My letter to Indian politicians

Dear Indian politician,

Almost from the time that India won its independence in mid 1947 till date, I have heard stories of you and your kind in various hues and colors all the time. While I personally haven’t had any encounter with you, the more I read about you, hear about you from people who actually encounter you on a daily basis and see about you in various media outlets, all the possibilities of me ever forgiving you are getting more and more remote with each passing day.

I guess one of the basic qualifications that your ‘profession’ demands is the complete lack of a moral compass and the absolute absence of something called a spinal cord, which effectively means that you can bend yourself any which way you want to based on the direction of winds favorable to you. And notice how I used the word ‘profession’ here instead of a ‘job’ or something similar. The reason I specifically used ‘profession’ is because you have ‘professionally trained’ to become a politician, haven’t you.

While some of you have learnt the tricks of the trade by joining political parties’ student wings and youth wings and worked your way up the ladder by roughing it out in the field, there are quite a few of you who took the easy way and got into the upper echelons of your party simply by virtue of being your parents’ son, or uncles’ nephews, or some similar familial bonds. Whichever way you made it, the fact remains that you have been ‘professionally trained’ in the field of politics.

How else can you explain that despite the differences in the languages spoken, words used and mannerisms displayed, the fact that you invariably end up ‘milking’ the people who voted you into power remains consistent. Irrespective of whether you belong to the left, right or the center, all of you have ended up cheating the voting electorate who trusted your words, believed in your manifestos and had faith that you would improve their lot in general, but you, sirs, have ensured that no educated person in the country will ever place any belief in you or your lot anymore with your actions over the last 6 odd decades.

I was supposed to write a letter to someone who I wish I could forgive, and you sirs, are the prime example. When we were really young, we were taught that a democratic form of government was one in which even a common man and his vote could make a difference, and in all our naivety we actually believed that we could make a difference with our votes. As we grew older and became exposed to ‘politics’ we realized that in India, the only thing that can really make a difference is if you have enough money, enough clout, enough power to get your way done. That was the only way in which any difference can be made in Indian politics, and you sirs, have ensured that you remain a closed group, a clique, a fraternity into which only you will pick and choose who will be allowed inside and who has to remain outside.

If democracy really was for the people, then by now, you surely would have done something about at least some of the major problems plaguing the citizens of India today. My contention is that all the good things that have happened to India is despite its politics rather than due to its politics. And for that, my friends, I will never be able to forgive you.

I end this letter sincerely hoping that a new wave of revolution comes over the country and purges its entire political system leaving no trace of the crass selfishness and dirtiness that we call Indian politics today. It is only then can this country and its citizens ever be able to realize its true potential.


This post has been written for the Write Tribe Letters Unsent series and this time we had to send a letter to someone we wish we could forgive.

Schooling choices – Related considerations

Image courtesy :
Image courtesy :

This post deals with one of the most critical but one of the most under-appreciated and technically difficult topic of choosing the right school for your children. I have dealt with this topic in a bulleted manner, ie, have jotted down my thoughts based on broad categories to be considered when selecting a school for children. Please note that these categories are not prioritized in any manner and are in a random order.

Read the rest of this post here … [Link to post]


Sakshi Nanda, who I personally believe is a wonderful writer/blogger and an even more wonderful human being (evidenced by the topics she posts and the absolutely refreshing honesty and genuineness in all her posts) has been kind enough to publish this guest post of mine on her blog, Between Write and Wrong.

Do hop over and read some of her other posts as well, they make for really interesting reading.

Divided by a line


Although I had made the approximately 24 hr trip from San Francisco to New Delhi quite comfortably changing over flights at Frankfurt airport (a true example of extraordinary German efficiency and engineering), the last leg of the journey was what was giving me nightmares.

Being born to the parents of immigrant Pakistanis who had migrated to India during the partition of 1947 was something that I had learnt to live with quite early in life. Kids in the Old Delhi neighborhood where we stayed used to call me a ‘muhajir’ which I learnt much later on in life was not quite as normal a term as I thought it was. It was a term which literally meant “immigrant” in Arabic and was used relatively derogatorily for people like us who had supposedly abandoned our homeland and had moved to another country. But then, was Pakistan another country, was it separate from India, wasn’t it the political cunningness of The Mountbatten Plan which basically just drew The Radcliffe Line on the map of the subcontinent and separated brothers, friends and kinsmen from each other.

My grandparents and parents had a lot of familial ties with people from Punjab, India. My great grandfather was born and brought up in Amritsar and had migrated to Lahore only due to the fact that the firm he worked for – Redington Typewriters had shifted its base of operations to Lahore. He was their star salesman having bagged many a corporate order from the British Govt. for the firm and therefore, the perks offered by the company for him to relocate to Lahore was just too tempting for him to ignore.

My grandfather was born and brought up in Amritsar and had to change schools when he was in high school due to this relocation. My grandmother was someone who once again was born in Jallandar, Punjab and moved to Lahore after her marriage. Back in those days, they didn’t have a Pakistan or a Hindustan, it was just one home, one people. Despite various  statements by leading politicians of the day to the contrary, all Muslims and Hindus loved each other and lived as one. They stood together shoulder to shoulder and fought the mighty yoke of the oppressive British Empire.

And then I was born in 1945. Yes, I am a Pakistani virtue of the fact that I was born in Lahore, but the fact remains that when the subcontinent was split apart in the biggest political divorce of its times, my father made a choice. Although he had been born and brought up in Lahore all his life, he made a tough choice to leave behind all he knew and move to India. He took this decision primarily because he truly believed that forming a country purely on the basis of religious affinity was not good in the long run and he was too broad-minded to live with that kind of thinking.

When I completed by graduation in 1967, I had secured enough marks and my father had earned enough to allow me to pursue further studies in the US of A. after I completed my post graduation there, I managed to get a job in one of the leading engineering companies at Detroit and settled down there. By this time two wars had happened between both the countries that I considered home, India and Pakistan, the first in 1965 and the second in 1971. Both of these events distressed my father so much that he requested that he move in with me. I immediately agreed and both my parents joined me a Detroit.

In early 1974, just a few months ago, my father passed away due to a prolonged illness brought upon by his chain smoking habit. One of his last wishes was his corpse be burnt and that his ashes strewn in the Ravi river, which flows on the boundary of India and Pakistan. He had spent quite a few childhood days playing on the banks of this river and enjoyed a deep sentimental attachment to it.

Here I was in New Delhi, with my father’s remains, contemplating the rest of the journey. I then took a taxi to Amritsar, the city closest to Lahore on the Indian side. Despite the innumerable potholes, cows on the road and the lumbering bullock carts, the faithful Ambassador and its Sardar driver ensured that I made it to Amritsar in good time. The last 30 odd kms of the journey from Amritsar to Lahore would sap all of my emotional energy. While I was fit physically, the death of my father and the subsequent sorrowful reticence of my mother had shaken me up mentally. I had never seen her so contemplative in my life before and this last task that my father had asked me to perform was testing me like no other.

On the way to Lahore from Amritsar, the driver stopped near a small town called Sarhad on the Grand Trunk Road. He told me to take a chai break as this would be the last stop before the Pakistan border and that the border formalities would take a good two hours, which effectively meant that we would have to go hungry for that period of time. As I stepped out of the taxi, I was greeted by a small boy “Namaste saab, chai ke saath kuch pakore bhi doon kya?” (Namaste sir, shall I give you some pakoras with the tea?). I nodded my assent and also quite enjoyed the savor snack.

Onwards, after clearing the formalities at the Atari Border Checkpost, after a good three hours, when we drove across the border into Pakistan, I couldn’t quite figure out why there existed so much animosity between the two countries. Everything looked the same to me, the sunflower patches, the wheat fields, the bullock carts, the friendly people. All of it looked the same to me.

As it was nearing nightfall, the driver stopped at a dhaba near Manawan town, once again on the Grand Trunk Road for dinner. Here as well, I was accosted by a small boy “Salaam saab, khane mein kya doon?” (Salaam sir, what will you have for food?).

Everything was still the same. Only the Namaste had changed to Salaam, that’s all.


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. This weekend’s post had to include the words Salaam and Namaste and that’s why these words have been specifically highlighted.


Image courtesy: Wikipedia


This post has been picked by Blogadda as one of the WoW posts of the weekend of 08-Sep-2013.


The Mahatma, the Movie and Mindsets

January 30th, Martyrs’ Day, the day The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi passed away. One of his favorite bhajans was

raghupati rāghav rājārām,

patit pāvan sītārām

sītārām, sītārām,

bhaj pyāre tū sītārām

īśvar allāh tero nām,

sab ko sanmati de bhagavān


Literally translated it means


Chief of the house of Raghu, Lord Rama,

Uplifters of those who have fallen, Sita and Rama,

Sita and Rama, Sita and Rama,

O beloved, praise Sita and Rama,

God and Allah are your names,

Bless everyone with this wisdom, Lord.


Such a nice and small poem which still holds complete relevance in this day and age. When The Mahatma sang this song during the Dandi Salt March, its popularity soared so much that it remains to be sung to this day all over India whenever anybody thinks of him.

That being said, it is quite ironical that today was the day I read these three news items –

  • The controversy caused by SRK’s article in The Outlook magazine, now hosted on NDTV [Link]
  • The controversy caused by the TN Govt over the release of Kamal Hassan’s Viswaroopam [Link]
  • The pre-emptive ban imposed on Salman Rushdie by the West Bengal Govt [Link]

All of this leads me to wonder just like Kamal Hassan did, do I want to live in this country whose constitution (law of the land) calls it a democratic secular republic. Well, we do have democracy at least in name, to the extent that all of us who are more than 18 yrs old can vote (that is, if we can find our names in the electoral rolls and if somebody else has already not voted in our names).

However, given these headlines and based on various conversations that I have had with well educated colleagues, friends, family members and everybody in general, I struggle to find even 1% of secularism in this country. All of us are so tied to our belief systems, our prejudices, our notions, our stereotypes of how various communities are, how people from these communities behave, etc.

Most of us seem to believe that the only way we can live in India is to judge people, events and base our reactions and lives accordingly. Nobody seems to be willing to be just a little more open-hearted, welcoming of dissonance, welcoming of disagreements and overall truly secular, in all sense of the word.

Wonder if it is just me who is frustrated at all that is happening right now, or are there more folks like me out there thinking similarly?