Contemplations!, Theme, Uncategorized

Ikigai

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

-Robert Byrne

Life is banal without purpose. There’s only a certain point till which you can do what you’re told. Constantly doing the right thing. Getting an education, buying a car, buying a house, starting a family and working till you die. A lack of purpose depletes one of motivation and without that, life comes to a standstill. As days merge into each other, this acute lack of will power will enervate both your body and mind.

Remember learning how to ride a bicycle for the first time? When the training wheels finally come off, after a few tumbles and bruises, you finally get it right. The bike picks up momentum as you slowly overcome your fear of falling and you capitalise on this new found power of yours. In that particular moment, your life changes forever.

Purpose for a child is easy and quite volatile. Children are optimistic and eager to learn new things, they’re not concerned about pragmatism towards life. However as adults, we really struggle with this.

‘Can I really do this?’

‘Will this make me happy?’

‘Will I be good at this?’.

We keep reiterating these questions to ourselves and miss out on the small inspirations around us.

If only there was a way to find your purpose…

Ikigai.

Theme2

Ikigai is Japan’s gift to humanity. It is a simple philosophy which roughly translates to ‘your reason for existence’. According to the philosophy, everyone must have an Ikigai, a purpose to accomplish before your time runs out.

The philosophy is actually quite pragmatic.

Ikigai, or your purpose, is realised by the intersection of four domains: what you are good at, what you can be paid for, what the world needs and what you love. While encouraging ambition, Ikigai also adds a hint of practicality to your purpose. We often see or hear about humans achieving amazing feats. Be it CEOs pushing the limits of innovation or Artists pushing the limits of their art. All these brilliant minds have a common ground; they have found their Ikigai. They know exactly what they’re here for and don’t stop at anything until it has been achieved. That’s the beauty of Ikigai, it is not only your purpose, but also the driving force that helps you achieve it.

Ikigai is not what you see in your dreams, rather it is what keeps you awake at night. When the world sleeps, you are getting an inch closer to your goal. It is what makes you want to leave the comfort of a warm bed on a rainy Monday and conquer the day. It is what pulls you out from a dark cave since success is achieved by those who have clarity about their purpose in dire times.

 

At TEDxPICT this year, we recognise the importance of individuals who have recognised their own Ikigai. We hope to inspire you to find your Ikigai, your own driving force.

So, join us this year as we embark on a journey to help you seek your Ikigai, a journey to compel you to pursue your dreams.

 

TEDxPICT is coming soon. Stay tuned!

 

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Brain drain

The One-Way TicketIMG-20180918-WA0003

The world is witnessing an exodus today. From financial bigwigs to skilled artisans, everyone in the world is on the move for a life that they have always imagined for themselves. This has resulted into something referred to as the Brain Drain.

 

Brain Drain is a phenomenon where talented individuals leave their homeland in search for better opportunities elsewhere in the world, an immediate negative effect of the Human Capital Flight. This idea of travel is not something that has been influenced by technology or economic growth only but it has been here for quite a long time; many other minute factors also play a big role in it. From an annoying boss to an unhappy work environment, even the smallest of stimuli motivate people to reconsider. Thriving companies are always on the lookout for such talented individuals who would help them realize their goals and hence have much more to offer them as compared to their current mediocre workspace.

 

Since its origin, brain drain has been a major issue that the world has tried to conquer but has failed miserably. The basic needs of man have always been food, clothing and shelter. But humans “evolved” over time and so did our priorities.

 

Today, we look at a bigger paycheck, a cleaner environment and success as the basic things we deserve (for all the effort that we put in). For this we tend to leave our country as soon as we become employable in some other developed part of the world. And why not, if you have less stress at work,  can afford better products for the family and plus are getting a bigger sum to spend, why not just grab the opportunity? As Barack Obama puts it, “Money is not the only answer, but it does make a difference”.

 

The world witnesses such trade-ins and trade-outs on a daily basis. People from all over the world, irrespective of their area of expertise relocate in search for a better lifestyle. Brain drain has affected almost all the sectors and industries in the world. You name it – engineering, medicine, banking, IT, education – all have witnessed many cases of migration.

 

So what drives people to migrate?

 

Various negative factors of the home country such as political instability, poor quality of life, limited access to health care and a dearth of economic opportunity influence brain drain. Other factors like the absence of research facilities, employment discrimination, lack of freedom, and poor working conditions also fuel dissatisfaction. This leads to a feeling of collective discontent among people persuading them to consider other better opportunities outside their country and eventually they forsake their homeland to sometimes not return at all.

 

Countries like Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and other African and Caribbean countries have observed humongous amounts of people leaving the country in the pursuit of happiness. Countries of The Middle East like Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq witness large masses moving out, fed up of constant political turmoil and unstable environment, to look for a better future.

 

Surprisingly, today, not just the developing countries but also the developed countries are vulnerable to brain drain. In Europe, people tend to migrate from South-Eastern and Central Europe to Western Europe, and at the same time, people from Western Europe leave for Australia, Canada and the US. So it is not like there is going to be a stream of people incoming into developed nations only; it solely depends on the individual’s desire to settle in any country or region he wishes to, given his interests and employability.

   

India also has lived up to its reputation of being among the top. Indian diaspora is the world’s largest with about 15 million migrants of India living abroad. A recent study concluded that India has seen a 256% rise in brain drain since the last decade. People leave the country seeking a better environment, better pay and a more gratifying work culture. The migration of Indians to the US has been one of the most significant happenings in the past few decades. This has not gone down well with President Trump though and he has hence put a check on the burgeon.

 

History also cites religion as an influencer of mass departure. During the second world war, the Holocaust resulted in many Jews being forced to seek refuge in other Jew friendly nations. This activity had some prominent names like Albert Einstein, von Neumann and Niels Bohr associated with it who had no other option but to leave their country for the dire need to survive which evidently proved very beneficial for the host countries and a big loss to the source countries.

 

Similar incidents have occurred in the recent past where many scientists and engineers have left a certain country, India for instance, and settled abroad bringing in immense profits to those countries. Indra Nooyi, Sundar Pichai, Kalpana Chawla and Satya Nadella being a few of the lot.

 

Hence brain drain might also prove to be brain gain for another country.

 

But from my own eye-glass, I see population explosion as the most important reason for the brain drain of India at-least. As population doubled and tripled in the past few decades, and as technology and communication flourished hand in hand, unemployment also started to increase. So did the crime rate. There were not enough jobs available for the people leading to a decrease in the quality of life, access to amenities and a sadder environment.

Moreover a rapid growth in the IT sector pushed many people to reconsider their career paths and adopt a liking towards computers. Hence an internal brain drain resulted which saw people leaving their own area of expertise and opting for higher paying jobs instead within the country itself also known as the industrial brain drain. As the inflow increased, opportunities decreased. Again the same dissatisfaction, the same humdrum and the hope of a better future.

 

Additionally another problem that India faces is the amount of respect it gives to a certain profession. In India, less pay translates to less importance. Unlike European countries and the States, people engaged in small paying jobs don’t get as much respect and recognition that their engineering and medicine counterparts do. A degree in arts and humanities is still perceived as a minor achievement in a student’s life as parents and the society at large think that a person with such degrees is destined to be a low earning middle class insignificant person. This has led to a situation wherein if you throw a stone randomly in India, chances are, it will hit a dog or an engineer. And here the dog might not be having a leash around his neck but the Engineer will definitely have one.

 

Hence, people start considering happier nations as a getaway and start packing bags to catch the flight that would take them to a healthier and a richer destination.

 

So what do we do to tackle this problem?

 

Various solutions have been proposed by experts like the establishment of better universities in the home country, increasing the average annual salary of people, providing better incentives, eradicating corruption and nepotism, etc.

Many countries in the world have started undertaking measures to prevent their medical talent pool from leaving the country by imposing a mandatory service period whereby public medical school graduates are required to work in the country for at least three years, with an added incentive per month for those who do not practice privately. China has put restrictions on the recruitment of doctors by the private sector so that the public sector has some talent to hold on to.

 

Another method that could be adopted is circular migration. Circular migration involves temporary migration and return migration to the place of residence. Modern forms of transport and communication, increased social networks, and the growth of international corporations all contribute to the growing phenomena. Circular migration expects people to travel abroad, lend their expertise for the host country’s development and return back home. This method still remains susceptible to chances of brain drain though.   

The best way according to me is to keep population in check. And this applies to the whole world and not just India or China for that matter. This will result in slow death of all the other problems which influence brain drain and ultimately help to cease brain drain for the good.

 

And how about reconsidering Karl Marx? Do we today need a world which is based totally on communism?

 

While these questions remain unanswered, the home countries keep on suffering from the problem of lack of skilled personnel to treat their patients, help their farmers and protect their borders. Where are these people? They are on the flight holding the one-way ticket that guarantees them a life that their homeland can’t afford to.

 

– Vedant Puranik

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An interview with Bindumadhav Khire

On 6 September 2018, the Court ruled unanimously in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India that Section 377 was unconstitutional “in so far as it criminalizes consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex”. This was a huge step forward for not just the LGBTQ movement in India, but in the fight for human rights in the biggest democracy in the world.

So before we get to the interview itself, a quick background for those who do not quite understand what the fuss was all about.  Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is a section of the Indian Penal Code introduced in 1861 during the British rule of India. It is used to criminalize sexual activities “against the order of nature”. On 6 September 2018, the Supreme Court of India decided to announce that the application of Section 377 to consensual homosexual sex between adults was unconstitutional, “irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary”, but that Section 377 remains in force relating to sex with minors, non-consensual sexual acts, and bestiality. So a law which infringed upon the very fundamental truth about the LGBTQ community and made them criminals for simply being who they were meant to be, was struck down.

Now about our guest for this interview. Bindumadhav Khire is one of the most prominent gay rights activists in Maharashtra. He has dedicated his life to the LGBTQ cause and remains at the forefront of the battle for LGBTQ causes. In addition to that, TEDxPICT had the honor of having him as one of our speakers at the 2017 event. And now, we begin with our interview.

Interviewer: Before we start, may I say how delighted we are to hear from you once again.

Bindumadhav Khire: Its a pleasure to be here.

Interviewer: Tell us what your experience of talking at TEDxPICT last year was like?

BK : I enjoyed it very much and I’m very thankful to the team, especially Saunved, Sharvari ,Neha and the team have been very supportive. They have taken a lot of pain in rehearsals and they really went up their way to make sure that they read the drafts, gave the suggestions and improve the scripts and also helped me for my first time in TEDx. They helped me rehearse and also gave me very good suggestions so I’m very thankful to them for giving me that.

Interviewer: Okay, and any event of the Samapathik Trust that you would like to bring attention to?

Mr. Bindumadhav: Well most probably we will have our International film festival “Advait” on 6th of October but we will know that only by about 25th of September because we have sent a file for processing to the Information and Broadcasting ministry, Delhi and they will hopefully respond to us by 25th of September. Once that happens we will start with the promotion. We have our Maharashtra’s first Marathi LGBT Sahitya Sammelan fest on the 25th of November in Pune. We will be celebrating the victory of 377 on Tuesday which is also our 17th anniversary at Sudarshan Rangamanch in the evening by keeping a stand-up comedy performance and lastly we are working on a manual for corporates for LGBT people at the work place and conference for it in October where we will invite about 2 dozen representatives from corporate backgrounds and ask them to formulate LGBT policies, so the next three months are totally packed for us.

Interviewer: That’s really nice to hear. So let’s turn our discussion towards the historic ruling regarding the Section 377. So what was your immediate reaction to the news about the SC’s verdict on this?

BK: It was expected so it was not surprising because we followed the Aadhar judgement by the Supreme Court because there was a verdict stating the right to privacy as one of the fundamental rights because the Constitution does not state right to privacy of the fundamental rights under the article 21 that no one will be deprived of their personal liberty. So once that statement was given there were two judges who were also on this bench; Justice Nariman and Justice Chandresh on the right to privacy case panel and both of them clearly stated why the 377 judgement is wrong and why it should not stand under the privacy judgement and they were very clear that it was just the matter of time but the only concern was how soon, although we got it much sooner then we expected it. The hearings were also very quickly done because the Hon. CJI of India Mr. Mishra is retiring on 1st of October so they had to rush the ruling, meaning it was done very speedily and I’m thankful to the judges. There was the matter of how strong a precedent it was setting, but it is a strong precedent because all the decisions were unanimous in their entirety, but this ratio was 5:0 and it became very strong judgement. It is a strong judgement because it lays a very strong foundation of human rights. As it is a 500 page judgement it would take a week to read the entire judgement, so by reading the highlight of the judgement what I see is the quotes have been very inclusive and sensitive and even mentions the history of LGBTQ community, in a very apologetic and consolatory manner. So I would consider it to be one of the greatest judgements written since independence.

Interviewer: What do you think of the role that the right to privacy played in this judgement?

BK:  Looking at the High Court judgement we were sure that Supreme Court would accept the petition but without Aadhar judgement of privacy I’m really not sure things would have been in our favor or not and there were still 50% chance we would have still lost.

Interviewer: So you put down this judgement more towards the result of the Aadhar judgement rather than a changing of perception by Supreme Court regarding homosexuality?

BK: No, let me revert that, I think that there are quite a few Supreme Court judges who perhaps have felt that the judgement given by the Supreme Court was not in keeping with the relative progress made in the scenario and it was regressive. So the fact that Supreme Court was not accepting was that we need to be more active in proving such things and the Aadhar act helped in the previous judgement. The court has shown that it can be flexible and that it takes a lot of courage to say that I don’t agree with the previous judgement and we need to set that right. So they used this opportunity at the earliest possible chance to undo that damage so it shows the strength of the judiciary and their sensitivity to the issue.

Interviewer: Yes, and that was very surprising to be honest because the supreme court said that the 2000 ruling was arbitrary and it also showed that history owed an apology to the LGBTQ members and their families.

BK: Yes.

Interviewer: What did you actually feel is the contrast between this judgement and the judgement passed in 2009 by the Delhi High Court?

BK: The Delhi High Court had a more discernible judgement as compared to this judgement although I have not read this judgement in its entirety. I would say that the landmark judgement was the 2009 judgement because it did not have the privacy judgement to guide its case forward. It built its case entirely on the human rights aspect, while referring a study about how LGBT rights and human rights have evolved over the world and it used those as a fundamental basis. So without having even the Aadhar judgement supporting it, the verdict entirely on its own is remarkable and we’re very lucky to have Justice A P Shah and Justice Murlidhar with us. Justice A P Shah has a record of outstanding work in human rights cases.

Interviewer: But don’t you think it is a bit surprising considering the drama which had been caused by the on goings in the Supreme Court?

BK: How so?

Interviewer: Because there was a lot of the chaos not too long ago, regarding the actions of the Chief Justice with three judges calling the now infamous press conference.

BK: That has nothing to do with this, the issue was regarding the bench allocation of the Chief Justice but there were other scholars to resolve this and there were some differences but it has nothing to do with the 377 case. The question was who is going to hear the case and you could always argue over the judges but at the end the Chief Justice has the right to take this decision. The argument can also be over allocation but for us this was not the issue and there were some talks regarding taking action against the Chief Justice but that did not work out and I’m not concerned about these issues and I was only concerned about the case and the fact was that we were given a fair hearing without any prejudices regarding this issue which could have hampered us.

“I think these issues are not really concerned with this. The bench that the Chief Justice has the right to set up, he did set up. And I don’t think that anybody has any right to criticize that the body was purposefully set up and did the thing. I think the people have very little faith in our system and that’s why these kinds of things turn up at certain times. But I think I have far more faith in the judiciary than most people.”

Interviewer: If someone had told you 17 or 18 years ago, that the section 377 would be reformed under a BJP government, then what would have been your reaction?

BK:  First of all, when I had started my work I had never thought that section 377 would be going in my lifetime. (Smiling). So this is a bonus for me. And the second thing is I don’t know why people are linking this section 377 with the government of the day. I mean had the parliament passed any amendment to strike down the part concerning homosexual acts in section 377 then yes, that would have been a shock! But why the media is portraying the news as if the SC is controlled by the BJP is beyond me. And that the judicial decisions are also controlled by the BJP! The thing is that the media portrays as if the judiciary is dictated by the government and has its strings pulled by them! And I think it is shameful if they think that the judiciary has no sovereignty and independence whatsoever. So I refuse to entertain the belief of people and the media who think the BJP government has brought a paradigm shift. I trust the judiciary despite the mistakes they have made. I don’t deny that criminalization of LGBTQ was a mistake, and also don’t deny the fact that the judiciary doesn’t make mistakes, but whatever it does, it still is a sovereign body. While doing this, I think we are doubting the integral character of the judicial body. And that is horrible and as a lawyer, I don’t accept and support the mockery of the judiciary.

Interviewer: What do you know about the background that lead to the litigation being filed in the  SC? The petition against 377.

BK: Firstly, it was filed in 2001 after one transgender claimed that she and her colleagues’ rights have been violated. Mr Navtej Singh Johar filled another petition in 2016. Soon afterwards, Keshav Suri then filled up the petition. We activists filled up one petition. But they rejected our petition and immediately started hearing as no time was left.

Interviewer: Can you elaborate more about the petition that Mr Johar was involved in which eventually stirred the pot?

BK: He is a renowned classical dancer and winner of Sangeet Natak Academy Award, who petitioned the Supreme Court along with his partner of 25 years and said that Section 377 violated the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by the constitution.

Interviewer: What mainly happened regarding the 2001 PIL and Section 377?

BK: There were 5 people who made petition. The PIL was issued by Naz foundation and a bunch of other petitioners stating we are gay men who are directly affected by the article. So the PIL was filled under the article 32 for violating the fundamental rights. So that was the main difference between 2001’s PIL and article 32 petition.

Interviewer- What was the reaction of the people around you?  The people you were dealing with face to face? What did the ruling mean to them?

BK: The difference the younger generation felt was that they could gather courage and come out. They were deprived in the thinking of their parents and their relatives if they are happy about their truth or not! So for accepting them, at least the legal hurdles are no longer in place.

The second thing that it eliminated were the chances of getting blackmailed and getting extorted. There are more chances of getting blackmailed if the victim showed up in front of the police and they will get under the bar for violating Section 377. So there are no chances of such unsavory things to happen. And I think the most important thing that will come to light are the social problems that LGBTQ people are facing. Problems in adopting a baby, gay marriage or let us say problems in getting a job, education, a house in housing societies etc.

Interviewer: So is this a sign of better things to come, or is this just a temporary glimmer of hope?

BK: No, I don’t think this is a temporary thing because I don’t think overthrowing this kind of a judgment would be easy. So this is more or less permanent, or as permanent as it can get anyway. I think we will succeed with the court stating that we should be treated as equals. So what that literally means is that you will accept me as I am with my sexuality. Now if you are going to accept me as one of you, it means that all the laws, rights and obligations that you have are also applicable for me, which means that every right you have, is something that I am entitled to as well. The main opposition is going to be from the religious orthodoxy because of the personal laws being separate from other laws. This means that the use of the word ‘marriage’ will throw everything in a tiff. But personally as an activist I do not really care whether you call my living with a man or my being committed to my boyfriend as a marriage, as long as we have a mutual civil union of two partners under the Partnerships act, which provides me with the same protections as it does to heterosexual couples. I don’t mind the religious outrage then. But that is just my opinion. I know there are other LBGT couples who are very religious, and who may want the Hindu Marriage Act amended or something like that.

Interviewer: And do you think this ruling will have further impact on the acceptance or inclusion that might be a result of this?

BK: Yeah, absolutely, which is why we’re working on a manual when the corporation started approaching us stating they would like to work on LGBT inclusivity and whether we would be able to help them, and that’s what we are trying to do. It will also help foreigners come here and work because in the past, gay people couldn’t come here because their relationship would be not legal. But with that out of the way, the workplace would be more open to having people from the LGBT community, making it more inclusive. So all in all, we would be seeing some very good changes.

Interviewer: So what you are saying is that not only does this ruling impact the society, but also in the corporate workplaces it will have a tremendous impact?

BK: Absolutely. Right now we are preparing the manual for the inclusivity concept. We are also lending a thought to how it may be implemented in the corporate world – what challenges they face and so on. We may have a conference to disseminate that and so that they can understand, think about this issue and support people of the community. So that is what the plan is for the next three months or so is looking like right now.

Interviewer: Okay. Is there any other message of hope that you would like to give to the LGBTQ community?

BK: There is only a message of hope, there is nothing else to give. It will take time, it always does. Any righteous endeavor is a test of patience, moral strength and resolve. We did suffer a setback in 2013, but in the end we did win. I’ve seen people saying, “ye India me nahi ho sakta” and people who can afford to do it are running away abroad – this is not the situation now. Stay strong. It will take time but as long as we’re together, eventually we will win. The more people come out, the more people both straight and gay stand together in solidarity, I’m optimistic we will win. The only thing is we should have patience. We can’t have laws protecting gay marriage or gay adoptions overnight. It may take at least a decade. But that’s what life is, we can’t get everything on the same day but regardless, I am full of hope.

Interviewer: What do you think the impact on the younger generation of the LGBT community is going to be?

BK: I am sure they now have lesser reasons to stay in the closet, more reasons to be confident – the law is on their side. They have to develop that judgment and sensitivity about their identity and their rights. Now it is up to them whether they want to come out or not.

Interviewer: Do you think more people will come out as a result of this?

BK: I do.

Interviewer: Do you also think that more support institutions, even at the grassroots levels, regarding LGBT awareness will come up?

Bindhumadhav: That is something we have to work on. Fighting battles in the court is one thing. Fighting battles in the parliament is another thing. But to bring about changes at the grassroots level, a lot of sensitization and awareness work must happen. I think the LGBT community has failed to reach out to the grassroots level – villages and towns. If they want to succeed, they should work with all people even in their own regional languages and not just English. Create literature in that language, for that may help them reach out to more people. Unless, they do this, winning battles in the Supreme Court and the parliament is not going to change anything.

Interviewer: Do you also think that this decision will have a huge impact on the Maharashtra scene of the LGBT outreach program?

Bindhumadhav: Yes. All over India, in fact.

Interviewer: So there won’t be a disparity, state-wise? For example in Kerala, versus Punjab for example?

Bindhumadhav:  No, there won’t be so much of a geographical impact as a number of organizations working towards sensitization are already in work there. In states where they may not be present, more time may be needed as the basic mechanism is not available to make people realize what it means for them. So in that sense yes, but where people are well aware of their rights, the impact will be more as they know the impact of this ruling on their personal rights.

Interviewer: Do you expect religious organizations to have a more of a hard line stance against the community?
Bindhumadhav: Yes, I expect that to happen.

Interviewer: Thank you sir for this wonderful and enlightening conversation.

Bindhumadhav: Thank you, and goodnight.

 

Interviewed by Pratik Tribhuwan for TEDxPICT.

 

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Beyond the brawn

What made young Cassius Clay begin training hard at a tender age of twelve and win his debut boxing match?

Apparently a spark ignited inside him when his dear bike was stolen and he wanted to knock down the lifter. Boxing became the mean to introduce young Clay to the outside world. His coach found him sassy and hardworking and the boy with his supreme confidence and intricate dance steps won his first Olympic gold in 1960, at the age of eighteen.

He has been entitled The Sport Personality of the Century by BBC and is known to the world as Muhammad Ali.

Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964 after joining NOI and accepting Islam. Ali has been a great athlete alongside being a philanthropist. His aura has sparkled vividly both inside and outside the ring.

Muhammad Ali, the name which became a boxing phenomena, was famous for his punches and fighting techniques. His  Anchor Punch against Sonny Liston and the Rope-A-Dope technique which knocked down George Foreman are world famous. But what we all fail to see is what lies beyond his strength.

Famous psychologist Dr. Carol S. Dweck in her book Mindset explains Ali’s mind, going beyond his physical strength. You would be surprised to know that Ali didn’t have the strength or the physique of a perfect boxer. He had speed and agility but lacked moves and classic techniques. He boxed all wrong, with his jaw open and pulling his torso back to duck the punches, like an amateur.

Then what was it that made him knock down a legend like Sonny Liston?

Dweck says it was his sharp mind. Ali was infamous for his mental games which struck the opponent’s mental jugular. He studied his opponents keenly and would try to understand how their minds worked; and then use this knowledge and words to weaken their mental game and knock them out.    

Ali was surely The Greatest and his supremacy lied not only in his physique but much more beyond that.

Ali came into news when he openly disagreed the United States’ involvement in Vietnam and became an empowering voice in the 1960s. His decision to convert to Islam and changing his name were perceived as acts of going beyond the white supremacy. Even though being put behind the bars for his acts, he remained unfaltered and firm on his views and said that “It’s a lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.”

His self belief and revolutionary attitude gave a hope for black pride, liberating minds and the developing world. His charm, wit and extraordinary humanitarian qualities gave rise to a new image of a sportsman. He proved that athletes aren’t merely constricted to the fields and can go beyond to fight for their people’s rights, justice and independence.   

Ali is an inspiration, a guide, a mentor who gives rise to the fighter within us;  to fight for our aspirations and for what is right. He gives us strength to overcome the hurdles in our lives. He is much beyond the brawn, a ray of sunshine that gives us hope that each one of us can make this world a better place.

-Shubhankar Gaikwad900dbd74aea949609d3e126a02d22567

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The Yemen crisis

Yemen faces today one of the worst humanitarian crises the world has ever
seen, with over 20 million people bearing the brunt of a sort of proxy war
fought between two sides – the Houthi rebels and the internationally
recognised Government of Yemen. Not many camera lenses turn towards
this blatant violation of even the most basic of human rights – which is why
despite its magnitude, most of the world overlooks its very existence. In this article I wish to highlight a few key points about the war – its origins, current status, severity and possible future outcomes.

A basic overview:

Houthi rebels in the northern part of Yemen have had a rather tumultuous relationship with the Yemeni government since the unification of Yemen in 1990, with various peace treaties and ceasefires being signed and promptly broken. Forces loyal to the late president Ali Abdullah Saleh took over the capital of Yemen, Sana’a, in September 2014, placing the then (and current) president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi under house arrest. Houthi rebels took over most of the government institutions in Sana’a. After his escape to Aden in 2015, Hadi declared that he was still the leader of Yemen, and the temporary capital of Yemen would be shifted to Aden.

Since then, there have been various battles and insurgencies – prominent
ones being the Battle of Aden, Battle of Dhale and the Lahij insurgency.
The war has been labeled the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

​A population in peril

It is imperative for us to understand the severity of these conflicts in
humanitarian terms as well as geopolitical. Saudi Arabia continues to lend its support to the Hadi government, issuing extremely strict sea and air blockades to prevent the Houthis from acquiring more supplies. This, however has resulted in the civilians being cut off from humanitarian aid and relief supplies. According to Amnesty International, there are more than 22.2 million people in desperate need for basic supplies such as food, clean water, shelter and proper sanitation. 2.5 million children are out of school; with more than a thousand dead as a result of this conflict. It moves me to tears to read the stories as narrated by the survivors; of the terror they felt as they saw corpses scattered around after airstrikes, as their own children died in their arms due to lack of healthcare. As a person living in a relatively developed country, these problems seem but rather preventable – why is it that the people continue to be crushed between the pincers of these two factions? Saudi Arabia plays an important role in this conflict. In 2015, Saudi Arabia authorised a monetary sum of more that $273 million to be donated to Yemen, with a further $66 million in 2017. However Arabian airstrikes continued to happen, putting at risk the very infrastructure that could serve to help the people.

In addition to this, Yemen currently is suffering the worst cholera outbreak
in known history. The WHO has confirmed that as of December 2017, the number of cases has surpassed 1 million in number. Cholera is an easily
preventable disease; yet because of the rapidly collapsing infrastructures
such as proper sanitation lines and hospitals, people barely have access to
medical aid. Malnutrition serves as the single biggest cause for this outbreak – more than 17 million people are affected by famine.
In May 2015, a five-day ceasefire was brokered to allow relief material to
be delivered to the people in need. It seems to me that this brief
intermission was but a hypocritical one, for if the concerned parties truly
cared for the people, they would have reconciled long ago. This ceasefire
did not last – fighting broke out again in merely three days.
The final straw perhaps is the repetitive bombing and attacks on
organisations that provide medical assistance. A Doctors Without Borders
building was bombed by a Saudi airstrike despite them being aware of the building’s nature; and in 2017 the International red Cross evacuated 71 of its personnel. Their statement reads: “Our current activities have been blocked, threatened and directly targeted in recent weeks, and we see a vigorous attempt to instrumentalise our organisation as a pawn in the conflict.”

A larger perspective

No conflict goes on for so many years without having external influences
backing up the warring factions. The Yemen Civil War, too, involves many
international factors, some of whom try to broker peace while others provide military support.
In 2017, the United States and Saudi Arabia signed a ‘historic’ Arms deal,
totalling $110 billion. Saudi Arabia playing a major role in the Yemeni
conflict, it cannot be overlooked that the US indirectly is causing a deepening of the conflict due to its arms dealings with Saudi Arabia. Their use of the weapons comes under the jurisdiction of their regime, whose political and regional interests have long aroused apprehension and caution in the eyes of many countries around the world. As long as arms are supplied to countries, they will fight.
The United States alleges that Iran backs the Houthi rebels; Iran vehemently denies having any role in this war at all. Here a couple of key questions come into picture: Who is really fighting this war? Is Yemen just a pawn in the hand of mightier militaries who choose to fight this proxy war to assert political dominance? The answer is there for all to see.
United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and
Senegal are a part of a coalition led by Saudi Arabia against the Houthi
rebels. Involvement of so many countries in a civil war begs a different way of looking at this conflict altogether.
There exist other parties to this war as well – The Al-Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula occupies 36% of Yemen’s geographical area, with the ISIL
having a reasonable amount of influence in the eastern region too. This certainly rings alarm bells – terrorist organisations taking advantage of a civil war brings back not too fond memories of what happened in Afghanistan after the Soviet Union fell apart.

The bigger picture right now forces us to look at this war from a
humanitarian perspective as well as an unbiased socio-political viewpoint. It
would be in the best interests of the entire world for both the sides to focus
on eliminating AQAP and ISIL from the face of Yemen.

What can come next?

Peace treaties have failed, ceasefires are a mere mockery and human
rights are largely ignored – this war presents a very bleak future for the
people of Yemen. The future is impossible to predict, but there may be
certain ways to improve the situation.
Strategists say cutting off the supply lines of Houthi rebels may lead to their
defeat and subsequent downfall. This would be extremely helpful, but the
war does not end there. History has repeatedly shown us examples of what
can happen in a war-affected nation, from the rise of authoritarian regimes
to a complete destruction of economy leading to sluggish growth. The
Saudi-led coalition must take into consideration the fact that a stable south Yemen would deter Houthi advances; by promoting the accessibility and availability of basic human necessities, they would help the people far more than air strikes and bombings. From a humanitarian point of view, pressure should be mounted upon involved parties to think of the plight of the people involved unwillingly in this conflict, and to take steps to ensure that if not anything else, at least the relief material and aid workers should reach the people in need.
Any humanitarian crisis hurts us all as a collective populace of this planet.
The death of a fellow human makes all of our souls weep, and the inhuman
situations in war zones rends the hearts of those watching. We have suffered through millennia of war, peace and war again; it is now time for
us to discard the prejudices we so willingly embrace and choose to take
upon the more lasting values of brotherhood, peace and humanity as the foundations of a better future.

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Remembering Aretha Franklin

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Take care, TCB.

Lines from the song, Respect. Though originally written by Otis Redding, the 1967 cover by Aretha Franklin, redefined the genre of Soul music, earning her the title of “The Queen of Soul.”

 

Aretha Franklin — who died Thursday at 76 — was a singer, songwriter and pianist. A distinguished and powerful vocalist, she sang in a voice that struck an ideal balance of affronted emotion and refined skill, sensitivity. Even when she hit a note with a high pitch, her tone never lost its rhythm. She had the ability to connect the African-American gospel music, the blues, R&B, rock ’n’ roll, and jazz in a unique way which gave hope, by transforming hardship and sorrow into vitality. This culmination of different genres of music can be seen in her songs which include Skylark, Chain of fools, Dr. Feelgood amongst the others.

 

Aretha Franklin was the face of feminism during her time, and her songs displayed that with complete valor. In 1967, she had released another song called Do Right Woman – Do Right Man. It was a proto-feminist anthem, and aimed at creating gender parity not only through the lyrics, but through the deep humanity in her vocal that was also the theme of the song. It also brought out one of her most nuanced performances.

 

During the civil rights movement, she played an important role in the 1963 Detroit Walk of Freedom, which was the largest civil rights demonstration in the nation’s history up to that date. Her songs were the the battle cries of the civil rights movement. They had taken on monumental significance. Her contribution as a activist is not restricted to the civil rights movement. She helped pay for many civil rights tours and campaigns while Martin Luther King was alive. She held free concerts, housed activists and helped them fundraise.

 

Like she once said, “I will always be singing somewhere.” she leaves behind a legacy which is unforgettable. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1979, had her voice declared a Michigan “natural resource” in 1985, and became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Apart from that, she has received 17 Grammy awards, the last one being the the last one being the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 1994.

 

Ms. Franklin has left an emotional imprint on a generation of fans. Even today, 40 years later, where EDM, Rap and Rock have taken over the music genre, Soul music still holds a special place in our hearts- or if I may say, our souls. And the credits for that go to the woman to whom this article is dedicated to. May your soul rest in peace, ma’am. You will always be remembered with the Respect that you deserve.

– Adil Sache

-TEDxPICT

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REMEMBERING ATALJI

 

India. November 1957. The General Elections having been held in the past April, had led to the formation of the various governing bodies, the Lok Sabha being one of them. The young and idealistic Republic, having just achieved emancipation from their colonial overlords, was slowly making its way into the light, under the watchful eyes of the Indian National Congress. Having played a central role during the Independence Movement, it was only fitting that the party had achieved a complete hegemony over the Indian political landscape.

 

The Bharatiya Jana Sangh, as it was known then, was relatively new onto the scene. Being an idealogical brainchild of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), it was fair to say that they were treated as a fringe outfit, who were not power players in any sense. And that showed in the results of the election. The INC followed their success in the previous election with another dominant display, winning 296 seats out of a possible 490 seats in the Lok Sabha. Pandit Nehru, a legendary figure, was about to lead India into the future, with the iron clad support of the people, not unlike the previous term. And yet, somehow, this time was different. There was a new wind blowing, and it sent a shiver up the status quo’s. And it was about to change Indian politics forever.

 

Soon there was talk. Talk of a fresh faced MP from the Sangh, who was said to not just be a fierce critic of the ruling party, but staunch in his beliefs too. His oratory skills were legendary. His words commanded rapt attention. A charismatic orator with a new message, they said. And he wasn’t easy to beat too. Having lost to Raja Mahendra Pratap, who had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1932, in Mathura, he got by with a nomination from Balrampur. And this young MP’s name, which was about to be etched onto the heart of every Indian, was Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

 

And it wasn’t long before the top brass started taking notice. The PM was an early target of his sharp critiques. Never before had he faced such opposition, from someone who he had frequently exchanged sharp retorts with, but had a deep respect and appreciation for. It is said that Pandit Nehru often made it a point to never miss Atalji (as he was and is known to his ardent followers to this day) at his best. In fact, such was the strong impression that he had cast on him, that the PM had correctly predicted that Vajpayeeji had the makings of a great Prime Minister. And this is what was fundamentally unique to Atalji, a bipartisanship unheard of, where even his fiercest detractors had to bow down their heads to his many accomplishments during his three terms as Prime Minister and many more at various positions in the executive and legislative branches. And it isn’t a stretch to say that his greatness encompassed the span of the whole country. He is the only political leader to win Lok Sabha nominations from 6 districts in 4 states. His rapid rise through the echelons of politics soon resulted in a nomination for Prime Minister, being the first to win without the Congress ballot. His leadership transformed the BJP to the political juggernaut that it is today.

 

While his tenure is glittered with glowing feats of progress in many sectors, his greatest achievement is perhaps, demonstrating India’s might by achieving successful nuclear defence capabilities in the Shakti tests at Pokhran. And this was done without causing any harm whatsoever to India’s image on the global stage.  A man who was always breaking precedents, he was the first head of state to address the UN in Hindi. His stable governance and steady hand over the country ensured an unfettered age of growth and development not seen since the days of Pandit Nehru. Many of his iconic moments will forever be enshrined in the memories of Indians, like his iconic bus trip to Lahore, a symbol of a time of peace between the two countries.

 

But, as he describes it, politics wasn’t actually his passion. His actual love was for the written word, in all its unique glory. The poetry, much like the man, had deep layers, with an irreverence of sorts for pessimistic notions and thoughts. Words, and the sounds they create, served as a gateway to a deeper bliss, pure and unadulterated by earthly flaws, according to him. A servant to the country, his only love was towards his duty, so a wife was out of the question. To this day, he is survived by a foster child, Smt. Namita Bhattacharya. His legacy will live on forever in the hearts of the billions of Indians, whose lives he has bettered by the countless years of service he has devoted at the altar of the Nation. And so we take this opportunity to remember, reminisce and learn from the life of one of India’s greatest leaders, Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee. May your soul rest in peace, Atalji.

– Pratik Tribhuwan

– TEDxPICT

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Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

_20180815_201510आज बनावटी सरदर्द का बहाना बना के घर जरा जल्दी आ गया। रेडिओ ऑन किया तब उसपे कलाम साहब का रिकॉर्डेड इंटरव्यू चल रहा था। चूँकि लेट हुआ था तो आशय न जान सका बजाय उसके मौजे निकालते निकालते इंटरव्यू सुनने लगा।

कलाम साहब, एक ऐसी शख्सियत है जिसे किसी प्रस्तुतीकरण की जरुरत नहीं। डॉ. ए पी. जे. अब्दुल कलाम, मिसाइल मैन, जो भारत के पहले उपग्रह प्रक्षेपण यान के प्रोजेक्ट डायरेक्टर रेह चुके है, जिनकी बदौलत भारत में मिसाइल क्रांति आयी, जिन्होंने १९९८ के पोखरण परमाणु बम टेस्ट कराई, जो की भारत के अत्यंत लाडले राष्ट्रपति रेह चुके है, वो आज खुद हमारे खास धारावाहिक गुफ्तगू में आये है।

कलाम न की सिर्फ एक अच्छे राष्ट्रपति थे, की एक अच्छे वैज्ञानिक है, न की एक भक्कम लीडर है बल्कि एक हसीन व्यक्तित्व भी रहे है। १९९० के गणतंत्र दिन पर देश ने मिसाइल की कामयाबी का जल्लोष मचाया। कलाम साहब को पद्मभूषण मिला। लेकिन सर के साथ १० बाय १२ का कमरा, कुछ किराये का फर्नीचर और किताबो का वही ढेर था। फर्क इतना ही था तब वो कमरा त्रिवेन्दम में था और बाद में हैदराबाद में। जब वे राष्ट्रपति थे तब उन्होंने दीवारों पे काच के टुकड़े लगाने को ना कह दिया था की कोई चिड़िया या पंछी को उससे हानि न हो। जब वे राष्ट्रपति थे तब उनके परिवार के ४२ लोग राष्ट्रपति भवन आये थे तब उसका कोई भी आर्थिक भार कलाम सर ने भारतीयों की जेब पे आने नहीं दिया बल्कि खुद ही ३ लाख २० हज़ार सचिव को दे दिए। एक बार सर जब IT BHU गए थे तब औरो से खुदकी कुर्सी आलिशान पाकर उसको बदलने की मांग की थी। यह सब किस्से आप जानते ही होंगे। कलाम साहब जब DRDO में प्रोजेक्ट डायरेक्टर थे तब उनकी टीम को अपना सर्वस्व मानते थे। उन्होंने पोलियो पीड़ितों का दर्द समज़ते हुए उनके लिए कुछ नयी खोज करने का सुझाव वैज्ञानिको को दिया।

 

आज हम बात करने वाले है ऐसी ही कुछ निजी चीज़ों पे। सर्वप्रथम नमस्कार कलाम सर! सर उस टापू का नाम कैसे कलाम टापू पड़ा?”

शायद वह वक़्त जुलाई १९९५ का था जब हमारी पृथ्वी मिसाइल की चौथी उड़ान कामयाब हुयी थी ।लगभग १५०० लोगो की तामील रंग लायी थी। लेकिन उस दौर में उतने तक रुक जाना हमारी टीम को ना-मक़बूल था। तब तत्कालीन लेफ्नेंट जनरल रमेश खोसला जी ने हमें CEP ( Circular Error Probability) नामक टेक्नोलॉजी की खोज करने को कहा की जिस बदौलत वे १५० मीटर्स तककी गतिविधियों पे नज़र रख सखे। जब हम लोगो ने नक्शा खोला तब हम ने पाया की एक जगह तक़रीबन ७०-८० किलोमीटर्स तक की जमीं पे सिर्फ ५ डॉट्स थे जिससे कुछ नतीजा निकालना मुश्किल था। रात के २ बजे तब हमने व्हीलर आयलैंड जाने का फैसला किया। एक हेलीकाप्टर के सर्वेक्षण से कुछ जानकारी पता नहीं चल रही थी। फिर हमने स्थानिक मछुवारो से बात की| उनसे बोट लेके हम रात के अँधेरे में निकल पड़े। साथी ने कुछ फल लाये थे जो की हमरे भोजन का साधन बन गए। आज भी याद है रात की परिस्थितिया बड़ी कठिन थी । मटरगश्ति करने की फुर्सत नहीं थी हलाकि चाहत बिलकुल थी। (हँसते हुए) खुला आसमान खतरे की चेतावनी दे रहा था या साहस को न्योता। रात जैसे तैसे हमने गुज़ार दी, फिर सवेरे हम काम करने लग गए। उस ३ किमी लम्बे और ८०० मि चौड़े टापू पे आश्चर्य की बात यह थी की वहां बांग्लादेशी झंडा लहरा रहा था। मेरे साथ आये मित्र ने वह झंडा निकला और हमने वापस आते ही सरकार को उस टापू के बारे में सूचित क़र दिया और ओडिशा सरकार मान भी गए। अब DRDO को अपना हक की जगह मिल गयी थी काम करने।

 

कलाम साहब बच्चो से आपका बहोत लगाव है, यह तोह हम सब जानते है हालखी मार्च २०१२ के अन्ना यूनिवर्सिटी में पूछे गए एक छात्र के सवाल को मैं दोहराना चाहता हूँ। अमर्त्य सेन, जो की खुद नोबेल प्राप्त इंसान है और जो भारत में हुए विकास की प्रशंसा का करते है लेकिन उन्होंने मई १९९८ के पोखरण को भद्दा करार दिया था, उसकी निंदा करी थी। आप उस बारे में क्या विचारधारा रखते है?”

 

मैं डॉ. अमर्त्य सेन की प्रशंसा करता हूँ और उन्होंने अर्थशास्त्र में दिए योगदान का सम्मान करता हूँ। उनके सुलझावो का भी आदर करता हूँ जैसे की प्राथमिक शिक्षा अच्छे तरीके से प्रदान की जाये। परन्तु वे इस घटना को पश्चिमी दृष्टिकोण से देखते है। उनके अनुसार भारत ने सभी मुल्को के साथ सलोखे से, दोस्तीपूर्ण स्वाभाव से सम्बन्ध रखने चाहिए जो की एक अर्थशास्री के अनुसार उचित है परन्तु डॉ. जवाहरलाल नेहरू जी ने जो परमाणु प्रसार के खिलाफ जब भारत का पक्ष रखा था तब तकरीबन तकरीबन १०,००० परमाणु मुखास्त्र अमरीका के पास थे और उतने ही रशिया के पास। जब की यूके, चीन, पाकिस्तान, फ्रांस जैसे मुल्को के पास अपने अपने परमाणु हतियार थे, START II अग्रीमेंट में कोई भी अपने मुखस्त्रो को २,००० के निचे नहीं लाना चाहता था। हमारे बगल के दोनों मुल्को के पास परमाणु हथियार थे। तोह क्या उन युद्धजन्य परिस्थितिओ में भारत सिर्फ मूक दर्शक बन कर रहता?”

 

कलाम साहब अध्यात्म जीवन और सायन्स को कैसे रिलेट करते है? और मातृभाषा का महत्त्व क्या है?”

हमारा (भारतीयों) का आध्यात्मिक ज्ञान हमारी ताकद है और रहा है। हमने अन्वेषकों के आक्रमण से हमेशा अपने आप को उभरा है। हमने सोसायटी में आने वाले बदलाओं को सहा है। परन्तु इन समायोजनों में हमने हमारे लक्ष्य और महत्वाकांक्षाओं को कम कर लिया। हमे सायन्स और टेक्नोलॉजी और विरासत को देखने का नजरिया बड़ा करना होगा। टेक्नोलॉजी की फील्ड में आगे जाना अध्यात्म के बंद करने से नहीं होगा। हमे तरक्की का खुद का मार्ग बनाना होगा। विरासती ज्ञान और नए नजरिये का संकल्प लिए स्वप्नों को सजाना होगा। इंग्लिश बहुत आवश्यक है मौजूदा समय क्यों की विज्ञान सम्बन्धी मूल ज्ञान इंग्लिश में है। पर मुझे विश्वास है की कुछ सालो बाद हमारी भाषाओ में विज्ञान का मूल ज्ञान होगा और उस वक़्त हम भी जापान की तरह परिवर्तित होके तरक्की कर सकेंगे।

 

वैसे तोह कलाम साहब के साथ बातचीत करने के लिए शब्द अधूरे पद जाये, लेकिन अब ७ बज चले है, यह कार्यक्रम जारी रहेगा अगले दिन भी। जाने से पहले प्रस्तुत है कलाम साहब की हिंदी में अनुवादित कुछ पंक्तिया

.

.

 

और रेडिओ बंद हो गया। आज मैंने कलाम सर के व्यक्तिमत्व का एक नया पहलु समझा था। वे एक देशप्रेमी थे, जो खुद के मृत्यु के पश्चात उन्हें सरकारी कलेण्डर की छुट्टियों में नहीं बल्कि काम में खोजने की सलाह देते थे। कलाम एक ऐसी शख्सियत थी जिन्होंने अपनी रिटायरमेंट के बाद खुद को गरीब बच्चो के प्रति समर्पित किया। उन्होंने खुद किये गलतियों से लिए सबक को तजुर्बे में परिवर्तित किया और हम सब में एक धारणा(फिलोसोफी) की तरह समा गए।

 

किसी ने क्या खूब कहा है,

 

चाहे लहू, पसीने या पानी से हो

यह आग जलती रहनी चाहिए

मेरे सीने में न सही, तेरे सीने सही

इन रूहों में कलामियत बसनी चाहिए ।

हर्षवर्धन