Sunday, January 30, 2011


So dark and dreary was my path,
My heart's still full of fears..
Just trying to think about them,
Makes way for more tears..
So dont try to understand me Ma,
Don't try to reason why..
Tonight don't ask me why mamma,
Tonight just let me cry..

What shall I tell you Ma,
Of the suffering and the sorrow..
The regret of yesterday,
And the fear of tomorrow..
But now I'm safe at home Ma,
I've said all my goodbyes..
And tonight I'll just cry mamma,
Tonight don't ask me why..

Although now I'm home Ma,
And all around me is laughter..
My heart feels this is a calm..
Before the storm, not after..
Will this calm ever stay Ma?
Will this storm ever die?
I'm scared, don't ask me why mamma..
all I want to do is cry..

Soon I will be out again Ma..
And life out there is rough
Inside I'm still your kid Ma,
Though I pretend to be all tough
Things will be tougher this time Ma,
But my tears have  now gone dry
I'm scared but I'll stand tall Mamma,
This time, I don't wanna cry..

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Silent Revolutionaries

I'm a nobody to comment upon, write about, or even praise them. But I often feel so overwhelmed simply knowing about their greatness and foresight, that I cannot help myself. It is astounding how one family can give so much to a country, in face of every struggle that it faces along with it.

We all, as Indians, claim authority over the brand of Tatas - its our brand, the brand of India. As children, we went in a schoolbus made by the Tatas, and now as grownups, some of us are employed with them. But if truth be told, the brand is so vast and so multifaceted, that most of us don't know what all the tatas have given to this nation. Now, while doing an internship in one of their companies, I realise the full scope of it.

Those who live in Bangalore would know that the Indian Institute is called Tata Institute, it was Jamsetji Tata's brainchild. Do you know how it was established? Jamsetji Tata got a proposal drafted for its establishment and gave to the British Government in 1898, he called in a Nobel Laureate from U.K. to study the country and suggest a good location for its establishment, he even went to the extent of donating half of his personal wealth (14th buildings and 4 landed properties in Bombay). The proposal however, was approved in 1909, 5 years after the death of Jamsetji. At that time, an institute of such splendour didn't exist in UK itself. It must been gutsy on his part to imagine making such an institute in India, a nation colonialised by U.K.

While the nation rotted in dominion, the Tatas foresaw that Iron and Steel will become the foundation of future industry and economy, and they established the Tata Iron and Steel Company, making India's first Steel Plant in Jamshedpur. They convinced industrialists to just use the hydel power they wanted to make, because they saw future in hydroelectricity in India. Consequently, they set up India's first hydel power plant in Bombay.

Another Tata landmark, literally, is the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay, which opened for business in 1903. Legend has it that Jamsetji Tata set his mind on building it after being denied entry into one of the city's fancy hotels for being an Indian. Today Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces own and operate 76 hotels, 7 palaces, 6 private islands and 12 resorts and spas, spanning 52 destinations in 12 countries across 5 continents and employ over 13000 people.

Tata Airlines, the first airline of India which they established in 1932, was the forerunner of Air India, later nationalised by the Government of India. JRD Tata himself flew the maiden flight from Karachi to Bombay. Such was the punctuality and efficiency of Air India in those days that a man standing on an airport in UK once said, Oh an Air India flight has landed, must be 8:00 AM.

Tata Steel introduced eight-hour working days in 1912, well before it became statutory in much of the West, and the first Tata provident fund scheme was started in 1920 (governmental regulation on this came into force in 1952). Way back in 1902, Jamsetji Tata planned Jamshedpur, a 'city for workers' of the planned Tata Steel Plant, which he wanted to be laid with wide streets planted with shady trees, and with plenty of space for lawns and gardens, large areas reserved for football, hockey and parks, and even areas earmarked for temples, mosques and churches. They were way ahead of their times, even in caring for their employees.

And now, in the wake of liberalisation, as India Inc. is coming of age, Ratan Tata goes on to take over a global steel giant, bringing Tata Steel from the 56th largest producer of steel in the world to be the fifth largest one. With quite a few takeovers which were heard all over the world, the group has given India a global standing like no other. In a pessimistic population which firmly believes that it can do nothing on its own, he launched the Tata Indica, India's first indigenous car. Against the cynicism of the world and the passive belief of Indians themselves - 'India mein kuch original nahi hota' - he urged the talents of this very country to launch the Nano and Swach, innovations in their own right.

This list will never end, as won't the Tata adventure, lets hope. None of the governments were liberal, or even fair to them. But inch by inch, they made their way through to the brighter side where things they believed in were possible. Without bending the rules of law and morality, going out of the way in taking responsibility of their stakeholders, they launched a series of firsts in this country. They were the giants who touched tomorrow. The visionaries who, when our leaderes fought for a free India, were slowly, silently and surely creating an India worth living in.

Note: The facts written have been taken/verified from several sources, chief among which are and the book 'Beyond the Last Blue Mountain' by R M Lala

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Random Thoughts of a Wandering Mind

Whenever I pass through a forest or roam through a sparse vegetation on the outskirts of a town, I see so many trees I can't name. I hear a lot of different chirps, and I wonder which bird it is. I don't know why, but its really frustrating for me to be unable to recognise a tree by its leaf and a bird by its sound. Now on the other hand, do you remember the number of times you learnt World Geography? The Prairies and the Savannas, each and every continent, their countries, climates and crops, their minerals and industries, trade, culture and people, everything? I remember learning it twice during my schooling years, and the way our teachers taught it, the only message that reached my brain was - wow, thats a lot to remember! And now comes the funniest part of it - I remember very little of it ; actually, except the world map maybe, I remember nothing. So I often wonder why my teachers didn't curtail one year of World Geography and rather taught me to recognise my own surroundings. Hadn't I felt a greater sense of belonging had I known them better? Hadn't I learnt to protect them and cherish them, had I known them as one of my own?

In Maharashtra, where I studied, the state board textbooks teach us the Indian Freedom Struggle in three different classes during schooling. For the first time in class 5, then in class 8, and finally in class 10. Each time, the chapters add more dates, more names, more data to remember and rote. In class 5, we come to know that Mahatma Gandhi carried out the Dandi March to mark the beginning of Salt Satyagraha. In class 8, we come to know that it started on the 12th of March 1930 from the Sabarmati Ashram and we came to know of every leader who took part in it. In class 10, we came to know that it lasted for 24 days and 390 kilometers over 4 districts and 48 villages, we studied the entire map route of the March and the precise timing when the Mahatma picked up a fistful of salt from the shores of Dandi.

I know it is really ungrateful to be so sarcastic about our honourable leaders. To be honest, I respect them all from the bottom of my heart. But I believe that the purpose of history is not to honour the dead, it is rather to inspire the living. Studying the Freedom Struggle once is a must, twice is good - to know more details, but thrice is so unnecessary! I often wonder how many of us have ever been encouraged by our glorious history the way we learnt it in school. And I also wonder whether it would've been much more fruitful if they had instead compiled the history of Indian industrialists - The Tatas, the Birlas, the Ambanis, the Mittals, the Mallyas- all of those who gave India an identity in the World today. And if to this compilation they had added the stories of Jagdishchandra Basu, Meghnada Saha, Ramanujan and C V Raman. And if they had been accompanied by Kapil Dev and Dara Singh, and P.T. Usha and Subbalakhshmi.. If instead of telling us how the Dandi March was carried on, they had told us how the IISc was established, and how India launched her first rocket and won her First World Cup... That would've inspired me a lot, I am sure.

How many times have you learnt about the Four Types of Pollution and all the blah blah about it during school? How many times did you learn in Environmental Studies, that you shouldn't waste water and electricity, that they are precious? And have you seen those huge neon sign advertisements every meter away on city streets? Well, I come from a town in Vidarbha where we get drinking water from the Municipality every 15 days, and during summer there is 14 hours of power cut per day. Yes, a day has 24 hours. I sometimes wish that students from the cities should sometimes be taken to visit such towns instead of making them recite the types and sources and all the crap about precious resources. I am sure those students know about such living conditions, but if they saw this with their own eyes, and lived through it for a day or two, it will be a lesson well learnt.

There is just so much more that I can add to this list. There are just so many things I wish to change about the way things are taught in India, especially at the school level. Someday, I believe I will.