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Showing posts from 2016

Chapter 3 - Naggar

She was sleeping. The train journey's endless meandering was proving to be too dull for her energy, and so she chose to do what she could think of - sleep with her head in her mother's lap. Shailesh had been playing with her for an hour or so, and then after sleep, he tried going through the magazines he'd purchased from the Wheeler stall at the station of departure. Caste, terrorism, Ram Mandir - these were all he could see, and frankly, he was sick of all the verbiage the magazines contained. All the rhetoric had gotten them nowhere, he thought, as he kept the magazines in the seat pocket ahead, and chose instead to stare into the monotony of the passing scenery. You could see the weather change in the color of the crop, was his father would often remark. Simple man that he was, his superstitions were too much to handle for him. He remembered that time when his father had asked him not to touch the broom with his foot. "Beta, it's a symbol of Lakshmi. Don't

Integrating Electric Vehicles into India's Public Transport - Plugging the Gap

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Ashok Leyland Launching Circuit, India's First Indigenous Electric Bus (Courtesy: The Hindu Business Line) The recent air pollution crisis episode of Delhi has only reaffirmed what most people already know - we need to use less cars, crop stubble in other states has to stop burning, better dust control is needed etc. One attractive idea that has been hanging fire for some time (since the time Mr Praful Patel was minister of industries under the UPA) has been the push for electric vehicles. In recent times, we have seen some progress into the area - we have a much improved car in E2O from Mahindra since their Reva purchase that is developed in India apart from such cars as Prius, Civic Hybrid and Scorpio hybrid being in the market. We have seen several electric two wheelers come onto the roads. Ashok Leyland recently announced the launch of its own electric bus, while Mercedes and Volvo can bring this technology into the Indian market any time, given their assembly capabilities

The Meaning of being Sanatani

Yesterday evening, as I was attending the sandhya aarti at the local KaliBari, waiting for the unveiling of Durga's pratima, I had a moment that felt too deep to not be shared. As the pujari carried out the aarti with the lamp, camphor and flowers among other things, the dhak drummers called in for the puja accompanied the aarti by giving it rhythm. As Maa Kali kept staring at us, there were two small kids who were dancing to the beats of the dhak inside the temple, absolutely overjoyed by the musical overtones to the aarti. All of a sudden it dawned upon me that there's Shakti everywhere. It was in the beats of the dhak , it was there in the joy and dance of the children, it was there in the vigorous aarti of the pujari , it was there in the bells that people entering the sanctum rang. It was an overwhelming moment to experience the leela and maya simultaneously getting dissolved into the realization of this connect that we humans have with the divine force that flow

Chapter 2 - Delhi

Shailesh had walked back home. The strikes had ensured that no buses would ply even today. Thankfully, he did not live far from his work place unlike many colleagues of his in Delhi. The application for the scooter had not yet been granted. Of course it would not - he had tried to be honest, and not grease palms like a good citizen, only to realize just how empty those ideals sound in the face of a grim reality. Being a man of the hills meant that he had not piled on a lot of weight, and had long legs. Perhaps it is genetic in nature, this trait often found in the people of the mountains. But it was worrying to see the chaos and anarchy that Delhi was descending into. There were protests everyday; the nation’s politics had ignited sparks people had almost forgotten about. On top of that were the concerns of blasts by terrorists. In moments like these, where an uninterested party gets caught in the crossfire, even these long legs will not take one far, brooded Shailesh, as he rang the

Chapter 1 - Fading Autumn

The sun was beating down an hour ago, but clearly it changed its mind, as it decided to beat a hasty retreat. Of course, there was not much to complain; it had decided to streak the skies with the colors of its flames that it was showering till then. Brilliant oranges, vivid violets and fiery reds just spread across the sky like a rash, complimenting in part the fading greens and deepening browns of the autumn hills. Right of a painting, one would say standing there, taken aback by the sheer brilliance of something as ordinary as a sunset. Of course, it is a matter of great deliberation as to whether a sunset is ever ordinary. However, what was certain was that this sunset was not ordinary at all. Nek Chand was standing outside the house, staring at the sun. He had come out to pick up those jars of pickles that he had kept out in the sun for preparation. Making these pickles was an old tradition in the family that his wife, like many other women before, had carried on till her last da

Punjab's State Elections - Bankruptcy of Ideas?

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The Faces Lack Any Ideas (Courtesy Punjab News Express) It is a pity to see the level of discourse taking place in Punjab, a state still trying to emerge from the wreckage of militancy over three decades after 1984. While addressing the just concerns and the still pending problems of the Sikhs in Punjab while addressing reconciliation is a necessity, it is a pity that the agenda in Punjab of all parties either hinges around swapping corruption charges or boastful claims of dragging X and Y to jail by their ears. The drug addiction problem of Punjab is not a unique isolated phenomenon as is made out by certain sections of the press - one only look at the pubs of Delhi or the alleys of Shillong to realize the national epidemic it has become. However, all political parties are complicit in their behavior by commission and omission for letting this problem grow not just in the state but across the nation. In the midst of all the hoopla surrounding 2017 state elections, there are str

Coffee

Overcast skies with a wet afternoon in store are the perfect foil to any good ideas it seems. As I kept waiting at the cafe, hoping for ____ to turn up, the depressing weather drew my attention towards it. Dark skies have this unique ability to draw your attention towards them more than anything else. Even in a market as busy as this, where the noise of the clanging metalware collides with the honking of vehicles packed like cattle on to a street, you cannot help but ignore it all, and continue staring into this bland emptiness. You see some odd people running around for cover, totally unhappy with all the water like a grumpy cat. And yet, they do not interest you more than a cup of steaming tea, while distancing yourself physically by a glass wall, and emotionally with a care-not attitude from the churning outside. "Can I join you?" I heard a voice, from behind me, and I turned around to see a somewhat young-ish girl staring at me earnestly. Nothing special

Why the GST Will Have Only A Marginal Effect On the Indian Economy - Yet It Is Important

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Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha on an earlier occasion (Courtesy: The Hindu) The doors to this temple of the tax gods have been finally opened, and a new deity by the name of Goods and Service Tax (GST) is being prepared for installation with the Prana Pratishtha currently being undertaken in the Parliament's Upper House. While there are points being extolled in its favor, and state parties and regional leaders voicing concerns of revenue loss to their state administrative budgets, there is a near unanimous consensus on the bill being made a reality. The country is being unified into one market in terms of the indirect tax net. Even across the various cabals and lobbies the unanimous chants of 'this is a landmark reform' are gaining strength. Even as we scour the layers of discussions and platitudes piling up across various fora, the benefits are being overstated. Yes, there is a need for a simpler taxation structure, and yes, free movement of goods and services sho

Why Mayawati is Wrong and What the Latest Episode Tells us About Presstitutes of India

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(Courtest: DNA) Dayashankar Singh's abhorrent comment on Mayawati, a self made woman leader and supremo of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Uttar Pradesh, is nothing but worth condemnation. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has rightfully suspended the leader for good , and it is good to learn that FIRs have been registered against him. That there is such sexism present in the politics is something that should be worrying to all of us. However, the way Mayawati tried to rake political mileage out of the issue through her show of strength in Uttar Pradesh and pockets of strength in North India was shameless to say the least. Sample some of the statements that have been stated in response: 1. 'I am like a goddess to them' - golden words of humility spoken by no less than Mayawati herself. 2. 'Dayashankar's family women are what they called Behenji - prostitutes' - an over eager (probably ticket seeking) loyalist Usha Chaudhary 3. 'Whoever gets Day