Categories
India Opinion Transportation

Safety on trains cannot wait

I was trying to imagine the ill fate of those 32 who perished in the Tamil Nadu Express fire today morning. What wrong could they have done, to have found themselves on the S11 coach of the train? The scenes of the fire were rather gory, pictures seen across the media houses of the country over the course of this day. Many more have been injured, some miraculously escaped through the skin of their teeth and the rest were not lucky enough to get through this. For a railway network, which focusses on new trains to the home state of the railway minister amongst other states and some other measures, safety could be one of the core issues which might require an urgent look in and addressed in the truest of senses.
This is not an attempt to point fingers at the Railway Ministry or the officials in the Railways or even the government over their usually callous attitude to everything that happens around them. But this incident could have happened in a general compartment next door (since S11 should be presumably next to the general compartment, in a 24 coach train such as the Tamil Nadu Express) instead and it could have been catastrophic. I believe, that at any point in time, there are atleast 150 people, if not less travelling in these general compartments. That is no way a justification that something like this could happen in a sleeper compartment and we be mum over the issue.
I had read a couple of months ago, at the prospect of introducing fire proof coaches in the mails and express trains of the Indian Railways. Tamil Nadu Express, being a priority train for the government (Yes, there are always trains from a state which have higher priorities over the others. For ex: 12623/24 Trivandrum – Chennai Mail has a priority over every other train running in that section) should have been one of the first beneficiaries of this, had the implementation been properly executed on the ground. And maybe, this article may have never even come up here. Railway authorities may point out that the number of accidents have decreased – as they have tried to show here right after the accident, but there still is room for making sure this issue of safety completely foolproof to a very good degree.
Categories
Miscellaneous

On the maya beheading and some real filmy burglars

Maya’s statue got beheaded in Lucknow today. And very soon after the incident, there was a message from memsaheb addressed to the cadres. She, in a message to the cadres requested them not to take law into their hands it seems. And this group which damaged the statues, demanded her arrest and also pleaded that the statues be demolished within 72 hours to save the swabhimaan of the state.

I was thinking of this gang which did the beheading of the statue. So kind of them to give a trial run before they go about working  out their trade on flesh and blood. 

There was also this incident in Chennai where miscreants returned 70 sovereigns worth gold and other valuables which they had stolen from a home after breaking into it last week. They returned the complete amount and also enclosed a sorry note along with it, addressed to the victims. I don’t understand the source of their goodness now. Maybe they went into the wrong home. Or maybe they wanted to test their skills before the real deal. Oh come on, who am I kidding?! Filmy burglars.    
Categories
India Life People

On Diplomatic mishaps and tragedies…

I met up with this long time Bangladeshi friend I knew through emails and Facebook today. Although I knew this guy for almost a year and we were put up in the same city for around 9 months, it so happened that we could meet up only at this point in time. And that too, because he was leaving Lisbon and headed to Barcelona. We discussed on his journey from Dhaka to Lisbon – one which was quite arduous to a listener myself, so I could imagine how much more difficult it could have been for the one facing the music.
 
And the villain in the eye of the storm was the Republic of India. Quite unbelievably so. Although I knew there was a wee bit of criticism on the diplomatic, administrative and bureaucratic setup prevailing in this country, I for one was completely unaware of the complexity of the situation especially for a foreigner in my country. I will not go into the details for personal reasons, but it all started at one of these embassies for obtaining a visa. Yes I know of our people who have faced similar problems in the States or even down under in Australia, but here we are talking about neighbours – people of the same ilk, who fortunately or unfortunately got separated to the other side of the fence and now find themselves to be in a clueless situation in this godforsaken alien land of ours. And hearing his story, I was astonished to know that he had to resort to consular assistance from Bangladesh to get things on track in Delhi. The callous and deplorable attitude with which these diplomatic officials operate in this country is something we are unnecessarily getting too used to and not caring to work on for betterment.
 
That’s not what happens when a Portuguese goes for seeking diplomatic assistance in Spain or even an Englishman goes across the channel to France for diplomatic support. That is just not something that should be happening anywhere else, for that matter.  
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And yes, here is something different that you may also like. An article on the Times speaking about the views of foreigner women on India and Indians themselves. Quite an interesting read although one doubts over the amount of homework done on this piece.    
Categories
India Politics

On reinstating faith in democracy…

Going by the title, reflecting on the need to reinstate faith in the minds of people regarding democratic governance policies and institutions might be a bit too far fetched considering we haven’t been doomed as yet, some would say. But then, we are very much on that motion, winding down the lanes into believing that the democratic setup that we have been witness to, over the last 60 odd years has started showing signs of rupture and tear.
As I write this piece, riots have broken out in Ara, Bihar over the untimely killing of the Ranvir Sena chief. The MLA from Najafgarh has just been shot by unidentified gunmen in broad daylight. The government has simply failed to curb inflation, that which was INR 63 against a Euro is now standing at 73 in the space of 8 months. Fuel prices have shot up. The man accused in the biggest corruption scandal is out on bail and attends the upper house of Parliament, the next day. The national carrier which was once among the top 5 airlines in the world is sinking and nobody cares about it. Acute power shortages – while we complain of 2-hour outages in Chennai, some areas of New Delhi have had close to 8 hours and worse, some areas of Jammu and Kashmir have 18-hour power cuts. Mamata Banerjee’s paribortan drive took a turn for its worse and ended up splurging INR 9 crore on a private club team which won a private league (the debt of West Bengal exceeds INR 190,000 crore as of today). And if all this was not enough, the government tried to curb social media independence by attempting to filter online content which you and I release onto Google and Facebook, even taking them to court over-exercising this issue. 
 
And I for one, have always have had my reservations over the need to exercise my franchise over such a setup existing in the country, sometimes even going to the extent of saying that the British Raj was much apter than what is currently on display today – drawing a lot of flak expectantly from all quarters. All the above-given instances are just a minuscule into the conundrum that people are getting to be increasingly aware of and start inquiring on. Well, if you were indeed to ask me if after all this whether India was really shining as is being perceived by the west, I wouldn’t agree so. At least not right now. People need to be reinstated with renewed faith in the system prevailing. I don’t know how this will come about and I am no economist or a financial school cat to put in those hard terms on the forefront, simply for the lack of knowledge on them than anything else. 

Impatience and frustration are engulfing the masses and they won’t keep quiet for longer periods from now. And thus the need for reinstating faith – soft measures to stem the aftershocks of inflation and price rise, fast-tracking of the judicial exercises on the 26/11 attacks, stemming corruption (with or without Jan Lokpal), delineating dangerous coalitions like the Trinamool and the DMK to name a few could all be some positives that the babus of New Delhi could try to achieve. 
Although, having said that, there is one person who is “fairly positive” when it comes to the growth story of India right now – Bill Gates, who reiterates some faith on the situation in his recent interview to NDTV. Although I fail to understand how its always good to know. Excerpts from the interview are attached along with this post:
   

By the way, Travel Trails have been updated with new photographs just to remind everyone.

Categories
Europe Opinion People WTF!

Inducing Happiness: The European Way

It is the process by which people tend to “induce” happiness into their lives at the cost of their fellow beings and then feel good about it rather than deriving happiness by “making” it happen by means of your sincere deeds – quite the European way as I have been observing since September.
Thing is simple. A few weeks ago, I received this mail from a friend based out of Lisbon which read like this:

Hello guys.. As you know I am leaving for the States next week. You guys have been really awesome and I have no words to express my gratitude for all the support and love. I sure am gonna miss you all when I am in Boston. I was thinking that it would be good if we can all meet up one last time for a dinner. I will be very happy and fortunate to have you amidst the company of me and my friends, during the last moments of my stay in Portugal.

I propose that we meet on Saturday at around 2000 at <Restaurant Name> <Address>. The choice of the cuisine is meditteranean as most of you would prefer, includes <general menu>. And the cost per person would be around 20 euros, not more than that inclusive of drinks. 

This man in the letter included  the “You guys have been awesome….my gratitude..support and love“, ” I would be very happy and fortunate….” and then delivered the sucker punch by announcing the “cost per person….” sentence – all in the span of 5-6 lines of the same letter. And letters/mails like these come, every other week.
Well if he was so happy and fortunate and sad that he would miss all of us, he should have hosted a dinner and paid up the expenses by himself. Atleast that is what is done if you are genuinely happy back where I hail from. You invite your friends and spend a wonderful evening with them, spreading laughter and cheer and then you make it even more wonderful by being the perfect host and appreciating their decision to spend quality time with you. I would pay to do this, but then my idea of not believing in celebrations makes life a lot more easier. Why do it when you want to “induce” rather than make it happen by itself?
So to sum up, I ended up going for the dinner because he has been a wonderful man and for the sake of his happiness, I ended up spending 20 euros (1350 INR). That is the price that I burn to see a smile on his face and make sure everything is right between us. Am I happy doing this? Well, you know by now….