Friday, October 16, 2009

Elections and Negative Voting

Recently I had the honour of doing election duties of a Presiding Officer of a polling booth for the Maharashtra State Legislative Elections. The Election process took place exactly as expected. It was chaotic, unorganised, unprofessional, slow, very badly managed and a perfect example of how not to go about organising elections. The staff on duty was expected to take over duty on Monday morning at 0900 and get relieved form the duty on Wednesday morning at around 0100, continuous forty hours. They were expected to be awake all these forty hours, were housed in private or govt. run schools which had neither of the proper toilet or bathing facilities. The toilets were stinking, the election booths buzzing with mosquitoes and the fans hung form the ceiling and rotating as if they are drunk and are moving their heads on the beats of slow music sung by Manna Dey. Not to talk of the resting couch, the chairs provided were either plastic chairs or the wooden chairs with no couch at all. I bet your Ram Pyari (Bums) cant dare to brace these chairs for more than half an hour continuously. The hardness of wood travels up your spine and freezes it. You will have to get up and have a forced walk streaching your Ram Pyari a little backwards and giving a bow shape to your back, walking like a camel. All of us must have done that, I caught myself doing it unaware at least a dozen times. No arrangement for food or tea at all and mind you, you cant leave the polling booth and go out. As a defence person I could take all this without much of it disturbing my head. But the actual problem was communication. All the administrative staff gave instructions to us in Marathi. Nothing against the language as such but whats the use of speaking to a person if he is not able to understand what u say. This simple logic was not unfathomable to those who spoke like that but they intentionally continued to talk in Marathi. They knew Hindi and English both but preferred not to bless these languages with their tongue. Since none of us Hindi speaking person could understand Marathi, we followed instructions given to us in a English booklet. This booklet was outdated and the latest instructions were a handful of pages in Marathi. Utter confusion prevailed when it came to submitting the Statutory Papers and the Electronic Voting Machines. There is a saying in my local language, Dogri, by a famous poet Late. Sh. Denu Pai Pant. It goes like this "Hindi sadi dadi aye te Dogri sadi maa, Dadi thar Dadi aye te mau thar maa". What he meant was that Hindi is our grandmother and the local language is our mother, Both mother and grandmother have their respective places of respect and honour. Honouring the mother doesn't mean u dishonour your grandmother. I saw exactly the same happening. Those who disrespect their grand mother and say that that they are respecting their mother, bring disrespect to the whole family.
A friend of mine was so exhausted that he lay down on the cemented floor at the central pooling station when this great confusion of submitting the papers was in progress.

Not every thing was bad. I was quiet surprised to see aware and informed voters making use of a powerful weapon of negative voting or tender voting. There is a provision in our constitution that you can register you vote as tender vote. The no. of tender votes is deducted from the final total of votes for each candidate. If two candidates score 10 and 15 votes respectively and the no of tender votes is five. The final score of votes for each candidate will be 5 and 10 respectively. If there is no result after the tender voting the election is to be reordered and the candidates who has already contested are not allowed to contest again. I wish a lot more people come to know about it.

The reason for my prolonged absence form this space.

(Who the hell cares for this world)

(I am so delighted to see you)

(Come and sit with me in my umbrella)

Dear friends, I know I have been away from this space for a really long long period. But I have let u know the reason also.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Baba divided between India and Pakistan.

There is a religious place called Chamliyal, right on the Indo-pak border in Samba sector of J&K. The place is around five to six kilometers from my house. As goes the story some anti social elements beheaded baba because he used to treat villagers of various ailments with his meditation. Because of spiritual power of Babaji, his head travelled from the place where he was beheaded (now in pakistan) to the village chamliyal (now in India). The soil and water of chamliyal called shakkar and Amrit are still used by various devotees for the treatement of skin diseases.
This border post is manned by BSF and being an ex-defence officer, I had the luxuary of going right upto the border and have a peep into the pakistani villages with the telescope of BSF. My family was with me and ofcourse thrilled to see pakistan from such a close distance.

Every year a Mela is organised at this Peer Baba. Around one week before mela, firing from both sides of the border stops. On this border post, where the roar of guns is a common phenemenon, prevails the peace. On the day of Mela both sides meet and exchange Shakker and Amrit. Since my childhood I have never seen any untoward incidence happening on this religious meet of India and Pakistan. The wholy shrine may bear a deserted look on a normal day but is very crowded on the day of mela. A lot of crowd, mostly villagers from the nearby areas, collect and enjoy the feast of jalabees, Burfi, pakoras and other locally prepared items. Its a much awaited day among the locals.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What a Joke

The other day a friend of mine e-mailed me two pictures. One of them depicted Rahul Gahdhi working as a labour. He wore a spotless white payzama Kurta, sport shoes and held a blue plastic bucket over his shoulder. The labour lady working along with him wore chappels, a maroon Ghagra Choli and had a heavy load in a metallic container over her head. The Rahul Gandhi was probably trying to feel the pain of her life, or at least pretending so. He must have done that for five or ten minutes and then gone to the people telling them that he realises the difficulties of their life. He must have asked them to vote for his party and then promised them that his party will make their life easy. Its like a person trying to judge the depth of the ocean by walking a few steps in the knee deep water at the shore. The time tested trick is being played by our cruel politicians and I am sure it will work again. Mr. Gandhi if you really want to know their pains live with them in their clumsy slums, eat their tasteless food, wear their stinking cloths, use their toilets for which i have no adjective, work with them for the whole day and live this life for at least a month. You will realise the intensity of pain they suffer.
The other picture showed Mr. Karunanidhi Fasting................. fasting for four hours that started after breakfast and ended before lunch. He slept on a comfortable bed in front of two huge air conditioners with his supporters standing around him. Gandhi ji's soul must have felt happy that the definition of fasting has changed for better. He also wore the favourity dress of Indian politicians, spotless white. What a joke Mr. Karunanidhi.
Will India ever get good politicians. I hope its a cyclical process and is about to bottom out.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Some photographs I would like to share

कहा जा रहे हो , मुजे भी जाना है, रुको मैं भी आता हूँ।

अरे देवानो मुजे पहचानो कहा से आया हूँ मैं कौन,
मैं हूँ , मैं हूँ, मैं हूँ, DON

Low turnout on elections

Sorry guys, I have been away from this space for a long time. The little one at home has been keeping me busy.

A lot of fuss has been created about the low turnout in polls in a place like mumbai. Just 40 percent. Well I am the one of those who has not voted this election. The reason, I am in mumbai and I have a voter id in Jammu. Around six months before I tried to register myself in the voter list in mumbai, for that I was required to get my name de listed form the voter list in Jammu first. Well going to Jammu, visiting Tehsildars' office, paying him him the bribe or to make five to ten rounds of his office for a voting right in Mumbai. Well all this, I could not afford for various reasons, well understood by those who live in my class, the educated lower middle class.
Our political leaders have come out with the idea of making voting compulsory, least aware of the fact that the system to ensure the same is not in place. We have failed in bringing those people to book who have committed heinous crimes, how are we going to deal with those who do not vote, and mind you the number of such people will he huge. The already crumbling police and legal system can fail because of this one stupid step of the government. And why should one think of this, once there are other means of ensuring the same. We have failed to learn lessons from the Income Tax Department. The tax collections grew many fold not by cracking the whip, but by making tax payment easy and by reducing the tax rates, thereby encouraging the tax payer to pay the tax.
Internet is a very powerful tool. Online voting is a wonderful Idea. Even those who are abroad can vote on the day of polling. I think this is the only way to make the educated and informed voter, which sadly has not been voting since independence, to take part in the process of government forming. We can go even a step ahead. Voting by sms. All the election commission is required to do is to tie up with the various telecoms service providers and issue a user id and a password to every voter. I know these ideas are there in the minds of those who matter, but somehow they do not want to implement, either because they want only illiterate and ignorant to vote, or the will is lacking. As I generally say, its time for us, the educated, honest, and young lot of India to join the politics and clean the filth, rather than being the mute spectators and mourn the countery's pathetic state of affairs over a cup of coffee inside the comforts of our drawing rooms.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Of customs and traditions

There lived a farmer in a village in ancient India. They had a pet cat hat home. Despite its nuisance every one loved the cat. As the time passed by, the farmers children grew up and it was the marriage of his eldest son. During those days it was only home made milk sweets and other milk products that served as delicious dishes in the ceremony. The cat thought it was its day and started munching onto the delicacies prepared for the marriage . It created a ruckus. The whole show of the poor farmer family was destroyed. This made the farmer boil with anger and he put the cat in a cage. Since the cat was also loved by each member of the house, they didn't throw it out but kept putting it in the cage every time there was a marriage in the family. Since this family loved cats, they always had a cat at home. The generations passed by and every time there was a marriage in the family they put the cat in the cage. The younger generations kept on following their predecessors and putting the cat in the cage without understanding the logic of doing so. There came a time when there was no pet cat in home and there was a marriage in the family. So, going by the traditions they caught a cat from the jungle and caged it in the house during the marriage. This became a tradition of the family.

Most of the traditions which we follow today are like caging the cat without understanding the rational behind it. Caste system, Religious and Regional differences, biasing against women are some of such traditions. Mankind must understand that traditions were made for providing a organised society so that it can live happily. It was not that mankind was created to follow the tradations. Before we follow an age old tradation blindly, we must find its relevance on the scale of time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Life is what you do it’s the way you spent your time.
It's what you keep close to you and how you make moments fine
It's where you keep your cool and what you die for
It's what you wish to leave and what you desire for
Today I changed my life….

Religion is the way you live, its what you see
It's what you believe in and what you want to be
Its faith in something divine, it's pure, it’s a spell
Its unique, its warm, its something words can't tell
Today I changed my religion….

God is what you trust the most, it's in your heart
It's what makes you happy; it's what controls your thoughts
It's what you look up to and it's something always with you
It means different to every one, yet it’s the only thing true
Today I changed my God….

So on this day of love, this day of valentine
When lovers express their love, together they spent some tome
I have changed my self and please pardon me O! Lord
Love is my life, love is my religion and she is my God

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Running for a cause

Mumbai Marathon is probably one of the biggest Marathon in the country. The number of people participating, the number of athletes, the amount of prize money, the kind of media attention it draws, all the parameters are huge. I have been attending this event for the last three years. But this year the feeling was different. Since the event took place shortly after Mumbai Terror attacks people wanted to express their anger against such anti-social activities by coming out in large scale. The same happened also. The participation as well as the spirit, both were high. From RBI the participation was the highest ever, and it was the head of the institute who led from the front. With marine helicopters hovering overhead and cheerleaders and jazz band playing Bhangra and Rock respectively, it was really an experience to run on the marine drive.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Watching Slumdog

India is a multifacet society. Here we have Hindus, Musilims, Christians, Buddist etc. etc. We have whites, Browns, wheatish, blacks, yellow and all other colours of the skin. We have Himalays, Thar, Ganges, Oceans, and Great plains. And last but not the least we have Ambanis, Tatas, Birlas, brainy middle class and the slum dogs too. But unfortunately the West wants to project India as a state of slum dogs only. That is why films like Slumdog millionaire and books like The white tiger get so much of fame from the West. The same kind of undebelly exists in the west too. For example the the kind of looting and killing that takes place on the streets of The New York every night is no secret. But this never receives any media attention. Here, I, should not be misunderstood as the one trying to coverup for the ugly side of the Indian society. The point I am trying to make here is that all the aspects of the Indian society should be recogonised equally. The slumdog Millionaire and The White Tiger are the excellant creations. My special congratulations to their creators. But at the same time Business Maharajas of India, Taare Zameen par, Swades etc. are also equally good creations. Let us not let the west paint a wrong picture of India before the world.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Celebrating New Year

Much has been written in the media about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. People from all over the world and from all sections has shown a lot of criticism to the terrorism. But only criticism, no action, atleast there has not been any remarkable action from Inda. In our colony, where I have the opportunity of serving as a president, residents welfare association, there was a divided openion about celebrating the arrival of the new . Some comrades wanted to avoid celebration and mourn the terrorist attacks, their affection was geniune, but lacked action. An action which is required to put a full stop to the terrorism. After much of disscution we decided to celebrate the new year arrival, but with a difference. The difference was to educate the next generation. To create greater awareness about the danger of terrorism which is staring them streight in the eyes. Probably the biggest threat to the next generation. The programme started with a prize distribution funcution of the annual sports mela we had, and then a few patriotic songs. My friend Mr. Bishwjeet and Mr. Pathak who are excellant oraters started the funcution by paying two minutes silence to the martyers of the 26/11. Most the ancoring was handled by the kids of the colony and the programme ended with a celebration and welcome to the new year. I personally believe that we were able to achieve the aim of celebration to a large extent. At least some action at our level.