If you have a problem, fix it. But train yourself not to worry, worry fixes nothing. - Ernest Hemingway

Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy 2016!

“As we move from sleeplessness to nightmare
The crow caws”

অনিদ্রা থেকে দুঃস্বপ্নে আমাদের যাত্রায়
কাক ডাকে।

So said Samar Sen, a Bengali poet over half a century ago. And last night, as crackers burst, people made merry to ring in the New Year, these disturbingly sad lines came to my mind. True, we limp from one year to another hoping things will get better. But they usually don’t.

Indians began the journey of 2015 with new hopes: a new government was in power in New Delhi promising changes to our polity seeped in corruption and sleaze. There was a new leader brimming with energy. An excellent communicator, he managed to energise the entire nation too. People trusted him intrinsically and chose to forget his murky past.

And then things got better. Within two months, the victors were vanquished by a deliberately unstylish common man and his band of political novices whose political plank was to sweep away the cobwebs of inefficiency and corruption from public life.

But as the year unfolded, the Aam Admi Party showed that the only thing they were capable of sweeping away were unimpeachably honest and visionary leaders like Yogendra Yadav. They proved beyond a shadow of doubt that they were just another bunch of political fortune seekers, a few of whom had forged documents on their way to achieve power and glory. And collectively, they were so bloody inefficient – let alone corruption – they were incapable of even sweeping away the mountains of garbage that kept piling up on the streets of Delhi. Instead, they blamed everyone else for the mess. And was the story any better on a national scale?

Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) was rocked by waves of misdeeds by their top leaders – a central minister and a state chief minister were found helping an acknowledged cheat who had amassed huge wealth through the politics of cricket, which is the most lucrative field in India after politics. He is presently a fugitive on the run. But the BJP stood rock solid behind the tainted leaders, much like their predecessors, the Congress Party.

Possibly the biggest organised crime in the world has happened in Chhatishgarh, a BJP ruled state. The rulers there installed a parallel system of giving jobs and admission to medical / engineering colleges to the highest bidders. The system, now known as the VYAPAM Scam, went on remorselessly for years. And to cover the tracks, almost 50 people involved with the crime have been murdered, although technically, they died in accidents etc. After a national outcry, the case was handed over to the “Caged Bureau of Investigation” in the hands of the central government and that’s last we heard of it. And the leaders of this wonderful BJP promised transparency and to end corruption. LOL!

But by far the worst crime of the central ruling party is that a large section of their leaders and followers have been waging a war against a fifth of the Indian population, that is, Muslims. Most sadly, on a global scale, an unbelievably cruel and inhuman group, ISIS is killing innocent people everywhere in the name of Islam. This incarnation of the Satan has given a huge handle to Muslim haters all over the world, from Donald Trump in the US to Indian MPs and sundry sadhus owing allegiance to BJP to say that Muslims are at the root of all the trouble.

But no one ever blamed Christians because some of them, led by two gentlemen named Bush and Blair, destroyed an entire country and killed countless innocent Iraqis. Incidentally, they also contributed hugely to the creation of ISIS.

But religious fanatics, who are not known for their intelligence, will never realize that you cannot exterminate an entire community. And the more you mistreat them, the more fanatics you create. The Hindu majority in India must embrace Muslims if they want peace and prosperity in the country.

The last year also began with the hope that there will be no more woman to experience the horrors that Nirbhaya Jyoti Singh went through. Although there has been a deluge of good intentions, nothing has changed on the ground. Rape has become as common a crime as pickpocketing. In my state West Bengal, a woman was dragged out of train and raped in front of her daughter by criminals close to the ruling party. Our semi-educated chief minister, who believes she knows everything under the sun, quickly said it was a concocted story, a conspiracy to tarnish her image. But a few of her party-men had to be arrested after widespread protests. The victim and her daughter even identified the criminals. Everyone thought it was an open-and-shut case. But a few weeks ago, the rapists were acquitted, either because the case was deliberately botched up by the police or because judgment was bought. And a few days later, the monster who tortured Jyoti the most was let off because when he committed the crime, he was few months under 18. So he was given the benefit of “childhood” by a singularly unimaginative judiciary that interpreted the law just as a computer would.

The year also ended with a clearly man-made (or should we say woman-made?) disaster that partly destroyed the wonderful, proud city of Chennai and made countless people homeless paupers.

Cry, my country!

But despite everything, it’s time to wipe off the mountain of despair that has piled up in our collective consciousness. Let’s move on and follow Gandhiji – let each one of us become the change that we want to happen.

Happy New Year, friends and everyone who’s reading this. Let all your dreams for 2016 come true and …

Let the world become a better place to live in.

Kolkata / Friday, 01 January 2016

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