A Goodbye to Appu

When Delhi hosted the Asian Games in 1982 the mascot of the Games a baby elephant named Appu stayed back in Delhi to become a symbol of unending fun in form of the amusement park known as Appu Ghar. The mascot in form of a dancing elephant adorning the gateway to Appu Ghar provided a cheerful day of fun and frolic during 25 years of it’s existence to millions of children. Located in heart of the town and offering so many permutations and combination of joy rides and games it was a place you could head for any time on any day . Weekend outings came to acquire a special meaning specially for the middle class crowds which could have free run of the place at an affordable cost. A whole generation of Delhites grew up with the joy and thrill of the rides and games. Other options to the city’s entertainment package by way of water parks or the occassional visiting circuses or the Delhi Zoo remained way behind in the matter of popularity.

Now Appu has grown weak standing on one leg for so many years and a new world is emerging around it which is more professional and devoted to matters of corporate concern, so Appu bids good bye to Delhi and to those whose child hood memories would never be complete without recalling the excitement and thrill of Appu rides. In the age of computer games and multiplexes Appu the symbol of common man’s entertainment will perhaps move to some smaller town where child’s world is still not trampled upon by monstrous organs of modern society . Delhi richer by achievements of scientific progress and by growth of legal wisdom through the library which will take place of joy rides now has less time to care for the smile of the young child.

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Sanju baba in trouble again

Marriages are said to be made in heaven but an act of indiscretion or shall we say an unfortunate slip in compliance with law has lead to unmaking of a marriage of two stars of the earth. The much hyped marriage between Sanjay Dutt and his friend now known as Manyata (meaning recognition) appears to be unrecognizable as per law of the land. It has been discovered that the stars submitted false evidence in support of their proof of residence in Goa and thus the registration of the marriage is held up by the Registrar of marriages. The Govt functionaries who facilitated the submission of false certificates are facing disciplinary action for facilitating the an act of forgery.

It is not known as to what prompted the two film personalities to decide to get married at Goa . Perhaps Sanjay being ignorant of legal impediments and encouraged by some over enthusiastic goan lawyer friend unwittingly allowed himself to be caught in a legal wrangle of his own making. Having just temporarily managed to extricate himself from imprisonment in a criminal case relating to possession of unlicensed AK-47 gun and then getting it destroyed to conceal the evidence, he seems to be heading for another troubled phase in life due to the latest development. To add to his trouble now an ex husband of his lady love who claims to be not properly delinked from his marriage to her is also sending signals from his prison cell about illegality of the whole show.

If the marriage was planned in Goa to make it a secret affair or to escape the demanding ex husband, the move seems to have badly misfired. Media would always be happy if a marriage goes on rocks in comparison to a case where it is over peacefully and away from media glare.

Moreover in our country we have different standards for compliance with law for different social categories. While a politician living in Delhi can claim to be a resident of Assam for facilitating induction in the Parliament, and another one can remain a member of Parliament despite persistent controversies surrounding her nationality , others must not tinker with law. Remember, Delhi Police accused of gross negligence and fabrication of evidence in the Jessica Lal murder case went all the way to Goa for arresting socialite Bina Ramani on charge of giving a false address in her ration card !

It is sad to see Sanju Baba , son of such respected parents finding himself in such embarrassing situation while trying to seek a settled lifestyle, but February 2008 seems to be the month of falling satellites, having gone out of orbit due to calculation errors , perhaps a watchful astrologer could have forewarned the two stars.

Marginalise and Kill : The Politics of Raj

Sare jahan Se accha Hindostan hamara. Hum Bulbulein hain iski yeh gulsitan hamara. ( Our loveable Hindustan is above all others in the world. We are it’s singing birds and this is our garden) . This is how poet Iqbal described India before independence and partition. After independence from the British Raj, the Indian Constitution framed by politicians brought up with such liberal and romantic ideas gave us a free nation which bestowed on all citizens unfettered rights to freely move and settle in any part of the country.

Encouraged by this liberal constitution and newly found freedom the post independence era brought about a great intermingling of it’s people . Our great cities at one time took pride in being labeled as cosmopolitan in nature or sometimes being called a mini India. The south Indian Idly Dosa cuisine found it’s way to each north Indian eating joint and south India in turn felt proud to have a “ Shere Punjab” Hotel in every nook and corner of major metro cities. The Kathak dancers of Lucknow performed to fully packed auditoriums in Goa and the Hindi Cinema anchored at Mumbai established as a million dollar industry with the participation of Kapoor Khandans of Punjab. Considered as the heman of his times actor Dharmendra fell to the charms of South Indian belle Hema Malini and Masoor Ali Khan Nawab of a princely State in Punjab found solace in marriage with an actress of Bengali origin.

But the happiness and enjoyment of the newly born nation in creating a multidimensional social fabric was short-lived. The political leadership which in post independent India found itself overwhelmed with the task of nation building and in turn felt threatened for survival due to lack of imaginative problem solving capabilities reinvented the politics of divide and rule . The desperation and frustration, infact painted the obnoxious agenda with much sinister colours . The agenda got upgraded to marginalize and kill.

The new trend of political one-upmanship is leading to an astonishingly grim scenario . Firstly it was a war between north and south later on we narrowed down our boundaries and developed hatred for natives of all states other than our state . Majority of states now have some grouse with the neighboring state. Process of free flow of human beings across the state borders is considered as an invasion for financial exploitation. Each state has it’s own database to explain as to how business men and jobseekers from other states are choking the sons of soil in their states. Migration is considered as an act of crime to enjoy hard earned economic benefits of the other state. With every passing day the boundaries are shrinking further , now it is a question of culture being confined to cities.

So while Mumbaikars may enjoy their New Yea’s eve in Goa but the north indian taxi driver who ferried them across the border for enjoyments may get mashed up by Shiv Sainiks on return for not belonging to Mumbai ! In not too distant future a railway train running from one end of the country to other end may carry only dead bodies of passengers at the last stop because people of each state (or city?) would attempt to eliminate those passengers who are aliens i.e. from other states or cities.

Who said that the Raj is dead it has emerged in a new avtar.

To seal or to deseal: Question that puzzles Delhi Govt

The Sheila Dixit Govt. in Delhi has at least one major institution building achievement to it’s credit. It introduced the concept of empowerment of Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) in a big way through the Bhagidari Scheme launched by it. The word Bhagidari meant partnership and the concept intended to provide opportunity for sharing of responsibilities and power between the RWAs and the Govt. The Scheme visualized Govt. support and guidance for growth and networking of these institutions to facilitate experience sharing and capacity building. At the initial stage the scheme seemed to have achieved success and earned several prestigious awards for the so called new concept in governance. However ironically a strange twist of events started which became a perpetual cause for conflict between the Govt. and RWAs.

Some of the RWAs were already enlightened to the civic rights of their members and a larger number with the newly acquired sense of power woke up to the need of raising their voices against the Govt’s negligence in enforcing the provisions of Delhi’s Master Plan. Over the years a large number of residential areas in various colonies of Delhi have acquired commercial character leading to progressive deterioration in quality of life for those who continue to live in their residential properties which are getting surrounded by unauthorized commercial structures. When the Govt. machinery was found to be unwilling to change the scenario , the RWAs were forced to take recourse to litigation.

The dispute went up to the Apex Court and the Govt. had to repeatedly cut a sorry figure for it’s knee jerk reaction to the grim scenario. The RWAs which were creatures encouraged and empowered by the Sheila Dixit Govt. found themselves involved in a running battle with the same Govt. The continuous monitoring by the Apex Court and the pressure to catch all the violators irrespective of their status became so intense that even the Chief Minister and certain other bigwigs in her party were running for cover against notices received against their personal properties for violation of Master Plan of Delhi or building bye laws.

The Govt., from the initial stage was cowering under pressure from the law breakers but found itself helpless against people’s power. The stage managed scenes of street violence and a legally unsustainable piece of legislation could not bail it out . The Govt. was forced to mobilize all power of state to seal thousands of Commercial establishments which were functioning in violation of law.

The battle is a rather ironical conflict between the law makers and the law supporters . The process of sealing of properties has taken a heavy toll on personal reputations of several major operators in the field besides the progressive Chief Minister of Delhi who is otherwise a progressive and professional politician. At one stage Delhi was agog with rumors that the whole business was masterminded by the daughter of ruling family who was promoting several new Malls in the city and needed buyers willing to pay high prices. Similar insinuations later popped up against relatives of a key figure connected with judicial activism. The issue is still wide open . A large number of commercial establishments have closed and shifted to conforming areas and to Noida and Gurgaon. However thousands crores of rupees invested in the sealed properties remain blocked and a source of continuous pressure on city govt. to find a way out.

A recent news item says that the Govt. is coming out with a legislative solution. But the outcome of legislation in favour of desealing of offending constructions remains to be seen. For Sheila Dixit Govt. caught in the crossfire , seal or to deseal is the question that keeps it’s intellect puzzled.

Team India shines

Mother India has something to be proud of. A fighter for national pride nicknamed Bhajji , a member of Indian cricket team presently touring Australia has established that he is not one who believes in insulting the racial pride of any human being. He has admitted that certain words uttered by him during a cricket match between India and Australia were in fact intended to be simply abusive in a routine sort of way since the words only referred to the anatomy of victim’s mother rather lecherously and nothing else. Bhajji’s mom heaved a sigh of great relief that his son had not called the foreigner by the name of an animal but was only being vulgar towards another woman. Newspapers carried photographs of young girls in his native territory celebrating this victorious turn of events by carrying playcards “Chak ditta India” a much abused term which translates into something like“India you rammed them”.

The watchgaurds of national pride frothing with tension through out the whole week over the dispute between the players stood vindicated by virtue of a victory scored in the court of enquiry. The dispute had taken an ugly turn after Bhajji was banned from playing next five matches after a summary trial. It ended in our favour after his clarifications of above nature were accepted by the appellate authority.

Indian cricket team members have added another feather to their cap of off the field achievements. Team players shine so well on fashion ramps and on publicity ads even while sponsoring humdrum products like sweetened soda water or biscuits . Their bold gestures like rushing for a movie theatre after loosing a crucial match or competing over starlet girl friends are much acknowledged media events. The Hotels and eateries which they have opened (with the wealth earned partly from the game and substantially from off the field events) for serving fish fry and seek kabas do cover up for missed fours and sixes.

Australians India’s traditional spoil sport rivals however could not relish our feeling of enjoyment. They butchered us on the playfield in the 20-20 match which followed. The onslaught was so devastating that we missed the record for the lowest score by just one run. We must however appreciate Bhajji again for, this brave figure from the land of Shaheed Bhagat Singh scored one single run before going down like a martyr. That single run separated us from the dubious low score record just as his careful selection of abusive utterances saved us from being labeled as a nation of racists.