Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Poll Apart

I know what Democracy means. I also know what Democracy does. I think I am democratic by thought too. But do I practice it? Am not too sure of that though. I have read, Democracy is of the people, by the people & for the people. So, I can safely assume, here in this sentence, I am included in “people”. Right? Good. Which would mean it is I who has the right to run democracy, it is chosen by me & it is for the benefit & well being of me. Is that right? I am correct, second time too…. wow! Am on a hat trick!! But have I exercised my rights? Clean bowled!!! After two huge hits, I fall apart (Cricket the next most popular issue in India right now!). Being born in the largest democracy of the world, gives one rights & liberties to exercise & enjoy. However, all rights come with responsibilities attached. I have very conveniently chosen selective rights & avoided most of the responsibilities of a natural citizen of the country.

It’s been 31 years of my natural citizenship, I have never voted. Not that I never wanted to. I never bothered to. We have been discussing Politics since a young age. Especially so, may be because my father was in a Central Government job & we all knew this much Geometry that any change in the Centre of the Circle would certainly change the status of the Circle. It is the Government which is responsible to run the country. But it never hit us that it is our responsibility to vote & elect it. We are ready to criticize the running Government, ready to bring it down. But we are not ready to vote & elect a (supposedly) better Government to replace it. I don’t know how many of my friends have voted yet. And even if they have, how many actually wanted to. And even if they wanted to, have they actually voted for the person/party/coalition it wanted to? That’s strange too. Considering, discussing Politics from a young age, being aware of the systems & civic obligations, we have never discussed if we ourselves have ever voted in (or out, whichever way you look at it) a change in our lives? Looking at the “Youth India Drive” with a new quote everyday, e.g. “Someone who cannot walk, is running our country”, “Someone who is not physically fit is fit enough to run a country” etc, has made me think.

Why & how come WE, the people, become so creative & innovative suddenly just before elections? What do we do, for the in-between 4 ½ years when the so called out of shape, unfit & ailing “chosen ones” are limping around? How do we so clearly see every hair on the body, every move of the muscle & every twitch of the eye of these very people who were brought in as change to bring in a change at this moment?

Well, some would say, I don’t have a right to criticize when I don’t even vote. But then, freedom of speech is a fundamental right of every natural citizen of India, right? I believe, Politics is about understanding the intent behind creating & running of a sovereign, purpose of a written constitution, the need for public administration & the logic of civic governance. Once we have understood the real meaning of it, then electing someone who represents your idea of Politics, would help evolve a better election system with the best person/party/coalition trying to bring in the change we desire. Ofcourse polling is important.

Politics is not just about elections. Or may be, my thinking is polls apart.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Good Morning

Prejudices rule the world. The moment you hear of “The United States of America”, all we imagine is dollars in millions, super sexy cars, a chic home & a swanky lifestyle. Then, reality bites. One session of recession and millions of dollars being dolled out to save the companies who sold the super car, to keep the chic home & live in a style which suddenly turns from swanky to swampy.

This has nothing to do with my being married to a Tamilian. And no, my wife does not want to relocate to the US either. But, think South India and you imagine Idli, Dosa & Vada-Sambhar, only, right? Well, wrong. I have lived down south for 4 years. That’s a long time for ignorance to turn to frustration, frustration into depression which leads to hate. Am sure, a lot of people took this route. Or else, why such a prejudice? I loved most of my stay days there, and not just the food. People define culture. I loved the people there. For all I know, I may be one of the lucky few who found good south Indians to interact with at every occasion during the entire 4-year stint there. Who knows? Anyhow, I have come to believe that South Indians, especially, Tamilians are the most straight forward, a little rustic & yet well mannered, simple thinking & simple living people. They are very unlike most north Indians, especially Delhites who love to show off. Infact, I am inclined to state they don’t know how to show off! Most of my class mates in B-School were from business families. Parents of few would drive in to meet their kids in Mercedes cars. Some of them own rice/flour mills, some run more than a dozen petrol pumps on national highways & some have flourishing textile and/or spare parts factories. And you could not make a difference. I still don’t know why do most people there don’t tuck in their shirts, love wearing slippers to work, change into lungis in the next given opportunity & love curd rice so much!

And then, there is this one batch mate whose father has a transport company running more than 30 trucks (give or take a few, I don’t remember the exact number now). At first glance, this guy was the true picture of a typical south Indian dude you could imagine. He had a purple colored bike, had more than one purple colored jeans, worn matching with green or yellow shirts mostly. He had a short but stout figure & certainly believed he was Cupid’s gift to both sexes. Most batch mates did not like him initially. Many, I guess would still avoid him. He loved himself. From day one, he was sure, he was not in B-School for a job. He had bigger plans. He wanted to be an entrepreneur. Our initial interactions with him were only because only north Indians on campus smoked & his room mate happened to be one. During the course of time spent alongside, we became good friends. How much of good friends? Well, can’t really measure the intensity. Infact, after I left Chennai we have met only once in the last 6 years & spoken thrice.

The fourth time he called me in the last week of March this year, saying he is visiting Delhi over business. We wanted to meet, but he had a flight to catch the same evening & wanted a favor. He said someone will deliver some money in cash to me which I was supposed to deposit in his bank account! I said, “ok, but how much is the amount? ” He said, “ten lacs”. I think the phone fell off my palm because there was a long silence & when I recollected my thoughts & perhaps the phone, I heard him saying he is carrying twenty five lacs in cash with him!! I had not seen one lac in cash together in my life & the next day someone was delivering ten lacs!! What happened with the money comes sometime later.

My submission, he too could have lived with the typical north Indian prejudice and never handover his hard earned, hard cash of such a magnitude to a north Indian, living in Delhi with whom he has not spoken in years. He chose his instinct & friendship. His company creates blended coffee, by the brand name, Good Morning. Let us all wake up!!