Sunday, April 7, 2019


Yes, you guys guessed it right. My article is indeed inspired by the Bollywood movie “Shaurya”, but it is more than a meaningless banter after watching a movie. So, the movie Shaurya, inspired by “A few good Men”, has Brigadier Pratap as the protagonist. Enacted by Kay Kay Menon, the Brigadier is a tall, lean, handsome officer, having an illustrious career. He has rich experience in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations and is venerated by his subordinates and respected by colleagues.

Brigadier Pratap is a connoisseur of whiskey, has a rich taste of almost everything and reflects the persona of a very fine senior army officer. He is a keen golfer and despises the “bloody” enemy. But Pratap lacked the most important aspect of being an officer, the “moral courage”. The movie unfolds with the court-martial proceedings of Captain Javed Khan who has been accused of murdering his senior. The enigmatic personality of Javed alludes to a larger conspiracy which his defense lawyer initially fails to understand because of his casual, uninterested attitude, a demeanor rarely found in army officers. As it generally happens in Bollywood movies and always happens in real life, the truth prevails. 
The Indian Army is a 1.3 million force, armed with deadliest tanks, artillery guns, and missiles, has fought three major wars and a large scale battle with its neighbors, and is continuously involved in turbulent operations, thanks to the efficient handling of affairs by our politicians. It is one of the mightiest forces of the world. Yet, army personnel is recognized as a savior and not as a slayer. Be it the disaster relief operations or a child trapped in a borewell, army helps everyone rising above personal issues, if any, with no regard to the religion, caste, or creed of the victims. 

The citizens of India reciprocate the selfless service of the army by love and respect. But this age of social media, powered by the deep penetration of cheap internet and malaise of some political forces, has made spreading misinformation and hatred very, very easy. I say so because one day I found a junior, who is an army aspirant, had proudly shared a video of the movie “Shaurya” in which Brigadier Pratap justified the action of one of the character by terming it as collateral damage and by commending his farz. He is of the opinion that extreme steps are required to be taken even if they involve the murder of harmless citizens. An army officer, right from the day he steps into the academy, is taught to become a gentleman, respect the laws and rise above any selfless motives. This is his or her farz toward the country, its people and humanity. But the love toward a fringe character amongst the youth appalled me. Our soldiers face bullets in operation so that they are able to prevent any civilian causality, but disregarding every sacrifice, some of our youngsters are inspired from none other than Brigadier Pratap. 
The ‘shaurya’ of our forces has never been in killing; rather it has been in saving. Our men in uniform have used force when only absolutely necessary to save a life or safeguard the territorial integrity of the nation. The ‘shaurya’ of our forces lie in the core of their hearts like it was in Capt Javed’s heart, which gave him the courage to stand with the ethos of his organization and follow the rules. The dialogue “Javed Khan ki insaniyat me Indian army ka shaurya hai” (the courage of the Indian army is in the humanity of Javed Khan) sums it up for us. This esteemed organization and its men and women have been providing selfless service to the nation, rising above any personal differences. This organization produces heroes on a daily basis, who sacrifice themselves for us the people. If there is anything one wants to emulate, it is the spirit of sacrificing oneself, rendering selfless service, and definitely not the urge to kill people on the name of collateral damage. 
“Shaurya” or valor is much more than having muscular strength, numerical superiority, or sophisticated weapons. It is the rapid throbbing of heart when you see something wrong being done, the feeling of uneasiness when someone is wronged, or the angst when the oppressor uses his force against a weak. It is the voice that you raise to defy oppression, the shield that you become to protect a weak, and the selfless act you perform to help someone in need. Shaurya, my friends, lies deep inside and is beyond any physical possession.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Inequality in Asia

Asia is the home to the majority of the human population and varies extensively across and within its regions in terms of ethnicity, cultures, environments, economics, climates, historical ties and forms of governments. Despite being the fastest growing region in the world, Asia has become a region of extremes, having huge wealth gap between rich and poor.

China’s Gini coefficient has risen more steeply over the last decade than in any other country. The richest man in Vietnam earns more in a day than the poorest earns in a decade. 10% of Indians own 80% of the country’s wealth. These startling facts allude to the bludgeoning issue of inequality in Asia.  Income inequality is associated with other facets of development and impacts the access to healthcare, education and other basic amenities such as drinking water and non-hazardous fuel.

Asia’s policymakers are not oblivious of the impacts of the rising inequality and are placing inclusive growth at the core of their policies. The paradox that elements such as technological progression and market reforms that have fueled the development, have also caused the loss in jobs and unequal opportunities for the poor makes the problem even more complex. Recent ESCAP analysis provides insights into the problem and makes certain recommendations to address it.

Fiscal policies have a very important role to play. The budget allocation to healthcare services, free education, and mitigation of the impacts of environmental degradation need to be enhanced to build human capacities and resilience. The management of fiscal space is a complex phenomenon, particularly in developing countries where factors such as corruption, procedural delays, and politics severely affect the policies.

The rural and urban divide needs to be addressed. The rural population needs to be given access to the latest technology and better infrastructure so that the opportunities increase and are exploited as well. The countries should endeavour to formulate sustainable policies and also have a quantifiable prediction of the outcome of the policies in long term. The ageing population has introduced a serious challenge and alludes toward a serious thought to the population control measures.

The trade between different nations should be used as a balancer and not just a tool to meet strategic interests.  A well-balanced growth among industry, services, and agriculture are a must for inclusive growth. To have a sustained growth with a high rate, Asia needs to provide equal opportunities to every segment of people and address the problem of inequality.

Sunday, November 25, 2018


They have the grit of steel. They are no less nor do they think themselves to be. But they face a humungous challenge: to compete in a non-level field. I am talking about my students of St Francis Home Society, which is a school for disabled students. Students who are deaf, mute, and hard of hearing or who have diseases such as cerebral palsy get educated here. The school also provides boarding facilities for girls.
The education system in India is fairly skewed and archaic. The purpose to impart knowledge has been obfuscated by the need to score high. It will definitely not be an exaggeration to say that one’s capabilities are judged solely by one's academic scores. Many of us have already adjusted with the system and many are under the process to do so. But the process of adjusting and aligning is very difficult for children with disabilities, who are fighting to secure a place for themselves in this fiercely competitive world.
I had the first-hand experience of the difficulties faced by the children while teaching them at St. Francis. I could see that the students were literally scared of mathematics. When I was a student, I used to dislike studies but love math but the hostility of students towards mathematics didn’t amaze me because I had a sibling who was scared of mathematics. What surprised me was the inability of students to comprehend and perform simple calculations and understand relatively simple concepts. In no way, I mean to undermine the sincere efforts being taken by Father Joseph and his team in providing education to the children. Father’s sincerity and dedication are absolutely unquestionable and his efforts have led to the creation of opportunities for the children to learn and evolve. I want to question the quality of teachers and students our system is producing and the skewed curriculum that doesn’t provide a level field.
During my interaction with father, I came to know about the challenges he has been facing in finding suitable teachers for the school. Father has been stringent in accepting only the teachers who have the required credentials to teach in such schools. But the sad state is that the teachers applying for have all the “documented qualifications” to teach in the school but not the actual skill set required.  With so much still to do so for basic primary education in India, the goal to provide education to disabled children have not gained the required momentum. There are virtually no incentives to acquire the necessary skill set to provide education to such children.
The students know that they need to pass intermediate to get a job. The teachers are also aware of the fact. All that the teacher's endeavor is to make sure that the students get the required passing marks and get promoted to the next class. So the skewed education system plays ugly and impedes the children from all the miracles that they can create. While teaching my students, I see in them the desire to learn and understand. They have limited interaction with people in the outside world because of the language barrier, and thus have lesser opportunities to learn via interactions than the rest of us. So education is the most important element of learning for them. Due to the absence of qualified teachers in the field and the system’s focus on grades, their experience of learning has been cumbersome. They have started dreading subjects that they don’t understand.
I would like to conclude that by not nurturing our children properly, we are losing critical human resource and making them dependents. An investment in them today is an asset tomorrow. Volunteers and NGOs have a very crucial role in facilitating education to the children. Let us all take a step towards the same and not shy away from our social responsibility.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Legacy Of Mahatma

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s contribution to our country needs no elaboration. His persistent struggle freed us from the shackles of servitude and took us to the path of independence, both individual and political. The nation, much obliged by his contribution, referred him as “Baapu”, meaning ‘father of the nation’ and “Mahatma”, meaning the enlightened soul.
Mahatama’s deeds encompassed a much larger sphere, going beyond the realms of politics and boundaries. He, in his lifetime, made remarkable changes to the Indian society and left trails that have been influencing large sects of people, who proudly recognize themselves as “Gandhians”. His notions of Satya and Ahimsa have even revolutionized the western thinkers, and he is venerated by one and all.
0n 2nd October, this year, we would be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the great soul. Many announcements have been made to commemorate his anniversary and pay tribute to the Mahatma. Amongst all the pomp and show, the basic question is have we kept his legacy?
Gandhi used Satya and Ahimsa as ‘weapons’ against the colonial rule; a rule which was atrocious and repugnant. Although being tortured and jailed, he didn’t give up to the oppressive regime and followed his principles to the core. He spoke the truth, regardless of the consequences, and the same can be seen in his biography “My experiments with truth”. But the Gandhian ideology of truth doesn’t seem to find much of place in our society. The rampant use of falsehood in both public and private spaces has contradicted Mahatama’s teaching, leading to a corrupt and insensitive system. India has one of the world’s worst rankings in asia-pacific in the global corruption perception index for the year 2017, and it has deteriorated from the previous year.  Even media, which is a pillar of our democracy, doesn’t speak and show truth due to its nexus with the offenders. Our country has been named among the "worst offenders" in terms of graft and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region.
Mahatma's teachings of Ahimsa have taken the most severe hit in the past few years. Needless to say, Mahatma was no ordinary man and had the grit of steel. He never bent to any sort of injustice but never resorted to violence. He was a strong advocate of religious harmony and was not a blind promoter of majoritarian views. But contrary to his teachings, the extreme religious sentiments in our country have been affecting the peace and harmony. The public lynching of people of different segments is a blot on a civilized society and has also earned disrepute for us in the international community. The killing of activists and journalist is an assertion of muscle power. What the feeble looking Mahatma could achieve using non-violence, is being condemned by these tiny goons by flexing their muscles.
There are several anecdotes about Gandhi which are mere reflections of his compassionate and ideological personality. He went on a fast when one of his bitter critics was attacked by a mob; went on a fast when the majoritarian section was opposed to the inclusion of all ; even coaxed his wife to stand with his cause of cleanliness. While we have made considerable progress in the later, I am aghast on the youth’s attitude towards the Mahatama.
Weaknesses are to humans as heat is to the sun. Every human being is prone and is in possession of certain weaknesses. Gandhi himself brings out this in his biography. But rather than appreciating his strength of openly accepting his weaknesses and emulating the core strength of his ideology, a section of people have been trying to malign Gandhi and mislead our youth. Lies are being spread on the social media and false campaigns are being run. The youth needs to read authentic information about the Mahatma and practice his teachings to understand the force behind them. The elderly should disseminate the information that they have learned from the ‘Gandhians’ and prevent the youth from the smear campaign so the youth they have a true encounter with Gandhigiri.

Sunday, August 12, 2018


I never wanted to leave you
But did it because of you
       I still remember the past
       The past we were together
       And promised to live forever

      Your cherubic face and smile
      That made the world worthwhile
                                       Your cute big eyes and little nose
                                       Your hair coming with a different pose

I adored you like a child
You accepted it with a smile
Why you had to grow up so fast
And make the past, a past

You said you had nothing left
But thats not the way I felt
I never wanted to leave you
But had to do because of you.


One of my brothers in arm asked me, “Ye log Afzal Guru or Yakub Memon ke support me naarein kyu laga rahe hai, wo to terrorist the na?” I had no answers for this stark but real question.
Mohd Afzal Guru was a terrorist who was involved in the attack on the Indian Parliament. Evidence proved his role which he later confessed. He was sentenced to death by the Honourable Court. Yakub Memom was convicted for his role in 1993 bombings and was declared the mastermind of the bombings by the Honourable Court. He too was sentenced to death.
I pen down my thoughts on the day when two of my brothers in arms, Capt Pawan Kumar and Capt Tushar Mahajan sacrifice themselves for their motherland, for my motherland. And this happens when intellects of my country, intellects because what they say is understood best by people of their wit and not by extremely ordinary soldiers like me, claim that trial of Afzal Guru wronged the right to justice.
This happens when in the capital of my country, the place where Prime Minister of India proudly hoists National Flag on Independence Day; people raise anti-India slogans and are recorded on camera and telecasted on Televisions. This happens when a section of intellectuals support these people and admonish the government not to curb the right of dissent.
Capt Pawan and Capt Tushar sacrificed their life when one community disrupted and stirred lives of many; burned malls, shops, ATMs and proudly boasted about the same on social media asking for quota in getting cushioned chairs in government offices.
Sitting in icy cold winters in a part of Jammu&Kashmir, I just wonder can I still call India as our country instead of my country or that too would call dissents among the intellectuals. I wonder what Capt Pawan and Capt Tushar wanted for their life, would they be satisfied with what they have done or sitting in heavens they would be watching all the brouhaha and thinking is this what they sacrificed themselves for?

                                                                        Written in sub-zeros of Leh in 2016

Sunday, April 29, 2012


She was groaning with pain in the office from an hour or two. She had severe pain in her stomach. She requested her boss to let her leave for the day but he refused. He said her to take rest for sometime and get back to work again.
She was nobody but an average looking girl aged around 23 working in a small job, having a small designation. This smallness made her too insignificant to be allowed to leave even when she was unfit and made her boss too big to give such a cruel solution. Its a condition I would be able to express better in verses and here they go

A girl, so timid and fragile,
Lying on the floor helpless from a while

People stood around her, watching,
All trying to help but pretending

They said they were so helpless,
Sad faces nothing but clueless

He sat on his big chair showing his authority,
Many sat beside him not resenting his attrocity

"Yes sir, Okay sir, that will be done,
Your every order shall be summoned"

"But the little girl there wants some help"
"Let her lie in pain and let her yell"

                                                            Let Me tell you something sir, you are the boss,
                                                            But this is a very small jungle where you live across

                                                           Someday you too will need help,when you are in pain,
                                                           Trust me that day you will be forsaken

                                                           Her groans and cries will then reach your ears,
                                                          And will then haunt your conscience for years! var vglnk = {key: '6514d03b5fec4e407500f9d920d73413'}; (function(d, t) { var s = d.createElement(t); s.type = 'text/javascript'; s.async = true; s.src = '//'; var r = d.getElementsByTagName(t)[0]; r.parentNode.insertBefore(s, r); }(document, 'script'));