Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Commonwealth Games only promises us shame

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

“Canada deeply concerned about Commonwealth village”, “Foot overbridge near main Games stadium collapses, 23 hurt”, and “Jersey express doubts over Delhi”. These are some of the headlines doing circles of the Internet less than a month before the biggest sporting event India has ever hosted kicks off. The pseudo patriots will say Canada is showing typical ‘white men’s attitude’, bridge collapse is just an accident and Jersey? Never heard of a country by that name! But all these headlines do really tell a story.

It has been four years since the last Commonwealth Games ended in Sydney and seven years since India beat Jamaica in its bid to host the games in the process becoming the first Asian country to do so. But going by the negative publicity that the games is receiving many would think India would have been better off not hosting the games if it cannot match up to the international standards. The final touches being still given to the venues shows the (un)professionalism we showed in our preparedness.

Commonwealth Games 2010 was meant to be more than a sporting event for India at least in the minds of the government and all the sporting bodies in India. China signalled its dominance to the world by putting up a splendid show during the Beijing Olympics, 2008. It not only won the most number of medals but gave a glimpse of its future to the world. Sporting events of this magnitude are not merely limited to sports. Adolf Hitler almost stole the show with the Berlin Olympics in 1936 only to be denied the last laugh by American athlete Jesse Owens.

There have been reports of wide spread corruption where Rs. 35000 Crores worth of taxpayer’s money has been used (read wasted) in earning the criticism of the global sporting community. Indians would have still accepted the corruption like we do in our everyday lives but the kind of shame that our unprepared stadiums and unprofessional attitude has brought is unacceptable. What did Shiela Dixit and her government do for seven years? Where was the Sport Authority of India and Indian Olympic Association busy all this while to have led us to this shame?

There were some optimists who wanted to bid for the 2020 or 2024 Olympic Games. Some in the sports ministry were optimist that the infrastructure would be ready by then! Let us not bring much more shame to the nation if we can’ make it proud. Our economy might be going hammer and tongs but our infrastructure and governmental attitude still belongs to the Third World. Fans like me would be waiting more for a honourable closing ceremony of the games so that we can save ourselves from more embarrassment.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ayodhya verdict not expected to settle issues

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Allahabad High Court will deliver the much awaited verdict on the Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid on September 24. This will mark an important day in the 60 year old case which has been the epitome of a political movement for almost three decades now. Ever since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, Ayodhya has been one of core issues in Indian politics which fuelled BJP’s rise to power and be seen as the best alternative to the Congress party.

Now as the Government prepares for the Law and Order situation in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in the country a few questions come to mind. Will the court deliver a decisive verdict? Will BJP and the Saffron brigade’s dream of building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya actually materialise? Or will the Babri Masjid Action - Reconstruction Committee smile their way out of the court?

The obvious response to a decisive verdict is a 'No'. It is not the evidence that will count in the court but the fear of the repercussions of a decisive verdict that will prevent a final verdict from being delivered. If the verdict is in black and white, there will be wide spread communal violence across the country. The memories of riots that followed 1992 will come alive again if any of the parties have the verdict on their side.

The Muslims won’t bow down to a temple being constructed over a demolished mosque. They will site this as an attack on the minorities in the country. On the other hand the BJP-VHP and other Saffron parties have every right to believe that a temple should be constructed on the site as the Archaeological Survey of India reported the evidence of a large 10th century structure similar to a Hindu temple having pre-existed the Babri Masjid.

It is a known fact that thousands of small and big temples were destroyed in India during the Mughal rule. Aurangazeb alone is said to have destroyed more than 10000 temples in India during his reign. Somnath Temple in Gujarat was destroyed as many as six times before being re-built after Independence. Those scholars who deny these truths of history might have hiccups in explaining why not a single temple in North India predates the Mughal rule where as similar temples more than millennia old have survived in South.

As a young man of mid 20s, many like me have grown up around the Ayodhya issue and it is high time that we bury the hatchet. Both the sides have to show some maturity if this issue needs to be settled for once and all. There is no legal verdict on the issue; it has to be a mutually accepted one. Hindu groups should not fell proud of having pulled down a place of worship at the same time the Muslim leaders shouldn’t forget the historical wrongdoings of their predecessors

The issue is compounded by the involvement of various political interests in the case. BJP is not the sole trouble maker as it was Rajiv Gandhi who opened the gates of the disputed structure and performed Shilanyas. Parties like BSP, SP and RJD should stop portraying themselves as the messiah of the minorities and playing cheap vote bank politics. It is high time we behave like a matured democracy and not just as the largest.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Is revoking AFSPA Kashmir problem’s solution?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Consider this scenario - The security forces are facing a hostile situation in Kashmir. The government has given them a safety net in the form of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act). In simple words the security forces have the ‘right to kill’. On the other hand it will be unable to take on the hostile situation where every potential door and window in the valley is a terrorist hideout. There are calls to revoke it at the same time such powers are necessary as they give the military teeth to fight. What does the government do?

If the Chief Ministership of Jammu & Kashmir is offered to our netas, a majority of them would like to turn it down. It is perhaps the most thankless political job in the country. Before being critical of Omar Abdullah or any of his future successors we should spare a thought by being at their shoes. Every incident can snowball into an agitation in Kashmir valley; a stray incident of stone pelting has the potential to bring the scenic land to a halt for weeks. As Jammu & Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah campaigns for phased withdrawal of AFSPA the Centre is in two minds over the issue.

Let’s get the facts straight, AFSPA has been time and again abused by certain sections of the military. Be it in killing innocent people in the name of terrorists or assaulting women even to the extent of rapes and murders. In the name of conducting routine checks our security forces have crossed the line may a times. The call for scrapping such an act isn’t unjustified if you have been a victim of the high handedness of man in the Khakhi with Kalashnikovs and INSAS rifles.

Will revoking such acts really help on the ground? It seems very unlikely as the security forces cannot technically observe restrain in the counter insurgency operation being carried out in the valley everyday. No political policy can be used to command the men in uniform what to do and what not to do. When fired upon the security forces think of no act before retaliation. When challenged by terrorists using the civilian population as shield no act can stop the security forces taking a shot at the terrorists.

Does it mean AFSPA should remain for ever? No, this will have to be phased out for prolonged peace in the sate and in the interest of the Kashmiri people. But it seems no time for revoking such an act as the situation in the valley is as hostile as it can get. Security forces are being pelted with stones everyday. If the Kashmiris want such an act to be scrapped they have work in the interest of Kashmir themselves. They have to shun leaders who take commands from across the territory and talk of jihad and crusade. If not, revoking such an act and restoring it later won’t bring in normalcy to the Kashmir Valley.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

When Bharat bandh is observed in Bengal!!!!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The trade unions has called for a Bharat bandh under the leadership of Left backed Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). The 24 hour diktat is to bring government’s attention to price rise. The Bandh will be 100% successful in West Bengal, 50% in Kerala (half the Malyalee community is busy in Gulf’s oil exploration) and also in Tripura which will go unnoticed due to its fate of being a North Eastern state. In the rest of the country the trade unionists won’t be able to stop their family members from going to work.

In the last six months this is the third time that West Bengal is being crippled by a thing called a bandh. Wasn’t 5th of July also observed as a bandh in the state in protest against the price rise? Did it help in doing any good other than hitting the daily wage workers, patients, passengers and even politicians who are not wasting a single day campaigning for the upcoming Assembly elections? Who’s good did they do anyway?

A migrant taxi driver from Bihar told me that his co-drivers in the union do not want to accept such diktats from their union leaders. He said Bangali drivers band nehi chahata hai Dada (Even the Bengali drivers do not want a bandh). It shows that not all Bengalis are not communists who want such unplanned holidays even though the people sitting in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi opine so. A lady from whom I buy stationary said CPM er raj e khola rekechi dokan ebar ki bondo rakhbo (I kept my shop open in the heydays of the CPM rule, what fear do I have now?)

The Communists who are in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in Bengal are trying their last ditch effort to hold on to their own version of the ‘Red Fort’. But alas people of Bengal seem to have enough of them. Soviet Union the mother of Communism has shunned the obsolete ideology about two decades back, China has turned into a Ultra Capitalist nation but the leaders here fail to read between the lines. Do we hear such strikes in China whom our Left leaders patronise? The Left will never tell this truth to the people of Bengal!

They should read the writing on the wall and think about a honourable farewell from the state they have ruled for more that three decades. Adolf Hitler committed suicide to have an honourable exit from history rather than fall into the hands of the Allied forces. Honour is the greatest jewel that a leader can earn. They have a few more months in power and should utilise it in building Bengal and not breaking it into parts.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Unsung Talent of Bengal

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

It is not quite often that we write a blog post on a barber (read barber, not hair stylist). Shahrukh Khan once made a movie and I am writing a blog post. I just happened to visit a barber in my locality for the second time for a hair trim as I call it. Receding hairline also does need a visit to a barber once a month! A Calcutta barber is never free and so he was occupied with a client (that’s what they call a customer in B schools).

As my turn came and I sat on the chair, I started explaining him what I wanted. He questioned me same as last time? I was shocked as to how on earth did he remember what I wanted when I had visited him only once in the past. He might have served at least a thousand customers in the last one month. I felt privileged as in this urban madness of Calcutta a barber happened to recall what I want.

As he was about to finish with my side locks, I asked him to trim them a bit with his straight razor and he gave me my second shocker. But last month you didn’t want it trimmed? I had forgotten what I wanted last month but he didn’t. When I was paying him the money I asked him how he managed to remember all these details. He replied me ‘It’s my job’. In a B school this would be termed competitive advantage, USP or in the most secretive case as trade secret!

This is the grassroot talent of Bengal which needs to be harnessed. In my two and a half years of stay in Bangalore I went to the same saloon but never experienced such service although I paid twice the amount there than what I did today. This is the unsung worker of Bengal who works as a thorough professional and doesn’t complain about salary hikes and join the bandh brigade every month.

Now my next door barber never went to a B school, he never went for any professional course to learn his art. He doesn’t know a thing about Customer Satisfaction Management nor does he maintains Excel Sheets to measure his quarterly performance. He has never read boring case studies of StarBucks or IBM. He hasn’t wasted his time in mugging up things which will mean very little in his day to day professional life. This proves the theory you can’t make a businessman teaching him Management theories.

He is smatter than many of us who think they are the most important factor in their organizations. He just knows his art and knows it really well. He doesn’t run around looking for employment but creates his own. This is a case study that should find a place in our B Schools alas that will never happen as StarBucks literate management graduates will try to market things in India where close to 60% of the product sale happens in the unorganised sector. Who is smatter, us or the barber?


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