WHAT WILL THE NATWAR SINGH’S BOOK DO?

On July 29, at around 4 PM, I received a regular Flipkart mailer about the exclusive online availability of Natwar Singh’s soon to be released autobiography with India’s largest online retailer. The pre-order offer was with 20% discount.

Had it not been a book by a politician with deep Congress sweet-turned-sour linkage and closeness with the Nehru-Gandhi family in the past, as Natwar Singh had, it would not have been so quick, given the fact that books of Amartya Sen and Salman Rushdie were available with greater pre-order discounts that what was on Natwar’s book.

Had it not been about the news reports of it being a tell-all book, the response on placing the order would not have been so spontaneous.

Had it not been about the prospects that it could corroborate (or debunk – though a remote possibility given the Natwar-Congress rift) many ‘myths’ and facts about the Nehru-Gandhi family, already out in the open with other insider accounts.

Okay, so the order was placed. Now, let’s see when the book arrives.

But one thing was sure – it was going to be all over soon. And within 24 hours, Natwar Singh’s yet to be ‘publicly’ released book was all over.

So, what will the Natwar Singh’s tell-all book do?

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TWO MONTHS OF MIXED DEVELOPMENTS, BUT THE SIGNALS SHOULD BE CLEAR

It’s been mixed two months. And May 26 to July 30 – cannot be the timeframe to judge a government’s acts.

Whatever have been there – the developments in these two months – cannot be the elements of writing the script for the coming five years.

But, then, in Indian politics, where morality has become an unknown entity, even one week is more than enough to give the opponents the arsenal to attack when the acts fall short of the promises made.

And it has been the case.

In the run-up of the General Elections 2014, the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) had run an intensive campaign, and Narendra Modi had overwritten every established norm of election campaigning by his hardwork.

And central to his hardwork was his promise of delivering India from the bad governance of the United Progressive Alliance government. He pitched for making India Congress free. He gave the Indians the dream of good days.

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WHERE DID GANGA AARTI BEGIN?

Well, where did Ganga Aarti begin?

Now, it can be a no brainer question if seen in isolation. Ganga, the lifeline of Indian civilization and its spiritual and social heritage, is said to be sent to earth ages ago by Lord Shiva to save the humanity from the imminent annihilation.

It’s mythological. It’s spiritual. It’s religious. Its faith, pure faith, believing in the story! God is nothing but faith.

Anyway, the context here is different. Ganga is being worshipped in India since her descent to earth.

So, asking, where did Ganga Aarti begin is a no brainer.

But, when it is asked in context of the elaborate ritual that is performed every evening around 6:45 PM on some Varanasi ghats including the Dashashwamedh Ghat and the Assi Ghat, the question gets is validity instantly.

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SOME SERIOUS SOUL-SEARCHING ON GANGA GHATS

a-morning-with-the-ganga-gets-younger-34

Banaras has countless places for one to get engaged in some serious soul-searching. And the Ganga ghats are the best place among all.

And when talking of ghats for soul-searching, two ghats stand out, for embodying the essence of human existence – Harishchandra Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat.

These two cremation ghats are considered the eternal embodiment of life’s grand illusions and the only grand reality – that, one has to die – that, no one can say ‘when’ – and, that, many blurred lines between illusions and realties of a life are dependent on this ‘when’.

Whether seriously intended, or just a random stop during a walk through the Ganga ghats in Varanasi, the atmosphere of these two ghats engages people sitting on the ghat-steps in thinking about the basic question of life – that we keep on asking regularly – and we ask when we depart finally – the purpose of life – what did we do and why did we do ‘what did we do’?

Attachments and detachment are subjected to the questions that we ask while sitting on these ghat-steps – and detachment gets us the sublime feeling of being free of all that is material – free of all that binds us – that nothing can change the destiny of our final moments when our physical presence is finally reduced to nothing – but our deeds of being the good human-beings – to us, to others, and to the existentialism of life.

The existential beauty of life – or some can say the existential irony – is the attachments get back to being the central to our existence once we move on to the next ghat from this realm of soul-searching.

The Entourage at the Final Resting Place

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

ARVIND KEJRIWAL VS BARACK OBAMA??

Did you say a wild comparison?

After all, one is a 49-day chief minister of Delhi, India’s National Capital Territory, who had to apologize for his ‘act of absconding’. Though he doesn’t accept it morally, the electoral and political compulsions after his ‘political martyrdom’ efforts tanked down in the Lok Sabha polls forced him to own the disaster his decision to vacate the Delhi CM’s office in order to look for greener pastures had become. He was forced to accept the ‘deserter’ tag in his own toned-down version.

And the other is the successful (though debatable on who sees what) President of the United States of America, the world’s only superpower (still). The world’s most powerful political person is in the second term of his Presidential office.

Professionally, Arvind Kejriwal began as engineer and graduated to become a finance professional working for the Government of India. Barack Obama is a Harvard educated lawyer.

So, where is the ground for comparison?

It is there, thanks to the Norwegian Nobel Committee and thanks to the Delhi electorate!

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MANIKARNIKA GHAT, WHERE THE LINE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH BLURS: THE DAYSPRING AT THE GANGA (1)

A MORNING WITH THE GANGA GETS YOUNGER
PHOTOGRAPHY

A series of sequential photographs of a Morning with the Ganga, travelling from the last phase of a night at the daybreak to the spring of the morning as it gets younger..

A Morning With the Ganga Gets Younger-34

MANIKARNIKA GHAT, WHERE THE LINE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH BLURS

THE DAYSPRING AT THE GANGA

Varanasi is because the Ganga is.

The Ganga ghats in Varanasi are the lively ecosystems of human living where life is always in motion, full of vibrant shades defining the every moment of day in its inhabitant’s lives.

A morning with the Ganga is the quality time worth living every day and a memory worth revisiting every day.

Sharing the moments of a morning with the Mother River when a day steps from the slowing rhythm of the night to the energized urge of the daybreak to evolve into a fully blossomed morning – soft, caring and motivating – is an experience of the lifetime.

It is a story that can be told and retold every day. It is a story that remains forever young, with Mother Ganga, with the Ganga ghats, with its mysticism, with its spirituality, with its flow of being Banarasi, with people from every walk of life and with people who are an inseparable part of this ecosystem.

And it is equally riveting to capture the moments.

Come, and be enchanted.

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©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE NIGHT HAS COME AFTER A LONG TIME

The night has come after a long time
To sit again, by the side of my head

Looks like the talk will be mutual
Something, the years have not seen

There is much to say and hear
Wish the hour now lasts longer

Such a night has come after ages
That didn’t betray its commitment

Like the other nights, even today,
Yes, there is no pillow of sleep

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AAP: UNEXPECTED HIGH TO UNEXPECTED LOW

First, it was an unexpected high. Then it was an unexpected low.

The unexpected high was for everyone, including the direct beneficiary. In fact, it came as a pleasant surprise for those who wished to see it happen but had not expected it to happen this way given the circumstances then.

The unexpected low was expected by everyone, (but) except the direct beneficiary, who could not read it or did not want to read it then and had a self-made spectacular fall – from grace, from the position of standing – that came to him because of the growing public frustration and disenchantment with the mainstream political lot.

That is the story of the newest political debutant on the mainstream political scene of India – the Aam Aadmi Party – and of Arvind Kejriwal – and of those who began their political journey with it – and of those who joined it later on, especially after the unexpected high of December 2013 – and those who left it or felt disenchanted enough to walk out of the half-baked activism and politics concoction – after the ‘expected’ unexpected low of May 2014.

Six months – from December 2013 to May (16) 2014 – sum up the what AAP has been so far and what it needs to do – to resurrect – or to decline even further to go to the final political oblivion.

As of now, it has absolute negatives in its score card –

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THE RANGARAJAN POVERTY LINES, TOO, FAIL INDIANS

I had written on Indian achievement on reducing poverty on July 24, 2013

In a huge, huge achievement, in a trademark Montek Singh Ahluwalia style, packaged and presented in the Manmohan Singh style, yesterday, all of a sudden, we the Indians were told by the economy wizard of the nation that his government had lifted almost 15 per cent of the Indians above the poverty line since 2004-05.

So, the school of Montekonomics, the Planning Commission of India has announced: “The percentage of persons below the Poverty Line in 2011-12 has been estimated as 25.7% in rural areas, 13.7% in urban areas and 21.9% for the country as a whole. The respective ratios for the rural and urban areas were 41.8% and 25.7% and 37.2% for the country as a whole in 2004-05. It was 50.1% in rural areas, 31.8% in urban areas and 45.3% for the country as a whole in 1993-94. In 2011-12, India had 270 million persons below the Tendulkar Poverty Line as compared to 407 million in 2004-05, that is a reduction of 137 million persons over the seven year period.”

And it is one year to July 24, 2013 – Manmohan Singh and Montek Singh Ahluwalia are not there to steer the Indian policy to decide on the poverty politics and poverty economics.

But the Rangarajan Committee appointed by the Manmohan Singh government has come out with Poverty Lines that undermine the glory of the moments Manmohan Singh had tried to project on patting his back for making India less poor and more Indians ‘poverty free’ – by assigning them a day of life on Rs. 33 in cities and Rs. 27 in villages – the exercise behind this relative realization of poverty was highly contagious – if it got Manmohan’s goodies, it also attracted public outrage and a huge political controversy like it had been the case a year earlier, in 2012.

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BEING POOR IN INDIA: THE NUMBERS

Related post: BEING POOR IN INDIA: IT IS STATISTICAL AS WELL

http://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/being-poor-in-india/

The extreme levels of poverty indicators by the United Nations say there are 1.2 billion extreme poor in the world.

The UN study (UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2014) estimated 400 million or 40 crore of it in India.

That is 1/3rd of the Indian population of around 120 crore.

So, the UN says around 40 crore of the Indians are extremely poor – they survive on less than US$ 1.25 a day, i.e., almost Rs. 75 a day (@Rupee to US$ exchange rate of 60).

Now let’s talk on some more numbers – on how India counts its poor and reduces the poverty ‘found’ among its citizens.

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