Tuesday, October 12, 2010

iOS versus Android

Interesting metrics on how the Android platform is overtaking iPhones. Link. One very interesting comment was the following -

Jobs has done it again, just like he did it with the Macs in the 80s. iPhones will become a niche player in the mobile market, just like the Macs are a niche now in the PC market. Don't get me wrong he is a genius, in the 80's he was the one that made graphical interfaces for the OS very popular with the introduction Machintosh... Remember? It was the greatest. Then what happened, Bill Gates copied it and we now have the Windoze jargonaut. It could have been Apple instead of M$FT. What was Jobs mistake? He didn't allow vendors to clone his precious Macs. Instead Bill Gates welcomed them and the rest is history. Now Steve Jobs has done it again, he got into a corner with AT&T, and he has kept a tight grip on the developers. While Google is replaying Microsoft's killer tune... Remember this a couple of years from now.


Very interesting take on Apple's strategy. I was a toddler when the Mac actually came out so don't know the dynamics of Apple vs. MSFT then. Will definitely do some reading on this though. However, should be interesting to see the Apple vs. Android dynamics now. Is there a Macintosh Part 2 we have on our hands now?

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Who Brought Freedom, Gandhi or Netaji?

Another article I came across talking about the lack of recognition given to Subhash Chandra Bose and questioning Mahatma Gandhi's (MG) actual contribution to India's independence. Interesting read and once again - makes me question whether MG was just a facilitator for the British.


Recent research shows that Netaji Subhas Bose and the INA were responsible for the British leaving in 1947 in a hurry. The Fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942 rather than Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India Movement was the beginning of the end of the British Empire. Dr. N.S. Rajaram finds out more.

There is a story that the late Mao Zedong, when asked his opinion about Napoleon as a leader replied: “How can I say? He is too recent.” Napoleon’s career ended in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and Mao died only in 1976. So what could Mao have meant when he said that Napoleon was too recent? He meant that a certain amount of time has to pass before we can view historical events and personalities objectively. Our reading of recent events is bound to be colored by our closeness to them. This truth was brought home to me a few years ago when I was visiting Penang in Malaysia as the guest of some veterans of World War II, but first some background.

In India, people are brought up on the story that Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru—with others receive grudging notice if at all—led a heroic struggle freeing India from the British rule. Miraculously, the whole thing was accomplished without resort to violence, by the application of a mighty spiritual force called ahimsa (non-violence) unleashed by the Mahatma. If true it is a tribute not only to the power of Gandhi’s (and Nehru’s) spiritual vision, but also a lasting tribute to the spiritual sensitivity of the British rulers. Like the tiger in the children’s poem (govina kathe in Kannada), which killed itself rather than eat the calf, the British gave up the empire and left.

This received a jolt during a recent trip to Southeast Asia where I had occasion to visit some people who had served with my late father during World War II. Their account of their experience in the period from 1942 to 45 casts serious doubt on this beautiful story. Here we are faced with a dilemma— the conflict between what we read in history books and what the people actually saw on the ground. The usual story is that after some initial reverses the British defeated the Japanese. But those who actually served there, now in their late 70s and 80s, remember it quite differently. Uniformly, this is what I heard everywhere and from everyone.

Report on INA“When the Japanese attacked, the British ran away. They were very clever. They had a wonderful life with bungalows and butlers and cooks and all that, but as soon as the Japanese came, they ran away. And once they got back to India, they sent Gurkhas, Sikhs, Marathas and other Indians to fight the Japanese. They knew it was too dangerous for them. That is how we got independence in Malaya.” Malaysia was then called Malaya and Singapore was its capital.

Not one of them remembered the British fighting the Japanese— only running away. They remember also Indian soldiers coming and fighting; some of them stayed back in countries like Malaya (as it was then called), Singapore and other places. One man, who as a youngster had been my father’s orderly during the War, invited me to his home in Penang for the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Singapore. What he told me took my breath away.

“That is why the British left India also. When the war was over, all the Indian soldiers who had defeated the Japanese returned to India, and the British got scared. They didn’t want to fight the Indians who had just fought and defeated the Japanese. So they ran away from India also.”

I tried to explain to him that Gandhiji’s nonviolence was the force that convinced the British to leave. But this man, not an intellectual but a battle-hardened soldier with sound commonsense would have none of it. “If it was non-violence, why didn’t they leave earlier? Gandhi and the nonviolence were there before the war also. Did they have to wait for the Japanese to come and teach them non-violence?”

One may smile at this simple way of looking at history, but as will be seen later, this revisionist view has good support. The ‘authorized’ version with Gandhi and Nehru as central figures continues to be taught in India because it benefits those in power. It shows the British also in favorable light as a magnanimous and even spiritual people, which of course they don’t mind. But history shows a different picture.

The year 1942 was momentous. It was the year in which the British Empire suffered a massive defeat at the hands of an Asiatic people (Japanese); it was also the year in which Mahatma Gandhi launched his famous but ill-fated Quit India Movement. Subhas Bose also entered the picture at about that time, first in Germany and later in Southeast Asia. But first it is necessary to get an idea of the momentous impact of the Japanese victory on the psyche of the colonized people as well as on that of the colonizing powers. What triggered it was the Fall of Singapore.

The fall of Singapore in 1942 heralded the end of the British Empire and of European colonialism in general. Indian independence came in 1947, but what really ended the Empire was the fall of Singapore. This has received scant notice by Indian historians who remain trapped in Eurocentric thinking, but there is ample evidence supporting it. Among Indian historians, only R.C. Majumdar has seen its significance: the fall of Singapore broke the spirit of Imperial Britain. As we shall soon see British historians have themselves admitted it. Let us look at what really happened to the British in 1942.

When the Japanese attacked Singapore in February 1942, its large and well-equipped British garrison surrendered without a fight. These well-attended ‘pukka sahibs’—used to good living—had little stomach for war. For decades, the ruling authorities had avoided facing the truth that they were not a fighting force. They had deluded themselves with resounding slogans— calling Singapore the ‘Bastion of the Empire,’ ‘Impregnable Fortress,’ ‘Gibraltar of the East’ and such. None of it helped when Singapore fell to a Japanese army less than a third the size of the defending forces.

Yet, so far removed from reality were Singapore’s British residents, that even on the verge of surrender, a gunnery officer was refused permission to mount guns on the golf links for defending the city. He was told that he needed permission from the golf club committee. And the golf club committee would not be meeting for at least a week, so he better hold off!

In the fall of Singapore, its symbolic significance was infinitely greater than the military defeat. It destroyed the myth of European superiority over the Asiatics once and for all. Historian James Leasor wrote in his Singapore, the battle that changed the world:

“Dazed by the incredible superiority of the Japanese, the defenders’ will to win had withered. … The psychological damage was even greater than the military defeat— and this had been grotesque enough. …Under the lowering Singapore sky lit by the funeral pyres of the British Empire … a door closed on centuries of white supremacy … ” Actually the Japanese had planned it that way— to break the sense of superiority exuded by the Europeans, by the British in particular, in their dealings with the Asiatics. Leasor wrote:

“At the start of the campaign, each Japanese soldier had been issued with a pamphlet that set out Japan’s reasons for fighting the British and the Americans. Her [Japan’s] claim was that she would liberate East Asia from white rule and oppression,” for since “We Japanese, as an Eastern people, have ourselves for long been classed alongside the Chinese and the Indians as an inferior race, and treated as such, we must at the very least, here in Asia, beat these Westerners to submission, that they may change their arrogant and ill-mannered attitude.”

The Japanese attack on Singapore accomplished much more: it ended the British Empire to be followed swiftly by the end of European imperialism itself. To return to the fall of Singapore, as with the fall of Hong Kong a few weeks earlier, the only worthwhile resistance had come from the Indian garrisons— the Sikh and the Gurkha regiments. The prestige and the mystique associated with the British Empire were shattered by these ignominious defeats.

And this is how my gracious host in Penang and his friends, men who had seen it at first hand, remember it. As they saw it, the massive defeat destroyed the British morale. It was the specter of the whole nightmare being reenacted in India, with nearly three million Indian soldiers just returned from war, which made the British leave India. “They ran away,” the old soldier kept telling me repeatedly.

I may point out that this is also the view of many Indians who saw action in the war— both in the Indian Army and those who fought in Subhas Bose’s INA. Indian soldiers saw that their British officers were frightened to death of the Japanese, while they themselves were prepared to fight them.

After the War, the British defeat in Singapore was followed by the French defeat in Dien Bien Phu at the hands of Ho Chi Min’s soldiers in Vietnam. This laid the groundwork for the American defeat in all of Vietnam and their inglorious flight from Saigon. No one today talks about the superiority of the ‘White Race’. The first nail in coffin was driven by the Japanese in Malaya in 1942.

It was this changed perception, that the British were just ordinary mortals like the rest that allowed Netaji Subhas Bose to recruit Indians in Southeast Asia into the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauz or the INA). Subhas Bose saw that the Indian armed forces were the prop of the Empire— not just in India but everywhere the British went. But Gandhi and Nehru, preoccupied with their utopian dreams of nonviolence failed to realize its significance. When the opportunity arose, Bose seized it to transform the armed forces into a nationalist force, while Gandhi and Nehru started the Quit India Movement which collapsed in a few weeks.

Before we look further, we need to ask: what support do we have for this revisionist view, that Subhas Bose and the INA brought freedom to India? The evidence is ample and impeccable. Several have noted it, but the most distinguished historian to highlight Bose’s contribution was the late R.C. Majumdar, one of modern India’s greatest historians. In his monumental, three-volume History of the Freedom Movement in India (Firma KLM, Calcutta) Majumdar provided the following extraordinary evidence:

“It seldom falls to the lot of a historian to have his views, differing radically from those generally accepted without demur, confirmed by such an unimpeachable authority. As far back as 1948 I wrote in an article that the contribution made by Netaji Subas Chandra Bose towards the achievement of freedom in 1947 was no less, and perhaps, far more important than that of Mahatma Gandhi…”

The ‘unimpeachable authority’ he cited happened to be Clement Attlee, the Prime Minister of Britain at the time of India’s independence. Since this is of fundamental importance, and Majumdar’s conclusion so greatly at variance with the conventional history, it is worth placing it on record (Volume III, pages 609 –10).

When B.P. Chakravarti was acting as Governor of West Bengal, Lord Attlee visited India and stayed as his guest at the Raj Bhavan for three days. Chakravarti asked Attlee about the real grounds for granting independence to India. Specifically, his question was, when the Quit India movement lay in shambles years before 1947, where was the need for the British to leave in such a hurry. Attlee’s response is most illuminating and important for history. Here is Governor Chakrabarti’s account of what Attlee told him:

“In reply Attlee cited several reasons, the most important were the activities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose which weakened the very foundation of the attachment of the Indian land and naval forces to the British Government. Towards the end, I asked Lord Attlee about the extent to which the British decision to quit India was influenced by Gandhi’s activities. On hearing this question Attlee’s lips widened in a smile of disdain and he uttered, slowly, putting emphasis on each single letter— ‘mi-ni-mal’.” (Emphasis added.)

Another point worth noting: after the fall of Singapore that ended the British Empire, the most dramatic national event was the INA Trial at the Red Fort— not any movement by Gandhi or Nehru. This led to the mutiny of the naval ratings, which, more than anything helped the British make up their minds to leave India in a hurry. They sensed that it was only a matter of time before the mutiny spread to other parts of the armed forces and the Government. None of this would have happened without Subhas Bose and the INA.

The crucial point to note is that thanks to Subhas Bose’s activities, the Indian Armed Forces began to see themselves as defenders of India rather than of the British Empire. This, more than anything else, was what led to India’s freedom. This is also the reason why the British Empire disappeared from the face of the earth within an astonishingly short space of twenty years. Indian soldiers, who were the main prop of the Empire, were no longer willing to fight to hold it together. This is the essence of leadership.

This brings us back to Mao’s half joking reply— that it takes time to get the proper historical perspective. It is now more than sixty years since India became free. We can afford to look back and see the real reasons for British leaving India in a hurry. To sum up, by the end of the War, Gandhi was a spent force, and Subhas Bose was India’s most popular leader.

Now, sixty years and more later it is time to recognize the truth: first, it was the Fall of Singapore in 1942, not the Quit India Movement that was the beginning of the end of the British Empire; and finally, it was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose more than anyone else who was responsible for India’s freedom in 1947.

Link to the article

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

IIMs/IITs and Masala Novels

Am just amazed to see the latest trend of IIM and IIT graduates to turn to writing. Its become a whole new category in itself. Someone I know (a former colleague) just published his book. I read an excerpt on his website - and it was PATHETIC!

With all due respect to the person and his writing 'skills', I am amazed to see publishers print that kind of stuff. The grammar was terrible and the plot was as interesting as a wet carrot. I guess the Press with its inordinate amount of coverage to these institutions, has got people really curious on what actually happens inside. So curious that they pick up just about anything as long as there's an IIT or an IIM printed on the cover. Of course, Chetan Bhagat has opened up a whole new category of english readers, through his 'masala' style of writing. These low cost (Rs. 95 per book) and not-so-sophisticated english readers do not expect top class writing and are happy with, to put it crudely, a 'book' version of Bollywood films. Moment you add IIT/IIM to the title, you've got a winner.

Chetan Bhagat's writing style will probably not win him a Booker but atleast the books are interesting. The newer writers I feel are just trying to ride the wave through the brand names of their alma mater.

Another person I know has turned a writer. Full credit for following their dreams, but rheir writing style SCREAMS WANNABE. Am sure they will improve with time but I only hope that the person concerned is not trying to free ride the writing wave just because they got the privilege to study at one of the top institutions in India.

Personally, I agree I don't write too well either, but I think I have read enough to spot crass/wannabe writing. And nothing irritates me more than the garb of being a writer when you're actually just free riding on your institute's name.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Godse - Why he killed Gandhi

This is a link doing the rounds on Facebook. It is the speech Nathuram Godse gave in court after assassinating Mahatma Gandhi.

Somehow, I have never completely agreed with MG's policies and whatever Godse says, if true, validates that. Anyhow, decide for yourself what you believe in. This speech definitely gives me food for thought.


JANUARY 30th, 1949 - The Mahatma was assassinated by a man called Naturam Godse.
After he shot him, instead of running away, he stood his ground and surrounded. He said, "No one should think that Gandhi was killed by a madman"

One of the best speeches of All time, which is compared to Socrates's speech in his trial. The Judge was astonished by his speech and commented that if India had followed the Jury system of giving judgments, Godse would have been adjudicated as "Not Guilty" by the Jury, cause after the speech, the whole audience was in tears.

This is the speech given by Nathuram Godse in the court in his last trial for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi

Born in a devotional Brahmin family, I instinctively came to revere Hindu religion, Hindu history and Hindu culture. I had, therefore, been intensely proud of Hinduism as a whole. As I grew up I developed a tendency to free thinking unfettered by any superstitious allegiance to any isms, political or religious. That is why I worked actively for the eradication of untouchability and the caste system based on birth alone. I openly joined anti-caste movements and maintained that all Hindus were of equal status as to rights, social and religious and should be considered high or low on merit alone and not through the accident of birth in a particular caste or profession. I used publicly to take part in organized anti-caste dinners in which thousands of Hindus, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Chamars and Bhangis participated. We broke the caste rules and dined in the company of each other.

I have read the speeches and writings of Dadabhai Nairoji, Vivekanand, Gokhale, Tilak, along with the books of ancient and modern history of India and some prominent countries like England, France, America and' Russia. Moreover I studied the tenets of Socialism and Marxism. But above all I studied very closely whatever Veer Savarkar and Gandhiji had written and spoken, as to my mind these two ideologies have contributed more to the moulding of the thought and action of the Indian people during the last thirty years or so, than any other single factor has done.

All this reading and thinking led me to believe it was my first duty to serve Hindudom and Hindus both as a patriot and as a world citizen. To secure the freedom and to safeguard the just interests of some thirty crores (300 million) of Hindus would automatically constitute the freedom and the well being of all India, one fifth of human race. This conviction led me naturally to devote myself to the Hindu Sanghtanist ideology and programme, which alone, I came to believe, could win and preserve the national independence of Hindustan, my Motherland, and enable her to render true service to humanity as well.

Since the year 1920, that is, after the demise of Lokamanya Tilak, Gandhiji's influence in the Congress first increased and then became supreme. His activities for public awakening were phenomenal in their intensity and were reinforced by the slogan of truth and non-violence, which he paraded ostentatiously before the country. No sensible or enlightened person could object to those slogans. In fact there is nothing new or original in them. They are implicit in every constitutional public movement. But it is nothing but a mere dream if you imagine that the bulk of mankind is, or can ever become, capable of scrupulous adherence to these lofty principles in its normal life from day to day. In fact, honour, duty and love of one's own kith and kin and country might often compel us to disregard non-violence and to use force. I could never conceive that an armed resistance to an aggression is unjust. I would consider it a religious and moral duty to resist and, if possible, to overpower such an enemy by use of force. [In the Ramayana] Rama killed Ravana in a tumultuous fight and relieved Sita. [In the Mahabharata], Krishna killed Kansa to end his wickedness; and Arjuna had to fight and slay quite a number of his friends and relations including the revered Bhishma because the latter was on the side of the aggressor. It is my firm belief that in dubbing Rama, Krishna and Arjuna as guilty of violence, the Mahatma betrayed a total ignorance of the springs of human action.

In more recent history, it was the heroic fight put up by Chhatrapati Shivaji that first checked and eventually destroyed the Muslim tyranny in India. It was absolutely essentially for Shivaji to overpower and kill an aggressive Afzal Khan, failing which he would have lost his own life. In condemning history's towering warriors like Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Guru Gobind Singh as misguided patriots, Gandhiji has merely exposed his self-conceit. He was, paradoxical, as it may appear, a violent pacifist who brought untold calamities on the country in the name of truth and non-violence, while Rana Pratap, Shivaji and the Guru will remain enshrined in the hearts of their countrymen forever for the freedom they brought to them.

The accumulating provocation of thirty-two years, culminating in his last pro-Muslim fast, at last goaded me to the conclusion that the existence of Gandhi should be brought to an end immediately. Gandhi had done very well in South Africa to uphold the rights and well being of the Indian community there. But when he finally returned to India he developed a subjective mentality under which he alone was to be the final judge of what was right or wrong. If the country wanted his leadership, it had to accept his infallibility; if it did not, he would stand aloof from the Congress and carry on his own way. Against such an attitude there can be no halfway house. Either Congress had to surrender its will to his and had to be content with playing second fiddle to all his eccentricity, whimsicality, metaphysics and primitive vision, or it had to carry on without him. He alone was the Judge of everyone and everything; he was the master brain guiding the civil disobedience movement; no other could know the technique of that movement. He alone knew when to begin and when to withdraw it. The movement might succeed or fail, it might bring untold disaster and political reverses but that could make no difference to the Mahatma's infallibility. 'A Satyagrahi can never fail' was his formula for declaring his own infallibility and nobody except himself knew what a Satyagrahi is.

Thus, the Mahatma became the judge and jury in his own cause. These childish insanities and obstinacies, coupled with a most severe austerity of life, ceaseless work and lofty character made Gandhi formidable and irresistible. Many people thought that his politics were irrational but they had either to withdraw from the Congress or place their intelligence at his feet to do with, as he liked. In a position of such absolute irresponsibility Gandhi was guilty of blunder after blunder, failure after failure, disaster after disaster.

Gandhi's pro-Muslim policy is blatantly in his perverse attitude on the question of the national language of India. It is quite obvious that Hindi has the most prior claim to be accepted as the premier language. In the beginning of his career in India, Gandhi gave a great impetus to Hindi but as he found that the Muslims did not like it, he became a champion of what is called Hindustani. Everybody in India knows that there is no language called Hindustani; it has no grammar; it has no vocabulary. It is a mere dialect; it is spoken, but not written. It is a bastard tongue and crossbreed between Hindi and Urdu, and not even the Mahatma's sophistry could make it popular. But in his desire to please the Muslims he insisted that Hindustani alone should be the national language of India. His blind followers, of course, supported him and the so-called hybrid language began to be used. The charm and purity of the Hindi language was to be prostituted to please the Muslims. All his experiments were at the expense of the Hindus.

From August 1946 onwards the private armies of the Muslim League began a massacre of the Hindus. The then Viceroy, Lord Wavell, though distressed at what was happening, would not use his powers under the Government of India Act of 1935 to prevent the rape, murder and arson. The Hindu blood began to flow from Bengal to Karachi with some retaliation by the Hindus. The Interim Government formed in September was sabotaged by its Muslim League members right from its inception, but the more they became disloyal and treasonable to the government of which they were a part, the greater was Gandhi's infatuation for them. Lord Wavell had to resign as he could not bring about a settlement and he was succeeded by Lord Mountbatten. King Log was followed by King Stork.

The Congress, which had boasted of its nationalism and socialism, secretly accepted Pakistan literally at the point of the bayonet and abjectly surrendered to Jinnah. India was vivisected and one-third of the Indian territory became foreign land to us from August 15, 1947. Lord Mountbatten came to be described in Congress circles as the greatest Viceroy and Governor-General this country ever had. The official date for handing over power was fixed for June 30, 1948, but Mountbatten with his ruthless surgery gave us a gift of vivisected India ten months in advance. This is what Gandhi had achieved after thirty years of undisputed dictatorship and this is what Congress party calls 'freedom' and 'peaceful transfer of power'. The Hindu-Muslim unity bubble was finally burst and a theocratic state was established with the consent of Nehru and his crowd and they have called 'freedom won by them with sacrifice' - whose sacrifice? When top leaders of Congress, with the consent of Gandhi, divided and tore the country - which we consider a deity of worship - my mind was filled with direful anger.

One of the conditions imposed by Gandhi for his breaking of the fast unto death related to the mosques in Delhi occupied by the Hindu refugees. But when Hindus in Pakistan were subjected to violent attacks he did not so much as utter a single word to protest and censure the Pakistan Government or the Muslims concerned. Gandhi was shrewd enough to know that while undertaking a fast unto death, had he imposed for its break some condition on the Muslims in Pakistan, there would have been found hardly any Muslims who could have shown some grief if the fast had ended in his death. It was for this reason that he purposely avoided imposing any condition on the Muslims. He was fully aware of from the experience that Jinnah was not at all perturbed or influenced by his fast and the Muslim League hardly attached any value to the inner voice of Gandhi.

Gandhi is being referred to as the Father of the Nation. But if that is so, he had failed his paternal duty inasmuch as he has acted very treacherously to the nation by his consenting to the partitioning of it. I stoutly maintain that Gandhi has failed in his duty. He has proved to be the Father of Pakistan. His inner-voice, his spiritual power and his doctrine of non-violence of which so much is made of, all crumbled before Jinnah's iron will and proved to be powerless.

Briefly speaking, I thought to myself and foresaw I shall be totally ruined, and the only thing I could expect from the people would be nothing but hatred and that I shall have lost all my honour, even more valuable than my life, if I were to kill Gandhiji. But at the same time I felt that the Indian politics in the absence of Gandhiji would surely be proved practical, able to retaliate, and would be powerful with armed forces. No doubt, my own future would be totally ruined, but the nation would be saved from the inroads of Pakistan. People may even call me and dub me as devoid of any sense or foolish, but the nation would be free to follow the course founded on the reason which I consider to be necessary for sound nation-building. After having fully considered the question, I took the final decision in the matter, but I did not speak about it to anyone whatsoever. I took courage in both my hands and I did fire the shots at Gandhiji on 30th January 1948, on the prayer-grounds of Birla House.

I do say that my shots were fired at the person whose policy and action had brought rack and ruin and destruction to millions of Hindus. There was no legal machinery by which such an offender could be brought to book and for this reason I fired those fatal shots.

I bear no ill will towards anyone individually but I do say that I had no respect for the present government owing to their policy, which was unfairly favourable towards the Muslims. But at the same time I could clearly see that the policy was entirely due to the presence of Gandhi. I have to say with great regret that Prime Minister Nehru quite forgets that his preachings and deeds are at times at variances with each other when he talks about India as a secular state in season and out of season, because it is significant to note that Nehru has played a leading role in the establishment of the theocratic state of Pakistan, and his job was made easier by Gandhi's persistent policy of appeasement towards the Muslims.

I now stand before the court to accept the full share of my responsibility for what I have done and the judge would, of course, pass against me such orders of sentence as may be considered proper. But I would like to add that I do not desire any mercy to be shown to me, nor do I wish that anyone else should beg for mercy on my behalf. My confidence about the moral side of my action has not been shaken even by the criticism levelled against it on all sides. I have no doubt that honest writers of history will weigh my act and find the true value thereof some day in future.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Perfect evening

Me in a blanket, working on my laptop with classical music in the background in a dark room.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Suvendu Roy, of Titan Industries shares his inspirational encounter with a rickshaw driver in Mumbai:

Last Sunday, my wife, kid, and I had to travel to Andheri from Bandra.
When I waved at a passing auto rickshaw, little did I expect that this ride would be any different...

As we set off, my eyes fell on a few magazines (kept in an aircraft style pouch) behind the driver's back rest.

I looked in front and there was a small TV. The driver had put on the Doordarshan channel.

My wife and I looked at each other with disbelief and amusement. In front of me was a small first-aid box with cotton, dettol and some medicines.

This was enough for me to realise that I was in a special vehicle.

Then I looked round again, and discovered more - there was a radio, fire extinguisher, wall clock, calendar, and pictures and symbols of all faiths
- from Islam and Christianity to Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism.

There were also pictures of the heroes of 26/11- Kamte, Salaskar, Karkare and Unnikrishnan.

I realised that not only my vehicle, but also my driver was special.

I started chatting with him and the initial sense of ridicule and disbelief gradually diminished.

I gathered that he had been driving an auto rickshaw for the past 8-9 years; he had lost his job when hisemployer's plastic company was shut down.

He had two school-going children, and he drove from 8 in the morning till 10 at night.

No break unless he was unwell. "Sahab, ghar mein baith ke T.V dekh kar kya faida? Do paisa income karega toh future mein kaam aayega."

We realised that we had come across a man who represents Mumbai - the spirit of work, the spirit of travel and the spirit of excelling in life.
I asked him whether he does anything else as I figured that he did not have too much spare time.

He said that he goes to an old age home for women in Andheri once a week or whenever he has some extra income, where he donates tooth brushes, toothpastes, soap, hair oil, and other items of daily use.

He pointed out to a painted message below the meter that read: "25 per cent discount on metered fare for the handicapped.

Free rides for blind passengers up to Rs. 50.

My wife and I were struck with awe. The man was a HERO!

A hero who deserves all our respect!!!

Our journey came to an end;

45 minutes of a lesson in humility, selflessness, and of a hero-worshipping Mumbai, my temporary home.

We disembarked, and all I could do was to pay him a tipthat would hardly cover a free ride for a blind man.

I hope, one day, you too have a chance to meet Mr Sandeep Bachhe in his auto rickshaw: MH-02-Z-8508.

The above was a mail forward.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

LKP, Rambhai, Mess...

...D-20, 6064, Underpass, RJM, Harvard Steps....

Some words, once a prominent part of my vocabulary. And now just memories.

Damn, I miss you IIMA!