can at best be described as transient. No amount or duration of bloodshed has ever made any victor eternal.

Then if there is no chance to be God or God-like, what right do the warring sides have to fight over which isn’t theirs in the first place? What right do they have to snatch away baby Shayma’s precious life which is a special gift from God himself? Baby Shayma has as much right as any other child to grow and spread her wings in a peaceful surrounding.