Monthly Archives: January 2018

~ Rome Was Not Built In A Day. It was Built Everyday ~

Many like myself were disgusted with the Congress & ashamed to have a PM who had demeaned his office to such an extent that he was a parody of himself.
There was not one cabinet minister who wasn’t arrogant & infuriating. A constant musical chairs of incompetent but loyal to Sonia Gandhi men & women shunted from one ministry to the other in cabinet reshuffles.

Sometimes it felt she took perverse pleasure in pushing in our face, party members, allies & even a President who were known to be obnoxiously corrupt or compromised.
To make matters worse, her dutiful puppet every once in a while, declared that he was only keeping his seat warm for the untested & by all accounts, irresponsible & intellectually deficient, Rahul Gandhi.

On the other hand, the choice before us was a lack lustre BJP.
LK Advani wasn’t in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee mould but neither had he anything new to offer for himself. Sushma Swaraj & Arun Jaitley’s oratory was par excellence & when compared to the jarring Sonia Gandhi & the monosyllabic Manmohan Singh it was indeed music to the ears.
However, it did not escape many of us that despite the din in the Parliament & all the walkouts almost every UPA bill was passed.

So, what exactly did the BJP stand for?
Was it in reality only the Indian National Congress With A Cow & the Ram Mandir vaguely looming in the background …?

In this very disheartening, lack lustre & almost hopeless scenario Narendra Modi was declared BJPs Prime Ministerial candidate & as a consequence we witnessed a definite electrifying effect on the political scene.
For many of us it was as if a defibrillator had been applied & the jolt woke us up from a helpless, depressing slumber.
From the howls of rage heard across the media & the establishment we gathered it was a terrifying moment indeed for others.
A Narendra Modi victory could well mean years of privilege, access to high echelons & the gravy train coming to a stop.

The election itself was hard, gritty, nasty.
But suddenly there was so much hope. A hope that could be clutched, touched & held despite a panicky mainstream media who attempted putting out what was nothing less than a forest fire by stomping all over it.

A successful CM, a self-made man, with no dynasty behind him or before, brought a newness never experienced. But in our hearts, we did have a moment of worry for this man new to the clawing, ruthless network of Delhi that had for centuries, chewed & spat out lesser men & women.

We watched with some doubt & trepidation the chosen Lutyens’s acolyte who was given the task of manoeuvring the power corridors for him. But what the hell if it was required, so be it.

We looked forward to governance, accountability & a surge of infrastructural, educational & healthcare projects that would improve the quality of life of our neglected masses.
We hoped for a foreign policy whose hallmark would be unapologetically pro Indian & a revival of the economy.
And of course, that appeasement which made us feel that we were of a lesser God would be done away with Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas.
We also believed that looters & thieves of the last regime would pay dearly for their misdeeds.

It must be said that there have been several successes & moments of great pride for a desperately parched Nation… & a few missteps too.
There is no doubt so much more must be done. However, integrity & intent are there to see & must be appreciated & applauded. We remember this time, five years ago, all that we could discuss was scams, scams & more scams……

There has been a deep disappointment that old crooks & power brokers still abound fearless in their invincibility.
Still, it has been an education in itself to see the serpents of the old ecosystem bare their fangs & coil themselves protectively around one of theirs. An indication of the dangers that lie in poking the nest.
Nevertheless, it will have to be eventually done but on the day of one’s choice & preparedness.

Then there are many others who expected much more from a BJP government.
Not only an end to the insulting appeasement but a rectifying of decades & might one say, even centuries of injustice. In places of worship, education, history, tradition, culture so criminally neglected by past establishments & their entrenched eco systems for reasons that can be discussed till the cows come home.

Its accepted that the job of any elected government is to provide temporal relief, to win elections, make inroads into new vote banks & to stay in power so as to continue the policies & work it set out to do in the first place.

Citizens, pressure groups must demand & leverage the rest. For a government to comply, a movement must be seen. The first step was taken with the consolidation of the Hindu vote….
Civilizational changes don’t take place while we are away at work or whatever we do. It’s something that people make happen.

In the first month of 2018, a year away from the next general elections many BJP supporters are voicing disappointment. They feel let down & not motivated enough to go out & vote for the BJP again.
They will go NOTA they say. Not voting for the BJP but not voting for the Congress either.
Gujarat has made us aware of the pitfalls of such voting patterns & how it helps the Opposition claim a hollow but ‘moral victory’.

And here is where I ask them to re consider.

Our history is such that there were many among our forefathers who invited what they thought was a lesser enemy to fight a bigger one. And then they learnt to their peril that it was not a smart idea at all. They were many others who promised their band of soldiers but then didn’t turn up for battle or worse, opened the gates for a few pieces of silver, a Jagir or a place at Court.
For those mistakes, we have paid very dearly.

However, we mustn’t forget that they were also those who fought battle after battle against what seemed an invincible, cruel, unscrupulous enemy. Ignoring danger to life & limb they went back to fight another day.

Imagine the determination.
That courage to fight day after day, year after year, decade after decade for generations to come. If we are still here it’s only because of them.
It would be such injustice to our future generations if we give up after a mere five years. When after seventy long years we have both – opportunity & a leader of calibre.
This journey is for the long haul & not for the faint hearted.

There are millions of educated Indians who only read mainstream newspapers, watch the standard dozen panellists on TV & forward WhatsApp messages.
They are completely unaware of the discriminatory nature of RTE, have no knowledge that their temples, unlike mosques & churches are under the control of the government or how we barely escaped, by the skin of our teeth, the devious Communal Bill.
But yes, they have noticed that the festivals & traditions that are held dear, have over the years been subliminally & cleverly nibbled away. It must be noted that they are primed for discussion & debate.

So, wake up every morning, strap yourself with the weapon of your choice & then fight the battle in your own small way. Inform, educate, spread the word.
Didn’t anybody tell you civilizational wars are not won in a day?

Forget about hearing you, the other lot don’t even see you.
So, demand, extract & most important – make a dent, do your bit. But don’t, don’t let this opportunity go. The future will not be forgiving.


~The reason most people fail instead of succeed is they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment~

Drain The Swamp

So we ran out one hot, dusty, desert afternoon in flapping Hawai chappals on the burning sand towards a rickety bridge.
Look, look they pointed towards the placid waters below.
Except for our panting & giggling there was no sound, no movement, nothing. The waters were quiet, thick & green.
Take this stone & throw it in the pond they urged.
So with all my might I did.
As soon as it hit the surface a sight that has never left me all these years emerged.
A mass of writhing, squirming, jerking, intertwined, twisted, coiled serpents came up with such force almost hissing in our faces, twelve feet above.
Recoiling in terror I could hear someone screaming till I realised it was I.
When I found the courage to look down again, the waters were thick, green, placid once more.
No sign at all of what was beneath.

Over the months a sort of a nervous nonchalance crept in.
While passing one would plop a stone and on cue the mass of hissing serpents would rise & then slither back quietly into their lives below.
It became an initiation of sorts for anyone joining this little band of friends to be taken to the rickety bridge.

This mere dot on the map, at the tethering edge of the Rann Of Kutch had lived alongside the putrid waters for decades.
Not many remembered when the snakes took over & began dictating their lives – when to cross the bridge to avoid the sunning reptiles, how hard to tap the stick to warn them of approaching humans, how to collect the rich dark clay from the banks without getting bitten.
With years came the stories, myths & legends & the snakes took on a life of their own.
Not one Additional District Commissioner could take the decision to clear & clean the place. Either because of his own fears of terrible repercussions or because the citizenry who wanted to let things be.


In May 2014, once the Lok Sabha election was done & dusted & the euphoria of the mandate had barely seeped in when the placid waters began hissing with activity.
We woke up one morning & discovered that the Christian community felt insecure & threatened.
Julio Rebiero poured out his angst in a national daily.
On cue breathless Barkha Dutt had him on her show & then Admiral Sushil Kumar reiterated similar sentiments.
Aamir’s Khans wife wanted to leave India, or so he said & then with a little prodding Shahrukh Khan was not far behind.
For two shattered glass panes an entire country was tarred intolerant.

A close Christian friend in Singapore called one evening wondering whether she should make that move to her sister in Canada & only return to India to pack her bags.
Another friend recounted her surprise on how Christmas morning at a Delhi Church ended with the young Priest warning them of terrible times ahead & how only Arvind Kejriwal was that wall between the Believers & the Hindu hordes.
What happened overnight & how did it ?

Confronted with a completely unexpected onslaught, Social Media was quick on the uptake & tore into the narrative that was being constructed.
Challenging & countering it all the way till the hissing stopped & the serpents receded into the turgid, green waters……

The second stone plopped on the pond & Dadri’s beef episode hit us in the face.
The incident, the victim, the villains were ready & waiting when every media fatcat & his camera man descended upon this moffussil town.
Now suddenly we all had become a nation that killed people for what they ate.
Never mind the theft.

Writers, poets, filmmakers came out to return awards.
That is the certificates, but not the cash which they had spent & enjoyed.Or for that matter, the accommodations in which they were ensconced.
It was a message to the Government, so to speak, only to the extent that was convenient.

Shrill voices of panic from sound proof tv studios gave the impression that the country was burning, man was turning on man in the name of faith & food.
NDTV journalists asked loaded questions of visiting foreign CEOs poking & prodding them to get the reactions they wanted.

A small scale industry of journalists wrote dramatic school essays on Secularism, The Idea Of India, the India of their Childhood while Arundhati Roy with a chilling sweetness recited a litany of crimes committed by the new government & its controller ‘RSS’ with no regard for facts & dates.

Inane, obscure people were plucked out & presented by the Opposition parties in cahoots with certain influential sections of the media as the Next Big One to take on Narendra Modi.
The desperation was almost pathetic considering we all had barely recovered from the Last Big One, Arvind Kejriwal.

By the time the Surgical Strike took place & the panic stricken howl from the usual culprits emanated, most people in the country understood that this was something much more sinister.
These episodes, the build up with doomsday op-eds was not merely a noisy, argumentative, circus democracy where a billion opinions were clawing to be heard but a cabal, a dangerous & incestuous club that had been deeply threatened & was going to fight to death for the lucre it had sold its soul for.
Damned be the country & its national security…. And they didn’t even make an attempt to hide it.

At that epiphaneous moment it became crystal clear.
The enemy was within and the surgical strike should have first cut off this gangrenous limb that poisoned the body.
Venom knew no bounds after an initial state of dumbfounded-ness that Demonetisation reduced us all to.
Those most effected showed themselves up with spluttering rage & predicting doom for Narendra Modi’s political life while assessing the devastation in their finances.

To its credit the country stood behind the Government.
The ordinary man reconciled himself to queues & the inconveniences for the greater good.
And yes, the people believed & trusted the Prime Minister for working towards something unimaginable, almost impossible till now.
There’s no doubt a fatigue of sorts had set in at the amateurish, ham handed attempts at propping up paper tigers, reasons & agendas for questioning decisions & of course the rah rah team of a reluctant heir who would rather be on some beach than at an election rally.

We also came to recognise the names & faces of the old order who had been till then supremely content in their genteel environment which camouflaged a mercenary grittiness.
A tight little tribe, secure in the power they held & vicious in their fight to keep it.

They have been victories big & small. There have been missteps too.
There seems to be sometimes a certain discomfort with power.

Modi Govt in Office Not in Power by Minhaz Merchant

Whatever said, this four year journey has been a watershed.
How many of us realise its historic importance?

The big names we have always known, even grown up with – so many writers, authors, poets, Intellectuals, historians, social commentators, political pundits have fallen by the way side. Did they let us down or did we out grow them?

Today what was to be a Hunkar Rally was reduced to a damp squib.
Aspirational India it seems will not be distracted by caste despite ancien regime writers & intellectuals force feeding us.

Today, what could have been a stirring visit by an Opposition leader on foreign shore was just a weak & feeble attempt for him to gain much lost ground. The only interest, if at all, was if any hilarious bloopers could be shared.

However what has not escaped the people is that though the Opposition Leader & PM aspirant lacks intellectual depth, his Machiavellian handlers are not to be taken lightly.


The new young District Commissioner who took over from his predecessor was warned to leave the waters untouched, to skirt around the pond & to avoid the snakes.
However, one morning the people woke up to a bulldozer, a dredging machine & huge fishing net.
The entire exercise took a few days as we watched aghast the protesting mass of writhing, squirming, jerking, intertwined, twisted, coiled serpents were scooped up & taken away.

Was this even possible? How could something unimaginable such as this have happened?
But it did.
The waters & banks were cleaned & green. The rickety bridge reinforced & strengthened for vehicular traffic.
Before long, the snakes were part of folklore & we learnt to dabble our feet fearlessly in the pond.

The young District Commissioner was remembered for years as the man who undertook the impossible task & then his name faded away as others took on the mantle & saw to it that the pond remained clean & the snakes didn’t return.


Perchance one day, several years later, in my adulthood I learnt that water snakes are probably the least poisonous.Yes, dying of shock was possible but dying of water-snake bite improbable.

Drain The Swamp