"I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be 'happy'. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter and to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all."

- Leo C. Rosten

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Terrorist Attacks, the Government and We - The Common People

Recently, people have been talking a lot about how much the government is to be blamed for the repeated terrorist attacks.

I am totally against terrorism and surely do not support it. But what are we blaming the government for? WHAT ABOUT US? When 9/11 happened, simple men like fire fighters, teachers, policemen, doctors, nurses, travelled all the way from far away states like Florida or California to help out the wounded and the families of the dead. Can  you tell me how many Indians went all the way from Calcutta, or Mumbai, or Delhi to Orissa when it was devastated by Tsunami; or when did people from all across the country go all the way to Mumbai during any of the blasts to save the wounded? I did not go. Shamefully I did not. But much more shamelessly, I am not sitting in my plush bed room or snazzy office and writing updates in social network sites showing the world, "LOOK HOW MUCH I CARE. SO HANG THEM."

How many people - ordinary people like you and me - cooperate with the police or cost guards to expand the horizon of vigilance because this population is too chaotic, diverse, and huge to control and keep an eye on? HOW MAY HAVE DONE? It is a lot easier to assemble below Gateway of India with candles. That does not do any good. We Indians are very fond of hoypoloi. But hardly any of us talk or do anything constructively. 

People say that just because we are paying a lot of taxes, the government is responsible for every odd thing that happens. NOW WHAT HELL OF TAX ARE WE PAYING CAN SOMEONE PLEASE JUSTIFY? Every other Indian has a tax consultant to somehow evade taxes. Will you pay tax like the French or German pay? Will you let the government extract huge taxes from you, more from a CEO and negligible from a cobbler so that not just your child can get free education and medical treatment throughout life but so does a CEO's son and also the cobbler's child? WILL ANYONE HERE PAY HIGH TAX HONESTLY? I am telling the truth. All those BLOODY SCOUNDRELS who buy the best of the luxury sedans in the market with BLACK/DIRTY MONEY will NOT PAY A SINGLE PENNY of TAX. And we expect our Cost Guard to be world class?

Tell me one thing straight: HOW MANY CARORPATIS WE KNOW WHO HAVE EVEN THOUGHT OF FUNDING FOR STATE OF THE ART EQUIPMENT AND SPECIALIZED TRAINING FOR THE POLICE OR COAST GUARD? If ordinary men cannot do anything, why is not the rich doing? Simply because in this country people think only about themselves. They keep saying to themselves: 'ONLY ME, ME and ME. Why do I need to be bothered if someone dies next door? It is not me or my family. Right?' 

Do you know the salary of a normal coast guard or ordinary police man given the important work that he does? Much more less than the salary that you or I get for doing work that is not even a hundredth as important as his? AND WHAT SERVICE DO WE EXPECT IN EXCHANGE FOR THAT?

For Heaven's Sake, when will people stop the senseless jabbering around me and do at least a little bit of what they are supposed to do?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

For Greater Good - PVR and its Nest

Working with PVR Nest on the Annual CSR Report of PVR Cinemas had been another priceless experience for me, not just in terms of adding value to my own awareness of the social sector and what, why and how more and more good is done to the world, but also in terms of taking another step forward in the quest of finding out my own self.
PVR Nest, undoubtedly, is doing very good work, irrespective of the scale of work. The entire team of this department, I strongly believe, is in this profession not by compulsion but by choice – the choice that is difficult to make as it approaches socialism by staying inside a capitalistic system.

My role in the annual report, 2011, had been to make a photographic documentary of the initiatives taken by PVR Nest – the CSR wing of PVR Cinemas, as well as taking interviews at field so as to document flesh and blood stories that reinsert in ones intellectual capacity the need of an intensity of efforts that have to be focused at bringing a lot of change if we are truly serious of making India a developed nation and save us from the shame of not ending up as Goldman Sachs once predicted. BRIC would perhaps end up as BRC.

The theory of PVR Nest is that PVR should have, and has, a sense of responsibility towards the development of the communities around every PVR cinema. From there sprang the idea of devoting towards community mobilization near some PVR complexes. Thus, PVR Nest has been into an important work of identification of endangered children in slums, rehabilitating them, and then preparing them for either livelihood generation or education. At the same time, PVR Nest is also into providing education to slum children in general, food distribution to them, and also generating awareness among slum dwellers regarding environmental and health issues. PVR Nest has been into collaboration with NGOs like Diya Foundation, Literacy India, and a few others.

That which struck me as truly valuable work is the identification of slum children who are victims of addiction to drugs and excessive alcohol, rescuing them from such a state, rehabilitating them to bring them back to normal, and then providing education to them or finding out opportunities of employment for those who have crossed the minimum age limit of starting to learn how to read and write from the scratch.
PVR Nest, unquestionably, is doing good work. I hope this stays in the long run and grows further. We need a lot of good in this world to heal its wounds. Unfortunately we do not have sufficient people dedicated to do work of such kind.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

16th January, 2006

I heard something on this day that made it a day to remember.

It was my graduation days. One day in hostel there was a much talked about exciting issue among us. And the subject was a beautiful fancy case – looking exactly likely a red rose – that was seen on the table of our superintendent. It was a big issue for students as we were in a missionary institution and a rose-like fancy gift on a monk’s desk was the least we ever expected. The case was, no doubt, a gift. And most certainly, it was not from a girl, because, he was a monk. In an hour, the news had spread like hot cake. Some boys started having fun with him about the gift; asking him again and again of the name of the girl who had given it to him. And he kept smiling at our childishness. But there are always some people who take things beyond limits. When he was not in his room, someone had gone in, played fool with the rose, and broke it. We came to know this when he said this in the prayer hall. But what he said after that is something which I would never forget.

After the prayer was over, in his usual low voice he advised us not to go in his room in his absence and touch anything we liked. “There are certain things that you boys must learn,” he said. “One should never go in someone’s room in his absence. I have to tell you something which I had never wanted to tell. But I think I have to, in order to stop you from committing the same blunder again.

“Have all of you read the short story ‘kabuliwallah’ written by Tagore? There is a small girl in the story. Her name is Mini. Isn’t it?

“My brother has a daughter, whose name too is Mini. The day I left home to become a Monk, it was her birthday. I remember her to be a very small girl then. I can still remember her so clearly. She was such a cute, little girl. But I had to go that day. I was determined to be a monk. Many years have passed, about nine years. But I still remember that beautiful day. I do not know how she looks now, how tall she has grown up to, and how well she is. She is surely a big girl by now. It had been a long time. But every year, I make it a point to send her a letter on her birthday. It had been years since I saw her. But I still send her a letter every year, wishing her a happy birthday. And sometimes, she too sends me a letter. This time my brother came to meet me. And he gave me a gift sent by her. She had sent me that rose case. And someone among you had broken it.”

These words had rendered the entire prayer hall silent, and had sent a powerful current of pain running down our hearts.

He seemed to be hardly moved to emotion, though he was surely, as most humans are, deeply moved in his heart. And then he said, “The rose is immaterial. What I wanted to say was that you should not touch anything in my room without my permission. Now you may all disperse. Go and study.”

I do not know whether he had a tear drop or two falling from his eyes or not when he had found the rose-like case to be broken. Had I been in his place, I would probably had pain spikes in my heart. We learnt an important lesson that day. We realized the value of privacy.