Category Archives: Current Affairs

To Freedom, To Life.

Cross-posted from Not Just The Talks.
It’s been a while since my inaugural and only post for Not Just The Talks, ‘It’s Time To Not Just Keep Talking.‘ came by. Well, to be real, a long time. All this while, I have been wanting to push forth this effort that was born in my and my friends’ minds, sometime back in March last year, but couldn’t, for some reason or the other. Regardless of that, any apologies I make today, for promising to initiate change, and then not committing to it, cannot be justified for.

Having said that, I do add that today, as I write this post, I am deeply motivated to make my efforts count, anew. This time, I won’t stop. No one can stop me. And if you join in, I know for once that you will make sure no one can stop you. Because, at the end of the day, we know that this is about not just talking, it’s about living. So, to the post for today…

Freedom. A word with a million meanings and interpretations. Never has a struggle for a better humanity, a better civilization, a better country, or a better person, even, begun without the desire of freedom, in its fundamental sense. Here, I talk about these very fundamentals, of our very century, and of our very mindset, which we seek.

To freedom from ineducation.

One of the most prevailing, and according to me, the root of all the problems we face today. Ineducation. In fact, I think that even the education that is imparted to us today, is a form of ineducation. There’s no denying that the education system we are a part of today, is terribly and incredibly flawed. And even though the law-makers and educators deny that, deep inside, even they know that it’s so.

Some may argue that Indian professionals reach the top jobs world over and have reputations like none other. About professionals, let’s get it straight, MNCs recruit Indians not because they are more knowledgeable, but because they’re easy preys to their not-so-lucrative offers, cheaper salaries, and dreams of working abroad in an MNC and making everyone in their extended families proud and jealous, over those professionals who graduate from ivy league institutions the world over. That’s a fact, everyone knows.

At the same time, I don’t doubt the intellect or the ability of Indians. I’m just pointing out the dubious situation our education system, puts us in. Also, the uneducated lot among us, the ones who are not lucky enough to experience the very basics of education, are affected worse. And that, in my opinion, is the freedom we desire and need, first.

To freedom from corruption.

Much has been said, seen, done and talked about the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement in the last 8 months. And there’s enough evidence that there’s no lacking the utter desire of change of the people of this nation. But, what are we fighting? I believe, we are fighting we are fighting our own psyche, the Indian psyche, which we have born and bred upon, which is filled with a fact we don’t think we can challenge, corruption.

Let’s face it, corruption, in its nascent and most innocent forms, is instigated into our mindsets, right from the day we understood material and monetary portions of life. It begins at toys, clothes and shoes, goes to watches and gadgets, and ends up in a funny juxtaposed monetary reality which we blame on the Governments that govern us, the bureaucrats that work for us, the judiciary that gives us justice, the police that protect our rights, and the people who try to ease our lives, everyday.

They are the sons and daughters of the same motherland. They have learnt it the way we did. And they became the masters of greed because we trained them on how to receive more, to get our work done easiest and fastest. And to the count of this day, even in the wrong-est possible ways. The freedom, the fight for corruption isn’t about one bill or one Government or a couple of Ministers, it’s about a deeply rooted comprehension of the reality forth us. That freedom, is ours to take or leave.

To freedom from social evils and social bondage.

For me, the society is any group of individuals which aims at strengthening and helping each one of them, in their own special ways. But, living in India, changes the definition to the very opposite of it, completely. We live in a society which is headed by illiterate goons who shred it into pieces on the basis of caste, creed, language, religion, sex and what not! Then, there are the religious, caste, gender implications which you ‘must’ abide by to be a part of the society that you are a part of. Otherwise, you and your family, will be thrown out of it. How fair!!

I thought secularism something we Indians were proud of. I really did. But, when I see TV commercials about websites promoting only inter-caste marriages, read about reports of dowry, Sati among other malpractices, I laugh at my own self for thinking that today morning, I woke up in a better India. In fact, even watching censored scenes from Hollywood movies, in an Adult-only movie, makes me feel about how constrained the way we Indians think, is! Freedom from this orthodox life, we sure need.

As far as I know, ‘Right to Freedom’, is a fundamental right given to us by the Honourable Constitution of India. But, we are afraid, feared. To change and to be free, from even all that we think is wrong. Because we think the system will change us, instead. I speak today, for the generations to come by, because I know that if not us, they will stand for freedom, and I would rather gift it to them than see them fight for it. I would rather fall fighting for the freedom that I deserve, than sit back and watch the world in the current avatar. I would rather have my last breath knowing that I tried, than feeling pity on my country, my motherland.

In the coming posts, I will be writing about my take on each one of these, with the solutions that I think are the steps we take to begin with, in detail, stay tuned. As for this list, it’s not a comprehensive one, but well, these are those issues which I feel are the most important.

Till then, fight for your freedom, in your own little ways. I will, too. And after a few years, if not tomorrow, we will wake up in an India we would be more proud to call ours.

For a better India, for freedom, to the death!

Vodafone is NOT ‘Happy to Help’.

Been a while since my last post, hasn’t it? And well, I have felt it too. It has been really long since my last post, and this post, was well overdue. So much so that I had crossed a whole lot of tweets posted, that led to even me losing a record of what all I had tweeted to Vodafone and vice versa. So, let’s get on with it..
When the big decision of me moving to Pune for my further studies came by, around mid-August, I had to choose from a range of internet providers which would be good enough for me to run on my laptop. With my admissions and accomodation having finalized around 10th August, and the rest of shopping, packing stuff beginning, I was looking around. Then, I did a lot of research! It was a Tata Photon v/s Reliance NetConnect v/s AirTel USB v/s Vodafone mobile broadband! I compared all the plans and rentals for all of them, and decided to go ahead with Vodafone.
People who know me, have spent some time with me, know how much I talk against Vodafone because I’m an AirTel mobile user (What?! Everyone believes what they use is the best, right?). And thus, the common question from all of them was, “why” Vodafone? Now, I seem to know why. Though, their reasons, though, were different. It was widely because Tata and Reliance have been the pioneers and leaders in this world, and AirTel has heavily marketted itself. Vodafone, has been in the dark, and is even now.
But then why did I choose it? As I said, it offered me a cheaper solution (not considerably cheaper, though) than its competitors, and I went by the image it holds of being an MNC, which made me drop the ball in its court.
Fine till now, right?
I thought so, too.
I needed more information about it, and so, I resorted to my favourite medium to get information instantly, Twitter, with my first tweet about them, ever, on 11th August,

Vodafone Connect 3G USB Stick? Anyone knows anything :S? Help!

And that also, was my first disappointment in them.
Their reply came to me on 12th August,

Please refer to
http://www.vodafone.in/internet/pages/3gusbstick_mum.aspx?cid=mum  or DM us ur no. for further assistance.

My replies to them for that tweet, the same day,

I wanted info about the Vodafone Connect 3G USB Stick. Where can I get it online? I checked the website but I have some doubts.

And…

I had already checked this. Just DMed you my number. In case you’re calling, after 12 please!

For those who aren’t well-versed with Twitter, DM (direct message) is a way to share things with someone in a way that no one else would know. There were quiet a few DMs after that, and the following image is self-explanatory, I assume. The date of every message is at the bottom of each. (Click on it to view a enlarge it.)
DMs between @VodafoneIN and me (@setu4993)
Even after that, I didn’t receive any call from them. And that’s when I got pissed with them, but, held my calm because I still had some hope and trust in them. My bad.
I just went to a Vodafone Store on 17th August, and got myself a Vodafone USB stick, as a measure to end my shopping before I left for Pune on 21st. Checked it at home and it seemed to work fine for the 2-3 minutes that I checked. Packed it in my bagpack, and off to Pune on 21st.
The first evening in Pune, 21st August. A Sunday. The first thing that I wanted to do, when mom left after helping me unpack and settle down, was to go online and check my mails and tweet (things I did everytime I reached home, and all the time I was at home, too, nothing new). To my disappointment, I couldn’t connect. There was some error and I tried disconnecting and reconnecting a few times. Reboot. Still nothing. Called customer care on 121. They talked to me for some 10-12 minutes and then told me they couldn’t help me (!) because my registration was of Mumbai and by dialling 121, the Pune service center had been contacted. They asked me to note down the number 9820098200 (or something similar) and told me I would be charged Re.1/minute for talking to them.
Now comes the big deal. I was on a prepaid Vodafone connection. So, I couldn’t make any calls from that number, even to the customer care! Good thing, isn’t it heavy pun?!
I kept switching my SIM between Vodafone and AirTel.
The Mumbai guy didn’t help me much either. He said that I would have to visit a Vodafone gallery, the closest one, so that I could get some help. I asked him what would be the closest one to me, according to a few places around my room, that I knew about. He said he can’t help me with the closest, but, told me he would keep listing the places and then I should select which would be closest to me. Well, if it was Mumbai, it would be simpler. But, imagine the state of a customer who goes to a city for some reason, and on the first day, within 7 hours of reaching a new city, he is given a whole list of places where there are their ‘Galleries’. Duh! That’s customer service? That’s serving the customer some trouble, instead!
After that, I asked him the timings of 2-3 Galleries (whose locations I recognized, from the some research I had done in Mumbai, with Google Maps, about the localities). He said he couldn’t help me with that, either. And that left me stunned, like never before. Forget the location, not even the timings?!
It was almost 5:45 when I left my room and took local bus transport, in an unknown city, to reach the Vodafone Gallery. I got down at a bus stop, asked at a mobile shop, and was told that it would be closed today, it being a Sunday.
Fine.
Next day, just after my college orientation, I left again. In search of the Gallery that would get me my internet activated. I went to a Gallery, only to be told that I would have to go to the Vodafone HQ of Pune to get it working or to even get any information about it. I had to take a rickshaw, spend Rs.80 to take me to the Gallery, in the outskirts of the city, for something that should’ve been done there itself, and face the frustration. More than everything, why did the call center executive then specifically tell me that it’d be done at any Gallery?
Leave my case. Suppose instead of me, there was a business executive travelling to a city for 2 days of business, and he faced the case of internet not working. He would be told to travel the same just to be able to check an important e-mail he was going to receive? REALLY? Sick!
Even there, there were just 2 executives dealing with around 10 people, sequentially. (The Mumbai Gallery I bought it from, had 5 people at a given moment!) I waited there for 45 minutes and was finally told that my SIM card hadn’t been activated itself. Wow. For knowing that I had to wait more than 24 hours, call them multiple times, travel to random places in a completely new city… For that?
Even after that, things didn’t change. It was already a week and nothing changed. Tried connecting it, many a times, nothing. Dad went to the Gallery I had bought it from, they said they couldn’t do anything till I came back to Mumbai.
Luckily, I happened to come back to Mumbai that weekend. And it was majorly to get this Vodafone USB working.
I went to the Gallery from where I had bought it. Talked to 3 levels of Vodafone ‘Care’ guys there. And then came back being promised that it’d work fine now. I spent around 90 minutes there. They took 20 minutes to get me a new SIM card. Why? Because the guy who was sitting at the counter was lazy and stood up, after I explained him the issue and went ahead with just roaming around the Gallery. The next guy, told me that I’d be charged for those lost 10 days of internet too, which was the result of a fault in the SIM card they had given me! I requested to be able to talk to the manager of the gallery. I waited for 15 minutes. When he still didn’t come down (they have a first floor in the Malad, Mumbai Gallery which is I don’t know what), I freaked out and asked the guy how much more time would it take. He came down within the next 5 minutes, luckily. Even then, there was this executive named Premal (name changed), who was busy flirting with another colleague, in front of the branch manager, who was just watching them both and smiling and giggling, which delayed me by other 10 minutes. Even after that, I was told that there was no way I could get a 10-day extension for a fault on their side. Though, they said they’ll ‘try’ to add 10 days to my next month. All-in-all, great service!
I came back to Pune, and then tried to connect. I got connected in 1 in 100 attempts, disconnected again within seconds, and no page loaded correctly until I refreshed it like a zillion times! I was pissed at their services, terribly. And whenever I was online, I used to tweet about their poor service, even if that meant a dozen of retries before a tweet got posted (in laymen terms, equivalent to an email got sent).
I received a few replies from them too, asking me to tell them their problems and give them my contact details. I had given them the contact details the first time I tweet to them on 12th August! And my problems, well, they were very well-evident from my tweets.
There’s this tweet sequence, in particular that I want you all to have a look at:
1st tweet of the sequence, their reply, 7th September.
2nd tweet of the sequence, my reply, 7th September.
3rd tweet of the sequence, their reply, 10th September.
What should I say more? Even after telling them not to call me at any random time, even after sharing the specific time and requesting them to confirm before calling, they have the same complain? That’s customer service?
I called them up again after a day or two. Got transferred to the ‘Technical Department’ with whom I was on phone for 95 minutes (getting charged at Re.1/minute) and even that did no good.
This was when I had decided that I would be switching from Vodafone to Reliance for my internet requirements. And that’s the very reason I can write this blog right now!
I got calls from them, multiple times (even after telling them not to call me), after I made this public announcement on Twitter. I lashed out at everyone of them for poor service and bad customer satisfaction.
Yes, I was set back by Rs. 1699, the cost of the USB stick and one month’s rental as Rs. 700, unamounted stress, trouble and disappointment, bad customer service, and what not! But, I learnt a whole lot of things too…
And this is not just Vodafone. I have gone through similar with Idea Cellular Ltd. I know friends who have gone through similar troubles with AirTel, Loop Mobile, Tata Docomo, and Reliance too.
Someone always told me,

When you open a company, make it so big that there has to be a call center and people who call you for service, end up talking to them, only.

I always took it as a joke, but, realized that it’s real in this scenario.That does mean that the customer, a consumer is taken for granted and is made to go around a ‘ringa rose garden’ more number of times than a kindergarten student would, just to get his work done. That does mean that the private sector companies are no better than the public sector companies. I think, they’re worse.
You hope that they’d be better and they land you at the same level. Whereas, you know the public sector, Government owned will be such and thus you don’t have high expectations which would shatter!
If customer service really meant that much, we wouldn’t be running behind services companies to help us sort our problems and port out of their services. If it really meant that much, I would be compensated for my USB device which I’m ready to return even now, and with some better plan and offer, free of cost. If it really did, the Blackberry users who were affected by the Asian outage of RIM services, for 3 days, would be compensated by a 3-day extension at no additional charge. If it really did, no company would start unwanted services for users and then ask them to cough up the amount. If it really did, no service provider would charge an old user the same amount for every call and text that he/she was 3 years ago, and would inform them of better, similar, cheaper plans. But, it’s all ‘IF’ it really did…
And it’s evident through just all these last few examples that it doesn’t. Not one bit.
I know what I don’t want to do to ‘my’ customers, when later in life I own a company… Till then, here’s a lesson learnt…
I know I didn’t have to add all the screenshots that I did. I know that those who read me reguarly, trust me blindly about what I would post. But, this is for all those who are not regular readers, and to prove the authenticity. I’m an 18-year-old student, not a forger involved in spoiling the reputation of an MNC bribed to do so by its competitor. I’m a citizen, a customer who expects good service, who thinks getting a decent service is something he deserves. I’m someone.
Until the next post, remember, it’s true, Vodafone, is NOT ‘Happy to Help’.
P. S.: Here‘s an Excel file of the 41 tweets I had sent to them and only the 11-odd replies I received, for reference or cross checking, in different Excel sheets.

>A Drive Against Corruption… Not Anymore!

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Two months of headlines, and 5 days later. Here India is. In what began as a drive against corruption, not much of it remains anymore. Reasons? Varied. Most of them, known to everyone. Some of them, hidden.

It all began with Anna Hazare’s fast unto death or till his demands were met, on 5th April, 2011 which took India by a stir! The thought that problem of corruption, is not here to remain as many (including me) say, that there could be a possible end to this corrupt phase! Wow. So exciting does it sound! And that got so many millions of Indians to support it. Yes, every one of us, every Indian (minus the politicians, bureaucrats and others who live on their black earnings) was on with him, against it.

Now, today, this fight seems all-the-more unimportant. Yes, you read that right. Unimportant. It seems to have lost its reason while everyone in the powerful circles tries to gain some clout from it. Religious and spiritual leaders, political parties, news channels, lawyers, websites, and what not!! “India’s changing people! Be a part of it! It’s now or never!” I would simply call it, BULLSHIT!

Let me begin with the one I have been seeing most recently and in the eye of the people and news channels. Baba Ramdev and his antics! I wonder how I should worship him! No, seriously. He’s such an amazing fellow that he didn’t feel ashamed to give this amazing movement the political and spiritual turn by poking his nose in it! He must be revered for the same, I demand. He actually thought that all those who gathered in Ramlila Maidan for his fast, were supposedly there supporting his hunger strike (I could use a tongue-smiley, :P, here)! News channels and newspapers broke stories reading what I said, that the people were there instead to show him their respects because his Yoga remedies seemed to have work for them. His demands were completely irrational, stupid and nonsensical. His methodology to achieve it, unethical. When Kapil Sibal made public a tape of their phone call, he went on to say he won’t talk to Kapil Sibal! Someone remind this so-called Guru, that he agreed he would end the fast within hours of beginning it because of the pact he made with the Government. Get yourself some integrity, Mr. Ramdev! He sure deserved some real punitive action, which he aptly got.

Next up, the Bharatiya Janata Party. Supposedly, ‘The Party with a Difference’ (as read on their website). Oh, yeah? Getting political mileage by taking a dig at the Congress for acting against Baba Ramdev (who I’m pretty sure acted as a bate on their request) and their inability against corruption doesn’t seem like anything different from what anyone else would have done. To me, at least! Making statements, getting prime-time news coverage, etc. is a good but, sad thing. The elections are still 3 years away, BJPians (or whatever they call themselves, I don’t really care).

You know what would matter to me, an (almost) adult-Indian? Or how you could actually gain a heads-up for the next elections and earn yourselves some respect? Get into the legislature, make a Lokpal Bill, just as the people want it, house it in the Parliament, get it passed with the help of the Left and other parties, and there you are, the real star! You surely will be the next governing party! Trust me on that, you will be.

But you know what, readers? They wouldn’t do that either. Even though they know that it assures them of power. Reasoning it as “It would be remembered as a victory of the Congress as it would be passed while they were in power! BJP can’t let that happen, right?” among other immature excuses. The real reason? They can’t see the good of the people, either. If you really cared about the people, the name of which political party got it passed, wouldn’t really matter. If you really cared about the people, you would have stepped up before Anna Hazare hit it himself. And over it all, you can’t afford corruption driven out of India, either. The same reasons and answers go to all the other political establishments who have at least one member in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha. Because, according to the Honourable Constitution of India, any Member of Parliament has the right to present a bill in either of the houses. Enough said.

Anna Hazare, Part 2. He went on a day long fast again day before yesterday (on 8th of June, 2011) just because the Government representatives of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee and the people’s representatives didn’t come to a consensus on a certain clause (inclusion of PM and Judiciary of India, to be specific). You mean, really? Is this the law-making process we are looking for? Not me!! I’m looking for a discussion, a debate. Someone who can convince the prior, not compel. This demand of yours, I’m sorry, Mr. Hazare, is just too unrealistic for me to be supportive of. And seriously, right now, I feel like saying, ‘The Anna Way? No Way!!’ like I said ‘The Gandhi Way? No Way!!‘ 7 weeks ago. If the support you got the first time makes you want to compulsate the Bill making issues like this, instead of talking it out at the discussion table, I am up against your action.

Last up, every Indian who thinks Lokpal Bill will be a reality and that corruption will be driven out of India. Let me just burst your bubble, brutally.

I read a crazy SMS saying, “Government of India has put a condition stating that the support of 25 crore people is needed to implement the ‘Lokpal Bill’. For this we just have to give a missed call to the number +912261550789. After giving a missed call to this number you’ll receive a ‘Thanks’ message. Forward this to as many to make India corruption free. Please call.”

To begin with, what’s the Lokpal Bill? Darn you, irresponsible people! The clauses of the Lokpal Bill have still to be finalized and debated upon by the Parliamentary Committee drafting it! We don’t even know where and how it’ll shape up in the end! Neither do we have a clue if it will be the Jan Lokpal Bill for which the protest 2 months back was held or will it be minor modifications to the Lokpal Bill which has been doing the Law Ministry rounds since 1979! And you want to petition for that already? Wow.

Hypothetically, let’s consider it’s an exact replica of the Jan Lokpal Bill and that’s what we want to see in action. How many of us really, like ‘really’ know how the Bill making process works? How laws are made? What is the process of it? I am sure most of us have read it somewhere, and those of the age like mine, you have read it in your Civics textbooks, sometime. Now, where does it say that “if 25 crore people give missed calls” the Bill will be passed? If it was so easy, the law-making process was so people friendly, why would we ever have elections and elect Members of Parliament to be a part of our Legislature, and represent us? Wouldn’t we be a part of it ourselves by giving missed calls or sending out SMSes for every Bill? Ask yourself. What part of the above quoted SMS make sense now?

I was sent this message by my parents too. And yes, I did lash out on them explaining why this wasn’t legit even though an SMS was sent to you when you give a missed call.

Either it’s that you don’t know the law-making process (I mentioned above that it needs to pass the Parliament), or that you’re just being too ignorant of it. Let’s face it. The Government promised Anna Hazare during his previous fast of ‘drafting’ a Bill, not making sure it gets ‘passed’. If you think that the elected MPs of India, those elected by you, those whose lives thrive upon black money, will let this Indian dream come true, you’re mistaken. I may be seen as some cynic or a complete pessimist, but it doesn’t bother me because I have my feet stuck the ground while I see everyone else hoping something so simply, impossible! If you think those who promote corruption the most, will pass a Bill that would put them under the scanner for every monetary transaction of their life, boy, you’re highly mistaken! Time to wake up, dear fellas.

Also, if you think that Anna Hazare’s promise that he would go on a fast again if the Bill doesn’t get passed will do anything to change the failure of the Bill in the Parliament, again, I don’t think the merciless people in those chairs will mind him dying, either. Even those of you, who think you won’t vote for the same candidate in the next elections if he doesn’t give an ‘Aye’ to the Lokpal Bill, you’re mistaken, again. The voting process in the parliaments is anonymous. Dismay spreads?

I’m not someone who opposes this ‘Let’s-kick-corruption-out-of-India’ movement. But, at the same time, when I see such wrong-doings (wrong in my eyes) happening, sorry, I can’t support them either. Trust me when I say, I would be of the happiest people if I am proven wrong and corruption actually loses its stance in India. Hands down.

That’s much about it about what I want to say… Let the comments and opinions in…

Until the next post…

P.S.: I haven’t been paid by the Government of India or any of its dominant, behind the curtains powerful members (read: the Gandhi family) to write this. This is how I feel. This is how I perceive the truth to be. I know it’s a lot more bold text, sarcasm and believe-it-or-not in this post, but I deemed it was necessary. Every word signifies how I actually feel about it.


>The Gandhi Way? No Way!!

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Disclaimer: This post is purely a substance of my personal opinion. By this, I don’t mean to hurt the sentiments of the republic of India or the person regarded as the Father of The Nation, Mr. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. If anyone would be offended by reading anything that goes against the nation and its principles, even if it’s pointing the flaws so that we, the next generation could live in a better India, you would rather not read it hereon, that would be my sincere request to you, as the blogger. Peace. No hard feelings.

Sitting on the stage, looking out at the crowd and people gathered around him, he rises and speaks. “I’m on a fast unto death, from now on, till my demands are met.”

Around 79 years ago, M. K. Gandhi, a political prisoner, changed the way protests were held in this country, India, chiefly dominated by politics and the so-called people’s movements… He then rose in this battle, while serving a jail term on political grounds for the equal status of untouchables. Looking at how this protest did wonders and got the support of the masses, he went on and launched it with almost every of his movement, including parts of the Quit India Movement and to gain the post-partition peace back in the country. Touted as a major reason for India’s freedom, M. K. Gandhi and his fasts were something the country today looks up to as a symbol of his resistance and immense desire to get the much-desired independence of the nation.

Exactly 12 days ago, Anna Hazare, a social activist from Maharashtra, stood there at Jantar Mantar, demanding the greatest evil of the country, its corruption be driven out by the procurement of the Jan Lokpal Bill, which would help the citizens get their rights to drive out corruption from the country. The fire spread to NRIs too. The internet was taken over with #AnnaHazare on Twitter, events for candle-lights being set-up in most cities via Facebook, e-mails, SMSes and what not! The country rose, together, in sync…

Little do we remember, that what is proposed to be the brain-child of Gandhi, the “fast unto deaths”, were rather begun by Bhagat Singh and his companions when the British prisoners were given better food, books, newspapers, etc. in the jail while they weren’t. That was the year 1929. And that got them what they had demanded from the British government, then ruling over India.

So, enough of blabbering the facts, eh? Right. Time to get to the real purpose why I am writing this? I read and saw about Anna Hazare and his protest, before it began… Frankly, I just disregarded it without much attention. 5th April, afternoon, around 2 p.m., while having lunch, ET Now was the channel that was running on my TV set. The headlines running below about Anna Hazare and the Lokpal Bill. His protest at Jantar Mantar. I was stunned! A prime business news channel was showing him on a trading day!! I switched over to TimesNow (the only news channel I trust for ‘genuine’ news), listen to what the anchor has to say about it, as she explains what it’s all about. And then I say to myself, “This Anna guy is surely going to have the last laugh out here!” I turn to mom, tell her, “The government’s caught in their own game right now… Hahaha!” Mom looks at me back, perplexed… I tell her, she’ll know what I meant, really soon… A wide smile spreads on my face…

Somehow, for some reason, I always felt that what Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi did to India, was unfair and ungoing with the mindset we Indians are born as. We are peaceful people, true, but, that’s till you don’t lift your finger against us. If you do, boy, you’re in for big trouble! And Mr. Gandhi, in his ways, put down this respect we Indians had, showed us down by telling the world about how compassionate we could be, that we wouldn’t slap back even if you slapped us twice, and it was then, that the world stopped fearing India. It was from then that we lost the dignity in the world where our military strength is concerned. Rumours even go on to say, that had Gandhi not been shot by Nathuram Godse, he was out to give in to the demands of Jinnah and hand over the administration of India in his hands too, just to get the peace. Fair enough? May not seem to you… Read on to know more about my opinion.

To me, Gandhi was just a political pawn, played by the Indian National Congress to get the attention he was gathering to their own political party. Yes, a pawn. Right now, I may seem to you as the most un-patriotic Indian because here I am, calling the father of the nation, a mere ‘pawn’ of politics. A plan of a major game…

Gandhi arrived from South Africa as a winner after he got the Indian workers in South Africa their desired civil rights. He was given a 2-minute speech slot at the end of the next meeting of the INC, where top-notch leaders of the INC were supposed to hold the center stage. To the amusement of everyone, this slender, short man ended up moving the people more than what Jinnah, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, etc. could.

Wow. How did he do this!? Every big leader there was startled, they saw it as a the beginning of the end of the two-century long British rule in India… Through Gandhi’s tacts and opinions of ahimsa, simplicity, faith, swaraj and of course, satyagraha, INC saw its opportunity to get back in the political game and gain the momentum it sought, which was diluted by the likes of Bhagat Singh, etc. in the last 5-7 years… He was roped in, and one by one, allowed to take on the whole of working of Congress. Change the INC’s principles to go in alignment with his. And that was when the President of INC then, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose resigned from the post because he couldn’t comply with Gandhi’s policies anymore.

Dominant, doesn’t Gandhi seem?

Trick by trick, INC played its cards right. The people’s backing for Gandhi, and his association with the INC, got INC back on top, as the top party negotiating freedom with the Britishers.

Enough said. Coming back to right now.

When Anna Hazare applied the same principle of Gandhi, to drive out corruption, of the most prevailing and rooted problem of the country, his actions were seen as a blackmail by most politicians who preach themselves as Gandhians (here‘s the link to the TOI article in today’s paper where he says he doesn’t care even if they say he is a blackmailer). Even so, they forget that this was that principle that they talk about so often in their election speeches as the reason India won its independence 64 years back.

Wasn’t what Gandhi did political extremism too, then? Wasn’t that blackmail? Or wait, that was justified just because it was for the good of the nation? And so is Anna Hazare?

Well, our respectable, people’s chosen, loved and always-for-people’s-welfare (pun intended) politicians don’t really think so. I read and heard their comments of top politicians from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha tagging Hazare as a ‘Gandhi wannabe’ among other tags which I already used above (I’m sorry I can’t provide with the links, I don’t remember the dates for their publications and shows. If and when I come across them, I’ll make sure I add an update below the post).

Compulsive politics. Such a simple way to get things done! Make an old man, a social activist, a people’s figure stand up for something, make him fast unto death for the demands of the people, and there you are! You are in! The government has to bow down to you! Do they have a choice? No! Because, that’s how they gained their political mileage in the just pre-independence era. And rather than being announced as hypocrites, the media would even possibly end up creating a roar over them being anti-Gandhi as that would be an insult to the Father of the nation! How can they bloody do that? No, they ‘just’ can’t!!

Yes, I agree that Anna Hazare didn’t probably have any other way. And, I’m not against him at all. Rather, I’m supportive of his movement. Why? Because, we, ourselves let Gandhi take this means to do so when we wanted freedom while there were other means. I don’t find a single fault with Bose or Bhagat Singh’s plans.

Now, I may sound a bit two-sided. Let me clear it out… What Gandhi began with, ended up as his ideology being imposed on the nation. If you resort to violence today, you’re not a true Indian because Gandhi said that wasn’t the way to be! If you don’t use Indian goods, you’re again not because he used Swadeshi (little did he realize then how important world commerce is for the growth of the economy of a country)! If keeping shut is what you expect from us even if a country attacks us, just because Gandhi said don’t hit back, I’m surely not ready for it. Well, is that how we define Indians? Equivalence to Gandhi? I disagree, even if it is disrespectful. I’m not patriotic even if the definition of patriotism in India is being a Gandhian.

Imagine these hypothetical, but, plausible situations now, and my responses to it, the ‘Gandhian’ way!

1) A country attacks us, we attack back. We respond to them. Answer their brick with a stone. UN interferes, ends the war. And in the post-war discussion in the UN, the representative of the opponent asks us, “By the way, isn’t yours a nation who believes in Gandhi’s principle of non-violence? Then?” We have no answer, because that’s the picture of India we have sent out. A weak, incapable, easily dominated over nation. I’m sorry to say that, but that’s the truth (for any doubts, watch this clip from Namastey London where that Britisher points out what he thinks about India.) We know what India is, but, we portray a different image out. And that’s the reason India won’t ever penetrate into Pakistan to get through to the perpetrators of Mumbai 26/11, among others, while USA won’t regret bringing down the whole country of Afghanistan, and north Pakistan just to get their hands on Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind 9/11.

2) A few years down the line, another of India’s premier social activists, takes up the same kind of a way of protest, to introduce monetary equality, through may be even communism, in the nation. More than 60% of the country that is in the poor lot will support it. Then, are we in for a communist economy? Yeah, we have to be. We are Gandhians after all! Equality is what he preached!!

3) Students from the general category, stand out in protest, hold a mass hunger strike to remove the discriminate quotas for different castes. We got more than 65% people who are not entitled to any of these reservations, they would be in for this movement. Every new day, a parent awakes wondering if their child will secure admission in a good college even when s/he just clears the exam, or will he have to go to some other college just because someone from the ‘reserved’ castes secured it? Then, would our lovely (sarcasm, again) politicos be ready to give up on their beloved, ineducated vote-bank?

4) A 10-year-old child sees that Anna Hazare got what he was striving for, not even knowing what he stood for, just because he was on a hunger strike. He hears from parents and school about Gandhi and his hunger strikes. He goes out to the market with either of his parents, loves a toy or something else. The parent denies it because of some reason. And he turns back and says, “I won’t eat anything till you give me this!!” What choice are parents left with? Could they see their son/daughter starving over something so materialistic?

These are striving questions in my mind. I come again on this, I’m not an anti-Gandhi. But yes, I’m against the fact that he’s been regarded as the Father of the Nation and his principles are the measure of my patriotism. Yes, I’m against the fact that satyagraha is not the answer for everything you want your way. That’s dominance, compulsating someone to give in. Not convincing or making them choose.

I’m just saying, I see this as a major reason India can be held back in the chains, over gaining the freedom it deserves. I’m not sorry to say this. Yes, I think so.

And, I proudly, happily, without any regret say this, ‘The Gandhi Way? No Way!!’

Adios!

P. S.: Don’t doubt the facts. I cross-checked them with Wikipedia before posting them here.