She’s India

India is Gandhi, Patel, Shashtri and Nehru

India is Sadbhavna, Satya, Swaraj and Ahimsa

India  is Kashi, Kali, Jaganath and Meenakshi

India is Shivaji, Akbar, Ashoka and Babur

India is St. Francis Xavier, Sri Krishna and Sheik Salim Chishti

She is the towering figure of Indira, Vajpayee and Rajiv, India is the snow capped Himalayas, She is the hot sands of the Thar and the Tigress of the Sundarbans

India is the houseboats on Dal Lake, the Saffron fields of Kashmir and the Tea gardens of Assam

India is Xacuti,Khosha,Zhutho and Dhansak

She is Shah Jahan’s Peacock throne, She’s also the Kohinoor.

India is the music coming out from Anglo-Indian houses, She’s the sound of Azaan mixed with the  sound of temple bells.

India is Ruskin Bond’s novels and the passion of Jim Corbett, She is Kalam, Azad, Bose and Tagore.

She’s also Kabir, Babasaheb, Phule and Guru Nanak

She’s the mighty waves of the Indian ocean and the mighty thoughts of Vivekananda, She’s Basavanna, Adi Shankara and Mirabai

She’s Buddha,She’s Mahavira and She’s also Mother Teresa

She’s the Periera’s, the Kapoor’s, Malik’s, Khan’s the Ahoms, the Khasis, the Iranis and the Colaço’s

India is the Gopura of the Virupaksha temple, She’s the Minarets of the Taj Mahal and the white façade of Velankanni, She’s the Tomb of Humayun, the serenity of Kedarnath and the bustle of Bombay.

India is RK Lakshman, Malgudi and Mahabharata

She’s the Brahmaputra ,She’s also the Hooghly.

She is a Bodo, She’s a Karbi, She’s a Mizo,She’s a Garo. She’s also a Sentilesse, and a Santhal.

India is in Birmingham,Brampton, Burma and other far away lands like Malaya, Singapore and Africa.

She’s the Sitar playing in the background of a Beatles song, She’s the Ghazals of Rafi and Chants of Om.

India is  an old structural Temple,  A beautiful Anglican church and a grand Mosque, grander than even the grandest

She’s the Qutub Minar, the Stupa at Sanchi and the Mahals of Jaipur

She’s the loud music of a wedding procession, She’s the serenity of Coorg, She’s also the chirping of the bulbul

India is not Hatred, Bigotry, Violence or Intolerance

She is soothing, peaceful and calm

She’s a champion of Democracy, Justice and Hope

India is Inclusive, Secular and Tolerant towards all

India is home to me and a billion more.

If you like the above post feel free to share this! Do let me know in the comments if you did not  get the meaning of any line, will be happy to explain!

Let’s make this world a better place

Last Christmas I wrote a small passage of what I’d like from Santa-

Dear Santa
This year I hope you’re kind to those without homes, to those without food and to those stuck in war zones, I hope you give peace to the kids stuck in wars, I hope you help those in the periphery of our society, I hope you help the marginalized and the weak. I hope you give medicines to the poor and warm blankets to the men on the road. I hope you bring love to those with hatred towards other groups
In turn I promise you I’ll do my bit and stand up for these people whenever and wherever I can

 

This year I’ve decided to do a small fundraiser for an organization called U&I. I’ve been teaching at a school aided by U&I and they mainly work with providing quality education to underprivileged children across India

 

I’m sharing the details of the same below, hope you will take some time off to read it and spread the word and if you can chip in a bit!

Details here-

Hi,  Thanks for stopping by to read about how I’m changing lives – and how you can help! I’ve been volunteering with U&I’s Learning Center, Nirmala Vidyalaya, in Bangalore for the past year. The Learning Center caters to the academic needs of 39 underprivileged children. Volunteers like me spend 2.5 hours twice a week teaching the children English and other subjects. We focus on their wholesome development and conduct library se…https://heroup2019.ketto.org/fundraiser/shreyas-wh91v?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=whatsappShare&utm_campaign=shreyas-wh91v&utm_content=d4f4f9628b61cdede2274cd6612f54bf&shby=1

*Donate Now to help Shreyas Isaac* –

https://heroup2019.ketto.org/contribute/contribute.php?fmd_id=139490&fmd_sc_id=&utm_source=internal&utm_medium=whatsappShare&utm_campaign=shreyas-wh91v&utm_content=d4f4f9628b61cdede2274cd6612f54bf

 

Merry Christmas 🙂

The Election is over.

 

Indian elections are loud, vibrant, colorful, and huge affairs with large amounts of money spent, this year, however, witnessed an election which was marred with hate speech, petty mudslinging and several incidents of political violence, political discourse hit new lows everyday and the country was sharply divided into two groups of people who were super determined to oust the other, to trick each other and to win. Fake news was the norm and almost everyone including the intellectuals and the educated classes fell for fake news at one time or the other. Fierce debates raged on around the country, newsrooms were packed with spokespersons trying to air their views, tea shops were filled with old men trying to decipher the mood, dining rooms too were politically charged and dinner was always served with a pinch of politics.  The problem here is how divisive and polarized this election became towards the end, everyone had picked sides and everyone were not open to hearing out the other side, democracy isn’t about an election, it’s a process of debate and dialogue and without any dialogue happening, elections are completely irrelevant exercises with nothing being achieved. The level of political discourse too was very worrying, people were no longer talking about development or roads or water or education the main point of focus unfortunately was other irrelevant information like the caste of the candidates, the religion of their parents and several other personal topics like these, things which added zero value to our democratic process.

 

Another trend which I noticed was how personal this election became for many of us, friends stopped talking to each other, families were annoyed at  relatives for having a difference in opinion, WhatsApp forwards were the start of fiery online wars between peers, Facebook friends blocked each other simply because they had a difference of opinion and no one really wanted to hear the other side anymore. I too had vigorously supported certain candidates and ideologies, some won and many lost but I recognized the fact that an election isn’t the end of the world, we need to work together and build bridges, regardless of who won and who lost, unity is the only way forward.

The print and digital media didn’t help in any way too, they continued to propagate hatred and divisions simply to gain viewers, after all won’t the curious human mind want to see two people with differing ideologies shout at each other on screen? Social media was altogether a whole new ballpark, trolls from all sides attacked each other, those who held on to their ideologies were insulted, abused and even threatened by the other side.

Now we need to recognize that the election is over.

Yes, many of us are Liberals, many of us are Communists, several of us are Conservatives, many of us love the new Prime Minister, some of us aren’t so fond of him, many of us wanted Congress to come back and some of us wanted regional parties to do well but what unites all of us? ALL of us want what’s best for India and for all Indians, our paths, ideologies, methods and views may differ but we all stand shoulder to shoulder as proud Indians. We need to reconcile and reach out to each other after this election and all the divisiveness we have seen during the campaign

Yes, this election has been one of the most hateful, petty and aggressive ones which we have witnessed but it’s time we realized that an election can’t divide us so much, we can’t be so partisan or polarized as a society, we need to work together and we certainly can’t shy away from putting our hand out to the other side, India is much more than just AAP, Congress or BJP. We cannot let our love for ideology or a political figure blind us from reality. Nation building required a joint effort and it certainly can’t leave out any group or community. We must all be involved in making India a beautiful country, regardless of whether we won or we lost during this election

Above all this we also need to recognize that human relationships, friendships and communities are far too important to be broken by petty ideological fights. Simply because you support a party which I’m highly critical of, doesn’t mean we can’t talk or we can’t stay friends, we need to ensure that we don’t allow politics to dictate our personal lives.

Let us love all Indians and let us build this country together, I’m hoping in the coming days the government will reach out to the opposition and give out an olive branch, we can’t progress as a country if there’s no political decency in our ruling class, there needs to be bipartisanship, unity and more coordination, that’s the only way forward.

To clarify, I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t have any political affiliation or ideologies, I’m only suggesting that we don’t allow our ideologies to become hateful towards those who may not agree with us, we can’t have open markets with closed minds.

Let the way forward be filled with peace, tolerance, mutual respect and inclusion, there’s really no other way to a peaceful society where everyone feels at home. If we start today, future elections in this country would see an improvement in the dialogue and won’t be so divisive or hateful, the wounds that this election has caused will take a long time to heal and the scars may never go away but there’s always hope that the future will see decency, respect and love become the cornerstones of a healthy democracy, until then I urge you all to reach out to those who don’t believe in the same things that you believe in, talk to them and try having an open mind, small things always blossom into bigger ones.

An open letter to Indian Politicians from the young!

Dear politicians

 

Elections are just around the corner, the news waves are filled with election news, the newspapers carry huge advertisements issued by political parties, huge banners can be found across cities and towns asking people to vote for development , progress, peace and strong leadership, pollsters are publishing numerous opinion polls every day, but will all of  this excitement lead to anything concrete for my people? Will the roads be fixed? Will toilets be built? Will education get proper funding? Will crime reduce? I’ll leave these questions for you to answer.

 

Let me however spell out certain ground rules, I trust you will follow these in the days to come-

First off don’t try to divide us, we are one people and we live in one country, for your petty political gains don’t give out hate-filled and radical statements, do not divide us based on religion, language or caste, you’re supposed to unite us, not divide us. Does an united India scare you?

 

Secondly, don’t give us fake promises which you can never keep up to, it’s easy to promise us the moon, but sometimes you forget the fact that we aren’t four-year-old kids who you can fool, we can see through your lies. Talking about promises, please read your election manifesto before you release them, manifestos aren’t documents you release just to get votes, these are documents you need to follow once you’re in power, you’re supposed to fulfill the schemes you promise, you can’t just announce them with a lot of fanfare and then forget about them.

 

Thirdly don’t use cheap means to win elections. It may be easy to win a couple of thousand votes by distributing free alcohol and food, but in the long run these things destroy our country, these unfair and sick moves will only lead to my country becoming more corrupt. Instead try to win votes through fair means, use your work, your voice, your volunteers, your elocution skills and your manifesto to convince people to vote for you, work hard and campaign well, always remember, the youth of this country are watching- we may not talk a lot, but trust me we are watching every single move of yours.

 

Fourthly, don’t bother knocking on my door once in five years if I haven’t seen you do any work in the previous five years, I want you to be visible, I want to see you on the ground, I want to see you working hard, I want you to be efficient and caring, don’t ask me for my vote if you have spent the last five years sitting in your palatial bungalows, eating my money and using government privileges, if you’ve hit the snooze button for five years and you’ve suddenly woken up during the elections, you’re a part of the problem and we won’t waste our precious votes on you.

 

Next up, don’t you dare use violence, threats and muscle power to win elections, India is a country which admires peace and non-violence. Why should innocent people be killed and hurt simply for you to win an election? India doesn’t deserve violent and crude politicians, we deserve more compassionate leaders who will guide us and inspire us. Let me also add that if you have a criminal record or if you’ve been involved in a crime, it’s actually shameful that you even have to courage to come out and ask for our votes. How can we have strong laws and regulations when our own lawmakers are lawbreakers?

 

I also want you to remember that this country is governed by a Constitution, you are morally and legally responsible to the Constitution of this country, don’t give out careless and harmful remarks which tarnish our Constitution. We need leaders who will follow the Constitution, not leaders who will put the Constitution on an elephant and sing praises to it, but not actually follow it or even read it.

 

Always remember to shed your elitist and privileged attitude, no matter who you are or how much power you have, the Indian people will always have more power than you, don’t do silly things like hurting a toll booth attendant simply because he asked you to pay for using the road which was built with public funds, don’t skip security lines at airports and use extravagant VIP privileges, don’t demand to be treated specially, you aren’t deities to which we need to come with offerings!

Remember the greatest and most powerful leaders of the world have always been the ones with the most humility and grace.

 

I could keep listing out more things I want to change, but I will  stop with a few more small ones- don’t hinder our day-to-day movement for your political road shows and rallies, why should ambulances be stopped or why should school buses be made to wait simply so that you can parade your supporters around and chest thump about yourselves?

Be environmentally conscious, don’t overdo the tacky banners and posters, don’t litter our cities with party leaflets and hand slips, clean up after your rallies and don’t use loudspeakers at 11 in the night, trust me- hell hath no fury like a sleepy 19-year-old woken up by political jingles.

 

Like always, I send my best wishes to you all, I will responsibly go and vote for the best candidate  (I will stand in the line at the polling booth unlike many of you who will barge into it)

Remember the fact that we are many and you are few, the Constitution begins with ‘We the people of India’ it doesn’t begin with ‘I, the great, chest thumping, super awesome Politician’

My loyalty to my country has urged me to write this letter to all of you, I hope this election will see some changes in your behaviour, I hope you all have a great time campaigning, remember we are watching- every single and small move of yours.

 

With regards

The youth of India

 

Do share this and comment your opinions below!

The message of India

What exactly is India? Is it a country? An idea? A geographical area? A feeling? Or is it a message?
For me, the concept and the creation of India is a message- but what exactly is this message? The ‘Message of India’ can be summed up in an axiom which is quite often used in school textbooks and by school kids in their Independence day speeches- ‘Unity in Diversity’.

The ‘Message of India’ speaks about tolerance, mutual respect and understanding, peace, compassion, love and most of all celebrating our uniqueness, yet remaining united as a strong nation. It was this ‘Message’ which was reflected in our freedom struggle, The great Mahatma Gandhi inherently knew that the only way to achieve Independence was to celebrate our diversity and embrace our differences. Post-independence too, our foreign policy beginning with the Non-Alignment Movement during the peak of the Cold War was shaped by this ‘Message’.
A while ago I met a wonderful Jewish Grandmother in the vintage and colorful Jew town in Kochi. I spoke to her and her caretaker, while we chatted away, the ‘azan’ was called from the local mosque and her caretaker wore his skull cap and bid me farewell.
It was at this time that I really understood the ‘Message of India’. Across the world, conflicts between these two communities may have raged on like a wildfire, but in India, our love and acceptance has doused this wildfire of hatred and anger.

I have traveled to only about a dozen or so states in India, I haven’t seen a major part of this mosaic-  like country, but each time I leave home and go to a new state, I am in awe of its unique culture and atmosphere, each of the twenty-nine states( and union territories!) in India can boast of its own diverse, beautiful and lively culture, even the smaller states in the North-East of India each have their own languages, dances, foods and clothing styles. In fact within Indian states too there can be vast lingual and cultural differences. Religion in India has been more of a unifying concept rather than a divider, it is not uncommon to see Hindu families put up Christmas trees or to see Muslim families light up their houses for Diwali! Festivals and celebrations in India can last several days and everyone participates, regardless of the Holy-Book they follow.
Any statement which one can make about one part of our country can be paradoxically true in another part! I have now made it my life’s purpose to travel to each and every state of this country and spread this ‘Message’ across the world. In this troubled, conflicted  and chaotic world, the ‘Message of India’ can be an instrument of peace and tolerance.

Various travellers, rulers, refugees, tribes and cultures have left their undeniable mark on this country, each and every one of them have contributed to our rich and varied heritage, it may sound romantic but the ‘Message of India’ is precisely this, it’s a message of acceptance.When we closely study Indian history, it is interesting to note that apart from a few failed rulers who never understood the idea of India, almost every single Indian ruler has had members from other communities apart from his or her own community  hold high positions in the administration or in the army.
Members from other communities were always present in their courts and palaces and many Indian rulers guaranteed protection and support to all communities within their empire.
An example of this tolerance can be seen in Vatapi or Badami, the erstwhile capital of the Badami Chalukyas, it is now a quaint town in the southern state of Karnataka, the Chalukyan Kings built four marvelous rock- cut temples in the surrounding hills back in the sixth century,the rulers were Hindus and therefore the first three temples were in honour of the Hindu Gods- Shiva and Vishnu, but what is interesting is that the fourth temple is a Jain Temple!
Jainism was another religion which emerged in Ancient India and Vatapi had a small yet vibrant Jain community, our ecstatic tour guide pointed out that the ruler built this temple in honour of ‘universal brotherhood’ and ‘tolerance’, this for me is the ‘Message of India’.
Even today, Indian politics is full of colour and noise, various groups and associations have their own parties and pressure groups, it is through this that the aspirations of a billion people gets fulfilled, the ‘Message of India’ thus is deeply democratic, it is democracy that has allowed for so many different voices to be heard, valued and accepted.Our Constitution is like a mother, she has more than a billion  children and she feeds and nurtures every single one of them.

Many foreign travellers wrote about India- Indica written by Megasthenes, the works of ancient Chinese scholars Hiuen Tsang and Fa Hien, Kitab-ul-hind written by Al-Biruni are famous examples,these books talk about varied subjects about India and her people, they were all written with different viewpoints and at different times but the singular theme which they all seem in awe of is India’s all-embracing and all-loving character, the uniqueness of this land which didn’t have one set of unique people, but several sets of diverse people.Travelers, scholars and traders came from all over the world in curiosity of this land, some of them never returned to their homelands,others went back and preached the ‘Message of India’.

There is no doubt that the ‘Message of India’ has changed and evolved with time, but it’s central and core values has always remained rigid over the years. Great Indian men and women continue to preach this message of India, recently when the apex court in India proclaimed that same-sex relationships were no longer illegal, it was this all-inclusive and all-loving character of India that was on full display. I’m proud to recognize the fact that several people across the globe have used this message to unify people and to fight injustice, notable examples are Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, both of these great men used the ‘Message of India’ in their respective struggles.

I  am often reminded of a powerful pledge we were made to recite in school, as young kids who grumbled at any type of work, this pledge and the whole ceremonial ‘hand on the heart’  pose always felt like a burden, but the more I explore and learn about my people and their lives, the more this pledge becomes relevant, let me end this with a part of this pledge we recited in school-

India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.
I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion.
In their well-being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness
(This pledge was written in 1962 by Pydimarri Venkata Subba Rao)

Let us all be proud of this nation and the values it has stood up for over the years, let us pledge to respect, protect and spread the ‘Message of India’.
If you haven’t yet visited India, come over, you have a family of a billion waiting for you, come explore this land and its diversity and get touched with the ‘Message of India’. Mahatma Gandhi once said “My life is my message” in a similar sense India’s existence is her ‘Message’

 

Do you have any comments on this post? Do post it below and let us know what you think!

Thank you for reading this post!