Yesterday was election day in Bangalore for the 2019 Lok Sabha. I have my name enrolled in Indiranagar. I haven’t changed it to Hennur, because I don’t want to fix what’s not broken. I am not sure if I fully trust the Election Commission to transfer my vote to Hennur without any hassles. People who have lived in Bangalore for decades, voted as recent as 2018, find their name deleted this election. But that’s a story for another blog.

Standing in the queue for voting is always a moment of reflection for me. Though I have never experienced serpentine queue, instead, each one so far has been a pretty relaxed experience. The people who come out to vote always seem to have a sense of duty towards our democracy. Ours is not a perfect one by a long mile, but it’s also not the worst. Also, in the mix for this sense of duty, there are the first time voters who radiate enthusiasm, though I get confused – Is it for the election process? or the ubercool inked selfie to announce to their friends on social media that they are now responsible enough to participate in the process that decides the course this nation takes.

Yesterday, while I was queuing up to vote, in the uncharacteristically hot Bangalore summer, I witness a very memorable incident. A very senior citizen walks in to cast his vote helped by middle aged man who I later came to know was his son in law. What struck me was his 1000-watt smile as he was greeted by many folks, both young and old as he made his way inside the polling station. The respect he was getting was what got me curious. As a senior citizen, he quickly went in the booth, voted and came out. Even as he was being helped back into his car, many more people went over to him and greeted him. He cheerfully acknowledge all of them. The person standing behind me, another ‘young’ senior citizen also said hi to this old man. When he had left, I asked the gentleman behind me, who that person was. Was he some office bearer of some local organisation? a politician? The gentleman behind me replied – ‘He is nobody, but just a simple teacher, who has taught a lot of folks in that neighbourhood’. And I thought to myself – but of course!

As I gathered back my thoughts, I also remembered how my father-in-law also gets a lot of respect when he moves around in his town. He was a teacher too. At the end of the day, I can think of only two professions in India and perhaps the world, that can garner such respect from ordinary folks – Doctors & Teachers. I am an engineer by profession, I can never hope to get such adulation. There is something noble about the profession of doctors & teachers. One helps save lives, the other helps us to make our lives. I have very fond memories of my school days. I still vividly remember my teachers that have taught me. And when my thoughts wander to those days, they always bring a smile on my face. Be it Gopi teacher, or Surlacar Sir, or Mrs Surlacar, or my maths teacher Smita, or my science teacher Linda or Amonkar Sir, or Thakur teacher or Volvoikar Sir or Sunanda Pai teacher. All I can say is that I am grateful!

It’s a noble, albeit an underpaid profession. But at the end of the day, I guess it makes up for it when you walk around with a stick and people stop by and greet you with smile with nothing but gratitude and then there is this one guy who doesn’t know you, asks around to know who you are and then you leave an imprint on him too…

Pulwama attack 2019

Yet another ghastly attack on the Indian Armed Forces. The perpetrators the usual JEM. Our response… well thats the tricky part.

URI2??? Or another measured silence??? or some other Out-Of-Box response that will catch all of us by surprise.

The timing of this attack puts Modi in a very uncomfortable situation. The recent hit movie URI, seen by a majority of Indians has brought in focus the perils of serving in the Indian Armed Forces specifically those deployed in the conflict zone. It, also for the first time, brought into the focus the aftermath of such attacks especially for the family and the loved ones of the martyrs. Earlier we used to focus only on the soldiers. I am hundred percent sure that today, for the first time, all the thoughts of the people of India are with the family of the soldiers who were martyred. Every one of us is picturing a wife, a daughter, a son, a mother of each of the these soldiers. Yes, it’s a difficult day today.

Emotions are running high… everyone wants revenge. But you must also realise that the Pakistani Army, who surely is responsible for this in some capacity, will be on high alert. The JEM will also be on high alert. So that leaves URI2 as a high risk option. Modi will also need to take into consideration the LokSabha elections which are due in a couple of months. Any miscalculation can be disastrous. But at the same time, if his actions bear fruits, it will guarantee a second term.
Pulling out of the Indus water treaty is a more diplomatic options, plus, we could also stop all trades with Pakistan. But will it really be crippling?

Also, since the attack is fresh, all media outlets will be harping ‘Revenge’ but this narrative will change over the coming days to a more moderate tone as the usual Pakistani sympathisers who are hiding today, will start appearing in the news studios and social media sphere and blabber about how an unproportionate response could diminish the support for this Fight-Againt-Terror.

I personally think, that if the Indian Govt can, they should take out Masood Azhar soon. And may be a few others just as a cherry on the cake. Some sort to armed escalation would also help. But this will require elaborate planning and could be expensive also. This has an added risk that if it spirals out of control so close to the national elections, it could undo all the work done in the last 5 years by this govt. Plus this would undoubtedly invite pressure from the international community, primarily US & China. But it’s an options none the less.

Either which way he choses, Modi’s political acumen will be tested this time. He himself has come out and said that the sacrifice of the jawans will not be in vain. His senior ministers have also echoed the same. So this has to manifest in tangible actions else the opposition will make this a poll issue. If there is no response, then the Congress President will not stop screaming about it in all his rallies leading upto the polls. All the other members of the Thugbandhan will also be critical of how the issue was be handled by the PMO.

So as it stands, this is a difficult time for the nation and it’s leadership. All eyes will be on the PMO. I hope that the action Modi choses, surprises us. Honestly, I don’t think the end to this conflict is near. It’s a vicious cycle. But in this day & age, no retaliation is a sign of cowardice rather than upholding of Gandhian principles.

Jai Hind!

English is a very funny language!

We have all heard this line, made famous by a certain Bollywood star 🙂 And he gave a series of brilliant example as to why is it…

Getting to the point of this blog, most of us must have seen and had a hearty laugh at the signages with wrongly spelled english. I too have had many laughs. Child Beer! But a recent one really got me thinking. Are these ‘misspelt’ words funny or actually brilliant. Think about it. Phonetically they are perfect. And mind you, ‘English’ is not our native language. It was thrust upon us by the British. It’s a different matter all together that today, we Indians, probably have the largest population speaking the Queen’s english.

But getting back to these signages. Think about those for a while. Most of them are done by small businesses, mostly in rural india, trying to target the people who might not know the local script. The guy writing the signages, probably has limited knowledge of english which is not his native language. Should we not admire the ingenuity of the guy who, armed with just 26 alphabets, spelling the words purely on how they sound, not knowing the intricacies of the language. Isn’t that amazing. Isn’t that how a language should be. Most Indian languages are! We write it as it sounds. Why did English as a language introduce so many exceptions! Shouldn’t we ridicule these exceptions rather than the person who makes an attempt to guess spellings on pure phonetics…

I wonder what the Spelling Bees make of this issue