Noel Ellis's Official Blog

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

Category: CHANGE

MIXED FEELINGS OF PAST AND PRESENT

I was reading an article where the author mentioned floppy disks and cassettes which one had to wind and rewind using a pencil. The present generation is oblivious to all that because we are talking of bullet trains and sea planes. There used to be a time when Indian cars never had ACs and the same used to be with the trains. The highest class used to be First Class. The luxury was your seating space but you had no control on the weather. The privilege used to be to alight right in front of the railway station gate instead of lugging your holdall, steel trunk, Khane ki tokri and a surahi for water. Times now have changed, whole trains are Air-conditioned, cars come with AC by default and if you ask for a non AC car it will attract raised eyebrows from the salesman.

The sheer pleasure of sitting in the window of a train or a car in the good old days is indescribable. The passing landscape, the lush green fields, the hillocks, the tractor and the bullocks, the one odd pair of the Siberian cranes, the eagerness to read the passing railway station boards, the nangu pangu children waving at your train are some memories which I remember vividly. Today, there are trains which don’t stop till they reach their destination. The complete train is a vestibule. Catering services used to be the poori sabji ka thela on the station, not now. I have travelled in times when the compartment windows had no grills. Entry to a coach used to from any window as doors were invariably blocked.

The steam engines evaporated, diesels took their place and now being replaced by electric ones. Speed, comfort, conveniences, facilities, housekeeping of both the trains and stations have come of age. Modernisation, mechanisation, technological advancement is adding to the improvements.

I remember when the electronic watches were placed at the stations, one used to look at them in awe. At New Delhi, I was amazed to see a huge arrival-departure board. It was a roller kind of a board where in a blink of an eye the name and timings of the trains used to change. Each alphabet used to roll giving a mesmerising feel. That place was frequented by pick pockets. I lost my red coloured wallet with eleven rupees and eighty naye paise many moons back.

Today there are chopper rides to shrines, piped gas to homes, Railway line has reached Srinagar and the day is not far it may go to Leh and beyond. RO-RO services are taking off in the sea. Inland water transport is being exploited. From tarred surfaces to cemented highways, from a single lane encroached road, to eight lane highways, India has come a long way. Provided, we Indians understand and utilise these facilities as our own. We need to treat each asset as our personal belonging. We must utilise it and leave it in the same shape as if we would be using it again. If swach bharat can start, so can hamara bharat campaign.

If a bus, train or road is made for us, let us keep it safe, secure and well maintained. Let us not litter. Let us not dig up roads by putting our tents for jagran or family functions. If a tap does not have water doesn’t mean it has to be twisted or pulled out of its socket. Let each community take charge of all assets in their area and look after them. It can only happen when each one of us is educated and understands the importance of every asset created by the government is for our use.

There are bus stops but no one uses them. The place where the bus is supposed to stop a vendor obstructs it. Where there is a two wheeler parking a four wheeler will adjust into it.  Who cares for a red light or a pedestrian crossing? The policeman will drive without a helmet but fine you for not wearing a seat belt. A civic sense of responsibility has yet to creep in the minds of us Indians.

I don’t mind a sea plane or a bullet train if it is for the common man. I will love to use it like I did for the metro and monorail. If all such things are going to bite dust after the initial launch then it will force me to ponder. The basic issue is I as a citizen want facilities but I as a citizen want some other citizen to look after it, some other citizen to provide security for it, another citizen to clean it and likewise. When will I start chipping in my bit? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

MY NEW DEFENCE MINISTER

Wallah! At last India has a permanent Defence Minister after a long wait and amidst so much of speculations. Congratulations ma’am and welcome to a different world. Things are different here and things are done very differently in the Armed forces. I am not using the words defence on purpose because you will get a first hand feel of its enormity once you get on the chair proper. You will have the three services Chiefs at your command to give you the correct picture of things on ground and national security. They will also tell you how things are on paper. If you will have a heart to heart talk with them they will reveal to you how they are actually functioning with all that they have. Madam, trust them and listen to them. I wish you all the best.

Well let me not get into the 3Cs of criticizing, comparing and complaining mode from the very beginning. I am sure all your predecessors would have contributed their bit in nation building and with special reference to defence. You have got a fresh slate and a fresh charter. You also have come in here in the third year of the government so the ball must have been set rolling in any case by now. I am sure budget will not be a constraint even if you have to walk in into the FMs or the PMs Office or is this asking for too much on the second day in your office. So let me assume that you will take that liberty as and when the need arises but on the other hand I would request you to change the way the defence ministry works and that its rigid protocol. You will find it on every file, the seniority in which people will put their remarks on each noting sheet. Ma’am I want you to go to the three service Chief’s offices rather than them coming to you.

Imagine what commotion you will create in the corridors of South block if you walk up to the Army Chief’s office. Let me tell you ma’am the sandwiches served there are too good. They will be served with so much of love and affection that you may ask for more. Madam you will see people running to hide all maps with those huge curtains in the Military Operations room, later realising that you will be the one giving directions soon as to which part of the map to obliterate or pound and with what intensity. Suddenly, you may find pink napkins in the corridors of South Block. Madam jokes apart, you have yourself to feel the warmth that the men & women in olive greens, sky blue and white will shower on you. They are looking for a fresh face as they have had too many stain marks from spilled goan curry, Chai from Jaitley’s ketley and rancid coconut oil on their documents.

Madam Minister, another thing I request you to change is the perception of an iron wall between the MoD per se and the people from the services. If a gun has to be used by the Army man, an Aircraft by the fly boy or a submarine by a mariner then who should have the last word in its procurement. Please involve the user in every phase ma’am because to tell the difference between a smooth bore gun and a rifled gun your technocrats will give you but for a man to survive on the battlefield and hit the target in varied terrain and weather will only be revealed by the user, I hope you will agree. Please let there be a change where the well walks up to the thirsty rather than the other way around. If anyone in uniform does hanky-panky or misappropriation of money please skin him alive. He doesn’t deserve to be in uniform but if the same is done by someone in white collars, you may decide appropriate punishment.

The biggest thing I ask of you madam is the restoration of our IZZAT. I do not want to get into the naam, namak and nishan part of it. But our prestige, our honour, our self esteem needs a definite boost. Why do we in the forces get a feeling that we are children of a lesser God? Madam our ex-servicemen are sitting on Jantar mantar peacefully till date. They are old, many infirm and not in their best of health but are conveying their feelings to this nation that for what fault of theirs they still have to bear the heat, rain and cold after doing their time in hell. Madam do go and just say a hello to them. Probably your predecessors never had the time or inclination to meet the veterans and the veer naris.

One more thing ma’am, please do not change your ministry like my wife changes her dresses. By the time you get the hang of it your tenure will be over. Do a good job and help me to vote for you in 2019 again to see you at the helm of affairs in the same Ministry. You will see many Chiefs change during your tenure but the ethos and dastoor of the services won’t change. Let them hold their head high and give you all their support. Visit doklam next week end, I would say visit every theater of operation, ask the commanders there what are their typical issues and resolve them then and there. Issues could be operational or administrative like infrastructure, health care, accommodation, equipment, morale anything under the sun. Madam another thing I am skeptic of is the DRDO, reason I don’t know but the perception says there is something amiss. We still wait for our Main Battle Tank, a state of art rifle to say the least. We want Israel and Russia to use equipment made in India is what I ask you.

At the outset let me again welcome you to the uniformed part of it. The non-uniformed you have to take care of. I can’t say I wish you were Ex-NDA but madam I expect you to be one. You need to be a flier, a commando, a paratrooper, a deep sea diver, a tank man, a sailor, a Commander of men and women in all varied terrain and weather. Madam above all you will have to have a heart of gold which beats in sync and tune with the armed forces. I wish we sort out Pak in the next three years to start with. Good Luck and God Speed to you. Have I asked for too much? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

LET ME CHANGE MY NAME

The jokes going around today is that we are soon going to change of name of Chowmein to lachhas of some kind to boycott anything Chinese and Rogan Josh to whatever. Will our love for the noodles die? Or will our stomachs revolt if we get something with a different name. Lesser said the better.

The pleasure we get in changing names of places, streets and roads etc is something which I don’t understand. As far as my memory goes as a kid, I remember JULLUNDER becoming JALANDHAR. This was very prominent on its railway station as we were frequent travellers unlike frequent fliers in those days. Our summer or winter holidays used to start with a steel trunk, a big holdall, a basket full of food, a surahi, loads of comics and long waits at Jalandhar for our connecting train. We were excited to see this change of name. As the train from Kapurthala chugged in, I had my eyes fixed at the board of the station which used to be the first thing one saw. My curiosity did not end at that till I dragged my dad to that board. The engraving of the old name was still there. The old name was clearly visible under the fresh paint. I am sure the old engraved name still exists even today on all boards as they too are part of our heritage.

What changed with the name, was it the location of the station? Was it the train timings? No. The ticket window remained at the same place. The milk booth did not shift. The aloo poori stalls did not change their menus; the water taps did not start pouring coca cola. The “pappar wali rehri” still sold papar. The cleanliness of the stations remained pathetic even after change of name. For the local folk the pronunciation remained the same even if the spellings in English had changed. As far as Punjabi was concerned the spellings in gurmukhi didn’t change. The only people who worked overtime were the painters. I am sure this painter would not know the English alphabet nor would have understood why this change. His job was to paint, that’s it.

My name has its own derivatives and people have called me Neol, Nawal, Novel, Nole, Navel, Ellie, Ellias, Alice, Alish, Elle, Elsh uffffff. In my unit many called me Elli Singh as I spoke fluent Punjabi. Did my character change? Did it make any difference to my personality? I tried changing my name in the Voter card thrice now but somehow these fellows have to make a mistake by interchanging a vowel or a consonant. Thank God my address and date of birth is correct and they allow me to vote and I vote for my candidate. My political affiliations don’t change.

I hope you people know where Rajiv Gandhi Chowk is in Delhi. Of course it is Connaught place. The auto wala will fleece you if you use the new name and may take you to your destination via Kirby place. Bombay became Mumbai and people take offence to calling it with a B. Fountain became Hutatma Chowk, Kings Circle became Maheshwari Udyan, Zoo became Jija Mata Udyan and Marine drive is Netaji Subhash Chandra Marg. What do we all call them in our daily conversation is the point I make? VT still remains VT and so does Jacob’s Circle. Some change I must say.

I used to love the name CAWNPORE now rhymes with ear-pur. As a child I have many memories of this mill and its chimney on which this name used to be written as ELGIN mills. I remember my mother used to pick up a lot of those white Turkish towels which were sold in the open market at dirt cheap prices. I believe Jubbulpore was one of the first to be renamed in 1947. Cochin, Madras, Waltair, Mysore, Bangalore etc are all in front of us with changed names. Has life transformed there? Has the infrastructure transformed the way of life? Has the name change cleaned the place better? By changing the name does governance improve? Does unemployment reduce? Does illiteracy vanish? Does health care come to your doorstep? I think all of you know the answers.

I am convinced that all the politics that goes into just changing names if devoted to things that are constructive would serve a better cause. If you try to obliterate history, it doesn’t happen. Faith, religion, beliefs, sentiments even if they take the centre stage we should preserve our heritage. Slowly and steadily I see our “virasat” turning to ruins as in case of most of the palaces. Our forts are falling apart, our heritage buildings slowly decaying; our names are going into oblivion. If just by changing a name our destiny can change, nothing like it but if it is done only for cosmetics and the heck of it, then is it worth it, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 

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