ONLY IN PAKISTAN: DONALD TRUMP WAS BORN IN PAKISTAN!

The article’s Hindi version appeared on iChowk.

Did you hear it? Did you laugh? After all, this is laughable that America’s next President Donald Trump was born in Pakistan. That Donald Trump who has shown a clear tilt towards India (and has crticised Pakistan severely)! That Donald Trump whose victory has made Pakistan quite uncomfortable! Neo News, a Pakistani broadcaster, had shown a news package last month, before Trump’s election, illuminating us with ‘only in Pakistan’ wisdom that Donald Trump was born in Pakistan.

According to the clip, the Neo News anchor says that Donald Trump is actually a Pakistani and it has added yet another aspect about Donald Trump on social media.

The voice-over then educates us that the Republican nominee Donald Trump was born in Pakistan and not in America. Trump’s original name, who was born on June 14, 1946 in Waziristan, is Dawood Ibrahim Khan. Trump had his initially schooling in a Madrassa. According to the clip Trump’s parents died in a road accident in 1954 and he was taken to London by a British-Indian Army captain in 1955. The Trump family had adopted him in 1955 and in this way Waziristan’s Dawood Ibrahim Khan became Donald Trump of Queens area of New York City.

The voice-over says that they (the Neo News folks) are not saying all this but this is going viral on social media. According to the Neo News package, those curious and diligent information-diggers have also found out Donald Trump’s childhood photographs, his DNA test results and his birth-certificate to prove his Pakistani origins.

Now it is no big deal to make news stories and packages on viral social media content but what is abnormal here that a news broadcaster picked this viral but silly and laughable content without applying any thought (if at all a line of thought exists).

Had it been part of some parody or laughter show we could have got some sense of its use there. But what to say of the Pakistani media that mostly survives on propaganda, especially the anti-India propaganda. Recently, when India had carried out surgical strike deep inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, the whole Pakistani media had (as usual) become a mouth-organ of the Pakistani ruling establishment in telling to the world that the Indian claims of surgical strike was false and how the Pakistani missiles were ready to destroy India.

There were such bizarre/funny/ridiculous claims on the Pakistani prime time that you can only laugh – like this one that due to the ongoing hostilities and war-like situation between India and Pakistan, some 40,000 Indian soldiers had applied for sick leave fearing the wrath of the Pakistani army.

Anyway let’s be clear that the US rules don’t allow a person to become the US President who is not born in America. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood legend, who was the Governor of California, can never become the US President because he was born in Austria. Even Barack Obama, the outgoing US President, had to show his birth certificate to clear the air that he was born in America (Hawaii) and Donald Trump who will replace Obama, had actively contributed to such conspiracy theories.

©SantoshChaubey

HAD NEVER SEEN SOCIAL PARITY IN INDIA LIKE THIS!

I had never seen social parity at this level, here in India, before this current phase that is undoing many historical stereotypes.

Being a media professional, I was aware of it since the moment it began, but it is only today that I got the first hand experience.

But before that, let’s be clear about it – that social parity basically applies to them who form the majority of our society – except out upper middles classes and elites (including some VIPism folks from the lower middle class). So this time also it is going to be about this ‘majority’. Like always, the other folks are never in this rate-race.

I had to go the Delhi airport today and I had only Rs. 500 notes in my wallet and some change that accounted for around Rs. 200. So, in spites of having a loaded purse, I was literally impoverished – to the hilt – because the airport ride needed anything around 500-1000 bucks depending on the mode of transport I would choose.

Okay, I could have gone the cashless way but there was this desperate urge to try the Delhi Metro route hoping that I would be able to get at least some change for my Rs. 500 notes. So there I was.

But to my dismay I found there (at Delhi Metro stations) sympathetic customer care executives or nonchalant cash counters but not the problem of my solution. And soon whatever change I had was gone.

And I was not alone. There were multitudes. How I came out of this quagmire is a story for another day. Today it is basically about the social parity this sudden move by the Government of India has brought where all the biggies have suddenly become commoners like us – at least for the stuff that they need cash to trade for – like in transportation or petrol pumps or for buying the stuff of daily usage like milk or grocery items. Now you can use your Rs. 500 or Rs. 1000 notes at many places but the problem is even those places are running dry.

So, all of a sudden, uniformity can be seen among masses thronging our roads or streets. Those having millions or those barely surviving on their salaries or daily earnings, they all can be seen in ATM or bank queues. I appreciate AIIMS for this sort of culture – in spite of having loads of people from VIP fulcrum or staff-linkages, a man flashing his latest iPhone model can be seen in same queue waiting for his turn along with the man who kills his waiting hours by playing with the buttons of basic feature phone.

If we leave some of the super-elite aside (after all, in every democratic society, a class like this always exists – after all, history needs to preserve its elements, even if it is elitism and VIPism), all in the society looked on an open platform today which had no extensions to offer.

They all are talking of the similar pains (and gains).

So, even if everyone was flashing his Rs. 500 or Rs. 1000 note, it meant nothing to the guy sitting on the other side. And it is the story of the whole country.

It was like – either everyone was victim – or everyone was perpetrator – though the victim corollary works better here.

It is like you have all – and you have nothing.

Everyone was looking in a similar social hue today – in fact has been looking like this since November 8 when prime minister Narendra Modi suddenly announced that the biggies of our currency flow would become unwanted existences post midnight.

©SantoshChaubey

YADAVS’ FIRST FAMILY: A CARTOONIST’S DELIGHT :)

Well, that is exactly what has happened with recent events – developments, statements and even silence – everything gives an interesting sense of déjà vu. Everything has happened as it was thought to be – but with loads of moments that are pure delight for any cartoonist with an eye for political humour and satire.

We can say,

PAL MEIN TOLA PAL MEIN MASHA, KITNE RANG BADALTE HAIN.

SOMETIMES THEY PLAY FAST. SOMETIMES THEY PLAY LOOSE. HOW MANY COLOURS THEY CHANGE?

Or

(SOMETIMES IT PLAYS FAST. SOMETIMES IT PLAYS LOOSE. HOW MANY COLOURS IT CHANGES?)

Any which way you want to say 🙂

Or we can say,

A FAMILY THAT SPARS TOGETHER, SPEARS TOGETHER.

Or we can say,

A FAMILY THAT PRAYS TOGETHER, AFFRAYS TOGETHER.

Or we can say,

A FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER, DISPLAYS IT TOGETHER.

Or we can the staple one 🙂 🙂

A FAMILY..THAT DISAGREES TO DISAGREE.

muakhishiv-1

(CARTOON BY RAGINI CHAUBEY)

YADAVS’ FIRST FAMILY: A CARTOONIST’S DELIGHT 🙂

©SantoshChaubey

IT SEEMS THE WHOLE UNIVERSE IS CONSPIRING AGAINST PAKISTAN

We may call it coincidence or destiny’s cruel joke or poetic justice of nature, but whatever propaganda Pakistan is spreading against India these days, it is coming back to hit it only, be it geopolitical in nature or anything else.

Something on these lines happened today in an interesting development. Pakistan’s senate today passed ‘a resolution unanimously to felicitate the Pakistani cricket team on becoming number one in the test cricket’. And today only Pakistan lost its number one spot. And that, too, to India.

India today defeated New Zealand to win the second consecutive test match of the three match series and took an invincible lead of 2-0. And with it India regained its top spot in the test cricket. India was the top test playing country before Pakistan.

Pakistan had become number one on August 22 after India-West Indies test series had ended in a 2-2 draw – while to retain its top rank, India had to win the series by 3-0.

Perhaps, the Pakistani ruling elite could not get time since then (or pulse for it). Anyway, better late than never. Even if it took 40 days (since August 22)! But, see what happened! And they chose this day!

While the Pakistani Senate was passing the resolution honouring the Pakistani cricket team for becoming number one, it slipped back. And that, too, to India!

And in times when anti-India sentiments in Pakistan have peaked. This incident tells us that destiny doesn’t want to stay with Pakistan anymore. Naturally, if the Pakistani senators would have realized that India could unseat Pakistan from the top spot today, they would never have gone for it. True, misfortune spoils the mind!

Pakistani military and its ruling elite have always adopted an anti-India stand and have always practiced and fuelled anti-India propaganda. Fomenting and spreading terrorism in India and showing India in a negative light on international platforms have always been on the main agenda of every Pakistani ruling elite.

Now that India is responding back (strongly) to this Pakistani agenda, both militarily and diplomatically, the skewed balance that Pakistan was enjoying so far, has gone to a toss. And in fact, is rightly tilting in India’s favour, especially after the Surgical Strike deep across Line of Control (LoC) in Pak-occupied-Kashmir. And no one is taking Pakistan seriously even if it has scaled up its Kashmir rant and is doing its every bit to convince the world that India did not carry any surgical strike in PoK and it was mere a rumour.

A game should be treated with sportsmanship and being number one or two or victory or defeat is an inherent part of it. But timing is the devil here. This whole newsbreak has nothing special about it but this coincidence, which, if we say in the style of Paulo Coelho, says that the ‘whole universe is conspiring against Pakistan’ – (even if its advantage goes to India or India somehow comes in the scene).

©SantoshChaubey

A SHARIF TAKES AWAY SHARAFAT (DECENCY) OF ANOTHER SHARIF!

Nawaz Sharif became Pakistan’s prime minister for the third term in June 2013. His party had emerged as the largest one the national general elections held in May 2013 but fell short of six seats from the House majority threshold. Later, 19 independents joined his party and he formed the government with a simple majority. It was a historical first for Pakistan – power transition from a civilian government to the next – after a democratically elected government from the 2008 elections completed its term.

Since Nawaz Sharif was seen as an influential and strong leader in Pakistan’s politics and since Pakistan was going to have a democratically elected government for possibly another five years, the world had expected that Nawaz Sharif would take forward the democratic transformation process and would be successful in reducing the political influence of the army.

Something that was going to be the biggest challenge for next chief of the Pakistan Army – General Raheel Sharif – that how to clip Nawaz Sharif’s wings. Raheel Sharif took charge of the Pakistani army in November 2013.

It means Nawaz Sharif had the early mover advantage and a window of six months to make his moves, to fix his equations and to repeat the history of 2008 and 2013.

The world knows that creating and maintaining India’s terror in the mindset of Pakistan’s population has become its army’s lifeline. For this, it goes to any level of propaganda, fear pyschosis and war mongering. Irrespective of what was in Nawaz Sharif’s heart, he chose to target this lifeline to consolidate his grip on power. Narendra Modi invited Nawaz Sharif and other SAARC leaders for his government’s oath-taking ceremony and it looked as if a new chapter in India-Pakistan ties was about to be written. It came with positive vibes. Nawaz didn’t meet the Kashmiri separatists during his visit, a clear departure from the past tradition which saw every visiting Pakistani dignitary meeting the separatist factions from J&K. it was further extended and we saw mangoes and sarees exchanged. Moreover, the Ufa joint statement, released by India and Pakistan in July 2015, had no mention of Kashmir, again a clear departure from the policy adopted by Pakistan in the past.

Though some small incidents and war of words did happen during this period, on a whole, the message that went to the world was that a personal chemistry was developing between Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif and this would take care of such small skirmishes. If the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj was the privileged guest of Nawaz Sharif’s family, Narendra Modi took a sudden detour to wish Nawaz Sharif personally on his birthday on December 25 last year while returning from Afghanistan. Such incidents were indicative of that developing personal chemistry.

But then we should not assume that, in the meantime, the other Sharif (Raheel Sharif) was not doing anything. Not at all!

Raheel Sharif knew that he was behind Nawaz Sharif by six months and he needed to move swiftly – but with meticulousness and detailing. And though he was always busy making his moves, as indicated from time to time by ceasefire violation, terrorism and infiltration incidents in Kashmir, Ufa joint statement and corruption allegations on Nawaz Sharif, especially after his name figured in the leaked Panama Papers, gave him the opportunity he was looking for – to make his final move – to deal the final blow – that would again tell the people that Pakistan is still the real dominion of its army. Equations changed rapidly after it.

Raheel Sharif prepared such a concoction of Ufa, corruption and Kashmir that Nawaz Sharif had no option but to swallow. And to help Nawaz Sharif, there was popular opinion swing in army’s favor owing to incessant terror attacks in almost every part of Pakistan. Add to it the anti-corruption appeal, on which even many political parties openly advocated the clean-up required by the army, Nawaz Sharif suddenly had an adversary who was efficiently crushing him. But Raheel Sharif did it systematically – from 2014 to 2015 – from 2015 to 2016 – no jumps. It is only that Nawaz Sharif realized it too late.

Raheel Sharif first got the India-Pakistan national security advisors level talks cancelled in August 2015. Then got Pathankot terror strike stage managed by Pakistani terrorists and left Nawaz Sharif to bear its cost. Next he fuelled unrest in Kashmir and left names like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin, who are in India’s most wanted list, to run amok and openly spew venom against India.

How long India and Narendra Modi could have taken it?

Narendra Modi gave Nawaz Sharif more than enough chances but it was Nawaz Sharif who left Modi midway and abandoned the aura of decency he was trying to put on ever since Narendra Modi had invited him to his government’s inaugural. If Nawaz Sharif had his political compulsions and political survival to finally plunge in anti-India politics to appease his domestic audience and army in order to save his corruption ridden government, Narendra Modi, too, had compulsions of answering to India’s people who were increasingly growing uncomfortable of Pakistani designs. Raheel Sharif had half succeeded when he had co-opted Nawaz Sharif. He was fully in the game when India said enough was enough and no more talks with Pakistan till the guns went silent.

Now that India has unleashed a diplomatic offensive on a tit-for-tat scale to raise Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Balochistan human rights violations to counteract Pakistan’s Kashmir rant, it has started unnerving the Pakistani political establishment. Nawaz Sharif is finding it increasingly difficult to convince the world leaders about his Kashmir rant. All this has weakened Nawaz Sharif’s position compared to 2013 and everyone knows that it can be the beginning of his end and the initiation of a full-fledged political role for the Pakistani army.

And whatever little decency Nawaz Sharif was left with, that also was taken away when Raheel Sharif made him deliver that rubbish speech with a flat, expressionless face to a UN audience during his UN General Assembly address on September 21.

Nawaz Sharif looked like some poor chap that day who was ejaculating words stuffed in his mouth by Raheel Sharif who used him as a pawn to convey the viewpoint of the Pakistani army. Nawaz Sharif totally looked and sounded spellbound by the dictation that Raheel Sharif had given him prior to his speech. Sharif gave 8 minutes of his 19 minutes UNGA address to Kashmir saying how disturbed the whole Pakistan is and how disturbed the humanity should be on the plight of the Kashmiri people. While explaining all this, an emotional stuff, not even a single emotion crossed from his face. Also, he didn’t mention the Uri attack that had killed 18 Indian soldiers, most of them sleeping, even though it has become clear that the terrorists had come from Pakistan. And to add more to his growing list of miseries (it doesn’t matter anymore if he did it himself or Raheel Sharif again used the pawn in him), Nawaz Sharif, from an official global platform, and that too the biggest one, the United Nations, chose to endorse someone who was self-proclaimed terrorist commander of a declared terrorist outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen. Now only both of these Sharifs can tell who gave them this wisdom, but it was certainly a bravado that is going to cost Pakistan dear and will haunt the nation for years.

And the writing has started appearing on the wall. Pakistan’s duplicity has not gone unnoticed.

Those who matter globally, no one has taken Pakistan seriously – be it Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, or John Kerry, the US Secretary of State or Shinzo Abe, the Japanese PM or leaders of the European countries including France and Germany. Russia, which is currently conducting a joint military drill in Pakistan, has strongly condemned the Uri attack and reportedly refused the Pakistani offer to carry out drill in PoK. Poor Mr. Sharif is screaming Kashmir-Kashmir but no one is taking him seriously.

The Pakistani army has been notorious for promoting and sponsoring terrorism and history tells us that it firmly believes in the saying that notoriety also makes one known. And as the days are passing, the prevailing geopolitical and sociopolitical equations suggest that Raheel Sharif may repeat the history. He has found success in the first phase of his mission. He has effectively made Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif chemistry a history and has effectively crushed the ambitions of Nawaz Sharif of emerging as an icon of democratic supremacy in Pakistan. If he was Pakistan’s democratic hope in 2013, in 2016, he is no more than a corrupt, weak and army-dependent prime minister.

It can be said here that a Sharif of Pakistan has taken away the rights of being Sharif (noble) from another Sharif of Pakistan.

sharif-sharifcollage

Featured Image Courtesy: Collage prepared from images taken from Pakistan PMO’s Facebook page and Pakistan Army’s website

©SantoshChaubey 

GREAT! AFTER LAPTOPPED, UP IS NOW GOING TO BE SMARTPHONED!

So..Akhilesh Yadav has finally got the potion that will get him his opponents’ sleep – that will fetch him finally the stick to wield power over his rivals in the upcoming electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh where the incumbent assembly under him is completing its term in March 2017.

It will be a healing touch that, in one go, will transcend beyond all ‘ifs and buts’ and will transform the lives of all state residents, especially the downtrodden one that form the majority of the state, something that Akhilesh Yadav has been trying ever since he was inaugurated in the Lucknow secretariat.

He is justified in half-launching it. While the preparatory ground work is going to be laid out right at the moment, the real implementation phase to reach out to the intended beneficiaries will began only after the next assembly polls – conditioned to the conditionality that Akhilesh returns to the office.

And what’s wrong in that. After all, this one and, in fact, every political step that he takes to ensure his victory – over the rival factions inside his party – and over the political opposition – should be seen in this context only.

He began his term with a digital initiative – distributing free laptops. To give it his party’s socialist emblem, he christened it as ‘Samajwadi laptop’ and then rechristened with a Samajwadi home page. That was a milestone in introducing digital literacy in India and was a logical extension of the utterly illogical freebie culture in our elections – especially in the state elections – where from televisions sets, to cable connections, to mixer-grinders, to sarees, and to what not is on free fall.

So when Akhilesh Yadav, while announcing the scheme, claimed that he launched a comprehensive digital connect initiative much before Narendra Modi’s Digital India imprint, he has a point to make. If he is looking for some credit here that he should ideally be given.

And we hope this free smartphones scheme will go much beyond the numerical extent of the free laptops initiative. After all, it has the inherent cost advantage that could have been a factor with laptops in taking it to a wider base. If we talk about even the cheaper range of laptops, in the range of Rs. 40,000, we can have some 8 good smartphones in the price of one laptop. And a proper negotiation based on volume and scale can take this to 10 handsets.

Now, as per Akhilesh, the SP government under him has distributed around 18 lakh laptops in the state. If we take a direct corollary, that comes to be around 1.8 crore smartphones. Uttar Pradesh’s population is around 20 crore, out of which, around 12 crore are in the 15-59 age group (59.5%).

The scheme Akhilesh announced yesterday is for over 18 years of age and is basically for have-nots, having a family income below Rs. 2 Lakh a year. Also it not for the government sector employees. Anyway, no government salary bracket is in that lower range. So, there may be a bit of redundancy here. But that is ok. We must go by the larger canvas.

And the larger canvas is – Akhilesh wants to take his digital initiative to the next logical level – from a shared mode of communication (from laptops that is generally used by all users in a family) – to a personal channel – mobiles/smartphones – with individual users.

It is the logical next step of empowerment and we believe Akhilesh will try to cover the whole base here, so we can expect that even if the intended population segment represents some 8 crore members, Akhilesh will try to reach all of them.

And like said in the above lines, Akhilesh has all the rights to strengthen and perpetuate his legacy and for it, he needs more than one five-year term. So when he expects that people give him another chance and he links his aspirations with his next flagship initiative of free smartphones, like free laptops were during his first term, there is nothing wrong in it.

©SantoshChaubey

STOP LOOKING FOR ROMANTICISM IN LOVE. DON’T IDEALIZE FRIENDSHIP ANYMORE. :)

So, this year’s Friendship Day is over, or for me, the first Sunday of August. But this year, it seemed, like the Valentine’s Day, the Friendship Day is also going to see some meteoric rise in its profile in the near future.

It seems the Friendship Day is also on way to get upscale with a swift rise in visibility, relevance (or which way you want to look at it) and mannerisms (with all the reservations or slants you may have).

What told me that it was the Friendship Day was my cellphone when it started beeping the WhatsApp messages it was receiving one after the other – and dot at midnight – at 12 AM. There were many, so many that I don’t remember when I had received such a great lot the last time except the New Year wishes.

And the flow continued the next morning when I opened my Facebook account to check the feed. There were messages and wall posts by the people in my contact book. People were busy writing and singing friendship paeans, were busy liking, reacting and responding to the wisdom quotes explaining the real essence of friendship. Some were posting even songs and video themes.

It all sounded so good. It looked like the whole creation had become your friend. And the best thing about it was you didn’t need to put efforts for it – that you didn’t need to throw your so-called post-modern, over-liberal tantrums. It just happened. It was so spontaneous.

There were many who had not bothered about you in ages, those who had conveniently forgotten about your anniversaries (including your birthday) – but see the prowess of the communication technologies – it wiped out all the time lags in one go – all the grievances (if they really existed) – reconnecting you to one and all. All the distances got jettisoned in one go. It seemed more effective and direct than anything you could ever have imagined.

The mainstream media proved the “change” it needed to be for the Valentine’s Day to become a pan-India phenomenon – to become an intrinsic part from the cultural import it used to be – to gel with the ‘cool, urban lifestyle’ – to influence and civilize the ‘still untouched rural or small town life’ – and to co-opt the remnants who still felt otherwise.

The social media is doing the same for the Friendship Day, especially WhatsApp and Facebook – this Friendship Day told me. And its good.

So..Happy Friendship Day folks..(and my belated Valentine’s wishes for those who have taken a plunge).. 🙂

Yes, like everything else, a Valentine’s Day – or a Friendship Day – has both, positive and negative, facets. It all depends on you – how do you perceive life – that how do you see good to feel good – that if you walk the talk – that how do you walk the talk. It all depends on which side of the line you are – that you exude the new-age coolness from your persona – or you are still about the same boring stuff that defines an old school product.

It is like about your girlfriend/beloved (or boyfriend). It is for sure that your girlfriend (who may have become your life-partner by now – whom you see as the most sincere and committed person in your life) would have posed this question – “Though it doesn’t matter but can tell me how much do you earn?” – and you would burn the midnight oil in convincing her of the depth of your pocket – otherwise she would start with her calculations (or vice versa in some cases).

And you don’t see any conflicts here – because this is the new-age paradigm – the new parallel practical of the old school. There would be countless folks who would have faced this situation and would have acted in the similar manner. And the trend is only going to pick up – because such girls (or boys, whosoever fits the bill) are fundamentally correct. Financial security must come first. One cannot substantiate emotions just by big, old school ideals. For them, the practical considerations come first – even before initiating on the thought that would ultimately lead to the thought of being together with someone “special”.

And people are getting even more ‘cool and practical’ with friendship. Now the old school inhibitions seldom come into play here. Social media platforms like Facebook or Google Plus have made everyone in your address list your friend. They have categorized friendship in multiple layers and the best thing about it is you don’t need to be ‘chuddy buddy’ with someone with his (or her) best friend. And even best friends now have categories – like the one with whom you can do your routine time pass stuff at 4 AM – or the one with whom you can tag along with during your time out sorties and – or the one who can act as your ‘this number or that number’ before your ‘friends’ and so on .

And it’s all in the name of new-age spirit and newfound principles riding high on the waves of revolutions – first the mainstream media – and now the social media – the new communication technologies which have bridged the gaps – which have wiped out the distances – which have killed the time lags – which have caused the feedbacks (of every sort) to move in the real time – which have cocktailed cultures like a highly skilled bartender does blurring the lines of this or that side – and which have created perception of new identities.

Folks, just imbibe this spirit. Stop looking for romanticism in love. Don’t idealize friendship anymore. The new ‘cool and practical’ breed is as right in its approach to life as the old schools guys are. It’s just that they are populating the universe very rapidly now – outnumbering their old peers. The old school folks would learn to live with it.

©SantoshChaubey

SO..IT WAS THE FRIENDSHIP DAY YESTERDAY (AND ALSO NAG PANCHAMI).. :)

So, this year’s Friendship Day is over, or for me, the first Sunday of August. But this year, it seemed, like the Valentine’s Day, the Friendship Day is also going to see some meteoric rise in its profile in the near future.

It seems the Friendship Day is also on way to get upscale with a swift rise in visibility, relevance (or which way you want to look at it) and mannerisms (with all the reservations or slants you may have).

What told me that it was the Friendship Day was my cellphone when it started beeping the WhatsApp messages it was receiving one after the other – and dot at midnight – at 12 AM. There were many, so many that I don’t remember when I had received such a great lot the last time except the New Year wishes.

And the flow continued the next morning when I opened my Facebook account to check the feed. There were messages and wall posts by the people in my contact book. People were busy writing friendship paeans, were busy liking, reacting and responding to the wisdom quotes explaining the real essence of friendship. Some were posting even songs and video themes.

It all sounded so good. It looked like the whole creation had become your friend. And the best thing about it was you didn’t need to put efforts for it – that you didn’t need to throw your so-called post-modern, over-liberal tantrums. It just happened. It was so spontaneous. There were many who had not bothered about you in ages, those who had conveniently forgotten about your anniversaries (including your birthday) – but see the prowess of the communication technologies – it wiped out all the time lags in one go – reconnecting you to one and all.

The mainstream media proved the “change” it needed to be for the Valentine’s Day to become a pan-India phenomenon – to gel with the ‘cool, urban lifestyle’ – to influence and civilize the ‘still untouched rural or small town life’.

The social media is doing the same for the Friendship Day, especially WhatsApp and Facebook – the last day told me. And its good.

So..Happy Friendship Day folks..

Yes, like everything else, a Valentine’s Day or a Friendship Day has both, positive and negative, facets. It all depends on you – how do you perceive life – that how do you see good to feel good.

And also Happy Nag Panchami.. 🙂

Especially for us Banarasis and for the people (friends) from the eastern part of the country..again especially from (eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – well, I did not bother to go into more details – but the festival where we worship snakes is observed throughout India).

Worshipping animals is with us since the advent of human civilizations. So let them feel whatever they want to feel – let them feel if they want to feel superior by marking fellows like us inferior or backward or superstitious or over-religious or what not. For us, it is more about getting nostalgic. Anyway, let’s assimilate their good or bad feelings in the spirit of the Friendship Day.

After all, it is for sure that your girlfriend (who may be your life-partner by now – whom you see as the most sincere and committed person in your life) would have posed this question – “Though it doesn’t matter but can tell me how much do you earn?” – and you would burn the midnight oil in convincing her of the depth of your pocket – otherwise she would start with her calculations. And you don’t see any conflicts here. Well, there would be countless folks who would have faced this situation and would have acted in the similar manner. And the trend is only going to pick up – because such girls (or boys, whosoever fits the bill) are fundamentally correct. Financial security must come first.

And it’s all in the name of new-age spirit and newfound principles riding high on the waves of revolutions – first the mainstream media – and now the social media – the new communication technologies which have bridged the gaps, which have wiped out the distances, which have killed the time lags, and which have caused the feedbacks (of every sort) to move in the real time.

Folks, just imbibe this spirit. Stop looking for romanticism in love. Don’t idealize friendship anymore.

©SantoshChaubey

EVERYBODY LOVES A GOOD FLOOD AS WELL..

The news came from Madhya Pradesh which has a popular chief minister who has been consistently elected by his constituency and who is now in his third consecutive term.

The Madhya Pradesh assembly had some chaotic scenes today where one political class was taking on the other – the opposition over the ruling class – and the issue in point was distribution of adulterated and rotten wheat sacks to the flood victims. Reports said some wheat sacks contained as much as 20 kg soil in a pack of 50 kg.

Well, it’s a flourishing business. We should be thankful to P. Sainath, a sincere career journalist, who devoted his whole life to rural reporting, especially on farm suicides, droughts and agrarian crisis. The book ‘Everybody Loves A Good Drought’ makes for a pithy and informed reading. It shows how droughts have become big money spinners for the governing machinery and the appendages dependent on it.

Floods present a similar opportunity, in fact any natural calamity of big scale – but what makes floods and droughts big opportunities for money minded vultures – are their geographical spread and regular frequency. Their earning potential far outweighs other catastrophic happenings like earthquake, cloud burst or cyclone. These are localized in nature and thus limited in scope for making money.

Big projects, big money. Small projects, small money. Simple!

So, it everybody loves a good drought..’that’ everybody loves a good flood as well!

©SantoshChaubey

HOW WILL DELHI-VARANASI BULLET TRAIN WILL CHANGE MY LIFE?

Please don’t get into debates on ‘why call every high speed train a ‘bullet train’’. We love to call (proverbially) every wrestler (or bodybuilder) Dara Singh or Gama Pahalvan – every racer (or someone who walks too fast) Milkha Singh. For a long time, each vegetable ghee brand used to be ‘Dalda’ for us and every noodle ‘Maggi’, every soya nugget brand Nutrela and every fairness cream ‘Fair & Lovely’.

Likewise, every high speed train came to be called a ‘bullet train’ – the English nickname of the high speed Japanese trains Shinkansen – the world pioneers in the category. And it is said so the world over – even if we have seen other high speed rail services in different countries – like French TGV or German ICE or American Amtrak and so on.

I believe calling many names by some ‘name’ is in our genes and is not country specific – a simple principle of brand visibility – that every brand aspires to master.

So, how will a Delhi-Varanasi bullet train change my life?

I am born and brought up in Varanasi and I love my city. I am in Delhi for the last ten years but Varanasi is my priority to settle down.

So what if it is among the most polluted and dirtiest cities in India! So what if you find its roads stuffed with filth in many areas! So what if civic amenities are virtually non-existent!

If we have no reasons to believe in Narendra Modi’s words, we don’t have reasons to doubt his intentions either.

So what if the work to make Varanasi Kyoto, the Japanese temple town and a global standard in maintaining heritage with modernity, is yet to begin!

So what if Varanasi is still the same Varanasi that it was when it had elected Narendra Modi as its parliamentary representative in 2014!

At least his words have flown with all their might and I believe the day will come soon that will bring ‘Achhe Din (good days)’ for Varanasi – and all its residents like me!

Now with a feather in the cap – with this proposed bullet train corridor from Delhi to Kolkata that will take a part of it – the Delhi-Varanasi corridor on priority!

Like ‘bullet’ is used with anything that moves at a very high speed, I believe the Delhi-Varanasi bullet train will graduate me to a fast paced life. It will do so by removing the most pressing problem on my mind – of finding and maintaining a rented accommodation in the megacity Delhi that is getting expensive every passing year – burning a deep hole in your pocket. Add to that the annual 10% raise the house-owners put in the rent-deed. And above all, even complying with all the demands (and whims) of the landlord, you are never sure that your house-lease will be extended next year. When this is the situation of a borrowed life in a rented accommodation, one can easily imagine how expensive it is to buy a house in Delhi.

The Delhi-Varanasi bullet train will solve this life-threatening problem in one go. It will help me to go back to my home town without affecting my livelihood options in Delhi. I will again stay in a big-enough house that is my own – while commuting to Delhi daily. I have a good sized house back in my home town that is many times of my rented, squeezed in apartment in Delhi. And I will be making some very smart and much needed savings. After all, maintaining a good lifestyle in Delhi, and that too in a rented accommodation, leaves you high and dry many times.

The proposed travel time of 2 hours and 40 minutes from Varanasi to Delhi is something that you can easily make your routine every morning and evening. The nightmarish traffic of Delhi and NCR takes around similar time and when the distance is long, like from East Delhi to Gurgaon or Noida to Gurgaon or Ghaziabad to Faridabad, it can easily take around 2 to 3 hours for a one side trip.

So 2 hours and 40 minutes sounds quite good. In fact it can be a good time to have some ‘hours’ of power nap. Being a bullet train, obviously, it will be expensive enough for most people to afford. The Chinese high speed rail experience, with the longest high speed network in the world now, says that most high speed trains run with empty coaches there due to the high fare structure.

I can afford it when I see this in the context of the high cost of living and maintaining a lifestyle in Delhi. I believe a share of that can easily suffice my monthly travel expense by the proposed Delhi-Varanasi bullet train. I firmly believe that the opportunity cost will be favorably tilted in my favour. Then there is always this ‘very real’ probability that this travel time will come down further. The high speed trains have achieved a speed of over 400 km/hour in test runs and Delhi-Varanasi rail corridor is just within 800 kms.

Once I internalize the proposed travel time initially – I need so because my current daily commuting time to my office is around 1 hour and 30 minutes (to and fro) – it is then raining benefits from all the sides.

I will be able to stay in my home city where my family and other relatives are. One doesn’t need to explain how important and mentally healthy it is for you to spend time daily with family – that how important it is to regularly meet your neighbours and relatives. I will get home cooked food daily. I will have weekends full of family and fun time. I am sure the ‘quality of life’ will have ‘very real’ connotations for me then than now.

And above all, I will have company of good vibes – driven by the ‘high and mighty’ promises that Narendra Modi has made for Varanasi. There is always this wait that when Varanasi is going to be next Kyoto for the world – that when will it get dirt and filth free – that when will it become the spiritual capital of the world (and not just India) – and accordingly would get aptly suited civic amenities and infrastructure including a swanky new airport and the proposed Varanasi metro train line that passes through my house – and so on.

Someone has said ‘hope is probably the best thing to happen to a person’ and I thank Narendra Modi to give me another reason to hope for ‘Varanasi’s Achhe Din’.

I thank Narendra Modi for the good time that I will have while waiting for the ‘hopes of Varanasi’s Achhe Din’ and for a life with positive changes.

©SantoshChaubey