Wednesday, 28 August 2013

India's unknown heritage

History a.k.a Itihas- A word that dazzles us out each time we hear about it,  
a word which makes us instantly hit the hay and a word which to some imparts a feeling of ad-nauseam.
Did we ever think about, what happened in our nation in yesteryears? Or what are we gaining from studying a subject called History? Why are we made to learn and cram it till our X standard?  

Mahatama Gandhi, Bhagat singh, Mohammad Bin tughlak – these few names are familiar to us, arent they?
What about Agrasen, Mu'izzu'd-Din Muhammad, Ulugh khan?

Ah, who cares until unless reading about it, without applying mind fetches me some marks? One of the major sect of History is the Monuments which acts as source of information for us to dwell in the past.

What do we get to know from it?

Yes, we all would have visited at least one or the another Monument of the city we belong to, but was it out of choice or compulsion or was it in fact  a part of showing your city to your guest or some school/college trip? Curiosity is tough to find these days regarding visiting a monument and excavating information about it as some historians may find it.

My take on one of India’s forgotten historical monument-

As I was instructed to cover up Monuments for my next piece, I was not sure, whether I will be able to do justice to it because for the longest time history and I have in fact been at loggerheads with each other.

After having a long talk with moderator of blog I agreed albeit reluctantly when she concluded the conversation with -“One should try new things everyday, So All the best.”

It also triggered somewhat a confidence in me. So I contacted  two of my batch mates- one of whom is lover of architecture (Priya chauhan) and the other a lover of History (Kshitiz Garg). This very “monumental monument”  as the name conveys is quite intriguing. It initiated certain level of inquisitiveness within me to know what does “Baoli” mean and what was the history behind it? 

Thanks to my History freak, he described me what does a baoli means and the purpose of constructing a Baoli within a state.

Going to visit one of the monuments of Delhi, we thought it will not be hard to locate this baoli in CP-the famous point of the capital, which is crowded day and night. But ironically, very few People did know about this monument, even half of the rickshaw wala bhaiya’s were not aware of it. Thanks to our luck,we got hold of one old gentlemen who knew this place, the first words he uttered was “ Woh khandar? wahaan koi ni jata” [those ruins? No one goes there!] and that was moment when my friends gave me that “You are so dead” look. The common problem of all Delhiites with respect to Autos- Denial to go by Meter was faced by us too. The driver straight away charged us 50 bucks. After 10 minutes of drive from Rajiv chowk metro station, he dropped us at one unknown road saying take left and you will find your destination. We stood there and here it was, far from the jubilations of life-it stood there in its pride- a beautiful masterpiece of the Aggarwal dynasty’s Architecture.

 We walked into the place and to do Shri Ganesh -there was huge pile of garbage at starting of the road which leads to baoli, welcoming its visitors by giving it sense of “Athiti Devo Bhava”. After marching forward, you forget what you just saw, once those beautiful, eye catching, creative grafittis on the left and side wall of the road hypnotise you with its illustrations. Enjoying the view of those wall designings we reached our much awaited location. Inside the gate you can see two bilingual Information boards put up by ASI( Archaelogcial survey of India) giving a brief insight into it’s past.

Behind which there stood a huge Bodhi tree( peepal tree). Stepping on the stairs and making our way to this deserted place made me forget all the problems we faced reaching here. I was frozen, I could not believe my eyes. You might think I am over-reacting, but for someone who until then was under the deep impression that History was no more than dates suddenly this was a moment of rediscovering my interests. Majestic carved out rocks were calling us down to explore this forgotten paradise. It is a relatively simple structure, consisting of single flight of 103 steps that culminate in a now dry water tank. The stone walls of the well are stark yet beautiful, forming a 60 x 15 meter rectangle. Walkways interrupt the walls at three levels, allowing the visitor to explore various niches. The small rooms, arches present there gives a sense that these dark, dingy chambers might have been used as “Prayer room or strategic room”. My friend pointed out that this place has been used many –a-times by filmmakers and Photographers. For school kids and collegiates it’s a meeting point after a long day.

It is said “It was built by traders society’s legendary king Agrasen during the Mahabharat era and was re-constructed in the 14th century by the Agrawal community which traces its origin to Maharaja Agrasen.”

This was used by people then as water conservation tool, mainly to cope with seasonal fluctuations in water availability.Also, it was they who prayed and offered gifts to the goddess of the well for her blessings. The water in this very baoli according to people, was present till 2002 and kids used to relish swimming here, and throwing coins in order to make their wishes heard. The water has since  eventually dried off and at present there is nothing more than birds, bats, dry leaves, dust and garbage .

At another end of baoli, you can a see watchmen putting up his chair and stopping the way to an arched dome. When enquired he disapproved stating that  –“there is a mosque-attached to this wall”.

After little research and study on stepwell, we stumbled upon news calling this Baoli – HAUNTED. It is believed that earlier people would jump into the well in order to attain MOKSH. And sometimes at night, they hear weird noises and sounds coming from another end of this well. And don’t forget the Bodhi tree at the entrance which gives horrific look to this whole haunted story. We were a little perturbed and we started thinking on the sounds-and soon we realised it is none other than those birds which have taken shelter in this deserted monument.  Unlike other monuments thankfully this little place is free from paan-marks, Love sign scribbled over walls.

After spending nice one hour in this lost heritage structure, we decided to bid adieu to this majestic, historical yet scary Agrasen ki baoli.

Details :
Place: Hailey road, Connaught place, New Delhi

Time: 9am - 5pm

Cost Of Visit-NIL
Metro station-Rajiv chowk

1. TICKET SYSTEM: ASI should start charging atleast rupees.5-10 per person per visit.

2. CLEAN-ATHON: Weekly cleaning of this ancient monument is need of the hour. The MCD officials should take notice of it’s pathetic condition. Schools/colleges can take up cleaning drives, in order to keep this very ancient, antique monument alive.
3. SIGN BOARD: Delhi govt. to place atleast one sign board mentioning the name of this monument at Hailey road, so that its not tough to locate it.
4. CURRICULUM ADDITION: Aggarwal dynasty and their architecture or even a brief article on the stepwells of India is required to keep youth of this nation stick to history.

This small-trip for me was one of the way to “Explore my Dilli”. It made me sensitive towards the lesser known periods of my country’s History and and the information carved along with them.

Truly it was experience of reminiscing history. 

Aakash Chandran
@ChandranAakash on Twitter

The writer is a law student at Jaamia Milia University. 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Privacy vs. National Security

The concept of democracy and the characteristics of a republic are traditionally expected to give immense power to the people who are fortunate enough to subscribe to them in their respective countries. To be able to exercise that power should not be taken for granted and definitely not be exploited. Today, almost every nation- state in the world is threatened by many coexisting elements; terrorism, sectarianism, separatism, regionalism etc., all of which are not obstructed by borders but instead, are contagious transnationally. This has ushered in an era of global terrorism. Duly elected governments invest a lot in their defense capacities to protect its people from these threatening agents. And in this regard man has come a long way from ballistic missile to WMDs to drones and most recently, PRISM!

The debates on non-proliferation and disarmament have been on the loop for decades but the rhetoric has hardly conceptualized into concrete steps. Of course these are positive steps that must pro-actively be worked upon by engaging in regular talks among the consortium of nations. The idea behind disarmament is simple, it is to limit the possibility of wars and violence. But, human nature as we know does not allow these positive steps to become a reality so conveniently. So every developing or developed nation is engrossed in accumulating and procuring more and more weapons according to their respective reasons. If the states are legitimately procuring so are the agents of terror and mass destruction albeit, illegitimately. For any nation, the threat from these surreptitious transnational agents of terror is much more blatant than one coming from an internationally recognized state. Since the channels of diplomacy and reconciliation are not easily comprehended by these terrorist organizations, their actions have to be and must be intercepted by the state.

Today almost all powerful countries have mechanisms to restrict these anti-social elements likely to affect their territory. The idea is land, air, or water, wherever you see the peril, intercept and counter it.  It only becomes logical in the wake of today’s technology that if a government can, then it must get into the laptops, tablets or phones of the suspects and be a step ahead of them in order to crush them down. The mechanism that the NSA uses to collect its information on the suspected incendiaries should be a welcome step, albeit, the authority that uses these mechanism comes out clean in front of its people and is further guided by a code of conduct in association with other countries of the globe (since this mechanism it uses is infringing with the territorial boundary of other countries) that share the same objective of fighting terrorism.

Privacy is a part of social security and social security can only possibly be provided if the state itself is secured from clandestine attacks. Terrorism has affected each and every part of the globe and remains the top most concern for every administration. Transparency is a very contentious issue when it comes to national security. But in so far as the snooping by NSA is concerned, U.S. must come out proactively to bind its intelligence agency under a legalized code of conduct with adequate transparency to pacify its citizens and furthermore share its information and cooperate with the other countries who do not have the advantage of accessing servers of the popular internet companies. If used ethically and collaboratively this measure can be a huge advantage for the countries afflicted by terrorism. US proclaims to be fighting global terrorism and it must be pressed by the international community to open up the avenues for collective action against common global terrorists.

-  Nitish Bhardwaj

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

No NEET Solutions

The recent Supreme Court order quashing the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) was followed by the usual avalanche of criticisms regarding the current system of entry into the medical education system and editorials regarding the possible damage to public health that will be caused by doctors who have bought their degrees. While some of these arguments make entirely valid points regarding systemic corruption and the private college management-political nexus, some have gone overboard to the point of damaging patient doctor trust. Case in point…( )

The mainstream media’s approach to the issues facing medical education and its effects of public health has largely been populist and sensational. There is rarely any attempt made to get a point of view from one of the biggest stakeholders in this mess, namely the doctor. This article hopes to present a doctor’s viewpoint on the issue and possibly throw up some suggestions on the way forward.

But to truly understand the picture we need to have some facts. India has approximately 350 medical colleges producing around 35,000 MBBS graduates each year. Even at this rate our doctor to patient ratio is a little over 1:1500 far below the ideal of 1:500. Moreover, four states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka, account for more than 50% of the total number of medical seats available. Also more than half of these colleges are privately run with the Government approving the opening of more private colleges in the recent past than government. The simple reason for this is that medical education is an expensive field. And running a medical college to the specifications laid out by the Medical Council of India (MCI) requires an investment running into hundreds of Crores. Of course, the fact that most private medical colleges are owned directly or indirectly by politicians is another matter altogether. Given the shortage of doctors and the inequitable distribution of medical colleges, the Government’s only option is to grant the opening of more colleges. How and where it does that is a matter of budgeting and policy, and beyond the scope of my understanding.

With regards to medical education, the NEET, would have gone a long way in simplifying the current process and making it easier for the average student to attempt exams all over India. But it doesn’t address the problem that a Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) format exam evaluating proficiency in Physics, Chemistry and Biology (PCB) simply does not begin to evaluate a candidate’s aptitude or eligibility to undergo medical training. The question of aptitude has not been addressed and many entrants, both merit and management, are overwhelmed by the nature and scale of the curriculum. Once a candidate has entered the hallowed halls, she then goes through the rigors of acquiring theoretical knowledge and the clinical skills to put this knowledge to use in a real life setting. Here’s where the curriculum again falls short. There is no stress on Medical Ethics or Behavioural sciences or communication skills. And nothing in the four and half years spent in college, prepares the candidate to function independently in the real world, especially in the rural setting that our netas love to send these freshly minted doctors to.  A year of compulsory rotational internship in various specialties is usually spent preparing for the mad race that is the Postgraduate entrance and the candidates gain no clinical experience. Even with regards to the Post-graduate (PG) NEET, the system as it currently exists is far from satisfactory. For every 10 MBBS graduates there exists currently only 1 post graduate seat. So the competition is already intense. Further complicating matters, the MCQ format tests the candidate’s theoretical knowledge, giving absolutely no importance to his/her aptitude or skill level for a particular specialty or their own choice. The skill set required to do surgery is completely different from that required to take up psychiatry. But the current system makes no such differentiation.  So most doctors just pick up whatever specialty their rank allows them to take. This particular scenario doesn’t make for the most committed and passionate doctors. And given that a PG seat is so hard to come by, it is rare for anyone who realizes he/she is unsuitable for the specialty, to give it up and try their hand at the NEET carousel again. The next step in the poor doctor’s life is the PG training. What most members of the public don’t realize is that in most medical colleges, both Government and Private, the bulk of the clinical work is done by these PGs. The senior doctors might attend rounds, if at all. The PG is on call 24*7 for the duration of the course (3years) and is usually grossly underpaid and in some private medical colleges, not paid at all. This little tidbit should put to rest the common argument that doctors are greedy and money-minded. In most cases, they’ve already done 3 years of public service. 

So what is the way forward? Well, the first step could be to try and change the manner of entry to MBBS courses. Instead of the current system that focuses only on the PCB marks and NEET scores, an aptitude test should also be incorporated. This could be begun as a pilot test in AIIMS or JIPMER and then applied on an all India basis after the kinks have been ironed out. The current problem of capitation for medical seats also needs to be addressed. And although it is not politically correct to talk about it, caste based reservations are just as likely to throw up the same kind of impairments in the quality of medical candidates that the management quota system does. But instead of making the sweeping generalizations against both categories, what is needed is an understanding that this is a purely an individual problem. A simple entry, by whatever means, into a medical college does not make one a doctor. The sweat and toil of the next 5-6 years will decide the quality of the candidate. And this brings us to the next point of change, the curriculum. The curriculum must focus on improving communication skills and a doctor’s ability to recognize and deal with problems that he is likely to encounter in the community. An exam system that focuses now on the kind of rare diagnosis that the average MBBS graduate will not have to make nine times out of ten in his/her clinical practice does not test his/her ability. This needs to change. Also there has to be a focus on encouraging clinical research, something Indian medical graduates are woefully lacking in. The next point of contention is the compulsory clinical rotation. This is the time period which the freshly minted graduate desperately needs to develop clinical skills and also to get a taste of the various fields on offer. Measures have to be introduced to ensure that graduates complete this period of training in the manner originally intended, rather than on preparations for the PG NEET. 

The PG NEET exam also faces similar issues as the undergraduate exam. In addition, the current shortage in PG seats ensures that nearly 4 out of every 5 graduates do not get entry into a PG course. And even when they do, it might not be what they are cut out for or want to do. The number of seats on offer has to increase and their distribution made more equitable. It is my contention, that in so far as the PG courses are concerned, NEET may not even be the best way forward. There exists a parallel system of post graduation run by the National Board of Examination which awards a Diplomate of National Board title to successful candidates. The training is just as rigorous, if not more so, but it mostly happens in corporate hospitals instead of medical colleges. As with most decisions involving medical education, the system allows corporate hospitals to take advantage of the cheap labour on offer but the trade off is a good clinical experience. More importantly, the system allows the candidate to choose his/her specialty. I propose that the DNB degree be scrapped and these graduates also be conferred an MD/MS degree. Also instead of a final exam at the end of 3 years, PG candidates across the spectrum be assessed every year for skills, aptitude and knowledge. This will ensure that only the truly interested and able candidate stays on and the disinterested ones have a way out allowing them to seek an alternative PG course, a recourse that doesn’t currently exist. 

Before concluding, I’d like to dwell on that favorite panacea of our political class for all our public health issues, the compulsory rural posting. The last thing our poor need is a disinterested and ill equipped doctor whiling away time in an understaffed and poorly maintained PHC. The aim should have been to provide quality. This will include PG courses in Primary Health Care and Rural Medicine and also a focused attempt to improve infrastructure at these PHCs. Instead of making rural posting mandatory, Government should try and make it professionally and financially viable if not lucrative. The GoI and MCI have taken a number of steps to address these issues but a lot more needs to and can be done. 

For more info on some of these issues visit or watch

- Dr. Sanjeev Nair

The Author is a Jr Consultant at the  Dept of Nephrology, Madras Medical Mission, Chennai

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Community - based Education?

We all understand the importance of ‘Education’ in our lives regardless of what section/community we belong to. Most of us remember our teachers till we are old especially our favourite teachers. Many of us grow up with the desire to be like our favourite teacher from school. I still remember my favourite teacher- Mrs. Sugandha. She taught me English. I still remember her lectures, her questions, soft voice and her pleasing personality. All what was important for us was that she was our English teacher.

But it is now after being a teacher myself I realize how difficult it is to live in this profession. Although everybody says it is a noble profession I am now learning that life and the times we live in are not completely conducive to this profession. Even in the Education system there is a stark reminder that there will always be preferential treatment given to people from the same community. Where is merit then? 

Eight years since I passed school and I see a drastic change in the way schools functions. 
It is disheartening to see a Nation, so rich in young talent lost in its own home grown communalism and politics.

Recently, I met a friend who is a teacher, looking for a job. She has been giving interviews in various reputed schools in Delhi. And from her I got to know most of the schools here in Delhi prefer to hire teachers from the same community meaning if you are a Christian you would automatically be preferred in a convent school, if a Sikh then in a school that is run by the community and the list is on for all other communities. So you basically must have your religion to back you up as a candidate to qualify or you will be the management’s first choice if you belong to the community.

Unfortunately, a talented professional who can impart good educational knowledge is being considered unworthy simply because he or she does not belong to the same community as that of the school.

I read a lot about concerns being raised over communal politics in this country but if you look again you will realize that the meaning of secularism in education is different for each person. I sometimes am forced to ask are we promoting a subtle form of communalism under the garb of secularism? 

There has to be a control on the hiring process of Private/Government Aided schools.
It is our India and we all have to stay united to make it perfect. 

Gurneet Kaur 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Results: Careful student, callous examiner?

Recently there was a hue and cry on Delhi University’s cut off list was announced which was 100%. Everybody had their own opinion about it. Of course, a certain percentage cannot stop any individual from being successful. However, to get education from a good university, one has to score. Well, that’s how the trend is! Those who score highest get it and those who do not start looking for another option. Life does not stop. But among all these student there are those who get fail or get a backlog. In most cases the first impression we get is ‘Perhaps he/she must not have studied’ or 'Perhaps the person hasn't given the exam his/her best shot.'
Have you ever thought the ones who get a backlog or fail in a subject could be victims of the carelessness of the examiner who checked his/her answer sheet?

A rather delicate subject as a teacher I believe that it is important to refrain from shying away from reality. Yes this could be true. There is a possibility that their answer sheets were not checked properly.

I would like to share a personal experience of *Neha someone I have known well for a long time. Neha is not only a bright student she has been consistently scoring high. She recently appeared for her Senior Secondary exams. As soon as her exams were done with she immediately began preparing for the engineering entrances. She was rather excited to get her result but to her horror on the day of the results she found out she has failed in one subject i.e. ‘Math’. This was the biggest shock of her life. She was sure she couldn't fail, so, she applied for re- evaluation of her paper. She had never failed in any subject ever. She spoke to the Education Department Officers and explained all the questions she attempted but it was no good for her. After explaining everything to the E.O all she heard was – “you may be right, the mistake could be from our end, what we can suggest you is to re- appear for the exam in July.” Clearly the Education department official was aware of its misgivings.

A girl who lost her mother at a young age and lives with Grandparents who are very old she has cannot afford to fight back. Having no place to go, she has chosen to re- appear for the exam even when she knows that in all possibility she couldn't have failed in the first place.

I am a teacher, I see students working hard in every term. But if I do my work carelessly, how can one blame the students who fail or get compartment?

The best part is that the Education Department is openly admitting its lapses. Why are we so unfortunately being exposed to only the negatives of the Education System getting rotten day by day, from kindergarten till the University Level? 

As a teacher I am writing this as a matter of awareness for all of you. I urge you to raise your voice against this injustice. The Education Department is for us and it is our duty to help bring in  change in any way we can.

- Gurneet Kaur

*name changed. 

The Author is a teacher and helps educating underprivileged students.


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Progressive Indians interviews Priyanka Chaturvedi

In an email interview, our writer Tarique Anwer caught up with Mrs.Priyanka Chaturvedi  an avid blogger, columnist and District General Secretary Mumbai Youth Congress. 

1. Your journey has been a rather interesting one. Our readers would like to get to 
know you better. How has the journey been so far?
Yes it has been an interesting journey. From being a corporate slave to an entrepreneur to a blogger/columnist to a social worker and now a politician it has been a journey which has seen its ups and downs but everyday has been a learning process. A lot of things learned, a lot unlearned.  

2. A mum, a trustee at Prayas- an NGO that is involved in educating street children , DNA/Tehelka columnist , voracious reader and a blogger. How do you manage these roles effectively?
When one is passionate about what they do everything falls into place and one manages to find time for it. Reading and writing is a passion so finding time for it is never a problem. Prayas is a trust which has many able trustees besides me who are involved hands on with the day to day affairs. 

3. Your passion for books is commendable and quite evident in your “Book Lovers” blog. How does a person who is so caught up with multiple activities manage to read and blog? 

Like I mentioned reading is something which I am passionate about and many a times it has been the biggest stress reliever, till date even if I have had the busiest of day, I do try and catch up on my reading before going to bed. Writing is an extension of what I read. So it has been a so far so good journey. But yes currently due to time constraints I do get lesser time to update the blog. Something I regret at times.

4. What is the most interesting piece you have ever written so far in your career?
While there are many articles that I have contributed tiIl now, some hated some loved but I believe my best is yet to come!

5. Currently you are the director at MPower Consultants. Did you always wish to be an entrepreneur? Based on your experience, what suggestions would you give to women who want to take up entrepreneurship?
Choosing to be an entrepreneur was not really planned, After 'mommyhood' I quit my job and to keep myself busy I started this small venture from home. Thankfully it met with some success so much so that it got me a scholarship from Goldman Sachs’ to do a certified Women Entrepreneur’s course from ISB Hyderabad. My advise to all women would be to strongly believe in themselves and follow their passion with as much determination as possible. The challenges are there but we women are much tougher and fighter enough to not let go easy!

6. Today the news media is undergoing drastic change because of the opportunities for independent journalism on blogs and the ability to constantly update stories online, and because many people prefer to read news online rather than in traditional formats. But there is also a constant fear of the wrong news spreading thanks to social media networks. How does one deal with such a situation?
It is a huge challenge and have been a victim of false propaganda too, despite that I feel these mediums are very important mode of communication and cannot be ignored. Some of the stories that go viral are deliberately malicious and can cause damage. Self monitoring and self censorship is one way of eliminating false propaganda, sounds naïve but can be done if people really wish to keep these modes of communication relevant.

7. What are your opinions on youth joining politics?
It is the need of the hour! We need young people in the system, the youth is passionate about the country and has some great ideas and thoughts on how to achieve the India they want and the best way they can do so is by involving themselves in the system, being aware of the political system and how they can best contribute to the country.

8. Twitter has become an important forum these days and you too have a large number of followers. How important do you think is social media in case of politics? Can it have the potential to change mass public opinion?
Twitter is like any other mode of communication which should be used to connect with the people of the country and to keep them informed and be informed. But at the same time it is unfortunate to see that twitter being an unregulated medium ends up spreading a lot of false stories and rumours too. It is a double edged sword. But if used effectively it is a great way to mobilize support. 

9. Twitter has brought with it a rather nasty set of people who are frequently abusive or argumentative, popularly called trolls. Somewhere down the line the quality of debate is lost. How do you deal with them? Have these tweets ever led you to believe, “It’s time to quit Twitter”?
I have my fair share of encounters with such almost on a daily basis, initially every such tweet would get me worked up and wanting to quit twitter but then I adamantly stuck on and faced these handles the best way I could which is by ignoring them or in worst case scenario blocking them. Not that it has stopped any abusive tweets but just that it bothers me much lesser than it used to, developed a thick skin during my twitter journey!

10. Last but not least, what is your vision for India? If you had to give us three important elements for a Progressive India, what would they be?

A progressive, inclusive, secular India is my vision. Where the progress is not restricted to a few but every single citizen of this nation feels and is a part of this progress, where religion does not matter, where every Indian holds their head with pride and believes that they have contributed to the nation’s prosperity and the country makes them feel that they are important. No nation can progress if the idea is to cater to a few, no nation can grow if its citizens feel neglected. We grow together, we stick together!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Clashes of Mind - A bird's eye view of the Modern Indian Society

INDIA-The most gracefully diversified, acclaimed,welcoming country, the country that celebrates the essence of life, known for its immense knowledge down the ages; the world’s largest democracy, a growing Asian Superpower, the country having world’s youngest population, so many accolades, and yet just one country!

Yes! This is what makes me proud of being an “Indian”. It makes one wonder what wrong might happen in a country so spiritual, so divine, pure and true in its very own sense?

Wonder as you may, living in the country opens the dusty yet crucially placed doors of gruesome mindsets since long. So long and deeply rooted that we simply accepted it as a way of life. Now don't get me wrong I am not trying to be cynical but one cannot refute the fact that though our country may have advanced in many ways a part of us is still downright orthodox and stereotype! 

The Indian society may have progressed by leaps and bounds but our “MENTALITY” seems stuck there and then.

Let me clarify, I am not harbinger of animosity. I am not anti-nationalist even. This is just the reflection of the society in which we live by a concerned citizen.

So here we go:

A National Shame:
Every day we wake up and open our national daily to get glimpse of nation whereabouts. What catches our eye then? What makes us feel ashamed?
It’s the traumatic story of one of our female counterpart being exploited, abducted, and assaulted.

What can be worse than this, one might think! But thanks to our “Indian Men” and their never-ending thirst towards getting sexually satisfied, even our Children: Little young girls who are merely 3-4 years are victims of such paedophiles.
What is more disturbing in this scenario is the aftermath of these tragic incidents is now predictable:

  • ·        The blame game between the Cops and State Government starts almost immediately.
  • ·        Media selectively covers the cases, which helps them to gain more TRP’s.
  • ·        Youth wings of Political Parties would demonstrate in the state governed by their rivals, but won’t do any “TAMASHA” in their own party ruled state.
  • ·        Citizens out of the blue will get up from their slumbers and protest.
  • ·        Opposition will get obsessed again with word “Resignation”.


      A nation, the honour and wealth which was looted for thousands of years by aliens is now slowly being looted by its natives in different ways. And yet there is silence. The very essence of India unlike any other country on the planet is its “Unity in Diversity.” But look again without the idealist’s spectacles and you will notice there are so many barriers erected now. We are now Bihari, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayali, UPites, Sikkimites first. If that is not, then you have Forward and backward class. What’s more you have Rajputs, Brahmins, Vaishyas, Shoodras, Shiyas, Sunnis. Of course this is apart from the already existing Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Hence the very basis, on which the premise of the India story was based, is today reduced to shallowness. Colour, language, gender makes an appearance too.My heart definitely weeps but unfortunately, this is the India I was born into.

Education Taboo:   
 I do not want to compare India’s Education to the rest in the world. I want to highlight the medieval mindset that exists still, related to two of noted streams that one opts in class XI:
·        SCIENCE  and

Whether it’s the parents, relatives, neighbours, teachers; majority of them are of the notion that science is the prime stream and that is what one should opt for as “it opens all directions and will give an upper hand over others”.Humanities on the other hand, is treated somewhat like “Shudras” were treated in our Indian Society long back.People are of the view that this stream is meant for the low graders.
Yes! I am writing about this as I went through the same and so does many of my batchmatesWhy does life’s crucial decisions be based on someone else’s view and opinion? Why do I have to select a conventional subject to make it big in life? Why societies influence most of our decisions? Strangely every time I asked or sought for the answer the people I was always rebuked.

Social Networking Sites: The two of the famous sites are Facebook and Twitter: To which we the netizens are glued.What is wrong with this? Facebook- The site catering to large number of Fake profiles and the latest trend of “CONFESSION” page was seen as a space to speak out what one couldnot say in open.Then as it works, sensibility is rare to find.Soon it got polluted with abusing/threatening each other and acted as pseudo-dating site
Twitter- As the moderator of this blog wrote in one of her piece the way tweeples are behaving, it’s sickening to see goons of communal political parties-tweet/Reply in most disgusting manner. Its simple, If your ideology doesn’t match with the person, don’t follow him, but then they prove what Confucius once said “Life is really simple,but we insist on making it complicated.”


A word that we come across us a thousand times in a single day and which touches each and every sphere of our lives.
So as notion goes, we judge everything by it’s acceptance in society. So is Politics good or bad?
Yes! That’s what I am always asked when people get to know I am political aficionado.

And to my luck, before letting me answer, the answer too that comes from their side only saying: “It’s not at all good”, leave your intrest and work towards something of importance and value.I always believed that it’s not the Idea of politics that is evil; it’s the people within it which make it dirty.
If we talk about the present scenario: The society is divided amidst two prominent ideologies currently the Congress and the other the BJP.

Without a doubt, I too am an ardent supporter and follower of one of the ideologies, which one is clearly unimportant. The youth icons of India as they have been tagged seemingly have a promising career ahead. For any citizen the parameters of good governance must be leadership qualities, humility, vivacity, benevolence, charity, strong-will set him apart. It is the leader who promotes the youth participation in politics and wishes to see a new phase and face of Indian politics coming.

As citizens,we all want to bring change,but none of us go out and do our bit towards bringing that change. Can we all vote for starters? May be that is why I am view of that our society as a whole has to be re-developed in accordance with new trends and carrying traditional values along with us.

If we will be able to achieve this, nothing in world can stop us.

And after going through this write up If you feel ashamed to be part of nation called India, my advice to you is: “It’s not Bharat that has lost its values, it is the bharatiya who has fallen from grace.”

- Aakash Chandran

 @ChandranAakash on Twitter

The writer has just finished his twelfth board exams and aspires to be a Lawyer.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Generation of Items...

The legendary film director Martin Scorsese wrote “Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.” Starting from the first feature film Raja Harishchandra (1913), Indian Cinema has gone through numerous transformations.  Now that Indian Cinema has touched its centenary year, we can analyse each and every period starting from pre – independence. But my article won’t be focusing on the cinema as a whole but on its one of the important aspect – Film Music. The journey of Hindi film music started with its feature in first sound film Alam Ara(1931) by Ardesh Irani which featured seven songs.

Music, be it the title track or the songs or even the background score forms the most important part of the cinema. No movie can be completed without having music or at least a background score of its own. It gives life to the movie and makes it livelier in front of the audience.  The songs in the movies are intelligently crafted with proper lyrics which would suit the script of the film.  The impact of Bollywood music in a global scale has been immense. It has created a separate genre for the music lovers all over the world.

As per the film historian Partha Chatterjee, “the Hindi film song cut through all the language barriers in India, to engage in lively communication with the nation where more than twenty languages are spoken and ….. scores of dialects.” There was a Golden era of music in movies. Starting from the music director S. D Burman to his son R.D Burman was considered the time where the Hindi Film music touched its successful peak. Every song was considered to be a hit back then, and still it is considered to be the age where the Hindi Film Music couldn’t have been better.

Indian Film Music saw its first Pop Music Revolution in 20th Century following the already established pop culture in the west. It gave birth to Indi-Pop music starting with its popularity in the 90s by many eminent singers like Alisha Chinai, Remo Fernandes, Usha Uthup, Shaan, Baba Sehgal, Lucky Ali, KK, Palash Sen and many more. Being a huge Music fanatic, Indi- Pop had its own effects in me and I considered it to be the turning point of Indian Film Music in India. With the influence of International bands and singers, Indians created a perfectly different Genre in Hindi Film Music itself with would gather huge popular demand and eventually it did. If 60s and 70s was the Golden Age, then 90s was completely dedicated to the Youth.

Eventually, Indian Pop culture was succeeded by the Rock culture which came in 2000 and stayed with us for a long time. Old Hindi Movie classics were remixed to attract the younger minds. But more recently that also became a part of Indian film Music history with the advent of “Item Song” numbers in the Hindi films.

Mostly the film industry has gone through the transformation and now it is considered to be the “Entertainment Industry” with the rising events, endorsements, award shows etc. It is the huge commercialization which affects the structure of the film. Even if the film not doing so well in Indian Box office, but has a popular Item number , can relieve the producers from suffering huge loss. The actresses doing an ‘item’ number gets paid more than the actress in the lead role of the movie. It is a new concept which has not only effected music industry but also psyche of all groups. They prefer ‘item’ music to any other form of music which is a shame because they refuse to listen to good music.
The negative aspect of these ‘item’ songs is the vulgar portrayal of women in the music. Although it doesn’t promote rape and humiliation but it does corroborate the view. The film makers doesn’t realize the long term effect of such ‘item’ songs which corroborates a patriarchial view of the Indian society and tarnish the already degrading position of women in our Society. Critics call it a bold move but that doesn’t stop the film makers from producing them.

Laila, Chikni Chameli, Munni, Sheila- they now dominate our national consciousness. A girl wearing raunchy clothes and dancing in front of number of men and being their entertainment now may be a normal sight to see in television these days, but I feel it degrades the efforts of those musicians which create good music or those musicians whose efforts brought music revolution in India in 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

We should always welcome the new but not at the cost of losing the old. As the course of History goes, nothing lasts forever. So may be the “Generation of Items” will come to an end and will give birth to something different and positive than showing the obscene portrayal of women in the television. But then such revolution is yet to come and we have to live through the “Generation of Items”.

Sharanya Kundu

@sharankundu on Twitter