Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Hit in the middle- How to reward inefficiency and lawlessness

Yet again, government has proved why the things in India are what they are, because here whistleblowers are damned, what is being rewarded is inefficiency and lawlessness. And Delhiities are hit in the middle, middle of their legs.

If punches and kicks of 11% inflation and 100% food inflation was not enough, and if withdrawal of power subsidy hasn’t broken their backs, then this surely will, a lean and clean jolt between the legs which might leave them gasping for breath. DTC has increased its fare by close to percent, thereby traveling by CNG car cheaper than ferrying a bus. Invariably, the private operators like the ‘deadly’ Blueline services in Delhi will also increase its prices. At one shot, government has rewarded the inefficiency of the state owned Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and lawlessness of Blueline operators (an organization which left more than 94 Delhiities dead in the road last year).

The Inefficient Giant

DTC is the largest single transport company of Delhi. It is a giant and an inefficient one for sure. For years it was going under losses, and heavy losses. This was the time when Government thought of giving private operators a chance, sometimes in 1993, and what a chance that was. Sooner most the buses of the DTC were locked up in the depots, and keys were forgotten. A respite came when a Supreme Court order of making public transport in Delhi to be run on CNG lead to a strike amongst the private operators. This is where government and DTC stepped in to revive the Public Sector Enterprise. The private buses were taken over by DTC on a contract from their owners and ran by the DTC. Meanwhile new buses were ordered, fresh dreams were woven, till the government rescinded the contracts and DTC were to run its own buses.

However much of the things remained under the cover. DTC kept operating, new low floor buses and A/C buses were ordered and they began operation. All seemed well to end Delhi’s transport woes, woes developed from the city’s obsession with cars, until last day when the government declared the hike, a reward for the inefficient company a hit in the middle of the consumers.

When DTC came into what it is in 1972, it initiated a Student Concessionary Pass program for Rs. 12.50 (per month or per 3 months I don’t remember, I’ve last used them in 2002 the year contracts were rescinded), it remained unchanged till now, when it is being increased to Rs. 100, a welcome move but which should be bought in much earlier. Wasn’t DTC making loss with Rs. 12.50 pass earlier, or it was just a tool to appease student voters so that they kept voting the government to the power. And when water of losses crossed the limits, students are hit in the middle. It is just one instances of inefficiency of the giant. And piling up of these has lead to such situation.

The Lawless Operator

A chance was grabbed with both hands, chance was the Delhi’s population, and the grabbers make it sure that it is squeezed, squished, smashed, short changed and looted. The grabbers were the Red line operators, aptly named dead-lines, who kept their murderous streak for few years on Delhi road, before some sanity prevailed in the government (out of fear of election backlash off course) and they were replaced. But replacement proved equally deadly, the Blue Line services are never known to obey any kind of transport rules. The honk, they overfill, they speed, they break traffic rules, they ran bribing ring, and the list is endless. Last year not a day was passed without an incident involving these buses, more than 94 people were killed by them, few of them ever dragged for a mile. Most of the drivers don’t seem to have a valid license until last year when a drive was launch to persecute the erring drivers. But still even today their rudeness rules the roads of Delhi. And with this rise, it is only tend to rise, because they will raise the tickets prices anyway, they have an habit of adopting bad practices and ignoring good practices.

But the question is what keeps them going? Even with the large amount of accidents involving them, why the conviction is so low. The foremost and predominant reason is that they are being controlled by kin of the politicians or the politicians themselves or under various aliases. The politicians enjoy an unwritten immunity in our ‘democratic’ country; a special power available not even to Army Generals. And they know, given our arthritic judiciary, that they will surely get their way, and things go on as usual unless another one is dragged for a mile. Is it for this dragging that we have to pay more: more just to relieve ourselves that worth of a life is not one or two rupees it is more than that.

Question of Green and Public Transport

Delhiities love their cars, no wonder why over third of cars sold in the country are gobbled up by Delhiities. Not only they purchase the cars, they also want to show off, that is why most of the time there is bumper-to-bumper traffic in Delhi. Just imagine how many gallons of fuel are burned to sustain them. That is what makes the question of public transport more relevant.

Delhi is said to have the finest infrastructure of any metros in India. However, even this finest is not good enough. On a peak hour, one can easily find traffic moving in snail’s pace in most of the parts of Delhi. Even, touted as one of the best highways in the country, the Delhi-Gurgaon Highway sees python-like traffic jams. With the massive pressure of the population, the infrastructure in Delhi is crumbling like a cookie, taking the environment along with it.

“We have all along been saying that personal vehicle s shouldn’t be incentivized at the cost of public transport. We have done a survey and found out that the cost of riding a motorcycle comes to Rs. 1 per km. If the government increases the fare of buses to recover the cost of investment they are making in the buses, people with the means to buy a motorcycle would surely be weaned away from the public transport……In 2001, buses in the Capital accounted for 60 percent of total daily travelers. This has now come down just to 43 percent” observes Anumita Roychowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment. And rightly so, If number private vehicles increases in the streets, it will put the pressure in the infrastructure, it would increase the demand for oil. Increase in demand leads to increase in price of the commodity that is simple economics. This in turn will lead to the further increase in the cost of transport (both public and private). Increased use of oil will lead to increased pollution. It is just the plain old vicious cycle.

The Commercial Sense

The commercial reason provided for this increase is the one that will send experienced managers into a tizzy. Such increase is done in order to build new fleet of buses; it is the reason which is being provided by the government. Hardly digestible, no it isn’t, certainly nowhere in the business world you would see the investment is directly being linked to the revenue. Investment decisions are taken taking in consideration the current revenue and future revenue trends. And revenue decisions are accordingly taken taking into consideration the expenditure incurred, the investment to be made and most importantly in this case, the working capital. Above all these, a company have to be sure that it makes adequate profits and revenue streams must be kept running with adequate price for the service sold. But here increase is for the investment, hardly a reason as investment is done also by raising resources externally. But that requires efficient use of resources. Again it is hardly a DTC’s bailiwick.

“The hike is unwarranted. By increasing the fare, the government has rewarded the Blueline operators and inefficient DTC. The DTC has demanded higher fares on the basis of the fact that they are building a new fleet of low-floor buses. But these buses account for only 10 percent of the total bus fleet of DTC. The hike is also not going to improve the efficiency and reliability of DTC” says S.P. Singh, a senior fellow at Indian Foundation of Transport Research. He is quite right in pointing out that whether such increase will lead to more reliability and efficiency.


In the times where there is unprecedented rise prices was not giving enough fight to the people, the times where arbitrary power supplier was not giving hell to the Delhiities with inflated bill and erratic power, it was the last thing require to get the ‘common man’ (aam admi) down, kick in the middle.

A decision only to reward inefficiency and lawlessness.

© Tarun Mitra

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Case of Chinese Globes

A news article appeared in the first page of ‘Hindustan Times’ New Delhi edition on Monday, October 26, 2009. This article talked about the made-in-China globe flooding the Indian market. Nothing was unusual as it has become norm now of Chinese goods beating the hell out of Indian products in India’s own domestic market, I won’t dwell much into that. However, the particular point this article highlighted and that even made into a headline that the in the map of India, Kashmir was shown as separate region, with Aksai Chin under Chinese map. This ‘map’ fully violates India’s integrity and laws relating to maps.

The question here is not what Chinese are doing, democracy in China is well known (either way you take it), but what we are doing. Yes, our acts and action putting our own integrity into stake. These globes are imported into India, mark the word imported, that is it requires an importer. This importer has to have a valid permission (or license) to trade; the person invariably in most of the cases is an ‘Indian’.

“There are layers beneath layers here: Chinese companies that manufacture these misleading maps, importers who misrepresent what they are bringing in to evade customs duty, and shopkeepers who sell the items to make a quick buck” says one Indian official and this underlines the role of ‘Indians’ here. The Indian importer who ‘lies’ to the custom, masquerading globe as a lampshade, just for saving duty on the imported goods jeopardizing the integrity of the country.

This practice is not new, remember just few years back when India and China were beginning to talk trade, there was a flood of Chinese calculators selling Rs. 15 apiece, or were marked up at that price. The dawn of free trade with lesser barriers had dawned over the country, and imports were liberalized. Later, it was revealed that these stuff were not imported as a good, they were used as stuffing for some different product, or were marked up at a such a low price that incidence of the tax on that product becomes negligible; in short, they were smuggled.

Usually whenever a product is imported into the country, especially books and maps, they are usually stamped that ‘maps do not represent the political boundaries of India’, this is because most of the maps occupied territories within the jurisdiction of other countries. This is done, so that kids, who are actual targets of the map, do not get a wrong impression about the borders of the country. It is done so that they could appreciate problems faced by the country in a much better perspective, and not to claim, when they grow up, that this territory is in foreign country. This is why I kept using the words ‘integrity of the country.’

I won’t dwell in the minds that produce such maps. It is useless, as it is the only thing expected. But I must say that those dishonest importers, who for the profit, are selling something vicious, are as good are traitors and to be tried for treason.

Free trade is good. But the free trade must be within the boundaries of responsibilities. Free trade doesn’t means freer trade, where you arm your own enemy to attack you.

© Tarun Mitra

Friday, October 23, 2009

Deepawali 2009

I know that it is too late to write about the festival of lights. However, I must add that it is not just another write up letting people know what is done in Deepawali. It is just my experience of this year and some view which I do think I must share.

World over the festival of Deepawali is projected as a festival of lights and Laxmi Puja. Majority of foreign publications I read online carried same tune again and again. But it is much more than that, which only an Indian knows. Very few people will appreciate that on this very day Bengalis celebrate Kali Puja or even there are are other festivals in different parts of the country with different names. Leaving the question of knowledge of different festivals on that very day; for a kid growing up in Delhi, this festival is more than ‘festival of lights’. It is for him a festival of sound, a festival of fun and gifts and a festival in which one feels a vibrant positive energy flowing even through the darkest alleys of the city.

Being born and bought up in Delhi, I liked this festival very much. Much is due to the fact that like every kid I was attracted towards lightening, gifts and crackers; and buck for me stops there itself, nothing more than that, no Puja at home, but only community ‘Kali Puja’ organized by the local Bengali Association. Since Puja used to be timed late night, as a kid I only used to visit it with my parents. A habit which slowly weaned away with each passing year and completely disappeared this year. More so because on last few years I had office or college very next day and this year I was not yet willing to exert myself.

This year though, Deepawali has being rather light. The main spoilsports were health and inflation. My health prevented me from satisfying my gastronomic delights. Inflation took the sheen away from crackers and other things. So, when others were enjoying mutton in my home, I was sipping soup containing paneer, what a pity. That’s life.

You will be very surprised and might ask, Why mutton? Well as I have already written, it’s ‘Kali Puja’ and there used to be tradition of sacrifice (Patha boli). That is gone for good, but Prasad of goddess is still consumed in many Bengali households. So don’t be surprised in future whenever you visit a Bengali home in Deepawali and you get that beautiful (or disgusting depending on your food choice) aroma of mutton. But alas! Fate had some other plans for me.

I love crackers, although I am still afraid of the noisy one’s but still I can safely admit that I am not the one in anti-cracker lobby. As a kid, my grandfather used to bring me a large cache of cracker at least a week before Deepawali; And I still remember rather fondly how I used to enjoy putting them under the sun to cut down the moisture content. Almost every neighbor used to pass a comment on my little shop. I still miss those days. But with ascension of age, few things withered away. Reasons were manifold. But still I garner immense joy whenever I see something going up in the sky and bursting into million pieces of shiny red, blue, green, purple and orange.

For the last few years I have being enjoying my Deepawali with my friend Sushant and his family. We two happen to share common passion for food, frolic and crackers. Since our school days we together visited Diwali Melas (fair) and enjoyed out Deepawali together. So it is a kind of habit of me going there every year. This year it was same, the only difference, I didn’t fire any cracker there. Just because of lack of quick body reflexes and nothing more than that. However, what I did was helped my four year old Cousin to fire her first crackers. Believe me there is nothing more satisfying than passing one’s legacy. She was up to it and event went ahead of me. This was all Deepawali for me, but I had made few observations this year and for last few years.

This festival is one of those festivals in which positive energy flows everywhere and sweeps everyone, no matter which religion or community he or she belongs. In a way this festival is pervasive. Having said that, this year I feel the celebration has being low key, much lower than that of last year’s. There are two things that struck me this year which substantiates that recession and inflation have a tragic impact on way we celebrate. First, for the first time I saw lightening of majority of homes was done just a day before the big day; and lights were taken out just after the day. Second, the crackers only got loose during Deepawali, and the quantity was even lesser this year; if you compare, then it was equal to the crackers that are burnt during ‘Dhanteras’ or ‘Choti Deepawali’ of previous years.

Now, these two things mentioned above are not flash in pan. A trend is generating for the past few years proving the impact of prices having on our daily lives. Although one can argue that if look at statistics, it shows that sales are increases. However, it is noteworthy that how many new people have come to the market and spent a little to add into a larger whole. But those who were there and are there are cutting back or holding up, without being replaced. To sum up, although economy is growing, but is every one getting proper fruit and if he is getting the fruit has his share of fruit with regard to the harvest is stagnant or even declining. Whatever might be the answer, just look around, answers are there.

Another thing, I have being noticing, is the amount of coverage Indian festivals are getting in global media. Much is due to the fact that the world is getting flatter and also because Indian community in world is becoming more visible. However of all the positive effect it is having in the developing inter-cultural relations, some of the articles especially the comments on them really leave a very bad taste. In one of the article a commentator tried to distance Buddhism from this festival and then raking up issue of discrimination against dalits. In another article a reader, while reading the sentence ‘it to Hindus what Christmas is to Christians’, objected to very comparison, his comment somewhat read like this ‘when Christians die they go to heaven, where to Hindus go…..’ there was something else which I don’t want to write. Undoubtedly the person in second case was radical; the person was pacified by another reader in his comment. However, in first case, the person seemed to be a very narrow minded; just how can you compare religion and then say you are fighting for the very religion you are comparing against.

Religion is a very emotional issue. Raising it casually in all forums can have un-desirous results. But who listens, very few understand that free speech comes along with a lot of responsibilities.

To summarize what I had during this festival is something of mixed emotions. I am happy in spite of severe jaundice in better parts of last two months, I did enjoyed the festival, I am bit angry (not sad) because many thing didn’t worked out the way they should, like my camera. I am concerned about the coverage in the media, the one sided view that is being generated and radical comments that are coming forth. I am worried because somewhere I feel inflation is eating into us. Having said all these and having you gone through all these, I again wish that you all had a great Deepawali. I also clicked few pictures using my old rickety camera, which I will surely share.

© Tarun Mitra

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Deepawali

Wishing You and Your Family a Happy, Joyous, Prosperous and Safe Deepawali.

May Goddess Laxmi shower her Generous Blessing on each of you

May Maa Kali protect you from all the troubles

Hope that your life keeps sparkling all throughout the year.

Have a Great Time

Friday, October 16, 2009

I remember

I remember

As the train of life chugs forward

In the track of life

Crossing various stations

Towards the destination unknown

Leaving a long trail of memories behind

I remember

I remember

That with each passing day

I have something new to learn

With each passing station

I’d little grown up

I remember

I remember

The first time I opened my eyes

And saw light

The first time windswept my face

The first drop I taste

I remember

I remember

The first step I took

The tricycle I put

The first fall I had

I remember

I remember

The day I learnt to read

The day I sensed meaning out of written things

The first time I wrote something

I remember

I remember

The first time I was afraid

I closed my eyes and stayed

I breathed when I saw my mother

I remember

I remember

The first time I laughed

The freckle of a smile

And a guffaw afterwards

I remember

I remember

The first time I was scold

I cried and sobbed

The first time my eyes were moist

I remember

I remember

The first day at school

And I fell asleep in the noon

The first teacher I met

The first friends I made

I remember

I remember

The festivals I enjoyed

The cracked I burned

The colors I splayed

I remember

I remember

The festival of victory of good over evil

The worship of Goddess

The burning of devil

I remember

I remember

The festival of lights

The lightening of diyas, candles and twinkling lights

The day crackers turned the night sky bright

I remember

I remember

The Xmas day

The long wait for Santa

But for a good boy Santa never came

I remember

I remember

The New Year eve

The tasty pastries and juicy cakes

The way we stayed awake till midnight

To say ‘Happy New Year’

I remember

I remember

The Republic Day

The marching troops and weapons displayed

Fills the chest with pride

Even today

I remember

I remember

The Basant Panchmi

The Invocation of Goddess

The upholder of Wisdom and Consciousness

I remember

I remember

The festival of colors

The mouthwatering gujiya and loads of color

The day which drenched all way

I remember

I remember my result day

The stoic restlessness just won’t gave away

The relief I D-day

I remember

I remember

The new books I bought

The excitement of new syllabus

The new class to look forward

I remember

I remember

The summer holidays

The day’s hot sun shone

The power cut relays

I remember

I remember

The Independence Day

The hoisting of flags

Flying kites all day

I remember

I remember

The each passing birthday

The steady loss of innocence

The half burnt candles on the cake

I remember

I remember

The first time my heart throbbed

The first time I stole a look

The first crush I’d ever had

I remember

I remember

The first steps into adulthood

The bad result

The darker days

The bleak future it holds

I remember

I remember

The ray of hope

The ray I clenched onto

The reason that kept me going

I remember

I remember

The first time I fell in love

The spoken babble

And unspoken words

The feebleness leading her walking away

I remember

I remember

The first job I did

A small room

A rickety fan

Two second hand desktops

And plain old files

The long journey I undertook for a meager pay

I remember

I remember

The second job I did

The trading terminals

And ever ringing phones

The sickening long working hours

I remember

I remember

The relief I got

The professor’s explanation

The legal jargon

The freedom I enjoyed for a while

I remember

I remember

The first camping trip

The foothills of Himalayas

The rafting we did

I remember

I remember

The third job of mine

The training period of a trainee

The work culture of an MNC

I remember

I remember

The office trips I made

Along with my office mates

The deserts and mountains

I remember

I remember

A dark day

The first day of the week

And a short notice

The recession’s lash

I remember

I remember

Along all these

The ranging of emotions

Pain and suffering

Love and devotion

The dogged spirit kept going

I remember

I remember

In spite of all

The raindrops of my face

The warmth of winter sun

The mild wind of autumn

I remember

I remember

The small moments of happiness

The decorating of home

The cleaning of commode

The beautiful music all day

I remember

I remember

The times with friends

The jokes we cracked

The hard times we faced

The staying together till today

I remember

The remember

The time I spent

The love I got

The hatred I bred

I remember

I remember

The stations I passed

The people I met

The journey I made

I remember

I remember

That along the way

The good, the bad and the ugly days

The derailed trains on the way

I remember

I remember

The broken rails

The unheeded SOS

The dangers that prevailed

I remember

I remember

The journey I’d took

The journey I am taking

The journey I will take

On the rails of life

Towards destination unknown

Crossing all the stations behind

Leaving a memory trail

I remember

And I will remember

© Tarun Mitra

October 16, 2009

The Food we eat

No! Absolutely not; I am not going to lecture about the different types of foods we have. But it is an insight that I developed when I lied in bed and had lot of greens while recovering from jaundice. During this time, for the first time of my life, I abstained myself from non-vegetarian and spicy food for a prolonged period of time. I survived on fruits, and it is about the very fruits and vegetables that I am going to write about.

Remember the time when your mother used to scold you for eating most of the fruits with their skins. ‘Skins contained vital vitamins’ she might have said. But after knowing how are fruits are treated while they are being transported you our neighborhood retailer and then finally to our home, I am sure no mom will ever ask to have the fruit, leave alone having it along with the skin. She will find it more comfortable to ask you to have a beer or supplements rather than having fruits or vegetables.

Before I start to write about the fruits, let me put across a simple question, what do we Indians deserve? The best or just anything that comes in the market. If the answer to the question is latter, then we are getting what we really deserve, the leftovers. Yes, the leftovers, not of other peoples but of chemical which are used to treat them. The same chemicals spread over the fruits to speed up their growth.

Let me illustrate this with an example. You would have noticed a white shiny powder layered over a mango. The powder is carbide, and it creates a layer of artificial heat over the unripe or semi-ripe mango, so that when they reach the cities they look fresh and yellow. Now this carbide has to be washed before the mango has to be consumed. It is an eight hour process where mango is kept under water overnight. But still some strains of the chemical remains. Carbide causes cancer and chess congestion. But still it is rampantly used all over the country, the reason, to serve the markets quickly, irrespective of public health and safety. Another reason is that the country still doesn’t have the best infrastructure and logistics to transport it mangoes, because the very ripen mango’s lifespan is 10 days. Something agriculture scientist must look on, but regrettably they haven’t. To void the gap fertilizer and chemical companies stepped in, the result we now have a potential poison in our food chain.

Mango is not the only fruit affected. While recovering, I had a hell lot of papayas. The big yellow fruit having bitter sweet taste. Once they had seeds inside them, and occasionally you would even stumble upon a small Ganesha idol; that was only few years back, the new crop don’t have any seeds. And when you cut the fruit, most of the time you’ll find the inner layer much softer than the outer layer and a thin coat of power on the poles of the fruit. Sometimes you can even taste the powder inside the fruit (I did get a different taste). I am still unable to figure out what they are putting up in that fruit thereby completely reversing its good qualities.

These are only two examples, and there are many more. In each food and vegetable we eat, there is some sort of adulteration. Cauliflowers have urea, parwal (Latin Trichosanthes diocia Roxb.) have green color (probably copper oxide) etc. Usually fruits and vegetable take at least a month to grow, but for the sake the profits it is only a matter of weeks now. The ugly truth is our very own food chain is laced with chemicals.

Now you may say that you have organic foods. Good! You can afford that and save yourself. But behold! I Indian groundwater is contaminated with arsenic, boron, magnesium and zinc. And these elements are not present there naturally. So every organic food is not safe as they are claimed to be. Better ask questions now about what you eat.

Now the pertinent question is ‘Who is responsible for this?’ The farmers as they want to earn more or the traders who want to sell more or the government who failed to execute the rules or us who kept demanding more.

Whatever might be your choice of answer, the onus remains on us.

© Tarun Mitra

Monday, October 12, 2009

Obama’s (Albatross) Nobel

Few people were fighting in a crowded Delhi street, and every person who was involved has his own reason. Someone was fighting for the parking space, another one for putting up his shop and so on. For the locals, it was almost an everyday routine. The old Constable only aggravated the situation by putting one against the other just for the sake of few of the shopkeepers and a doctor who happened to be related to them. But today old Constable was not there, he was transferred, and in his place a new Constable resumed the duties. The new Constable, with youthful exuberance and charming presence, watch the scene. Sooner, people who were fighting observed that someone is watching them, and this fellow is not the one they knew, a portion of their attention got diverted. He kept looking at them, attentively, until he managed to have their entire attention. As the action stopped, he talked to them, asking for the reasons and then offering advice. The issue was resolved after parties to dispute agreed to a temporary solution, and decided to agree to a final solution. Locals were happy, for the first time the dispute didn’t benefited the doctor or the chemist or the gunsmith. Within the next few weeks of the new Constable, these big altercations decreased, and the locals, especially elders of the Local Welfare Association were content. However the reasons for these altercations remained, parking, small shops, electricity etc were not yet resolved. And instead of big fights, there were small alterations in the darker alleys of the street. But on whole it seemed peaceful, even though reports kept piling up with the Constable. On sunny day, the elders decided to fete the new Constable for his work, or his tactics of using negotiation, with a hope that it would further encourage him to resolve the existing conflicts. Barack Hussein Obama today mirrors that constable. Like Constable he too has bought hope but events preceding and succeeding his nomination only vindicate that a lot still has to be done.

It was nothing but only shock and surprise which deluged the world when Nobel Peace Prize committee in Oslo nominated Obama. The Citation which read “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between the peoples” was preceded by the bombing of Indian embassy in Kabul and succeeded by siege of military barracks in Rawalpindi by the Taliban. And to add on to this there are further chain of events like reduction of forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, ratification of CTBT, possible dumping of Kyoto Protocol and revival of multilateral agencies like UN, IMF and World Bank which could have serious implications on the world order.

As Ramachandra Guha, a noted historian writes in Hindustan Times “In ten months since he took office, Barack Obama has not taken any notable initiative for bringing about peace in the world. In fact, in at least two respects he has possibly impeded the prospects of peace. Despite murmurs made on the campaign trail, he has refused to undemonise Iran”. Obama’s Presidential campaign swept US and the world like a wizard’s charm. His opponent, Republican John McCain, a seasoned politician, just couldn’t face the spell. Ramachandra Guha’s observation hits where it hurts. There is a difference between Sorcerer’s world and real world.

One of my friends who was preparing for studying MBA overseas told me then “For having some global understanding I following their campaign. Obama’s is full of collegiate cliché, full of dreams, and full of hope. Whereas McCain is more practical, he is the one with plans.” I am not an expert of US politics, or world for that matter, however, the world the way I see I haven’t seen anything spectacular from this person. Let it be peace, economy and climate, the three pressing issues of our times.

There is no global consensus on Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. Israel continues to build settlements in West Bank while he looked other way. North Korea keeps testing missiles and Pakistan still fueling an anti-India force with money meant for fighting Al-Qaeda and Taliban. With world economy still recovering, there questions being asked about G-8 relevance in World Bank and IMF. US still getting more and more protectionist under the pretext of dumping and protection of local industries. Although he has accepted the danger of climate, however it is speculated that US might dump Kyoto protocol, to the ire of EU and emerging economies. Still Nobel committee in Oslo decided to confer him the award, the inherent reasons are still unclear.

Whether Nobel Committee is trying of give a helping hand to an unfinished process? Or Whether Nobel Committee wants to piggy back Brand Obama? The reasons are still unclear. Nobel Committee doling out this award has being known for making eccentric to the absurd decision. M.K. Gandhi was never awarded this award whereas Staling and Hitler were once in contention only proves the veracity of its eccentricity and absurdity. One of the members of the Committee has remarked that it has being done to ‘help him to achieve the objectives he set out to achieve’, and if that so, then it is rather unfortunate because there far too many people who are for a long period pursuing these objectives which he has set out for himself. Or it may be a move by the Nobel Peace Committee to ride on the Brand equity of a person which is higher than its own. In any case, a slightest mistake can have serious repercussion. It may put a heavy burden on the shoulder of the boy whose bag is already full and he still has to reach the school.

The Constable and Obama are on the same position. Both haven’t achieved anything concrete. Could their award be the dead albatross around their neck or could it be just the fuel they needed; only time will tell. To conclude an Iraqi laborer in Bagdad has rightly observed,” He doesn’t deserve this prize. All these problems-Iraq, Afghanistan- have not been solved yet. There are still forces going from Iraq to Afghanistan. The man of ‘change’ hasn’t changed anything yet.”

© Tarun Mitra

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Manipur-The Forgotten State

Ever heard about ‘Irom Sharmila’? Probably not and why would be bothered to know about her, we are more or less preoccupied with our daily lives, soap operas and reality TV shows. But the reality is that ‘Irom Sharmila’ is an ordinary woman with iron strong will-power. This 37 year old is on hunger strike for more than 10 years, reason, she is protesting against the draconian law Armed Forces Special Provisions Act, which virtually gives power to the security person to arrest, jailed or even encounter people on the mere basis of suspicion of being an insurgent. This legislation is in effect in two states Jammu & Kashmir and Manipur, remember Manipur.

Manipur, a small state tucked in India’s north-east, a state which I regret to say India and Indians forgot. That is why state which is going through turbulence since July because of a fake encountered which was carried out by the forces there and fakeness of which was telecast in national media still hasn’t elicited any response from the Centre. Irom Sharmila is from Manipur, and she is protesting the same provisions which gives the security forces the power to drag out civilians, brand them as militants and encounter them; all order to earn medal. No wonder this year Manipur Police won 74 gallantry medals, compared to 138 for the entire country.

Manipur is in state of despair, with rampart poverty, people are screwed by the triad of Politicians, Insurgents and Security Forces. Each has their own reasons, own explanations. Each ready to grab the pie which centre throws at the state and forgets. Rampant corruption ensures that contracts are grabbed either by politicians or by the insurgents. Insurgents who claim to fight for the people fund their movement from same people, by kidnapping them, killing them and robbing them. The business is good, and it pays well.

Irom Sharmila is crying for peace. She is in hunger strike since 2000 when security forces killed 10 people from her village without any explanation. And these things are not uncommon there, and the last one which was shown in national television has crippled the state for last few months. But how could we remember that, after all, that news was adjusted between the news about a program ‘Rakhi ka Swayambar’ and some other news program on reality show, no wonder we got it erased. Death of a person is tragedy but death of many is statistic, Dictator Stalin has rightly observed, and it is a statistics in Manipur not tragedy. If it have had happened in Delhi, Government might have being dismissed. But it pays to have such government there; corruption has always being a very big business.

Few weeks ago, an editorial appeared in the Chinese journal which asked the authority to break up India into 50 countries, all they require is a little push. With our ignorance of such magnitude, a small puff would be enough. They need not do the hard work, because by ignoring our state we have created the groundwork. People like ‘Irom Sharmila’ are just fighting to avert such situation.

But why should you be bothered?

© Tarun Mitra




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Anniversary Post

Ah! How can I just miss it? But I just did. Five days ago, this completed its year of existence. It was October 2nd, 2008 when I first posted on this blog. My previous Google account on which I created my first blog ( was hacked in mid July last year which prompted me to create another Google account. Why another? Because the back-up account with that account also got hacked. And it took quite a time to convince myself to create another blog. Now after a year am I satisfied? No, I am not. Why? I expected myself to write more, write better but still there is a long way to go.

© Tarun Mitra

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jaundice Days – Part 3 The Experience

At this moment as I sat down to write the third and final part of my ‘Jaundice Days’ I am rather glad to inform you that the last test has revealed that Bilirubin levels have fallen below one (0.5 to be exact),that is, technically I am out of Jaundice. However, the restrictions associated with it still remains. The entire experience has been a total revelation for me, giving me an insight how people in our country deal with diseases for which they have little understanding. Alexander Pope has once said ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ the quote aptly applies to what I have heard, listened and faced during these days.

Peculiar Disease

There are many unanswered questions in Medical Science, and Jaundice is one of them. It is still hard to believe that this widespread disease still don’t have any direct particular medicine. The treatment basically rests on prolonged bed-rest and regular doses of energy tabs. Unless you consult a liver expert. To add on to it you will find many people who know everything about the disease and can prescribe you a medicine for it, medicines which are not recorded in any proven medical journal of India or the world. Its peculiarity also hinges on what people do to deal with it, stop taking proper diets, living off fruits and top of all stop taking anything yellow. Why yellow? The answer what you will get that since your body has turned yellow, yellow is now poisonous. But note down the turmeric has anti-septic properties; they’ll just shrug it away. The more common this disease is, less people are certain about it.

Foolproof Medicine

‘Have you consulted the doctor? Is he on medicines? Listen usko jhaad bhi do(get him treated by a witch doctor)’ This is from one of telephonic conversation my mom had with our educated relative, and mind it, this is not the only one. It is very surprising for me that even in this age and even with level of education people believe that something purely internal can be treated by something external. I do believe in god, and I do believe there is something like budi nazar and all that, but how can a thing which have a proper medical explanation, but no straight treatment can be treat to so things. I don’t know the answer, I simply don’t. But strangely enough, many people, from our house maid to electrician to the fruit vendor everyone knows a foolproof medicine for this disease. The medicine which can cure the disease in the matter days without any hospitalization. One of the most convincing examples was given by our electrician; I would just like to quote him about what he said after thoroughly checking me.

“Are you on a doctor? I know a person who makes the medicine for jaundice. When I had jaundice I consulted five doctors, one almost send me to a nursing home, which could have resulted in loss of Rs. 25000 and many days. I got to know about this person, he was in government service. He diagnosed me and asked me to come in the evening, by that time he would have completed his medicines. Medicines which has to be taken twice (or thrice) a day, would be provided by him every day. Within 3 days I got well, and then he advised me to go to a lake in Jhajjar, Haryana where there is a pilia kund (Jaundice Lake) where on every weekend people came from various corner to take a bath and drink water from that lake, and get cured. It is almost full on weekends, just like village fair. And then when you get well, take some roots of a particular plant, it will increase your hunger as it will open up the stomach. Hardly in 15 days you would get well. Do you take paan or banana? Medicine can only be taken by that only. Now since the person has retired, he will ask some charge, otherwise it was free. But you have to stop your medicines that you are taking.”

Phew! My mom only got impressed till I scolded her for her stupidity. It’s with my liver, I told her. But one thing became rather certain, many will give you suggestion but it is your brain that you must apply.

Lectures, Lectures and more Lectures

One of the most enduring memories of this period will be the amount of lecture I have to endure and amount that I am presently enduring. When you are ill, almost everyone seems to know the reasons for your illness.

‘You eat out a lot’

‘Roadside food’

‘You young people don’t listen, every time you go outside do you need to have anything’

‘Have more pizzas, burgers, momos, go have it, shall I bring some more now?’

‘Outside, ufff!’

For the first fifteen days, I listened to them, almost to the point of agreeing. But water has crossed it limits, and I have to let it go. Jaundice is a water borne disease, I countered, and I eat only at good restaurants and most of the time we order mineral water, and outside eating is mostly a weekend affair when most of the friends have weekend off, and if it happened because it happened due to eating out, at least 2 more should have gone down with me because I never eat alone. After this, my mom picked up the gauntlet for me, telling almost everyone who raised that damn point again. Jaundice is water borne disease and water could have slipped into my mouth from any place, even my home. I had had my last eating out sometime in mid July, how can I get infected in mid August for something I did one month back? Well there are no answers; speculations don’t have a proper explanation. But still they continue, giving lectures from food that should I eat to amount of rest I should take.


Jaundice is water borne disease and one doesn’t have to stop eating everything. Proper diet, proper rest and proper consultation with a good doctor (a Liver Specialist) are the mantra. I have seen people giving me all sorts of lectures about what to do after getting well, some of them abstain from oil for more than a year and suppose me to do the same. Many didn’t have any spices, many lived on boiled. But these are not the solution these only aggravate the problems.

When I first consulted the Liver Specialist he told me to have everything, take a proper diet, less spices, less oil, but proper. When my mother pointed out about what elder say, he said these golden words which still echoes in my ears,” If you go outside my clinic you will see an Aggrawal Sweet Shop, ask the owner about a medicine for jaundice. I am sure he will tell you a nuska. But it is up to you whom you listen, an expert halwai or an expert doctor.” The doctors words got proven when on my second check-up I complained about the gas problem, and that I only had boiled stuff. He said that time, if I keep taking boiled things, recovery will take time as liver is not getting all things properly and he was right. I have to say, after seven weeks, whatever doctor said would happen to me, happened to me. The Jaundice followed the same course as he said. It increased, it got stabilized, it fell down and on last Saturday when I got myself checked he remarked it might be over by now. And it is.

All during this time almost everyone I know became interested in the color of my shit. Food I eat. Almost everyone has a solution. But a very few people talked sense. I had proper diet during my jaundice days, not oily but proper, I abstained myself from tea and non-veg, and I listened to my doctor. Now there is a piece of advice that I want to give you, whenever you have jaundice always, always consult a liver specialist, it is a water borne disease which severely affects the lever. And listen to him. Have a proper diet and never listen to anyone who wants to give you a nuska. It is your liver, and you have to take care of it.

PS: This is for the comments that I received for my last two posts. I was not negligent about my health. BP is hereditary; more was due to the situation, my result, my health and lectures. It never occurred to me that it could happen to me, since I passed out of my college and started working I seldom had anything from roadside. But it was just my destiny, just couldn’t change it. Yes, it was an ordeal and how I passed my time sleeping, reading and watching TV. More on that especially about TV on next entry.