Category: TRAFFIC DISCIPLINE
Splintered is a feeble word I would use for India today. We are kind of disintegrating as a nation. Fragmentation has become a new norm of our society. Even our ethos is crumbling with every passing day. The whole world is our family is way too big a statement. Today, we are split down the middle, even in our families. Then we have our social gradation which separates us, followed by our religion which makes us drift apart further. Now we also have various kinds of fringe elements adding to the chaos. Is this the India of our dreams?
The segregation starts moment a child is born. The difference is being born in a municipal hospital or a super speciality hospital. The gap is seen between the haves and the have not’s. Then comes our schooling, in that comes gradation due to Vernacular medium, English medium and International schooling. Religious schools & institutions shred us further apart. We stand divided at every step but are united to fight for destruction of this nation.
In the armed forces we too have groups called Combat groups. We have squads, sections, platoons, detachments’ and Combat teams. We have Brigades, Divisions, Corps and Commands. However, we train together and fight together. We are divided into such groups to unite our Hindustan. We carry our religion, which is the national flag on our sleeves.
A crew of a tank, a gun or a BMP is an ultimate team. Everyone is a cook, sentry, gunner, commander, operator and stick. If the driver doesn’t switch on the master switch, nothing functions. If a loader doesn’t load, the gunner can’t fire. If the commander doesn’t designate a target, the driver will not be able to position his vehicle correctly for the gunner to fire. If all of them do not come together as a well oiled team, they cannot fight the enemy. Where does religion come in here?
In battle there is only one aim, annihilation of the enemy. I don’t know if religion, caste, creed, ethnicity is becoming our biggest enemy.
In an army convoy if the leading vehicle is too fast, the vehicles following will get scattered. If it is too slow, they all will bunch up. If they do not follow SOPs & drills and adhere to speed limits, there is likely hood of convoys getting mixed up and accidents. Aim is to get every vehicle, men and material to the designated place, at the right time, in the designated order, in the best state of preparedness, for accomplishing a mission. That is what India needs. There cannot be a hindu-muslim-sikh-isai convoy. Yes, the “mandir vehicle” as it is called is also part of the convoy. Anyone so desirous of “tekoing his matha” can do so while on the move but without breaking convoy discipline.
During war water and food is limited and rationed. It is distributed equally to everyone. There is no discrimination. In battle if a man is thirsty and you offer him a sip of water and a tonne of gold, what will he go for? What will a soldier carry in battle? Is it ammunition or his religion? Religion has no place in war, it is the country that comes first always and every time. Rest doesn’t matter.
We have one organisation which is above religion and politics that is the Armed Forces. The seeds of animosity and bitterness cannot be and should not be planted in our blood. Every officer loves his cook as much as he loves his gunner. Every man counts, every trade has his role to play. The doctors don’t see your religion to treat you when you have a bullet in your chest. When blood is infused, no religion is printed on it except its group. Life and limb needs to be saved not religion.
If this much is clear then at least on the day when soldiers are being laid to rest after making their supreme sacrifice for the nation, let news channels not debate, as they show scenes of coffins and the last post being played with politicians this Hindu-muslim-sikh-isai issue. Let that soul depart in peace.
My country is supreme; rest all has no place in military ethos. I have pledged my life for the tri-colour, I shall go by land, sea or air, where ordered, to defend it from internal disorder and external aggression is the pledge I have taken and a promise made to my countrymen. If I die in the line of battle, the only place where my religion comes in is to give me a befitting farewell on my last journey. Otherwise I have no religion. Is my religion loud and clear? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis
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.
© Noel Ellis
Abe-O-Shinzo, kitne admi the? This is how “Gabbar” would welcome the Japanese PM. To add to the flavour he will ensure many Helen’s dance on the song Mehbooba-O-Mehbooba all along his way. The way my Amdavadi friends are sending pictures of the welcome of PM of Japan Mr Shinzo Abe by our very own Thakur Modi Saab, it appears that Atithi devo bhava would melt Japan to give one bullet train free. Before Mr Abe leaves for Japan a bullet train might be standing at Sabarmati Railway station I reckon. As a citizen I feel proud and floored by the preparations and gestures. Keep it up sir, I am with you. We must take lessons from them as Japan transformed “do bigha zameen” to what Hiroshima and Nagasaki look like today. We can do it too.
I am convinced Abe saab will start playing dandiya at every drop of the hat during his visit. Last time our PM played the drums this time he shall definitely teach them garba. I won’t be surprised if soon in Japan “Sushi” will be replaced by “Khichoo”, “oden” by “handvo”, “yakiniku” by yakhani. Apno Gujju Bhai can do anything for Bijiness. Time is not far when we shall find Ohayō being replaced by “Kem Cho” and sayonara by Aawajo. I just hope judo doesn’t replace ludo on the Sabarmati front. It appears that soon Doremon and Chota Bheem will join hands and sort the world out. Well, let me not let my imagination fly too wild before I start find Japanese speaking gujjus and gujarati speaking Japanese all over.
Be that as it may, I have a suggestion regarding hosting any of these foreign PMs. Why only Ahmadabad? Why can’t it be one town of each state? The town need not be the one earmarked as part of the smart cities which the government has planned. If I see the figures on the MEA website, various PMs who visited in the previous years, the figure roughly works out to 10-12. Therefore in one year as many smaller towns and cities can be cleaned up and brought to the standards of Ahmadabad. Delhi is always available in case nothing works out. Let the states suggest the venue & menu and let the PM approve of it. Let the infrastructure and amenities be brought up to the mark. We will have minimum a dozen cities face lifted every year. Thereafter maintaining those assets should be left to the state.
Can someone tell me the effectiveness of various government schemes? We already have JNNURM, AMRUT, HRIDAY, UDAY, NHUM, ICDS and many others. Many of you would be aware of them and many of you will have to look up Google like I did. These are not the end all schemes of development but merely the tip of an iceberg. On ground what are they translating into is ambiguous. State of roads, infrastructure, schools, civic amenities, health care, garbage disposal, town cleanliness and power cuts etc should be the benchmark to assess all these. Let me give food for thought to the media to carry out audits of small cities on the parameters I mention. Then let us see.
Alibaug should be the next host city, which is about 20 kms from the place where I stay. It should take not more than 20 minutes to reach. I can assure you if you reach there in 60 minutes you will break all speed records. It is another issue that someone shall be picking up your car parts which will fall off as you go. You will have at least two shock absorbers broken, front or rear bumper in your hand, a free treatment of spondylitis and a free lesson in the dance form called “shake”. One should drive on the left of the road and not on what is left of the road. The pot holes are so deep that you may miss a small car if parked in it. Most dangerous are the bikers, which side will they swing is directly proportional to which side is the “Ghadda”.
Let me get serious for a change. I learnt that the PMs have laid the foundation stone for the bullet train. Well, I live in a place where bullock carts still ply, there is no rail connectivity, sea connectivity is in fair weather only and I have to travel 3 to 4 hours to reach Bombay. There are no AC busses which ply to Bombay. God forbid if one gets a heart attack; it is Jai Hind in most of the cases. May I request you to come here from Mumbai by road in a State Transport bus? If not then let us make Alibaug the destination for the next visiting PM. Can it be done? I wonder!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis