Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Be Very Very Angry

Mumbai. July 13, 2011. A series of blasts ripped through the city killing many dreams, extinguishing hope, and driving citizens to the brink of despair. To vent, we can blame Pakistan and the numerous terror outfits active in the country or ask a question - who is responsible for protecting us?

No points for guessing, it is The Government of India.

As parents, employees, or business persons most of us have jobs and we have tasks to perform as part of that job. If we do not perform, we are either fired or our careers take a nose dive. All jobs come with responsibilities.

The Government of India (GOI) is an institution of failure. And who constitutes the GOI? Politicians, bureaucrats, quasi government bodies, and elected institutions like panchayats. From cradle to the grave and after (death certificate), the government plays a role in our lives. And in every step, for most people the GOI fails us – it fails to provide us with hygienic hospitals, clear airy classrooms, good roads and buses to go school, educated teachers who show up for work daily, a higher education system that makes us market worthy and jobs when we finally pass out.

The GOI fails to safeguard us from corruption, bureaucratic apathy, delayed justice and an inefficient, brutal police system.

So to bring in change, we need to change the government. How do we change the government? By doing something, perhaps exercising our right to vote?

Each time we are angry with the government, we must ask ourselves, do I have a voter’s ID card? If you do not have one, get one done. The struggle to get that voter’s ID is part of the struggle to give yourself a government you want. We have to stand up for our rights and the struggle begins with procuring a voter’s ID card. This is your card to freedom.

I have got my card. Now what? Who do I vote for? Everyone is corrupt. Think what is most important for you. What is it that you want the government to provide you? It could be anything – safety, security, job, free healthcare, infrastructure, education, and the freedom to aspire and look forward to a future.

Identify what existing political party would provide you with some of these basic requirements. If you find it easy to relate to a party, I am happy for you. If not, identify the party closest to your dream political party and vote.

There are 200 million people above 18 years living in Indian cities. Most share common aspirations - for a reservation less education system, a robust market economy for jobs, a corruption free efficient administration, women friendly cities, an efficient healthcare system, cities where no mortal fear of being ripped apart in terrorist bombings exists, cities where the judicial system is quick and cops don’t rape and murder citizens.

The first time you vote, your party might lose. But then you have another five years before you can vote again. If each one of us can convince five people to vote along with us, that will be 40 million of change agents. In a country of 1.2 billion, 40 million is not an impossible figure.

We should give ourselves a name. We should go the green peace way. We can organize ourselves into a movement. If you have control of 40 million urban votes, you will definitely catch the attention of the political parties. If you have influence on 200million votes, the politicians cannot ignore us any longer.

When we vote to power the candidates that we want, then we get to choose what we want from the government. And it all starts with being angry, very angry at the government.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Of Smokers, Drinkers, and Husbands!

Over the years, I have played matchmaker several times. Some have worked, some for a while and some not at all. I cant help but notice the diverse expectations one has about an ideal life partner, if such a thing exists. Yes, there are many successful relationships but to make it successful there is alot of hard work and compromises some minor, some major. However, letting go of these prejudices and little quirks, and learning to be more accepting do go a long way. It's not like a successful marriage falls into your lap; you need to tweak a marriage to suit your requirements.

Beyond the euphoria of love defined by candlelit romances, dinners, chocolates, a harsh reality exists. There exists a world where there are daily chores to be attended to, family commitments to be tended to, inlaws to appease, jobs to go to and so on. When that reality hits, some get a rude shock and discover that a marriage is much more than a Mills and Boon's romance as one of my friends recently discovered.

Relationships are complex and dependent on various factors such as an individual's attitude, disposition or outlook towards life, and ability to negotiate, act or handle oneself across various situations when playing the role of a partner.

I was talking to a bachelorette friend a few weeks ago and she was telling me her expectations from her future life partner. She wanted a partner who did not smoke or drink as she considered these traits marriage unworthy. That got me thinking. Does a person who is not a boozer or a smoker make a better life partner? I wouldn't know as the men in my life have these vices and as human beings they are accepting, respectful, and tolerant towards the women in their life. So just wondering how different is it on the other side? Do these traits of drinking and smoking accurately define how a person is in other aspects of his life?