A Day in Ranthambhor

It was a hot summer morning in Ranthambhor National Park. Inhabitants had gathered around watering holes. Peacocks were trying to entice females. They had spread their feather widespread and strutting around.

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But deers around them had other worries. There was a rumour that a sambar deer has lost his life. In this era of social media, it is hard to hide bad news.

 

 

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Deer was murdered. Dead body was lying on a dried river bed. No body knows who did it, but people had some idea. A leopard was seen sleeping  on rock nearby.

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Without proof you cannot accuse anyone in even in a jungle. Problem was compounded by absence of scavengers like Hyena and Boars. Some said hyenas only worked at night. So most residents had to live with the smell of rotting body. Meanwhile a sambhar deer family decided to leave the park altogether. If there is no justice, why live in the park?

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So deers decided to call a meeting. A lot of members came. There were boars, crows, cranes and even a crocodile. It was decided to make a petition to the king.

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King was nowhere to be seen. One cub was seen sleeping in the shade.

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King himself was seen walking on a trail. He appeared to be weakend by the heat. King was in no mood to dispense justice. Last seen, was king lying on his back by water side on his summer cottage.

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There goes justice down the tube for residents of Ranthambhor national park.

 

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Woman Unfriendly India

Recently, a perception based survey was published. Survey was conducted by Thompson Reuter Foundation and opinions of global experts were collated. According to the findings of survey, India is the most dangerous country for women. India was placed below war torn Syria and Afghanistan, conservative Iran and Saudi Arabia among others.

Predictably, the findings of survey has kicked up a lot storm. Many nationalist Indians have suggested that the timing and findings of the survey is a conspiracy to defame India. Others have dug up data to demonstrate how India is not the most dangerous country for women. There is no doubt given the population size, the number of actual cases of sexual assault may be high in India. Yet, when compared in percentage terms, India actually ranks 32nd, where 6% women actually reported sexual assault compared to 29% in number one ranked Cameroon.

It can be argued that in many cases of sexual assault either victim do not come forward, and in many cases authorities do not register a case if victim is from lower section of social strata. Nevertheless, data suggest that rate of reporting of sexual violence per million population, nearly doubled post 2012 brutal rape and subsequent death of a nursing student in Delhi.

It is important to keep in mind the Thompson Reuter survey is a perception based opinion. One of the most difficult thing to improve in life is how the next person perceives us. No among of statistics and hard data can erase my low opinion of the next person. There may be various reasons for such opinion. One may read in news paper, social media or from word of mouth. One may have a personal bad experience too.

A sense of insecurity may arise not only from incidence of actual rape, but from the perception that something might happen hangs at the background. Such a sense of insecurity arises from incidences of groping, gawking, use of sexually laced innuendo, and a general harassment a woman faces at office, in public transport or even at home? As someone said, an expat lady, she feels safe in India as long as she does not have to venture out in odd hours. She cannot do things after dark  in Delhi, that she takes for granted in France or in Chile. Honestly, how many Indians can say confidently that they do not worry about safety if a  woman has to go out at night, be it for a party or for work?

I am not a woman. So I cannot speak how a woman feels in India. From what I read in news papers and hear on TV news, it appears that women had been feeling unsafe for a long time in India. Safety of a woman cannot be enumerated in the form of a statistical number. Even a single incidence of sexual may be one too many. Because for the victim, the incidence is real.

Safety of women is a concern that should be beyond party and political lines. Women were not safer during UPA era, they are no better under NDA era.  Remember when the brutal gang rape of Nirbhaya, a.k.a Jyoti Singh happened, Delhi had a lady chief minister, speaker of Lok Sabha was a lady, lead of opposition in parliament was a lady, ruling congress party president also happened to be a lady. Still the brutal incident happened. I think irrespective of caste, creed, religion, all Indians must hang their heads in shame that half of Indian population feel insecure be at home or at workplace or at a recreational joint.

Resource 

India Most Dangerous Country For Women, US In 10 Worst: Survey …

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/india-most-dangerous-country-for-women-with-sexual-violence-rife-poll-1873117

India is not the most  dangerous country for women, data shows …

https://www.livemint.com/Politics/7PF8NRqgyxoNs2AecfmxVL/India-is-not-the-most-dangerous-country-for-women-data-show.html

Why Farmers are in Distress

Often I read in newspaper and hear on TV that farmers are in distress. I hear farmers are committing suicide because of crop failure. Recently, farmers marched on foot for hundreds of kilometers from different parts of Maharashtra to Mumbai to put forward their demand. Many commentators believe farmer distress is going to play a decisive role in defeating BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and eventually in general election.

So why are farmers agitated and angry? I am not a farmer. I am far away from their problems and from ground reality. A cursory reading suggested the following reasons:

Profitability : Farming sector is not financially remunerative. So much so that farmers were seen dumping their produce, rather than sell to customers. Because, farmers claim they do not get right price. Whatever farmers produce, they sell it to middleman or wholesaler. It is the middleman that sells farm produce to retailers at high price and makes profit, depending upon demand. Many a time, middle men hoard farm produce to jack up price and create an artificial shortage. Obvious question is why farmers do not sell their produce directly to customers?

Minimum Support Price : Many farmers are asking for minimum support price be fixed for their produce. Recently, government has announced that a farmer will get 150% (1.5 times) more, for certain crops, than the money he has invested. Farmers investment is calculated using a formula : A2 + FL. Where A2 represents all paid out cost and FL represents value of family labor in the production of cost. Crops that will come under this scheme include cereals – paddy, jowar, bajra, ragi, maize, and pulses.

This minimum support price will cost government around 80000 crore rupees. Farmers still want a better formula for calculation of their investment amount and give fifty percent more than their investment.

Experts believe, minimum support price only covers a few food grains that government buys. Such a scheme will lure many farmers to engage in growing water intensive crops, which may impact ground water level. High basic price of food grains may affect export competitiveness of Indian farmers. Besides, by raising procurement price by law, would food items not become costlier, creating another problem for government?

Technique and Technology : Farming in India is done using outdated technology. Our farming is monsoon dependent. If there is drought, which happens more often than not, farmer sows seed but does not get any return. Many farmers used to commit suicide due to crop failure. Instead of flooding the field with water, can farmer not adopt less water intensive crop and less water intensive technique like a sprinkler or drip method of irrigation? Maharashtra government has taken initiative, in consultation with villagers, to encourage water harvesting. As a result, water scarcity that we heard a few years before, has not been reported this year.

Scientific Knowhow : Many a time a farmer is not aware of what to grow. Government should take initiative to advice farmers about what to sow, when to sow, if soil chemistry is proper for certain produce etc. Encourage water harvesting, use of technique and technology that uses less water, such that dependency on monsoon becomes less. If a majority of farmers from a region produce only a certain fruit or vegetable, and all of them get a bumper harvest, then price of produce automatically comes down. In that case, either each farmer should sow different product or a farmer should be able to store his produce for selling at a different point in time. Government must build such storage facilities. Food processing industry must come up in different parts of a state that will buy farmers produce.

Instead of helping farmers by solving basic problem, governments are busy giving loan waivers. Loan waiver makes the giver look good. Giver actually is paying someone elses money. Meanwhile, problem keeps coming back again and again.

Resource

1. Five ways to reduce farm distress in India | IFPRI

www.ifpri.org/blog/five-ways-reduce-farm-distress-india

2. Why are farmers distressed across India? – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com › News › National

3. India’s Agriculture Crisis- Business News – Business Today

https://www.businesstoday.in/opinion/…/india-agriculture-crisis…farmers…/258231.ht..

4. Modi Government Approves Hike in MSP for Khariff Crops

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/modi-government-approves-hike-in-msp-for-kharif-crops/articleshow/64852476.cms

5. Looking Beyond Loan Write offs for Farmers

https://www.esamskriti.com/e/National-Affairs/Ideas–ad–Policy/Looking-beyond-loan-writeoffs-for-farmers-1.aspx

Replace Modi, with Whom?

Recently, I came across two articles. One by Chetan Bhagat and the other by Tavleen Singh. Both Bhagat and Singh are neither blind supporters nor are they ideologically opposed critics of Narendra Modi lead BJP government at the center. Thus, opinion they express carries weight. According to both of them, Narendra Modi is becoming unpopular in the country and there is a widespread discontent among small and mid size businessmen and common people. More importantly, the gap between Mr. Modi and his chief opponent Mr. Rahul Gandhi has reduced to a considerable extent.

It is true Modi had received a massive support of voters. Many has lamented that government has frittered away the mandate. One has to understand that many ministers in government probably are not in tune with Modi’s idea of India. They would rather win election by giving short term subsidies and move on. Besides, though government had majority in Lok Sabha, in the upper house government did not have numbers. Thus many proposals of government faced opposition in the upper house.

There are several key efforts that government has tied to make. They include:

  • Modi government has tried to alter social behaviour of Indians. Ideas like clean India and protection and education of a girl child were not new. Uniqueness was never before such admission made by any prime minister from the ramparts of red fort.
  • Based on the ideology of his party, government has tried to reach the bottom of the pyramid. Zero balance bank account, direct transfer of benefits, supply of gas connection, universal healthcare benefits are testimony to this effort.
  • Government has also made investment in creating road connectivity, improve rail services, remove corruption in government purchases etc.

Yet, I think one of the greatest negatives of Modi is his silence when innocent muslims were killed by cow vigilantes. And, many perpetrators of crime were not even brought to book. Even if we argue that law and order is a state subject, as a prime minister of India, Modi should have expressed his grief and shared his pain with victims of lynching. Many sensible development oriented Hindus shudder at the events and statements that emerged thereafter.

The question of re-election of Modi has been discussed many a time and probably many more projections will be made till 2019. Modi was elected in 2014 because of the vision he shared with Indian electorate. Election after election, post 2014, has seen that voters seem to buy into Modi’s dream of a new and different India. Thus, despite high unemployment, high fuel price, erratic implementation of GST, and inconvenience during months of demonitisation, we cannot count Modi out.

Will Modi win a second term, only time and electoral arithmatic may tell. There is no doubt, India is divided on her opinion on Modi and his performance. While a large section believes, Modi is dedicated, honest and an ideal person to bring some sense in unruly polity. On the other an equally large number believes Modi is dictatorial and must be removed. It is upto our increasingly aware Indian people, young and old, male and female, to ask who or what will they replace Modi with? Yes Modi has his faults, yet is it bigger than advantage his replacements will offer?

Does this mean we may see Mr. Rahul Gandhi as prime minister of India in 2019? Given the quirks of Indian politics, one cannot rule the possibility out. Who knows, it could be behenji Mayawati or Mamata didi. May be Mr. Deve Gowda will come out of his retirement to save India. Compulsion of coalition politics is a great term used to defeat a common enemy in the name of saving democracy. The result would be weakest person may become prime minister, because every constituent of the coalition may have an opportunity to flex his muscle and get his demand met.

Resource

https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/The-underage-optimist/2019-slogan-ab-ki-baar-kya-pata-kiski-sarkaar/

If not Narendra Modi then who could be India’s next PM?

Quantico’s Hindu Terror is Bizarre and Funny

Recently, in a tele-serial, Quantico, Priyanka Chopra playing the role of a FBI agent, identified a man as a Hindu terrorist who was out to sabotage a top level meet between and Indian and a Pakistani leader. The terrorist was out to cause a nuclear explosion in the US, and blame it on Pakistan. The role of FBI officer was essayed by Indian movie star, Priyanka Chopra. Ms. Chopra has a big fan following in India and beyond the shores of India. Many of her fans as well as common Indians expressed anger at the serial and role Ms. Chopra played in it.

Ms. Chopra had apologised for the hurt she has inadvertantly caused. So did the promoter of the show, American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Obvious question that emerge, include:

  • In this day and age, does an artist have freedom to potray any role freely?
  • Why can a hindu man not be shown a terrorist, when TV shows regularly a muslim man to be a terrorist?

I think one cannot deny artistic freedom while writing a scene. We have seen how the movie Padmavat was disrupted, in recent past, by people claiming to be representing Rajput pride. All said and done, Padmavat was released in India and made very good business. Unlike Padmavat, Quantico was shot in the US, and was meant primarily for the US audience. Ms. Priyanka Chopra need not have to worry about its business success. Most likely, Ms. Chopra apologised to protect her commercial interest in Indian film industry.

Idea behind potraying a hindu terrorist detonating a nuclear device on a foreign soil is more complex, if not controversial, for the following reasons:

Firstly, there is no argument that a hindu can resort to violence and there is no reason why he cannot be a terrorist. India has seen violent incidences. There are indigenous terrorist groups in India. Many groups have hindu members in leadership position. Most of these groups, however, fight against Indian establishment. An idea of Hindu / saffron terror was floated by a political party. Such Hindu terror group was implicated in Mecca Masjid blast and Samjhauta Express blast. However, US intelligence has indicated hand of radical islamic group in Samjhauta Express blast. All people arrested as Hindu terrorists were released by court of law after prolonged incarceration. There is no evidence in the history of independent India, where an Indian had crossed into a foreign country with explicit intent to damage life and property. Though possibility of a hindu terrorist cannot be ruled out, at this time there is no realistic basis to paint such a picture.

As my second argument, I find the idea of India implicating Pakistan in a terror plot is absurd. India and Pakistan were created on the basis that hindus and muslims do not get along with each other. Subsequently, India has remained a hindu majority country and Pakistan became a muslim majority country. Since its creation, Pakistan has attacked India in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. India has also suffered numerous terrorist attacks on her soil, which were carried out by extremists based in Pakistani territory. In this background, depicting a hindu man to be a terrorist and Pakistan to be potential victim is ludicrous.

My third argument is use of rudraksh rosary bead to identify a terrorist as hindu. Rudraksh rosary is not a sacred symbol of hindus alone. Buddhists also use it. Infact, anyone in the world can carry a rudraksh. In this background it is simplistic, if not outright silly, to identify a man to be hindu, just because he had a rudraksh on him. A muslim man can also carry a rudraksh, to pass the blame of nuclear explosion onto India. A terrorist, who has enough hate on his mind to detonate a nuclear device, will he be so scrupulous about symbol of any religion?

Finally, coming back to the issue of exploding a nuclear device, one has to understand that one needs to have high level complicity at government level to get access to nuclear material. Of different nuclear capable countries, India has been one of the most responsible country when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation. The same cannot be said about Pakistan. Yet, a picture is being painted for viewers of the show that it is India that is propagating nucelar terrorism.

Resource:

  1. http://www.thehindu.com/…/priyanka-chopra…indian…terror…in-quantico/article24127642
  2. 2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Samjhauta_Express_bombings

Angry Voters and Modi Government

Narendra Modi lead NDA government has completed four years in power. The government has worked without blemish of any major corruption. Food inflation has remained reasonably low, less than 5%. Still many people remain unhappy and angry with government and its policies. High fuel price has alienated middle class. While, farmers are complaining that farming is not profitable anymore, as farmers are not getting enough price for their produce. Increasing fuel price does not help their case either. While anger against government may be justified, one has to admit that government had given a push towards improving many sectors that were not priority for earlier governments.

Road Infrastructure : Indian road infrastructure has never been world class. Our roads were narrow, congested and pot holed. So much so road network was not developed in north east India. Modi government has given a great push to create road network in north east India. In five years, governmetn plans to build 85000 km of road in its five year tenure. On an average, a km of good quality road costs around 10 crore rupees. Thus, governmetn of India needs, 850,000 crore (8.5 trillion rupees). Definitely, government cannot do it alone. Private public partnership is sought to build road network. While private companies recover their investment through toll tax, government raises the money through tax.

Rail Infrastructure : India has the worlds biggest rail network. It transports 23 million passengers daily and 3 million tons of freight daily. Anyone who has travelled by Indian railways may testify that barring a few select trains, Indian rail is slow moving, often late, not very clean, and accident prone. India needs to improve railways on many fronts. To improve passenger facilities in station and while in train. Train speed must be increased without compromising safety. New tracks have to be laid to facilitate unimpeded traffic of goods and passengers. North East India hardly had any rail network beyond Assam. So much so, some people in Meghalaya in North East have never seen a train. This government has given a great push to north east infrastructure development. To upgrade and modernise Indian railway there is an investment plan of approximately Rs. 8 trillion between 2015 to 2019, rougly 2 trillion per year. This money is over and above regular expenditure of railways to operate business and pay salary etc.To build railways government needs money.

Defence Infrastructure : India is sorrounded by hostile neighbors like China in the east and Pakistan in the west. We have fought wars against both neigbors. To cope with military adventure of our neigbors, India needs to upgrade her military hardware. For nearly a decade of earlier rule, UPA I and II, not much military purchase had been made, to avoid allegation of corruption. As defence minister said, government is upgrading armed forces, but neglect of a decade cannot be fulfilled in four years by demanding more money. Add to this funding for OROP. Earlier an allocation of Rs 500 crore was made for the purpose. Actual cost was of OROP emerged to be 10000 crore to be paid every year till an army man is alive. Where is the money going to come from, other than tax payers?

Add to some of these heavy expenditure, collapse of banking sector due to NPA, demanding minimum support price by farmers, government servants demanding implementation of pay commission report, states demanding special status and more money. Add to this government plan to provide health insurance to 100 million families (approximately five hundred million people) upto 5 lac rupees. Remember, India spends very little on education and healthcare of citizens.

All the money that government pays has to come from tax payers. If government subsidises petrol it loses tax money that it needs to undertake upgradation of different government arms. As citizens that have limited budget, it is natural to get angry when prices go up. But find out where is the money going to come from if we need to upgrade infrastructure. Tax that we pay are not going to an individuals pocket, it is used by government to build infrastructure. We may question if government is right in spending money the way it is spending. At the same time we need to think do we need a different India that is prosperous and literate and clean or we go on with usual stuff of bandaid solution for long term problems.

Resource :

1. Improving India’s ailing road infrastructure | World Finance

https://www.worldfinance.com/infrastructure…/improving-indias-ailing-road-infrastru…

2. In five years, Narendra Modi plans to build over 83,000 km of roads …

https://qz.com/…/in-five-years-narendra-modi-plans-to-build-over-83000-km-of-road…

3. Indian Railways: Network, Investments, Market Size, Govt Initiatives …

https://www.ibef.org › Industry

4. Indian Railways Vision and Plans 2017-2019

http://www.indianrailways.gov.in/Railways%20Presentation.pdf

5. Indian Railways – Edelweiss Research

https://www.edelresearch.com/…/RAILWAYS_-_SECTOR_REPORT-JAN-17-EDEL

Ranthambhore in Summer

On a warm summer afternoon I boarded Jan Shatabdi Express from Hazrat Nizamuddin Station, Delhi en route to Sawai Madhopur. My destination was Ranthambhore national park in Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan. This was my third trip in as many years. Train left Nizamuddin at 1.15 pm and reached Sawai Madhopur by 6 pm. Return journey from Sawai Madhopur was also by Jan Shatabdi Express, that I boarded at 7 am in the morning to reach Nizamuddin by 12.30 pm.

Any visit to Ranthambhor is incomplete without mention of Ranthambhor Bagh. Tiger lover Aditya Singh and his wife have set up a lodge on the road to Ranthambhore. A nice and clean double occupancy room costs around Rs. 3500 per night. Staff is very friendly and helpful. The price includes three meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Morning coffee before leaving for first safary and evening tea after return from evening safary also comes with the room.

It is better to book safari in advance. A seat in a canter costs Rs. 950 approx per trip. A gypsy costs around Rs. 1500 per trip. One must carry original identification paper, voter id, passport or driver licence. In peak summer, one can hire one gypsy for self by paying Rs. 15000 per day for one full day at the park. At this time of my visit, there are not many tourists. Mostly wildlife enthusiasts and wildlife photographers visit the park. This is the time when day time temperature remains very high, mostly 40OC and above. Wild animals comeout to drink water and sit on water bodies to cool themselves.

I had booked two jeep safaris. One for the morning and the second one for the afternoon. For morning safary, I was picked up from my lodge at 5.30 am. Most people go to Ranthambhor to have a glimpse of a tiger. I was not exception. All our driving around the forest trail came to nothing. Forest was empty as if all animals had taken off for a cooler climate.

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I had to be content with a picture of sambar deer and one peacock. It was a disappointing morning. I was having second thought about the purpose of my visit.

After a lot of internal debate with a lot of trepidation I got myself ready to face the afternoon heat for safary. It was a hot afternoon. As gypsy was speeding through tarred road towards park gate, our faces were getting roasted by hot air. Inside the park also there was not much water in sight. Most water bodies had shrunk. Rivers that feed these water bodies were dry. Even sambhar deer were resting under the shade of trees.

As our search for the elusive tiger was getting agonising with each twist and turn of the trail, a passing gypsy informed us a tiger is most likely resting in a cave nearby. Though accessing the cave was not strictly legal, our guide asked the driver to take the detour. This was a risky move. Driver – guide duo could have been penalised, if caught by rangers, for causing disturbance to wildlife. Most likely to salvage his hurt pride of not been able to show us any tiger, our guide took the risk and drove us near the cave.

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The tiger in this photograph was sitting under the shadows of a mountain cave. It was relaxed, most probably had a full meal in recent past. It ignored us humans and our cameras and minded its own business. As the area was off limits for unauthorised visitors, we were asked to hurry up and leave the area. We waited outside the area in the hope that tiger might make a move. But he did not oblige in the searing heat.

As we were returning, on a mostly dry river bed we saw this black tailed mongoose. This mongoose was almost blended with its surroundings. Only expert eye of our naturalist and guide could spot it. We could catch a glimpse of the animal as it ran away as our gypsy came near.

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For a video capture of the mongoose, please visit : Black-Tailed Mongoose: https://t.co/MuGM4sfpSS via @YouTube

After first royal darshan, we moved to a different site. There was rumour that one might be lucky to have glimpse of a mother with her two cubs. From top of the hill we had a birds eye view of the valley below. There, we saw two tigers lazing on the meadow like a house cat. Most probably they had a full meal earlier and were resting. Our guide told us one was mother and the second was her cub.

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Then walked in the third tiger. We could see him eating his meal, from a distance, in the bushes, but could not capture picture. He slowly came into picture, shook hands with his sibling (tiger equivalent), planted a tiger peck on his mother’s cheek and then sat down to rest. For a video capture of all three tigers, mother and two cubs, please visit https://t.co/4BSiTTjLnM via @YouTube.

On our way back out of the park, we saw this big male tiger. It had its back towards us. Apparently it was looking or smelling something. May be it was marking its territory or trying to find out if it was on someone else land. We hurriedly took our camera and accessories out of our bag. Then the tiger turned around. He was a big cat. It started moving towards us. Our driver backed his gypsy to make room for the beast. No one had a clue what the tiger was upto. It started walking on the edges of the trail. Occasionally, it would get irritated and show its teeth with mild growl. It walked past our jeep, then crossed the road and went further behind.It was a big male cat, that is what our guide told us. My day at Ranthambhor could not have been more perfect. Unless of course weather was a bit cooler or our jeep was air conditioned. But even god only grants so many wishes. I am not complaining. For a glimpse of the tiger, please visit : https://t.co/BllSIT6qN7 via @YouTube.

Reference

  1. Black-Tailed Mongoose: https://t.co/MuGM4sfpSS via @YouTube
  2. https://t.co/4BSiTTjLnM via @YouTube
  3. https://t.co/BllSIT6qN7 via @YouTube
  4. https://occassionalmusingsblogpost.wordpress.com/2017/05/22/a-day-in-ranthambhor

Whose Mandate is it Anyway?

I do not come from a politically aware and astute family background. My father used to have his covert sympathy for the left parties. His logic was left, whenever it came to power, had tried to reduce price of essential commodities. Besides, being a Bengali, my father had a sympathetic corner in his heart for the young men and women joining ultra left movement of late sixties and early seventies. I have always stayed away from politics, including office politics. In the late nineties, as private TV channels like NDTV started broadcasting news, I took an interest in listening political debates on TV. It is around this time, I learnt terms like fractured mandate, hung assembly, post poll alliance etc. etc.

In the second half of 1990, India had thrown up several fractured mandates, where no single party crossed the majority mark to form a government. The term post poll alliance was used to indicate two or more like minded parties have joined forces to form government. Often these parties had fought against each other. More often than not, the principle agenda would be stopping someone else from capturing power. Desire to grab power is hidden behind lofty statements like “saving Indian democracy” and “respecting peoples mandate”. Exactly, the same drama was played out in recently concluded state assembly election of Karnataka. The ruling party, congress, reduced its tally of seats from 122 to 78. Its sitting chief minister was rejected by voters in one constituency. He barely scraped throught in the second seat he contested. Sixteen of his cabinet ministers lost their seats. Thus mandate was against the ruling party. The main challenger raised its tally from 62 to 104, however, remained short of 7 seats from majority mark. The third challenger got only 38 seats and far far away from the seat of power. Yet, it is the smallest party in terms of seat share is forming government backed by a party that people have rejected.

Question that remains unanswered is who did the voters elect to rule the state? Almost like a hardworking student who scores more than 90 percentile in his test but does not get admission in a good course. While someone else with much lower marks gets in. Because the second candidate is either from a different social strata or because he has ability to pay more money. Post poll alliance is exactly like that. A weak party becomes eligible to rule due to considerations different from voters choice.

A party that falls prey to trick like post poll alliance, should sit in the benches meant for opposition parties. Instead of complaining, they should go back to voters and explain the charade being played in the name of democracy and how popular mandate is being disrespected. I have no doubt, popular anger will wash away tricksters in next election.

Perils of Being a Non-vegetarian

I was surprised and shocked to hear the news that dead animals, collected from garbage dumps, are being processed and supplied as meat for human consumption in restaurants. Animals included dead dogs, and cats and I do not know what not. I hope there was no dead donkey.

Born in a Bengali brahmin family, I am not a vegetarian. But my uncle was. Like any self respecting Bengali vegetarian, my uncle loved his fish. He would, however, not allow eggs hatched by a hen (moorgir deem in Bengali) to enter his household. Those days chicken (moorgi in Bengali) used to associated with a snack served along with liqour and by extension linked to debasement and debauchary. My uncle, however, had no objection to eggs hatched by a duck (haanser deem). This suited me well. Because duck eggs were bigger in size than chicken eggs.

My father was less conservative. I remember going with him to neighborhood butcher shop and by mutton every Sunday. I studied in a boarding school run by Rama Krishna Mission. Swami Vivekananda had urged youth of India “to eat meat and play football, to understand Gita better” (not exact quote). As a result, non-vegetarian food used to be served four days a week in our hostel. Meal included fish in the morning and egg in the evening. On Saturday afternoon, a goat or two would be sacrificed. All of us would wait eagerly for dinner bell. Meal used to be terrible, more water than mutton, but it was still a mutton curry.

I was introduced to chicken when I was in college. My friend invited me to a beer party. Thereafter, I would go to such party to gorge on chicken tikka. As my gluttony became apparent, gradually they stopped calling me. Beef and pork were still a no no. My mother would give a scientific twist to her arguments by saying “in a hot tropical country like India, beef and pork generated too much heat, which may not be good for health.” To top her argument, she would say “many cows have disease and tape worm.” Those were days when gau rakshaks were not rummaging through peoples refrigerator in search of beef. Anyway, we did not have a refrigerator. I followed my mothers advice and did not eat either beef or pork. No I was not afraid. Any, my mother did not know that it is mostly buffalo meat that is sold as beef in India.

My resolve was broken as I was going for my graduate studies. On air, I was served some meat preparation. Without fuss, I ate it. It was certainly not mutton or lamb or chicken. But I did not protest or ask for a vegetarian meal. When I landed in Canada, my first meal, encouraged by a fellow Indian, was a hot dog and then a few days later a hamburger from McDonald. Hamburger was most certainly had a beef patty. And, about  sausage in hot dog, the less said is better. Managing my expensed in a shoestring budget, I realised chicken and beef were least expensive compared to ham, lamb and mutton. In my defence, I can say that in Canada food meant for human consumption was inspected better rigorously and Canada was a cold country.

As the news of dead animal carcass from dump yards for human consumption hit the airwave, I wonder, in India of 2018, who knows what is being home delivered and eaten in the name of numerous non-vegetarian dishes like chicken chowmein, chicken fried rice, chilly chicken etc, to name a few. I wonder what my mother would say about eating non vegetarian food today. This information could desist people from eating non-vegetarian food indiscriminately, from sundry joints.

Apart from societal aberration, something is changing inside. I think of cruelty inflicted upon chickens in commercial farms, steroids pumped in cattle to increase muscle, toxin under fish skin and infection in farmed fish, the list goes on and on. Once in a while, I also wonder am I trampling on the right of another living organism for pleasing my taste buds? Digestive system certainly does not seem to relish it. Am I becoming a sissy with age? Apparently, no societal pressure works better than self realisation and regulation.

Source:

Racket supplying dead animal meat to Kolkata restaurants thrived with …

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/west-bengal-dead-meat-racket-thrived-with-municipal-staff-help-5159326/

Are Farmed Salmon One of the Most Toxic Foods in the World?

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/04/30/salmon-fish-farming.aspx

Kolkata Metro Assault: Personal Freedom vs. Public Decency

I spent a part of my highschool days in West Bengal. Based on my interaction with friends, based on my reading of Bengali literature, I can say I have always felt Bengali people and society, though materially poor, is reasonably open, fair, and free from many prejudices that affect in other parts of the country. Bengali polity is usually left leaning with many siding with the voiceless, poor and downtrodden. A case in point, West Bengal has stood rock solid in support of minorities during 1984 and 2000 riots. It is still one of the bastions that rampaging BJP has not able to capture. A reading of contemporary magazines may reveal that Bengali society is not a prude when it comes to physical relationship between a man and a woman.

As a result, I was surprisd to read that a couple was thrashed in Kolkata metro rail because it was felt they were cosying up to each other. Search of relevant news articles emerged that it was a crowded train. A Boy and girl were standing close to each other. They were not doing anything obscene or objectionable. Ofcourse, there are alternate versions that say that the couple was engaged in amorous activity in a crowded train that lead to argument and eventual manhandling.

I do not know why are we making so much noise about two people getting cosy in Metro rail or in any other public place. Is it the lynch mob behaviour that we have seen in UP and Rajasthan, spreading to Bengal? Interesting thing is based on discussion on Facebook, many people who are supporting the assault, are not young. They are trying to remind rest of Bengal and Bengali speaking people that :

  • A lot of sacrificed was made by Bengali youth in seventies. One cannot let those sacrifice go in vain by todays selfish consumer centric generation.
  • Like we do not ease ourselves in public (infact in India many do), we should restrict our love making act to the privacy of our bed rooms.
  • If you indulge in obscene act in public you are bound to be reprimanded. If persuation does not work, stick may be the answer.
  • Interestingly some suggested rewriting history books to document sacrifices made by seventies generation.
  • Why can we not follow our idols and ideals like Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar or Ram Mohan Roy, and fall for imported cultural practices?

Questions that come to my mind are as follows:

There is no denying many young people had embraced left wing revolution in seventies. Many had sacrificed promises of lucrative career, and a cosy life. We must respect their commitment and dedication. It also has to be remembered that in hay days of revolution, many others who did not agree with the ideology. Today, even less number of people follow them. In the past people were made to fall in line using force. Today that nascent tendencies is raising its head.

Can sexual intercourse be equated with act of public urination or defecation? If two people are coming close physically, does it always mean they are engaged in sexual intercourse? Is it not true that definition of decency is not absolute. Standards change with time. By the way, there are many countries that do not frown upon open display of affection. These national and people, thereof, are not doing badly compared to us. Infact, in many of these countries of west, women feel far safer to venture out even at dead of night. In these countries a prostitute is called “Ma’am” by a police officer at the time of arresting her.

We on the other hand, beat up people engaged in open display of affection, but our treatment of women in public life is miserable. Even in culturally progressive West Bengal, pregrant women get raped. A septagenarian nun was sexually assaulted. Minor child gets raped we cannot stop. Sharp objects are inserted in private parts of children. We watch helplessly. But we are angry when a boy and a girl gets cosy! Is it our impotence in all other situations that manifests in the form of blind rage?

Those who do not like certain events in society, why not complain to police. Differences exist in all societies between old and the young. I think old has to give way to young because that is how nature functions. Do not beat up others. In Bengal, people fight on ideological grounds, not on the issue of public display of affection.

On the issue of violence, left leaning progressive Bengali bhadralok is presenting himself in the same league as the much derided cow loving, communal north Indian mass. Intellectual Bengalis are acting and justifying an act of mob violence in the same way right wing lynch mobs that justify killing of Akhlaq or Pehlu Khan? It appears right and left behave in the same manner when it comes to meting out justice and defending it thereafter.

A sign of a progressive society lies in how we accept unpalatable, unfamiliar events without resorting to violence. More we do so better it is for us. Because in a nation where sixty percent population is young, things are bound to be different. It is time, older generation gives way to younger lot.

Punish Child Rapist with Death

India is grappling with rapidly rising incidence of violence against women. Among various crimes committed against a woman, one that often comes to our notice is rape. Many say rape is an expression of power by a man against a woman. But, what would you say when subject of male violence is a child who is bare few months old. What injustice an eight year old girl committed to deserved being raped? As if, not satisfied raping a girl child, some explore her private parts by inserting sharp and/or blunt objects. In one such case in Delhi, after raping and inserting a bottle inside a five year old child, perpetrators locked her up in their rented apartment and fled the scene. Are these normal human beings or monsters? How can we stop such actions? How can we bring to book perpetrators of such crime?

Recently, under public pressure after brutal rape of an eight year old girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, government of India has brought forward a crime that will allow child rapists to be given death penalty. I think, it to be a good idea.  Many erudite people are opposing the move on the ground that rapist will now kill the victim. We are forgetting that even without death penalty, most victims are being killed or left to die. Death penalty, if cannot instill fear in the mind of a rapist, is not likely to do a major harm. It should be borne is mind, having provision of death penalty for a crime does not mean every criminal will be awarded the same. At least, having the provision to ask for a death penalty,  will allow prosecution to ask for the same in cases of brutal crimes.

Government must also relook at punishing juvenile rapists based on the gravity of crime they commit. These people should not be shown leniency on account of age. Many called juveniles have an adult mind, adult urge and propensity to be brutal to their victims. When it comes to facing consequence of their action, we hear after all these are only children. Say that to parents of minor girls who have been violated by young juvenile boys. Many civilized democracies look at the gravity of crime before deciding on punishment. Why India should be an exception? Finally, attention. Must be paid towards building a tight case and speedy trial. For this scientific evidence collection and time bound justice delivery is must.