Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Fellow Countrymen



                My fellow countrymen, I urge you today not as a non-resident Indian but as a common man of my motherland. We as a nation have faced gravest of challenges since our independence. From poverty, to illiteracy, from socialism to corruption, one decade after the other we have seen our dream of prosperous India fading away. And yet we keep on hoping. Hoping for an India that gives equal opportunity to all, for an India were justice is equal for all, for an India without any corruption.
                This is one of the rare occasions in independent India were benefits of a policy are going to be visible to the common man. Abolishing the 500-1000 bills can right many wrongs for our country. But some pain has to be shared. The intentions of this policy are very clear; it is for the national good. I don’t belong to any political party, but I am aligned to a leader who works for the betterment of our nation.
                Through all the chaos that is our history, through all of the pain and suffering, through all of our times, there is one thing that has always kept us going and that is our hope, our hope for believing in the future of India.
                This is a very rare occasion where the dreams of an entire nation are focused not on a politician or a leader but on the ‘patience’ of a common man.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

America got Trumped by Americans!!


                 “So what now?” is the question on everyone’s mind? Including Donald Trump.
                48% of Americans decided to make one of the most polarizing figures in recent history to be there 45th President. You are right Mr. Obama, Sun did rise today, but for some the warmth might not be the same as yesterday. What happened on the night of Nov 8th 2016 in America, says a lot about the 48% Americans. It says that it’s totally fair to trade nebulous promises of economic success for racism, sexism, and xenophobia. I am no economic or social expert, but would love to see how the rust belt will get their jobs back and why will Mexico pay for building the wall.
                Last night was hard, and I certainly didn’t sleep much. But I like almost all working class Americans are at work this morning and we need to do the best we can to address the issues deep within our society that led us here. The idea of ‘America’ can’t be lost because of one election cycle. Remember: There was no perfect time in American history. America is a work in progress. This great democracy always had problems and hardworking Americans have always been working towards fixing them.
                There are many Americans across the United States who woke up this morning and are apprehensive because of their skin color, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. They might feel that their political voice is lost. I will urge to those Americans, please don’t give up, for America needs you more now, than ever before.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

This time its different – 2016 US Presidential Elections


                
                It took almost 80 weeks & over a billion dollars for America to arrive on the ‘2016 Election Tuesday’. The world’s greatest democracy is going to exercise their right to vote in the 58th quadrennial Presidential elections. 146 million will be lining up in the polling booths or sending in their choices via mail.
            These elections have been anything but cordial. Election is all about presenting different ideas and perspective so they tend to be heated, but this one went to the extreme. These are my fifth US elections that I am following and it has been definitely unlike the previous four.

·      The level of anxiety among ordinary people is palpable. For some reason almost the whole voting population of US is aware of everything that both the candidates have said or believe in; And strangely everyone whom I have spoken to have extreme views about the one that they dislike. Some dislike the ‘two faced’ Hilary while the rest don’t trust Trump’s ‘right leaning’ views.

·     Another jarring thing about these elections is the ‘outside’ influence. This would be the first time when news networks in America are mentioning Kremlin with US election night. There has been convincing proof of Russia being involved in STEALING (not leaking) internal materials to damage one candidate.

·        Not to mention the involvement of the Federal Bureau of investigation - An unprecedented bungling of public handling of the (legitimate) Clinton email investigation by Director Comey.

·       Finally the ‘slowness’ of the traditional media to learn about candidate’s inaccurate statements and how to handle candidates during national debates that are supposed to be focusing on their future policies and strategies. Instead the three debates became a slugfest of personal attacks.
                
     These elections almost became a ‘reality TV drama’. I strongly believe in the democratic institution and hope that after all of this United States of America will begin to heal starting Nov. 9th. But one thing is for sure (& this is very unfortunate) 2016 US Presidential elections will go down in history as the one were in people voted for the candidate they ‘disliked’ less !!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Kashmir Conundrum



         It’s been almost ten days since the Uri attack. I wanted to wait so I can get over my impromptu patriotic emotion. Needless to say, first thing that crosses mind after repeated attacks is to enter Pakistan, guns blazing. But that won’t bring an end to this decades old crisis. Pakistan is almost a failed state and I won’t be surprised that these attacks are the brainchild of fundamentalist groups that don’t align with Islamabad. But just as during the partition, India needs to act like a responsible, elder brother. We are at the cusp of becoming an economic & political powerhouse and we shouldn’t let this issue derail our hard earned progress.

So what needs to be done? We can’t just be sitting ducks for the next attack.

To tell you the truth, I am not sure. But I know this…
      * We need to accept the fact that Kashmir is a ‘problem’. We can’t just keep stashing the social, economic & political issues under the article 370 blanket. Kashmir is not like other 28 states.
·       * We need to recognize that India is still one of the poorest countries in the world, we still struggle to provide adequate food, decent shelter, basic healthcare and enough clothes to almost one third of our population and we are spending an enormous portion of our meager resources on military confrontation.
                
      And so, on behalf of frustrated Indians, Pakistanis & unlucky Kashmiris, this is my appeal to all the ‘so-called’ foreign policy experts, local & foreign, figure out something before it’s too late.


Enough blood has been shed to shame the human race!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Once upon a Cricket!!



              I think it was George Bernard Shaw who once alleged, ‘Cricket is game played by 11 fools and watched by 11000 fools’. Well, that 11,000 has grown to hundreds of millions. Simply put if its soccer which makes one half of the world go crazy, then the other half is full of cricket fanatics.
               I have matured enough to acknowledge it now, it’s sad but as a kid growing up in 90’s India, mediocrity was synonymous with Indian cricket team. Team as a whole was feeble, but individuals were sound. Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly and brilliance of many others, on a given day, would often be undone by a serious lack of support from rest of team India. India’s home record was decent but away record was a pity. In case of Test matches we would pray for the game to be drawn. Nonetheless Cricket gave us all something to look forward to.
              In the land of multiple religions & cultures and hundreds of languages & dialects, if there’s anything that rises above the differences, it’s Cricket. It’s a bit funny but the best foreign policy tool to gauge India-Pakistan relationship is cricket - if they play together, all is well; if they don’t, there’s obviously a crisis!
               For most of us, one of the fondest memories of growing up in India is being part of the India – Pakistan cricket frenzy. It had always been such a huge event. Who can possibly forget being together with the entire family and neighbors, frightening the sh!# out of the street dogs and cows, with the loudest screams at the fall of every Pakistani wicket.

            Times have changed and so has cricket. The advent of IPL has placed India on the world’s professional sports map. Tremendous amount of wealth has been unlocked because of the IPL. Cricket has finally become a game that is played, just for entertainment!! 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Is “Patriotic Non-Resident Indian” an Oxymoron?


                 Over the weekend I was catching up with an old acquaintance of mine who is based out of India. We were talking about how things have changed with time in India and how much potential India has. During our casual conversation he briefly raised a sensitive topic of patriotism of people who have left their motherland. Our conversation ended but his ‘almost’ questioning the patriotism of immigrants made me think, is “Patriotic non-resident Indian” an oxymoron? Just like “Dancer Sunny Deol” or an “honest Indian politician”?
                We go crazy cheering for India in Cricket, in-fact we become more Indian than the 1.25 billion resident Indians when we beat Pakistan. We become angry on hearing multi-billion dollars scams, and feel proud with ISRO’s successful launches. We feel sad when India performs poorly in sports on world stage (ex-Cricket) and hate how sometimes India is portrayed as a snake charmer country. We absolutely disgust communal violence.
                We celebrate all the festivals with the same zest and passion as resident Indians. We organize Garba’s in football stadiums and basketball courts and play our hearts out during the weekends. We as a community take special permission from local authorities to celebrate Diwali with fire crackers. We have successfully exported the festival of colors - Holi to be part of the American culture (color runs). We build ‘Little India’ in foreign land to resurrect the feeling of our Galli’s. And yes, we do feel proud when an Indian is in a C suite, in our company J
                We felt proud when Nina Davuluri won Miss America and became furious of the backlash that followed. We boast of the record that Indians have created in the US Spelling Bee - winning since last nine years. We might be na├»ve but we love to think that we are an expert on Indian Politics. Most of the weekend parties end with potential solutions for India’s corruption problems.
                Lack of opportunity might be one of the reasons why some of us left the homeland, but it never meant that we are less patriotic towards India. Today we might be speaking with an accent, celebrate other festivals, sing different anthem but our love towards India has not changed. So call us NRIs, PIOs, or the most recent label, OCI - Overseas Citizens of India, we have one thing in common with resident Indians, we still shed a tear or two when we listen to “Sare Jahan Se Aacha…”


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Happy 25th, Liberalization !!



           It was the summer of 1991 and before the Choli and the Chunari conquered the Indian cinemas, the Chumma, with Amitabh Bacchan (doing his pelvic thrusts) and Kimi Katkar (her seductive allure) was the craze of the nation - The nation that financially & economically was going through its toughest phase since independence. India was on a brink of default and there was a sudden need of bail out. Reserves were down to 30 days of import and government had started transferring part of its gold reserves as a guarantee to IMF. This dire state of affairs led to what we all know now as the Big Bang reform of India’s economy, by the then finance minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. (Back then he was actually walking his talk…yes, he was talking then!!)
            
            This summer is the silver jubilee (25 years) of the Big Bang reform. The calamity of 1991 led to liberalizing reforms that ended decades of stagnation and allowed a spurt of fast growth. India has changed in ways unimaginable in the last 25-years and the momentum favored economic reformism. For those who have lived long enough under the oppressive license/permit/quota raj, it would be ludicrous to even compare the pre-1991 India. I just hope that we don’t wait for another catastrophe to trigger reformist policies. I like how Anand Mahendra puts it, India has been pregnant with potential since the Big bang reform, but we are still waiting for the potential to enter the real India.  
           
           The present Indian government won a historic mandate two years back. Expectations were very high and all of them might not have been converted into reality as yet, but it’s safe to say from what we have witnessed…Aache din  are ‘almost’ here!!


If you want to learn more about what life was like before 1991, please visit IndiaBefore91.in