Thursday, December 01, 2016

Country, before Self!

The Country always comes first.

I have been to places you may never see, I have dealt with kinds you wish never existed and I have done deeds you won’t even prefer to know. You cannot imagine all this sitting in your comfortable homes and busy in your comfortable dreams. I have seen my country rise against all odds and against its troubled past. I have seen sacrifice of family and friends and after a million similar deeds, our country emerged as we see it.

After all these years I have only realised one thing, that country comes first. If only you can instill this sense in each and every citizen, no one can stop your country.

I am sure you have heard my name but just as a custom, let me tell you. I am Mao Zedong, the Chairman of Communist Party and the father of Great People’s Republic of China. I am the same Mao whose pictures you have seen in text books, I am the same person whom people revere and fear in equal terms. Love me or hate me but I am what I am.

China was not always great. It had seen corrupt kings who were weaklings and governments that never existed. That was before I reined in.  Do you know once upon a time, we did not have even enough to eat? You heard it right; the great People’s Republic of China had not even enough to feed its citizens and people died on streets. It was fifth decade of last century and enemies of the state ruled the roost. Farmers toiled in the fields selflessly, soldiers struggled hard to safeguard the country and millions slept hungry.

Today you may laugh at it but do you know who kept the country hungry? That little nasty beast bird, sparrow.

You just have to believe that country comes first. Keep that faith and never rest till you have attained your aim.

 If you ask what can be done from those experts having long beards and wrinkled face, they will take hours and hours to tell you it is complicated (their eyes look silly behind those thick eyeglasses). They are the reason why problems persist. They will never tell you what you should do and it is your own judgement, your own ability to decide which you can do to take the country through.
One day in the afternoon after my siesta, I sat up with an old farmer’s manual. It was full of those truisms and one of that was warning farmers from smart sparrow. The answer was in front of me. Productivity of farms was never the problem, it was that nasty sparrow. It ate a huge chunk of food grains and all our renowned experts, our worthy leaders of past age could never see it.  

I have always been meticulous. A leader just cannot do the things; a leader should also be in control. I called my entire cabinet and made them wait for an hour. I called party men and press and then did I tell them, and along with them told the entire nation too, give me your fifty days and world is yours.
I gave them a decisive plan, area by area, field by field and I asked them to give up sleep for some days; the only thing they had to ensure was there was no sparrow left. They were trained to beat drums, they were trained to shoot and the only thing they had to do was to do this relentlessly for fifty days.

You can never imagine the power of ordinary citizens. You ask them once to sacrifice their hours for the country and they will sacrifice everything.

The country always comes first and I made them believe it.

There were millions of people on this job and soon we just had carcasses of those beasts. It was almost magical to hear the drumming of those drums, the energised rural populace and the celebration when the last beast is killed.

And then there were those who come like bees following honey. Slowly they start whispering this is bound to fail. They also write on the neighborhood walls and then publish it in obscure newspapers and books. It is not that I cannot swallow dissent but the only thing I cannot bear is dampening the spirits of those set out to change the nation. If you cannot aid in nation building, at least do not laugh at others who do it. 

These people will talk of ecology, they will blabber natural balance and myriad other intellectual things but ask them about the toil and hard work of the farmers and they will turn clueless. How can they be so far from reality?  

What if yields in one area were less and some people died. People die all the time. Which great thing ever came without any suffering? Our soldiers have been dying all along the borders. Did these intelligent people ever shed a tear in their memory?

They say sparrows eat insects and these pests have increased a million times. Yes, this may be partially true but in the long run, imagine what would be our productivity. Can this huge campaign which has taken shape of a revolution not give desired results? 

Our experts went directly to the people and exposed their lies. Farmers were happy and full of enthusiasm. We were responsive to the changing situation and daily instructions were issued how this plan should progress. 92% of our citizens were all for this campaign. They were willing to suffer not for 50 but for 5000 days. Today was the time they could do something for the country.

The country always comes first.

It has been four years since we started the glorious campaign and today our entire country believes in this concept. The enemies of the state do not know where to hide their face. They will whisper to anyone who would lend them ears that forty five million died due to this but no one believes.
Killing of bedbugs was an important step for building the overall hygiene and the better health indicators that we see today are only because of the great campaign. Once the ordinary citizens realise their power, no power in the world can stop them. When we went against bedbugs, many said were foolish to have this exercise. A huge smear campaign was started that we actually intended to kill sparrows.

And how does it matter anyways? Nation building is a task that these people will never understand. Did anyone ever include these humble peasants and common citizens in nation building? Did they ever complain they were suffering? What is anyways in their life than pain and suffering? Most of the questions in this world are moral not economic. The main objective was to involve these men in nation building. You have to make the populace believe in their leader. Only when we all march together towards a common goal, we can achieve for what we had set in.

We have to fight our common enemy and identify those who say we cannot do it. They should believe that peasants, soldiers and any other countrymen are together and united.

You again ask me what we gained out of all this. Everybody learnt that country comes first, always before anything and no sacrifice is big enough for our beloved country.

PS: The only inspiration for this story was the Four Pests Campaign undertaken in China in the years 1958-1962. All other insinuations are purely imaginary J

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Twitter Blues

1. Can one actually write anything in 140 characters?
2.  Eureca, I now know the cause of abbreviations downpour
3. Umm, m I aluwd 2 invent this abriviatn?
4. Can I actually tweet something that Prime Minister, Amitabh Bacchan and errrr (with lots of blushes) Deepika Padukone will see? 
5. Yesssssss........Mom,  Uncle Mishra and that obscure neighbour who only writes 'Nice' with a wink on any facebook post has not invaded Twitter till date
6.  Suddenly so much happening in this world, I cant even keep pace with it?
7. Everything with #,# and #. #Really?
8. Yesssss, I got some followers. I feel like a #leader today. #Preparingathanksgivingspeech 
9.  And why the hell did I resist joining it for so many days


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Musings on this Republic Day!

The best definition of India that I have read is ‘Whatever you say about India, equal and opposite is also true.’  No other nation can dare claim such diversity.

I didn’t post pictures of Republic day before. Somehow love for the country, celebration of nationalism is dear to me; it is a feeling too personal to be shared publicly. Does one have to profess the love for one’s mother?

The reason I am proud of our country is not because one must love one’s own country. It is because India is far greater nation than many others. It has sustained this diversity and has given all, the space and opportunity to thrive and co-exist. And despite this all this, we enjoy a unique Unity in diversity.

I belong to Kanpur, UP and Hindi is my mother tongue. I studied in an English medium school, I work in West Bengal and learnt Bengali. At present I am District Magistrate Darjeeling and delivered Republic Day address in Nepali. I also wore a Black Head Gear with a symbolic Khukri, the pride of Nepalese. When the national anthem was played, I felt Goosebumps and I am sure this was felt all across the country. My friends across the states in IAS put pictures of Republic day and believe me, every place looks the same. May be the dress is different, language may be but the essence is same. 

At one point of time, I was a practicing Hindu, for some days I was an atheist and now I am an agnostic. I am proud that my country provided place for all these state of minds. I have found extremely conservative Muslims, Sikhs, and so have found similar Hindus. I have found extremely progressive people in all religions too. I have tried to look for love in all places and I have always found it; somehow hatred never attracted me. The only book in which I truly believe is the Indian Constitution.

The day we narrow meaning of nationalism, we may find many out of it. Love for one’s country is a personal thing and no one has the right to question/define it. Our nation has gone from strength to strength and I am sure no hatred/slogans can belittle it; the only threat comes when one questions our diversity. Iqbal has said:

कुछ बात है की हस्ती मिटती नहीं हमारी
सदियों रहा है दुश्मन दौरे जहाँ हमारा 

I believe the strength of our nation is in assimilation of all, even opposing ideals. Let us try to unite and not divide on this Republic day and always. By the way, belated Happy Republic Day, may we always cherish ideals of our Constitution!   

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dear Students...

The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on, said Oscar Wilde. I will not disagree but when Rector of St Joseph's School popularly known as North Point asked me to address the school students on their graduation day, I could not say no.
Partially I agreed because I needed a reason to visit this beautiful school founded in 1888 in the backdrop of beautiful Kanchejungha range and partially because I feel young again when I am with schoolchildren.
Just in case you are interested in the address:
Father Shajumon, Rector St Joseph’s School, Faculty, Esteemed guests, Parents and Dear Students, A Very Good afternoon and Congratulations to the Graduating students. Life outside the school is a different world, and I am sure, all of you who graduate today look forward to it in anticipation.
I have this onerous responsibility, of addressing the school on this solemn occasion, and I would thank the School for believing that I am capable enough to do so.
Truth being told, I am really nervous standing here, my heart is pounding at a fast pace and I am trying all I can to hide the trepidation from my voice.
I did wish once or twice that some urgent work will come up and I will escape this but Father Shajumon was persuasive and vigilant at the same time to thwart my any such attempt.
When I give my address, I am expected to share the secrets of success, the panacea for all dilemmas, and pearls of wisdom that one could hold along while progressing in life.
As all of you look at me with hopeful eyes, I am feeling slightly burdened with expectations. It would have been easy, if there was some mathematical formula, that I could have explained, but thinking about what I should tell you on this day is way more difficult.
To engage you for next 5 minutes, I could think of five mantras that I would share. In case you want to doze off, trust me you are not going to lose much.

1. My first mantra is that there are no Secrets of Success: Yes, you heard me right. There are no secrets and all that you need to succeed has already been taught to you. The age old wisdoms that you would have been taught to you in school, which was painted on class walls and recited in morning assemblies will hold true for all your lives. There will be no substitute to hard work, honesty will always be the best policy and friends and family will be the only one on whom you could fall upon on tough times. Life is Boring, isn’t it? There is no magical wand in this world.
All of you would have heard the story of Aladdin and his magical lamp. When I was a child I was fascinated with that story and tried my best to find that lamp. I looked in remote corners, prayed fervently and through about going on jungle quests. I dreamt this lamp would make me fly continents, serve delicious dishes and who knows may bring a beautiful princess too. Trust my experience; the chances that you will find that lamp are really bleak!

2. My Second mantra is that you should Dream: I have been a dreamer all my life. When I was a kid one day I dreamt of being a pilot, a policeman and even the President of United States. Yes, that was weird but let there be no limits on what all you can dream. If you cannot dream it, you cannot do it. Imagine what possibilities lay ahead, what all you can be and how you are going to be the best. It always seems impossible until it is done and let there be no limits on your dreams.

3. Follow your dreams passionately: The bad news starts here, you must be worthy of your dreams. Nothing worth having comes easy hence you must follow your dreams passionately. I come from North India and the best career people believe in that area is becoming an IAS Officer. With so many people telling this to you, I started wanting it but was too scared to pursue it out. I got into IIT Kanpur, found a good job in a Paints factory but after working for four months, I realised this was not what I wanted to be.
I started getting nightmares that all my life I will end up selling paint. So one fine day, I left my job and decided to go for it. There is no escape from your dreams.
All of you must have heard about Michelangelo, the famous Italian artist. He has said ‘If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all’. Hard work is all that counts. All of you have immense potential, never let anyone belittle you or make you feel that you cannot do something. Just match it with required hard work. When you want something, the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it but you must want it from your heart.

4. Be Yourself and Be Happy: You would have heard the story of Donkey and the Dog. You have heard it right? A Donkey tried to act like the Dog and wake up the washerman by braying at night. What did he get, a beating instead. You can only be yourself, all others are taken. All your life, you will feel immense peer pressure, the pressure from social media and the pressure to conform to socially accepted norms. There are no perfect personalities, there are no perfect careers. Try to find out what you are passionate about. Your profession will fill the major part of your life and you cannot be trapped in something you do not enjoy.
With my limited experience, if you ask me what is the most important thing in this life, I would say being happy. Cultivate friendships, cultivate hobbies. Only a happy person can keep other happy. Life is the most beautiful gift that we have and you must enjoy it.

5. My final mantra is always be Hungry, always be Foolish: Let no day come when you get the feeling that you have arrived. Always remain hungry for more, believe that there are many things you still do not know. The saying goes ‘The more I know, the more I know that I do not know.’ Keep on asking questions, keep on learning new things, and let the student in you never die. The day you think you know all, your growth will also end. You may not always find answers but you must always be looking for them. Keep on pushing boundaries; let the fire for exploring new horizons always rage in you. Try new things, visit places, make new friends. Let the child in you always remain alive.
I am done with my five mantras but there is an important thing that I want you to take away from my address. Oscar Wilde has said that ‘The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on.’ I would be happy even if you find it worth passing on.
Forget whatever I have said, the only thing that matters is not giving up in life. Remember: End is always fine, if it is not fine, it is not the end.
Best of Luck! World is yours, go ahead and conquer it! 
Thank You!