Monday, February 22, 2010

A Winter Olympics in the time of Global warming

The world is yet to witness an event comparable to the Olympic Games that brings us all altogether. It celebrates the glory of the human spirit. The reach and impact of such a celebration touches every earthling alike. It is a competition that tests every distance that can be treaded, every height that could be reached and kept and the speed that a human body can touch. The power, precision and skill rises above the irrelevance of caste, colour, creed and the sundry. It stands true to the gospel of 'One World'.

The winter Olympics unlike its more famous summer counterpart has to have a favourable environmental setting to happen in the first place. It cannot be competed in the heart of Africa or the rumble of Delhi which more famously is called the site of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. It beats common reason why our over-enthusiastic Sports Minister does not want it to happen in our land given our excellent infrastructure and even more amiable hospitality and the undoubtable will to complete all required arrangements on time. Mr. Kalmadi can vouch Balewadi's competence in meeting world standards. He can even convince Usain Bolt to come and inaugurate the event and skate for a while to garner enough international attention. And what an opportunity for a distant aunty's son of his to be photographed with Bolt uncle.

If better sense prevails, the games ought to have an environment of snow, ice and 'chill' in the air. But if global warming is to affect us the way it is predicted to, what will be the fate of the games? If Pauchauri's presages do hold true(the ones he made before recanting a statement he already made which nevertheless was contradictory to his earlier saying, now we know the surest way to win the Nobel prize) we might end up bidding goodbye to the winter Olympics no later than 2020. Unless, of course, we can hold them atop the Himalayas which won’t be higher than 1000m not more than a few years from now.

The melting Arctic and Antarctic circles, the rising sea-levels and the declining ice sure stand the greatest threat to the games. One wishful decision sure stands to backfire were the portends of the effects of global warming to stand true. Some reports claim an influential South Korean was pardoned of his crimes of tax evasion and corruption charges. Will Mr. Pauchauri please stand up and proclaim this is but a futile effort? If the consequences of 'ill- actions' of us humans are to stand true we better be ready to kiss the Games a tearful goodbye.

As the games now draw to an end, the IOC has more to worry than catching drug-cheats and brim with that wicked smile of being a step ahead. The world is at siege and if this is not tended to, we might not be able to witness the grace and glory on ice. There were reports of snow being brought to Canada to ensure a smooth Olympics, lest the ice slipped under an unfortunate athlete’s foot.

The next games are in Russia in 2014 and bids for the one after that are on. It would pay in gold to verify whether the planet is good enough to host any further games. This is if the icy grip of global warming tightens it's hold on mankind. It seems strange that the games were not chosen as a platform to promulgate the doom's day prophecy and what humanity stands to lose if the warnings of nature are not heeded to.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Come March

O March
How piquant is thy grace
Every face is ridden with grimace
even the mighty sings with the meek
Phukat te poushtik

The race to save every penny of hard-earned money from the evil clutches of the Income-Tax Department has touched new heights. It’s a battle, and a penny 'parted' is no less than losing face. The tug between the IT and the employer is at its splendid best come March. And it is one that tests the tax-payer's every skill at conning and convincing . The mere thought of parting with ‘my’ share seems dreaded and a ‘no’ spurts out even at ‘Tax’s mention. To come to think of it, March is the only month when one begins to realize how much he is being ‘cheated’ of his own money. The curses and abuses that follow deploring the whole system for not letting him have his ‘due’ is one occasion not to be missed.

It is that time of the year when the hibernating second-rate doctors, broke medical stores and tired advocates make hay. 2 months of overwork is all it takes for them to enjoy a fruitful year ahead. 3% is the new buzz word. Offer them a 1000-1500 they'll go lengths to save an extra 5000. Such a nice deal!. Everyone is hale, hearty and contended.

Now is the season to con. Even the Gods would forgive this mortal sin for this is only to make life on earth more bearable. This is not hedonistic pleasure but life is to enjoy it all, isn’t it? A fake address here, a bogus signature there, a dubious investment, an incredulous claim, they are all to be seen. And they are accepted too, of course as long as they seem genuine. Who cares, this is due to me after all. It brings out this aspect of human behaviour that makes the mystery of March intriguing and worthy of a salute.

80C and 10D are no longer flat numbers of a distant Phugewadi .They are the most important aspects of discussions outside office or a canteen talk (tea-time discussion to be more fair to the office chatters). A layman would be forgiven for assuming these guys are on a hunt for a new abode. And there are those who feel cheated that only a part of their declaration would be considered to be non-taxable or only interest of their home-loans and car-loans would be given a benefit to that effect or only half was accepted. They might cry themselves hoarse but little can be done except finding a new section to invest in. When the Finance Minister announced to quash the FBT, the whole private sector let a silent tear fall. The CAs of the more established firms worked overtime to devise new ways and means to hide money.

The rush to invest in new bonds, mutual funds, provident funds is like never seen before. What seems funny is the urge to 'lock' a considerable amount for eons to save what actually might be a pittance comparatively.

A holiday ought to be announced to allow indulgence into such nefarious activities. But sadly, the internet is a medium one cannot do without for the purpose. It is a sight to behold when the whole workforce conglomerates exchanging invaluable tips to ensure that extra penny of everyone is saved. This kind of knowledge sharing and expressions of camaraderie is seldom to be seen.

But all is well that ends well. With loads 'locked up', investments declared and accepted, the fool's day ushers a new financial year. A year , when all seems too bland until the wait for March makes the world not quite the same again. The IT people go back to fooling around, the medical stores return to save all possible receipts till the very end and the travel agents relish their 3%s. And the perennial pray of the 'service' people of letting the Finance Minister to have a benevolent change of heart to let the income tax slab be just raised to enable them to fall within the 10% slab.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Custodians of Culture

Culture, the unique spirit that binds people of a particular ethnic identity, is making news like never before. The self-acclaimed custodians of culture have come to the fore, and not for the first time, causing an aspect of human life which unites and integrates , to divide.

The essence of culture comes from within and is seldom, if ever, subject to outside force. Threats, arson, harm, chaos never exact willing compliance. The distinctiveness of a cultural identity must be so endearing that it initiates ready acceptance rather make the ‘outsiders’ want to mix their identity in it. It ought to be grown, nurtured and promoted than imposed against will. It must be a matter of pride than one that exacts meek submission to the whims and fancies of a powerful few. Culture must be appealing to imbibe oneself into it and the promoters of this great human aspect must inspire trust and confidence than fear of a loss.

The Sena brigade is miffed with Mukesh Ambani, angry at Sachin Tendulkar and threatens anyone who dares proclaim Mumbai is open to all Indians. This is so laughably against the laws that govern the land of which Mumbai is just a part of. And to see them gain in strength with popular trust and belief with such ideology beats common sense.

A look at the citadels which protect this Maharashtraian culture, the forts of the yore, cuts a sorry tale. The once pride and prestige of this state built by Shivaji Maharaj, the icon of Marahi identity, presents a sad picture. They lie in shambles and remain as old relics invoking only thoughts of what they would have been. Not one of them is looked upon or cared for as a site of heritage. This is where the actual Maharashtrian history lies. This brought glory to the land. A hero's legacy is being wasted. They lie in wilderness with little respite and cry for their resurrection for the generations to come and admire its glory. Indeed, is this not what we pass on as culture in its true form?

Dance and literature rarely find mention as a means to promote the distinct Maharashtrian identity. And there is no dearth of either. Music, cinema, history, food are not seen as an effective medium to champion the cause of the identity. MNS is obsessed with the taxi drivers in Mumbai and seeking apologies from filmmakers. The Sena is hell bent on calling Mumbai its own. Breaking TV channel offices and howling outside movie actors homes takes up much of their actitivity and now deciding what age is appropriate for marriage(not for everybody, just Rahul Gandhi)

The RSS has finally realized that being a partner to such a crime would only draw flak on the national front to its political outfit, the BJP. In a year when Bihar goes to elections, being a spectator to acts which potray regionalism in its crudest sense would not garner much needed votes to save face. Its politically correct stance at the opportune time only adds an interesting dimension to the brotherts-in arms relationship with Shiv Sena here in Maharatra. That it took this long to react to the injustice meted out to the 'outsiders' could not have come at a better time. It remains to be seen whether this standpoint of the RSS and the BJP stands the test of time and lasts beyond the state elections in Bihar and more importantly till the next elections in Maharashtra, which of course are a long way off from now. Given the current political scenario, the answer seems obvious. Till then it is likely that the custodians of the Marathi culture remain isolated in their endeavor of driving out north Indians from the 'their' grounds