Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Afghan Elections

After being postponed twice before, 12.5 million Afghanis will now finally select their new leader. I’m particularly delighted by the fact that nearly 12% of the candidates contesting the elections are women. Of course they would have to survive the constant threats of religious extremists, but nevertheless, it’s a small step in the right direction. If one woman candidate can brave facing the camera to give an interview, 100 other women can walk the streets of Afghanistan without any worry. After 3 decades of gory violence and conservative social laws, Afghanistan finally ‘Jaag raha hai’.

No one says that the new government will transform the whole country with a swish of a wand, but yes, minor step-by-step reforms can ensure a promising future for the people of Afghanistan and perhaps even the dusk of global terrorism.

Of course, corruption, poverty, conservatism and terrorism are issues that the new government would have to address…however I think, that one of their major challenges would not only be to impart the right education, but also to retain those who have been educated. With the west presenting more opportunities for growth, the new Afghanistan is bound to suffer from the so-called ‘brain drain’. It is necessary for Afghanistan to have educated citizens who have a vision for their country…or else, no amount of policies could ever change the situation.

I’m not sure how the new government is going to deal with the thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan either. Whatever little is left of the Taliban can probably be eliminated, but their religious ideologies need to be eliminated from the minds of millions of Afghanis, who may be tempted to re-implement them even at the slightest instigation. Mr.Bush, your missiles and violent policies won’t work here anymore. FUNDS, HONESTY and IMPLEMENTATION are the key words here. The UNO especially has to work with the government.

Economic, religious and social issues are definitely a concern. However one more area, which Afghanistan needs to work on, in order to have more qualitative citizens, is ‘health services’. God, this country has one of the highest child mortality rates and death rates in general !!!!! Family planning is almost non-existent, but in a way the poor health services make up for the high birth rates.

The new government does indeed face the Herculean task of building an ideal, prosperous and peaceful country. If this works out the way we all hope it would, then maybe 10-20 years down the line, we wouldn’t have to worry about plane hijackings or bomb blasts or any other terrorist activity. Lets just hope for now, that inspite of the murder of 7 candidates, the polls go on as peacefully as possible and hopefully people wont crack up at the last minute due to the threats by the Taliban and the warlords. Who knows ?? Probably in a couple of years, we'll be buying quality products off the rack which would say " Made in Afghanistan".

Friday, September 16, 2005

Student Luxuries

I was watching this debate cum GD on NDTV today. There were a couple of students from DPS, RK Puram…..often considered to be some of the brightest minds. Well towards the end, they were discussing whether or not a student should have luxuries while completing his/her education.
Now, this is a small message for the girl who was screaming at the top of her voice (Fatima, I think) does not mean an air conditioner and secondly, if you cant make sense in a GD, don’t open your mouth (especially on national television).

Ok…now this is what I think…..First, you need to define what luxury is…It’s such a subjective concept. A couple of years ago, as a student, the biggest luxury for me was my mom being at home and being able to cook me hot meals and even being able to demand from her to make me coffee at 2am. Now that she has devoted all her time to my education, it’s more of a necessity.
For my father, luxury meant having electricity in his home while he was a student. Today, I take it for granted. For my brother, luxury means being able to find a Hindi speaking friend in his college in Chennai. While he was here, he just took it for granted. Your luxuries wont always be luxuries !!!!!

Anyway, I’m not really in a mood to say more about that subject…….But yes, I wish I had my very own a student, that would definitely be my favourite luxury I guess…Atleast I wouldn’t have to travel for an hour and half to reach college...sigh

My exams are almost here and Business Law is driving me nuts !!!!!! It’s the same for every SYBComite…. Having Business Law as a subject is a liability, not a luxury. I’m terribly bored right now...I promise I’ll come up with something better in my next post. Please pray that I don’t lose my mind until then.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Phew !!! That was close…well almost…. It’s something I can boast about in front of my grandchildren. Yupp, I survived the Mumbai floods TWICE…!!! Twice ??? did I just say twice ??? Well, just a little secret…but the second time wasn’t really a flood. Today, while we had just enjoyed another bull fight (our debate competitions) in college, it started pouring outside. We all presumed it was normal rain and would subside in half an hour or so. In the middle of teaching accounts to three of my friends, we all suddenly realized that it was the beginning of another nightmare…well almost.

The water level outside our college in Matunga (near DP’s) had reached my knee. It was a familiar feeling, especially after 26/7. It rained for about 2.5 hours non-stop…And while Shruti was in a state of controlled panic, Anuj had major concerns about his car. Finally after 3 whole hours, 7 of us squeezed ourselves into Anuj’s car. And although King’s Circle was highly flooded, yet we took another route and managed to avoid all that chaos. I reached home at 6:30, thanks to Preeti’s home and my dad’s car. Phew !!! That was close. Why is it that no other area got flooded ??? How come in a matter of hours, we were all half under water ???

Well, after the 26/7 floods, the whole of Mumbai is on high alert. Even the slightest rainfall now gives us goose bumps. Even now I stand by what I had said earlier. The rains weren’t exactly the problem. It’s our poor drainage system and the lack of proper waste management.
What exactly is Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh trying to prove by enforcing a complete ban on plastics ?? Does he want to wipe out several industries who rely heavily on plastics as a raw material ??? Or does he want to provide a major setback for the packaging industry ?? Or does he just want to prove (very unsuccessfully though) that he is an aware, responsible CM who understands fully why the 26/7 disaster occurred ???

In a recent letter addressed to the CM, even the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and various plastic manufacturer associations stated that only 1% of the municipal solid waste in Mumbai is plastic. The reason why all our drains are clogged is actually due the remaining 99% of unmanaged garbage created by the indifference of some nonchalant Mumbaikars. Nobody really cares while throwing out an empty packet of chips from the train window. Probably that’s the reason why the train services were the first ones to collapse.

All I’m saying is, India still doesn’t have a concrete waste management policy enforceable by law. Once we have that in place and with efficient implementation, disasters like 26/7 can be avoided. And this is a message that goes out to all Mumbaikars…. STOP littering like the whole of Mumbai is a dustbin. It will come around and bite you in the back. If I ever see anyone in a train throw out a wrapper from the window, don’t blame me for my actions. It’s because of your indifference that several Mumbaikars like me had to undergo that nightmarish experience of 26/7.

Several astrologers have predicted that Mumbai is yet to see 2 more major disasters in 2005 and this time due to “Fire”. What are you planning to ban now Mr. Chief Minister ???? Matchsticks ???

Thursday, September 08, 2005

HAPPY Teachers Day ???

Well, 5th September came and went and I had another gloomy Teachers' Day for the 4th consecutive year. Well no, I'm no teacher, but I just miss the way I used to celebrate Teachers Day before I started college. 4 years ago, when I was in school, Teachers' Day meant staying up awake late in the night and making hand-made cards for all the teachers. Then buying roses the very next morning and enjoying this deep sense of satisfaction each time I saw a teacher admire my cards. When I was in school, I had teachers whom I really cared about, whom I was really attached to. I tried creating the same kind of bond during my first year of college, but it miserably failed...So I stopped trying any further to save myself a lot of embarrassment. Maybe the culprit here is the changing scenario in the teaching profession and not just in India.

Acharya Devo Bhava - The teacher is equivalent to God. This is what our Indian scriptures say....but ask any person today and no one wants to be a teacher anymore. A lot of teachers love their job, but they do not love their profession. Isn't it pathetic ? India is the only country that celebrates Teachers' Day and yet we ourselves don't know its true meaning.

Till my mother’s generation, people, especially women dreamt of being teachers. But can my generation dream of such a thing? I wanted to be a teacher as well, but it changed when i saw the plight of people in this profession. With the best brains getting into other professions, only the mediocre take up teaching and in many cases they are unable to clear doubts on complicated concepts. This is why we have coaching classes. But that's another issue and I'll talk on that later.

Inspite of low remunerations and low levels of motivation, we still have teachers who are like a breath of fresh air...People who are true to their profession....Hats off to all of those teachers who continue to teach us with utmost sincerity, dedication and care.

I now understand why this profession is called the noblest of all, because probably for them money and status mean nothing.