OSKAR SCHINDLER TELLS US..

Today is the day – when he came to this world – to tell us that a good soul lies within all of us.

SANTOSH CHAUBEY

Oskar Schindler (April 28, 1908 – October 9, 1974)

Today is the birth anniversary of Oskar Schindler, the Nazi party member and a German industrialist who saved thousands of Jews (the 1200 Schindlerjuden or the ‘Schindler Jews’ in his factories and their over 8000 descendants now), from Hitler’s concentration camps and gas chambers.

The movie Schindler’s List is a milestone event in telling us the larger-than-life humanitarian side of Oskar Schindler who initially thought of and made quick money by manipulating the Jew resources and manpower in the Nazi ghettos for Jews.

Oskar Schindler tells us the ‘good in us’ is certainly more powerful and is as universal as the evils like Nazism or Fascism.

It just needs its spark. Realizing it is individual. Schindler could realize it. Countless others couldn’t. And this prospect about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides of humanity is timeless.

This final scene from the movie directed…

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YES, HE WAS THE MAHATMA..

Communal riots date back to the ancient times in the history of India. Hindu-Muslims riots began during the medieval period. And since then the travesty has been unabated – with varying degrees of terror and its aftermath.

And that is a major reason among some defining elements due to which India is still not among the most forward nations in the world – in spite of being the world’s largest democracy.

In fact, India’s independence, its partition and the birth of Pakistan in 1947 saw the worst Hindu-Muslim riots in India – unparalleled so far then – a massacre that remains unparalleled still.

And these riots that preceded and followed India’s independence and Pakistan’s birth tell why Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was revered as the ‘Mahatma’ or ‘Bapu’ – the ascetic, the sage, the father figure.

Yes, there are varying accounts and there are historical records and claims about what happened to the Hindu-Muslim riots, especially the most heinous of them in Noakhali in Bengal where the Mahatma camped for around four months touring villages to calm down tempers.

We know, on the whole, the warring factions, that then included the whole population of an aspiring Pakistan and an equally sizeable chunk in India could never be reconciled and one nation became two and ultimately three in 1971.

But one fact is indisputable clear – that – the Mahatma did calm down the tempers there. Yes, he could not bring the warring factions to the final solution of reconciliation but he stopped something that could easily have become one of the worst human massacres in the history of civilizations.

And we know that is a rare feat – in fact an unparalleled sentiment he commanded. Hindu-Muslim riots have continued even in the independent India – but right from its beginnings in the medieval India – there never was a person like the Mahatma who could stand among those ready to kill and be killed to ask them to stop and in fact convinced them to do so. And there will no else like him in that sense we can say. Yes, he was the Mahatma who did this unthinkable job because history again tells us that the people blinded by faith refuse to listen to anyone. 

These are difficult times. Bapu was questioned even then. But now is the time when history is being worked upon. Ideologies are clashing. And we need our Mahatma – his thoughts, his teachings, his vision, and the spirit that he embodied. India, in fact, always needed it. And now is the time when the need is desperate. Now is the time when we need to reach out to say yes he was the Mahatma who set us on the path to independence and the best tribute to him would be to be make an India where we all would be ‘really free souls’. 

Bapu

October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948

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

SWAMI OR MAHATMA: THEY ARE ALWAYS THERE.

Swami Vivekananda is even more relevant today. Mahatma Gandhi is even more needed today. Sai Baba of Shirdi has become even more rational in the times of irrational logics being promoted by many religious gurus.

Okay, that is the stuff we always say – remembering some great icon whenever his or her anniversary comes – whenever a landmark day associated with someone’s life and times recur.

But, in totality, in reality – the greats like these, they always matter – they always remain relevant – they always sound logical and ‘needed’.

Because evolution (of civilization) is an open-ended process that takes hues as times change – taking something new – going back to old ones – reworking and modifying on something already existing.

Evolution of civilizations is a never ending and ever resuscitating process – that is always old and always new. One can always find ways, reasons and premises to reminisce on things experienced back in life. Technology changes face of the world but technology, like imperialism, like democracies, is just another aspect that defines civilizations.

What remains always in the root – of humanity – of human societies – of human civilizations – spread across the world – since the dawn of the earliest human civilization – (and will remain so till the very last of us survive here) – is the fact that humanity is driven by the conscience of such greats who come to guide us in every age – and leave behind them an imprint of a conscious that shows us the light in difficult times – in times when we have questions – and more questions – in times when answers either don’t come to our thinking or fail to answer our questions effectively.

The problems that societies face, the issues that need answers in every age are basically same – how to be a good human being and how to let others live a dignified life that we aspire for ourselves.

This has been the basic tenet of human civilizations – this is something that we always arrive at after a dreaded, bloody war or after a prolonged spell of civil unrest or in the aftermath of a devastating terror attack.

It has remained so – since the early days – when we started organizing ourselves in groups from nomadic tribes – to formation of city states – to kingdoms – to countries – to modern day nations – and will always remain so.

And so will remain the conscience of greats like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi or Gautam Buddha, or Lord Rama or Jesus Christ or Prophet Muhammad or Guru Nanak or countless other saints and sages or noble souls who have shown light to us by their teachings – teachings telling us varied aspects of life – but with the soul focus that how to become a good human being – that how to transcend your soul to the higher level.

It is not that I have read all teachings of Swami Vivekananda or Ramakrishma Paramhamsa. But I started feeling the pull of their words very early in my life. I used to visit Ramakrishna Mission in Varanasi and used to spend my time in book shop there. But one thing that I did not like was the elaborate ritual that was performed daily there to worship the Swami. Once I tried to sit through the session but found myself dilemmatic about the idea later on. The big grand temple of the Mission that I saw in Lucknow also gave me some uneasy feelings. But then it happens with all great names. Their followers justify their ill-placed logic with vivid reasons.

But what matters for the larger good of humanity – is the teachings of our greats who come to show us the path and who will be here to deliver us from the bad in the future. And remember, these greats never say to be blind in your faith. Be logical. Be rational. Feel, experience and follow – or don’t follow.

Swami Vivekananda’s life is its best manifestation. He initially did not believe in God the way his immediate society propagated the idea. He had his questions and doubts even he met Ramakrishna. His faith gradually transcended – from questions to completion.

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

LINCOLN IS..AS GOOD CINEMA IS..

Good cinema is refreshing.

And at times, it proves levitating as well.

Like most people, I also love films – but I am quite selective about what I watch and how I watch.

Films are a brilliant tool to learn from, to think over and to create a lasting memory worth revisiting – the meaningful cinema is all about that.

Films are also the most potent tool for soft communication (or for soft power projection) when the need is to reach masses not restricted by boundaries.

Films created with a ‘craft conscience’ are case studies in themselves to study the art and craft of cinemamaking, to analyse the subject they are based on and to look into the values of the society they are set into.

Such thoughts come to mind whenever I watch some good, meaningful film. And all these thoughts were there again when I was watching ‘Lincoln’ again this evening – a world cinema classic, a production with honourable values in the annals of cinemamaking.

The 2012 film about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US President, by Steven Spielberg focuses on the final months of Lincoln’s life. It is a moving document to study – for those who are well-informed, for those who are just familiar and for those as well who are not at all aware of. The movie is an important modern day source of one of the most important emancipatory moves made by humans to empower fellow human beings in a democratic society. In fact, the concept of a free society with constitutional equality for all began with this history-making decision executed by Abraham Lincoln in 1865 – making discrimination based on skin colour constitutionally illegal in the United States of America.

Yes, there have been and there are debates and critiques about the cinematic representation of the historical developments in the film but a good piece of ‘meaningful’ cinema liberates you to enjoy the show and inspires you to know further – like, I believe, many would have tried after watching the movie.

The art, the craft, the soul, the flesh – all ingredients of great cinemamaking are here in blossoming health I can say – with acting, with direction, with writing, with lights and camera, with score, with sets, with costumes, with props and so on – and historically, the movie is accurate enough to make viewers sit and experience the age defining development in the modern history of human civilization in making in a thrilling, riveting fashion.

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

THE MAHATMA WILL ALWAYS REMAIN THE CONSCIENCE OF HUMANITY..

Mahatma Gandhi will always remain great because he was one among us – and he will always remain ‘the one’ among us.

And for that reason – and for that reason alone – October 2 will remain the universal day of humanity – not just in India – but across the world.

And the world is celebrating this spirit – the UN has declared October 2 – the birth anniversary of the Mahatma – as the ‘International Day of Non-Violence’.

The movement was initiated in 2004 and the UN had adopted it in 2007. The UN page on the day says – “The International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.”

Yes, non-violence is the only universal principle that can guide the humankind to an egalitarian world – where each human life has same scalability.

And non-violence is the only guiding principle that can ensure equal distribution of opportunities to each human life.

The Mahatma will always remain great because we know the world, in spite of realizing the ‘inevitability’ of non-violence, has failed to build a ‘humanitarian world’.

History of human civilization is replete with violence – men killing men. The world is still plagued with ‘man-created’ violence in many parts of the world.

The modern day world – with its contemporary times – is best chance for humanity to aspire for a world of ‘universal humanity’ – and that world can only be built by eradicating wars and other forms of terror.

But, in the prevailing geopolitical circumstances, that looks a ‘far-fetched’, hypothetical concept.

Well, when the Mahatma had started practicing non-violence, first in South Africa and then in India, to oppose, and then to uproot the mighty British Empire, people had dismissed him first. Gandhi used to be a subject of mock initially.

And we all know the might of ‘Satyagraha-non-violence’ today.

It was the might of ‘Satyagraha’ only that could ‘successfully’ take on the might of British Empire. We recently witnessed this ‘might’ again – not just in India – but in many parts of the world. The underlying theme of every mass protest in the recent history – the global ‘Occupy’ movement, the Arab Spring, anti-corruption movements of India and Pakistan, universalization of Guy Fawkes masks as the symbol of mass protests – has been the principle of non-violence.

Strengthening democracies and minimizing wars are the basic needs of the day – and non-violence is the basic tenet, the guiding conscience behind every such thought process.

And life the Mahatma is its best manifestation – and a robustly functional Indian democracy is the best tribute to him.

The Mahatma

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

‘RETURN IF POSSIBLE’ DR. KALAM

Now that is a desperate plea to someone departed who was so beloved. That is an expression that we so often hear in such moments.

It was expected to happen and it was so heartening to see it happening. I read this opinion and the poignant thoughts that followed from multitudes of voices.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, India’s foremost scientist and human being, who was also India’s most unorthodox President in India’s recent political history, was the main news theme even today. And he is expected to be there tomorrow and the day after as well, in every mind, on every news agenda. His body will be flown to his home town Rameswaram tomorrow where his last rites will be performed on Thursday (July 30).

Dr. Kalam who curated and spearheaded India’s missile programme (and for that he is known as India’s Missile Man) and who was the main brain behind India’s nuclear tests in 1998, died yesterday while delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong. Doctors later said it was a massive cardiac arrest and Dr. Kalam was brought dead to the hospital.

No one trusted when the news first broke in media and social media. For some time, there was no official confirmation. But it soon became clear that Dr. Kalam, who, it is said, left the Rashtrapati Bhavan with the same suitcase that he had come with, had left us. The eternal teacher who departed from this world while teaching his students had left his body at 84 after living a youthful life – that is a lesson for humanity.

But many were not ready to take this even if reactions and tributes started pouring in. They kept on praying for miracle. They kept on praying with ‘return if possible’ Sir, as I read it on many communication channels.

That tells why and how a man becomes larger than life. For Dr. Kalam, his nation, India, was before everything and he followed it in letter and spirit while leading a simple, honest and frugal life – a life full of achievements, achievements that helped India live its scientific prowess in space and defence sectors.

The teacher in him, the disciplinarian in a scientist, the optimist in a person, the rationalist in a politician and the visionary in a leader will always stay with us a spirit to guide many of us.

After all, India has stopped producing such souls for whom the whole nation, across religions and classes, mourns.

India has not seen such a uniform expression of universal shock and tribute in years and will not see in many coming years.

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

A MAN LIKE DR. KALAM WOULD HAVE WANTED SUCH A DEPARTURE FROM THIS WORLD

Till 8 PM, it was the Gurdaspur terror strike, continuing its run that had begun at the daybreak. The terror attack that was on every airwave till 8 PM, was suddenly pushed to the backdrop with a shocking news.

Around 8 PM, the unconfirmed news of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s sudden demise in Shillong broke. Though it soon became clear that he was no more, it took some time to make the sad development official.

And once it was in, it swept the media outfits.

The news of sudden demise of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, the country’s missile-man, the scientist who spearheaded our coveted missile programme, the scientists who was among the best few human begins this nation has ever produced, came as a shock for everyone.

It was like for someone so close to us – that we first refuse to believe when it comes to such developments.

And we didn’t believe it. We found hard to believe it. Many of us who knew he was already dead before it was made official prayed for some miracle to happen.

But as the cliché goes that ‘miracles seldom happen in real life’ – the miracle we were praying for didn’t happen. Around 9 PM, Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted confirming his death and the flow of reactions that had begun some minutes ago, became an unstoppable flood – where everyone was adding to the sentiments.

How much nation (and its people) APJ Abdul Kalam was evident soon from the news agenda of the day that was driven by many personal feelings as well.

On a day, when India was again forced to handle a terror crisis that could have become another 26/11 for us (November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks), media and social media had nothing but reactions and tributes about Dr. Kalam. The coverage prime time onwards was only about Dr. Kalam. The flood that is growing strong with pouring tributes and is expected to be in the same vein tomorrow.

Such things make us feel proud, give us hope in moments of such despair when we suddenly feel crushed by developments like Dr. Kalam’s death.

He needed much more than tweets by the President and the Prime Minister of India. And indeed, they came first with their reactions on camera. Reactions of shock and dismay poured in from every quarter of people in India. From common people to politicians to business people to sports people to other fames names – heartfelt tributes flooded the channels of communication.

A man like Dr. Kalam would have always wanted such a departure from this world – an universal expression of love – driving people to react spontaneously – making them feel the pain.

On a day when India had an hours long terror crisis in Punjab, that it said was perpetrated by Pakistani terrorists, everyone, be of any religion, was one in pain on demise of Dr. Kalam, a Muslim. And that says why India’s secular credentials are so strong to stay here. After all, Dr. Kalam had famously said – “For great men, religion is a way of making friends; small people make religion a fighting tool.”

The nation is proud of his legacy – that would always guide us. No other man, from any walk of Indian life, in the prevailing circumstances, can expect to get such an unbiased love that people expressing for him this night. His aura was truly transcendental that touched us all.

We are in mourning but the pain becomes bearable with the kind of universal tribute he is getting, that greats like him should get.

Some images from his Twitter page:

APJ-2 APJ-3 APJ-4 APJ-5 APJ-NM

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

MARCH 23, 1931: CONTEMPORARY INDIAN HISTORY LOOKS TO RHYME IT IN 2015

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
― Mark Twain

The resonance of the assonance the time weaves is an imperative that inevitably comes. That is the history of history.

So history may be subjected to subjective subjugations, manipulating it to the extent to sound its alter-ego. But, in the contemporary history where history records itself, as the time moves ahead, by having enough of the ‘types’ being its eyes and ears, that they preserve its objectivity for everyone who cares for.

So, people, even in the archetypal dictatorships, take on to the streets, to revisit their history, to correct their history, to make premises for a history that would be recorded ‘as it goes’.

Like everywhere else, in the contemporary history, it is true with the contemporary Indian history as well, including its Independence Movement.

Most of us (who are willing) have access to what happened during the pre-Independence era and what followed.

And it tells us India owes its Independence in 1947 to the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. No rational mind would debate it.

And it is equally true that no rational mind would debate the contributions of those who differed with the Mahatma on the issue of ideology – the league of revolutionaries including Subhash Chandra Bose, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh and many more.

They all inspired the ordinary Indians to go beyond their personal perceptions to raise a collective call for full independence.

But the way the post-Independence India followed its history skewed the facts of its Independence struggle giving space to few while ignoring others. It left it poorly expressed. It left it incompletely done, a verse with no rhyming.

So, while most of us, who bother to read, know about Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, or even Bal Gangadhar Tilak or Gopal Krishna Gokhale or Lala Lajpat Rai or Madan Mohan Malaviya or many more like them – but don’t know when they were born, when they died, the place of their final journies, where their descendents are – because the politics of post-Independence India never bothered about them beyond lip-service.

But as Mark Twain says, history does find ways to find elements to rhyme itself.

March 23 is the Martyrdom Day of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru who were hanged by the colonial British rulers in a Lahore prison in 1931.

March 23 comes every year and goes. Apart from routine mentions and some social media activity (in recent times), it doesn’t generate much buzz.

But with a changed political dispensation with a different ideology, Indian politics is searching for different symbols, to add to the existing ones or to replace them – to rework the ideological symbolism of Indian politics.

And March 23 has rightly found a prominent place in this search, and through it, the contemporary Indian history has found the elements to find a way to rhyme its tales on Indian freedom struggle.

The Martyrdom Day of the great revolutionaries this year is going to create front page headlines and round the clock coverage and thus a greater public exposure.

A very handful of Indians would be aware of ‘Hussainwala’ or ‘Khatkar Kalan’ but tomorrow most of them would be reading or googling about them.

The colonial cowardice of the then British government pushed for a secretive, hastened hanging of the revolutionary trio and their bodies were cremated at Hussainiwala in Punjab’s Ferozepur district. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going there tomorrow to pay his tributes. A PM is going there after 30 years when it had to be a regular affair.

Khatkar Kalan is the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh. It is Punjab’s Nawanshahr district that is now known as Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. Anna Hazare is going there tomorrow to pay homage.

Let’s see if we see similar moves followed with native places of Sukhdev and Rajguru.

The Aam Aadmi Party is going to launch a state-wide agitation in Uttar Pradesh against the Land Acquisition Bill. Congress is going to do that in Tamil Nadu.

Include many other planned and unplanned incidents on the similar lines and expect social media trends generating high volumes.

So, there are by-the-government- and anti- government moves planned for tomorrow, but the good thing for Indian history is that March 23 is the central theme, the common cord of all.

Hope, the rhyming will be lyrically balanced this time.

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

THE UNCOMMON CREATOR OF THE UNCOMMON ‘COMMON MAN’ IS NO MORE

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I would ask this question regularly in my childhood while looking at, reading or trying to understand, that who was this grandpa.

He looked familiar, by his outlook, and funny enough to keep me with him with his glasses and bushy but carved moustache.

Eyes would go to that the pocket corner first while scanning the newspaper, after all who reads them in carefree and free days of childhood, to find what the grandpa-next-home would have come with to tell us next, irrespective of my level of understanding.

But even in those days of privileged ‘lack of understanding’, the grandpa and his corner was fairly understandable and engaging most of the time.

And with time, with growing exposure to the experiences of life, even this ‘lack of understanding’ was flattened out.

While deepening understanding about the essence of the ‘being of the grandpa’.

He was the ubiquitous, affable, lovable and quintessential Common Man, brought alive and made perpetual by R K Laxman, from the class of the legendary cartoonists of India, who passed away today at 94.

In childhood, if he made for the triad of ‘Chacha Chaudhary, TV adaptation of Malgudi Days, creation of his elder brother R K Narayan and the Common Man’ – one of the many outlets to pack as much content in my buzzing mind as possible – with growing adulthood and the subsequent years in life (and even now) – he was and has been among the primary ingredients of the daily dose of meaningful humour, satire the R K Laxman way – sometimes direct, sometimes subtle, at times both – but always enjoyable, always thought-provoking and always to-the-point.

R K Laxman’s ‘Common Man’ is among the most influential symbols of ‘cartoons being a serious tool of satire’.

And his Common Man has stayed ‘uniformly and brilliantly serious enough’ for decades to pull our attention, to push us to think, to make us smile on forced absurdities, excesses and trivialities.

The uncommon creator of the equally uncommon ‘Common Man’ breathed his last today after an illustrious career spanning decades where ‘he said’ and we ‘listened to him’.

But the common man is so quintessential to our existence, so imperative to our thinking and so intrinsic to our day-to-day lives that ‘The Common Man’ is going to stay with us forever – the best possible tribute to an artist – in this case, a legendary one, in league of his own – R K Laxman – Rest in Peace Sir.

Images: R K Laxman’s cartoons and images sourced from different online resources

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

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THE MAN WAS THE MONK DIVINE

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA – JANUARY 12, 1863 – JULY 4, 1902 

How long you live to learn what is life
How far you go to read its message
It’s not about adding years to existence
it’s not about counting years gone by

Walking, going inside on the journey
Living a life, free of its realms, rising up
Asking for its whereabouts, its ways
Reading the texts for answers to question

A way to live, a way to life, on the journey
Leaving nothing beyond the questions
Trying, refusing and accepting, even God
With the purity of childhood innocence

The Man of 39 was the monk divine
With the radiance of an enlightened youth
Embodying virtues of human universalities
He was the Swami of collective humanity

Much like the unorthodox ways of his Master
Winning over the conflicts of age and faith
Transcending beyond the quest of identity
His intelligence was august, his humility sublime

A life lived then is a life forever, a message eternal
The living experimented then is the call perpetual
Son of a nation, he was torchbearer of a civilization
Brother of humanity, he was doyen of a philosophy

The man of 39 was the wisdom of forgotten times
Resurrecting a way of life from the depths imposed
Bringing to life a nation’s compromised conscience
He was the dear sage of universal humankind

Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached
That is what he taught us to be, asked us to do
To become the enlightened souls, free from fear
A way to live, a way of life, on the journey here

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