Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

Month: November 2017

LET US ALL BE NON RELIGIOUS

I am intrigued to hear that a temple maintains a non Hindu register. Who has written what and where is not the question but why such a register is maintained in the first place is my basic doubt. I can understand as people will start justifying that in order to maintain some statistics, that how many people of other faiths have visited the temple needs to be recorded. Is it justified in the first place? Should it be done, is what my theme of today is?

I understand that a person from Rahul Babas team filled up the register on his behalf. He may not have seen the cover or the heading of the register. He may not be aware that such a register exists; he might be in a hurry and filled it in the first register he could lay his hands on to move on to the next appointment. I also can keep justifying the reasons why an entry in a non Hindu register was made and such arguments have no end. I don’t care which religion he belongs to by the way.

My next question is that in Babas entourage, how many people were there in all? How many security personnel were deployed and were moving alongside him for his safety and security in a place where God is supposed to exist and protect everyone. Was his entourage all Hindus or were there people from all castes, creeds and sects? How many people that accompanied made entries? If not, why not? Don’t they count as statistics? Doesn’t the temple keep count of all visitors?

We in the forces don’t believe in caste or creed, similarly, certain people in his security who would be from other religion or caste. Did anyone question why security people of certain caste enter the temple premises’ and make it unholy? Was the temple purified and sanctified after Rahul’s visit to bring it back to its normal state after the footsteps of “non Hindus” would have entered the temple. I am stretching my imagination too far for no reason it seems.

Be that as it may, I don’t understand in a house of God, irrespective of which religion it is, why is this discrimination? Is my God better than yours? Is my God holier than yours? Is my God more benevolent than yours? Are the teachings of my God not leading to the same path of finding inner peace? Are the preaching’s of kindness, love, affection and bonding of the human race not the same. If the answer to all these questions is more or less the same, then why this differentiation of Hindu and non Hindu register in the first place is eating me from inside.

I might be a practicing Hindu and visit a temple to find solace and blessings of the Gods or Goddesses as the case may be. I might be a Hindu who has visited this place earlier and have now besides the blessings come to admire the architecture of the area. I might be from a different religion and come to understand how the management works here etc. I might be an atheist who has just come to visit because I had to get one of my guests to visit during a sightseeing tour. I may just be a tour guide who has by hearted the history of this place and has refined the art of storytelling to tourists.

The same people who take you for a special darshan through the side door after keeping all the priests and pandas on their right side, are they not from the same religion? Besides making money, what do they achieve by converting this temple into a commercial place? It throws the basic ethos and sanctity of any religious place out of the window. The commercialisation has grown so much that the time and type of darshan are directly proportional to the number of notes and their denominations you are willing to shed. Let me just say that let us stop this “Dharam ki Thekedari”.

What hurt me most is the Non Hindu, Non Christian issue? Why do we have to divide our already divided country? Why have such registers in the first place anywhere? Even as an Indian or a foreigner, if I have to visit any holy place or shrine what is this business of non Hindu, non Christian, non Parsi, non Sikh. Yes, if there is a security issue then let all details be filled at the security gate and not in a visitors register kept inside the shrine to differentiate on basis of religion.

Unless our politics rises above and beyond the religion, which was quite evident on all the news channels yesterday, this country will be compartmentalised, broken, fructified, fractured, split, splintered, cracked, divided and the citizen taken advantage of. I hope “Vikas” (development) we talk about will not be subject to the type of register you make an entry in. If that be so then dear fellow countrymen, what do you want to be, a true Hindustani or a non xyz? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

MOST AUSPICIOUS TIME

I find it quite amusing when a news channel spoke to an Ex Air Chief about preparations to sort out Pakistan after 26/11 as revenge. Then the channel got after Dr Man Mohan Singh. Well, the Air Chief stated that plans did exist to strike and strike hard. It did not happen. The final go ahead is of the Govt and not any Chief or even PM. Thus to guillotine the PM of that time is not fair. To top it all, they dragged Rahul baba and his mom into it, who may not have any idea of warfare as such. The same yard stick should have been applied by the channel when the NDA Government was ruling and the attack on parliament had happened, in all fairness. To conjecture, had we done this that day, the repercussions would have been different is stretching it too far. Either we should have done it, now that we haven’t, let us not brag about it, is my view.

Which Chief will say that there are no plans to sort what we all desperately need to sort out? We were unprepared in 1947, still we did our best. 1962, we braved it out against all odds. 1965 was no different and we came out victorious. In 1971 we created a new country. Kargil, who can forget? Such plans are never revealed but are continuously made, war gamed, modified, improved and updated. Nation is always supreme; the tri colour has to flutter, come hell or high water. I would rather say that after the experience of Kargil and deployment in OPERATION-PARAKARAM, the forces are definitely better prepared. Our operational options have been refined and our logistics has been practiced thoroughly. Men have seen all four seasons change in operational readiness during that time. Nuclear option can never be ruled out and we are prepared for the worst.

India has waited far too long to retaliate. It has tolerated and been patient enough against all nefarious activities and nonsense done by Pak. The country has sacrificed too many of its brave hearts to give peace a chance. The “PAAP KA GHARA” (pot of sin) of the adversary is filling up and needs to be shattered. When, how, by whom, by talks or otherwise are questions better left unanswered?

This reminds me of an anecdote of my good old army days.

We were a newly raised unit in a God forsaken place called JA-SALE-MER many moons back. It was month of May and we had to move for field firing. As usual, we are kind of superstitious in the army, so the unit pandit ji was told to take out a “Mahurat” (auspicious time) for the convoy to move. Pokhran ranges were just about 100 odd kms. Pandit ji came up with all rahu-ketu calculations to 9 am. It used to be 45+ degrees in May at 9 am and rising. Anyways, as usual the convoy lined up and the paltan fell in. 2IC was about to take the report when people started falling like nine pins due to the heat. He ordered the paltan to “Visarjan” (break off) and called the pandit ji to his office and told him. “Pandit ji, mauhrat niklega aur kal subha 5 baje ka nikelaeg”. Koi shak? (any doubts). Aap ne jis ko jo chadhana hai chadah do (you can offer whatever to whomsoever) but if mahurat is delayed by one second you had it. Pandit ji did a peechay mur, daur ke chal. (About turn and run for life)

Next day Pandit ji instead of his usual white dhoti kurta was in a new never used combat dress. Dot at 5 am the nariyal was broken and off we went. BMPs had already reached and the “shubh arambh” of firing was to be done by panditji by firing the first round of the 30mm cannon. I was the Commander of the BMP. I had never seen a Pandit scared to death ever. Here I had one who had only performed poojas in front of BMPs. The closest he reached the tracks was to keep a nariyal under the track. Anyways, panditji had for the first time put on a head gear, shivering, sweating and he got the orders to fire. Bang and it hit the target (the gun of course was laid by the gunner). Pandit ji from inside the cupola looked at me Sahib bahar aa jaun (Sir, may I come out). I said let the MCT (Mobile Control Tower give clearance). They did. From that day onwards pandit ji used to come a week in advance to ask, “sahib march karne ka muhrat kitne baje ka nikalna hai”. (Sir what time do we need to set the auspicious time to move). I hope it is being followed even today by the paltan. God bless my Paltan.

Pakistan you better be aware, we are a land of pandits. The mahurat will definitely be taken out and the date, time and place of attack will be of the choosing of our Chief’s that shall be revealed by the forces that auspicious day. It did not happen yesterday. Will it happen tomorrow? Or will it happen in the near future; I leave it for everyone to wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

7000 CRORES

Philanthropy means the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by generous donations of money to good cause. The synonyms are: benevolence, generosity, humanitarianism, public-spiritedness, altruism, social conscience, social concern, charity charitableness, brotherly love, fellow feeling, magnanimity, munificence, liberality, largess, open-handedness, bountifulness, beneficence, benignity, unselfishness, selflessness, humanity, kindness, kind-heartedness, big-heartedness, compassion, humaneness, patronage, sponsorship, backing, help, historical alms giving, literary bounty, bounteousness. The interpretations could differ, but the spirit remains the same.

As I was going through the news on the net I read somewhere that a family is going to donate 7000 crores for their philanthropic activities. My goodness Lord, firstly I am feeling tizzy hearing this amount. Secondly, I think if these notes are in 500 rupees denomination then it would be more than 14 crore notes itself. Number of Rs 500 notes needed to have a value of Rs 1 Crore = 1Crore/500= 200000. Weight of 1 Rs 500 note =1.15g, total weight of Rs 1 crore in 500 denomination = 200000 x 1.15=23000g =23Kg. Therefore 7000 crores x 23=161000 or 161 tons, if an average truck carries 20 tonnes, means 8 huge truck loads. Size of a 500 note is 66mm x 150mm, so if we lay them head to head in piles of 5 lakhs each means 140000 bundles means it is 210000 km. The distance to the moon is 3844000 km and circumference of the earth is 40075 km. Baapre! Well you can figure out the ratios on your own. My mind is boggling and boggling and eating circle after circle.

Be that as it may, if I divide this 7000 crore in my 125 crore deshwasis, we all shall have about 56 crores each in our kitty. Achhe din a gaye samjho. Leave alone the promise of 15 lakh in each account you can distribute 56 crores each. Half of India as it is doesn’t work because of berozgari, now we shall make sure the working India also stops working. Everyone will go sit and wait to finish his or her 56 crores. Even if I say I will spend 1 crore a year, at this stage when I am well past 50 years of age, I better double the spending, God knows how much time I have at my hands. A new born can live with his parents till 24 and then add another 56 years with a crore to spend a year will see him through till 80 what else does one require.

I have one question though, how much Izzat can we buy in this huge amount. My answer is zero. Izzat cannot be bought it has to be earned. Why I say this is because the people who are fighting for their Izzat to be restored need a very paltry sum from the government. The old and tired veterans need to go home as they have spent their time in hell already. The lucky ones came home and the luckier ones came back draped in the tri colour. At least they are not witnessing treatment which is being meted out to their own brethren by their government for whom they sacrificed their lives and limbs. Government may never understand Izzat, Pride and Honour, how can they understand benevolence.

Well, I am sure this amount will be a drop in the ocean for a country which is exploding from all ends. There is so much of pressure on every system that every bit contributed towards a good cause should be welcome. From infrastructure to health; from education to agriculture, from population to environment, you name a thing and we are bursting at our seams uncontrollably. We are refuting norms, throwing garbage and drainage, sewage, spewing toxic smoke everywhere. We are just living our lives and who cares about the future. If all this money is spent judiciously on a sustainable and maintainable model then I would say it would be worth it.

I saw a scheme called dial 102 for ambulances collapse. Today, most of the ambulances are rotting in junk yards in most states. There is a patient mafia, (patients are created on paper), fuel for the ambulance mafia, a telecom mafia connecting calls on the ambulance help line numbers. The issue is not the dearth of ambulances, it is the dearth of will to run and maintain them. The hospital infrastructure and cleanliness should be the top focus. The free availability of medicines and tests should be a fundamental right. They should be cheap and affordable for all. Ambulances need roads to run, not pot holes to negotiate and traffic jams to wait to clear. They need trained paramedics, even if they are idle most of the times but they are needed at crucial times, like the Armed forces.

Schools and schooling need to be sorted out. Education system needs to be focused on. Vernacular needs to turn to national education system and that should be internationally accepted. Food needs to be in good supply. No man or dog should go hungry in this country. Why should people beg? Why should they do menial jobs? Why can’t we have sustainable drinking water and electricity through out. Why farmers commit suicide? Why can’t we have non polluting industries and vehicles? Why can’t we have non corrupt people in all government machinery? Where are we lacking and why are we lacking in these? Is it because of lack of money and funds or its misuse?

Well, the answer my friend is blowing in the wind and that is the will to do it for the country. What I have written in jest about the length and weight of the currency and the distribution to individuals is not the issue, my calculations may be grossly wrong. The issue is that sir; either you sit with the government and address your benevolent issues through them or let us shut the government and start only charity to sustain this country.

I am not sure the causes you will take up, the states you will cover or for that matter people whom you are going to touch with your charity but promise me one thing sir, let not one pai get into the hands of the corrupt. Let this money be spent what it is meant for and not for getting files cleared to start your projects. Let this money be spent on the real needy, I beg of you, teach the needy how to fish and don’t start serving them fish.

I can assure you many veterans would love to join you to take your cause to its culmination. Take them on board sir, for it is difficult to corrupt them. Take them for their honesty and administrative skills. They shall not let you down. Mittal saab, I need 56 seconds of your time to read this article, will you be able to spare them, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

BOIL IN THE BLOOD

As per Wikipedia, Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) is a Rajput caste organisation founded in 2006,based in Sikar, Rajasthan. Their association favours” national unity” and is opposed to caste-centric positive discrimination and “corruption”. They feel hurt about this movie but all those who have been shown the movie are dead sure that no sentiments of “the clan” have been hurt, then why is there such a hullabaloo about it.

Let me think of solutions to this issue without hurting anyone’s sentiments. Mr Bhansali, the Karni Sena has decided to be adamant, so I can only request you to be more giving in this case. You have two choices, one, show this movie free of cost to all those who have an objection to it. Now, will Karni Sena ensure that people like me who are nowhere connected to the clan, don’t get an entry to the cinema halls for a free show? The date, time and venues can be mutually decided for screening. If this movie is acceptable, go ahead and release it. I can assure you, today, people like me who detest watching Hindi cinema are waiting for it to be released. I will definitely watch it.

Second, you just cold store this film and go ahead and work on your next venture. I know the loss you will incur will be in crores. I have no idea of what even one crore looks like but my suggestion is for your health, wealth and future. Let it be considered as a business loss and instead of going on an offensive, just go neutral that you never made this movie. I know, you, the actors and the crew would be heartbroken but life and limb is more precious. It is difficult to stay with the sword of Damocles hanging over your neck. It is better to let go your ego to satisfy someone else’s to maintain calm. This is not an Indo-Pak war after all.

What I am gathering from all media discussions, which I am actually fed up of by now, I know the complete story line of the movie. Like, when a friend of yours has already seen the movie and discusses it to irritate you like hell knowing you haven’t watched it. The plot is revealed, the thrill goes missing, the suspense is open, who did what and where in the movie with expert comments kills the curiosity. One doesn’t know whether to slap your friend or applaud the actors or the film maker as now my friend called the media has given away your movie reel by reel & foot by foot. I still promise to see it.

I think Mr Bhansali you made a promise to these people that you will give some of them a free show before you decide to release it. Did you break your promise? Rajput blood is all about promises. They are “Zubaan ke pakke”. Ek bar bol diya so patthar par lakeer ho gayi. (Once they commit it is like engraving a line on stone). Now that you have supposedly hurt their sentiment not by making the movie but by not sticking to your promise of screening it for them, the consequences are that one nose and one head is under threat. Will it be prudent to lose them for this word called “ego”?

I would go a step further by suggesting that you take a call now, that this movie will never be released. History will get it released one day. Poor MF Hussain lived a life in exile for a stroke of his brush. Whose loss was it? Your movie making skills are beyond compare, I have seen a few. If Ego is the issue then let go for the time being. Be rest assured Mr Bhansali, you will be a winner one day.

I do not know how much of politics is involved in this. The winds which are blowing are indicative that this “AKROSH” (outrage) is reeking of election fever. If it is true then it is a sad day for our democracy. If a clan is what we are going to ask votes from then we need to rethink our constitution and democracy.

Dear people, if your blood is so much on the boil please join the Armed Forces. We too carry swords. By the way we have a Regiment dedicated to Rajputs in our Army. Requirement will be to be physically fit, mentally alert and morally straight. We will give you Pakistan and their terror factories. You can practice your carving skills there. Will my logic make sense or shall I wait for a threat to my ears, nose and throat. I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

RUMOUR (AFWAH)

As usual after dinner I sat down to scan news channels. I landed up with Mr Rajat Sharma explaining his views on the movie controversy. Well, I am sure he laid to rest all rumors, propaganda and whispering campaigns to rest. Hope Padmavati turns out to be a block buster. I rarely watch Hindi movies but this one I definitely will.

Be that as it may, I being from Rajasthan and served there extensively understand the feelings of our brethren and their rage to tear apart the world for the insult they perceive has been done to their pride and valour as also to the rich traditions of their clan. I have heard of many heads being chopped off in the years of yore for AAN, BAAN & SHAN. Hope now things will cool down. Let us leave Deepika’s nose and Bhansali’s head for the time being.

I sat down to research these words on the net and this is what I found. A rumor or rumour (spelling differs between American and British English) is viewed as “an unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in public concern”. Rumour is a kind of propaganda which refers “solely to the control of opinion by significant symbols, or, to speak more concretely and less accurately by stories, reports, pictures, and other forms of social communication”. Rumors are also often discussed with regard to “misinformation” and “disinformation”. Rumors can be created and planted by nearly anybody, require limited resources, can be deadly for those in its direct path, and can instilL fear. Controversy on Padmavati falls aptly into all these slots is my view.

Basic characteristics that apply to rumour are; One, they are transmitted by word of mouth. Two, they provide “information” about a “person, happening, or condition and three, they express and gratify “the emotional needs of the community”.

Someone divided rumors into three types:

  1. Pipe dream rumors: reflect public desires and wished-for outcomes. (Achhe din) (Pun intended)
  2. Bogie or fear rumors: reflect feared outcomes. (You will go to hell if you don’t pray and don’t do abc).
  3. Wedge-driving rumors: intend to undermine group loyalty or interpersonal relations (The Hindu-Muslim riots are fuelled by these types of rumors)

Propaganda on the other hand is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and media channels. A propaganda organization employs propagandists who engage in propagandism.

In addition, there is something called a “smear campaign”. It is a term that loosely means a coordinated effort to attack a person’s character. Some people term it as an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). Rumors, as IEDs, are low-cost, low-tech communication weapons that can be used by anyone to disrupt the efforts of communication, civil affairs or outreach campaigns such as those undertaken by governments in crisis response situations or militaries in insurgencies. Well, history of India has umpteen examples of it.

One must understand that to spread rumors you require rumor mongers. These people now have the modern tools of sms, face book, twitter and other social media to spread the word faster and create far reaching results as happened in the Padmavati case I suppose.

In the Army, we had posters displayed in our offices saying do not spread rumors and we used to encourage our men to come and speak to us if they heard anything abnormal. Rumors need not be military in nature; they could do with some event happening back home. It was our moral duty to educate our men and their families not to drift away by such sayings and believe in the systems which existed thus we could control all sorts of panic, both in the battle field and in peace by curbing and controlling spread of rumors. I still remember anonymous complaints were never taken any cognisance of as many used to be planted stories.

Suffice to say AFWAH FAILANA and KAAN KA KACHHA HONA are different sides of the same coin and both need to be curbed. One must see for oneself, hear it from the horse’s mouth, understand the ground situation, weigh the pros and cons, believe in your training, have faith in your systems and God and then only react, rather than intimidate fellow citizens who are artistes and creative personalities by profession. Hope by now the boil in the blood would have subsided or will we have another rumor being spread for something else soon? I wonder!!!!!!

JAI HIND

BITTER SWEET

This morning, to catch up with what is happening in the world I put on news and was taken aback to hear that West Bengal went to war with Odisha. Last many years they had been fighting and now as usual our courts intervened and pronounced the judgement in favour of Bengal. Thank God no blood was spilled, however lots of “Chaashni” (sugar syrup) flowed down into the Bay of Bengal in these years. Yes friends, finally the courts have decided that the “Rosogoola” was invented in Bengal. The whole of Bengal went into celebration mode and threw these white, fluffy, sweet, round balls of flavour at each other. Finally, this epic battle came to an end.

Is this what we have come to? Is this the only thing left with for the courts to decide? I sincerely pray to all the judiciary that please if you have such cases just throw the files out of the window. I am sure you have better things to do. I am a little perturbed as to who will now file a case for the Gulab Jamun. I am not sure whether such cases should be accepted by the courts, leave alone states fighting to claim a sweet. The river waters flow from state to state, the lands are demarcated, languages across states are common, wind doesn’t differentiate boundaries, crop pattern is the same then why this fight over who invented a rosogoola of all the things.

I was imagining a scene where our dear Didi would be standing in court in one witness box and Mr Naveen Patnaik in the other trying to defend his claim. Judge being our own from the movie Johnny LLB, Saurab Shukla. Didi must have had Arshad Warsi on her side who would have gone deep into the case to the real origin of the place where the sweet would have been conceived, including producing the most secret and ancient recipe which would have been written ages ago in the script which would need deciphering from the scriptures. That would have been the most clinching evidence produced to nail the case.

The judge would have been waiting for him to produce this evidence in court for the “devil in white” to make an appearance due to which this battle started. At last with dripping hands in the slurpy sugary syrup he would have dug his teeth into it. The sense of ecstasy which would have appeared in his eyes and expression would have helped him finally make this decision that the rosogoola belongs to Bengal. To be eaten by everyone till death and then broken the nib of his pen.

Let the best rosogoola win is my contention. With passage of time, as diabetes is becoming a menace for all sugar related issues, I think we should get over with the fight for this sugar drenched roundels. It should not be a matter of concern who invented them or where they originated. The matter should be that how best without causing any diseases this item should grace the menu at various functions. People praising its softness and the quality of it to melt in the mouth should be more important. The courts should have never come in but then who would have decide the actual winner. I am sure the judges would have got tons of them from Bengal complimentary.

I am also not sure if some other country may have already patented the sweet which may cause more bitterness to the taste of this traditional Indian Mithaae. The odishaiets will not leave this here. I expect this battle to go up to the highest court and may go in for an appeal to the President of India. Had it been the previous president, the ruling would have been in favour of Bengal again. Obviously, Pranab da cannot be unfair to the land of his origin.

I have never researched the subject of sweets. It would not be out of place to find out about the other Indian sweets like the ladoo. Who claims to be the originator of ladoo? Who has the patent, I do not know and similarly for my favourite besan ki burfi? Gajjar ka halwa won’t be a bad bet to check for either. I hope we don’t land up in another Indo- Pak like conflict over this, if Pak claims the origins of halwas and pinnis is from their country, India might go to the UN.

Let me not conjecture too much but I feel that there has to be a limit to all this nonsense where states are going to courts for trivial issues which should not waste even one minute of any court in India. The numbers of pending cases are already piling up and here we find that a sweet has created bitterness out of a non issue. Tomorrow someone comes and claims that Agra ka petha originated in China, it would be a nuclear explosion of kinds.

Be that as it may, will my craving for sweets and especially Rosogoola ever subside, I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FILTERING DELHI SMOG

Invisibility is increasing or is it visibility is decreasing is the state of affairs of our National Capital. As they say every person has a fixed number of breaths in his life time, when this adage was written it was taken for granted that it would be pure air. All things “Shudh” are no more shudh. Ashudh is getting ashudher. Every breath you take, your “counter” keeps counting but it does not filter out the impurities that are doled free with it. One micro gram of carbon is free with every litre of air one inhales. We will take anything free even if it is at the peril of our lives. No one needs to be blamed except me & myself.

Let us leave the Delhi government aside. They are only capable of issuing orders for odd and even. Beyond that they blame all and sundry. Doesn’t the North and South block breathe the same air or are there special filters circulating clean air for the high and mighty. It just struck me that our circular parliament building will come into action shortly for the winter session hopefully by then all smog will have cleared off. The observation I have is the shape of the parliament building. It looks like a huge air filter of a vehicle. Therefore no matter how polluted the air is, nothing will penetrate through.

Pardon my saying so, it also depends on the thickness of skin of our law makers. Nothing can percolate through either. Another thing I find that hampers the smooth functioning of systems is the bureaucratic filters. A file goes from one desk to another. Form one department to another, from one ministry to another, it might be approved or disapproved it comes back the same way to the clerk who initiated the case. Imagine a sanction which goes through such stringent filtering of so many laws, by laws, clauses, notes, foot notes, annexure, appendices, rulings and finally reaching the top man. What is left of the original would have been soaked, rinsed and dried by the end of it. What is dished out to the public is anybody’s guess.

Well it reminds me of my fauji days where we were taught that sand is a natural filter for water, so to get the basic impurities out of it, we used to fill sand in a pitcher, pour dirty water on top, make a pin hole at the bottom and then wait for the water to drip, drop by drop. All those who lost patience and drank dirty water landed up in hospitals for dysentery and all those who had the patience to wait also landed up in hospitals due to dehydration. So the government is like that, you will in any case land up in hospital.

It is a fact that processes in our government’s machinery move at snail’s pace. To procure a machine, someone has to first say that it is needed. Then a group of ministers (GOM) will be formed. They shall roam around the world to understand it and give the final nod. Then someone will suggest putting the best brains together to order a product manufactured in Timbuktu, modified for Indian conditions. Finally, delays in budgetary approvals followed by the tendering procedure. The machine will be handed over after a photo operation, press release and front page coverage. It might find a mention in the MAN KI BAAT too.

A nut case like me will be made responsible to run and maintain it. Within two days I will damage some part. The same will be demanded and the whole procedure repeated. Now someone in Bhatinda will be contacted to make a replica which may or may not fit. The equipment will soon die its own death. Fog or smog stays where it is, as two seasons would have gone by. By then election time would be fast approaching, it would be summers by then, to hell with smog, people are fools and will forget.

Some people will die of lung and related ailments will make no difference to Neta ji. If “note bandi” could take a few lives so “fog bandi” deserves its share of sacrifices too. Road accidents due to poor visibility and smog will continue we will blame the potholes. Trains will run late, Flights will get diverted. Crops waste will continue to burn. Garbage will keep smoldering, blame it on the people, if there are no people there will be no garbage. Construction will continue without adhering to pollution norms. If nothing else blame it on Pakistan.

If the main cause of this smog are the winds from north which carry sand particles than those need to be trapped. People of Punjab and other neighbouring states have already started bundling up the stubble which now needs to be encouraged on a war footing before the next season. Vehicular and construction pollution has to be drastically reduced. No garbage whatsoever be burnt or allowed to be burnt should be our sincere pledge.

When the root cause of the smog is known, the polluters and pollutants are known, what I as a citizen have to do is known, then what the government and its agencies got to do should also be done. Is it lack of resources? Is it lack of funds? Or is it lack of will? I wish it was a pollution driven chemical attack on the parliament, this matter would have been sorted out in one day. When will this filter shaped parliament ever understand the value of each life which voted for them? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CHAI LASSI AND KHICHIRI WHEN MIXED MAKES GST

I am totally enlightened after a marathon session of changes in the GST announced by the FM yesterday on TV. So far so that even if I don’t like to pay even a pai as tax I have been motivated to pay advance GST till the time this government’s tenure is over. You may ask me why? Well, let me pay it and be done with it. Tomorrow if the council decides to increase the rates I will just have to pay only the difference, in any case if tax rates are lowered I am on the safe side. Thora ziada de bhi diya to koi vanda nahi.

I used to love saying abracadabra, as what will come out of jaitley ki kaitley is never known. The kaitley is symbolic for dishing out chai, isn’t it. Naturally when his boss is an expert on this beverage his FM better dole out the best but I found him making lassi earlier and now it is khichri of kinds.

Actually my mind got all mixed up with this fresh GST announcement. I also found GST being diluted in a way or was it catering for some state elections. The spiced up concoction which was laid for the country turned out to be unpalatable for many. Thus as the lady of the house does on the quiet, once she gets the taste of it she tells the bai thora pani daal do. Two things happen then. The same now can be eaten with ease by more people & many can be satisfied with the quantities given out. The choice is spicy khichri, less spicy khichri or watery khichri. You better eat what is served. Right!

In the same breadth, I have an apprehension that if the govt finds that the tax collection is reducing now, as now government will be collecting Rs 20,000 crores less, so how will this loss be made up. Possibly some khichiri ingredients might be tempered with. Say if you can afford a room of more than Rs 7000 a night clearly indicates one is in the top bracket of pay packets, therefore, the government may tell you to pay additional before you check in. Government will make up its numbers by hook or by crook. I have decided I will find a relative or a friend in case I have to go somewhere, Jaitley ji you can keep spicing up your khichiri, I will find a jugad to circumvent it.

I have also decided not to use after shave. Sir, I shall go back to the good old days to use “Fitkari” after shaving. Perfumes I cannot afford. I shall try not to smell bad so you better provide me AC trains to commute. Reduced taxes on Chewing gum may only reduce bad odour from my mouth.

You will be glad to know that I don’t pay any “sin” tax. I kicked the habit of smoking and drinking long ago. The beauty is that you cannot charge me tax for calling you names. Till date I tried my best, worked hard and sincerely paid my taxes. I could never reach the figure of One crore including assets and property in my name. Business acumen I do not have but the only business I love to do is to love my country. A few lakhs which I have saved for enjoying in future I might as well use up fast or else tomorrow you might levy another tax on me.

I find that what you do is smart jiggrey-poggrey of words. The council you have created is responsible for all that you announce and not the government per se. The centre has 1/3rd votes, rest 2/3rd are with the states. Every state has one vote irrespective of its size. Decisions are made by 3/4th majority. 18 states you already have in your kitty. Life is balle balle for the government. BJP states cannot say no, centre government votes are secure then if you mix water in the khichiri or ghee makes no difference. Even if the Khichri becomes all meshed up due to overcooking that no ingredient is recognisable makes no difference either as there is no way one can avoid it.

My only humble submission to you is sir; I don’t mind you experimenting with the country’s money. However, the common man needs respite from exorbitant prices of everything. He wants to taste this khichri but the poor fellow is not capable to reach the dining table. The government can if it wants to add the best of tarka but why is the government taking back so much tax from us. Besides why are the basic ingredients like dal, chawal, namak, haldi getting out of hand of a common man? I wonder!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

ARMED FORCES TO RESCUE POLLUTED INDIA

The buzz in Delhi and the media is pollution. To that extent my mind has got so polluted that I cannot think rationally anymore. The constant bak-bak, tu-tu-mai-mai about the subject is getting on my nerve. Worst is what can be implemented now is being deferred or postponed. Governments are busy with what they are best at doing that is passing the buck. It is not surprising that now even Pakistan has started blaming India for polluting its air, like we blame everything on ISI and Pakistan.

How can the Armed Forces contribute to reduction of pollution in North India? I have an idea. The serving folks will kill me for what I am going to suggest but I shall take it in its stride because we have done so many things for this country so why not chip in here too.

Let all transport aircrafts sprinkle water over the complete affected area, from Punjab to UP and from Himachal to Rajasthan, in and around Delhi where smog exists. I don’t know if our aircrafts can be modified to carry water but if need be let’s do it to our transport fleet. If the Government of India or for that matter Delhi goes to hire such aircrafts, it would be two seasons passed due to governmental delays. In case government hires aircrafts emergently, the exorbitant rates it might have to pay and how many people will make money needs to be considered. Yes, if we need to buy a few aircrafts which douse forest fires, let’s start the procurement process now for the next season.

The basic issue is the burning of stubble in Delhi & its neighbouring states. This year the farmers have already burnt what they had to but for next season let there be a massive logistics exercise by the Army or under the Army with Indian railways included. The complete fleet of the armed forces transport, civil hired transport (CHT) and goods train rakes be mobilised with adequate manpower by forming a grid across the affected states. As the farmers harvest, the trucks pick up the stubble and transport it to the remote desert of Rajasthan by rail and road.

Few things will happen; one, animals in Rajasthan’s will never go hungry. Two, thermal power plants can utilise this for generating power. Three, tremendous amount of compost can be generated which can be sent all over the country for farming. Four, in case Rajasthan wants to start organic farms along the IGC (Indira Gandhi Canal) I can assure you we will have radish (mooli) and carrots three feet long. Five, prices of vegetables will drop and six, there will be no need to import vegetables. The only thing is we will have to ban “Mooli Parathas” for obvious polluting reasons.

Let us try it out for one season. Let us have no burning of any crop waste. All this has to be done in a time bound manner and no one can beat the forces in punctuality. Let the government agencies clear all roads for passing of these huge convoys and railways give highest priority to such rakes. Let the CHTs be moved under the army supervision to places earmarked. Let a civil organisation get into fodder distribution and compost making so that well before the next crop all that was received is disposed off. Once the forces have shown the way let the civil administration take over and carry out this ritual as their primary duty to save people from pollution.

I am still not sure how do the developed countries expand their infrastructure without polluting their cities. Why Delhi needs to stop construction? Odd even rule needs to be followed but not with a double whammy that you quadruple the parking charges. Make Delhi so transport friendly that everyone commutes by public transport. If you count the number of cabs in Delhi the figure would be in many lakhs. Registered four wheelers may touch a figure of one crore plus. So rather than having 20 cars in the PMs Fleet can we reduce a few. Down the line Mantri’s who have such categories of security also need to prune their fleet. The Army Chief goes around with just two or three vehicles. Could anybody be a bigger target than the Chief himself? Let’s stop this show-sha bazi.

Well complete North India is gripped with this menace. Let us implement the short term measures today, plan for the long term in the next 30 days and be ready for its implementation in the next harvest season.

I gave this suggestion of using the forces in jest. You never know I might be given the Nobel Prize for “idiotic thinking”. If we as a force could do so many things for this country then why cannot we contribute to saving the residents of North India from this deadly pollution?

I have one more suggestion; someone needs to take the responsibility straight away irrespective of state, center, gram panchayat or whatever. The citizens have to stand up with the government now. Situation is becoming desperate. Stop this mind pollution, stop this venom and hatred spreading, stop all kinds of pollution of minority, majority, Hindu, Muslim. PM Sir, India is the biggest canvas where you can paint a collage. Let us see it emerging rather than it getting blurred in this mix of all sorts of pollutants. Will it be now or will it be never? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

 

THE BEST CAREER

As I sit back and look at the journey of my life, had I continued in the Indian Army, I would have retired at the end of this month. In the civil where I work with now, I may go on for another 6 years if all goes well. Well, I am not sure will I be able to last that long because of my nature which does not go very well in civil, which is to take a stand for my subordinates or for something which my conscious does not allow. Well, this attitude has cost me my job many times. I still continue to bash on regardless without bothering about the outcome.

This brings me to a question. Which is the right profession then? What can be termed as a satisfying career? In which job can you keep working till the day you like, keep earning and enjoy the best of life? Is it the forces? The answer is an absolute no. Is it the corporate? My answer is an absolute no again. I find two professions which might fit in the bill. One is to become a politician and the other is to become a holy man.

Be that as it may, the thought that triggered me to write this piece was the way armed forces are being used in the country today. It has been proved that the forces will come to the rescue of this nation for anything and everything including building a foot over bridge or cleaning the mountains besides all that we keep doing routinely in Aid to Civil Authorities. Why do we do it so professionally? It is because this comes from the ethos the men and women in uniform imbibe in them.

The simple formula we follow is Z-KIT-BM. The landmarks (Zamini Nishan) are given to get familiar with the terrain and area of responsibility, the information of both, own side and the enemy is given in great detail (Khabar dushman ki aur Khabar apni), the aim (Irada) of the operation is made crystal clear. It is short, crisp and precise. The modus operandi (Tarika) is then told so that no doubts are left lingering, including various contingencies. Thereafter, we discuss the administration (bandobast) and finally are the communications (Milap) between all parties participating in the operation.

Last but not the least we also synchronise our watches (Ghari Milao). This is the most important ritual, as we do things time bound. We then get to work even without orders. In case our leader becomes a causality or is not available, the next senior assumes his position automatically. We work, we rest and we get back to work again amidst all chaos till we achieve our aim as given out in the Irada. We fight till the last man last round, if rounds finish we get our bayonets on, if bayonets break, we don’t give up even then, we use are bare hands to achieve the aim even if we perish in the process. That’s our culture.

All this I do not see happening in the civil. First, I find the main aim is “paisa banao” (make money). Second, is to paisa bachao (save money), by not paying well and cutting down on salaries, amenities and manpower. To achieve greater heights the formula becomes lick, lick and lick. Butter every side of the toast. The formula used is, “KAAM NA KARO, KAAM KI FIQR KARO AUR FIQR KA ZIQR APNE BOSS KO ZAROOR KARO” (Don’t work, just worry about work and keep telling your boss that how worried you are) is the key to success. Secondly, for any fault, blame all and sundry rather than own up responsibility. Make someone the scapegoat. Let truth never prevail. If caught, run away or go to court.

Sit long hours in office twiddling your thumbs. In fact your boss does the same but apparently it should appear that you are the most sincere employee. Bring a pin and describe the process as if you bought an aeroplane. Discuss it repetitively in all meetings the efforts you put in to research about it, the hurdles you faced in the selection process, the difficulty with which you could convince people to pass your budget, not to forget how many mails you sent and the paper work you did. How you almost visited the vendor, got the pin loaded and followed it through every octroi post. Blame the delay on the non cooperation by some who did not give a crane to unload this pin especially if you hold a personal grudge against him. At the end expect a complimentary mail for you to keep in record to show it during your appraisal. Life actually sucks.

The profession of babas and baby’s I don’t have to discuss. Politics I don’t know and about politicians I won’t utter a word. One thing I may like to tell the people who run this country is that, Sirs, if you don’t make the profession of the Armed Forces the best career option in this country, if you don’t give the serving and the veterans their dues and Izzat, then your profession will be jeopardy someday. Politics as a career is alright but will you be able think beyond the petty politics and pay heed to the writings on the wall called “Khabar Apni”? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

IN CONVERSATION WITH CATHERINE

Catherine and I were driving down to Alibaug over the weekend when we struck up a conversation. I was listening to the stereo and my wife was appreciating the music system and the stereo effects. Catherine was not enjoying the drive at all; actually the same was the case with me. Reasons were many. One was the dilapidated condition of the road and the pot holes. Besides, the village dogs accosting us barking at their loudest and snarling with their dirty teeth. Hens along with their chicks thought the road was for them.  Worst of all was the chaotic traffic jams. Above all the weekend crowd who were pouring into our territory by the dozens. They were blocking traffic in garb of purchasing something or asking for directions in these narrow alleys. Quite a frustrating kind of a drive it was all in low gear.

I ignored her and kept my concentration on driving but there were pieces of the conversation which kept striking me again and again as she asked me the first question. Have you paid road tax? I said yes and that to a hefty amount. After a pause she asked me, why are there so many pot holes then? I had no answer. She told me, Noel, please take me out on a long and majestic drive, where the road surface is smooth, maybe on expressways where the thrill of driving can be enjoyed. It appears that here every time we venture out she is worried about checking out how long will the suspension hold and she told me that this way it won’t take long to give away. I just kept quiet and listened.

The next question she asked me that do you pay toll tax? I told her yes and where ever my ID card works I don’t. She said never mind, you have actually paid life time toll tax by serving the Indian Army, so I won’t ask you again, however, she continued to say that where does this toll money  collected  from the other vehicles disappear. I said I don’t know and continued focusing on the oncoming traffic and the huge potholes.

I was wondering to myself, that last year I saw lot of work going on this road. I used to have a smooth ride but where has the road vanished. This must be happening year after year and taxes which were being collected going down the drain. I again started to listen to the stereo and this time I changed the channel of my choice. I got lost in the music and lyrics as we were getting close to our destination.

Catherine was in a chirpy mood and threw another question at me. She said do you pay income tax? I replied in the affirmative. I am sure that some portion of that must also be allocated to the development of infrastructure in this country. I said surely it must be the case, I am not sure of the percentages. She appeared to be questioning the government head on. She continued to quiz me, see why there are so many accidents on the road? I said reckless driving! She said yes, just then two bikes whizzed past overtaking us from the wrong side and missed hitting us by a whisker. The basic reason is that the infrastructure is not being planned as per our expansion of population she said. I could not agree with her more. Her observation was that our population is exploding and so is purchase of vehicles but government is not making better and broader roads. I said yes. After a while she said, it is time for the government to wake up and I just kept mum.

A little ahead Catherine again poked me. I said now what and she said, you pay income tax, professional tax, GST and all the other taxes which the tax man can think of. I replied to her that it appears that you have got hold of a book on finance. She wanted to know where each and every pie went. I actually didn’t know. I looked at the setting sun from out of the window and thought to myself that yes she is right; over these years I couldn’t even hide one paisa of my income and all my taxes go down the drain, without much of accountability and returns.

At last Catherine blurted, I don’t want to be a dented and painted car for no fault of mine. I told her that I shall definitely convey her concerns to the people who matter. I then requested her to just keep quiet for a while as my wife watched the moon rise from the other side. I switched over to John Denver singing “Country Roads, take me home”, on the car stereo.

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

WAY AHEAD FOR OROP PROTEST

I have these mixed feelings when I see Gen Satbir crying hoarse on TV. Sir, I too being on your side of Suez can feel the pain. I am thankful to each and every veteran and veer nari who has given even one minute for the agitation for our OROP. My hats off to you all for sustaining these 860 plus days which has seen many seasons change. The only thing which didn’t change was the dauntless attitude of all you people who sat in unison for our brethren. Sir, I salute each one of you for your spirit and courage shown for this cause.

I can only with folded hands plead to you sir, please do not highlight this in the media. They just want a story for breaking news and pass time on debates pitting soldiers against soldiers. Media and the politicians will have the last laugh watching and debating our plight.

The Armed Forces are a different breed in many ways. It has been amply proved the way veterans conducted themselves exemplarily by not going violent and abiding by the rules. Then why did we not vacate that place in the first go itself. Sir, I feel, we let ourselves become objects of ridicule by waiting there too long to be shooed away.  We are supposed to be Gentlemen first and Officers later. Somewhere we got mixed up.

There are no free lunches after we retire, isn’t it sir. So if the Ramlila grounds were asking for whatever amount per day, it was their right. Why were we showing our Ex-serviceman card to them? Are we looking for concessions or are we expecting a waiver of fees being an extra special category of people? That’s not going to happen. I can understand that what was passed in parliament and what we have got may be at variance but isn’t that we need to be thankful for. Whatever is left we can always put across in a manner befitting our community.

In good old days, when did we have everything that one needed Sir? Manpower was always short; equipment was off road or deficient; Ration, lesser said the better; state of accommodation was pathetic. We kept cursing the higher head quarters for lack of funds. Everything fell into the category of “manage”. Every year we were told to cut down budgets; consumption of fuel was curtailed; ‘A’ vehicle mileage kept reducing; administrative requirements kept increasing. A time came when Havildars were doing standing duties. Didn’t we live then? An officer below major’s rank was not even authorised a cooler. Officer Messes used to be flooded with officers; today they are rarities to be found. We in those days never lost our balance and sense of humour. We did crib like hell but made jungle main mangal.

Well, slowly and steadily our equipment was made up. So I am sure the same would be for the OROP. Why do we have to be so adamant and stuck? I concede that had you not started this agitation, we wouldn’t have got what we got. This doesn’t mean that unless we get what we think is correct, we keep protesting and fast unto death. I saw officers and widows being put to discomfort. I felt sad.

We are not politicians and not aware of the political game plans. They have the patience to wait and we don’t. They can make us cry and won’t budge. Tomorrow, if the parliament decides that pensions will be halved, would we protest then? Day after tomorrow the parliament passes a bill that there would be no income tax on pensions, will we still protest. One fine day the government decides that everyone will serve only five years, no pension and no other benefits, what will we do then?

Be that as it may, Sir, time is ripe for mid course correction. You don’t have to reveal your cards now. Let us do a tactical withdrawal, sit together and prepare a new plan to assault the perceived “enemy”. Shoot to kill is not working then let change tactics but let us not make ourselves the centre of scorn to be mocked and used for target practice by media and politicians. If we want to fight politics with politics like a tank versus tank battle, then let’s leave Jantar-Mantar and organise ourselves politically. If AAP could do it, we are definitely capable of being sabka BAAP.

I wish half of these days were utilised to reinforce, restructure, reorient, reconcile, recoup, reconstruct, re-crystallise our thoughts, resynchronise our effort, re-synergise our focus, rejuvenate, reconfirm our faith in our effort, revitalise, recapitulate, re-examine our lacuna, revitalise our energies,  reinforce our demands, resettle our nerves, resurrect our image, reformulate our plans, re constitute our ORBAT, rededicate ourselves to revolutionise our efforts and then renegotiate with the Government from a position of strength so that they cannot refuse but to condescend to our demands. Does it make sense to any one? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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