twenty timeless gems

The Wise ParrotThe Wise Parrot by Ruskin Bond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ruskin Bond means a piece of open sky.
Ruskin Bond means stars gazing at you- their lights twinkling, smiling at you.
Ruskin Bond means bells chiming at a distant castle- only you can hear the sound, faint but melodious.
Ruskin Bond means long forgotten childhood of you and me.
When I read him- I don’t know why- smiling face of a man signing autographs on Mussoorie Cambridge Book Depot crosses my mind-surprisingly, the face of the man is like Santa. His writing always reminds me-that I, too had a childhood!
His writing is well of happiness- like the protagonist of his story who searched for well of life. The difference is after getting the well of life-the world deserted the man and the man still roams round , even today cursing his life and begging the blessing of death- and after finding this well of happiness- you will be ….happy.
Just like the African boy who for the first time experienced ice…..and said-‘ice is like….ice.’
The Wise Parrot by Ruskin Bond is a collection of fables and stories and epics and legends… from far and across lands- where all the continents of the world is unified- as if this is an Olympic of storytelling. Most of the stories are ancient and still alive. Some tell us the lessons of life; some tell us about the wonderful journey called life. There is fantastic creatures- wise birds- green man- giant birds- wise prince-kind and noble animals-and the gods and goddess……my pen will be exhausted but not the stock of stories.
There are twenty stories in the book-a good number are from India. Jivaks-the Boy Wonder tells us the story of a prince-who in spite of being the rightful owner of the throne- went on to be the greatest physician of his time- and still is remembered for his contribution to medical science. It teaches us the great teaching of Maitrryee
-‘what will I do with the wealth if it cannot give me the immortality?”The Friendship of Heera and Lal is a folklore depicting the story of two close friends-where the eternal triangle comes into play tobreaktheir friendship. The cow of plenty is a story taken from Mahabharata where the tussle between sage Vasistha and King Viswamitra has been narrated wonderfully-over the ownership of the cow Surabhi-the cow of plenty.
Now this may raise the eyebrow of many- that why I have specially mentioned this three stories, especially when there are twenty attractive stories. These stories are relatively well known to Indian readers- but in hand of Ruskin Bond our very known stories has taken a new flavor. Let us take this action sequence from the story The Friendship of Heera and Lal
‘At first the princess treated him with great kindness, but later when she was alone with Lal, a sudden change came over her. She began foaming at the mouth and tearing her hair. She rolled on the ground, and writhed and screamed. Heena rushed into the room. At the same time the exhausted princess fell into a deep coma, and, as she lay unconscious, her left thigh burst open, and a terrible black snake emerged from it.
The snake darted towards Heera with a great hiss, its forked tongue darting in and out. But Lal drew his sword and cut off, the snake’s head with a single blow.’


I don’t have audacity to discuss the literary skill of Ruskin Bond- readers are being left with that task. What can I say that I have enjoyed the stories thoroughly- from top to bottom, from middle to end.
These stories present to us the essence of human spirit. Let us for example take the’ The Green Man of Sinai’ . This is an old Egyptian tale. There are mention of imaginary creatures-creatures that only exist in the dream of human- there are spirit- there are unnatural events- but above all the story is a mirror reflection of the human nature. Who can forget Sindbad the sailor who travelled strange lands for the sake of saving the life of his near and dear ones- and came out victorious-as he was always for the truth.
Stories from the anthology are different from other collections of similar nature as this anthology has stories which in addition to traditional sheen and imagination have something to whisper in reader’s ears. From love to hate, from wisdom to idiocy, from revenge to sacrifice- all aura of human emotions have been touched.
It is night now. It is full moon day today. Soon the baby will ask mother-‘mother, tell me the story.’
May be in war hit Kabul, may be in drought hit Ethiopia…..
And she will start………
It happened through the ages, and will continue through the ages……

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Other information of the book
• Paperback: 151 pages
• Publisher: Rupa Publications India; 1 edition (23 May 2017)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 8129146487
• ISBN-13: 978-8129146489
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an interview with Mukul Kumar-the writer of “Don’t Believe in God-Till you Experience Him”

Don’t Believe in God-Till you Experience Him by Mukul Kumar- a techie now working with IT industry -is a story of faith, devotion and knowledge. Basically it is everyone’s story- swinging between doubt and belief-making a lifelong quest towards light of knowledge- an expedition from death to immortality.
We come across many books every day. But this book is slightly different. It is the story of the tryst with destiny of the protagonist. He transformed from his childhood to boyhood to teenage to youth-and his environment continued to shape him- both emotionally and spiritually. Then came the climax-he met one religious sect that changed the course of his life. We decided that we ask him some questions on his book. He consented to answer our questions and the interview begun-

• We asked him- In your novel-you have portrayed rural Bihar women as folks who are engaged in relentless quarrelling within the family and outside the family. What is your basic intention? Is it due to socioeconomic condition of women in cow belt or any other specific purpose? Please elaborate.

• He answered-The book deals a lot with human psyche and impact of surroundings on grooming of our belief system and behaviour. The quarrelling women in the rural setup lack pretence and express their egos freely. As we urbanize and move higher in the society; the way of expression becomes sophisticated but the egos remain.

• Our next question is- You have dealt at depth with the life story of your protagonist. His childhood, his boyhood even his puberty has been elaborated. Do you think that it has any special significance in plotting of the story?
• He answered-Yes. The protagonist’s life has moved in a spiral. First loop is of struggle in a mundane society for a carrier, education and uplift of social status. In the second part of his life, the protagonist seeks spiritual enlightenment and tries to give up worldly priorities. What comes to his eerie realization is that it was the learning that he had in the first part of life that ultimately comes to his rescue when he was on the verge of collapse in his quest for spiritual enlightenment.


Then we asked him- There was ample opportunity for you to elaborate the socioeconomic transition of Bihar as the boy gets older. But somehow there was not much utilisation of that opportunity. Don’t you think it would have added colour to the book?
• He nodded and said-As I reflect on it, yes it was a possibility.

We asked him a sensitive question- The protagonist has an encounter with a Guru who somehow gave him a new dimension of religion. But that context did end there-whereas natural expectation of any reader will be to see how the newfound conception shapes the belief and thought of the boy. Is it consciously done?
• He told us-This story deals with a difficult subject of what happens when the things one expects does not materialize. The protagonist and many others realize that they did not achieve their ultimate aspiration of liberation under the guidance of their Guru. What we make of our lives and how we carry on once we fail in our pursuit, our resilience and ability to bounce back in life and living without regrets are some of the key takeaways of the book.

Next we asked him-Why he protagonist is your namesake?
• He told us-This is to drive home the message that this story could happen to all of us. The author and the readers alike.

Our penultimate question was-. There is mention of certain religious cult –which eventually took a very important part in the development of the story. The priest of the cult is called Amigo-which means friend. What makes you choose that name?
• To which his response was-The priest acts as a friend, guide and co traveller in the whole journey. What happens is that except the head of the cult, everyone is on the same boat.

The last question is- There is an initiation process in the cult where use of some weapon is made to taster the temperament. Is it inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle?
• He responded-There are some practices used by many of the Knight Templers and Freemasonry based church. Those are the inspirations for the rituals
We later asked about his future plans and soon. But that is another story.
Read review of the book here

his life and the beautiful game

Hero: A Biography of Sachin Ramesh TendulkarHero: A Biography of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar by Devendra Prabhudesai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The bowler started his run up.
The ground was wet due to heavy rainfall in the last night. It was perfect green top- only sincere endeavour from the grounds men did ensure the game to be started at the morning.
Facing the pacer was a short statured batsman-in his white shirt and trouser.
The red cheery did come at a pace of about 150plus something kilometer –did landed on the good length spot. And awkwardly the ball took off. Uneven bounce it is…..
Perhaps there is a lapse of concentration in the mind of a batsman. Perhaps he is in two minds-whether to leave or play the ball. It was fraction of a second- one tenth or one twentieth of a second- and that split second does it all.
The ball kisses the helmet of the batsmen. He was a little unsettled-for a moment it appears he is about to tumble- and then adjusts himself.
He murmurs –looking at the sub-perhaps in despair, perhaps in frustration…..
Or perhaps in anger-for not utilizing the opportunity
Hearts of millions of audiences perhaps bounced to the throat….

It is Moral victory for the bowler. How long will the batsman last? Perhaps a ball, perhaps two, perhaps three………..
He started his run up once again…..
‘Sachin! Sachin!’chanting begun- first almost inaudible- perhaps like humming of bees- and the intensity rising gradually- almost like a hymn- intensity touching to its thunderous zenith…….
The ball is delivered- a calculated short pitched one- clearly to unsettle the mind of the batsman…..the ball is about to rub the shoulder- eyes of millions are popping out- literally….
And the willow hits the ball- it is a hook- perfectly executed, calculated-and the ball is outside the ropes in a flash.
Everybody takes a sigh of relief- inside the cinema hall- as if some live action was being performed in the stadium. People forgot that Sachin was in celluloid….
Such is the charisma of the name….. , Which erases the boundary line between imagination and reality.
Realty becomes imagination. Imagination becomes reality.
Because the story of sachin is the story of chasing the impossible……. Of chasing the dream…..
Hero- A Biography of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar by Devendra Prabhudesai- a noted biographer and manager of Media Relations & Corporate Affairs of BCCI in Mumbai is a well researched biography on the man who became synonymous with Indian cricket. Before penning the biography- Devendra has already authored the biography of Sunil Gavaskar(‘SMG’ – 2009) and of Rahul Dravid((‘The Nice Guy Who Finished First’ – 2005), the other two members of the elite club of Indian cricket who have the distinction of crossing 100000 marks. So this may be considered as the end of the trilogy- or the circle becomes full. But why Sachin-when there are so many books on the master blaster-ranging from Gulu Ezekiel., Vijay Santhanam, Neelima Athalye, V. Krishnaswamy, Boria Majumder …….
This has been answered by Prabhudesai- as Sachin is a subject who can be explored from different dimensions and new findings will come, again and again. In words of Prabhudesai -‘whenever criticized, he let his actions on the cricketing field do the talking and explaining. He never ever displayed feet of clay and was elevated to divinity in a land known to venerate its gods and goddesses. There were of course, occasions when his followers were reminded of the fact that for all his gifts, their beloved Sachin was only human. While he did sometimes falter, against the run of play on the field, he steered clear of controversies and scandals off it. In the process, he untied a nation.’
What can be far more enchanting to a person hailing from a fragile socioeconomic condition to have someone as icon who has dominated against all odds and became triumphant!
To be honest, one average Indian citizen, from dawn to dusk has to suffer many a problems- from his personal, his social, his economical sphere. India is a developing country-and sadly enough we are yet to be a happy nation. Problems are everywhere for an average aam admi-and to escape from them he needs a dream- a dream which can help him in touching the rainbow of his wishes. What can be far more enchanting character than the brave heart, short statured Marathi- who hailing from a middle class background- not only silenced his critics on and off the field with his consistent performance-but also accorded the Bharat Ratna- the highest honor of India- the only one awarded to any sportsman in India. When Sachin lifts Warne for a towering six- the aam admi discovers himself in Sachin- when he flicks McGrath for a boundary- he sees his own reflection. That’s why Sachin has appeal of another dimension to billions of Indian-and that’s why- Prabhudesai has to be very cautious-as he was dealing with subject like Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar!
He did justice to his subject. There are fact feast in the book- mostly unheard- gathered from various corners- his family members, his former playmates, his friends, contemporary writing from journalists. Prabhudesai did painstaking research in amassing the book-containing not only the pearls from sachin’s life- but it is a valuable document of contemporary Indian cricket. There is match by match, ball by ball description of matches- matches that in some way or other epoch making episodes of Indian cricket! Everything came as inseparable sequence of the book- rise and fall of Vinod Kambli, the gallant leadership of Sourav the skipper, the black days of Indian cricket, our dismal performance on foreign soil ……..it all came and dealt at depth.
The book has been divided into three broad sections- Prodigy (1984-91)- starting from early days to the Hero Cup and commencement of the career of Sachin as skipper of Mumbai, Peerless(1992-99)-which elaborates the saga of Sachin as the opening bat of India to the match fixing episode of Indian cricket, and last but not the least- Preceptor( 2000-13) –which literally transformed international cricket to a game ruled by a Maratha named Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar . As Prabhudesai has rightly pointed out-‘ Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar led Indian cricket formally for only 2 of the 24 years of his international career and informally for the other 22’-Sachin and Indian cricket became inseparable- as if Sachin became the sun of the cricketing system and all other events revolved round him.
Enough has been said in comparing Sunil Gavaskar with Sir Donald Bradman. It has always been said that Bradman has to face the nastiest episode of international cricket. What would have been happened if Sunil has to face the body line bowling? Cricket journalists say on that eventful series sir Don looked like a mere member of Homo sapiens species. It is also said that Sunil had to face the fearful pace quarter of Caribbean cricket, that too with a hat. When Sachin was at the mid of his career-no doubt the standard of pace bowling had deteriorated. There was no Lily Thomson duo-Malcolm Marshal was a shadow of his former self- there was no John Snow either. But that does not cut short the credit of Sachin. He had brilliant reflex coupled with good eye sight, good but not the best- he didn’t have twenty twenty vision. On the backdrop of a great power of judgment and relentless disciplined practice, Sachin became Sachin today- whose name is spelled in the same bracket with the boy from Bowral……..
Prabhudesai has a style of narrating as fluent as a running commentator- reader can almost smell the aroma of grass of cricket stadium –‘ With all the fielders saw the wicketkeeper in the deep ,getting a boundary seemed difficult and getting a two hundred impossible. But Sachin managed the impossible with a perfectly timed flick that ensured a comfortable two before the ball could be returned to the wicketkeeper. Kumaran’s next ball was pitched short of a length and it gave the batsman some width. Sachin latched on to it and lashed hard. The cherry whizzed of the turf and went to the right of Rabin Singh, who had stationed himself as sweeper.’ Let it be left to the imagination of the reader –what Rabin did with the ball. Our point of interest is the narration style of Prabhudesai. Of course he is no Neville cardus who will bring epic tinge on his narration. But still Prabhudesai has perfected the art of narration. Somehow it reminds me the style of narration of another Marathi- Sunil Monohar Gavaskar!
In spite of so many quality reads on the life of master blaster- Prabhudesai’s book is a must read simply due to its vividness.
Cricket is the greatest leveler of the subcontinent- from the leave thatched house to the palace. Cricket makes us dream- dream of achieving the impossible. They say- in the name of cricket productivity of a nation suffers heavily- but they forget man can never live by bread alone. Appendices are well stacked with information and there is a collection of good number of rare and memorable photographs on Sachin’s life.
Dream gives us strength-strength to face the reality. Perhaps the boy-with torn pants- just now miscued the ball-playing in the gulley next to my house- has the same dream written over his face.
Dream to become Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar- dream to be the hero……….
Other information related to book
• Paperback: 552 pages
• Publisher: Rupa Publications India (17 April 2017)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 8129145650
• ISBN-13: 978-8129145659

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AN UNENDING JOURNEY

Warriors of DharmaWarriors of Dharma by chandranshu chaudhary
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She is waiting eagerly- waiting for her son to return. The boy will be backing home after so many years- she was imagining how the lad will look like in his full youth.
Glory of youth sometimes tends to erase the line of differentiation between possible and impossible. And impossible does happened on that eventful day- her workaholic boss himself told him to take days off.
Perhaps he has guessed that the lady is overburdened with workload. Or there is some other reason-some deeper inner reason that she is not able to guess.
When she is preparing tasty food for her son-perhaps the destiny thought otherwise. Perhaps she has forgotten-‘some straight curves in this world-takes the shape of a perfect circle in another world.’
Warriors of Dharma-Sins of the Gods by Chandranshu Chaudhury –a practicing medical professional is a fiction where modern world and mythology coalesces. It is the first book of the possible trilogy. The initial feature of the story that attracts mind is the sheer pace of the story. Based predominantly on the backdrop of Mahabharata- the reader will discover every human emotion –love, hate, revenge, conspiracy within well knitted storyline that never let the soul of the reader rest in peace before finishing the story……
The story unfolds-where Lucy- a central character working under her boos- the Director of the Archeological Survey of India- Mr. Chaudhury. It seems like a little coincidence that both Lucy and her boss are impatient. Chandranshu has a gift for creating suspense-so it seems the reason is shrouded in mystery for her boos to be impatient. For Lucy, it was pretty straightforward though- she is waiting eagerly for her son to return- her child whom he had not seen for years- a boy who has transformed into his youth from his teens without his mother’s knowledge. And suspense does built up- questions like what, who, when do get fumed inside the mind of the reader.
And then impossible becomes possible. Workaholic boss of Lucy asks her to take a week off. It seems that even eyelashes of Lucy gaze in wonder- as in her long work life-he have never, ever asked her to do so. But she accepted it gleefully. And the ball is set rolling. But why the nature of the boss has been changed suddenly? Is it a mind change-or is there any deeper, inner intention inside?
While reading –at every corner of the story the reader cannot help but start guessing-such is the beauty of the world with which Chandranshu introduces ourselves. It is a strange world where improbable rubs shoulder with probable- impossible becomes possible….
‘Just then a corner of the box hit one of the building sides. Bahadur saw a portion of the wall falling and crumbling down. He couldn’t breathe, his lungs choked with pain. Bahadur opened his mouth gulped almost large volume of air. Dusla kept running. She was not at all affected or bothered about the consequences. Unbelievably, the wall falling apart did not slow her down. As soon as she left the building,she jumped in a white SUV parked outside. The driver didn’t wait for the door to be closed. He had already started the SUV.’
Suspense and thrill is two essential companions in this quest for truth. Like Mahabharata-where Pandavas fought for the restoration of religion-religion for the welfare of the people, here the characters are all engaged in a journey- a journey that may lead to their soul searching-or a journey that is performed for restoration of religion for some – for some it is for restoration of darkness . who will win? Evil or good?
Why the immortals form the mythology is suddenly out in the lurch?
Story ends with a suspense-paving way for future incidents to take place.It is a great read no doubt- but still better is the fact that spine shivering incidents are yet to come.
It is just the beginning……..beginning of a journey……
Other information of the book
Paperback: 170 pages
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd; 1 edition (16 February 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9352017471
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half the sky……a saga of kashmiri women

Behold, I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir's Women and ChildrenBehold, I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir’s Women and Children by Freny Manecksha
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She was in need of urgent medical help-her daughter was shivering from fever. Only a mother can risk her life-letting her out on the deserted road- road that seen wrath of agitators –road that bears the brunt of clash between angry agitator and the security personnel.
Yet-she was out! She had to be out! The nearest hospital was barely a kilometre away. There was curfew imposed on the area-now and then –for the last thirty five days. At some point she had to be out on the road- carrying her feverish child- seeking medical help.
And then it all happened. She first encountered a group of security personnel-who assured her to approach. And then there was another group of paramilitary forces- their guns pointed. Sensing danger- she tried to flee. The men opened fire!
She was struck with five bullets in her backside!
The paramilitary men “tried to drag her still body, face down, across the streets.’’
Gunshots make the people realise something terribly wrong has happened-they came rushing to the spot.
But she had already suffered fatal injury by then! Relatives tried to take her to the hospital, but the ambulance in which she has been carried was stopped twice and her in laws have been beaten mercilessly.
She fought bravely with death for several months-and with neurological disorder thanks to bullet injuries.
But she succumbed……. .
Relaxing at our recliner, at the comfort of our warm drawing room can we ever imagine why her soul and body is subjected to torment? ‘Her ‘does not mean the lady whose story is first narrated- ‘her ‘means thousands of nameless, faceless women who is subjected to such torture every single hour, every single minute, every single second in a land which was once known to the world as ‘Jannat e Jahan’(heaven on earth).
Seems ironical-isn’t it?
Behold, I Shine by Freny Manecksha –a freelancing journalist is a strong investigating narrative of the Kashmiri women and children- how they are. It is not really easy to continue with investigative journalism in a state where literally power flows from the barrel of the gun. Freny worked hard in fathoming the depth of the situation-she made countless interviews- talked with representatives from various peer group-made herself present where events took place. In her own words,which appeals straight to the heart-“I started acquiring an understanding of how stories must be heard. A rigid question –and- answer format doesn’t always work. Hesitation, the seconds of silence or gestures can be as truthful and powerful as spoken words. I had to grant these women the freedom to let their stories flow in whatever way of manner they choose. ..When I gave women the space to speak, I learnt how each narrative could have interwoven skeins of suffering ,trauma, healing, resilience, resistance, struggle, humour and most of all, individuality.”
Freny started with a brief introduction of the state and the people and the historical perspective of the issue. From times abode, the state of Jammu and Kashmir remained independent except for short spans under Maryuas (3 rd century B.C.), the Mughals (16 th to 18 th century), the Afghans (1752 onwards). The Afghan rule was replaced by Sikh rule under Ranjit Singh. The autocracy of Sikhs lasted for 28 years after being replaced by the colonial rule. Gulab Singh was offered the throne of the state, by the Amritsar treaty signed on March 16, 1946.Lahore treaty signed on Mach9, and 1946 recognised him as independent princely ruler of the state by the British. Ghulab Singh was succeeded by Rambir Singh (1857-85), Pratab Singh (1185-1925), Hari Singh (1925-1949) respectively, unleashing a region of terror in the state. that’s why Dogra rulers were always considered as outsiders to the state-whose tyrannical rule were never welcome to the people of the state. When the partition of India did ultimately took place –the Maharaja was in two minds. The majority Muslim population on the face of an Indian aggression took to the streets. Pressure on the part of Neheru, Sheikh Abdullah and Mountbatten compelled Maharaja to sign the “letter of Instrument of Accession of India” on 20th October, 1947. On 2nd October, 1947, the prime minister of India Mr. Nehru announced on all India radio that “the fate of Kashmir will be decided by plebiscite”. The principle of self determination has been echoed by Mr. Nehru on Indian parliament on 12 th February, 1951- “We have given our pledge to the people of Kashmir and subsequently to the United Nations; we stood by it and we stand by it today. Let the people of Kashmir decide.
In this light of historical truth-the problem of the state needs to be realized. Freny made a quick review of the struggle of the people of the state for their right for self determination. She continued with incidents of human right violation by the paramilitary, the police and the army. Under the clout of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA)-heinous crimes are committed- sadly by the people who are supposed to be the upholder of law, against children and woman. Freny narrated one incident-in her inimitable language where five boys went out to see a religious festival on a hired car and their journey did end in the same car with blood dripping out of it-two of the boys were dead-two seriously wounded-and one traumatized. The soldiers who made this horrific killing simply apologized saying that they mistook the vehicle as terrorist vehicle as it failed to stop at two check posts. One of the survivors lived to tell his experience-after the bullet hit vehicle collided with the post-
“When the firing stopped after less than a minute, I looked at Faisal who was drenched in blood and was not moving. I looked behind and Kunud Mehraj,Shakir and Zahid fallen on each other with blood oozing out from their bodies.’
And the soldiers will simply apologize! Because law has permitted them to do so…….
As per government statistics there are 150 militants in the valley. And to fight them? 7,00000 security personnel have been deployed.
For whose safety? For whose welfare?
When a woman is being raped-the government takes the decision that the woman’s allegation cannot be trusted- as her husband was an absconding militant. And when she makes an appeal to the government-the government prefers to remain mum.
Justice is not only delayed…justice is also denied.
In a country-which is the largest democracy of the world.
And what will be the natural reaction of the Kashmiri woman about the largest democracy. They will fight for their right-naturally.
“I gave my son to azadi!”What did one mean by that? A small remark by a poor woman in Sophian prodded me to try and understood the role of Kashmiri women, who contributed to decade’s fervor, by ‘giving up’ their sons to the militancy and remained proud of the ‘ultimate sacrifice’’ of their young warriors.”
The women continue to struggle- struggle against poverty, struggle against illiteracy, struggle against oppression….
And still they dream…..
One day she will walk on the road, her head is held high, her mind is without fear of hunger, without fear of molestation, without fear of illiteracy, and without any fear about the future of her future child.
We all wait for the day

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Other information
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications India (24 May 2017)
Language: English

ISBN-10: 8129145715
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quest for light

Do not believe in God till you experience HimDo not believe in God till you experience Him by Mukul Kumar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The boy guessed that something different- something unusual is going to happen. This is no festival time- there is apparently no logic behind his mother bringing new clothes for him.
But this child is somehow different! He thought rationally and a little thinking helped him to fathom what is going to happen.
He is going to be introduced to Guruji-the Guru of the family for initiation. But little he might be-his mind was against the proposal-he liked to get rebel. Dragging like cattle in front of some unknown person- it is completely against his self-esteem!
Unable to resist the move from the mother- he put forward a proposal- he should question the Guru- if he can answer –the boy will consent to initiation.
Don’t Believe in God-Till you Experience Him by Mukul Kumar– a technocrat now working with IT industry is a story of faith, devotion and knowledge. Basically it is everyone’s story- swinging between doubt and belief-making a lifelong quest towards light of knowledge- an expedition from death to immortality.
Mukul-the protagonist of our story hails from a small village of Bihar –comes from a modest background and belongs to joint family. He kept on growing observing his quarrelsome aunts, his distressing mother and his father- busy with his business. Mukul observed his aunts- always busy attacking each other in innovative ways-imagined them as fingers of the hand
“My mother was the little finger, as she was the most insignificant one. My younger aunt was the ring finger, my middle aunt was the middle finger and my eldest aunt was the index finger because she liked to point figure at everyone. My stepmother was the thumb, opposed to everyone else and the strongest of them all. When they fought, I would watch them mesmerized as I was watching the interplay of my five fingers.”
The thought of five persons fighting like five fingers of a hand made me smile and I thought ok- so this writer has good sense of humour. I went on reading and I was confirmed that this guy can indeed make his writing richer with pearls of wit and humour. But somehow I felt Mukul Kumar has not fully utilized his potential in this book.
Mukul (this time the protagonist. It is all too confusing, when protagonist and writer have the same name. So from now on, we will call the protagonist as simply Mukul and his namesake writer as Mukul Kumar.) . Mukul was a neglected child – as he was the son of the second wife of his husband and his father married his mother in spite of dissent from the relatives and more so because his father was more busy with his business than his family. But soon his home tutor discovered that the little boy has amazing power of memorizing which he publicized throughout the village. That somehow elevated the status of the boy.
This is the story of a simple village boy who is advancing in age and personality and whose mind is always infested with thousands of questions- unanswered questions. If we separate the question part from the story-even then the story has immense possibility. Times are changing fast around Mukul and so is the socioeconomic environment. The picture of this changing scenario would have made this book a great book rather than a good book. For example recently I have read Bird of Fire,a novel by Bangladeshi writer Hasan Azizul Huq, where the story revolves round one village lady and her family. The book is set up on the backdrop of partition. That is the simple story of life like this one-but in Bird of Fire the writer has described the rapidly changing value, ethics, and society around her. So my point is Mukul Kumar could have utilized this scope without compromising on the theme of the story.
Persons came to the life of Mukul like everyone- and they enriched Mukul. The persons helped in building up his mental frame. He went on doing well in studies and got admitted in an engineering college. The writer described at length everyday experience of Mukul –even his transaction periods were narrated elaborately. It is my perception that such elaborate discussion has somehow slowed the pace of the story. Girls came to the life of Mukul- but they failed to leave any lasting impact. That is indeed natural- like Gargi in Upanishad- Mukul too has the eternal question burning inside him-“ what will I do with those things which are not immortal.”
Mukul became a technocrat and secured a job with a TATA concern. Here too the writer has consciously made metaphysical shadow looming over the story. And in this part of the story the twist does came- Mukul became involved with a particular religious cult. The followers of the cult believe that the current human race is soon to be wiped out and an advanced race will only survive
As we have told you, in the past, there are some large asteroids that are on a collision path with the earth. Our director has talked about it in detail in his books. These events are also registered in the holy scripture of the Mayans, the Hindu and the Tibetans. The US Federal government knows about it…….when the Karma of a race reaches its lowest point, when the degeneration of humanity goes beyond the point of no return; the divine laws take their course. A few are selected to continue to the next race, most human beings are doomed.
To be or not to be-that is the question. Mukul Kumar has portrayed well the mental dilemma of his protagonist –swinging between belief and disbelief. The story goestothe direction where reader willfind answer whether Mukul can find any answer to the questions that haunted him throughout his life.
After all life is like a jigsaw puzzle. You can never arrive to a solution.
Or, can you?
Other information
Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: Frog Books (4 January 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9352017498
ISBN-13: 978-9352017492

Price- INR 275

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Role of media in our society

The word ‘media’ is derived from the word medium, signifying mode or carrier. Media is intended to reach and address a large target group or audience. The word was first used in respect of books and newspapers i.e. print media and with the advent of technology, media now encompasses television, movies, radio and internet. In today’s world, media becomes as essential as our daily needs. Media of today is playing an outstanding role in creating and shaping of public opinion and strengthening of society.
Media is the sword arm of democracy. Media acts as watchdog to protect public interest against malpractice and create public awareness. Today when politicians are taking full advantage of their positions, an evil nexus of mafia and crime syndicate is making the life of the common man miserable, taxpayer’s money is siphoned out for the personal gain of the influential and ordinary people are a mere spectator-media has a grater responsibility As the fourth pillar of democracy along with judiciary, executive and legislature, media of today has an all embracing role to act against the injustice, oppression, misdeeds and partiality of our society.
From the days abode, media has remained an integral part of human civilization. From the days of Vedas and Upanishads to edicts of kings and emperors like Chandragupta, Asoka to the medieval Indian mass gatherings to the modern day’s audio video and print media, media has always taken a pivotal role in shaping our society. During the days of freedom struggle newspapers like Tilak’s Maratha, Mahatmaji’s young India acted as a platform to place the demands of common Indian and to express solitude with freedom fighters. Indian media in post independence era has grown up phenomenally and today comprises of more than 50,000 newspapers, hundreds of television and radio channels.
In this era of liberalistion, privatisation and globalisation(LPG) the world has reached our drawing room thanks to media. Since the introduction of television in our country in late 70’s visual media becomes a very potential tool in informing the current news to the society, entertaining the people and shaping up of public opinion. The World Wide Web and web 2.0 technologies have given rise to electronic media where even a common man can express views through blogs, website posts, facebook and twitter like social media. Coupled with traditional print media all these audio video and social media caters to a richly diversified media industry in India.
Media helps in fighting against corruption, nepotism, cronyism of institutional machinery and carrying out relentless campaign against them. Way back in independent India from the Mundra case to the jeep scandal to the hawala case to the kickbacks received in different defense deals- Indian media performs commendably in exposing the corrupted highly placed statesman. In recent scams from commonwealth to 2G, exposed thanks to television and print media, media acted as a catalyst to government action compelling government to swing into action including suspending ministers and putting ministers into jail. Who can forget the crusade taken by Indian media in the Nirbhaya rape case and shaping the public opinion in one of the most heinous crimes the world has ever witnessed. Without media, the news of government schemes and benefits would have never reached the target audience.
Media is the cheapest means of mass education. In a remote village a single radio set can spread the words of education. Through the V-Sat initiative education can be spread out to the remotest corner of India. To reach the Millennium Development Goal in respect of literacy, role of media is very significant.
The power of mass media, particularly the visual media is so powerful that nobody, however powerful he may be, can escape from its iron grips. The comment of famous singer Michel Jackson, humiliated in the child molestation case aptly asserted the media as ‘the incredible, terrible mass media’. The effect of television is so far reaching in mobilising public opinion that it can cause reversal of policy of government and can tilt the power equation in favour of someone little known with its power of image making.
But roses have thrones too and the media is no excerption. Media can cause national and international strife and jeopardise the harmony and social balance with its biased and motivational coverage. This is because media houses are controlled by media barons, industrial powerhouses, corporate giants and government dictators. In order to effectively cater to their interests and policies they spread news and information fueling to hatred and anarchy. Media men seek to have name and fame and in the process forget the duty of neutral journalism. In the words of Gary Acerman-“The media has changed. We now give broadcast licenses to philosophies instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment. People who project themselves as journalists on television don’t know the first thing about journalism. They are just there stirring up a hockey game.” In quest of power and opportunity an evil nexus is formed between media men, corporate houses, the influential statesman and sometimes the criminals
In a developing country like India, there are crores of issues like malnutrition, gender gap, education, poverty and unemployment, sanitation that needs to be addressed doesn’t appeal to Indian middle class. So these issues are given a complete go by the countless24*7 media channels that are mushrooming every day. In a bid to improve their TRP, almost all the channels are after a rat race of making sensational news. Thus non issues become issues and without any proper homework programmes are broadcasted. There are widespread manipulation and distortion of facts. Several instances of yellow journalism in recent past have focused to paid news and a collusion of politicians and journalists.
Various television shows and cinemas are projecting lifestyles of the rich and the famous are exciting our young generation to follow suite. The stunning lifestyle of villains depicted in silver screen encourages our youth to resort to the same evil methods that these villains follow at the lure of easy money and ending up at the blind lane. In their quest for such a glamorous life they often comes in contact with anti national and anti human elements, who gleefully accepts these ‘sleeping cells’ to act against society and nations. Thus instead of being an asset to society they themselves are lost in darkness, causing loss of human resource to our nation. The kids tend to follow their super heroes often end up in causing permanent deformities to their body. Can anybody count the number of children who tried to imitate the way Shaktiman jumps or the way Krish somersaults?
The portrayal of woman in mainstream cinemas and some commercial serials is a subject of great concern! They are atrociously projected as items of desire that just has to sing, dance and expose. Scenes of torture against women are rampant in visual media causing a soaring graph of domestic crimes and crimes against women! Scenes of indecency, gruesome killing and vulgar dialogues are mandatory in our mainstream cinema causing a serous degradation of ethical and moral values of our society.
In order to effectively combat the trend, India should set up a public broadcasting organaisation in the line of BBC of U.K or Public broadcasting service in the U.S.A free press doesn’t mean unregulated press.
The new age social media have helped organise people and also enable interaction with people. Even the government has realised its potentiality and set up twitter and facebook accounts, presenting in imitative like MyGov web portal which can help in citizen state interaction. It can receive instant feedback and suggestion from people and inform people. The portals help in transparency of state matters and effectively redress grievances. Social media sites are virtually becoming a cross platform of exchanging ideas. But as the other side of the coin, in the virtual world nothing is secured. People are getting addicted to this virtual world and forgetting the real world causing a mental trauma and often leading to inferiority complex thanks to these social networking sites. In the words of Amy Jo Martin –‘“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.”
In order to build up a nation free of hunger, disease, illiteracy and unemployment, media has a very strong role to play. Often media is engaged in trivial matters that appeals to masses forgetting the real issues that haunts nation. There are several good things happening in this nation of a billion. It is important for media to expose the corrupt and the evil and it is equally important to highlight the achievement and success. It is only positivism that can install a spirit of optimism in India. Then only the society as a whole will be able to face challenges more successfully to build up a developed nation.