It was a dark and stormy night.

By Rishikesh Chhabra.

It was a dark and stormy night. [Clichéd beginning / a classic if there ever was one, if I may say so myself…:p]. The wind lashed out against the windowpanes as a torrential downpour kept howling out yonder. I was quietly sipping a steaming mug of cocoa, as I lay nestled snugly in a soft, warm quilt, rereading that dog-eared copy of war and peace for the fifth time this month. Yes, indeed it was the epitome of monotony, and yet there was a deep sense of satisfaction associated with the situation.

For the first time in my life, I was at peace with myself, savoring that serene solitude – that exquisite sense of well-being associated with the simpler things in life.

I found myself in a contemplative mood, reflecting on the many and varied experiences that I had gone through in the relatively short span of some three plus decades that these eyes had witnessed. I was a child of the rocket age, so to speak. Mankind had already set foot on the moon and was expanding his horizon, in a heady era of explosive growth and scientific excellence. The cold war was in full swing, and on both sides, the global superpowers were jostling for supremacy on all fronts.

All this was far removed from where I was. Back in Rangoon, there was a different kind of mood. The seeds of a quiet revolution was just being sowed, one that would grow quietly, gnawing at the foundations of the inept socialist military state, that gave birth to it, the pressure increasing slowly until one day, just a mere decade and a half later, it would detonate in a show of massive people power – one that would bring down the entire country to a grinding halt, and change the direction of the country forever. The surface though, exhibited a disconcertingly deceptive and calm facade and we were none the wiser. [Need reworking!!!]

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First time I met her, was at a get-together at Capt. Ne Win’s Dig. It was a bit of a drag, and I was moping around, biting my nails, wishing it was all over, and I could go back home, to TV and the reliable Atari. Just when I decided, I couldn’t take it any longer, in walks in this apparition. Long dark hair, laughing eyes, and the cutest dimples that ever graced a pair of cheeks. She tossed her hair across her shoulders, smiled at the room in general, and I was be-smitten! Sigh…first love can be wishy washy, but you ain’t ever gonna forget it.

Breathe and Push

A message of hope so eloquently delivered.

“…what if this darkness is not the darkness of the Tomb, but the darkness of the Womb…”

As a former varsity debater and public speaker, I took delight in the display of mastery over those 6 minutes – not a second wasted. The way she connected with the audience and the right touch of emotion. Have I seen better speeches? Yes of course. But I admit this almost gave me goosebumps.

Why do we care, those of us half-way around the world about what happens in America? Because the American experiment was and is unique in scale and bold in its reach (read Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville for context) and we root for the rights of the commoner to determine their own destiny and periodically choose a peer to represent their interests in governance.

Because a government of the people, by the people and FOR the people is the best choice we have to guide us to a better future. Believe me, there are forces at work that wish to undermine this, to circumvent democracy as an inconvenience, that wish a return to some variation of Aristocracy.

So I root for America, a country half-way around the world, and cheer for its victories, in the battles they fight within, to make it a stronger union and today I celebrate this eloquent defense of what has always made America Great.

Raising a Brown Boy in Today's America

Breathe and push: Sikh-American civil rights advocate Valarie Kaur's plea to her country in the times of Donald J. Trump.

Posted by Scroll on Saturday, February 25, 2017

Ask not what you can do for your Government but what your Government can do for you

Saw a Facebook post shared by a friend of a friend:

Fist 500x500The author makes some interesting points and some of them very much resonate with me.  He then makes a logical leap from, I am such a saint and yet I do not protest the government and therefore I am holier-than-thou and therefore more nationalistic and patriotic than people who protest or ask for more.

His basic sentiments are laudatory — yes Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. BUT and this is a big BUT. It is your MORAL duty as a citizen to ensure that the GOVERNMENT of the day is held accountable for its performance.

We need to see the difference between the elected party in power and the nation state and know that supporting the government blindly is not supporting the nation. India doesn’t demand enough of its elected leaders and it is laziness and apathy at the heart of it – not patriotism and pride.

By all means don’t expect a water or electricity subsidy. But is it too much to ask that the government in power at least provide 24/7 basic utilities as such even if it is charged? Yes I know, what I ask is difficult. Easier to pay the water mafia for a 700 rupee tanker or get a inverter isn’t it?

Yes by all means don’t demand a larger quota for college education – after all you can go to a private school. But is it not the duty of the government to work towards creating a better infrastructure so that our primary and secondary schools are worth going to and has the resources to properly educate the next generation of thinkers, doers, educators, engineers, poets and scientists. That is a worthwhile national goal. One that will forever uplift the Nation and take it a giant leap forward. Hold whoever is in power accountable to such laudable goals.

Look at the pathetic state of public healthcare. But wait, it is easier to go to private hospitals. After all our hardworking parents have earned and we can afford it. IT IS EASIER. Let’s not kid ourselves. We don’t take on all these laudable issues because it is hard and we couldn’t care enough. Not because of some misguided patriotism.

So ask not what you can do for your Government but what your Government can do for you. It is your moral and patriotic duty to do so.

Footnote: As a side-note, let me just put it out there that while I am not a devotee or fan, I have a tremendous respect for Modi the person.  I believe (and it’s my opinion) his heart is in the right place and he is that rare unicorn in politics – untouched by corruption. That is what makes him potentially so effective and dangerous to the rest of this less than stellar breed. It also presents a unique opportunity for India.

It is early days and we do need to give this government more time to do its work before judging, but between congress trying to throw mud and anything that can stick at them, and their own party cadres hijacking the development agenda for their own vested interests and petty goals, they do have their work cut out.

Do let us give them the support they need but also let us ever be vigilant and vocal on the issues that matter so that the people in power, and the politicians, who’s daily support he needs, to deliver on that promise to the Indian people, are crystal clear that – we the people are watching.