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A Question Of Class…

The Day Our Class Was Rocked!

That day the entire class witnessed a number of arguments: in groups of twos, threes and even more, everyone was arguing.

What set this off was an unusual departure by our teacher. That day he started teaching in English! Normally, this was not the practice. Though the higher classes were supposed to be English medium yet the accepted medium of instruction was Hindi.

The entire class was simply mystified, and more than the subject he was teaching, what kept us engaged was why the hell he was speaking in English! Most of the class students belonged to the middle class families and had a workable knowledge of English; but there were many who came from very poor families and were not good in English. However, by the time they will complete their Senior Secondary they would have picked up enough English to be able to clear qualifying examinations for various jobs. And that was enough!

Certainly, the reaction of entire class was not lost on the teacher because after that he never used English to deliver his lectures.

Do You Dream in English?

The English earns us our bread and butter — while Hindi, or any other mother tongue, is used to express ourselves with our closed ones.

There are some privileged few, who are fluent in English, those who have studied from Convent schools, or whose parents converse with them in English. They can easily and fluently express themselves in English. Maybe, they also think in English. And, what about dreams? Do they also dream in English?

As far as the spoken language is concerned there are clearly two classes of people in our society – English speaking and non-English speaking. The first one is superior, the other one is inferior. The first one has Class, the other one has not. The fist one is privileged, the other one is under privileged, no backward describes it more aptly. The latter one is also known as desi, or native.Though the former class is also native but they are not desi. Got the difference? In the desi circles, the other class is known as angrez (literally meaning English) or angrez ki aulad (progeny of angrez). The desi circle is generally in awe of the angrez one, and the angrez ones generally look down upon the desi’s.

After all this is life and this is not a perfect world and we have to live with this inequality.

For the English speaking class merely the act of speaking in that language is a hallmark of their superiority. In one single instance it proves that they are sharp, wise, intelligent, witty and successful. Or going to be successful. They move in another world – they listen to Rock, heavy metal and American country music, while our desi brothers listen to Hindi film songs, bhojpuri folk or Punjabi folk. The angrez class also listens to Hindi, but only when enjoying the Gazals of Jagjit Singh and Mehdi Hasan, which only accentuates their class. The desi class also listens to these gazal singers, but they always fall short of being the class. Their fate is sealed.

That’s how it is, whether you like it or not.

Who brought about this situation? Maybe Macaulay, maybe Nehru, we can blame anyone for this but this situation has come to pass and here we are stuck with this. On one side is the angrez class and on the other is the desi class.

When, after completing our Senior Secondary, we entered College the class was broadly divided in two groups; you get it — angrez’s and desi’s! They may be further subdivided in sub groups, but you get the idea: at macro level there were only two real ‘classes’.

The Coming of Age of Desi’s

I am talking about my own student days – the 80’s. But I observe that these class differences still persist. The desi ones have increased in numbers and they have emulated many habits of the angrez’s – they eat pizzas, they watch English movies, they also have girl friends – but the difference persists. Generally, boyfriends and girl friends belong to the same class, and the two classes maintain their distances. It is only a rare one who can effortlessly mingle with both the groups.

How far this division can be rationalised, and how this division helps one group in being successful in life at the cost of the other; how this creates a false sense of superiority in one class and a lifelong sense of inferiority in the other? – this is for the society to decide.

However, dear readers I will love to see your observations and experiences in the comments section.

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Technically Not Possible – 3

In The Mess

There was the usual bonhomie that you normally expect in the staff mess; a hum of chatter, Hi’s, Bi’s and clatter of the cutlery.

Malhotra and Jatinder were having their lunch.

Jatinder was telling him about the great divide. ‘Sir, our IT people know that they working for a company whose core business has to do with farming. Not IT, in short. So, when someone talks with you he or she understands that you can easily lose your way in the jargon. That is the first trick that these experts normally play when they are not in a mood to do something, or when they are confronted with something that they do not understand.’

‘I half suspected this. Profession wise we – they and us – are walking on two different planes.’

‘Yes, Sir.’ Jatinder noted that he was being included in the they – which was the proper approach. ‘Sometimes there is this attitude that the IT person thinks that he is an expert in a knowledge based field – and hence is walking on a higher altitude – than you and me, since we are concerned with such mundane things as seeds, soil, water and digging!’

‘So, they are the intellectuals and we the hands-on types, eh?’

‘Yes.’ Jatinder said taking in one spoonful of dal makhani. The guy cooks really well, he thought, the only trouble was now he will start feeling sleepy!

‘Don’t they want to show something, something to write home about?’

‘We do have ’em. But they are very few. They do not stick around for long. They get out of here and go on to join good IT companies. They do not like to remain stuck in some non-IT place like this. After all, we are farming people at the end of the day: It lowers their market value.’

‘So we are stuck with the half hearted types.’

‘Yes.’

‘Better ones always give their best, whether they like some place or not; whether they are adequately paid or under-paid. It is in their blood.’

‘Hum…’

‘But we lose them very fast!’

Malhotra knew Jatinder very well; he was a man of passion. When he took up some job, then it was not a job for him, it became passion. He had that perception that only very few have, those who are completely in tune with what they are doing.

Jatinder continued, ‘What I have found is that slowly this place has acquired a character. What can be loosely called laziness; or you may call it comfort – most of the technical staff is very comfortable.’

‘Comfort with the job that they doing?’

‘No, Sir. They are comfortable with what they are doing and the way they are doing it. Because,’ here Jatinder took a deep breath and the sadness was all over his face. ‘Because, Sir, they are doing what they want to do it and they do it the way they want to do. I think you get my point.’

When Malhotra looked up Jatinder looking quizzically into his eyes.

‘I think I understand what you want to say.’ Malhotra said remembering ‘technically not possible’ dialogue he had with Sankar.

They kept on with their lunch, the sense of helplessness and anger only somewhat alleviated by the taste of dal makhani and the aromatic basmati rice.

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Technically Not Possible – 2

Revolution to Evolution 

When Sankar left the room Malhotra sat there staring in the blank — the image of the rocket still disturbing his mind.

‘Surely, this is possible,’ he mumbled to himself. He grabbed the intercom and asked Jatinder to come over for a tea.

Jatinder was the man the Boss had advised him to fall back upon in case he needed any advice. ‘He is a common sense man,’ Boss had said, ‘and full of ideas. Call him anytime you get stuck somewhere; he has got the mind to pull you out of any rut that you ever find yourself in!’

Just after five minutes Malhotra discovered what a sage advise his Boss had given. Over a cup of tea he heard Jatinder saying things which were echoing his innermost thoughts.

This place sure has got a problem!

When Jatinder left the room he did so with a specific brief: how to pull out the place from a pensioners’ mindset and get the people to use their brains. He himself had found it quite amazing that people had stopped using their brains in a domain considered to be nerds’ bastion.

Jatinder came from a village lying deep in the interiors of Punjab. It was not a very backward area, as, say, you will find in, say, Rajasthan, or Andhra. Punjab’s terrain is covered with a maze of canals, so even though there was not much prosperity in his village, there was no poverty either.

His parents desired their son to evolve out of the fields and become a man of prosperity which they had been unable to create out of their small field. After completing his graduation from Patiala he started his career as a salesman selling pumps to the farmers.

Soon his imagination was captured by the computer revolution that was taking hold of not only the country but the entire world. Then he got an opportunity to work in the IT Section of his company in Ludhiana.

From Ludhiana to Delhi at the IT office of a big company manufacturing farm equipment was just a matter of evolution, and he had enjoyed every step of his way on this journey.

Just like in Army here too he found a great divide – IT vs. non-IT – on the lines of Army vs. civilian! Having worked on both sides of the great divide he became the company’s man for all seasons. He was always brimming with new ideas.

‘A farmer’s mind is always fertile,’ he often said with a wink.

He had been watching computer revolution sweeping the world around him – he had an intuition he was being witness to a true change: the kind of change that had the potential to take mankind to the next stage of evolution. The bulky tubes gave way to lean chips; sloppy Cobol gave way to smart C: there were so many layers to this revolution that his mind boggled at the sight of a computer.

At that time computers were so big that they filled entire halls. Their blinking diodes gave an inkling of the power that was working behind those bland panels. They had to stand in rows to be able to get the ticket to get their slot of one hour in the Computer Center of the University. And then they punched cards like mad on those punching machines – the pounding sound of the keys was to him like white noise from the outer space!

When he joined the computer center of his first company they were working on PC XT’s which slowly gave way to PC AT’s. By the time he switched job and joined the other company people had started working on the PC 286 – it was the name of the chip which was being celebrated like a celebrity; the magazines were full of the genius of this new wonder kid.

Then came 386, the super chip! He still remembered the excitement that filled the entire computer center when he brought the first piece of this super PC to his office. People came to have a look at this wonder. They touched it and felt it like it was from another planet.

‘You know, the power within this small machine is more than that of that big machine occupying that room!’ they told each other pointing towards a mini computer that needed a room all for itself.

But like other celebrities, the age of this one also was very short – soon it gave way to 486 and then very rapidly to the Pentium series.

The rest is history!

In the meantime – as the gamut of activities covered by computers kept on expanding from servers to networks, to graphics to media and what not – it became more fashionable to call this new Industry as IT Industry rather than the Computer Industry. It made more sense too.

With this, Jatinder too, who had started out as a computer expert, evolved into an IT professional.

 

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Smile: Little Action That Creates Happiness

I understood the power of a smile one day, when I was out strolling, my tiny toddler son in my arms. He was peeking behind me, when this happened.

I live in a neighborhood where people are generally interested in each others’ affairs, and when they meet you they want to hear latest updates. The last time that they met you might be as late as today morning or as early as one hour back!

‘Pokey!’, you may say; particularly if you are coming from a stiff upper lip, formal kind of environment. Well, it depends which side you are on.

I am quite sure, if you can drop your guard juts a bit, and can convince yourself that your life’s secrets are not that damn earth shaking, say as that of CIA or Mossad, then you will find lots of active listeners here, tons of advice and dozens of shoulders to cry on!

Slowly, you will become part of the ‘gang’, will have all the latest updates up your sleeves; but, most important, you will find yourself to be part of this large family.

So, when I heard a ‘Hello’ from behind my back, coming from someone I did not recognize, I was not surprised.

I stopped. The elderly gentleman, who happened to say this salutation with an energetic voice came from my behind and started shaking hands with my son, saying, ‘Son, you made my day. You have given me such a sunny smile!’

The gentleman then took him in his arms, said a few sweet words, handed him back to me, said bye to both of us and strolled on, a happy smile on his face!

My son was still giving a toothless cheerful smile, this time looking at me, happy with the conversation!

Unknowingly to him, he had just created a new smile in the world!

This small incident opened my eyes towards the power of a smile. I started observing that I tend to like people who smile at me when I meet them, rather than those who don’t. I am happier in the company of those who keep a pleasant, smiling expression on their faces, as compared to those who are always grave or neutral.

 

Starting a ‘Happiness Movement’

 

From then on I have made it a point to always smile when I meet some one, and always maintain a pleasant expression while I am with some one; even when I am having an earnest discussion on a contentious topic, on which I differ with the other person.

My purpose of sharing my experience with you is that I want to encourage you to start smiling more and more, and thereby start a ‘happiness revolution’. Do this as your contribution towards making this world a better and happier place to live in.

Every drop…err…smile counts!

There are many compelling reasons for you to want to smile more and more, some of which I have described below –

Smile Makes You Feel Good

 

When you are happy you smile. But the reverse is also true. Your emotions and facial and physical expressions cannot go against each other. If you keep on smiling for some time, your mood will change.

Try to smile when you are angry, or sad: you will notice that your anger, or sadness, gets reduced a little bit, making you feel better.

 

Smile Is Contagious

 

Have you ever noticed that when some one smiles at you, you smile back? This is almost spontaneous. That’s how my son was able to create a new smile in this world!

Why not start a chain reaction of smiles? Your smile will have a multiplying effect. The more you smile at others the more it spreads.

Let it go viral! This ripple affect is going to make the world a happier place! This happiness will come back to you some time in future: what you give away comes back to you!

Smile Costs Less

 

I am not talking about money, but the physical effort involved in smiling.

Smile requires less effort than a frown. You make use of 11 muscles when you smile; while there are 1 muscles collaborating in your frown!

So, if you have a choice between the two – smile!

 

Smile Is Anti-aging!

 

You always knew that when you smile you look younger and more attractive.

Now, the findings of studies conducted by research scientists at Max Planck Institute, Berlin have added another bonus to smiling!

Their experiments demonstrated that the age of ‘happy faces’ was under estimated by observers; while the actual age of neutral faces could be easily guessed. Women were found to be looking three years younger than their physical age.

You just found another reason to smile!

 

Smile Is Good For Health

 

A research conducted by Loma Linda Research Institute has finally proved what was always suspected – that laughter indeed lowers stress hormones and boosts the immune system. It also increases the neutral killer cells, whose function it is to fight with tumor and virus cells.

Doctors also believe that people who laugh more have less changes of being inflicted by the heart disease.

 

Smile To Make It A Better World!

 

So, when you smile at others, and start a chain reaction, you are actually doing a huge service for the humanity: you are spreading good health, you are multiplying happiness and you are making the world younger!

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How Narendra Modi Will Tackle USA?

Image

 

Who is afraid of Narendra Modi?

The USA, it seems — if we go by its various actions in the diplomatic arena, and if we look at how the issue of Visa is raised time and again at strategic junctures!

In UPA 1 and 2 USA had got an ally which was just too happy to toe the line and help USA in furthering its geopolitical aims in the Asian Continent. Manmohan and Sonia fitted the bill absolutely – and after ten years of uninterrupted influence it was looking for making more inroads.

However, the only dark cloud in the horizon has been the persona of Narendra Modi – the man who seems to have a mind of his own and has a strong will. He is honest and is committed to furthering the interests of India on the global scene. While Manmohan Singh was happy to get occasional brownie points from USA, Narendra Modi may prove to be a hard nut to crack — because USA knows that there lies in Modi’s heart a burning desire to make India a global power!

In the following article, Menaz Merchant beautifully explains the challenges that USA faces in the current international scenario and how Modi may well be able to exploits the chinks in its armour!

Read the full article here…

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‘Running With The Hares; Hunting With The Hounds’

I have sometimes deliberated about the thought process of those who are going ga-ga over the appearance of AAP leaders. The AAP supports are constituted by that crowd which feels deceived by the Congress dream but yet have not got over their opposition for the BJP – secularism and all that, the white noise that is generated by media spurred by the cacophony created by the Congress and its cohorts.

The AAP constitutes the perfect honey trap for just this population – when will it get over it, and be able to think beyond prejudices and be able to look beyond the veil created by the media – because no doubt they also have to survive and news is created by the powers that be – I wonder!

There was a time when the prominent leaders of the AAP were known for their involvement in the Anna movement against corruption. Then this movement metamorphosed into the ‘India Against Corruption’, ultimately to transform itself into a strange political animal – namely ‘Aam Aadmi Party’.

I call it strange because there was a lot of hullabaloo over its formation, accompanied by many a heart breaks. Anna, Kiran Bedi, and few others, some of the staunch supporters of IAC, said that they felt betrayed by Kejriwal and his colleagues for having betrayed them, because they  were not in favor of launching a political party; but were rather in favor of fighting the ‘system’ from ‘outside’.

They also blamed Kejriwal for harboring political ambitions and some reports suggested that he and some of his colleagues had talked about the formation of a political party even before the Anna movement – the idea was summarily rejected by Anna himself.

So we were witness to the birth of a political party, which arose out of a civil movement – no problems there, except for the fact that were were certain anomalies in the scenario that unfolded.

First, the bickering of the IAC members themselves about the very idea of forming the party, which I have just mentioned.

Then there were faint murmurs here and there which were alleging that the party had been formed with an hidden agenda. The hidden agenda was that the party was formed after a behind the curtain deal with the Congress – the party against which the entire IAC movement was purportedly launched. At that time it was not understandable, and completely unimaginable – how could a group of people who were breathing fire against Congress reach a covert understanding with the same party?

The logic behind such an understanding became clear gradually. At the time BJP had launched a very strong movement against the various scams committed by Congress Government at the centre. The movement was gaining in momentum by the day. The Newspapers and TV channels were full of news coverage regarding the scams and the astronomical sums of money allegedly appropriated by Congress leaders in these scams.

The movement seemed to be going out of hand, public was fuming, with danger that there was a danger that it may topple the Congress government at the centre.

Some thing got to be done, the movement need to be contained, BJP had to be stopped in its tracks so that it may not take the political advantage out of the public anger that was seen to be seething all around – coupled with the appearance of a strong leader like Narendra Modi appearing on the horizons – with his fearless potshots at the top leadership of the Congress party. The party was very fast being reduced to a laughing stock.

The unthinkable was happening – the power was slipping out of hands.  After six decades of remaining in power, it appeared as if the party was finally losing its hold over the psyche of the people – people were looking for alternative heroes, past messiahs having failed miserably, their dirty faces exposed, the charm of the family lost, compounded with the fact that they all looked foreign. Indian public was no longer identifying with them.

So, a deal was struck. Both the sides deny it vociferously, but now the facts stand almost exposed with the party’s founding member exposing the deal in this video.

In this context the part played by one member has been very interesting, and the title of my post ‘Running with the Hairs; and hunting with the hounds’ is pointed towards that personality – Yogendra yadav.

He appears to have played key part in the formation of the party. Several of Kejriwal’s close associates have revealed that he has always been extremely deferential towards Yadav, and tries to keep him in good humor.

In this context this post in Niticentral appeared interesting as it it explained, in very few words, the part played by Shri Yogendra Yadav.

The multifarious personality of the man, with various roles being played by him in the political arena, the roles that are often mutually conflicting, is really amazing; and it is almost fascinating to watch him perform such an impossible balancing act – but not so much, if you remember the TV debates in which he appears, where he starts from one end, and smoothly comes out at the other extreme – and you are left wondering on which side the guy really stands!

This man is the man to be watched in the coming days!

 

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Modern Hindi Writing: Recommended Reading List

This is in response to the wish of Armchair Guy to know more about modern Hindi writing. However, I hope this will interest all those who take any interest in Indian creative writing of any language.

I am not an expert in Hindi writing, though I am its unabashed fan, so following qualities distinguish my recommendations.

This list is completely biased, full of omissions, not at all objective and shows my personal whims and quirks, and sometimes, lack of knowledge. I like to keep my views uninfluenced by what critics say, and am extremely skeptical of Prizes and awards. I believe that many writers are great simply because people are too afraid to criticize them due to a hallowed status that these authors enjoy; and some writers are relegated to the background because very few actually took the trouble to praise them. Another reason for their anonymity could be that they were too great for their contemporary times.

Consequently, many a times we have to bear with average writers who are considered great until somebody comes forward with enough courage to calls the sham; and many really great writers are given quiet burials without their getting the fame they deserved. So, the fame is not to be equated with greatness.

Having said this, here are my recommendations for modern Hindi writers, along with some of their more famous works.

Acharya Chatursen –
Novels – Vaishali Ki Nagarvadhu, Vayam Rakshamah
(Historical Roamnces.)

Jai Shankar ‘Prasad’ –
Poetry – Kamayani, Aansoo, Lehar, Jharna
Drama – Chandragupta, Dhruvsmwamini, Janmajeya Ka Nagayagya, Ajaatshatru, Samudragupta.
Short Story – Akashdeep, Indrajaal (‘Akashdeep’ and ‘Goonda’ are my personal favorite short stories)

Sumitra Nanadan Pant –
Poetry – Gunjan, Pallav, Geet Hans, Chidambara

Mahadevi Verma –
Poetry – Neehar, Agnirekha, Neelambara, Saandhay Geet, Deepshika.
Memoirs/Essays – Ateet Ke Chalchitra, Smriti Ki Rekayen.

S H Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’ –
Poetry – Bawara Aheri, Hari Ghaas Par Kshan Bhar, Indradhanu Raunde Huye Yeh, Mahabriksha Ke Neeche, Sagar Mudra, Aangan Ke Paar Dwar, Kitni naavon Mein Kitni Baar.
Novels – Shekhar – Ek Jeevani, Nadi Ke Dweep.
Short Story – Chhoda Hua Raasta, Latati Pagdandiyaan (Anthologies)
Essays – Aatmanepad, Likhi kagad Kore, Jog Likhi, and many others.
Travels – Ek Boond Sehasa Uchhali, Are Yayavar Rahega Yaad
Experimental – Bhavanti, and one other cannot remember the name.
(He was nominated for Nobel Prize in the year that H G Welles won it. Both of them made to the final list. Between 1961 and 1964 he held the visiting faculty position at Harvard and Berkley Universities. Was also a visiting professor at Heidelberg University, Germany. He, along with Jaishankar ‘Prasad’, took Hindi to unprecedented heights! Recently came across a book on his works – “The Quest Of Ajneya” by Roger Hardham Hooker. Is on my ‘to be read’ list.)

Jainendra Kumar –
Novels – Tyagapatra, Sunita, Muktibodh

Hazari Prasad Dwivedi –
Novels – Charu Chandralekh, Baan Bhatt Ki Atma Katha
(Somewhat difficult language, but extremely beautiful narration. Worth the effort.)

Raangeya Raghav –
Novels – Kab Tak Pukaroon.

Phanishwar Nath ‘Renu’ –
Novels – Maila Aanchal, Part Parikatha.
Stories – Maare Gaye Gulfam (Teesri Kasam), Thumri.

Nagarjuna –
Novels – Rati Nath Ki Chachi, Nai Paudh, Balchanama, Baba Batesarnath.
Poetry – Satrange Pankhon Wali, Aakhir Aisa Kya Keh Diya Maine.
Memoirs – Rinjal Dhanjal, Van Tulsi Ki Gandh, Pehli Kranti Katha.
Essays – Anam Hinam Kriyanam.
(Both the above use a language that is full of delightful local flavor.)

Dharmaveer Bharati –
Novels – Sooraj Ka Saatvan Ghoda.
Drama – Andha Yug.

Mohan Rakesh –
Drama – Aadhe Adhoore, Lehron Ke Rajhans, Aashadh Ka Ek Din,

Rajendra Yadav –
Novels – Sara Akash, Ukhade Huye Log.
Stories – Chhote Chhote Taj Mahal, Abhimanyu Ki Atmahatya.

Krishna Sobti –
Novels – Dilo Daanish, Zindagi Naama, Daar Se Bichhudi, Mitro Marjaani.

Mannu Bhandari –
Novels – Aapka Bunti, Mahabhoj.

Usha Priyamvada –
Novels – Pachpan Khambhe Laal Deewarein.
Stories – Itna Bada Jhooth, Zindagi Aur Gulab Ke Phool, Meri Kahaniyaan.

Priyamvad –
Novels – Parchhaain Naach,
Stories – Ek Apavitra Ped, Khargosh, Laal Kaner Ke Phool.

Sanjeev –
Novels – Jungle Jahaan Shuroo Hota Hai.
Stories – Aarohan.

Apart from the above, works of Amrita Pritam and Firaq Gorakhpuri are also worth reading, who are as popular if not more, in Hindi as in their own languages (Punjabi and Urdu).

So, that’s that, hope it whets the curious soul’s appetite.

Suggestions and comments are welcome.

(Can anybody tell me how to publish the above list in Devanagari (Hindi Font)?)

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