Saturday, August 31, 2013

Aam Aadmi Party: the political start-up

"Aaj hum yahaan aayein hain sabse ye kehne, ki kuch to karna hoga. Hum sabko kuch karna hoga."

"Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota. Use perfect banaana hota hai. Police mai bharti honge, military join karenge, IAS banenge, politics ka hissa ban ke iss desh ki sarkaar chalaayenge. Ye desh badlega, hum badlenge ise."

-- Rang De Basanti (2006)

I quoted from Rang De Basanti, but it does not mean that this is going to be an incensed hysterical rant of a twenty-something someone which goes "Inquilab Zindabad!". Inquilab, sure. But let's put it into perspective and context. Inquilab will happen. One step at a time.

Election is coming.

It's easy to talk about politics sitting in our rooms, dissing any and everything that is happening around us. Heck, even this post qualifies. People here in India, and people abroad too - US, Europe, or farther east, you name it. "India has gone beyond a point-of-no-return." Sure, it must have sounded profound sitting in a room in a high-rise with a city skyline view in some sophisticated corner of the world, or here, in India. Sorry, no. But I have no interest in a conversation that begins or ends with that sentence, whether you live in India, or live abroad and intend to come back. It does not sound profound to me because I intend to spend my life in this country, by choice. Hopefully.

I would not care if haters and dissers shoot holes into this post. By all means, go ahead. I admit I don't know my politics or economics. Let the intellectual masturbation begin. But I will not engage you in a conversation unless you give me a viable choice in the upcoming Delhi elections in November. We'll talk about NaMo vs Rahul Gandhi, sure, after the Delhi elections.

It is really sad that after 66 years of our country's independence, the issues today, still, in the capital of India are Water, Electricity, Safety of Women, and Corruption. Forget Infrastructure, Public Health, or a healthy eco-system for entrepreneurs, we haven't afforded ourselves that luxury. Not yet.

We, the youth, are lucky to have been born at a very opportune moment in the history of our country. We have the privilege to be a part of the 'Indian growth story', to be the Indian growth story. Be a part of it. Engage. Of course, it is unreasonable to ask people to quit whatever they wish to do with their lives and set out "to clean the system". No. But help those who are trying, in whatever little way. You can still be a part of it. That's why I am writing this.

I know about a start-up that is trying to win the Delhi elections. I hope they do. It was unthinkable until a year ago, that a newly formed political party could think of forming a state government, let alone contesting elections with a strong foothold, or even fielding candidates in all the contested constituencies with confidence. Today, not so much. AAP doesn't have a long history, nor do they have the money or the adequate resources even, but they do have the passion and the will to do something. They believe they can, I believe they can. Sure, you or me might not agree with everything that they say or want to do, but do you agree with anyone a hundred percent? And if not them, who is your pick, and why? The question is whether anyone, anyone with the will and the passion can make a difference if they want? This is the test.

Santosh died. No, I am not using her name to sensationalize this and drive my point across. The fact is, a good person wanted to contest the elections, and she died. It is NOT trivial. Can you do something about it?

Take a look at their candidates list. Go ahead, look at their profiles. There is a commando who lost his hearing a hundred percent during 26/11, and was fired from the Army after that. Or this construction worker living in the slums, who is looking to contest from Rajouri Garden. And then, there is an ex-IRS IITian who championed the cause of RTI. He is pitting himself against Sheila Dixit. These people are getting their voice heard. We are getting our voice heard.

At the very least what I'm confident of is this, that these candidates won't be murderers or rapists, and that if they are deemed incapable or corrupt, they will be sacked by their own party. Atleast give these people a chance. One chance. And like all start-ups, they need money to scale. They have been angel funded by several investors, and are looking to mobilize resources through crowdsourcing.

What are you doing, Delhi? I'm jealous because you got this opportunity before I did. And things are happening and will, with or without you. Here's what the donations to AAP from our country looks like [link] :

Almost as much from Maharashtra as from Delhi?! And it's not even Maharashtra's elections! There is still time. Get on board with this, man.

1) You can donate in kind. There is much more than just money that is required to contest elections. You can give whatever you have to spare. [link]

2) You can adopt a constituency. From anywhere. [link]

3) You can make a recurring donation every month. [link]

4) Or, you can just donate once and be done with it. [link]

5) And the least you can do is get your voter i-card made and exercise your franchise. Vote. [link]

An incident happened not so long ago. Arvind Kejriwal was asked by a journalist, "What would you do if you don't win the Delhi elections?". He responded by saying, "If we lose, what will you do?"

Atleast we are talking about the right things.

So... what will you do?

Oh, and in this interview, Arvind Kejriwal answers most of the questions commonly posed by the haters and the dissers. Do watch. You might not agree with him or still be unsatisfied, but atleast hear what he has got to say.

If you know me personally, or have been following this blog, you would know that I am not someone who begs for likes and shares. But this one time, I will. If this post struck a chord, please share it. It's only a click, and is much less to ask than an Inquilab.

Monday, August 12, 2013


It's almost evening.

The river rages relentlessly, its water white, its roar deafening.  

It's a normal world not too far from here. 

People must have gone to work, worked hard throughout, tired by the end of the day. It must be someone's first day at work, and they must have been excited about it. Someone must have gotten their first salary, and they must have been ecstatic. Someone must have been fired from their jobs for no fault of theirs. Someone must have gotten a raise or a promotion, and they must have felt really proud.

But here, here was different. Time didn't seem to move so quickly as it did out there, in the normal world. I have been sitting here since morning. I like doing that.

Children must have gone to schools, and their teachers must have taught them, about the world. There must have been exams for some of them, and some must have done really well. Meanwhile, a few others have not cared about their results. They will show the world their potential one day. One day. Or at least that's what they would like to believe. 

I had never been here before, here, isolated, not a soul for as far as eye could see, except birds, trees, and the River.

Someone must have met someone and must have been bowled over. Someone must have told how they felt about the person they loved, for the first time. Someone must have had a big fight with their partner, and must have said things which cannot be unsaid, and it must have gone irreparably wrong. Someone must have asked their partners to marry them, and their partners must have said 'yes', overwhelmed.

Someone must have gotten married today, to someone they deeply care about, with a promise to be together for life. Someone must have filed for a divorce today because it just wouldn't work. Some happy couples must have had a baby today, and they must have been feeling joyous. They must be thinking about doing their best, and giving their children the best possible future. Someone must have died. Their loved ones must have mourned, and remembered their legacy.

It happened when the moon and the sun were in the sky together. I saw smoke rising from distance, that dragged me out of my stupor. I started walking towards it first, and then running. I started to feel out of breath soon but I keep going. It looked bad.

As I began approaching it, I saw a burning hut, engulfed in high flames. There was hardly anything I could have done to save it, it was too late. A middle-aged uncouth man stood beside it, looking at it, smiling, naked. I stood stunned for a while, then I went closer and I frantically asked, shouting at the top of my voice to make myself heard above the din, "What are you doing?"

He looked at me, hardly surprised at seeing another person there. He didn't need to shout to make himself heard, and calmly said, "I lived in this hut for several years. This, and everything inside, is all I had come to have over the years. I burnt it."


As if I didn't see the obvious, he replied, "Now I have nothing to lose. I am free."

I couldn't think of anything to say.

A stream of water rose from the river, and started flowing mid-air towards us with an intimidating force. I didn't have much time to react. The stream flowing along its serpentine path, drowned the hut and the man. I remained untouched by water, and could hardly see or make sense of anything in all the chaos. In a flash, the stream receded, the river flowed as usual, the hut and the man disappeared.

Monday, August 05, 2013


"Beautiful!", She said, as dawn cracked. A thick sheet of clouds hid the ground beneath, and it had tears from the rising jagged hills waking up to their morning elegance. "Just look at the colors, you! It's like someone has thrown random hues at the sky, and they all mix in a specific way and present themselves to us such that all of it makes sense. Like there is some hidden order in all this chaos, a greater purpose. Isn't it overwhelming?", She asked innocently.

I could only smile. To me, She, with all her charm, looked more beautiful than nature's art collection on display in front of us. She caught me smiling mischievously.

"What now, mister?", She asked.

"Haha, yes, yes. Of course. It is really beautiful. I am only slightly amused at the deep affection with which you were describing it.", I said.

"Affection? What does that mean?", She said, with a quizzical look on her face.

"You know, affection. Like, love. Gentle, tender, warm, fuzzy. Or, any other adjective that you may prefer."

She rolled her eyes. "Yes, mister. I have deep affection for the rising sun. More than I have for you, perhaps. Deal with it."

"I never really got how people use that word, you know. I have been thinking about it."

"Which word? Affection?"


"What is there to think about it? Like you said, it is like love."

"Well, yes. Maybe not the word affection, then. But the word that follows it in standard use - 'for'."

"For?! Now for what do you have a problem with for, now?"

The sun was up now, the morning brighter. It seemed like everything around us was getting off their beds, with ruffled hair, rubbing their eyes, in order to get ready to jump into action for a long, eventful day ahead. I took a deep breath, the fresh morning air acting like a stimulant.

"See", I began, with a demeanor of being about to say something really profound, "I think the word 'affection' is derived from 'to affect'. With that assumption, saying that one has affection for something, or someone, becomes grammatically incorrect. Because the effect of the affect is really on the self."

She turned to look away from me trying to hide her smile's genesis, into the far-away hills, which looked like they were getting all dressed up to leave for work.

I continued, "Whether I have affection for you or not, is really for you to decide. All I can know on my own really is whether I have affection from you, or, to put it reversely, whether you have affection for me. It works the other way round. So yes, when someone says that they have affection for someone, or something, they really mean that they have affection from them. You know, for that matter, every person I have met in my life, and each of my experiences with them has contributed to what I am at this moment, in however small, little way. All of that has led me to now. I have affection from all of them, really. There is no denying that."

She turned to look at me, smiling. After an extended pause, she said, "For once, you make some sense, mister."

"Haha, err, thank you?", I said casually.

"I think I understand now what you meant earlier."

I smiled. "I read a story some time ago. I want to recite a few lines from it which I really loved -
“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”
“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”
It got me thinking. We have everyone's affection, afterall. Without us, or them, knowing it all the time. There is so much love in the world, and we fail to acknowledge it."

The clouds had started to thin, and everything around us was wide awake, ready, raring to go.

She grinned, now. "I will acknowledge it for you, mister. I have deep affection from you."

I laughed.

We turned around to go back home.