Friday, May 29, 2009

One more Afghanistan in the making!

Multiple bombs exploded in two Pakistani cities on Thursday, May 28 2009, just hours after Taliban groups warned people to evacuate several large cities, saying they were preparing “major attacks.” Hakimullah Mehsud, a young Taliban commander said "This was a response to Pakistan’s military campaign against the Taliban in Swat, an area northwest of the capital."

I am sure that you would have heard of this news. But do you know - "This is the 8th terror attack in Pakistan in the year 2009 and the bloodiest attack so far."

For shopkeepers who had seen their property destroyed in a similar attack in March 2008, on the Federal Investigation Agency, it was a case of déjà vu.
Muhammad Jibran, a tailor, estimated that the cost of his wrecked windows and appliances would come to half a million rupees ($6,200). "The government promised us compensation last time," he said, "but nothing came of it – we don't have much hope this time." And President Asif Ali Zardari again issued a statement condemning the attack and said his government remained committed to fighting terror.

I have major concerns here. This is not Afghanistan. This is Pakistan which is a nuclear-armed American ally. If Taliban is able to overpower this country, they will have access to nuclear arms!! And this should not just concern the neighboring countries but also the world. President Obama has taken few steps by asking China and Saudi Arabia to help Pakistan in fighting this insurgency. But I am still not very confident on the measures currently being taken, I still feel we need international aid and pressure both to seek some solution before it is too late!! I do not want to see another epicenter of terrorism.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Her First Birthday Party!

Last weekend my youngest niece Ashu (Tvisha) turned 1 year old and we all had blast including her. Though intially I had doubts whether she will be able to enjoy her birthday party but I was wrong. She was the center of attraction and was enjoying every bit of it ;-) We had magic show, kids games, more hangama with cake cutting followed by dinner!

It reminded me of my birthday celebrations as a kid. I used to dream a month before my birthday and dream of only gifts.. hehehehe! And the birthday arrangements also used to be vastly different. I was actually surprised to see colossal options available now to celebrate kiddies’ birthday! There are special shops dedicated to birthday parties shopping and you will be amused to see innovation in this field too :) Oh I was really fascinated to see special covers (not gift wrappers) like polythene bags but not just that... they are much more colorful with Cinderella, Winnie the pooh and many other cartoons printed on it. And these bags are used for return gifts. (Return gifts - for which other kiddie come to your party.. hehehehe)!

I felt so dumb to see myself amused with so many options. Actually when it came to cake cutting, I was given one rod and my brother asked me to burst it! I took it in my hand and started struggling with it!! I asked my 5 yr old niece Ishu to help me. And guess what - All children including Ishu jumped on me and took the rod and burst it in seconds! Oh I felt like a generation behind.. hehehehe!!

The best part was the magic show. Master Karun, I guess most of us know him, a 15 year old kid who has also appeared in Bournvita Confidence Challenge contest, stunned us by his magical powers! I was awestruck to see such a small kid performing with such finesse. I was completely engrossed in the magical acts when suddenly one thing drew my attention. I saw most of all ladies gathered in one corner undisturbed by surroundings and chatting (I will not say gossiping ;-)) happily and most of all gentlemen gathered in another corner enjoying their friendly talks! Suddenly I found myself with few more elderly children like me along with all children enjoying the magic show!!! And I could not stop grinning :)

In the end, we distributed all the return gifts to our small guests and were happy to see their excited faces on receiving the gifts! It was 11:00 P.M. by the time we all finished dinner and we were completely exhausted. I had the hangover and was still thinking of the party on my way back home. I started wishful thinking - "I should have born during this time.. so many lovely lovely gifts and options galore as a kid!", when suddenly I remembered my blog article Summer without vacation and thanked god that atleast now I am out of this herd and to some extent out of the grilling competition!! I then just laughed on my silly thought!

Friday, May 22, 2009

India surprised by Indians!

The title is very apt in this scenario. I must concede in this article that I was not expecting India to perform so well in elections! May 16th, Sunday, I was very happy, the day when the election results were announced. Reason - I felt a connectedness with all my fellow Indians. I had this strange feeling that India thinks how I think!! Wow!

The international media called it the world's most remarkable election. It was a five week long grueling marathon! But must say that was worth the efforts. 714 million registered voters, 800,000 polling booths, 6 million police deployed, and 1,075 Electronic Voting Machines.

Though shoes hurled, political verbiage thrown in its cheapest forms, political murders, Naxals killed 29 security staff and election officers and even hijacked a train, Indians were alive! They showed how hope prevailed over fear and how wish for stability existed over chaos. Elections 2009 are indeed a tribute to the Election Commission :)

The credit of the success of Congress party in this election evidently goes to Rahul Gandhi. I must say that the "Rahul factor" clicked! He has emerged within five years as a key strategist for the party and its star campaigner. He travelled some 87,000 kilometers in peak Indian summer weather to address more than a hundred political rallies. He turned the election results in UP and shattered the shackles of class politics where only Mayawati ruled.

Rahul-Manmohan-Sonia along with the other prominent leaders of Congress should be able to make a stable government. And I am more satisfied after seeing yesterday's news where Dr. Manmohan Singh told DMK "My way or the highway" when DMK started demanding for more seats in the cabinet! He also made it very clear that he will allow only uncorrupted ministers with clean record in his cabinet.

A "Substituted PM" in 2004 has become an obvious PM choice in 2009. Stock markets that crashed after 2004 election result have peaked two circuits after 2009 election result! You are in India dear!

I just hope India keeps getting such surprises from Indians!! Waiting to see Congress in action now! I am sure even you would want to share your part of happiness here :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Blog Of the Day Award!

This came as a very pleasant surprise!!

It all started when my brother once jokingly asked me "Are there any awards for blogs?" And that is when darshit came in full mood to nominate our blog for the award. Had this question been not asked, I dont think so I would have written this article!

So we started off by nomiating our blog on Blog of the day site. We later came to know that even nominations were not direct but were shortlisted by the jury. I waited for 3-4 days but did not find our blogs name in the nominations :(

Then one day.. sorry one night, the night Punjab's IPL team (Kings XI) lost and with which I too lost 51 Rs. bet with my friend (dont laugh.. I know 51 Rs. is less amount), I just slept off! Later I just remember that I was woken up by darshit around 12:30 A.M. with the laptop screen just over my face!! I could hardly see anything there... gradually as I could open my eyes.. I saw a comment which said "Your site has won a Blog of the Day Award (BOTDA)". And I just jumped out of bed and out of sleep!! hahahaha! That was really motivating! You can find our blog name under this link.

And the next thing I remember is that I was waiting for 16th to arrive so that I can see my blog name there on the site :) I am happy to share this little achievment with you all as you all have contributed to our blog in some or the other way. Thank you so much!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Terrorism, not just another topic

Just an attempt to keep the anger alive.

Mumbai, Nov 26, 2008: Several killed and many more injured in seven terror attacks targetting mostly foreigners' hangout places.
New Delhi, Sep 13, 2008: 26 people killed in six blasts across the city.
Ahmedabad, July 26, 2008: 57 people killed after 20-odd synchronised bombs went off within less than two hours.
Bangalore, July 25, 2008: One person killed in a low-intensity bomb explosion.
Jaipur, May 13, 2008: 68 people killed in serial bombings.
Hyderabad, Aug 25, 2007: 42 people killed in two blasts, at a popular eatery and a public park.
Samjhauta Express, Feb 19, 2007: 66 people killed after two firebombs went off on the India-Pakistan friendship train.
Malegaon, Maharashtra, Sep 8, 2006: 40 people killed in two blasts.
Mumbai, July 11, 2006: 209 people killed in seven blasts on suburban trains and stations.
Varanasi, March 7, 2006: 21 people killed in three blasts including one at a temple and another at a railway station.
New Delhi, Oct 29, 2005: 61 people killed in three blasts on the eve of Diwali.
Mumbai, Aug 25, 2003: 46 people killed in two blasts including one near the Gateway of India.

I listed down the details above to remind myself every day that I should not wait untill I loose my close one.

When I'm writing this post, lots of thoughts are going through my mind and they are all frustrating. When 26/11 happened we all made sincere attempts to oppose the system and tried our best ways to change this system. But what happened after that is even more frustrating, I still do not see government taking any concrete steps. Probably because they still believe that people of this country are going to forget every attack after 6 months.

But this time they are wrong.We want answers. We want solution. We can not let this continue anymore.

Why still we do not see our politicians taking this problem seriously? Why do we still even listen to Kasab's lawyer? Why cant we just hang him right away? Why did not America face any terrorist attacks after 9/11 and why is india facing attack after attack? There are endless whys!!!

How we can keep this anger alive all the time and have some permenant solution to this problem? I personally dont see government making any sincere attempts in this direction. We probably need to remind them all the time that we are not going to forget this and we need a permenant solution to this. Just a resignation from home minister and forming few national security agencies is not going to work. You got to take some concrete steps.

I leave this discussion open for all of you to give your thoughts / suggestions.


Friday, May 8, 2009

An Election "Holiday"

The fourth phase of polling for the Lok Sabha elections ended yesterday. Voter turnout was better for this phase four of Lok Sabha elections, as 57 per cent electorates casted their votes. But if you average out the voter turnout.. it will not cross more than 50% so far! Still the fifth phase of elections are pending on 13th of May but I doubt it will have any effect on our average percentage.. however i do fear it might bring this average voter turnout to even lower percentage!!

There is a steady decline in the voters turnout percentage since our independence. It was 67% in 1998 and it is now lingering between 45-50% for some years! I have never seen the voter turnout percentage more than 70% in the history of indian elections!!! Isn't it disgraceful..considering that we are the most POPULOUS democracy in the world!!

Somehow this time I was quite confident that India will vote in masses especially with so many 'Vote India' campaigns including the most famous 'Jaago Re' campaign.. but to my dismay I was wrong :( And now I am in this predicament where I need or rather should find some way out. And the best way was to write this blog. By now, I am sure you would agree with me that we need some kind of electoral reforms and not just an holiday in the name of elections! I have few suggestions/opinions running in my mind and you are most welcome to question/comment/enrich them with your thoughts...

1) First thing is we need to motivate people to come out of their homes and vote.. but how? I know few of my friends who were willing to vote but could not. Reason - They applied for voters ID but could not get it on time before elections. I know few others.. who obtained voters ID but when went to vote, could not find their names in the voters list! They have lodged their complaints in consumercomplaints forum but of no use. I am sure that we all are willing to vote but somehow get stuck taking first few steps to voting! And this is where we need to take some measures.

In France, all youth are automatically registered. Only new residents and citizens who have moved are responsible for bearing the costs and inconvenience of updating their registration.
Similarly, in Nordic countries all citizens and residents are included in the national register. Residents are required by law to report any change of address to register within a short time after moving.

And this process helps in elimination of registration as a separate bureaucratic step and inturn in higher voter turnout.

2)The first step will make the voting process easy for the voters but are we so self-motivated to choose voting over the other priority tasks?! I doubt!
Australia has compulsory voting since 1920 and the voter turnout in Australia reaches 95%!! These rules are strictly enforced, and the country has one of the world's highest voter turnouts. Raised your eyebrows?! You heard it right. Read more.... If a Bolivian voter fails to participate in an election, the citizen may be denied withdrawal of their salary from the bank for three months!

Don't think I am in favor of these options.. I am just trying to show what all measures are already in place in other countries. India needs to do something atleast.

I have one suggestion and I am sure that this will go well with our democratic country. Why can't we introduce some tax exemption for those who vote? I am sure you will find voter turnout close to 100%.. hahahaha..

And for those who are thinking whom to vote out of the worst.. I would like to mention here about Section 49(0) which allows a person to go to a polling booth, register his/her presence by signing and then not vote for any candidate. Such votes are recorded by the presiding officer and are considered for the rejection of all candidates in the fray. And you will more happy to hear that this option was used by 1473 votes in Madhya pradesh who opted not to vote but went to the poll booth and voted under section 49(0). More details can be found here.
I hope we can bring some reforms in our election process too. We need the best people to run this country, as very aptly depicted in the TaTa Tea ad.

I know you would have much more to say here.. Comments are expected :)