Thursday, February 18, 2010

No Candles for Sitting Ducks

The outrage is apparent, so is outpouring of grief and gush of anger in its various forms like poems, articles, condolence messages, debates and criticism. Those who perished in Pune were not at any fault. They had only gone there, unsuspectingly, to enjoy their meal and have a great time. It was Saturday night, a valentine weekend, and enough reasons to celebrate. But little did they know that their lives would come to such abrupt ending, a single fulmination and all their dreams lay splattered on the ground, with its color changed to red. And never in their wildest dreams would they have wondered that so many people would remember them and light candles in their grief and in protest of what grievers dub as complicity of government.

Two days later, in quaint little town of Silda 170 KM from Kolkata and barely 11 KM from Jharkhand border, 40 maoist armed with automatic weapons and driving in motorcycles and cars invaded police camp massacring 25 unsuspecting, unprepared and untrained policemen. This entire orgy lasted only for 15 minutes, within which the camp was set on fire and weapons were looted. The ferocity of this attack was such that only skeletal remains of camp and bed remained, many were roasted alive. The Camp was middle of a crowed town, it was unprotected and aptly one newspaper described the situation of the policemen as ‘Sitting Ducks’, the one waiting for the crocodiles to come. Policemen had the modern weapons, but were not trained. When the lightning stuck, they were not ever in their uniforms. Yet not a drop of tear was shed for them, not candle was kindled for those ‘Sitting Ducks’.

When the tragedy at Pune stuck, within few hours the blogosphere was up with news. After one day, poems, articles and condolences flowed in. But here where 25 people were killed even after 3 days, not a single piece of news, not even a single sling of emotion.

Josef Stalin had once said “Death of a person is tragedy, death of many is statistics”, it seems for the nation it was a tragedy at Pune and it was mere statistics at Silda. As a nation has our callousness escalated to such levels that we easily differentiate between terrorism. If it happens to us or of our ilk then it is a tragedy, an apparent failure of government machinery. And when it happens to those who fight for us, nothing, just because they are expendable or it is just that they belong to different strata of society or they just added to the statistics.

The incident of Pune can easily be attributed to the sources across the border. Protest meets, peace marches can easily be organized against a known enemy, bashing him up would be easy, and to much extent have became our favorite pass time with both public and media regularly taking a jibe. But the massacre of Silda is an act of an enemy within, why no protest against it, why no peace marches asking them to give up weapons. This enemy is more dangerous than one across the border. This enemy is fed on the hunger, desperation of people. This enemy has raised its ugly head to tell us that since we don’t care they’ll end us. This enemy talks about revolution, which can be simply stated as power to the holder of guns. This enemy only believes in democracy of terror and has pact within each separatist organization whose motives are to rip apart the country into various fragments, to deny the idea of India. And this is the enemy we are complicit of ignoring.

The members of Eastern Frontier Rifles came from poor families, the one who cannot afford to send their children to fancy engineering, management or medical colleges. In stark contrast with those who perished at Pune, many of whom were planning to visit abroad. The families of EFR men cannot afford media, unlike those of Pune who can raise their voices through various forums. Does it make the lives of those who protect us expendable?

Our Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram while inaugurating Chief Minister’s Conference on New Delhi on August 17, 2009 said, “….Let us take the average constable. He is perhaps the most used, misused and abused person ever to wear a uniform. He works, on an average, 12-14 hours a day; generally seven days a week, often throughout the year. Since he is drawn from the common stock of people, his behavior and attitude reflect that stock; only feeble attempt is made to improve his behavior or change his attitude….He is perhaps the most reviled public servant in India. From a violator of traffic laws to a rich man whose family member has run over several hapless persons sleeping on the pavement, everyone assumes that the average policeman can be cajoled, bribed, bought over, threatened or bullied into submission. The people’s estimate of the average policeman is low; the self-esteem of the average policeman is even lower. It is this police that is our frontline force to provide internal security; and it is this police force that we have to work with” True words isn’t it. And it has being made truer by our own acts. It is very easy to salute those Jawans who are awarded at Republic Day, but it is very difficult to understand the situation of those policemen who beat our streets daily. And when they are massacred we just don’t care.

If our attitude continues like this, when we are choosy to grieve for our brethren, especially those who protect us, rest assure that one day we will end up as ‘Sitting Ducks’. Don’t say what they do? Because it is such field where failures are noted and successes are only part of duty. Today when you will grieve for the departed souls of Pune blast, just a simple request shed a tear or two for those Silda policemen and all those dead whose voices fail to reach us through popular media. They are not just statistics, they are not ducks.

© Tarun Mitra

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I am Distressed

I hate censors and believe people have right to know and right to say. But sometimes power corrupts and that is what I am seeing in my blog for last few weeks.

I love comments, whether they contradict my stand or they support my stand. I always enjoy a good debate, a good discussion, because ideas flow when we discuss and contradict. Therefore living up to that principle I had disabled word verification and enable anonymous commenting in my blog. However the response I got from few rotten one's has left me distressed and angry.

Being in Delhi, or India or any part of the world for that matter, we use slangs in our every day communication. Slangs are a part of culture, a manner by which we fume out anger or even shower love or crack a joke. It is good if it is used within limits and within a specific circle of people. However, it loses its taste when it misused, i.e., used in public forum where things are being discussed between people who have never met each other. This writer also have many juiciest of slangs up in his tongue but he seldom used them while discussing some important or not so important things with some unknown. This applies to blogs also.

As a blogger reading others blog I strive to keep my comments withing the limits of decency, and I also expect that people should follow the same while commenting here in my blogs. Even if I use an abuse I never direct it towards a particular person, it just forms part of a general statement, but as far as possible I try to avoid the language which I used amongst my friends.

But for the last few days I am getting dose of the medicine which I didn't applied to anyone. I was getting Anonymous comments on many of my articles, but the one I got on my post related to Tiger Conservation has crossed all the limits of decency and has forced me to enable moderation.

The person in question (I can safely assume he is not a gentleman) firstly posts, as anonymous, comment "NICE" for which he gets my response "Thanks but please give me your name". A good conversation always warrants knowledge of name. And In response I get a good dose of Delhi's Slang which then is followed by a slang-fest. I have to bring his family in the question.

This person without any shred of doubt is a coward, he was first using an Airtel Connection of Delhi and when I point out the same this smartass began using proxy server to post comments and asking me which country he is from, as if he thinks he is the only intelligent person remained in this world.

It seems that he has taken a good record of me and has put me in his reading and is having a real sick fun of abusing me in this public forum. Now he is using the name of 'Dick' to comment since I have disabled the anonymous commenting. His comment on last post has being deleted, it seems that he wishes me to get me to his rotten level. I will not oblige him.

Now for the records, if there is tiniest possibility that I know this guy/gal in person then he/she can safely presume goodbye to our friendship is there was any.

I follow net-etiquettes and I also presume others to follow the same while commenting. Slang is good, but it is a double edged sword, be careful while using it in public forum.

"REPUTATION" might be a 10 letter word but it takes life time to earn it, and just a spur of a moment to lose it.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Tagged so here I am

I was tagged by Sanand and here we go with some fun questions:

1. What is your current obsession?
Getting myself training

2. What are you wearing today?

Pajamas and T shirt…the usual for me

3. What's for dinner today?
Only My Mom knows

4. What's the last thing you bought?

5. What are you listening to right now?
The Fan of my CPU

6. What do you think about the person who tagged you?
I think he is a fantastic blogger and lawyer

7. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
I always wish for a home, not a house. And wherever I find love that in my home.

8. What are your must-have pieces for summer?
T-shirts, cargoes, jeans, a bottle of water and electricity

9. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?

Anywhere where I could have good picture.

10. Which language do you want to learn?
Every single one….why put myself under any limits

11. What’s your favourite quote?

There are many, so single favorites. But this one, from Kaminey, might not suite your palette, I am using this one quite often these days “yeh kutti duniya badi haramzadi hai aur yahan ke log bade kaminey hai”

12. Who do you want to meet right now?

No one in particular.

13. What is your favourite colour?


14. Give us 3 styling tips that work for you.
Nothing has worked for me yet, and if I put in honesty, it has only kicked my butt. But can’t help being good.

15. What is your dream job?

Army man or a warrior

16. What’s your favorite magazine?
No favorites, I read whatever I like

17. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on?

That makes 5000 buck (INR) hmm…a good hard disk

18. What do you consider a fashion faux pas?

Anything which I don’t like :P

19. Who according to you is the most over-rated style icon?
Every high class darjis having their stores at swish street of every Indian city

20. What kind of haircut do you prefer?
Well I am balding, so, that makes thing up. But when I was not I loved military cut, real short.


21. What are you going to do after this?
Read about Intellectual Property Rights

22. What are your favorite movies?
There are many, not a freak, but list is long, like The Bridge over River Kwai, many in various languages..

23. What inspires you?
When someone tells me it cannot be done and I know I can do it

24. What do your friends call you most commonly?
Tarun or Kaminey :P

25. Would you prefer coffee or tea?
Black tea.

26. What do you do when you are feeling low or terribly depressed?

I go silent and breathe.

27. What makes you go wild?
Backstabbers, liars, pompous know-it-alls, those who take credit of someone else’s work and people who try to cut you down

28. Which other blogs do you love visiting?

Many blogs, can't think of just one.

29. Favorite Dessert/Sweet?
Chocolate, sweets…name them and I’ll have it

30. How many tabs are turned on in ur browser right now?

None, drafting this one on word now

31. Favorite Season?

All of them, every season is special

32. If I come to your house now, what would u cook for me?

Depends upon what you Eat J

33. What is the right way to avoid people who purposefully hurt you?

Let them have their pleasure, and smile, because deep inside you, you know they are stupid

34. What are you afraid of the most?
My anger.

35. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?

I need a shave

36. What brings a smile on your face instantly?

A piece of Honesty and good humor

37. A word that you say a lot?
What the f***

38. When was the last time you did something nice?
I am a nice fellow

39. What would you do if you were made President of India for one day?
Stay at Rasthrapati Bhavan, because Prez is only titular head of state. And click few images

40. Do you Know who Master SHIFU is?
No idea! But if I break the words it makes Shit+F*** :P

I would like to thank Sanand for tagging me. I wish to tag the following bloggers with the same questions:

Gagandeep New kid in blogosphere

Shivani New kid in blogosphere



PS: I was first tagged by Megha...but at that time I still cannot figure out what the tagging is all about...leave our comments here..:D

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Left Alone

I wrote this piece almost 5 years back November 17, 2004 to be precise, the time when I actually realized I can write, I somewhat feel like this even now, do leave your comments

Left Alone

I am in the middle of the ocean

Left alone- nowhere to go

Sky is clouded- I can’t see stars

I couldn’t find my way home

I see no star, no light, no hope

To guide me out of this lonely sea

I’ve lost all my gadgets

I couldn’t find the distance

I’m left with only one piece of cloth

Is it a night?

Or a day turned dark

I’m struggling for life

Amongst approaching shark

I’m fighting hard

I’ve lost sight to time, day and date

Month and year I’m stranded all alone

I’m in the middle of the ocean

Left alone- nowhere to go

© Tarun Mitra

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tiger Conservation and Man’s dependence on Land

Couching at the comfort of our homes against mainly China-made computer running on American software sipping coffee from the beans collected and processed in Karnataka bought from a franchise of British retailer’s shelves in our respective cities powered by either thermal or hydro power it is very easy and cool to lament the fate of tigers in our country. It is rather uncomplicated to raise a voice by merely a click of a mouse and join a chorus of many like us who are concerned about their own and their future generations’ ability to see tiger in open jungles. But have we ever reflected or to be more precise pondered about the implications of our decisions on our fellow human beings, on the jungles, on the animals and on the ecology on a whole.

This furor about Tiger Conservation has being sparked off by a campaign by Aircel (a telecom company) and WWF (an wildlife fund) showing the desperate condition of a young cub waiting for his mother who has being poached by the hunters. This video has evoked many emotional responses from the viewers across the spectrum ranging from moist eyes to poetic lines to instant manifestation of rage. Their website asking for support has become an instant hit with more than 30,000 showing their support on the last count. I to submitted to my sentiments and registered my support and called in for further support.

However, stung by my own inquisitiveness and bitten by eagerness to quench the insatiable thirst of knowledge and to produce some good article on Tiger Conservation I searched for some more information. The results, though were from the usual place, was surprising. Surprising in the sense that what I has got is much more than conservation of Tiger itself.

To see conservation of Tigers in isolation would be a folly and to impose any direct approach of conservation would be disastrous. On the very onset we had to examine various factors that lead to this current situation in order to come up with a solution which just and equitable.

Man and animal both depends on the land, therefore the friction between to the two becomes inevitable. History of tiger hunting follows the same path, initially done to regain land for agriculture and to protect their domesticated animals. Later, it became a sport. As a sport hunting of tiger was linked to valiance of the hunter. This had a reason, because it all started with killing by hands, then by weapon like sword and then by bow and arrow. When guns arrived at the scene, tiger hunting was still seemed to be seen as the sports of brave, even though an entire entourage of servants, helper and guides used to accompany the master and his guests, and had the responsibility to set-up the game. As shown in the short story “Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger” by HH Munro, it had rather became a trivial sport of amusement, a quick road for self gratification.

The people who were the part of this game and who guided the Sahibs were the poor villagers or tribals who lived by the forest. For everything they depended on forests, from food, fodder, wood, everything, in fact their very survival depended on the forests itself. Illiterate and with far from civilization, they killed the animals only for food or clothing or for mere survival; not for commercial exploitation and enjoyment. They have being there for thousands of years, doing the same thing. They treated the forests as their rightful property, until industrial age gave rise to increased dependence of humans on the lands.

From the times immemorial trees have regularly being felled for claiming land for agriculture, whether by these forest dwellers themselves or by other. But by the advent of 18th century, felling proliferated with the advent of Industrial age. Products of the forest had multiple commercial applications, timber, lac, gum, shellacs, skins & hides, almost anything extractable had some commercial application. Further, land on which these forests rested, had enormous quantity of mineral wealth, like coal, gold, iron-ore, copper etc. All these resources led to enactment of various legislations targeted towards streamlining of revenue and the resources towards the imperial masters. Legislations like Indian Forests Act, 1927 were enacted with the sole purpose of levying duty on timber and helping in transit of other forest produce. The main assumption of this specific legislation (and other ancillary laws) was “Local communities were incapable of scientific management and that only a trained centrally organized cadre of officers could properly manage forests”. By “Scientific Forest Management” it is only meant sustained yield of timber and nothing else, it was not related to preservation, leave alone conservation. These legislations effectively made the people of the forests tenants of the very lands of which they were masters. Thereby making their very existence precarious and the necessity became the mother of invention.

Necessity to survive led these people to plan out games for the Sahibs, to grab lands for farming and for hunting animals that came into their new domain. With heavy dependence on land by humans leading to shrinking of forest covers the wild beasts came out in open and became a menace, or game that has to be controlled. And there began the struggle between the man and animal, results of which we are seeing now. But it is not only the animal which had the hard bargain. There are the people of forests, the tribals, the adivasis, and other marginal dwellers who had being and are still be exploited in the name of ‘public good’. First there were the Imperial Masters and now state actors powered with Imperial Legislations but changing the mask of timber extraction into the mask of public good. It was then with only few thousands of Tigers were left the Project Tiger was launched.

Project Tiger is one of the world’s longest running conservation projects, envisaged in the year 1973; it was initially meant for 6 years and was limited to 9 different ecosystems in India. Its main objective was to ensure the maintenance of a viable population of the tiger in India and to preserve, for all times, such areas as part of our national heritage for the benefit, education and enjoyment of future generations”. The report on which Project Tiger was based was remarkable as it not only showed political realism of the day but also provided an exhaustive blueprint of management systems, administrative framework and legal provision. Even though beginning was clear-sighted, the results are not rosy.

A task force of Indian Board for Wildlife notes in its report in 1983 “growing degree of apathy and indeed, antipathy, towards wildlife among different classes and sections of the public”. Indeed, this antipathy is the direct outcome of fight for survival between man and animal. It is the result of increasing dependence on land. Having pushed people first out of the forests and then to the brink and then into the poverty have a direct bearing this antipathy. A hungry stomach seldom sees any reason and it scarcely submits itself to the logic. The very forest to which they are custodians becomes their prey.

But they are not to be blamed alone. As said earlier, the laws that were made to be subservient to the business interest were kept as they were, and after independence only minor changes were made. The Forests Officials who were supposed to be statutory protector became ad hoc lords of the forests. In collusion with the mafia, big businesses and with the help of police they attacked the tribals and other forest dwellers uprooting them from their lands, so that the forests, or whatever left of it could be used by them. And whatever remained, invited the wrath of the tribal who are now being pushed to the brink. Poaching is one of the outcomes of this flawed system.

At this juncture I can be accused of diverting from the topic. I started with writing about Tiger Conservation but ended up taking cause of tribals and other adivasis. However, somewhat I find these all things interlinked. This current campaign is based upon a survey done in 2008, in exact terms it gave the following results, minimum limit of 1165 maximum limit of 1657 giving an average of 1411. Make no mistakes, minimum is 1165, the number 1411 is just ploy to fool ourselves. The report (Tiger Task Force) also points that leaving the local people out of the benefits of the Tiger program is also one of the major causes for this crisis. The report points out local people, who lived in the territory of the tiger, were left out of the benefits of the programme. They were made illegal settlers in their own land and denied even their basic needs. These ignored people increasingly turned against the tiger. Their contribution in sharing the ecological space of the tiger was never recognised. They continued to lose their livestock, crops and lives to wild animals, but were rarely properly compensated”.

The rehabilitation and relocation of local populace inside the National Parks and Tiger Reserve are rarely done in proper, unquestionable and ethical manner. Though by virtue of few new legislations deforestation have being controlled but the degradation of the forests continues unabated. In the densest forests of the country lies enormous mineral wealth, flora and fauna, but these same forests houses the poorest people of the nation, who after years of exploitation have turned into naxalites. Left winged terrorism amongst tribals in India is only manifestation of lopsided development and conservation efforts where we have failed to recognize the problem and instead focused on managing the situation. There has being cases where the naxals have encouraged the tribals to kill the tigers, there are also cases of tigers being killed out of retaliation. All this is due to alleged failure of the government machinery and too much extent us.

Amidst this enormous hue and cry from the Indian Middle and Upper Middle class to save and revive the remaining Tiger population one thing that is being ignored are the methods that are to be used for such conservation. Though we are being told to raise the awareness by anything but the reason “for enjoyment of future generation” is good or ethical enough, because it is for this enjoyment of hunting and tourism that we have our major animal wealth. Should we raise the question what steps are to be taken for such conservation and what implications it would have on fellow human beings?

One Mahatma once said “There is enough in this world for every one’s need but not for everyone’s greed”. In today’s world we need our daily goods; we need electricity water, paper, computers and many other things. All of these needs directly affect our forests and then the tiger. Dams submerge forests for water and electricity, trees are felled for furniture, agriculture and plantations, forests are dug up for iron, copper and other minerals. Till when our greed will last?

China once had largest population of tigers in the world till 1950’s when it declared them pest and had them wiped out of its landscape. By 1970’s it exhausted its quota of tiger bones used in traditional medicine and turned to importing. The US, UK and other great preacher nations have tarnish record of preserving animal wealth of other countries. Now it is up to us that what record we should have. Should we submit to blatant orthodox conservation practices or should we take our people on board to our development? This question is what we need to raise now.

On this current campaign, though it might be done with good intention, I cannot help myself asking; Is it in response to similar campaign regarding trees by a rival telecom operator? Or it is done with a real intention to make a change.

To conclude I will just quote these line from English poet William Blake

“Great things are done when Men and mountain meet

This is not done by jostling in the street.”

© Tarun Mitra

Monday, February 1, 2010

19th Delhi World Book Fair 2010

I was thinking about this post on January 30th itself, but my Computer surely do had other plans. I'd thought this one to be detailed post but by now I have drained all my juices of literature and will just put out the facts plainly as possibly.

I went to 19th Delhi World Book Fair on the first day itself, ie, January 30th,2010. After a series of yes,no,yes, no at last I was able to make it to the fair on the first day itself, though alone. The Saturday was distressing for me and I do required something good to happened, so even it was 4 PM I decided to keep myself away from experimentation and stick to the basics of book buying, trusted brands, trusted names and back. For the first time in many years I'd kept myself from experimentation. For this I'd reasons, these were, time and money.

I had being going to Book Fair (in Delhi whether National or International) since the year 2001, the year I changed my school and had to travel by bus to reach my new school. Then also, as a student of government school, with trademark violet trousers and white shirt without a tie, I went there alone. Sometimes being looked with suspicion or just as any other ignorance, seldom being treated as a customer unless I picked up a book to purchase. As years passed with uniform giving way to jeans something I found seldom changed. May be I am not smart enough. Anyhow.

For a Bibliophile like me, Book Fair, whether big or small, is like a Kumbh Mela, a must visit for self purification. I enjoy wandering, rather lost, within the books. Though I won't count myself a voracious reader, but still intentionally or unintentionally I end up reading a lot. Many of my friends might call me "pakau" for the "gyan" I usually give out might be result of readings. Coming back to the topic, for last 10 years a lot have changed. Bus has given way to metro, uniform to jeans, and some more cash in pocket. But what has not change, is the venue and organizing.

Though touted as one of the biggest book fairs at least in Asia (my assumption, possibly wrong), organizing still leaves a lot to desire to truly make it something. Creaking hall, littered streets, card board pieces everywhere has become ubiquitous with Pragati Maidan. This time it was even worse, with 3 different fairs being held there at that time, Book fair was tucked away at a different corner, leaving the visitors a lot of ground to cover and a lot of questions to ask to reach there. Though entry was free for school children in uniform accompanied by a teacher during weekdays, I entered there for free, and that too without any security checking. I just flouted a small loophole, entry was free for other two fairs, I entered one of them and then walked onto the Book Fair. I have a reason for this, no body knew where tickets were being sold and officials at the designated gates were asking for it, one of them sent me to a gate only to sent to another gate, then I asked a gentleman about entry and he told me this idea, he'd done the same. And I did. But there holds a lesson for ITPO and NBT, use some brain while scheduling fairs and properly advertise where tickets can be sold. Mere advertising for the event is not enough.

From the Fair I entered it was long walk to the book fair as it was tucked away to another corner. And since I was not thinking about experimentation I decided to stick to my field of books from established names (a decision I don't like to repeat in future but circumstances were such) viz. Law and Fiction. I visited stalls of Lexis Nexis, Universal Law House, Taxmann, Rupa & co (of books not baniyans), Penguin India, Oxford and some others, but these were I spent maximum time (apart from walking around).

Well as I said, organizing was shoddy and many things were still not available to participants and with uneven flooring you just cannot called its international, to my surprise many NBT/ITPO officials were very helpful. They help me located few publishers I was looking for. If NBT/ITPO people are listening there is a lesson for them, while organizing please put things segment wise for example, law at one area, management at another, instead putting them up haphazardly. Though it may not be practically possible every time, but it should be done as far as possible. Secondly enough space must be given to the visitors to actually navigate from one stall to another. And proper maps must be put up at every place at least to give proper directions.

Coming back to the fair itself, since I was alone, I'd little chance of clicking pictures. You can be viewed suspiciously if you are clicking things alone (and if you are in black attire as I was in). Anyhow there I see motley of human emotions, facebook friends meeting for first time in blood and bones, an upcoming writer making a splash with a pretty upcoming reader (read girl) with her mother, dealer complaining lack of service, children asking to many questions, and the hero of the events books and a lot of them. You could easily lost in them.

But I had something in my mind, only few specific things and back and so I did. But I can fairly say the visit, even alone, clearly removed the stress out of the distressing day. I hoped next time I would be able to give more time (usually I visit the fair twice, but this time I am not seeing me doing that) and with better camera (moon was beautiful on Saturday) and hopefully with at least a friend or two to accompany me (condition: mental compatibility about reading otherwise day would become hell with both pulling different strings).

So go on and visit, because it is worth visiting, it is on till February 7th at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, and if you have kids, carry them along, they could have a thousands books to cheer.


Check out my Today's Photo at