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.

Kashmir-The Road Ahead

“Recent India Pakistan scheduled bilateral talks were called off by India, as Pak High Commissioner Basit meets Minwaz Umar Farooq ,Syed Ali Shah Geelani,Shabir Ahemed Shah and Yasin Malik.”-it’s a small piece of news. But enough to estimate the respect 0f GOI towards the free will of Kashmiris. Enough to estimate what Azadi means to a common shepherd boy of the valley of Kashmir? What does Azadi means to the people of the valley, where for 18 people one security personnel is deployed?

Kashmir’s accession to India is based on four principles- defence of the state, protection of life, honour and property. India has failed miserably in discharging any of the duties. Activist Arundhuti Roy rightly commented-“to continue its occupancy in Kashmir, India has made its forces minimum from every law there. If evil society of India and other human rights activists don’t take appropriate steps after going through the report of APDP, we will feel ashamed in future.” Still in 4 th July, 2014 the spokesman of external affairs ministry proudly declared that-“Jammu and Kashmir remains and will remain an integral part of India.”
To the external Affair’s ministry’s comment that people of the state are using the language of bygone era, deserted roads welcomed the new P.M. of India, Mr. Narendra Modi in Srinagar. It’s a separate issue that 240 MW hydroelectric Power Uri-II project inaugurated by him has no license to operate and constructed in violation of Jammu and Kashmir water reservation act.
It is said that high turnout was observed in 2014 Parliamentary elections, completely overlooking the fact that people voted for issues like road, water ,electricity and other amenities and not for settling the Kashmir dispute. In a state of merely 18 million population deployments of more than 600,000 troops is not in any way synonymous with the fact that Kashmiris are living in a very conducive environment.

Historical perspective
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. Anger of people smoked until on July, 1931 a mass leader named Abdul Quadeer led an uprising against the tyranny. The movement of people was suppressed by the ruler and the leader was put on trial.
1932 saw Kashmir’s first political party-The All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference (renamed as National Conference in 1939) established under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah. In 1934 the Maharaja bend a little-limited democracy was established by the constitution of a Legislative Assembly. In 1935, Jinnah visited Srinagar to extend his support to the Nationalist movement
During the time of partition, there were 568 Princely States or quasi sovereign states, ruled by princes under the “suzerainty” of the British. As per the Mountbatten Plan, the provinces were given two options, in accordance with two nation theory-either to amalgamate with India or with Pakistan. The princely states were allowed the third option –to remain independent.
In Kashmir-the Maharaja was on two minds. Ram Chander Kak, the prime minister of Maharaja advised Kashmir to be independent for at least one year before taking decision on accession. 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 letter dispatched by Mr. Mountbatten on 27th October, 1947 to Maharaja Hari Singh echoed the same view.
In 1947, India and Pakistan went on war over the Kashmir issue. During the war, the issue of Kashmir was first floored on the UN General Assembly on 1 st January 1948 by India. The representative to the UN, Gopalswamy Ayenger commented in the UN that “As the Security Council is aware, the Government of India is fully committed to the view that after peace is restored and all people belonging to the State have returned there, a free plebiscite should be taken and the people should decide whether they wish to remain with India, go over to Pakistan or to remain Independent if they choose to do so.”
On 1 st January, 1949 the UN helped enforce a ceasefire, between the two countries on a mutually consented Line of Control. UN Security Council and UN Commission for India and Pakistan have passed several resolutions in the subsequent years. One of such UN resolution in 21 st April, 1948 state that-“both India and Pakistan desire that the question of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial 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 the Tashkahand and Simla agreement too, peaceful solution of the dispute has been prioritized. The Simla agreement on 2nd July, 1972 stated in Para 6 that a-“final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir “as one of the main issues. Para 4(ii) defines of a line of control different from international border.
Human right violation
In this “Jannat e jahan”, life of common people is brutalized every moment. Most of the crimes are committed by Indian army in the clout of a ‘proxy war’ against Pakistan and termed as “unavoidable”. After the election of 1987, a state of despair stated looming over the valley from 1989, leading to common Kashmiris on the streets of Srinagar from January to May 1990. These peaceful protests were rewarded with indiscriminate firing during Jagmohon tenure. 2477 civilians have been killed by security personnel on the period 1990-1989(PTI release, September 13, 1998).
In 1995, Amnesty International reported 706 cases of custodial killings in the period of 1990-94 . Indian Government rubbished 519 of these deaths mentioning them as “encounter killings” despite eye witness reporting on the contrary. During the turbulent period of 1989-99, 1000 persons reported disappeared without any trace, by Amnesty on August, 2000.
Hundreds of women are subjected to barbaric torture by the Indian men in uniform. The mass rape of nine women at Sophian in 1992 or mass rape of 20 women at Konan Pashpura in 1991 was investigated by the same army unit charged with the crime. Despite medical evidences these charges are being dismissed every day in collusion with army and police, seriously threatening the dignity of Kashmiri sisters.
In March 2000, unidentified persons massacred 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora, and GOI blamed foreign militants. A few days after the killings five villagers were shot dead by Indian army at village Panchalthan on the plea that they were those militants. Later in 2002, DNA testing proved that they were civilians. The relatives of the civilians killed held a series of demonstration for public exhuming. A mass protest of 5000 unarmed civilians at Brakpora was fired upon, nine more men died. When the bodies were finally made public, they were discovered to have been burnt and defaced and dressed in army uniforms. The Pandian Commission investigating Brakpore killings recommended trial for three officers. Till date justice is not only delayed but also justice denied.
Several activists and dignitaries sympathetic to the free Kashmir movement were killed in recent past like Jalil Andrabi, H.N.Wanchoo, Dr. Farooq Abdullah Ashai and Dr. Ahad Guru etc. were killed either by Indian forces or by renegade militants by GOI.
Extraordinary power have been vested to the police vide Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 and Disturbances act 1976. Under the provisions of these acts violation of human rights occurs every day, every minute, every second in the “valley of happiness” which has now turned into a “valley of tears”. These acts need to be repealed.
Self determination
A normal Kashmiri has a strong sense of socioeconomic and religious identity. “Azadi” or self determination has a very strong connection with that distinctness. Ask any Kashmiri about Azadi, more so in rural areas. The response will be spontaneous. It may be argued that whether that distinctness boosts of a very strong religious character. But to be precise, every movement of self determination like Algerian movement or Sin Fin movement of Ireland consisted of issues from various spheres including religion. Now the point is whether such religious identity can safeguard the interest of the minorities like Dogras, Pandits, and Sikhs etc. There is plenty of hostility against India, but not much of hatred against Hindus as such. To an average Kashmiri Islam is humane and tolerant approach towards other religions as interpreted by Kashmiri Sufis, whose influence is manifested by the “Zizarats” that prevails through the valley.
Now when an average Kashmiri is asked whether liberated Kashmir will be a secular democracy or Islamic country, majority answer will answer for the former. Indian army sponsored counter insurgents, mostly erstwhile criminals, proclaimed worldview is the synthetic and tolerant culture called the “Kasmiriyat’. These insurgents are of the view that groups like Hijab-Ul-Mujahidin are enemy of the valley, as they want to destroy the tolerant culture. It has been rightly pointed out by JKLF leader Yasin Malik that these people probably don’t believe what they say. They forget any insult to the Islam may result in violent protest like that occurred in 1963-64 and 1973.
The UN Charter and the 1960 Declaration of Granting Independence to colonial countries declared the right of self determination, the right to freely choose their political status and to freely pursue their socioeconomic and cultural development. The human right violation of Kashmir also entitles the Kashmiri people their right to choose their political destiny as much as Yugoslavia’s human right violation and ethnic massacre resulting creation of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia and east Timor’s independence in 1999 from the colonial rule of Indonesia since 1975.
Sponsorship of pro Indian counter insurgence gangs to promote a region of terror on the border areas is a tactical move of GOI. Physical suppression coupled with renegade militant activity is primarily India’s main answer to border disputes. In the north east ethnic diversion has been used with evil effect. The state’s pact with these renegade militants, intelligentsia or even with human rights activists like late Parag Kumar Das of Assam or Jalil Ahmed Andrabi of Kashmir is that as long as they perform state work ,they will be provided with a free license to do most heinous works like rape, murder, robbery and so on. This vicious cycle not only jeopardise India’s intention but also gives birth to criminalization of society.
To ease off the tension in the sub continent between two nuclear powers, a relationship of trust by withdrawal of forces, by allowing activists in the valley is a priority.

Plebiscite is the only answer to Kashmir issue. Under the fear of gun the consciousness of people can never be suppressed. It is time for us to speak up, to protect the basic principle of democratic governance from future degradation. Or we will have to be content in letting Kashmiris, Nagas or other people similarly situated continue to hate us, being contended with the fact that in the interest of secularism their dreams of freedom is worth shattering.

Value of computer education

Just think of the famous commercial which states, with the advent of mobile internet (of course of a particular service provider) India is no longer going to be fooled. Exaggerated it may sounds, but in today’s world a normal human being, is surrounded by hundreds of computer related applications, literally like “Abhimunyu” within “chkrabuhya.(enough to make you crazy if you don’t know computer). That’s why one of my colleagues once jokingly remarked that if you don’t have any computer knowledge, you are going to be rubbished.
In the last two or three decades, computer and ICT (information and communication technology) has revolutionized the way we work, the way we think and even the way we breathe. Almost all spheres of our life are encompassed by some applications of computer. Consider some of these applications-
1. Modeling-right from designing a logo to creation of a 3-D model of a house, computer can work wonder at the stroke of a mouse. Calculating a cost effective way for optimum profit and production, to making school projects, applications are versatile.
2. Communication-chatting with my friend via world wide spidery web spun through satellites and optical cables to lightning communications through e-mail, computers have opened new horizons in communication aspect- a giant leap forward from snail mail era.
3. E commerce-using the internet platform for buying and selling at the click of a mouse is all set to change the traditional business concept.
4. Information-gone are the days, when we have to go through an entire library of references in order to find some information. Now internet has made it possible to have the best possible information in a whisker. So much so, that legendary Encyclopedia Britannica has scrapped their book edition to resort to CD-ROM edition and for update through internet.
5. Office management-computer has literally revolutionized this sector. Even traditional functions like booking a railway ticket or storing the record of a patient in a hospital has become hitch less with the advent of a computer. With a single click detailed records of every computerized database (say that of property tax of a particular holding) are available, which earlier would have taken a long battle with files and ledgers to trace out.
6. E governance- Information and communication technology (ICT) has the potential for efficient service delivery to citizens across the state with transparency, communicating with citizens in respect of their participation in governance, streamlining the business in responsive governance with strong institutional back up.
Service deliveries to citizens in areas like land related matters, death and birth certificates, taxation; trade and commerce related areas are now a child’s game using ICT.
Now, a small trader to a travel agent can run their business in a more purposeful and integrated way-thanks to computer application software.
Not only ICT in today’s context is essential to be fittest for the struggle of existence, but also education for generation Y has made epoch making approach with modern advancement of computer applications. It is no longer “chalk and talk” process, but a combination of information, education and communication (IEC).some of the benefits of computers in classroom are-
1. Information storage-large chunk of data finds its way in a mini USB drive. A 500GB hard disk drive is sufficient to store all the books of Library of Congress, the U.S.A. notes, answers, presentations, projects all just can be compiled and then can be stored into a hard disk. Students and teacher alike can get benefited from judicious use of computer. Data saved are more durable due to electronic format. Also, electronically erasable memory makes data storage capacity robust and recoverable.
2. Futuristic teaching aid- one old Chinese proverb says-‘I read and I forget. I perform and I remember.” a tiring topic like “influence of Latin on English literature”, can be made very lucid if explained through presentation software like PowerPoint or animation software like Flash. Computer aided teaching is a fun way to learn today, it facilitates the interaction between teacher and student. with animation and audio visual representations dead monarchs of history comes alive, hard grammar suddenly has a note of music added to it, difficult mathematics comes out to be a cake work. With colour, sound and movement- a different perspective is added to the same old boring geography or civics or education or any subject of study. Explanation is better and remembrance is easier.
3. Internet- with internet, data can be accessed on almost all the topics with minute details. “Easier to access and easier to store”-you are not going to be fooled any more. For reference and better understanding of the subject this vast database can be used by teacher and student alike. Teachers can set papers, frame questions and students can make better project report with the bliss of computer.
4. Distance learning-in a vast country like India, internet enabled classroom teaching can only bridge the barrier of distance and status. Student from a hamlet can now access the teaching of same faculty, as in metro cities. Thanks to video conferencing, these classes are no loner a one way traffic, student and teacher can communicate with each other now. Many distant learning technical and mainstream courses are there, which helps students to learn at their convenient timings.

The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) two and three- are about achieving universal primary education and promoting gender equality. Despite Government’s constant endeavour in this direction through schemes like mid day meal, Sarba Sikha Abhiyan etc, the drop out ratio in India at primary level (class i to vii) is as alarming as 46%, wheras in secondary level (class ix to x) it is 60%, as against enrollment rate of 53 %( 2006-07 data). There are many obstacles in respect of pedagogical, curricular and institutional but to reach out to a large number of students, ICT use in distance education mode is a fantastic tool. Although the upfront investment is far greater than traditional teaching, but the recurring costs are minimal in comparison to traditional teaching. Through this method of teaching, new vocational avenues can also be opened to interested students.
Indian government has launched initiatives such as “Vidya vahini” and “Gyan bahini” to facilitate connectivity across schools and building up ITC infrastructure in higher studies institutes respectively. “Sankhya vahini” another initiative of Indian telecom is all set to connect 100 universities, school, colleges and corporate establishments.
A study conducted by the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) indicated that 80 percent of its participants felt more aware and empowered by their exposure to ICT in education, and 60 percent stated that the process of teaching as well as learning were directly and positively affected by the use of ICT.
Computer education has potential to enhance the options, access, participation and achievement of all students. Backward, marginalized and gender specific groups can greatly benefit from ICT, especially those who hail from remote rural areas, have special learning needs, are specially abled and so on.
However, the high student teacher ratio in Indian schools coupled with insufficiency of infrastructure for ICT, high drop out rate of female students for lack of basic amenities like latrine, high drop out rate of children for earning of wage etc. raise a question mark on effective implementation of computer education to all strata of Indian society. It is argued that computer education has the potential danger for widening the gap between haves and have-nots.
But we must remember ICT is only a tool for effective implementation of education and success of the same depends on policy initiatives of the government not some cosmetic measures like distribution of some tablets to vulnerable section or making some remote villages internet hot spots.
Computer can cause wonder at the hand of a judicious and creative mind. It is a very good soldier who can win you a loosing battle, but a bad general who can give you reverse outcome. It’s never to be forgotten that the intelligent quotient (I.Q) of computer is zero. So the golden rule is -never make computer the driver, always you drive and use computer as your steering.
Today computer has a deep impact on not only educational sector, but it embraces every sphere of our life. This underlines the importance of computer education. Computer is a propelling force of career, given it’s penetration in all the segments of industry today. We have already discussed both about the extensive fields and the way computer can make learning a fun. So, strike the iron when it’s hot, introduce computer early in education. It is as essential as mainstream education. Learning English and learning computer-can be put under the same bracket.
As prologue of this essay, I must confess that in order to write I gathered information from the Google search, typed the essay in my old laptop and then just e mailed it to submit. Without my knowledge of computer, will it ever be that easy?
Life is just like that.

Play it like Virat

Winning Like Virat: Think and Succeed like Kohli by Abhirup Bhattacharya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last ball of the last over has been bowled long time back.
There was nobody in the field- even the grounds men have long been gone. Only a slender boy was there-in the empty stadium-with a vacant look in both his eyes. He has scored duck in this match, too!
This is his third consecutive duck. His friends are talking about three consecutive tons-and here he is-with third consecutive duck.
His gleaming eyes have transformed-transformed completely-all roads before him have been closed. Will there be any way out?
Well- it is not my intent to write a tragic story-although the initial lines may sound a little dramatic. My intent is to say that even when the world seems to be against you- you can win. The boy has two avenues before him-either to succumb to the pressure and to let his cricketing career dies a natural death or to fight it out bravely-with grit.
Everything is imaginary here- the boy, the stadium, the match and even the duck-but not the eternal person within the boy. At the crossroad of life we all feel like the boy at some point of time-perplexed –unable to find the right way-the right direction.
Often we forget that there is no short cut to success!
Honestly speaking I was a little nervous When I first got-‘Winning like Virat-Think & Succeed Like Kohli’ by Abhirup Bhattachrya-a NIFT alumni with management background-after peeking into the book. The book is full of figures that resembled like Venn diagram-and there are lots of graphs. Now I bade adieu to mathematics a long way back and to be modest everyone around me has a frightful impression about my strength in mathematics. So much so-that once I asked my plumber that I want to install a five liter reservoir in my house- how much will it cost. But soon I saw there are no scales attached to graphs. I got assurance. These must be hypothetical graphs aimed at mathematical genius like me. And I started reading the book. Abhirup has written the book in a way as if he is giving a classroom lecture and keen eyes are watching him. So it is easy to go from one topic to another-in the intermediate phase he has tried to answer probable questions that might arise in reader’s mind.
Virat Kohli has become synonymous with the face of Indian cricket for quite sometime- both in and out the ground. These days he is the Czar of the social media-he is the third most followed Indian on Facebook and 12th in Twitter. But his success did not come so easily. There were days when he scored single digit runs in international cricket. There were days when he was not considered an automatic choice of Indian squad. These were days of hard struggle for the current Indian ODI skipper. He overcame these days with dedication, hard work and temperament. Abhirup seeks to find the key to Virat’s success from the perspective of management. In his words, the aim of the book is to –“attempt to unravel the reasons for the phenomenal success and his philosophy towards life. It is an attempt to decode and unleash the success of the consistent performer so that we all can learn from him and improve our lives.”
The idea is innovative- instead of writing a plain book on being successful in life from the viewpoint of management -Abhirup used Virat as a role model to elaborate the success mantra of life explained from the angle of virat’s quest for excellence. It is easily understandable why he used a cricketer as his set piece example. In a country where cricket is considered a part of life- success story of an iconic cricketer-who is heartthrob of billions will bring far greater readership than a formula one driver or a medal winner Olympian. But why Virat? There are no dearths of stars in Indian cricketer. That toohas been answered by Abhirup himself .Virat is not as talented as Sachin Tendulkar-his technique is not as perfect as Rahul Dravid. He did not have a spectacular debut in Indian cricketing arena either. But he knew his limitations and his relentless quest made him come closer to perfection. He is self-made man. But how? That’s the main theme of the book.
The book is divided into seven sections and each section is attributed to certain quality of Virat explained from cricketing point of view as well as from the view point of management. Although the book begun with a brief life sketch of Virat –by no means the book can be dubbed as his biography. Qualities of Virat have further been elaborated with examples and discussions on real life business world and hypothetical business situations. Although Abhirup made sincere efforts to match them perfectly- they are not always very corroborative. Take the example of discussion on importance of sacrifice in success. Abhirup begun his discussion citing the example of Flipkart co founder Sachin and Binny Bansal-who used to stand outside Gangaram Book Stores in Bengaluru –and distribute bookmarks to the persons near the store or who had made a purchase to promote their brand. Point of the author is that not everyone can sacrifice their self esteem in zeal for success. Abhirup correlated this quality with Virat’s quest for perfection- his relentless practice to make his shoots improve-his sacrifice of once his favourite food in his endeavour to be a consistent performer. Although both does not fit properly-one is physical sacrifice and the other is emotional -but Abhirup made it sounds correct. His message is clear –if you want to achieve something in life-you have to be ready to sacrifice something. Another quality of the book is that Abhirup summarises his findings in a nutshell as learning tips- these one sentences may be proven really useful when the reader is in a hurry!
I was particularly curious what Abhirup makes out of Virat’s aggression on and off the field. He discussed it under the discussion topic-Ethics makes a difference. The idea is that Virat has controlled his aggression to a large extent and now uses it as a tool for improved performance. That resulted in Virat turning out to be one of the most respected batsmen. Abhirup concluded his discussion by saying
“In corporate life we are often faced between choices of doing what is right for us and doing what is right for the company. If one is talented enough, one can find another job no matter how good the current opportunity is. One should never forget the fall from grace of the ex-McKinsey chief Rajat Gupta who was found guilty on charges of insider trading. The point is, how should we wish to be remembered?”
To prove his points-(as I have mentioned earlier) Abhirup has taken help of diagrams, charts, graphs, theoretical discussions throughout the book. His English is fluent and writing style modern-so it will be rather easy for reader to finish the book in one go!
But do not think that overnight this book will not transform you from a dejected soul to a person beaming with confidence. Success is not an instant noodle. What you can achieve is confidence at your heart that yes, I can win!
You can-because you have miles to go before you sleep!
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Book information
Paperback: 141 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications India (24 April 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 8129146061

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Baba Ramdev-Told & Untold Story

The Baba Ramdev Phenomenon: From Moksha to MarketThe Baba Ramdev Phenomenon: From Moksha to Market by Kaushik Deka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

He was returning home from school-with his friends- like the other days.

But that day was destined to be a lot different than the other days- a day that perhaps changed the course of his life. He suddenly felt that his left foot is unable to carry his body- he fell on the ground- grappled with pain. His face is twisted.

He was taken to a government hospital-where the doctors declared that the young boy had a paralysis attack. For his parents the future dream was broken like glass. But it was not so for the boy.

Is he an ill fated boy for whom all roads are closed? Not exactly!

It was rise from the ashes like the phoenix.

His physical disability channeled his life to a new course- a course that made him phenomenon in India. Constant stirring of his physical and mental strength not only helped him to conquer his deformities but also He became synonymous with healing with yoga-he became the face of Indian entrepreneurship in the backdrop of aggression of multinational FMCG corporate- he became a prominent face in the civil society movement against corruption-and the list is endless!

‘The Baba Ramdev Phenomenon-From Moksha to Market’– by Kaushik Deka-a senior Associate Editor of India Today, is an account of the transforming life of the famed Yoga Guru. It is his debut book and he chooses his subject wisely. A full length cover story on the famed person on India Today inspired him to make an honest attempt to search for the success mantra of this monk turned enterprenuer. Not only his proximity with Baba Ramdev enabled him to judge the actual man but also helped him to judge the mettle in which the ‘Corporate Sadhu’ is made of!  Kaushik in this book recollected-‘Despite all his success, business acumen political connections, he is still childlike in his in his enthusiasm and probably opens up too early to strangers. He is still the village boy at heart. He is emotionally charged and goes carried away, often inviting trouble. As time passed, I witnessed more of the later.’

Kaushik narrated well the inspirations behind the making of the Baba. Ram Kishen –The name, by which the small neighborhood of Saidalipur knew Baba Ramdev, was not to be defeated so easily. Maharshi Dayanand Swarasati gave him mental courage while his decade long struggle against physical inability finally bore fruit. In this connection I must say    Kaushik wrote in good journalistic English-has a natural flair that keeps his readers engaged till the end. So the joy of reading doubles itself.

Baba Ramdev went to the Himalayas-perhaps to seek enlightenment within him. But there he realized consciousness of different kind altogether-from the smaller world of ‘me’ he breathed into the bigger world of ‘us’-he realized it is better to work for the benefit of others rather than being a parasite. And the journey started. The fire was ready to be ignited.

It begun humbly-but begun steadily. The yoga camp became the stepping stone of Baba’s career. What begun with two people-soon started to attract more and more people. Kaushik wrote- “The number of camps and people attending those camps started increasing. His ways was simple- thirty minutes morning breathing exercises coupled with a few yoga postures promising faster results, even within a month. He knew what people wanted-continuing good health was not appealing enough, but they were desperate to get rid of common ailments-diabetes, heart issues and obesity .He packaged his offering well-much like instant noodles –and is fitted perfectly with the busy schedule of modern life. What made his success easier was his natural gift of the gab and a sense of humour. He continued in a language that the mass understands.”

Controversies and obstacles are both part of Baba’s life. But as Kaushik has pointed out, these obstacles only acted as catalysts to his success. Perhaps like Kabir Bedi in Kranti, Baba too had murmured-‘Log jahan par soochna band kar dete hai … main wahan se soochna shuru karta hoon’ (where people stop thinking- Where people stop thinking … I start thinking from there). And Kaushik made a very neutral detailed narrative of those controversies. It is a journalist’s true way of describing events- never getting carried away by personal relations. The mysterious disappearance of Swami Shankar Das-co founder of Divya Yog Mandir is one of these controversies. Then who can forget the allegation coined by CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat that Divya Pharmacy is using   animal bones in some of its Auyrvedic products. But as Kaushik has rightly pointed out, these obstacles only helped Ramdev to go from strength to strength. He too has complete control over his words and works- always beaming with confidence! Commenting on his success of amla juice he recollected-‘Many had suggested (to) make pickles, but juice was a better option. There was scepticism if people would accept amla juice, but I knew they would trust my wisdom. I became the brand ambassador of amla Juice and the rest is history.” If you think how a monk can talk in such corporate language- well, you have to rethink. Because not only this monk has been able to make MNC’s such as Hindustan Unilever to rethink their business strategy in the face of ‘Carpet Bombing’ (as Kaushik has aptly pointed out) of Patanjali group of industries-but also cut the market shares of corporate savages. Kaushik presented a detailed statistical analysis of high and low tides of Patanjali Empire and other MNCs. Analysis has been backed by extensive research and contemporary news synthesis. What is noteworthy that at the footnote there is mention of web pages where that particular news piece had appeared.

Discussion will be incomplete without mentioning of role of Baba Ramdev in contemporary politics. He came to the political arena as a crusader against corruption. Then his journey continued –he became near to somebody –went away from somebody-continued with his ideology with ‘bold’(well-readers have to judge themselves)moves-went on to became the kingmaker(  ?)-some fun packed incidents-   Kaushik made it all too enjoyable.  There are information, information and more information- but written in an intriguing way. Reader’s boat will sail freely without getting struck in sand pile of dry information.  But I personally think that it would be fantastic if Kaushik garnishes his platter with a dash of humour and wit!

In the same way as Baba Ramdev does!



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Other information
Pages: 216 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications India
Price- INR 252
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