Federalism in India

At the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.

India which was fragmented from centuries when various rulers ruled the different parts of the country indeed woke to life and freedom as mentioned by the first prime minister of nation Jawahar Lal Nehru. Our country had never before been united and the kings and their kingdom existed independently. The boundaries of the states constantly changed with the jurisdiction of the emperor in charge. When India arose to freedom, the constituent assembly was well aware of the nuances that may come if we chose to stay a federal state. Knowing this fact they decided to name India as the union of states. States were thus created for administrative convenience and it were not the states which chose to form the nation. The identity of states is inherent in the identity if our nation.

To balance the administrative hurdles when a state and a nation works as a whole, power of distributed among states and the center. Thus maintaining a separate set of list for the state issues, union issues and for the concurrent issues. It is this balance between the power between union and state that determines how cooperative or competitive federalism in our nation is.

The Indian prime minister recently stressed on the need of competitive federalism in order to achieve cooperative federalism. To ensure the competitiveness of the federalism, we have councils where the issues related to the common interest of the states. We have a mechanism to solve the disputes arising, thus, maintaining a healthy competitive spirit between the states. The recent steps by the government of India were in the same direction to encourage the competitive nature of federalism. Whether it is NITI Ayog or the soon to be launched Goods and Services Tax (GST), all the policies will come from the central government as a broader framework and the states can use modify and implement the policies as per their own suitability.  Also, the Smart City initiative, ranking of cleanest cities in the country is again to increase the competitive nature of the states so that each state has gained something. The government is now providing the states to tweak the central government schemes as per the local geopolitical requirement of the state. The states in today’s time are endowed with much more power in financial and political decision making. As the state progress with framing policies to attract more investment, it will definitely be beneficial for the Indian economy.

But along with the spirit of competition, cooperation is needed to achieve a much larger national goal. In today’s  time when we are witnessing more coalition governments at center and regional parties taking dominance to raise the region specific issues, the concept of cooperation between the nation and the states becomes much more important. There is need to be proper communication and coordination between the center and the state as both are driving the same wagon. Individual interest should be shed away in such cases and the national interest should occupy the attention of the forum.

In the process of nation building, we must understand the national goals, objectives and the hurdles that come along our way. Center must understand the needs of the state and the states must utilize the central government policies to take the best out of them. Only then, it would be a win-win for all.

– – The post is written for Blogadda.

The Fraaandship Days – An Ode to Orkut

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Once upon a time, there existed a planet in the galaxy of social networking – the planet Orkut. This was a planet whose inhabitants were ‘fraaandship’ addict. In those days, there were very few medium to socialize. Unlike today, when you can easily get a hard on on click of a mouse, finding a mate was much harder. To lure the opposite sex, people used to decorate their profile with stylish fonts, added subtitles to their display names which conveyed subtle messages, flaunted their fraaandly persona in the about me box. There were various designs in the profile created using only text to welcome the visitor.

Those were the days when the number of scraps was considered as popularity meter, the days when your mood determined the theme of your profile. A person’s individuality was largely respected on the planet. It gave you the freedom to be anyone you want without the fear of being judged by a colleague, family or a friend. On, Orkut everyone was equally crazy. People were free to express themselves in whichever way they like. There is a faint memory of a place called testimonials where we sometimes visited.

For amusement, there were communities and forums on planet Orkut. Orkut was everything rolled into one. It existed not for any other reason but for the mutual love of ours for networking. People didn’t use to like or share a bond with each other for generating business. The love on the planet was truly unconditional. People used to put their trust on each other though they did not use to have their mobile number. Though there were some thugs too, and every civilization has had them, but it made the living much more interesting.

The internet had not penetrated the length and breadth back then so we used to ride in the ship of the cyber cafe to land on our paradise. There were no instant buzz or notification so writing a scrap and waiting for hours, days and months for a reply used to be the ritual. Today’s fast moving generation will never be able to feel the magic when you are waiting in love.

But as nothing lasts forever, there came a trouble for this planet’s existence. There is a law in nature that if you are able to adapt yourself according to the events occurring around you, you will survive else you will be called outdated. Orkut failed to do so. It failed to evolve and hence was lost in an abyss. The days of fraaandship were gone. The bond between people was broken and so did their hearts. Some of the inhabitants moved to a budding planet called Facebook. It is imperative of human nature. They keep looking for something new as they get bored of repeatability. But little did they know that king of the planet Facebook was much shrewd and cunning. Initially, it promised to provide better connectivity. People were elated and joyous. But soon, the happiness bubble busted as the king became money minded. With the passage of time emotions lost their value on this planet. It was all business now. People were connected but the bond was missing.

The changes took place so gradually that people didn’t even realize what they have lost. Today, as the generational shift has taken place, most of the people have forgotten what the old days offered. How slavery of peers was injected into our veins? How everything we did became influential? No one remembers anything. Except for a few Orkutiyans,  who still search meaningful scraps in between the crap that is posted on the internet these days.

I know it is tough to go back to rejected things and people. But if they change a bit then we can give them a chance. Someday I shall go back to that planet and do more of fraaandship and blabber about it. To me, Orkut has been like a school going kid who is bright and exciting where Facebook is akin to an employee who is quite professional and formal. Needless to say, I love the child more.

I am… What I Read

Mark Twain once revealed his mind, “A man who cannot read has no advantage over the person who is illiterate.” Reading and writing are the fundamental things that we learned in school. I distinctly remember the first day in new class when books were distributed. I was zestful that now I’ll get to read new stories from the books. Be it the fable of ‘The Bore and Two Friends’ or the story of ‘A Crocodile and A Monkey’ by Vikram Seth. Characters of the books left an everlasting impression on me. The professional ethics and values I possess today are somewhat in sync with what I imbibed those days.

As a kid, we find everything fascinating. We are even amazed by the things we find mundane now. The reason being, back then it was a new experience for us. But as we all get exposed to the hassles of life, these events around us cease to be impressive. We abandon the most wonderful habit we inculcated during childhood. We stop to add new assets to our arsenal. We stop to read. As I grew up, along with me, the books grew up too. I was devoured by the heavy volumes of Physics and Mathematics books. The purpose of reading was now different but there was one thing still common between the different genres I was reading – it was helping me to grow. This time the growth was on the professional front.

For my joining at ABC, I relocated to a new city. The joy of amazement returned to my life. I was amused by the simplest things again. The hoardings, streets, buildings, everything was fascinating once again. And it was prodded by this bliss I picked story books again. My world was now revolving around the characters of novels I was reading. I was traveling places I never imagined I would. And I was viewing the world through eyes of the protagonists of the books I was reading. At times, trying to be committed to work while reading Md. Ali’s biography whereas trying to be brave like Santiago in The Alchemist.

Pragmatically, it’s impossible to opt several careers at one point of time. But submerging into depths of words I can look the world through the eyes of a doctor, a refugee, a survivor or a soldier. Books are a way of life. They have helped me develop a perspective. To understand people at workplace better and to relate to them. Books have provided me words and thoughts which are the greatest asset a man can possess.

Looking through the prism of time, I feel all the shades that are sublimed into my life are a byproduct of the books I have read over the years. The shades might not be fifty yet, nor are they gray but certainly a bright combination of the colors of umpteen books I have read over the years.

Eulogy of a Revolution

Something unusual happened that day. I had just received a mail about someone’s ‘Dissatisfaction regarding quantity, quality & increased food price.’ It instantly reminded me of the quote, ‘For too long, you and I have been quiet.’ I was happy that someone has gathered the courage to speak about it. Sending an email to the entire center is indeed a courageous task. You have to check and recheck the mail for spelling and grammatical mistakes. Out of habit, I refreshed the mailbox and saw a few more emails received on the same subject. I instantly ran towards pantry to brew a cup of coffee to sip while reading all the Email. Who would have imagined that reading emails could be such fun?

I always wanted to be a part of some revolution and this seemed to be the moment for me. By now unread email tally had crossed the count of 50 and everyone was vehemently expressing their distress. There were one-liners and then there were essay type emails. The MBA aspirants joined the lot and infused a heavy dose of vocabulary into the Email to make the issue authentic. It was as if everyone was waiting since ages for that one Email to begin a revolt. This was no less than a ‘Jan-Bhogpal Movement’ to me. In the middle, someone shifted the focus of issue to salary hike compared to food price hike whereas someone raised the issue of ‘city allowance’ needed to be increased along with food prices. People from varied projects joined the protest. I clicked on the ‘new mail’ tab to do my bit for the revolution. By now my coffee was also about to get finished. I wanted to write about the coffee but lethargy usurped my willingness to revolt. I chose to close the ‘new mail’ tab and started reading other emails.

People had addressed their emails to random ids, and copied their friends in it. No one was now bothered about the purpose of revolution. The sanctimonious Email had become just another medium for people to vent out. All were engrossed in saying what they wanted to say being inconsiderate of whether they were saying it to the right person. However, I was happy that after all this clamor the issue will reach to the concerned authority for sure.
Someone proposed not eat canteen food as a ‘Hunger Strike’ variant. By now, ‘I support this initiative’ was featured in every mail I was receiving. The mere thought of hunger strike in office was exciting. We have all seen it in Hindi movies. Being in IT industry, I never imagined that I would get to be a part of something of this sort. I was sure, the canteen committee members from our teams whom we were missing dearly would lead from the front during this strike.

It was 6 PM. I had consumed my coffee by now and the incoming mail frequency had reduced. Most of the emails now appeared repetitive. I heard that the administration had called a meeting at a grand hall to pacify the aggrieved lot. I am unsure of what happened in the meeting, as not much was talked about the same, neither on mail nor in person by any of my friends. I am sure; the administration provided another platform to make them feel that their voice was being heard. After all, this is what majority of the citizens of our nation get satisfied with.

By 7 PM, all the excitement seemed to have settled down as people were now planning to leave early to grab a seat on the bus. I thought of all the movements our nation has witnessed during past few years. Movements which appear promising in the beginning but fail because of our negligence or lack of patience to pursue it in the longer run. Movements that failed because we got pacified by hollow promises. Like the fate of most of the revolutions, this also was buried in trash folder of our mailbox.

I Am Happy When…

Rain

The desire is to be the raindrop that is unafraid of freefall. The raindrop that sets itself free of its individuality and merges with other droplets to fill the emptiness of the river and oceans.

The train of thoughts had just started as the thunder clouds lightened his way. He could clearly hear his thoughts whistling, alarming him of the impending contemplation that is going to take a seat in his mind. Mostly, journeys are about looking outside the window to adore the overcast weather. But this journey was about looking inside the window of his mind. This journey was not about reaching somewhere but about discovering his own self. The falling rain chimes reminded him of his own individuality that was lost somewhere among the peers. “In some way, I am more like the raindrop.”, he pondered. The idea that he is somewhat like the raindrop amused him. He started enjoying the downpour more than ever. “But the raindrops have a purpose – to unite, to fill the emptiness, to coalesce and occupy every square inch of the ground”, came another voice from the corner of his heart as the train progressed through the tunnel. In dark, our deepest fears seek revelation. The train of thoughts paced up as he sought his purpose, something that will make him more akin to the raindrops. Unlike the raindrops, he never wanted to mingle with the peers. Rather he never felt he was one among them. Gloom subsided the joy on his face as he jostled to find an apt meaning of his existence. And just like every time, his mind again zeroed down to the unanswered question which follows when we are looking for a purpose in life – ‘I am happy when….’.  “The ultimate purpose of life is to be happy”, he remembered the old adage.

The train of thoughts was now taking a turn. He knew that the moment had come. It was the time when one can look at both the ends of the train. He peeked inside his heart and the view of much clearer to him. He could see the last coach – the past and the engine – what lies ahead of him, the future. We ought to compare our present with the two whenever we talk of happiness. “The nostalgia of childhood memories or the thrill of an exciting future opportunity, all that is nothing but the relative happiness”, he reflected. It was just at this moment when few raindrop touched his face. It dissolved in itself the dust that was there on his haggard face. The dust on the outside was also absorbed and settled down by the rain.

The rain had stopped by now. His gaze stumbled upon a tree where there was still another raindrop clinging to a leaf. That was the moment happiness dawned upon him. He felt glad that though there were a million droplets that were showering from the sky, he was not like most of them. He realized that he was like that one raindrop that clings on to the tree leaf and refused to fall down. Or perhaps the raindrop that was soaked by tree trunk. He might also be the raindrop that fell over a million hopeful faces. The train of thoughts had finally reached the destination. And that gave him happiness.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Decision Making

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With great power also comes great responsibility. Once Spiderman understood that he went on to achieve laurels. Whereas, most of us are trapped inside the cobwebs of complexities that being in the authoritative position we are bestowed with.

There comes a time when we are not in a position to decipher which side of the game we are supposed to be. This especially happens when we are at the helm of that particular role for the first time. We,  the leaders, are hesitant and seek the opinion of our team when the matter at hand is all gray. The team might provide you with various solutions and suggestions. But of what use all the suggestions in this world are if they are not put to any fruitful use. We seem to give control of decision making partially in their hand.

The best leader, at such instance, would trust himself and stay calm. He would, of course, take suggestions from all, however, these suggestions would only be an assistance to improve the execution of his decision and not act as an impediment to the decision making itself.

It is never about what you could have done but about what you managed to do.

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

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Story in short:

The story of Nineteen Eighty-Four is set up in Oceania and unfolds around the life of its protagonist Winston. He is a part of the dystopian society where no such thing as free-will exist and every action of every person part of the state has to be in accordance with the will of the government. The society is fragmented into three parts. The inner party is the one who works for the government whose sole aim is to work for the achievement of the purpose of the government. The proles are the lower class who constitute a large portion of the population and are not cared for by the government. The third being the inner party which supposedly works secretly and is rebellious.

Winston is working for the government where his task is to examine the articles and news carefully and change them suitably in the favor of the government so as to record them in history.  Everything that is against the government is stashed away as it never existed. People who betray the government in one way or the other are ostracized as if they never existed – the termed unperson is used for this. The people are under the constant observation of the telescreen and they have been just reduced to a condition where they can not do or think logically. For them, whatever the party does is supreme.

Orwell has described the dystopian society and the life of people in the first hundred pages. Since it is written in the third person without much conversation taking place between people, it is excruciating to go through it. Most of the times we are just reading Winston’s monolog without anything interesting event taking place to take forth the story.

The story takes a turn when Winston meets Julia who works in another department in Winton’s office. There begins their clandestine affair which paces up the story a little bit. Julia seems to be an intelligible woman and they both get with each other very well. The one thread that sews them together is their mutual hatred for the party. In times where even thinking against the party is a thoughtcrime, love blossoms in their hatred.

The love-affair was going very smooth until one day when Winston meets an Inner Party member O’Brian. O’Brian promises to induct Winston into the inner party league so that they can work secretly to overthrow the government. This, however, turns out to be a farce and Winston along with Julia is captured by the thought police soon after. The rest of the story is just about Winston and Julia are separated, about how they are tortured till the extent they forget their own existence. Where they meet in the end or not? Whether the rebellion against the government was successful or not? You will have to pick the book to find out the answer to these questions.

The Good:

George Orwell has successfully depicted how a dystopian future would resemble like. How would life be when all your rights are taken away from you? How would you act and react if the language is reduced to a few words where you can not even express yourself? The times when each and every action of yours is under constant surveillance and even thinking against the government is a crime. It is when all the past has been re-written and you remember nothing about it.

Could Have Been Better:

The novel is too descriptive with more conversation happening in the mind of the character and very less with the outside world. We may consider this to be the disadvantage of living in a dystopian era. Still, I would have preferred a bit less of description or perhaps the perspective of few more characters could have been involved in the story telling. The story does become interesting as and when new characters are introduced in the book but it becomes repetitive when they take forward the story for a long a time.

The book requires a lot of patience to be finished but if you have it, there are a number of remarkable quotes and descriptions that will surely amaze you.

Rating – 3/5

Perhaps one did not want to be love so much as to be understood.

“She was very young, he thought, she still expected something from life, she did not understand that to push an inconvenient person over a cliff solves nothing.”

Animal Farm

Animal Farm

The world as we all see is just a distorted image reflected through the mirage of our perception. So the quest to view the events occurring around you through another perspective is what makes one read more and more. In my attempt to read musings of George Orwell, I zeroed upon Animal Farm. It was not someone’s suggestion but merely the less number of pages that prompted my to pick it up. The expectations, thus, were not much. However, as I progressed through the book, the story got hold of my attention. The beauty of this book is that though it is said to be a political satire it never picks up any actual political figures to convey its message. Even if you are narrating it to a five-year-old kid, it would still be as gripping as it is to a political science student.

The book begins when the animals in the Manor Farm are grappling with the negligence of their owner and the talks of rebellion are circulating among the animals. After days of deliberate effort by the dedicated animals, the rebellion does take place and Mr. Jones Manor is thrown away from the farm. The animals, as they wished,  thus become the sole owner of the farm.  Like any nation that gets freedom after grappling with the dominant opposing forces, the animals, too start to set up some rules (constitution in our language) which each of them would abide by. The rules that let them govern without any malice and any inequality towards each other.  They call it the 7 principals of animalism- which makes sure their rights are well taken care of.

It has been rightly said, power corrupts. As the time progresses, animals also change their way of living. The pigs who are the intelligent creatures take charge of the governing of the Animal Farm and slowly start engaging into malpractices.  Just the way each regime changes its colors once they come to power. The leaders who once fought for oppression start oppressing once in the regime. Amidst all this, the heroes have turned villains through propaganda. Napoleon, the pig, who fought bravely when Mr. Manor made a failed attempt recapture the farm is treated as a traitor. Little does people realize that the minute behavioral change taking place each day sums up to a drastic change in attitude in the long term. Animals forget the principals of animalism and the laws are tweaked to suit the pigs in power.  Slowly, chaos takes over the farm but no one has the courage to raise a voice against the rulers because by now they have been habituated to live under fear and tyranny. The story of the animal farm by the end comes back to square one.

George Orwell has wonderfully carved out each character of the novel and they reflect the different types of people existing in the society – from the ones who doesn’t bother about political change to the ones who believe their work is supreme no matter what, from the ones who feels something wrong in happening in society but never raise a voice to the one who starts to gel with the people in power. At many instances, you would simply be dazzled by the wonderful character and story build up by the author. The book though written in 1945, holds relevant in today’s time. You can relate each and every scenario described in the book with the contemporary politics and the political parties and it would hold true.

If you are interested in politics of the nation, are curious to know how narratives are built by political parties, how smallest of the decision matters in the long term then I would highly recommend this book to you.

There are a number of thought provoking as well as amusing quotes throughout the book, however the following indeed makes you think twice about the meaning it conveys.

“Several of them would have protested if they could have found the right arguments.”

Rating – 5/5

P3 – The Peripherals

Thesaurus defines ‘peripherals’ as ‘able to be attached to and used with a computer, though not an integral part of it’.

Peripherals are the accessories that may not be of great use if used separately. But once used with the main commodity, they are of great significance. Keyboard, mouse, a pen drive, you cannot use all these accessories alone for any productive purpose but when used together, they smoothen the functioning of a computer.

Fellow Toastmasters and Dear Guests,

A very Good Morning to all to you. Let us begin with a story.

I was in 3rd year of graduation. Yes, all stories begin when you are in graduation. So, during graduation I fell in love. I actually am a graduate in relationships.

Look at our faces right now. We all are so keen about love.

I will not begin the story with love because I feel stories that end at love are more interesting than the ones which begin at love. So we will talk about love at some other point.

So the story begins when I was in 3rd year of graduation. And I got involved in so many extra-curricular activities and was just not able to concentrate on studies. I was into so many things and I started missing my classes.  As a result my grades fell. The after effect of which was I wasn’t able to participate in these activities too whole heartedly. I visited a professor of mine for his advice and he said something to me.

Do you want to know what my professor said?

We will get back to what she said for sure. But before that let me narrate another incident to you.

I met P the last time he was here. I asked him the same question which I asked to my professor. The context might be a little different but the gist was same. I asked P that how can I juggle between the project related activities and the Toastmasters related activities.

And since I was asking the same question, P gave the same answer as my professor gave 2 years ago.

Looks like P has met her.

P said, that whatever we are doing at toastmasters should not hamper our project work. Rather people should say that R or for that matter each one of you has become more efficient since the day you have started attending Toastmasters meetings.

My professor had said that whatever you are doing is the extra effort you are making to improve the quality of your life. This should complement your main task but it cannot replace the same.

Ladies and gentlemen, in our life there are many activities that take the major part of our day. It may be studies, if you are a student or it may be your job if you are a working professional. This is the main equipment that drives your life ahead. And then there are some activities which we do to enhance the quality of our life. I call these activities – The peripherals. These activities themselves might not be of great significance if used alone – Just like the peripherals of computer. But we need to find a way to attach them with our life and to improve the experience of our life.

But before finding a peripheral for any device we need to find which peripheral is best suited for your device. Which peripheral is supported for your life?  There is no point buying a 3.5 mm jack headphone for an iPhone 7 now. So, today, when you leave this room, I want you to find out the peripherals in your life. The peripherals that will improve the quality of your life. Peripherals that will give you joy.  And once you have found them, use those peripherals to increase your productivity and take yourself to a new zenith.

We all use a cellphone. Does after buying a headphone for your brand new headphone you throw away your phone? No, not at all. Rather both, the device and the peripheral are used together to enhance the user experience. Then why can’t we apply the same in our lives. Why can’t we enjoy the fruits of two separate activities to experience life to the fullest? Why do we think that we can do something only if we sacrifice the other? Why don’t we coordinate the equipment and the peripherals in our life?

 

P2 – Say Yes!

Good Morning Everyone!

How many of you are aware of the three magical words?

***audience response***

Can you please repeat it for me?

***audience response***

Thank you so much.

I am unsure about the magic these words possess. But I am sure, what follows once you have uttered these words is indeed magical. The reply to this question can change your life. You heard it right a simple Yes, coming from someone else indeed can change yourself, if only for a few days. But it’s not the first yes that determines longevity of a relationship. It is how many times you say yes after getting committed that determines the strength of your bonding.

But today, I am not here to talk about your relationship with the outside world.  Today, I will talk about our relationship with our own self. And imagine how smooth our relationship with us will become once we start doing the same to us. Once we start saying yes to us.

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow toastmasters and dear guests. A very good morning to all of you.

There are times when we are trying something new and are unsure of its outcome. Or the case might be that you might already be engaged into something but are not finding enough motivation to continue with the task. It does happen with most of us at one instance or the other. I was in a similar situation when I was in college. I was involved in many things, but after few days I was not able to take part in it. I was missing my classes and was not taking part in any activities I used to do. I approached a teacher and he suggested something to me. Something which I was difficult to understand at that time.

Do you want to know what he said?

He said that it is all there in our brain. All the hurdles, the flexibility, the turmoil, the confusion, it’s all here. He asked me to start giving and affirmative response to my mind whenever it imposed a dilemma. My mind might be wanting me to rest for it felt exhausted after travelling for few hours; which, actually was excuse not for attending the class.  I started saying yes in all such circumstances where we have a tendency to make excuses.

But before saying yes, it is also important to understand why we say no. Let me narrate another incident to you.

We were released from first corporate training and were sitting in the library. We met ‘A’ Sir there and he said something that day which I will be the guiding light for me in my professional career. He said, that now that we have transitioned into the corporate-world, we have to learn to balance everything along with this. This is the battleground and it will be an integral part of our life henceforth. Whatever it is that we do has to be done along with this and not apart from this. He was talking about the work-life balance.

Friends, we say no when we are saddled with two diverse tasks. When we feel that there is no connection between the two tasks and one cannot be done after the other. We might feel that I cannot attend Toastmasters session or vice-versa right after a meeting as both are diverse tasks. There can be in numerous such situations.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all would have heard the phrase that opportunity knocks our doors. When you say ‘yes’ to something you open the door for opportunity to embrace you. And please understand, saying ‘yes’ to one thing doesn’t imply that you will say no to the other.

Thank You.