Author Archives: Sudha Shashwati

Live life: Passion se

Guess what generates the courage and confidence required to tread the path very few dared to explore? What drives people with high incomes in corporate sector to leave their jobs and go pursue their childhood dream of becoming a painter, chef or actor? What gives a person the reason to live life, oblivious to all the muck and mire around?
PASSION. It is passion that fans the flames of courage inside us to take the unconventional route, to go down the path less travelled, to lead a rivetting and fulfilling life.
Bhagat Singh, Pandit Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi , why, all those several men and women, had one thing in common, besides the fact that they were fighting for the freedom of the country. They were all passionate, passionate about a free India. They didn’t do what they did for fame or for money. It was their passion that kept them going even when the going was tough.
People often take a lifetime to discover their calling. Some never do. Lucky indeed are those whose life’s calling comes in an age when they have enough time left to pursue it for, when one is doing something that comes straight out of the heart, one is transferred to a different world altogether. Work becomes play and this is also when the soul is fed, nourished and elevated.
Some associate success with fame, some with money, some with position and power, and yet, some others with the satisfaction they get when they are running a race with themselves, on a track that was not forced on them, but one they themselves chose knowing full and well that this is the area they would flourish in without having stress or fear of failure. The last category of people are most likely to have the potion of success, happiness and all the good things success and happiness combine to generate. Others may be successful but not happy, at least after the initial glitz of fame, money and power is gone. And boy how can you call someone successful when the person is not happy?

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Holi: Licence for hooliganism?

Picture this: A week into holi and one is afraid to step out. Water balloons, mud water balloons, eggs and many other things (including condoms I have heard) filled with water and colour can land on you out of nowhere, Delhi being Delhi and Holi being Holi.

Picture this too: 2 days into Holi and one has to step out to get the data card recharged, and one does since the shop is a one minute walk from the PG. Narrow escape from 3 water balloons. Narrow escape for the parents’ of those tween boys, too- they were spared a long lecture on teaching kids how to enjoy with responsibility.

Now picture this: Holi is here. No escape possible because the landlady herself calls me to have breakfast with the family. But before I am allowed to touch anything out of the lavish spread, I must partake in the ‘celebrations’. Colours smeared on lips and stuffed into nose. Water thrown at me from a pipe. I run downstairs to bath again and come back for breakfast only after repeated assurances that the thing won’t be repeated. I bless my PG owners for the delectable food and think that the taste and the satisfaction will overweigh the effort and money that will go into washing the clothes this evening and replacing the lenses of spectacles before the mid semester break gets over. Yours truly is wrong. This time, before I am allowed to run downstairs, I am made to stand in front of the water pipe for a good 3 minutes and plead for mercy to my phone and watch.

That’s my Holi experience this year, giving me all the more reasons to hate it more than I ever had. To a reader who doesn’t know me personally, this may sound very silly- after all isn’t this festival meant to be a day when you let yourself loose and just enjoy? But the reader may not be aware that I have never been able to make sense out of first getting yourself and your clothes dirty for 3 hours and then spending another 3 hours to clean up. Fine, this wasn’t as bad as it could be but the very fact that it all happened without my consent serves my hating this festival. Talking of letting loose and enjoying, how are you supposed to be able to enjoy being thrown mud or being thrown into a water tank? Let’s not talk about alcohol and shit here which are other popular Holi ammunition.

One may ask- Isn’t this day a part of our rich cultural tradition? My answer- I have never caught up with how all sorts of propriety in interacting with strangers, especially ladies, come to vanish into thin air on this day, granting license to hooliganism, so the culture part is out of the question. Surely, those of our ancestors who were the first to play Holi didn’t mean it to be a day when you harass random ladies who chance to pass your street, when you play pranks with strangers and laugh it off!

The biggest joke on all those who use the excuse of ‘Holi Hai’ to run amok with hooliganism- The International Women’s day coincided with Holi this year. I would love to know how many ladies felt empowered on the day.

Of course, I am not asking for avoiding Holi altogether. One can always enjoy with one’s family. Play only with your friends and relatives and don’t kill the spirit of this festival by harassing those non-willing. Set a good example for the kids in your family and teach them how to have a good time even while staying within limits.

P.S. There is always a right way and another easy way to do things. Our choice reflects who we are, even in something trivial like the way we play Holi. Think it over.

In Pursuit Of Happiness

To go by the words of Abraham Lincoln, “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

These words find support in what the famous psychologist Richard Lazarus explained in his Cognitive Mediational Theory(1991). In this theory, Lazarus proposed that the most important aspect of any emotional experience is how the person interprets, or appraises the stimulus that causes the emotional reaction. in simple terms, the happy man is he, who thinks he is.

Nobody’s life is hunky-dory all the time. Every person has to face trials and tribulations, go through difficult times. He indeed, is wise, who chooses to put on the glasses of optimism and faith and interprets the events of his life as positively as humanely possible.
Life, if you look at it this way, is not a race.
It is a hurdle race. You can’t question the presence of hurdles. They will be there, for that’s the nature of the sport.
If you bang your head on the hurdles and try to remove them out of your path, you going against the flow, attempting the illogical and the fruitless. Not just that,you are not putting your heart and soul to win the race, for your focus has actually slipped into some other territory. There is no way you are going to win in this manner.
If you lose your strength at the sight of a hurdle, and ask “why such things happen to me all the time, WHY ME?”, you yourself are delaying your victory.
Again, if you just sit there, waiting for the hurdle to disappear, you are only deceiving yourself.
Not just the best, but the only option you have is to jump over the hurdles, as and when they come, without creating any fuss.

It often helps if you are a person deeply connected to nature.
Feeling low? Well then go smell the flowers, let the breeze kiss your hair, leave your slippers on the porch and let your feet feel the moist grass, savour the delightful courtship dance of the butterflies, go out in the sun and let the blameless blue of the winter sky be your confidante, let the zephyr carry your message to that distant companion. Go, fall in love with nature.

Learn to appreciate the beauty that the mundane things of everyday life have to offer. Just imagine life without the things you take the most for granted. You will know their value then.
Maintain a gratitude journal. list all those things, people and moments in it that had made you smile someday and that make your everyday life worth living. It can be your coffee mug, or a compliment your teacher paid you that fine day, anything. When you are low in spirits, just flip through its pages, and you will have a hundred and one things to be happy about.

It is often seen that people find it easy to forgive, but not to forget. What we don’t understand is, forgiveness is incomplete in such a scenario. By repeating emotional episodes over and over in our mind, we inadvertently etch them in our memory. So, the key is to let go, to not think at all about anything unpleasant that we have been through.

Equally important is to first know ourselves. It is always desirable to keep the doors of improvement open, but we also need to learn to distinguish between comments that are credible and that are not. If you have put on a white dress and a friend of yours with black sunglasses comes and tell you that the black dress you have worn does not look good on you, and on top of that, you get upset on hearing that…..well, to say the least, nothing can be more ridiculous.

Not to forget, nothing succeeds like success and the high one gets out of achievement is just unmatched. Have a clearly defined goal, make sure it is challenging enough but realistic and put in every possible effort to achieve it. If you are able to achieve it, well and fine. If not, you did not lose either, in the actual sense of the term, for in the process, you actually grew as a person and learnt things you not have, had you not been in pursuit of the goal. At least you will not be amongst those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

Last, but not the least, cultivate a taste for literature, for poetry. It will be with you when nobody else is.
Go, live your days of happiness!!!!

 

Everybody who blows a whistle ain’t a whistle blower!

The Distorted World of “Modi-phobe”

The word Narendra Modi has a certain ominous ring to it. Depending upon your political ideology, you either ‘prepare yourself to launch a verbal barrage of Gujarat riots, communalism, Muslim killer blah, blah, blah and close your ears to all development-under-Modi talk’ or ’you go on to defend his case passionately, quoting the Gujarat growth model under his leadership and refuse to accept the 2002 communal riots story.’

The word Narendra Modi does that. It makes you take sides without even giving a thought to issue at hand. It forces you to choose either black or white. No greys allowed. And the most interesting part of the story is, almost everybody seems to know a thing or two about him, or at least about his alleged complicity in the riots that blazed Gujarat 9 years back (which has been investigated by a SIT of the Supreme Court and now referred back to a lower court in Gujarat, on 12th September 2011) . Ask them where they came to know about it from, and they say “oh, it’s all over the media”. So it turns out that when the media itself is biased about some issue, say for e.g. if 100 voices drown a single upstream sailing voice and if those 100 voices are all that is visible, then what those 100 voices say automatically becomes the truth.

We are not going to discuss Mr. Modi’s alleged complicity in the 2002 communal riot or the development the state has made under his leadership. Probably you have already read too much on that lately. What we are going to do is talk about Sanjeev Bhatt instead. A name that immediately brings to mind the name of Narendra Modi. Here’s a brief prologue to the story we will be analyzing…

Sanjeev Bhatt, the man who was arrested on 30th September and released on bail a month ago, on 17th October, an SP hailed as ‘whistle blower’ of the Gujarat riot, is an IPS officer of the 1988 batch of Gujarat cadre.

It is likely that you have heard about him also since his arrest made the media launch a fresh wave of vilification campaign against the easy-to-hate Modi.  So, basically it is two reasons why he was in news recently: his arrest and his junior Mr. Pant’s complaint against him. Now the arrest of an IPS officer- or any civil servant for that matter happens under relatively extraordinary circumstances.

Before we get into those extraordinary circumstances, let’s have a look at his chequered career record :

  1. Tried in court for: Planting drugs in an innocent Rajasthan lawyer’s hotel room during his tenure as SP of Banaskantha, Gujarat (The National Human Rights Commission had passed strictures against Bhatt for “falsely involving a person in a criminal case”, a lawyer Mr. Sumer Singh Rajput, WELL BEFORE MODI APPEARED ON THE SCENE).
  2.  Rigging police recruitment and hence misusing authority (He was at the center of a recruitment scam that hit Gujarat during his tenure as SP of Banaskantha, Gujarat, in May 1996, again WELL BEFORE MODI APPEARED ON THE SCENE).
  3.  Committing atrocities by misusing the TADA(accused in one person’s custodial death on 18th November 1990 due to draconian application of TADA, during the “Bharat Bandh’ call in Jamnagar on 30/10/1990, again, needless to say, WELL BEFORE MODI APPEARED ON THE SCENE).
  4. Facilitating land grab(lodged false criminal case against the opponent of the person he helped under Prohibition Act WELL BEFORE NARENDRA MODI APPEARED ON THE SCENE)

Apart from these gross acts of shameful misconduct, he has also been charge sheeted for  Keeping more orderlies than the sanctioned number (charge sheeted on 30/09/1999, one funny incident-he kept 22 constables at his residence when posted as DCP in Rajkot!)

Latest episode of his violation filled career- the allegation that Bhatt bullied his junior, police constable K.D Panth into signing a false affidavit regarding Mr. Modi’s complicity in the riots.

Now about Mr. Panth’s complaint against Mr. Bhatt. The complaint states that he was in Mumbai, on leave, from 25th February to 28th February, 2002 for some work. It essentially pertains to Mr. Bhatt having bullied him  to state that he went with him to the meeting Mr. Modi had with senior bureaucrats on 27th February, 2002, having assured Mr. Pant that he would be safe, by taking him to Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia and having bullied him again to say that his disposition before the SIT of the SC was taken under duress.

Here, it is noteworthy to say that he was also asked to paintthe SIT as a team of arm twisters.  That meeting on 27th February, 2002, is the crux around which all the allegations have flown, thick and fast, with this disgruntled IPS officer Mr. Sanjeev Bhatt claiming that he was there in the meeting when Mr. Modi remarked that “let the Hindus vent their anger”.

 Here is the inside story of that meeting: The group of senior bureaucrats present at the meeting deny that the CM said any such thing. None of the said bureaucrats could recall his presence there. The chief of police of Gujarat at that time has emphasized that Bhatt was too junior to be invited to that meeting. Mr. R.B Shreekrishna-no friend of Modi-former Gujrat DGP hasn’t mentioned in his affidavit before the SIT the name of Bhatt among the ones who had attended that meeting. The SIT’s questions about specific people and whether they were present in the room that day, were met with confused, unclear answers.

Before we move on to inspect another less known facet of this story, let’s look at some more info (no, not about Mr. Bhatt’s shady record anymore) that might prove to be just the tipping point to tilt your views, understandably hardened by the feeds from the Modi-phobe media: Mr. Bhatt keeps claiming that he has massive amount of documents to implicate Mr. Modi and other ‘powerful’ people in Gujrat administration but till date has not produced a single shred of evidence.   The self proclaimed and now media designated principled man refused the court’s offer of bail on the condition that he allows the police to access his bank lockers. Known to have approached the ‘malicious’ Modi baiters Teesta Setalvad and Shabnam Hashmi who had their few years of fame by resorting to every trick in their hats, including filing false affidavits and tutoring witnesses and internationalizing the issue to defame Mr. Modi(for the less politically inclined  readers who may have missed the Teesta Setalvad expose, by her own partner-in-crime, Rais Khan. Bhatt’s affidavit was notarized by the same advocate who notarized all those false and/or tutored witnesses produced by Miss Setalvad. Bhatt’s email exchanges with Gujrat Congress opposition leader S.S Gohil (wherein Bhatt asks him for a new Blackberry phone as promised!) point to a complex dynamics of desperation, political opportunism and trying to nail that one possible trick against Modi that will work.  The English language media has always been left liberal, admitted. So Modi has hardly found as much favor as any other CM in spite of his efforts, due to his hardline Hindutva image, understandable. The Modi-phobes live in a distorted world of their own, refusing to look at the umpteen positives that have come up during his tenure, no denying. But the stooping down of the Congress to strangulate Mr Modi points to vendetta and sheer political opportunism- keeping this man continuing with his baseless allegations by openly supporting him as a ‘whistle blower’ by Chidambaram, the Congress poking its nose in the disciplinary committee’s charges against him and now the UPA making a mockery of our federal structure by appointing the Lokyukta of the state w/o consulting the CM, going against the rules laid down in the constitution, by the Governor- the office of which is now conveniently being used to keep opposition CMs in check.  The Congress’ hypocrisy could not be clearer on this Sanjeev Bhatt issue.

In the case of the cash-for-votes case involving the bribing of BJP MPs before the confidence vote of July 2008, the Delhi police, an agency under the Union Home Ministry, has opposed the bail of Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni and two former BJP MPs. Just note what the public prosecutor Mr. Rajan Mohan has to say on the issue. “Every accused in the case terms himself a whistle blower as if they have saved the country. If they are taking the plea of being whistle blowers in the scam, they have to establish it by way of evidence. Not even a single aspect shows that they were actually whistle blowers.”

Should not this apply to Sanjiv Bhatt as well?  But who cares? You and I just look at the surface and jump to the conclusion that if an ordinary IPS officer is taking on a CM, he must be telling the truth. We don’t scratch the surface mainly because we, the youth, don’t really have the inclination to go do our bit of research and then form our opinion. We are too busy in our own little world and just  happy to sail in the same boat as most of the world does. In fact the attitude gets hardened to such an extent at times on certain issues that we are not ready to give some thought to dis confirmatory information.

I know not everybody who reads this article will agree with my case that Mr. Sanjeev Bhatt has undeservedly been hailed as a whistle blower. There will be people who will ask me my political ideology (No, I don’t belong to the right wing ideology. In fact, I don’t have a political ideology or affiliation to any political party. I base my judgments on sheer individual merit of the case). There will be people who will ask if I am a fan of Narendra Modi (That doesn’t change anything. I am one, but that doesn’t make me forget that I have a strong head of my own on my shoulders that needs to be used). There will be people who will question my inferences (Being a psychology student, I have taken extreme care to avoid errors in my social cognition, that is, if such a thing is possible…haha). But I am not afraid of such cynics. You may not agree with me. But if  I could make you read the entire article, my job is done. Cynicism is absolutely necessary in politics.

I remember the MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda once addressing a group of college students in North Campus, saying that “not everybody needs to participate in politics in a direct manner, as in contesting elections. If people just keep up their cynicism, making sure they debate government’s policies, find out flaws, ask questions, demand answers and never let the government lose its accountability, then they can rest assured that they have done their job.” Meaningful lines!!

Get ‘high’ on Spirituality!

All of us have a soul (now proved by the noetic scientists) and a social role by virtue of having a body and hence being a part of society.

The soul is nothing but who we actually are without the embellishment that our body is, without our name, surname, religion, social relationships, worldly achievements.

And what we actually are, I repeat, is our ‘soul’ and not our ‘social role’. The moment this is realised, one gains entry into the deluxe membership of spirituality and has easy accessibility to get rid of all hurt, pain and anger that this mortal world might have to offer.
One may find it difficult to see where one stands without having all these frames of reference of body, name, religion, country and we have none but our society and the aculturisation we receive from the moment we are born to blame for this.
The child is taught everything ; from toilet habits to dining table etiquette, save about himself/herself. It is assumed probably that things such as ‘soul’ etc. would be too difficult for a child to understand. Never mind childhood, these things are not taught even in teenage when identity crisis, emotional turbulence, relationship problems and career issues all call for the healing touch of spirituality. For it is supposed to be reserved for those in their 60s and 70s, when there is not much to do in any case.

So who is to blame if a teen deals with his breakup by drinking like there is no tomorrow? Who is to blame if he takes drugs to hide his frustration over his parents’ divorce? Who is to blame if he commits suicide the day he is declared a ‘failure’ in some exam? Who is to blame if he doesn’t know that he could very well have drunk from the elixir of bliss that meditation showers? Who is to blame if he doesn’t know that establishing a connection with the supreme soul would have tranquilized him or given him a ‘high’, whichever he wished? Who is to blame if he doesn’t know that ending life is no solution, that the cycle of birth and death and hence the same problems will continue until he is ready to experience who he actually is?

And most often one can’t even blame the parents and teachers. Not everybody is lucky enough to be disillusioned out of the ignorance of taking our social role for our actual self, early enough. And even when they HAVE stumbled upon the truth, it is of very less use. Their children, no more children, are no more mouldable, having a mind of their own and they prefer to not learn any such thing from their parents and continue to make the journey with no knowledge of where they are headed, preferring to learn only after they themselves have fell down and are hurt.

The point I am trying to put across is that spirituality needs to be explored by the youth. Let it be studied and researched upon just like any other topic of fascination.

Let it not remain the exclusive property of the old and the sanyasis. And the society needs to wake up to all this. Let there be spirituality lessons in schools, in easy language and with a modern approach, let children be encouraged to take up meditation at an early age and let there be this healthy peer pressure to read spiritual stuff just like there is to listen to Eminem and read Stephanie Meyer or Agatha Christie.
One myth I would like to bust here is that spirituality calls for detachment and hence is not for a family person. This is absolute rubbish. One can wear the trendiest clothes, have the funkiest gadgets and be in a family and a job, yet be spiritual. A white sari or a saffron robe and leading a hermit’s life are not necessary.

Yes spirituality brings detachment. But not detachment from people, family, relationships. It brings detachment from pain of hurt and anger. It brings detachment from fear-of failure, of loss, of death. It brings harmony into all our relationships. It makes our head free of all clutter and makes us more fit than ever for success in our field of study.

Most importantly, it makes us happy. At the end of the day, whatever we run after is for happiness right? Isn’t it cool that instead of searching it outside, we just have to discover our true ‘identity’ and learn a few ‘truths’ regarding this world to be happy?
So to lead a holistic life, spirituality seems to be an indispensible tool, and not a threat! And yes, it is not boring either!
How about looking up ‘awakening with the Brahmakumaris’ in YouTube or picking up ‘Conversations with God’ from the bookstall?