Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rain Rain Come Again or Rain Rain Go Away?

The churning sound of drizzling! The pearl shower...! The drops on glass windows... Who doesn’t like these?

I love rain. I love to listen to the melody of rain from inside a straw hut or a house-roof with aluminum tin sheets! I love to enjoy the stunning sight when clouds play tricks with the sky, cocoon the sun after playing hide & seek and then bring the showers to the arid earth, the thirsty dusts quench its thirst and turn into vapor yielding a sweet, serene aroma! …..And I love to take delight of this milieu with garam chai and pakoda or some other scrumptious snacks, sitting in the verandah, welcoming the sprinkles to raise my every sense.

Rain grows some wonderful grains in the paddy fields, brightens the farmers’ lives and refreshes the river; Bestows the fish-eaters to be belly-full, livens the flora, and after all, sooth the scorching summer.

But does it have only the greener side?

India is among the countries which receives seasonal rainfall unlike the countries like Germany where rain occurs throughout the year. Most of India receives rain for only around 100 hours every year. The monsoon is extremely important for India as it fills up water reservoirs, replenishes ground water and is essential for the Indian agriculture of which around 70% are rainfed. Ofcourse, Northeastern India is a bit exceptional. It usually gets more rain in comparison to other parts of India. Mawsynram is a village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya state in north-eastern India, 65 kilometers from Shillong. It is reportedly the wettest place on Earth, with an annual rainfall of 11,872 millimetres (467.4 in). Charrapunji is a subdivisional town in the East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya again which is credited as being the second wettest place on Earth.

A few weeks back, Delhi was longing for rain. Regular power cut, desert heat,  low water supply had become the key problems before the onset of monsoon.

By the middle of the last month, the monsoon finally landed the Metro and gave some relief from the hottest summer in the country’s capital in last 33 years. The urgency has gone, but the susceptibility of people across India to an increasingly unpredictable weather remains a serious cause for concern. An unexpected deluge can be destructive and deadly. Luckily not in the capital, but, 14 people died in Jaipur and Shekhawati regions of Rajasthan as torrential rains lashed several parts of the state last few days. On the other hand, 11 farmers committed suicide in last one month in Gujarat because of drought.

The monsoon accounts for more than 80% of India’s annual rainfall, feeding crops and filling the nation’s reservoirs. Weak rains can mean less to eat for millions. Major FMCG players like Dabur, Emami and Godrej are  concerned about the overall negative economic sentiment hurting demand as the late arrival of monsoon can have an impact on rural sales. India’s economic growth rate slipped to nine-year low of 6.5% in 2011-12 and current account deficit (CAD) has touched a high of 4%. Inflation, meanwhile, was high at 7.55% in May.

Apart from the impacts on country’s economy, in most of the cities or urban areas, monsoon comes with its bag and baggage, which includes water logging, traffic jam, water-caused diseases, humidity etc.
Heavy rains make many parts of the city to suffer from water logging, whether in posh or poor areas. The rainwater infrastructure, if it at all exists L, is not satisfactory to assure the drainage of the water and the lower areas to not get inundated. Roads get blocked leading to traffic jams; pedestrians have to stride through flooded streets. Besides, the urban poor, living in slums or trespasses have their homes often damaged by the rainwater, which may take several days to retrocede.

The polluted water with the mixture of the garbage and waste that is littered here and there also becomes a big risk to health. Not only that, there are so many manholes without cover, all over the cities. In a submerged street, these holes become invisible and cause a serious threat to pedestrians and the two-wheelers.

Though I have almost forgotten in my metro life, the greeting and gushing new feelings rain brings, I still try to eavesdrop its melody amidst these problems and try to say, “I love, sometimes I hate, but hey Rain, please you never be late!!!”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ignorance about North Eastern states of India

Big B’s ignorance about North Eastern India has been recently making big news.

But many people like me would not be surprised about these kind of mistakes….I am sure, half of India must be confused about the seven sister states of North East India.

A survey conducted by North East India Image Managers, the group of communication professionals from the North Eastern states, (I am too part of the group) reveals a shocking ignorance of professionals about the North East (NE) states. It is a sad fact that 87 percentages of the working professionals cannot name all the NE states and 53 percentages shared highly negative views of these states.

“It’s a place with insurgency and most unsafe place in the country” or “people with mongoloid features, weird food habit and an alien culture”, were the responds from some who were interviewed in the survey. Surprisingly 30 percent of professionals don’t prefer to work in this region, even if that best suits their career interest. The survey showed how these professionals are preoccupied with some wrong notions and how deeply they are ignorant about NE states.

Infact, I was asked very weird questions by some of my ex colleagues, (especially north Indians) who even didn’t know or care to know even the names of the capitals of the states. How we stay in such insurgence, do people there carry pistol all the time, does some people in village still wear odd dresses like  – leaves, if we eat snakes, dogs etc.

Hundreds of students come every year from the NE to seek admission in Universities all over the country. But, the joy of seeking admission is often cut short by the difficulties faced (particularly in the national capital) like racial discrimination, language barriers, sexual harassment and trouble finding accommodation etc. Many people like to refer the NE people as CHINKIS  as they have Mongolian features.

One of the honored moments for the NorthEastern people was at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games 2010. The Indian contingent was led by Abhinav Bindra, proudly carried our Indian flag. Before him, the lady who was holding the signboard, was wearing the Mizo tradition Puanchei dress. But the leading daily - The Times of India carried a photograph of the Indian contingent in the front page next day, saying “All the teams were led out by girls wearing saris in different styles, except for the Indian team, which was heralded by a girl in a Naga dress.”

Now, though boxer Mary Kom is not the only athlete from the NE to represent India at the London Olympics (another woman archer is Bombayla Devi), Kom's Bronze medal is trying to be a catalyst in bringing attention to this region of India, where big B’s tweet is adding fuel to the fire.

NorthEast India is a vast land with almost 50 million people. Assam produces approximately 55 percent of India’s tea and 60 percent of its plywood and a substantial part of its crude oil. But, the Central Government is not doing enough to develop this region and to bring it on par with other states of the Indian mainland.

Central Government opened its eye recently, when Dragon was at the Bay! Central government put some attention to Arunachal Pradesh, when China was trying to include this beautiful state in its geographical map. The Manipur State Budget is less than the annual budget of one single department under the Andhra Pradesh Government. The government often mentions the presence of many revolutionary groups in these states, but do not try to solve the main reasons behind, like not releasing adequate funds to the region, not looking at the illegal immigration of the Bangladeshies in all these states etc. The Indo-Bangladesh border passes through Assam (263 Km), Meghalaya (443 Km), Tripura (856 Km) and Mizoram (318 Km), where there is enough porosity for illegal migration into the country. These all show that the Central Government is not much interested in the development of the region, but only in the region's Natural Resources.

So, its time, that the Indian Govt. should try to solve the insurgency problems in the region through good will and look at development and genuine concern for the region and its people. Also, the State government representatives, the MPs, Ministers etc. of the region should raise their Voice, explain the genuine issues to the Central Government and try to solve the problems and engross in developing the region instead of planning how to be rich in 5 years!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Metro or Town : Which one is better?

Life has truly become competitive. The war is continuously on… to cleave on to the rat-tortoise race, first to survive, then to boost our ego by possessing a house, a car, 60 inch LED tv, iPad and leading not only a comfortable, but also a luxurious life.

We do not have enough time to visit neighbors, pass time with our friends, think or do something for the society. An occasional call or an SMS takes care of maintaining a relationship. I believe even a busy bee has some time for all these stuff.

Fitness is in vogue (Ofcourse for a good reason!). For most of us, it is important to get in shape and a visit to the gym is a must. A prescribed breakfast by a dietician, work out in the gym or do yoga under an instructor, rush to the office (if one has a car, then lucky, otherwise hang on the public transports), face the traffic jam, come back home and cook food if you don’t have a cook, fight with the full time maid if you have, spend some time with your family if your body permits, go to sleep and start all over again next morning.

If you are single or double, then weekend adds some flavor with the visits to the disco, or watch a movie and end up with a dinner at a restaurant. If you are triple or more, you can not do that also, does not matter, be it your Sasu Maa or your kidoo.

When I first came to Delhi, I was very excited. Deeply impressed with the high-rise buildings, big roads, fast life, countless career scope, and uncountable restaurants to taste delicious food from all over the world, like Chinese, Japanese, German, Turkish, and what’s not. Completed my studies, started working….with a handsome salary. But I used to be left with no money at the end of each month. Rent of the room, household expenses, travelling costs, phone bills all used to be so big that my good salary used to never suffice. Sometimes, I used to think, did I take a good decision to come to Delhi, leaving a luxurious life at Assam… a big house with big loan, all facilities, two maids, the special care of Mom and where there was no such competition. In fact, there were jobs available there too. I too got jobs – one in TV centre to anchor in one particular program and another in a college. But I wanted to study further and make my career a bit different…and thus I stepped into Delhi.

Life is moving on...., but a  question often arises in my mind where life is better, in a metro or a small town/village?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Indian Railways

My Maahi (Aunt) and her family visited us last month for couple of days….on her (She is a school teacher) and her children’s summer vacation. She lives at Sibsagarh…yeah my favourite place. My Moha (Uncle) is the Jailer of Sibsagarh jail. They stay in a quarter in a beautiful place, just on the bank of Sibsagarh pukhuri (pond), whose water level is above the ground (I talked about it in my ‘About Sibsagarh’ blog). Simplicity is the special jewel of the family.

They came by Rajdhani Express to the country’s Rajdhani – Delhi. They were very excited. I went to receive them from the station.

Train was almost on time: Indian time; just 25 minutes late. As I reached early, I had to wait 40 minutes in the station. Initially, I thought how would I pass that 40 minutes, but it was quite easier when I started observing people around.

While the platform was dazzling with diversity of human being, spits of paan masala, garbage, dust, wrappers, food-wastage, dirty water, mud all were increasing the muckiness of the whole platform. Stink of stool was on the air. Some people were lazily lying, some were sitting, some were playing cards, and some were running for other platforms.

Just beside me, one family - husband, wife and three small kids were just sitting on the floor, probably waiting for their train. Smallest one, almost 2 years old baby was sleeping on the floor, keeping the head on Mother’s lap. Other kids were having some biscuits. One biscuit fell down from one kid’s hand, he immediately picked up and started having again in front of the parents. After sometime, the couple took out their lunch, probably Roti and Sabji, kept on a newspaper which they were sitting on.

Suddenly a dog came running, passed by me spreading a stink, splinting few drops of black water on my light coloured attire. He was just running in the platform, was supposed to hit a chana masala vendor. Alas! The poor vendor lost his balance. Half of his chana, khira etc. fell down on the platform. But, he was smart enough. He didn’t wait a second, acted very fast to pick almost all the fallen objects. In a minute, everything was set and he started selling like before.

A girl was also waiting in the platform, just few meters away from me. She was probably waiting for the same train I was waiting for. I could see her continuously talking on phone. Suddenly, a lean and thin man, with not very clean attire marched fast towards that girl. Thank God! The girl was conscious, she changed the standing angle in the last fraction of a second, and the guy could just hit her shoulder. He did not turn back, went away in a fast speed as if nothing happened. 

All these scenes reminded me that we are in the third world country. The key hitch for all these is the attitude of majority of the Indian population. We Indians, generally consider public places as ‘our’ or ‘government’s’ property and do not feel responsible. This is the plight for all these. We spit the ‘paan masala’ anywhere; if we are eating something, we will throw the wrappers anywhere; don’t put water after toilet in public lavatory and the list goes on.

I could see adequate number of dust bins around me. But these must be not cleared in time. And bins are used for spitting ‘paan’. There are approximately 3467 railway stations in India. I believe, most of them have the same situation. I am sure, the government is devoting resources to keep the country clean, but the people fail to utilize those resources.

Does every year see us going one step forward? We cannot move ahead, if we don’t do our bit and take care of our surroundings and if we be a part of that littering and spitting.

I believe if the people chose to be conscious of their duties, the state would be forced to deliver better.

After the ‘40 minutes’, Maahi and her family arrived. I started bargaining with the Kooli. I saw Maahi putting her pallu of the Saari on her mouth to save herself from the stinks…..
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