अनिष्ट(disagreeable, undesirable)

India is changing in a thousand ways. Not all of them are good, not all of them are bad. What we have seen in the past two or three years is a wave of saffron spreading over our country. The Bhartiya Janata Party, founded as the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, an organisation committed to turning India to a Hindu nation concluded a resounding victory in Uttar Pradesh, the evidence of the ascendance of its single-track politics aimed at benefiting orthodox Hindus and marginalising everyone else. For the first time in its electoral history, UP did not send a single Muslim MP to the Lok Sabha in 2014. Paradoxically, this was when the legislative assembly had the highest Muslim representation — 63 were elected in 2012.

 

“Those claiming to be secular and progressive do not have an identity of their parents and their blood. One will get self-respect through such identity, I will be happy if someone identifies as Muslim, Christian, Brahmin, Lingayat or Hindu. But trouble will arise if they say they are secular.”                                                                                                                   Anant Kumar Hegde, Union Minister of State for Employment and Skill Development

 

Not doing anything in the face of religious tension or intolerance is almost a trademark of our government. The whole government is probably not to be blamed, a leadership wherein the PM himself is responsible for the deaths of hundreds in communal riots in Gujarat is not a leadership at all. Our chief ministers are Hindu priests and brahmacharis, why do we expect the Muslims to not be marginalised anyway? Our habit of judging the character of all Muslims by keeping some random terrorist as an example of the otherwise peace-loving group of people does not help us much either.

 

“Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won’t happen in ‘Bharat’ or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang-rape or sex crimes.”                                                                                                                                          Mohan Bhagwat, Chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, mentor to the BJP

 

I’m really sorry to say this sir, but rapes, as big a bane they are on the beautiful populace of our country, do happen everywhere. Day in day out we read reports of young girls being raped mercilessly in some or the other dark corner of our country, and yet we do not see any concrete action being taken by the esteemed leadership of our glorious country. According to estimates by The Quint, India witnesses about a staggering 106 rapes a day, and that is when about six out of ten rapes go unreported. In the face of such a tragedy we face every day, the mentor to our PM decides to blame it on urban values and not on the ineffectiveness of the law and order situation in our country. How inane is that?

 

“Those opposing Narendra Modi are looking at Pakistan, and such people will have place in Pakistan and not in India.”                                                                                                          Giriraj Mishra, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

 

My grandfather was born in Pakistan and he migrated to India during the partition. As one of the pioneers responsible for bringing electricity to the state of Madhya Pradesh, I can proudly say that my grandfather did his bit for the country. His political leanings are inconsequential to the fact that he did everything in his power to help the country in spite of the fact that he is Pakistani by birth. Our mentality has been modelled in such a way that we inadvertently vote for the party that appeals to us not from the perspective of the work they have done for the nation, but from the perspective of religion. If the leadership of the party respects your religious faiths and beliefs, that party automatically becomes your first choice. The whole task of deciding upon the government trickling down to the ambit of religious and geographical differences is wrong.

 

“As a memorial to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the statue will not only remind every individual of our great nation’s freedom struggle but will also inspire the people of our country to inculcate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s visionary ideologies of unity, patriotism, inclusive growth and good governance… a fully functional, purpose-serving tribute that will spur all round socio-economic development.”                                                                           Official website of the Statue of Unity, Government of India

 

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stood for the downtrodden and poor. He always ensured that the poorest sections of the society had access to all the freedoms that the British enjoyed in the country. Spending almost 3000 crores on his statue is simply defiling every ideology he stood for. These funds have reduced his legacy to nothing a cheap stunt for political gains. What these funds could have done for the poor people of our country would have immortalised the legacy of the Iron Man of India. Consider the fact that the bronze panels used in the statue were not manufactured in India as no Indian firm had the capability to do it, and hence the foundation of the statue was inherently Made in China.

 

“The countries in the world are unsure about how to tackle terrorism. The UN is also not in a position to guide them. It is heartening that Prime Minister of Bangladesh despite the fact that she is a woman is openly saying that she has zero tolerance for terrorism.”                 Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

 

I feel appalled at the fact that we always are puzzled when it comes to empowering the women in our country. When you sit down and realise that our honourable Prime Minister feels that ‘despite’ being a woman, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina having zero tolerance for terrorism is a unique thing to be noted is an instance that explains his true stance towards women. When the leader of the country believes that a female prime minister fighting terrorism in her country is a happening out of the ordinary, I sincerely see no serious women empowerment happening in our country. No matter how much we try to sugar-coat things, all of us know that Modi was responsible for thousands of deaths during the Godhra riots, and is unfit to rule a country as diverse as ours.

 

In the end, it all comes down us. What we think and what we do determines where our country heads . Leaving the decisions to leaders like the ones we have as of now is the worst mistake we could make.

 

आलोचना और स्वतंत्र विचार ये क्रांतिकारी सोच के अहम बिंदु है I (Bhagat Singh, 1930)

 

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Distinction Achieved

“May I come in, professor?”

“Yeah, sure Ritika. Have a seat”, said Mr. Roy.

Fidgeting, she sat down on a velvet couch, exposed to his deep stare. She looked around her. Even though it was quite a normal cabin, it seemed plush and spacious than the rest.

Mr. Roy, an ex-attorney, was an eminent law professor at The Institute of Legal Studies, Ranchi. Apart from taking classes of criminal law, he was also in charge of training the undergraduates for the internships. In the current circumstances, Ritika Dey, one of his top students had just screwed up on a very crucial case.

After what seemed like an eternity, Ritika spoke, “I am terribly sorry, sir. Just give me a chance. I ca-”

“I am sorry. It’s not in my hands anymore”, she was interrupted by Mr. Roy. His voice was soft but his intentions were clear.

Disappointed, she left his office. Unsure of her next step, she strolled the corridors for a while. Her eyes fell on a guy, loitering in the hallway. It was Dhruv Talwar, her former partner in that case. Suddenly, she felt a surge of anger rise within her. What a jerk! He was the one who had messed up and then backed out shamelessly.

Dhruv was among the popular guys in college. He was handsome, had rich parents and hanged out with all the cool kids. Being in the same batch, they knew each other to the extent of acquaintanceship. It was only after Mr. Roy handed them a case together, as a part of the innocence project, that they began interacting with each other. Their case began on a good note. But as always, Ritika remained invisible while Dhruv took all the credits. Deep inside she was furious, but she knew it was pointless. It would be only a matter of time before the project would be over and they would move on with their respective lives.

However, the prison visits were the worst. The inmate, Jay, was thrown to jail based on accusations of illegal trade with a potentially dangerous drug dealer. Though the shreds of evidence were inadequate, he was facing a death sentence. From a prosperous businessman, he merely became a nameless criminal.

Ritika knew that they had to meet with him every week and highlight the loopholes in his arrest documents. What she didn’t know until recently was the fact that the two guys with whom she worked were attracted to each other. Dhruv had arranged quite a few illicit visits to the prison. And it was the hidden CCTVs that had captured their rendezvous, thus bringing an end to the show. The prison officials obviously didn’t suspect their romance, but instead made an allegation of some conspiracy. Moreover, Dhruv was reluctant to come forward with his orientation. He was afraid of his reputation. This further jeopardized their case. She could tolerate gay dudes but her teammate going behind her back was not at all acceptable.

Ritika was snapped back to reality as a green light flashed on her phone.

Called the federal prison this morning. Your case is dropped. Jay’s visitation rights will be suspended from Thursday. Only a day and a half left. Do something ASAP.

Her best friend, Tiyasha’s message popped up on the screen. With long strides, she rushed home. Her classes were almost over. Dhruv was as lazy and useless as he could be. Thus, it was about time she took the reins and straightened things out.

Alone in her room, Ritika began contemplating her plan. It was vague.

The thought of his life lying in her hands made her even more anxious. She had to think fast. Now!  She started all over again, from the very beginning.

An idea struck her. She gathered her files and hurried away. An introvert, shy and apprehensive, the twenty-one-year-old had never before made the journey to a prison alone. But, here she was. Trying to look confident, Ritika Dey entered the large iron gates of the prison and walked straight, hoping for her strategy to succeed. After all, it was her life. She was going to be a lawyer. She had to assert her presence, with or without any help.

The Job at Hand

We have been living in an era of uncertainty. An age where our very existence relies solely on pure speculation of what lies ahead and conjecturing conclusions and outcomes out of scenarios and circumstances. Outcomes that may at times overwhelm us with their complexity and gravity. In other cases, their inexplicable nature and the perplexity involved with them makes us question our very being and relevance with respect to the ever-changing dynamics.
There have been pre-existing apprehensions surrounding the advent of newer and newer technological innovations in several sectors of our economy. That has however been the least of our worries, which is for a fact, quite unsurprising. For decades our economy has thrived upon these innovations, beginning with the Green Revolution in India, and the subsequent IT Revolution which introduced numerous breakthroughs in field of science and technology, and prospects for several others, but not without compromise. With the ever-increasing sophistication of machines and automation of industries and commercial centres, our reliance on the products of the evolving technological paradigms is growing at a rate that is unprecedented in the history of mankind.
Considering the current situation concerning our country’s economic order, we can establish unemployment as a major striking issue which continues to plague thousands of helpless and unfortunate Indians. The implications of such a predicament are not limited to a few sectors of our economy but are rather widespread and have infiltrated its roots, primarily the agricultural sector. India, for the past several decades has predominantly been an agricultural economy, and even today it supports the sustenance and livelihood of close to half the population of India even though it only contributes around 17-18 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In an economic survey released in Parliament recently, it was noted that Indian farmers are adapting farm mechanization at a faster rate in comparison to the recent past. Impressive growth has been recorded in the automation and mechanization of agricultural processes, ranging from the usage of tractors for ploughing the fields to the harvesting of crops using mechanical combines. All this has greatly contributed to the enhancement of agricultural productivity and efficiency. While the trend has been viewed by the government to be encouraging, to the keen observer it also presents itself as a distress call for an impending crisis. It is estimated that the percentage of agricultural workers of the total work force would drop to 25.7 percent by 2050 from 58.2 percent in 2001. The disturbing aspect of this trend is the rate of increase in employment in the industrial and service sector is insufficient to fill in the void caused by the diminishing dependence on manual labour in the field of agriculture. This has negatively affected the livelihood of peasants and semi-skilled labourers who primarily rely on this source of employment for their subsistence and that of their families. These people are mostly involved in seasonal employment, which due to current prevailing conditions, is mostly covered in a cloud of doubt. Such undesirable circumstances have strained their earnings, and have further added fuel to their desperation.

Even ambitious schemes such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (NREGA) have failed to permanently resolve this persistent issue largely due to several financial inconsistencies and inadequacies, as a result of leakages and corrupt implementation by the erstwhile UPA government. In 2015, the present NDA regime launched the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY), which is a skill development initiative scheme for the recognition and standardization of skills. The primary aim of the scheme is to encourage aptitude towards employable skills and to increase working efficiency of probable and existing daily wage earners, by giving monetary awards and by providing quality training to them. However, the inherent flaw in the scheme lies in its very initiative. While the scheme is progressively meeting its assigned targets to train 1 crore Indian youth by 2020, it itself doesn’t guarantee any placements and merely provides placement assistance. The scheme imparts 150-300 hours of training for 221 job roles, and the candidates are either school/college dropouts or are unemployed. This may seem to be an intuitive approach to attract the youth, mostly from a rural background who lack the means and resources to afford higher studies in private or government institutes. For them this represents itself to be a valuable opportunity. But once again, there is an uncertainty which prevails in the present financial situation. It is a prevalent fact there is a dearth of jobs and sources of employment in the country even after the initiation innovative schemes such as Digital India. There are several instances where people fail to get jobs even after graduation from reputed institutes, and have to on numerous occasions cope with periods of unemployment. In such a scenario, maintaining even the slightest expectations of assuring stable jobs to even 10 percent of the trainees under the PMKVY scheme would be ambiguous gesture to say the least.
Our government’s policies have aimed at only softening the blow of mass employment and focussed majorly on damage control. But this isn’t a solution-oriented approach from a government which promised a stable governance and economic and social prosperity for all citizens under the pretext of coming into power. There can be no denial to the fact that a crisis of an unfathomable magnitude is at close proximity. It is essential for the citizens of this nation and the government in power to realise the gravity of the situation and conjure a more effective and productive strategy to counter mass-unemployment. The policy makers need to focus their resources on re-evaluating their current strategies in place and focus primarily on creating new avenues for innovation and development, while at the same time make efforts to strengthen the capacity of existing avenues through direct investment or encourage skilled and semi-skilled individuals to take up fields of study and research specific to prerequisite skill requirement and technical know how for that particular work environment. The quality and standards of existing government and private-run institutes needs to be further reinforced, and these standards need to be maintained in the case of newly established institutes of higher learning through appropriate infusion of funds and proper resource management by the government. Unless we take such evasive measures to avert the crisis in the present time frame, we would eventually witness the greatest threat to democracy, which is none other than the rage and frustration of the 1.3 billion that constitute the world’s largest democracy.

Analysis of Emotions

ANALYSIS OF EMOTIONS.

I was the weirdest student. I took up psychology as an elective in 11th and 12th grade despite being a science student. Apart from the constant “Psychology is an arts subject vs Psychology is a science subject” debate, there was a lot more to arguments than just reaching a consensus. For example, look at my first sentence. Obviously, I wasn’t the only science student to take up Psych (pardon my use of short form, it’s how I prove to the world that I know more than them), there were others just as thick in the head. But it’s a general tendency to derogate oneself in order to feel more important. Half of you probably just thought, “Well, I don’t do that”. Again, a lot of people don’t. You’re not special here. And with that, maybe now it’s easier to realise that: we’ll do anything to make ourselves feel like we’re different and more important. You’re a unique snowflake alright, but a snowflake at the end of it, just like everyone else.

 

“You have the potential, you just don’t realise it”, is a statement twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools. You either get the Rudyard Kipling reference or you don’t. You can’t possibly have the ‘potential’ to get it. This is a very deceiving statement, it lets you believe that you’re intelligent. And perhaps you are, good for you. But what it unfortunately does is; it let’s you justify your laziness. “Oh, I have the potential, I just haven’t gotten around to really showing it”. Well how very noble of you. If there’s a boulevard people would hide behind, it’s this one. The real problem rises when high achievers become complacent and low achievers tire their souls out to the point that they sacrifice their own health. The statement in itself isn’t ‘damaging’. It’s just unfortunate that very few people can find a balance that does more good to them than bad. And until everyone hasn’t found that balance, the statement should be tweaked and reconstructed.

 

But what really is the point of these two random paragraphs, I mean, people don’t write out of nowhere, right? Point number three. Stop analysing where it isn’t required. Not everything has a reason we can be consciously aware of. My psych teacher had a extravagant quote that she’d say on repeat, “There are no just because in life, only because ofs”, and if you peel that onion it basically means that everything has a reason behind it. What half my class failed to understand was that she didn’t imply to us to ponder over the entirety of the incidences in our life. NO. That’s insane, it’s completely and utterly, and I say this in a very crude manner because no other word would quite express the same intent: STUPID. You can’t live your life wait deep in thought, trying to understand the WHY’s of life. Focus on the WHAT, move on. The whole meaning of her statement was that things do happen for a reason yes, but that reason doesn’t necessarily need to be in our consciousness. Lesson time, there are three levels of consciousness: The Conscious, The Sub Conscious and The Unconscious. The conscious is in the here and now. It makes us aware of the immediate things happening. The second lets us have intuitions and gut feelings and the third, well, we’ll never know. And that’s the point. Some things are better of not being known, so there is NO POINT, in trying to make sense of everything around us. Move on.

 

Now at this point in this piece of writing, you’ll realise that the title seems purely irrelevant. I am clearly not talking about different emotions and how they make us feel. But I am also clearly not in primary school. Anger, sadness, ecstasy, happiness, these are all noble emotions, but the subtle change in your body as you’re dipped in unexplainable emotions, this is what makes life worth living. Again, you either get that, or you don’t. My aim here was to make you feel, not just emote. To stir more than just tags for an emotion. To make you think, yet relate. The Fault in Our Stars really just taught me one thing; life is abrupt. Not everything has a conclusion. Not everything has an end to give you a closure. Not everything will feel complete.

And with that, I’d just say, peace out. The lame pun very much intended.

 

Unheared Whisper

Trees sway when I blow,
Plants rejoice when I flow.
When plants get energized and stimulated,
Nature turns serene and is never infuriated.
I am the moving air,
I am this earth’s au pair.
I blow around with a gentle breeze,
Whispering and making your life one of ease.
Everything had gone well for millions of years,
Then I realized something dire, I developed a fear.
A large monstrous figure is engulfing our earth,
It is spreading sorrow and not any kind of mirth.
This monster is developing at a very fast rate,
I don’t know what will be mine and my fellows’ fate,
This monster has taken birth due to human greed,
Pollution, air conditioners, vehicles, factories, take the lead.
Now when I blow, I don’t notice any greenery,
Now when I blow, I don’t see any picturesque scenery.
I mostly see droughts, famines, floods and fallow lands,
I do see industries where once used to be grasslands.
I see the animal kingdom in dismay and despair,
Oh! Isn’t there anybody to give them love and care?
When they lose their habitat, they move to cities and towns,
Even the lion king is killed and has to part with his crown.
Don’t kill and torture them by taking their homeland,
Don’t convert the forest patches into a wasteland.
I see the same anguish in the eyes of polar animals,
Humans are not less than ruthless cannibals.
For the frigid zone animals, I truly feel sad,
The ice has started melting, which is bad.
I also have a tough time seeing this disaster before my eyes,
Humans do nothing for the environment, except telling lies.
There are so many poisonous gases around me,
I can see them acting as my coffin keys.
I am also getting suffocated here,
I know my death is, indeed, quite near.
I have realized that nature will vanish soon,
Dear humans, it is a bane, not a boon.
One day, you will gasp for air and long for life,
Wake up humans, the time has come to strive.
Do something sensible or in hell you will be pinned,

This letter is from-
Yours sincerely,
The Wind.

BARGAIN TIME

Veteran politician Sharad Pawar just did the unthinkable. He gave a clean chit to Modi in Rafale deal. But Shivsena calls Rafale “father of the Bofors”. So are they going to switch sides? But there is more. Mayawati announces to contest all the seats in MP independently which will clearly damage the chances of Congress returning to power riding on an anti-incumbency wave. And why is KCR praising Modi and calling Rahul Gandhi a buffoon? Naveen babu is going soft on NDA supporting its candidate for vice chairman of Rajya Sabha and interestingly ‘rebellious’ Jay Panda is yet to be inducted in the saffron fold.

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All of them are up to one thing –bargain. For Mayawati, its once in a lifetime opportunity- to be the queen. The third front comes to power and she becomes the Prime Minister, more importantly, the unanimous leader of all Dalits for once and all. But for that, she, of course, requires a greater number of seats in the lower house. So she seeks a “package deal”-  Lok Sabha seats in all the states in which she supports Congress in assembly elections.

Pawar is a more seasoned politician. He wants to appease both Modi and opposition. So that in case of a hung house, he is favorite of both the sides. And the ever confused Thakrey is doing one thing he is good at- giving empty threats and trying to take revenge for the treatment he received at the hands of Modi-Shah duo.

For satraps like KCR and Patnayak, it is a simple thing- Modi may need their support for continuing in 7RCR. This means he owes them some favors- special packages, accountability cases and even support of BJP in local assemblies.

Now in the other end, there are Gandhis who are willing to pay any price to keep Modi out of power, for he is the first one in the history of Indian politics who has tried to eliminate Congress permanently. So Mayawati may get what she wants and if the situation arises, Congress party may support any leader from regional parties.

 

But saffron camp is less compelled a bit. Modi is the only pan India mass leader. They are hopeful that with support from parties like YSRC, ADMK, TRS, and BJD they may return to power. And unlike Congress, BJP has a leader who can change the game at last moment as he has done in Gujarat and Karnataka. So Shiv Sena will not be offered more than it got in the previous election and JDU will no longer be the elder brother in Bihar. In states like Odisha and Tamil Nadu, the party will contest all the seats and be prepared for a post-poll alliance if the need arises.

 

Up in smoke

The first lesson environmental sciences gives us is the fact that the earth is lent to us by the future generations. An alternate angle could be the fact that the earth we leave for them is our ultimate gift to them, and it certainly does not look good. The world we live in is so filled with stress that it has become a suffering to live a long life.

Stress leads to a plethora of mental and physical disorders, which eventually leads to shortened life-spans, loss of happiness, a decrease in productivity and many more problems. It only increases as people grow older. To rid themselves of this stress, people use a variety of methods which include but are not limited to alcohol, nicotine, and psycho-stimulants like sleeping pills, cocaine etc. All these ostensibly help reduce stress but in fact, give rise to an addiction. People end up using these as an excuse for not trying to find happiness in their lives. There are a variety of ways people use to blow off steam, but doing it literally is more common these days.

 

burning-cigarette-smoke

Very common addiction to nicotine comes from cigarettes. It has been a part of our society since ancient history, with various forms of opioids and other psychoactive materials, being converted to vapors and smoked. From hookah in the middle east and India to the pipes used by aboriginals in the west, smoking up has evolved with the society.

There exist multiple types of normal cigarettes for example menthol, which people generally use to start smoking, light, advanced, for loosening up the mind, and light, for chain-smokers who do not really need it but can not deal with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.We now have e-cigarettes as well which make vapors out of anything using combustible substances and electricity. It is not yet a common sight in our country, but hookah sure is. People, young and old alike, can be seen swarming the hookah bars where they are served smoke through a water-pipe along with  food and sometimes drinks. They have become a great spot for socializing.

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However, unlike the common understanding, hookahs and e-cigarettes are equally harmful. An hour of hookah can fill your lungs with more tar than a complete pack of cigarettes.Nicotine is a great way to reduce pressure in your head, but the withdrawals leave your body craving for more. This is the logic of marketing of cigarettes, but not a good logic to follow up on.

marijuana-smoke

Another trend that is hitting the world by a storm is the recreational use of cannabis/marijuana, commonly referred to as ‘weed’. It does have significant medical benefits, which are still under research. It helps patients suffering from glaucoma, reduces nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, improves appetite in people with HIV/AIDS, and treats chronic pain and muscle spasms. It is also under preliminary research for their potential to affect stroke or children’s epilepsy. Smoking it up is still not good for health.

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It can still be consumed orally through muffins, biscuits etc. If the governments globally legalize marijuana, it would definitely make the world a happier place. Imagine a pizza delivered at your doorstep with chilli flakes, oregano and marijuana sachets. Making chapatis with weed in it. Restaurants serving ‘Chhole’ and ‘Weed Bhature’. Although strict policies like that with liquor will be needed to keep it in check, however, people will have less harmful methods to de-stress themselves.

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The best stress-busting mechanism, for me, is looking at and playing with pets, be it dogs, cats or even cows. Playing a sport is equally helpful. If for some reason though, you are hooked on to nicotine, a suggestion would be to use safer alternatives like nicotine gums or patches to slowly help yourself rid of the addiction. Dogs still remain my prime suggestion for all stress related problems.

 

Don’t let this article ruin your mood, pulling a cigarette once or twice a month won’t kill you unless you have Bronchitis, like a certain friend of mine. Always try finding healthier ways to kill stress and increase productivity. Smoke is bad for you, in any form. As the reggae king, Bob Marley used to say, “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief, and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!”.

The Mail Carrier

Ramapuram was a small, sleepy town. Full with unambitious people roaming around the big banyan tree, as if it had borne the nucleus of the old town. People were happy, everyone going around for their work, everyone sustaining the small town economically. Industrialisation had left the town almost untouched, which only added to the natural beauty the town had. Letting things be as they imbibes a certain untouched beauty to the subject, and Ramapuram, if seen through the right eyes, was a perfect example.

Raman was one of the many dreamy-eyed residents of this town. As small a boy he was, like all other boys and girls of the town, he went to the only school the little place had. The school was a place of interest for the boys. The most striking features of the school were the old thatched roof, the archaic yellowed walls, the rusty blackboards, and the almost uninterested teachers. Almost as if it was an epitome of neglect and carelessness. The teachers had not been changed in years, nor had been the classrooms. The old furniture had borne the brunt of all the aimless people who happened to use it, day after day.

Every day would come and pass by. The students were taught the same Sanskrit, History, English Composition and Maths every day. The teachers would come and drone, each stricter than the other. Perhaps if not in terms of qualifications, they competed with each other. Maybe they compensated for their lack of scientific acumen with their strictness, which eventually made the students fear them, and hence, ask no questions.

Yet, Raman did not mind. He had no doubts. He was certain. The day would end at the same time the train passed the school, and more certain he was of the fact that the school was not a place for him. He was considered a failure. He would sleep through his classes. Sometimes some teacher would wake him up only to beat him up, most of the times, the teachers just sighed and let him sleep. Who does not sleep in school anyway?

The end of the school day almost coincided with the loud noise the daily mail carrier train would make as it would pass by the town. Out of the many trains that passed by the town, the mail carrier was the most important one. To the people who worked at the small forge by the lake, it signalled lunch. For the teachers at the school, the mail would mean the end of a sultry workday. The old people would go for their afternoon naps, which would often extend into the wee hours of the next morning (Then under the banyan tree they could be heard saying, “These young people are so lazy, sleeping late into the morning. How do they expect to be successful?”). To Raman though, the mail always meant the end of the sufferings he had to endure every day.

Monday was a new week, a new day, a new start. Raman hadn’t been so pumped in years as he was on that Monday. He somehow looked forward to the classes. Though it seemed wrong to his gut, all down to his roots, he somehow knew he could face the teachers today. Sanskrit came, and he could correct grammar in all of the verses the teacher wrote on the board. The Gita, the Ramayana and some verses from the famous Meghdootam, he could recite and correct them all. History was cake today. He knew all the dates. The Mughal Empire, the year Sir Thomas Roe attended Jahangir’s court, the year Bahadur Shah Zafar died. He knew it all. Nobody got appreciation from the history teacher, and yet, Raman was the only one in the class the teacher heaped praises upon.

English composition was a breeze too. Raman could summarise every chapter of Tom Sawyer with ease. Maybe like Tom, he had risen up to the occasion when he was least expected to. Though Raman was not as mischievous as Tom, he obviously shared the laziness. Maths was easy too. Linear algebra was easy. He did not even need to lift his hand to compute the value of x (Only if life was as easy as solving a linear equation, he thought). On Monday, Raman felt what he never thought he’d feel. He felt at ease with his school, his life. He could ace the exams on Monday. A new week is a new start for all of us, after all.

Raman knew that he had changed his life that day. Filled with a new sense of purpose, a feeling of satisfaction, and the best of it all, he was not unnoticed anymore. It felt so strange to him, as to how his life could have turned a full circle in a day, but oh yes, he was happy.

Like all good stories though, be it Romeo and Juliet or the Iliad, this good story couldn’t last forever. After all, success is not achieved in a day (or in a night). It is a path tread only by the hardworking and the certain. Success is a rare commodity, and like many other essential commodities, was in low supply at Ramapuram.

The sun had climbed up the horizon, the mail carrier had come to Ramapuram, and like all trains, it carried news for the people around it. The news is like sunlight. It warms up the things it touches, much to Raman’s dismay.

The train’s shrill whistle shook the townspeople up. Raman felt a surge of dread shrouding his new world. He started feeling the same lethargy he felt every day. He did not want his day to end, but it started slipping like sand from his fist. No matter how hard he tried holding on to it, it was just slipping away. This new wave of sadness had introduced a new screeching and pulsating pain in his left ear, or so Raman thought (After all, sadness does cause pain). Wasn’t sadness supposed to ache his heart, and not his ear?

The next thing Raman could hear was his Maths teacher pulling at his ear, “Don’t sleep in my class, you moron! The mail’s here, the day is over, go back to your home and sleep.”. To the sound of the mail’s shrill whistle, Raman’s new world came crashing down and broke to form his old one. Raman hated homecomings.

THE SEMIFINALE

With or without a grand alliance, 2019 is going to be an interesting battle. But towards which side the battle is tilted will be clear by December when three states will go for elections.

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In all the states, Congress will be directly taking on the BJP. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan is highly unpopular and Sachin Pilot has delivered his promise of reviving the Congress. Rahul Gandhi has brought Ashok Gahlot and C P Joshi to Delhi thus consolidating the position of Pilot. So, even with Gulabchand Kataria, Kirori Lal Mina and Raje all working together, Rajasthan is a lost cause. Every election in Rajasthan has a slogan and much to the relief to Modi-Shah duo, this time people are swearing to destroy Raje but still vote for Modi in the general elections.

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Shivraj Singh Chouhan is one of the most charismatic chief ministers of BJP. The Vyapam Scam which led to ‘suicide’ of dozens has been unable to dent his image of an honest politician. Yet he is facing the wrath of the farmers among many factors which are reflecting in various opinion polls in which BJP is astonishingly lagging behind. Still, his only viable alternative Jyotiraditya Scindia has been pushed to the corner thanks to the new grown friendship of Digvijay Singh and Kamal Nath. So he may be able to pull it through.

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The third one is the tribal state of Chhattisgarh. Its Chief Minister Raman Singh is one of the most underrated players. Every one of the last three elections has been a close one and yet Raman Singh has won every time.

He has been successful in curbing the rise of other leaders like Saroj Pandey and senior leaders like Ramesh Bais have been sidelined. Congress, on the other hand, is facing the rebellion of its tribal face Ajit Jogi who has aligned with BSP to form a “formidable coalition” of Dalits and Adivasis which will clearly affect prospects of the grand old party.

The result of the latter two battles will clearly provide momentum either to the UPA or NDA. However, it is worth mentioning that in spite of winning all these states Vajpayee lost the elections in 2004. It would be interesting to see whether the fate of “New India” is different from “Shining India”. The game is on!

A DIFFERENT WAY

Storytelling is an art, a talent of its own.  The earliest forms of storytelling must have been verbal aided by drawings. Nevertheless, It has evolved. Our first meeting with stories are usually through our parents, telling us a story to help us sleep. But the paths fork as we continue through our lives. Comics and short stories come first, followed by light novels, complete novels and then audio books for those, who are too busy to read or have weak eyesight.

We look for stories due to a lot of reasons. We learn from true stories. We find an escape from the real world. If you talk to a bookworm about their books, they get so passionate that you want to grab the first book you see and dive right into them. You are compelled to see what they see and feel what they feel.

Storytelling has evolved drastically over the years. We now have movies, TV soaps, anime and what not.  The method of storytelling that is being advocated here is RPGs which is acronym for Role Playing Games. People seem to unable to wrap their heads around the fact that stories can be told in such dynamic ways.

Novels were plain text, so they added illustrations, which according to many are obnoxious and disgraceful. However, a major school of people believe video games are too violent to be considered to be even remotely related to educated adults. There exist competitive games where the sole purpose is to win over other people, just like any other mental sport. The skills required are not just faster reflexes and better hand eye coordination but also the ability to foresee enemy strategies and counter acting them. Nevertheless, there are games that are meant for people to enjoy the story from all genres including horror, action, adventure, sorrow, fantasy, romance etc.

It never ceases to amaze me how one game can make people feel so many emotions in just one story.  

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I can never forget how scared I was when I first saw Dahaka, the keeper of timelines. He looked like a minotaur with horns shaped like infinity. He was all black ,surrounded by black mist, with white eyes. Oh the nightmares.

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I was really happy, when the assassin pirate, Edward   Kenway, returned home from his adventures after   saving  the world. He then took his young daughter on   the seas with her as she was the only family he had left.

 When you develop the powers of your character in the   story, adding strengths that suit your playing style,   unlike   how the author wanted him to be, gives a feeling   of fulfillment.

 

If you are a ‘Lord Of The Rings’ fan, you can see the graugs and the castles, climb on them, build your army. All these can’t be done in the book.

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Just like novels, these games come in series. Many popular novels take to games to tell the story of the prequel or aftermath of the printed text. These games give the user a sense of achievement, very similar to finishing a page or chapter in the book. However, words can never signify the difficulty of 35 retries just to get through that one villain and the satisfaction of continuing the story after his death. A novel only gives credits to 10 people, but a game owes its creation to many times that number.  The story of a haunted house becomes way more enthralling when you see the witch cut your arm and hear the chainsaw of the man following you rather than when you read of these things happening.

Novels and games have similar cons as well. They come at the cost of time, attention and money. There is piracy and duplication. They can leave you with nightmares or daydreams. Although, you will never end up strategizing your next moves and plan on exploiting your enemy’s weaknesses when you are reading a novel.

Albeit every person is made different. Some of us like apples, some oranges while some of us like both. You can like one and not hate the other. It all comes down to what your poison is.