The sudarshan chakra

Poisons that I vomited out.
Eons ago.
On you.
Have become a river of spleen.
Red/bloody/dripping drop by drop.
On my existence.
Shattering it away in bits and pieces.
Flying away from me.

The river of spleen.
Red/bloody/dripping drop by drop.
Glaciating from you.
A river of spate.
Full of whirlpools/whirlpools of hatred/aversion/detachment.
You
Residing on the black canvas of universe.
An Orion with a big cipher.
A sudarshan chakra.

Hitting me with the lightening speed.
Cutting me into bits and pieces.
Flying away from me.
There flew away me/my existence/my essence
Getting submerged into the river of spleen.
Red/bloody/dripping drop by drop.
And you.
Light years away.
Beyond my reached.
Shelved in a cocoon.
Like a black hole.
Ready to engulf the entire universe.
Around you.

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Gujarat Model: A role-model or a disaster?

 

Ever since Narendra Modi became Gujarat’s chief minister in 2001, Gujarat model is touted as the role model of development for the entire country because of its gleaming roads, good power supply, multiplexes, air-conditioned malls and off course, a relatively high Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) and eventually a higher per capita income makes it for the policymakers to tout a vibrant Gujarat model that must become the national model of growth and development.

While it is true that this large state, located on the western coast of India, having the longest coastline of 1,600 km in the country is one of the high growth states in the country with its average annual GSDP growth rate of Gujarat from 2004-05 to 2015-16 was 12.02 per cent that has achieved the distinction of being one of the most industrially developed states and contributes about a quarter to India’s goods exports, it is not the achievement of the BJP Government under the leadership of Modi as its chief minister from 2011 to 2014, but a legacy of previous regimes that just got furthered during his regime as the following table clearly shows it that  mentions the GSGP growth rates only for the years when in clocked more than ten per cent:

State Domestic Product (SDP) in Gujarat: 1969-to to 2010-11
Year Rs. in Crore Annual Rate of Growth
1969-70 997 10.04
1970-71 1150 15.35
1973-74 2202 22.33
1975-76 2439 28.50
1981-82 8205 25.32
1983-84 11280 30.06
1986-87 14022 15.86
1988-89 19496 40.18
1990-91 241.20 12.86
1992-93 35018 34.33
1993-94 39190 11.91
1995-96 72182 13.45
1996-97 86414 19.33
1998-99 105443 13.42
2003-04 149598 14.77
2005-06 173654 13.44
2007-08 213092 12.49
2007-08 281273 11.00
2009-10 330671 10.10
2010-11 365295 10.47
Source: Socio-Economic Review, 2011-12, Budget Publication No. 34, p: 33.

Even a cursory glance at the table will make anyone see and realize that Gujarat has always been a high growth state, hitting as high as 40.18 per cent mark in 1988-89!

In fact, during it registered much higher growth rate during the Congress chief ministers as it was:

1981-85 Madhavsinh Solanki 16.29
1985-90 Madhavsinh Solanki, Amarsinh Choudhary 13.63
1990-94 Chimanbhai Patel/Chhabil Das Mehta 16.73

And, just!

2001-04 Narendra Modi 10.30
2005-11 Narendra Modi 09.35
Note: The growth rate of 2001-09 is at 1999-2000 prices and the growth rate of 2005-11 at 2004-05 prices.

Note: It is very important to measure the GSDP as it means the monetary value of goods and services produced during the financial year of the state.

Also, much against the national scenario, secondary and tertiary sectors—industry and services—forms the much thicker share of the state GDP. While in 1960-61, agriculture contributed to 42 %, industry 26 and services 32 per cent, in 2008-09, while agriculture shrank to 17.10 per cent, industry jumped to 41.05 per cent, followed by services at 41.19, putting nearly 77.60 lakh persons who are directly related to agriculture, constituting 41.47 per cent of total work force of the state, at a highly precarious condition.

Today. there is a wide-spread rural distress in Gujarat as a NSSO survey carried out between January 2013 and December 2013, it found that the average monthly net receipt from cultivation per agricultural household was Rs 2,933, which was less than the national average, Rs 3,081. Ranking No 12 in a list of 21 major Indian states, this is less than 11 other states remarkably below that registered by the farmers of Punjab (Rs 10,862), which is thrice that of Gujarat, followed by Haryana (Rs 7,867), Karnataka (Rs 4,930), and Telangana (Rs 4,227). Even households in poorer states registered a higher net income from cultivation than Gujarat – Rs 4,211 in Assam, Rs 4,016 in Madhya Pradesh, Rs 3,347 in Chhattisgarh, and Rs 3,138 in Rajasthan. the average monthly income of a farmer in Gujarat is Rs 7,926. According to the central government’s Agriculture Statistics-2016, this is 40% of the monthly earning of a Punjab farmer (Rs 18,049) or 54% of a Haryana agriculturist.

The daily income of a farmer in Gujarat works out at Rs 264 per day, which is Rs 77 less than the national daily wage of an unskilled farm labourer (Rs 341 per day). The daily wage of a farm labourer in Gujarat is Rs 178 per day. Little wonder, Pattidars who were middle-level farmers once and then moved to small-scale enterprises are rebelling against the state policy and Pattidar Movement, led by a young Hardik Patel is demanding reservations in government jobs.

But, thanks to the ill-conceived Goods and Service Tax (GST) and its faulty implementation, even the small and medium scale industries, especially the textile and diamond cutting industries of Surat have registered a negative growth and many workers have lost their jobs. However, it is not a recent phenomenon, but continues since Modi days in Gujarat as unemployment rate in Gujarat in 2009-10 was 9.9% while the national figure was 9.3% and 5.8% for Tamil Nadu, 5.9 for Maharashtra and 8.6 for Haryana.

This is not surprising as there are 13 major industry groups that together account for around 82.05 per cent of total factories, 95.85 per cent of total fixed capital investment, 90.09 per cent of the value of output and 93.21 per cent of value addition in Gujarat’s industrial economy. Gujarat was always in terms of industrial investment as it ranked first in terms of issuing direct industrial license and financial investments have always boomed in Gujarat. Two years ago, a share broking firm in Rajkot, Marwadi Shares, was adding about 1,000 new customers every month. That is now up to 6,000 new customers a month. But, as far as jobs creation are concerned, it always was a job-less growth as it ranked seventh in employment generation; Tamil Nadu ranks seventh in investment in IEMs (Industrial Entrepreneur Memorandum) but ranks first in its share of creating employment from this investment. During 2006-10, Gujarat signed MoU worth Rs 5.35 lakh crore with potential of 6.47 lakh jobs. But Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with Rs 4.20 lakh crore and Rs 1.63 lakh crore worth MoUs, expected to create about 8.63 lakh and 13.09 lakh jobs.

Gujarat is a leader in industrial sectors such as chemicals, petrochemicals, dairy, drugs and pharmaceuticals, cement and ceramics, gems and jewellery, textiles and engineering. The industrial sector comprises over 800 large industries and more than 453,339 micro, small and medium industries. As of December 2015, Gujarat ranked second in the production of crude oil (onshore) in India. It accounts for around 72 per cent of the world’s share of processed diamonds and more than 80 per cent of diamonds processed in India.

Industry and services got a major boost under the stewardship of Modi who promoted Special Economic Zones at a frantic pace, giving them major tax concessions, soft loans and immediate environmental clearance. Little wonder, the state ranks first in terms of total area covered under SEZs in India. It is also a leading SEZ state with the highest geographical area of 29,423.9 hectares under SEZ development. Gujarat, traditionally has been a high growth state, especially after the liberalisation began in 1991 and the growth rate remained the highest during those years. During this time, Chimanbhai Patel was the Chief Minister of the state who carried out the policies of his predecessor, Madhavsinh Solanki, during whose rule in 1981-85, growth rate was on par.  Hence, the claim that that Gujarat developed only during the regime of Narendra Modi is completely hollow and far from reality as the state experienced the highest annual economic growth rate of 19.5 per cent, even earlier as during the six-year period of 1988-94. Since then this much of high rate is never attained. And, the highest rate of growth during the Modi era was only 14.77 per cent in 2003-04.

 

 

Hence, it can be concluded that with or without Modi, Gujarat has always experienced an impressive growth rate and was almost never under the clutches of Hindu Growth Rate of as Prof. Rajkrishna had christened, and historically speaking, the growth rate of Gujarat has always been higher than the national average annual growth rate. So, it cannot be considered as an achievement of Narendra Modi’s regime as touted by the propaganda machine of Modi. The higher rate of growth in Gujarat today is nothing to boost about.

Now, let’s look at the second parameter to evaluating growth at traditional and conventional manner—per capita income. Doubtlessly, as a result of this development, the per capita income of Gujarat has remained higher than the national average. Here too, it is nolonger a dream state as in terms of per capita income at current prices, Andhra Pradesh crossed Rs 1 lakh mark for the first time during 2015-16, is preceded by Karnataka (Rs 1.45 lakh), Telangana (Rs 1.43 lakh) and Punjab (1.26 lakh). Even in the year 2011, in terms of per capita income, Gujarat ranked sixth among major states with at Rs 63,996, after Haryana (Rs 92,327), Maharashtra, (Rs 83,471), Punjab (Rs 77,473), Tamil Nadu (Rs 72,993) and Uttarakhand (Rs 68,292). Even in the year 2010, Gujarat ranked 10th in terms of per-capita income in the country. It means the people of Gujarat earn much less than those of Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab.
Also, the per capita debt is on rise. The per capita debt in 2006-07 was Rs 13,371, which in 2009-10 went up to Rs 16,328.

Even if we talk about the amount of per capita deposit and per capita credit, another conventional parameter of evaluating growth, Gujarat is nowhere vibrant as for Gujarat they were Rs 37,174 and Rs 24,268; while for Tamil Nadu, Rs 42,580 and Rs 47,964; Karnataka Rs 49,598 and Rs 38,154; and Maharashtra Rs 1,10,183 and Rs 89,575. Even Kerala did better than Gujarat with Rs 43,890 and Rs 27,912 in the year 2011.
hard statistical facts, therefore, laugh at the claim of vibrant Gujarat and scoff at the so-called Gujarat Model as if we talk about the rate of economic growth, during 1995-2000 and 2001-10, Gujarat increased its annual rate of growth from 8.01% to 8.68%, but so other major states like Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu Uttar Pradesh and tiny after Uttarakhand that hit 11.81% mark. So, were other smaller states like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have registered growth of 11.01% and 8.96%, respectively!
What about industrial growth rate? Well, during 2001-04, it was 3.95%, and during 2005-09, it was 12.65%. But, it certainly wasn’t a Modi Miracle as during these sub-periods, industrial growth for Orissa was 6.4% and 17.53%; for Chhattisgarh 8.10% and 13.3%; and for Uttarakhand 18.84% and 11.63%, meaning hitherto industrially backward states surpassing Gujarat during his rule!

Everyone in this regime talks about foreign direct investment as a proof of economic growth, but here too, Gujarat has not been a leading state. During 2006-10, Gujarat signed MoUs worth Rs 5.35 lakh crore with potential of 6.47 lakh jobs. But Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with Rs 4.20 lakh crore and Rs 1.63 lakh crore worth MoUs, expect about 8.63 lakh and 13.09 lakh jobs. To top it all, Chhattisgarh and Orissa have signed MoUs worth Rs 3.61 lakh crore and Rs 2.99 lakh crore more than Gujarat without much fanfare and Modi’s much-hyped industrial summits.
Another parameter of measuring economic wonder is credit-deposit ratio and here too, Gujarat is not a leading state. In fact, it is far behind other major states. In 2010, Gujarat’s share in total deposits of the scheduled commercial banks was 4.70%, as against 5.42%, 6.20%, 6.34% and 26.60% for Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra, respectively. The share of Gujarat in total credit disbursed by these commercial banks was 4.22%; while the same for Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tami Nadu was 29.75%, 6.71% and 9.61% respectively.
Human development is real development: No longer, economic growth rate, per-capita income, FDI etc. are considered as sufficient conditions for measuring growth as only ignoramus and ultra-conventional would take it as a milestone of growth as it must be inclusive and humane. So, internationally accepted parameters of measuring growth have human development yardsticks like rate of reducing poverty, access to schools & hospitals, life expectancy, infant and mother mortality rates, gender ratio, literacy and mean-years of schooling. Here, Gujarat cuts a sorry figure and falters at all parameters as the following table clearly shows, indicating Gujarat’s position in India in the year 2001 and 2011:

 

Parameter 2001 2011
Gender Ratio 18th 21st
Literacy 10th 11th
Life Expectancy 10th (2000-04) 10th (2010-14)
Infant mortality 10th 10th

 

In these parameters like in terms of people below the official poverty line; that’s in fact is the survival line, Gujarat, with 31.8% people below the ‘poverty line’ lagged behind Kerala, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, where poverty levels were 19.7%, 20.9%, 22.9% and 24.1%, respectively.
On three other important social indicators, viz life expectancy at birth (LEB), mean years of schooling (MYS) and school life expectancy (SLE), the picture in even murkier as Gujarat is far behind some other states. In Gujarat, the LEB during 2002-06 was 64.1 years and it ranked ninth among major Indian states. In the areas of MYS and SLE, during 2004-05, it ranked seventh and ninth, respectively. Kerala ranked first in all three indicators. Even Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka performed much better than Gujarat.

Gujarat remains a state where inequality with respect to income, education and health is widespread, in fact much higher than some of the major states. Shockingly, in terms of hunger — as revealed by the ‘State Hunger Index 2008’ — Gujarat ranked 13th among 17 big states and worse than Orissa.

Another shocking feature is the state having a high percentage of women suffering from anaemia that has risen from 46.3% in 1999 to 55.5% in 2004, that is even higher among children that rose from 74.5% to 80.1%. And, not to speak about the conditions of Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims that have worsened during the last decade.

In conclusion, we can safely say that with respect to Human Development Index (HDI), Gujarat’s story is devastating that stood at 11th position among Indian states, scoring 0.616, just slightly above the National average at 0616.

Here is the tiny Himalayan state of Himachal where election just took place and has been ridiculed by Modi-Shah duo as it was under the Congress rule for the last five years, shows a real contrast Between 1993-94 and 2011, Himachal Pradesh has clocked an HDI of 0.670, next only to Kerala.

It had a four-fold reduction in the rural poor – poverty levels that dropped from 36.8 per cent to 8.5 per cent during this period. The decline has been sure and steady since then and it has the lowest share of individuals with no education. In 2011, less than one-third of its rural population had no education, against two-fifths or half in the case of its neighbouring states. It also had the highest proportion of residents with post-secondary education across northern states.

Himachal also excels in health outcomes as well, ranking third after Kerala and Tamil Nadu in reducing infant mortality, child mortality and under-five mortality and second after Kerala in post-neonatal mortality.

Then, Himachal Pradesh has the highest rural female work participation rates among states (63 per cent), leaving the second ranking state Tamil Nadu with 43 per cent far behind. It stands second in urban female work participation rates (28 per cent) along with Tamil Nadu, putting Kerala at 29 per cent, just slightly above.

The state also has become a model of inclusive growth as it has a much higher level of – land distribution among castes that is more equal than in other states, so is the case of employment distribution, meaning there are very few Dalit and Adivasi landless farmers and jobless persons in these groups.

Even the national campaign of Swachha Bharat (Clean India) performed with excellent result in this Congress governed state as in 2005-06, only 40 per cent of rural households had access to toilet facilities; today Himachal Pradesh is close to becoming an open defecation free state.

This happened because a political consensus not only about the goals to be achieved but also in empowering the community existed in Himachal that sadly, may become a thing of past, as the acrimonious election campaign, just concluded, indicated.

Thus, Gujarat’s growth story as claimed by Modi is more a myth than reality. That only enriches mega-industrialists and super-rich like Ambanis (both brothers) and Adani as Reliance Petroleum of Elder operates the oil refinery at Jamnagar which is the world’s largest grass roots refinery. The company has also planned another SEZ (special economic zone), in Jamnagar. And, the Adani Group’s experienced a meteoric rise during the chief ministership of Narendra Modi in Gujarat. It has just started a big, gleaming Adani Port in Mundra. Apart from picking up over 7,000 hectares at rock bottom rates (some for as low as Re 1 per square metre), it is destroying thousands of hectares of rich mangrove forest.

It is time for the people of Gujarat of introspection and putting right efforts in the direction of making Gujarat a truly ‘vibrant state.’

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BHU & JNU: A tale of two campuses

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Originally posted on Rirakesh's Blog:
When the Uttar Pradesh police mercilessly attacked the BHU girl students on the midnight of September, 22, when a girl was molested by two men who were at motorcycle and passed by her when…

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BHU & JNU: A tale of two campuses

When the Uttar Pradesh police mercilessly attacked the BHU girl students on the midnight of September, 22, when a girl was molested by two men who were at motorcycle and passed by her when she was riding a bike at the twilight and when the harassed girl went to lodge a complaint with the security guard, he taunted, “If you roam around at this time, this will happen.” It was only 6:30 in the evening and she was rushing back to her hostel as a curfew is imposed at 7 p.m. after which no girl is allowed to enter or exit the high walls of Women’s College where girls up to graduation study and live in the four hostels that the university has.

But, the worst was yet to come. When she lodged a complaint with the hostel warden, she remarked, “Nothing earth-shattering has happened as they just touched you!”

This is the picture of the university where total gender segregation, in the name of protecting ‘Indian culture,’ is practiced.

On the other hand, its extreme opposite is JNU where no curfew is imposed and girls freely enters into the boys’ hostels anytime, even in the night, have fun and frolic with boys, also indulge into debate, discussion and dissent with them and no one even passes a demeaning glance at them!

Here is a tale of two campuses from the horse’s mouth!

As I was first in BHU, from where I did my M.A. in Political Science and then in JNU from where I earned a doctorate degree in International Relations.

When I joined JNU in 1988, it was a cultural shock for me as I could see girls entering my hostel, Kaveri, well past midnight, sometimes, smoking a puff, and no one even blinked an eye!

Besides, there wasn’t and I think, still, there is no curfew at all for girls’ hostels, there was also a co-hostel: Sabarmati Hostel that had one wing for boys and one for girls, with common mess and common-room.

Imagine, the existence of such a hostel in BHU!

Later I discovered it was diametrically opposite BHU culture as in every walk of life, be it sheer entertainment and time-pass or debating, discussing and protesting on any cultural, social, economical, environmental or political issue of local, regional, national or international importance or just plain and simple study in classrooms or library, girls were walking alongside boys!

I remember that in BHU, girls were always an enigma and youths being youths, it was impossible to keep the two poles apart. But, as there were no girls in the class when we were doing our graduation, we used to follow them after the class, keeping a safe distance from a ‘chosen one,’ but ‘careful’ enough that she notices us!

And, if she used to pass by, a friend who he was maaroing a line (tying to impress) would exclaim, “Aaj vah mili thi (today, I met her)”!

And, here I was in JNU, where even after having rounds of tea and discussing a whole lot of topics, no one could claim that he has fasaoed (entrapped) a girl and now she is his ‘property’ and no one else is allowed to eye upon her.

Here, I want to take you on a personal journey that describes the life in JNU—focusing on fun we had and issued we indulged in.

Soon after joining JNU, I became friendly with a few girls and many of them started to land in my room, where we could talk, cut jokes and play music. Then, go down to Godawari Dhaba to have tea and discuss the topic of the day. And, many a times, we would shoot off to Priya Cinema for a late-night show as this theatre used to show English films and when the films were over around midnight, we would cross its boundary and sit on the stone stools at Ganga Dhaba for another round of tea, before calling it a day!

Then, we used to throw raging parties that would go for the entire night in the vast and sweeping JNU campus of Arawalis. Our favored joints were Parthsarthy Plateau, an open rocky platform or the university’s campus wherwee both girls and boys would jive and dance on rock music and endless booze bottles were emptied.

We also celebrated all festivals—be in Holi, Diwali, Eid or Christmas, even the regional ones like Oman of Kerala, Bihu of Assam and Pongal of Tamil Nadu. I still remember, during Ramzan month as most Muslim students observe fast, breakfast used to keep outside their rooms early in the morning and they well made to wake up, although, there were many iconoclastic students like my best friend, Md. Asif Ismail, who lives in the USA now, would never indulge into these rituals and was happily breakfasting with us!

But, then we would observe Iftar and throw Eid parties and on Holi, all out get ‘high’ on bhang and there used to be a chaat sammelan (joking competition) Jhelum Lawns, where girls and boys all would come and compete to be a top joker!

The same bonhomie existed during cultural events as there used to be a series of pays, musical concerts and fil shows. Many plays like Adarakh Ke Panje, Mitti Ki Gadi and Ghasiram Kotwal were staged on the Amphitheatre and classical maestros like Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ustad Amzad Ali Khan and Pundit Birju Maharaj used to perform and their performance would have lost well beyond the midnight. Then, there was just one small auditorium in the campus, SSS Audi and once, Ustad Zakir Hussain performed there under a programme organised by SPICMACKEY and when he came, the Audi was jam packed. Holding the two tablas in his hands, he waded through the crowd and then there was just a sheer magic for hordes of girls and boys.

There were many films also that my friend, Rakesh Batabyal, now an associate professor with the Center of Media Studies, then  convener, ‘Film Club,’ exhibited like Chaudahavi Ka Chand, Kagaz Ke Phool, Pyasa and famous Appu Trilogy of the legendary film maker, Satyajit Roy. He later, came out with a book, ‘JNU- The Making Of A University,’ published by Harper Collins in 2014 that explores the idea, process and inputs behind the establishment of JNU, one of its kind as no similar book on any other university, forget BHU, exists in India.

In fact, we ‘occupied’ clubs. He was the convenor of the Film Club, another friend of the Mountaineering Club and I of Photography Club, organizing trips on the pretext of ‘teaching’ photography like we went to Jaisalmer in 1992 and to Dodital in dead winter in 1993!

And, no such show or trip was possible without girls and boys both participating!

From fun and frolic, let’s move to debate, discussion and dissent. I discovered the value of post-dinner discussions in the hostels there, when thinkers, politicians and activists and scholars like Sundarlal Bahuguna, Jean Derez, Sitaram Yetchury and Partha Chaterjee would come and deliver lecture after which a round of questions were a must as in JNU, be in class or in any lecture, it is never a one-way process, a monologue, but students and listeners are equal partners. Naturally, these post-dinner discussions were incomplete if only one gender participate and girls were used to attend these lectures in out hostels and vice-versa.

Then, there is the Central Library, having thousands, rather lakhs of books that is open until 10 in the night and 12 during the exam times and both girls and boys would study there together without any single incident of teasing: weather Eve of Adam!

A university bus would drop students after the library time was over to our hostels.

Now, come to debate. Discussion and dissent, something JNU is famous for. I remember, we used to gather at dabhas and library points to protest against pressing issues and incidents of that time— Tienanmen Square Massacre of 1989 and Babri Mosque Demolition in 1991.

And, a big difference was the way students’ union’s election was conducted in these two universities. While in BHU, it was a really big affair like that of an assembly election, where millions were burnt in the campaign by printing millions of posters, pamphlets and banners and making rounds on jeeps & feeding students, in JNU, it were all hand-made posters and hand-written pamphlets and banners no one has ever heard of any one offering any treat to any student. But, the big difference was a presidential debate conducted on the model of the US Election. I still remember, my friend, Amit Sengupta, who fought as a candidate of a newly created group, ‘Solidarity,’ won, demolishing the left bastion of SFI & AISF and an independent candidate, Sanjay Katia, tried to demolish him by passing a satire, ‘Solidarity means solid dirt!’

And, we all used to sing songs and shout slogans all night, while counting was going on. While in JNU, not a single cop was ever present, BHU was reduced to a police cantonment during the SU election and while counting.

The fact that we protested even against the communists like Tienanmen

 

Square Massacre and non-left candidates like Amit Sengupta then and more recently Kanhaiya Kumar, who defeated both SFI & AISF and delivered his presidential debate in Hindi is enough to demolish the stereotyped notion that JNU is a leftist bastion and English’s heaven.

I would also mention how we were and I suppose still are trying to reach out to the marginalised people, especially in an unfortunate event of catastrophe and disaster. I was crazy to go to the hills for treks, be it summer or winter we would pack up our rucksacks, tight the boot and shoot off to the hills—both girls and boys together.

Then, an earthquake struck our beloved hills of Garhwal in October 1991. Uttarkashi was rather very severely hit. We swung into action and collected hordes of clothes and raised money that was about Rs. 10,000 then and reached to a village where we were the first group to provide any relief after 8 days of the quake and met the legendary leader, Sundarlal Bahuguna while returning. Both girls and boys were in our team. The same attitude was visible during the horrific Nirbhaya Rape of 2012 in Delhi when girls and boys from JNU protested in a large number. I don’t think, BHU students can boast of a similar incident.

Lastly, let’s discuss the 2015 incident that made JNU ‘anti-national,’ for the current ruling dispensation. When the entire state’s might was let loose on JNU students, very much like it has just happened in BHU, the students responded. And, how did they respond?

Well, by conducting a series of lecture at the Administrative Block – now popularly called Freedom Square. The first speaker of the series is Ramon Magsaysay award winner Bezwada Wilson. For next 30 days, lectures were delivered by eminent academicians, intellectuals and historians including Romila Thapar, Harbans Mukhia, Tanika Sarkar, Jayati Ghosh, Prabhat Patnaik, Amit Sengupta, Mridula Mukherjee, Makaranad Paranjpe. P. Sainath and Apporvanand, have been compiled and edited in the book published by HarperCollins India, called ‘What the Nation Really Needs to Know: The JNU Nationalism Lectures

This was the aftereffect of the February 2015 event when Kanhaiya Kumar, Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid were arrested for sedition, although, the Supreme Court had passed the judgment in in Kedarnath case in 1962 that mere shouting ant-India slogans is not sedition at all.

He also gave a fitting reply to all, in typical JNU style, by writing a book, Bihar Se Tihar, his autobiography, detailing his journey from a nondescript Bihar village to JNU, published by Juggernaut Books in 2016.

Where is put the policy of segregation vs. aggregation? Although, is cannot be denied that there are certain ‘dangers’ of aggregation as many girls fall in love in JNU and marry the guy they are in love with, often cutting across caste and religions, thus causing a ‘grave danger’ to the Indian culture that BHU cherishes wants to protect and a few also have temporary alliances, but when a girl is supposed to choose our rule makers at the age of 18 that decide the future of the entire country, shouldn’t be ‘allowed’ to choose their own careers and partners and as often we elect wrong policymakers, they can also fall in the selection of their careers and partners, so could be their parents!

Clearly, gender segregation leads to gender discrimination and creates an unhealthy campus, against the claims of the current VC of BHU. Prof.  Girish Chandra Tripathi.

But, what to say about the short-sighted decision of the VC of JNU, Prof. Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, took over as the VC in January, 2016, wants to install an army tank in JUU campus as he thinks that will insert the feeling of nationalism among the anti-national JNU students, forgetting that it was not the army tank on which nationalism arose and rode in India that kicked out the British, but the humble charkha of Gandhi, so why not a big charkha in the campus?

And, the BHU VC blamed it on the outsiders who threw petrol bombs in the campus as staged this protest to spoil the PM’s visit who was in his constituency when it happened, in a way, blaming and shaming the victim.

Clearly, both the VCs want to be in the good book of the current ruling dispensation and eying for a post-retirement placement.

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Reducing a secular art of uniting mind and body to a marketable spectacle!

On the occasion of the Third International Yoga Day, the entire world, especially India, is going gaga over this ancient Indian form of self realization as a multi-dimensional approach of attaining higher consciousness as it means yog (addition) where an individual united the principles of satya (truth), ahimsa (non-violence), brahmacharya (continence), aparigraha (non-possession) and aterya (non-stealing) to unite atman (self) to the parmatma (Universal Self). Yoga, without these principle, is just a form of physical exercise that is promoted today through high decibel demonstrations.
However, even this form of yoga as it is widely practiced all over the world, is a synthesis of art and science as explained by Siegfried Bleher who holds a PhD in physics from the University of Maryland and is a certified Intermediate Junior II Iyengar Yoga instructor.
He mentions that people initially take refuge to yoga for help for a physical ailment, or hoping for mental tranquility. But, yoga is a multilayered and integral part of our lives.
Yoga as Science is the technique, or the method of practice, and there is the underlying theory. The method of practice of Iyengar Yoga includes at least the following elements: linking, sequencing, timing, alignment, and the iterative nature of refining a pose and the information I generate as a practitioner, which is mostly subjective, may or may not satisfy the needs of an empirical study of the benefits of yoga. And, although empirical studies generate valid and reproducible information about the benefits of yoga for various conditions
And yoga is also an art as good art inspires and yoga inspires us to search for our best and
is develops a mathematical way of conceptualizing our multidimensional nature: artwork that has a greater dimensionality tends to appeal to more aspects of the self than artwork that has lower dimensionality.
So, yoga is both an art as it inspires and a science as it illuminates.
Also, as meditation is an integral part of yoga, there exists a perfect science of meditation. Yoga meditation science deals with all levels of ones being, and provides a vast array of detailed explanations and practices and provides a blueprint for the architecture of consciousness, and a roadmap to the center of consciousness. Meditation also goes alongside music as a professional musician practices the art and the science of music, so does a yogi who practices meditation for his soul cleansing (see: traditional yoga and meditation of the Himalayan masters.
And, Uttarakhand has been especially known for practicing and promoting Yoga where in 1968, all four Beatles went to Rishikesh in northern India to study meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
However, the high voltage public theatrics have totally commercialized it and has given this secular practice of uniting body and mind and aligning the soul with the Supreme Soul, a communal tinge where all kinds of netas and babas rush to cash in this growing craze, best exemplified by the multi-billion dollar regime of a charlatan Baba who makes everything from detergent power to Chayanprash and from toothpaste to noodles although many of its products are outsourced and just its brand name is tagged on them and many such products have failed in the quality taste. Moreover, he went on a fast, apparently to protest against the sand mining in Ganga River and corruption in June 2011, but just after six days, his condition deteriorated and he was admitted into the ICU unit of Himalayan Hospital, Jolly Grant, where he was treated by traditional allopathic medicines!
Not to be left behind, the state’s CM also performed this tamasha in an especially constructed hall at the expense of Rs. 25 lakhs!

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Accidents on roads kill more people in India than terrorism, riots and communal clashes, but who cares?

Millions of vehicles struggle for a space in India, where everyone is always in a hurry, but rarely on time. As, people are generally always in a rush, they keep on honking and honking, telling the fellow road users that they have a right to move ahead. The roads are the best place to see this bedlam or the organized chaos that the country runs on as it is estimated the amount of horns blown in India exceeds that’s blown in the rest of the world combined.
This might is right attitude is reflected in the number of accidents and people dying in these accidents where India again stands at the very top in the world.
As many as 139,671 people lost their lives on India’s roads during 2014; that’s 382 deaths every day and the number crossed 146,000 mark in 2015 as per ‘Road Accidents in India; 2013 Transport Research Wing, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ report. However, WHO’s estimate far exceeds this number. Accordingly, out of about 1.25 million people die each year worldwide on road traffic crashes and this figure is much higher in India where the estimated road traffic fatalities is 207 551, 16.6 persons per 100,000, a very high figure, resulting into an estimated 3 percent GDP loss due to road traffic crashes as reported in http://who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/2015/country_profiles/India.pdf
As a rule of thumb, number of vehicles, particularly of privately owned cars, in a country depends on its income-level. Higher the income, more the vehicles (See: The Elsevier Report: Income’s effect on car and vehicle ownership, worldwide, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965856498000263.
But, India defies this rule as despite of being a middle-level income country has much more cars than China and when the USA was economically during the early 20th Century, almost at the par with today’s India, it had just a few thousand cars. And, India has millions!
Twin reasons: pathetic state of public transport as for the governments of all hues and colors in India, public transport, education and health is not a priority, combined with display of wealth and power where cars become status symbols, bigger, the better, most Indians with a little ‘extra’ income must possess a car.
But, along while car can be bought, traffic etiquette and manners, cannot. Blowing horns, even at the places where its banned like at schools and hospitals, jumping red lights, not wearing seat belts and helmets, no lane driving, over speeding and at worst, drunk driving kills more Indians on roads and that is more than four times the annual death toll from terrorism.
However, a ray of hope looms large at the horizon as the Maharashtra transport department has issued a circular banning the phrase ‘Horn OK Please’ on the rear of commercial vehicles across the state and now blowing horns is actively discouraged in Bombay.
Tomorrow, people across India may stop blowing horns and start observing traffic rules, resulting into fewer deaths.

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How Hallowed is Our Constitution?

While most journalists, news anchors, politicians, jurists, even academicians and scholars always vouch for the Constitution of India and treat it as sacrosanct, the most unique and pro-people treatise of governance in the world, it is the time when we must look deep inside and find if it is really such a document and so praise-worthy.
Even if we brush aside the fact that it has ‘borrowed’ very heavily from the Government of India Act 1935, resulting into heavily tilted into the favour of the centre and from many major constitutions of the world as fundamental rights. federal structure, judicial review and independent judiciary from the USA, rule of law, single citizenship, parliamentary form of government and the procedure established by law from the UK; although it has an unwritten constitution, directive principles of state policy from Ireland, concurrent list from Australia (also the preamble from the US constitution too has a preamble, talking verbatim: ‘We, the people of that upholds the view that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens) , distribution of powers between centre and state from Canada, fundamental duties from Russia or the erstwhile Soviet Union (where else it could have been from?), emergency provisions from Germany: again what a role model to follow!, amendment of constitution from South Africa and due Process of law from Japan, making it the lengthiest and bulkiest constitution of the world—a paradise for the lawyers and jurists—we will focus just on the preamble and provisions related to fundamental rights, touted as a bible for the equality, fraternity and freedom of citizens.
The preamble to the constitution that talks on lofty words about freedom, equality and justice—besides being borrowed from the US Constitution, is also found in the French Constitution that talks about these lofty ideals to each human being, without distinction of race, religion or creed.
Like the US or French or any other constitution for that matter, the Preamble to the constitution of India is its spirit and backbone and is a pathfinder and core of the constitution.
Preamble to the Indian Constitution states (as after 42nd Amendment):
We the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all citizens:
JUSTICE – social, economic and political
LIBERTY – of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship
EQUALITY- of status and opportunity
And to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and the integrity of the NATION. ”
If we treat it one by one, the biggest question that strikes us is that of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. In a society where inequality—be it social and economical—was inherent in its genetic character, thanks to the caste and verna system that forms its foundation, equality between castes and gender was no less than a utopia and numerous instances of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis are reported on a daily basis, making it a rule and not an exception in 21st Century India.
Also, justice is both individual and social. While Indian courts suffer with huge backlog of cases and it years to get justice to the individuals and very often innocent undertrials keep languishing in jails, before they are let off. So is the process of social justice as communities—basically minorities—have never got justice, be it the case of anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, or anti-Muslim genocide of 2002 and even that of 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal.
The case of economic justice is even more laughable as it would mean establishing a socialistic pattern of society and the steps taken by Nehru when he established the behemoths like mega dams and steel plants under the public sector and Indira Gandhi nationalising banks appeared like bold steps towards realising this goal, but eventually, they turned out nothing but state capitalism, where people per-se had no role and no voice.
Then began the process of liberalisation and market calls the stot and economy is dominated by the private sector today. Soon, after the word socialism was inserted into the Preamble, Indira Gandhi, its very architect began dismantling it in 1980 as she started liberalising the economy. And, the process was complete by 1991.
Today, it is not the hidden fact that a huge gulf exists between haves and have-nots with the richest 1% of Indians own 58.4% of wealth (and richest 10 % owning 80.7 %), making it the second-most unequal country in the world.
And, this inequality is increasing over the years as the share of the top 1% is up from 53% last year. In the last two years, the share of the top 1% has increased at a cracking pace, from 49% in 2014 to 58.4% in 2016.
The only equality India can be proudly claim is political equality as from the very inception on the Constitution, every individual, rich or poor, male or female; or even trans-gender, lettered or un-lettered, of any caste, religion or faith, have one vote, whereas many ‘developed’ countries look years to grant voting rights to women, un-educated and poor.
But, that equality is also very limited and is a sense, superficial. As People’s Representative Act, 1951. enacted by the provisional parliament under Article 327 of Indian Constitution, before the first general election.
Accordingly, chapter 43 of the General Elections 2014 Reference Handbook bars, undertrial prisoners and persons confined in prison to vote so does Section 62 (5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 . However, section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, bars only convicts to contest elections. Similarly, a person can contest any state assembly or parliament elections from two constituencies , but no one can vote from two constituencies.
Now, let’s talk about the Fundamental Rights, as contained in Part III of the Constitution, considered to be the most sacrosanct part of our Constitution. While, it is true that they don’t sprung from what is called natural law nor are any kind of ‘reserved rights’. They are conferred rights, very much that the US Constitution guarantees and have a kind of permanency and continuum as they symbolize the social values of the generation that guarantees them and generations to come.
While Part III of our Constitution is fairly comprehensive, like all other parts and elaborates the following rights: Seven fundamental rights were originally provided by the Constitution – right to equality, right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights, right to property and right to constitutional remedies .
However, The Right to Property, has been repealed by the Forty-Fourth Amendment of the Constitution in1978 with effect from June 20,1979.
Here, I will just focus on the Right to Freedom under Article 19 as they are positive rights conferred by the Constitution so that the ideal of liberty promised in the Preamble could be realised on ground, along with Article 19, Articles 20, 21 and 22, meaning four articles of our Constitution deal with different aspects of this basic right and form a charter of personal liberties, thus being the backbone of the chapter on Fundamental Rights.
These “Six freedoms” under the Constitution that are guaranteed to all citizens are:
(1) Freedom of speech and expression;
(2) Freedom to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(3) Freedom to form associations or unions;
(4) Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(5) Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
(6) Freedom to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business .
It is noteworthy that Indian Constitution was being framed years after the inalienable rights of man, according to the Declaration of American Independence, that were “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, was formed, so was the French Constitution talking about liberty, equality and fraternity.
Hence, I’ll focus more on the breach of these ideals than rather actualising it and more than the actual implementation of the Constitution, the very provisions of the Constitution itself, that provides the so-called reasonable restrictions to the state to impose. Inter-alia they are:
Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India,] the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.]
While it is true that no right can be absolute and the state has the prerogative to impose ‘reasonable’ restrictions over them, but the question is who can impose them and what could be called reasonable?
State, as we, the people understand is very often a petty official such as a sub-divisional magistrate or a district magistrate, else s/he could be a secretary, or an MLA or a minister, who is her/his wisdom and often an ‘insight’ study, decides to put some ‘reasonable’ restrictions on people’s fundamental rights, to protest the so-called national-interest as the Constitution itself empowers them in to curb people’s fundamental rights for public order, decency or morality which are highly subjective and open to interpretation as one’s indecency could be someone else’s art and what is immoral for a babu or neta, could be and often is, accepted to people at large. And, countless number of times, great works of art, literature and films have been banned by the state, taking recourse to this logic.
For people, it is the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) matter more than the provisions of the Constitution as they govern their day-today lives and while it is true that they are not part of the Constitution and were enacted much before the Constitution came into force, but any law is made by government should be according to guidelines set by the Constitution. Meaning, Constitution set laws for the government and IPC is what matters for the common people.
Here, it would be sufficed to discuss three acts, all formulated by the colonial regime, but adopted and implemented as a rule, rather as exception:
First is the Section 144 of the CrPC that empowers a magistrate to prohibit an assembly of more than four people in an area. According to sections 141-149 of the IPC, maximum punishment for engaging in rioting is rigorous imprisonment for 3 years and/or fine. Every member of an unlawful assembly can be held responsible for a crime committed by the group. Obstructing an officer trying to disperse an unlawful assembly may attract further punishment. This section was used for the first time in 1861 by the British Raj, when an officer Raj-Ratna E.F. Deboo (IPS) formulated it, which reduced overall crime in that time in the State of Baroda. He was recognised for his initiative and awarded a gold medal by the Maharaja Gaekwad of Baroda for putting Section 144 in place and reducing overall crime and thereafter became an important tool to stop all nationalist protests during the Indian independence movement, and its use in independent India remains controversial as little has changed. It is often used to prevent protests or demonstrations, even the law doesn’t use the terms, though it does mention “riot”.
Second is the Section 124-A in the Indian Penal Code, named ‘Sedition’, originally drafted by Thomas Macaulay. It explains sedition in wide and magnanimous terms as it says ‘Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India’ shall be punished with life imprisonment and ‘the expression ‘disaffection’ includes disloyalty and all feelings of hate. In reality, it has become to assault all those who express strong disapproval of ‘the measures of the Government, with a view to obtain their desired modifications by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offense under this section.’
Many Indian freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and Tilak were charged with sedition during freedom struggle and it continues to be used as an instrument to arrest and harass the political opponents by the ruling party and has reached to its ludicrous level at present, where even a cartoonist and a student leader are arrested under this draconian act ignoring all Supreme Court decisions—such as Kedar Nath Singh’s Case, when five judges Constitution bench of the Supreme Court made it clear that allegedly seditious speech and expression may be punished only if the speech is an ‘incitement’ to ‘violence’, or ‘public disorder’. Subsequent cases have further clarified the meaning of this phrase. In Indra Das v. State of Assam and Arup Bhuyan v. State of Assam, the Supreme Court unambiguously stated that only speech that amounts to “incitement to imminent lawless action” can be criminalised. In Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, the famous 66A judgment, the Supreme Court drew a clear distinction between “advocacy” and “incitement”, stating that only the latter could be punished—prohibiting its mindless and arbitrary application.
Third is the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code dating back to 1860, that criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature”, arguably including homosexual sexual activities. Although, the section was decriminalised with respect to sex between consenting adults by the High Court of Delhi on July 2009. That judgement was overturned by the Supreme Court of India on 11 December 2013, with the Court holding that amending or repealing Section 377 should be a matter left to Parliament, not the judiciary.
It would be noteworthy to note that none of these acts exists in the statute book of Britain today, when it enacted them in its colony, that was India!
Recently, the Supreme Court is accused to overreaching its limits and violating the sacred principle of separation on power between the legislature, executive and judiciary as enshrined in our as it keeps directing parliament on several matters it asked the Centre to form Cauvery Water Management Board and had earlier asked the government to frame a law to regulate hawking in towns and cities.
And, recently, it ordered the arrest of Calcutta high court judge C S Karnan for defying its direction to present himself in the court, who is facing contempt proceedings for levelling allegations against the SC and his former colleagues in the Madras high court. and, in an unprecedented decision, issued a bailable warrant against the serving judge.
It must be mentioned here that the Supreme Court has no discipline jurisdiction over the high courts and their judges, as they are not subordinate to the Supreme Court in such matters. Parliament alone has the power to remove a judge. Nor can the conduct of a judge be discussed. The media has also been barred from reporting his statements, so the custodian of our Constitution, itself violating its provisions—right of expression, guaranteed under Art 19.
It is amazing that the Apex Court of the country has the time to decide on cases like these and to direct citizens to ‘furnish’ their proof of nationalism by standing on the national anthem that must be played before a movie show could begin on cinema halls when there are nearly 30 million pending cases in Indian courts, including more than 4,600,000 cases in the high courts and about 67,000 cases in the SC.
It can be argued that our Constitution is a wonderfully written document, but its implementation is shoddy, half-hearted and poor as evident by the vast gap between the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution and reality of these rights in India today. And, as I have pointed out, the very provisions of the Constitution, dealing with the Fundamental Rights, are a hollowed chamber as every fundamental right embodied in the Constitution is riddled with so many exceptions and qualifications that have made the state; meaning the government of the day, too strong placing citizens at its mercy.
And, after all, it is the very implementation of laws matter for the common people, not what is written in it, else it is a thick, fat book to adorn the book-shelves of lawyers, scholars, academicians, politicians and journalist at best and a useless thick wag of toilet paper for its detractors like Maoists and separatists.
In final analysis, it is an abstruse and distant document not easily understood nor of much interest to the people at large, being the longest in the world; too detailed; too pompous and too legalistic, making it a prerogative for lawyers as, it doesn’t talk in a simple language of meaningful things that we can relate to and learn by heart, unlike the crisp and short American constitution where students of even fifth standard study its highlights, particularly its references to freedom. Australians also own their constitution, primarily because it was adopted after a referendum.
On top of that this mediocre product has been amended as many as 122 times (latest by GST Bill), in a short span of 67 years of its implementation, despite of the fact that amendment process is considered rather rigid , whereas the American Constitution has been amended just 27 times since its inception in 1787, some 240 years ago!

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See, http://constitutionus.com/

See, http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/conseil-constitutionnel/root/bank_mm/…/cst3.pdf
See, http://lex-warrier.in/2013/07/preamble-of-indian-constitution/
See, The Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951). lawmin.nic.in/legislative/…/representation%20of%20the%20people%20act,%201951..
See, Election Commission of India: http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/Contesting.aspx
See, the full text of Part III of the Constitution of India: http://www.lawmin.nic.in/olwing/coi/coi-english/Const.Pock%202Pg.Rom8Fsss(6).pdf

See, http://www.constitution.org/cons/india/p03019.html

See, http://www.nalsarpro.org/ML/Modules/Module%201/Chapter-4.pdf
See, http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/constitution/procedure-of-amendment-of-the-constitution-method-of-amendment/40333/.

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Know real Jim Corbett &explore his village

Any nature lover would jump, given him a chance to explore Jim Corbett National Park, spread in 520.8 km2 (201.1 sq mi) area of hills, riverine belts, marshy depressions, grasslands and a large lake in Ramnagar, Nainital District of Uttarakhand. Besides tigers it has elephants and leopards, along with hundreds of species of birds. It was the area where the legendary hunter who later became a great nature lover and conservationist, Jim Corbett resided and wrote so many folklores like Jungle Stories, Man-Eaters of Kumaon, The Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, My India, Jungle Lore, The Temple Tree and My Kumaon.
And, he loved locals and protected their fields and livestock. Even today, his tales are lying in Kaladhungi village that was his home for many years, where he lived with his sister Maggie, before migrating to Kenya where he died at the age of 79 in 1955.
Alas! Kaladhungi could still be home for those sensitive souls who would love to explore the wilderness of Jim Corbett National Park beyond tigers and aren’t ready to be fooled by hundreds of hotels that have sprung alongside the Park who promise a sure tiger darshan, take them on a safari at an exorbitant price where visitors end up seeing a leopard if lucky or just a few deer or nilgais!
At this village is Corbett Gram Vikas Samiti (CGVS), a venture managed by a few enthusiastic youths with a mission of, “Conservation of natural resources and improvement in socio-economic and cultural status of vulnerable communities,” elaborates Mohan Pandey, Secretary CGVS.
For this, they have a couple of home-stays where visitors can live as the family members, eat home food and then explore the area. Determined to see the Corbett land, we landed up there during the month of November, the best period to be in and checked in a home-stay, belonging to a villager who welcomed us in Chhoti Halwadni with a sense of pride, “This village has hosted two viceroys of India, Lord Linlithgow in 1936 and Lord Wavell in 1946 and governors of United Province, Sir Malcom Hailey and Lord Harry Hiag. Now, you’re our lords,” welcomes Umesh Pande to his home that had a room attached to him home for us fitted with a cooler and a refrigerator.
After a refreshing cup of tea, we went out to explore the Corbett land. Our first stop was Moti’s Souvenir Shop, s shop once run by Moti, Corbett’s close associate. It had all books by the great conservationist and author, his biographies, agricultural products and handicrafts made by local artisans and many other souvenirs, “60 percent of the profit goes to the person who prepares them and the rest is used to maintain this shop,” tells Mohan Pandey.
There were many other surprises waiting for us. The foremost important attraction was to know the village itself and we went on Chhoti Haldwani Heritage Village Trail. Crisscrossing fields, ravines and small guls (irrigation canals), we passed through a house belonging to Moti, now housed by his son and grandsons. This was a typical bhabhar (lower floodplain) village, full of green paddy fields and saffron sunflowers. On this 3.5 km long trail we passed through 500 m long stone wall, built by Corbett to protect the village from the wildlife. We had firs hand experience of the work done by Jim Corbett to develop this village as a model Kumaoni village. There were many birds too like Himalayan Magpie, parakeets and woodpeckers. “You can see 350 species here and in surrounding forests,” tells Pandey who was serving as a guide to us. Visitors can explore the entire 3.5 sq km area with a professional guide and enjoy birding. After a couple of hours, we landed up at the Chaupal (village common hall), where the village pradhan had a muzzle loading gun, once used by Corbett to shoot man eaters. Richa, my soul-mate, who was in NCC, posed with the gun, “Oh no! It’s so heavy,” she exclaimed. ‘We got more rifles that Corbett used from England this April and they’re equally heavy,” laughs Pandey.
On the way, we stopped as Itu sa restaurant, and enjoyed local Kumaoni delicacies like Manduva chapatti with tea and jhingora kheer (a pudding).
Our trail finally ended at the Museum, housing many articles Corbett used, including the table and chair he used to sit and write.
There were three more trails that we explored that enabled us to read the entire Chapter in Corbett’s life: The first was the Corbett Fall trail as the area has many roaring waterfalls that the great conservationist used to visit. Five km away is a fall named after him: Corbett Fall—about 10 m high where Corbett used to relax, read and write. We passed through thick woods of khair, sheesham teak forest. In the close vicinity, there were two other waterfalls: Bratirao and Laduahgar.
Next was Kaladhungi Nahar (Canal) Trail where history of Corbett’s shikars (kills) are scattered as he shot the last cattle lifter in here only in 1946, when villagers insisted. Alongside the canal, who walked through ghats and a panchakki (water mill) where people still grind wheat. There was a big iron foundry, the first in North India. Here was the jungle studio christened Arundale , built by Christopher William Corbett, Jim’s father, where Jim got his first lessons in hunting from his brother, Tom. He grew up here knowing the forest like the back of his hand. Lying in bed in Arundale, Jim could make out what was happening in the jungle and it could be verified in the morning by tracking. Just behind the house runs the Nahar which had ghats made all along. Corbett mentions them in his writing as places where he would guard his sisters while they bathed in the canal. Now, this house is in ruins
There was yet another trail left and it was Boar River & Baram Bobo trail that is an iron girder bridge across the Boar River, built in 1822 on the road connecting Kaladhungi village to Nayagaon. Here, Jim with his sister, Maggie, used to go on a long walk and spend hours fishing in the river. The trail crisscrossed the hunting lodge, “Here Corbett would sit for nights, observing animals,” tells Pandey. Keeping our fingers crossed, we passed Baram Bobo temple, that was just next to the forest and wow! A tiger in its all majesty ran across Bhumka Chaur, a crossing where the canal trail ends.
It was the rime to call it a day and we went back to our home-stay where hot, delicious supper was waiting for us.
Here, we didn’t only had a slice of eventful life that Corbett once lived, but also saw a tiger, whereas all along the Park, hotels just dump tons of wastes and fool people for an illusory tiger. Little wonder, tourists who stay here are full of its praise. Says, Paul Joseph, who came here from Box Boro, USA in September, 2008, “This was one of the most exciting tours of my life as it was my life-long ambition to see the place the Jim Corbett, one of the founders of conservation, wrote about in his books.” She is echoed by Margret Elizabeth, Jorsyth Brack, from England, who visited the area in September, 2012, “Became so familiar with the surroundings and people that I’ve been trying to trace my Indian family since I came here.” Officials are equally forthcoming as Margret Alva, the ex-Governor, Uttarakhand , visited in December , 2010, “A wonderful example of community based eco-tourism, guaranteeing sustainable development.” Prakash Pant, ex-Minster for Tourism, Uttarakhand, came here in February 2009 and writes, “Chhoti Halwani will prove to be milestone in rural tourism.” So is, Indu Kumar Pande, ex-chief secretary, Uttarakhand, who was here in April, 2014: ‘Very encouraging initiative which promotes conservation, spreads awareness and provides employment.” Even the forest officials are full of praise of the venture as Akash Kumar Sharma, IFS, Dehradun, came here in August, 2008 and writes, “My daytime visit was for a purpose to see the eco-tourism activities here, at Corbett’s village, but every passing moment, the magnetism took over and the heritage walk across the village, brought alive the Corbett’s vision.”
You too must come here as it will provide a lingering memory lasting for your life time.
Contact:
Admin.
Corbett Gram Vikas Samiti
Jim Corbett’s Heritage Village,
Chhoti Haldwani
Kaladhungi, Nainital-263140
Uttarakhand
Ph: 05942-242723
e-mail: admin@corbettvillage.in

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