Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hurdles on the Road

Have you pondered on the in-numerable hurdles that one comes across on the road?
Nah am not talking of the Road of Life. Life is too complex & filled with hurdles to even dare to ponder (onit). I am talking on the regular roads, the paved paths, which take you from point A to point B.
What is there to ponder on?
Take the example when you are riding with a pillion rider. Heaven help you if that person can also rides on his own. He would be pouring on advice which he believes you won’t be thinking off. Or he might firmly believe that you are totally deaf & blind & are riding purely on luck.
Even if you don’t have someone polluting your ears, there is the traffic on the road. Every driver believes that given the opportunity they would beat Michael Schumacher or Valentino Rossi by at-least a lap. On top of that they also believe that they own the road. Hence if you are in the driving seat you would have to constantly guess what the other drivers are going to do.
On top of all this you would have to take into considerations the incoming vehicles & people at any moment (with-out warning obviously) from any side of the road.
I was given a piece of advice (from a friend of mine) regarding folks crossing the road.
If it is a young kid or an oldie then hit your horn hard & accelerate. The person would get frightened & stop & you can safely pass them from the front.
If it is a teenager or a young man, don’t bother to hit the horn just slow down. They would be over-confident & aggressive enough to continue on their path & you can safely pass them from the behind.
But if it is a young female then brake & begin to pray. She is too unpredictable for you to be safe. And heaven forbid if you even come close to hitting her. All the people around would become her brother & bash you up. Yeah I know the last part is bit cheap but the advice was so…

If you were not completely wrecked thinking so many stuff after trying to figure out which route to take then there are some more hurdles.
The traffic police for one. The main job of the traffic police is to ensure smooth movement of the vehicles. But most traffic personnel I have come across are more interested in some other actions. Pocketing money. So while riding/driving you would have to keep an eye for the traffic police & if you spot one immediately check off all the reasons he can apprehend you & take proper evasive action.
I would not go into the potholes & the sudden horizontal dug-ups (for laying some object like wires). Riding around pot-holes is something you must learn fast if you want to increase the life-time of the shock-absorber & not have a cross-country ride right in the middle of the city.
There are also some unexpected objects which might jump up in your path.
A public bus which had a break-down is standing right in the middle of the road. And some stones & a branch are jutting out. & it is just twilight.
Puts a shiver down your spine, while the heart jumps, as you evade it.
Or an auto riding through the middle of the road. Some of my friends know how badly I had reacted.
But the best one ever was a _________. Thankfully I was not at the driver’s seat. But I must say that this one extends the imagination a bit but it was actually true. Imagine a dark night. Cloudy no moon night. The roads are empty & the street-lights are off. All of a sudden you see 2 red-lights light up. & you are approaching it very fast. You brake & shift on the left side of the road. As you pass the suddenly braked car throwing as many explicit you can remember. You are shocked to find a white horse standing in your path. Blinded from the headlights it stands in the middle of the road. Poor creature. And Maneka Gandhi is the last thought before your mind before it crashes out.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

India & Israel

2 countries sharing some common straits. Both share the same letter of alphabet to start with. Both have been terrorized with, if I am allowed to use the term, “Islamic Terrorists”. Both countries have a history which dates back to BC.

This is going to be a serious post & perhaps long by some people standards. Folks you are more than welcome to stay away from this post if you are not interested.

“According to the Torah, the Land of Israel was promised to the three Patriarchs of the Jewish people, by God, as their homeland; scholars have placed this period in the early 2nd millennium BCE. According to the traditional view, around the 11th century BCE, the first of a series of Israelite kingdoms and states established rule over the region; these Israelite kingdoms and states ruled intermittently for the following one thousand years.”
“The first known permanent settlements appeared over 9,000 years ago and gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, dating back to 3300 BCE in western India.”

A few days ago 2nd December 2008 to be precise, I received an email from a friend of mine asking me to sign an “Online Petition”. “endeavour is to collect at least 1 million signatures” was one of the lines of the email. Does 1 million in a country of over a billion residents make a difference? It is just 1 thousand part of the country (going by the popular US version & not the UK). “Probably such mass need may stir the administration to take visible and needful action”. MASS????!!!!!! It is an accepted fact that exceptions in INDIA run into millions. Mass in India (covering pan-India) would need to have atleast over a quarter of billion Indians. Has Indians been so stirred into action since 1932? I would seriously doubt that. It is not that I do not have the similar pain & feelings that the person(s) behind this petition but I have to point out that I seriously don’t believe that any politician would have an iota of time or interest to read these online petitions. Also the politicians have their own channels to get the pulse of the nation (on which they would rely more).
When I had responded back to the dear friend of mine, who had with lot of faith forwarded me that petition, clarifying why I could not support or sign, I got an instant retort back pointing out that had the 26th November incidents taken place in Israel then the whole situation been completely different. He had cited 2 examples to support his views. Entebbe Operation & Operation Wrath of God.
The current Israel 2nd wave of offence in the Gaza today, reminded of that conversation & compelled me to write this post.

I would like to draw the attention of the readers to some more similarities between the 2 countries.
“Between the time of the Israelite kingdoms and the 7th-century Muslim conquests, the Land of Israel fell under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Sassanian, and Byzantine rule.” Ignoring the (controversial as per a school of thought) Aryan Invasion in sometime 1500 BC, “Following invasions from Central Asia between the 10th and 12th centuries, much of North India came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughal Empire.”
“The newly created United Nations approved the UN Partition Plan (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181) on November 29, 1947, dividing the country into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. On May 14, 1948, the day before the end of the British Mandate, the Jewish Agency proclaimed independence, naming the country Israel.” “On 15 August 1947, India gained independence from British rule, but at the same time Muslim-majority areas were partitioned to form a separate state of Pakistan.[31] On 26 January 1950, India became a republic and a new constitution came into effect.”
Ethnic groups in Israel : 76% Jewish, 19% Arab, 5% minority groups
Ethnic groups in India : 80.4% Hindus, 13.4% Muslims, 6.2% Others.
Jews or “an ethno-religious group originating from the Israelites” are found all over the world & they still follow their traditions even if they are 4th or 5th generation living there. & do I need to point out the slow Indian colonization of the world?
I can go on in this line but I believe that I have made my point.

What differentiates Israel from India?
The obvious are geographical, demographical, constitutional, GDP (Total as well as Per-capita) etc. There is another distinctive difference in the outlook of the people.
Indians are by nature (& historically proven) are the absorbers of all forms of traditions. Over years (if not instantly) Indians find out a perfect amalgamation of the original & the new. Or atleast they co-exist. I have personally seen people who are equally comfortable appreciating to classical music in the afternoon & shaking their leg in the evening to the latest pop tracks. I do-not know much about Israel or Israeli’s but I have come to believe that they are slightly more rigid in upholding their traditions. Yes there are exceptions but in India exceptions run into millions & may be actually greater than the population of Israel.
Israel is surrounded by hostile countries on each side. India is similarly surrounded by unfriendly countries. But surely the hostility between India & Bangladesh or Sri-Lanka cannot be compared to that to any of Israel’s neighbours. Or can it be?

Hamas had fired missiles into Israel for 8 consecutive days killing 4 people before the Israeli armed force attacked Gaza. The latest Mumbai attacks killed nearly 200 people & India is still trying to put enough “Diplomatic Pressure” on Pakistan to accept that the attacks were planned & executed by Pakistanis.
There is another major difference between the 2 situations. Pakistan has nuclear arsenal & a nuclear holocaust is not something anyone wants. Israel is safe in this respect being the only country in that region to have a nuclear arsenal. And any military operation by India would give the Pakistan army an excuse to take over. They have already taken away forces from the western borders giving the Taliban a free reign.
The whole Mumbai carnage has more that what it meets the eye. And I would really like if all truths came out. Am not sure if it would actually make any difference but there are too many confusing parts to it. Take this link for example.
There has be a huge hue & cry from the residents of both the countries to take some form of aggressive strike against the terrorists & Israel went into the offensive immediately while India is still to do something concrete.
Will either route make any difference? Israel had for long fought against PLO. But by defeating them did they achieve peace? PLO gave way to Hamas & today the battle continues. India has got UN to put a ban on Jamaat-ud-Dawa. But it would just change its name to Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool & continue its operations. You can chop off one head of the monster but a new head in a new form spring up there.

It hurts every time a person gets killed. Be it in India or in Pakistan or in Zimbabwe or in Iraq or in Malaysia or in Russia. Any form of terrorism by minorities or religious or even state is not to be condoned. But why is it that humans after so much time still fail to realize violence will never give the solution.
I really wonder how Gandhi would have reacted today. He had removed his support from the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1932 after the Chauri-Chara incident. That had postponed the Indian independence by over a decade but he had the integrity, strength & faith to continue in his path.
Martin Luther King had started the civil rights activism in the 50’s. And it is perhaps his legacy that the 44th President of USA would be Barack Obama. Abraham Lincoln had fought his way to end slavery 1863. But the “Jim Crow laws” were present till 1965. (please note I use this only to point out that violent means would not be totally successful. I still believe Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest President USA has ever got)
Nelson Mandela had brushes with violence but he had finally won his war only through negotiations.

You must be wondering where I am getting to. No I don’t have a solution to all the terrorism. But I believe that the way for the terrorist or the people against whom they are acting, is not through violence. Both need to give up violence immediately & apologise to the other side for all the pain & loss they have inflicted. Both parties need to first accept that they have a problem & have made mistakes & come to the negotiating table with an open & unbiased mind. Until you can even look at what the other side is talking about you would not be able to put your views across.
It is not what you intend or say but what the others perceive.

PS: I have heavily borrowed from Wikipedia for facts