Sunday, December 30, 2012

FW: Vacancy: An Icon for India

I'm sharing the following text "AS-IS" from my friend Shubhra Talukdar's blog, with his permission.

The article is very aptly titled - Vacancy: An Icon for India .. I am reproducing it below due to the sheer impact it had on me. This was a conversation we had on Facebook a while back and I'm adding my comment after the <---> below.

What does India need urgently?
An Icon.

Not the icon of of just a religious or a display nature, but a Symbol. An Indian who stands for something. All societies and nations need an Idea or Person or something, to which they can believe, and internalize. Something which can give Identity, a sense of togetherness, something that rises above the petty divisions of caste and creed, community and religion. Without this symbol, we Indians are doomed to fight our petty internecine battles – never to rise above the pitfalls of our diversity. 

We have given up on our politicos (barring a very small minority), to be an Icon. For these few, it is a struggle against the entrenched bloated crass set, collectively encompassing the legislature and the bureaucracy. We’ve seen cases of judicial activism – but the judiciary cannot take the place of the legislature. Our intelligentsia set is no good, endlessly debating various logic to their bitter end, or paralysis by analysis, if you must. This makes people escape to sports-persons (cricketers?) and/ or movie – and TV – persona, good in their fields, but not suitable enough to transcend barriers and inspire policy.

An Icon, when when he or she emerges will unite our hopes, desires, loves and fears. The identity forged therein will transcend our current identities of region/ religion. And make them irrelevant.

The time is ripe for our Icon.
My comment - I sincerely hope the Icon is reading your post and realises his/her time has come. Only will is no longer the only asset needed. Someone like Howard Roark (From Fountainhead) comes to mind actually or Jack Reacher (from Lee Child novels).. But those characters are just work of fiction.. Spiritual leaders would have the influence if capitalised well, but not the right following.. Politicians have the influence, will, following, but not the right agenda (not the most)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Indians, How Angry Are You, Really?

[Update: 29th Dec 2012: The Delhi-Gang rape victim "Nirbhaya" covered in the article below, died in Singapore Hospital after she succumbed to her severe internal injuries, a lung infection and brain damage. May her soul rest in peace and hopefully, now the justice will prevail.]

This question is to my fellow Indians, who off late, have been getting rightfully angry at the appalling state of things around the country.

As another year ends, it leaves us aggrieved and shocked beyond belief. This year would clearly be remembered to be at the nadir of shameful activities in India. There were so many revelations this year and the shock value of each one was just too high to digest and move on. But that's exactly we did, with pain in our hearts.

Here are four randomly selected recent cases -

Delhi Gang-rape case: The most recent incident that shocked the nation (again) is the brutal gang-rape of "Nirbhaya" (as TOI named her rightly) last week. Truly horrible. The culprits are nabbed. Case is promoted to "Fast-Track" court. Justice is WIP.

Kasab: We took 4 years to hang a terrorist, who should have been publicly tortured and hanged the very next day. The height was we offered him a defense lawyer.

Corruption and Scandals: A. Raja epitomized corruption with '2G scam' a couple of years ago. Then we had Commonwealth Games, Coalgate, NRHM scam, etc. All syphoning thousands of crores of rupees from our exchequer. Need more? There's a whole page on "Scandals in India" on Wiki.

Bad Governance (a.k.a Plummeting confidence in Indian politicians): We've gotten used to "Bad Governance" phrase by now. It's become a catch phrase in a Page 3 party. Sadly, GOI and the elected parties are (still) not doing anything about it. I guess they're waiting for another reason/ motivation/ push/ stick or may be the Mayan Apocalypse to get things right.

So, what is common in all of them? We got pissed off. We protested. We took to the streets. We lit candles in the night. We cried. We stood united. Then resumed our routines, waiting for another skeleton to come out of the closet so we can again mourn together. The GOI was still mum. We were still hopeful. We still are.

I feel the problem is severe. The real problem I feel is the "casualness" with which people commit such crimes/ scandals. The casualness is the result of bad governance. They know "nothing will happen" .. They know "they will get away".. They know "Have gotten away before, will get away again"..

The real missing thread is lack of severe and timely punishment.

Unless there are strong laws (and quicker case closures), criminals/ corrupt politicians will continue doing what they do best. Unless we pin them down, nail them down quickly, what message are we communicating?

Some argue that Sociey needs change. Of course it does. But society as a whole is such a complex mesh that it is difficult to decipher how exactly we can change it. Which element to change for a better society?

What can be monitored is the "The Rightful and Timely Action". Once people know there is a strict action taken, and that they can't get away.. the rate would drop.

There are two aspects - Internal Deterrent (Values) and External Deterrent (Punishment). To build mechanisms for Internal Deterrent take times. Values are not build overnight. We can sow the seed, nurture it and pray. We can argue for a longest time that Values - as an incentive to not be a criminal - are more important than Punishment.

But we can't pray that people with bad conscience will play fair, can we? Punishment is required for such bad souls, who don't want to change.

Politicians are used to fooling us. We are used to getting fooled. In broad daylight. We are also used to the feeling of helplessness. People will debate, crib, protest at the degrading state of things.

But there's about one thing we will not lose - Hope.

Hope that the next day we will not hear another rape case. Hope that our corrupt politicians and criminals will grow a conscience. Hope that India will become a developed nation, someday. Hope that sense will prevail.

Hopefully, our GOI will become like Avengers - crime fighting super-"Common Men" in their cape (or not) fighting injustice, rape, dowry, corruption, bad governance, and everything that's worth fighting for and everything that's worth living for.

-A hopeful Indian

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Easier Way Out?

The Easier Way Out

The easier way is to take up a short cut to success, than work your way through.

The easier way out is to quit, than to do something about it.

Easier way out is to stagnate, than to grow.

Easier way out is to demean your subordinates, than to empower them.

Easier way out is to demotivate, than to inspire.

Easier way is to just preach, than to practice it.

Easier way is to run away from a challenge, than to tackle it.

We are created to take challenges head on.

Right from our cave-dwelling days. Right when we discovered fire. When we created the wheel. When Buddha found about miseries of life and took up the challenge of finding a solution. When Schindler saved Jews. When Martin Luther King Jr fought for civil rights. When we created first space ship. When we sent Laika into space. When we sent Neil on the moon. When Hillary and Norgay climbed Mt. Everest. When Gandhi opposed the British through non-violence. When Steve Jobs resurrected Apple. When APJ Abdul Kalam created Agni missle and empowered India.

History is replete with people who chose the challenging way. And left their mark. We now call them legends. They faced the challenges in all advertisities and succeeded. They had a drive, an inner desire to grow, contribute and persist.

We are meant to take things up the challenging way. We are meant to leave our mark. To make a dent in the universe. To believe in yourself. To do what is right. To grow. To become Better.

Which one do you choose - the Easier Way or the Challenging Way?