Tuesday, 29 January 2019

George Fernandes and the Baroda Dynamite Conspiracy

Those were one of the worst times for India. 

The war with Pakistan had just concluded.
Oil crisis seemed to be never ending.
Drought was expected in most parts of the country anytime soon. 
In 1974, the mess prices were increased in Gujarat government hostels by 30%.
The students found it too exorbitant and protested against it in the form of a mass movement. 
As a result the government was forced to take back the decision. 

Allahabad High Court gave a verdict in State of Uttar Pradesh vs Raj Narain wherein the court found Indira Gandhi guilty on charges of misuse of government machinery for her election campaign and declared her election null and void. 
And the court banned her from contesting any election for an additional term of six years.

Jai Prakash Narayan, popularly known as JP,  aroused citizens against the corrupt practices of Indira Gandhi’s government. 
Protests erupted on streets of Delhi.  On 24 June he declared he would gherao the dictatorial Prime Minister on 29th June 1975. 

He went on to shout and demand through a very famous poem written by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, a famous Hindi poet “Sinhasan Khali Karo, Janata Aati Hai…..”(Vacate the throne, for here come the masses)

This shocked Indira Gandhi immensely. 

Popularly known as the darkest draconian period in the political history of India, the Internal Emergency was proclaimed at midnight of 25th June 1975 by the then President of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. 

D.E.M O’Cracy beloved husband of T.Ruth, father of L.I.Bertie, brother of Faith, Hope and Justice expired on 26 June.” an entry in the Mumbai edition of The Times of India in its obituary column 

It continued in India for 21 months with extensions over every six-month period until she decided to hold elections in 1977. All civil liberties were curtailed.The first curtailment came in the form of electricity cut for all the newspapers in Mumbai and Delhi. All news was strictly censored. Most of the important leaders of Opposition were put under arrest. 

 Read more about the Emergency in my blog : http://www.lifeskills.center/2017/08/relevance-of-internal-emergency-1975-in.html
George The giant Killer

With his unruly shock of hair, dressed in his trademark kurta-pyjama and scuffed chappals, George Fernandes was a fiery activist of the Janata Party. For the auto rickshaw and taxi drivers of Mumbai he was a hero and saviour. Amongst the common man he was known as the one to start Bandhs (Strikes) for the rights of the labourers and workers. In his opinion,if the people did not fear the Indira Gandhi government; they would easily work to turn the tables in their favour. 

For this he kept giving evidences of his "underground" identity through appeals,letters and word put in by his foreign aides. But he was very clear that the violent activities should not cause any damage to the masses.  Therefore he felt the most effective way was through use of Dynamite for blasting places such as railway tracks, bridges and structures in remote yet significant places. He arranged for training sessions and carried out the so-called Baroda Dynamite Conspiracy.

The Baroda Dynamite Conspiracy Case

After the  blasts, he donned many disguises as a Sikh, a sadhu or a fisherman to hide from the police and Intelligence agents. The reporters from foreign countries kept meeting him and publishing his ideas through their newspapers. But on his word,did not click a single photograph of his disguised appearances.The Delhi Police tried to catch George and his core team, but could not do so for a long time.  Their wrath was meted out on some easy targets such as George's brother Lawrence and his friend Snehlata Reddy.
In spite of being political prisoners, they were denied their privileges and put in custody with the routine thugs, smugglers and thieves. They were tortured mentally and abused physically but did not agree to change sides.The police tortured both of them to such an extent that both came out of the prison broken in body and spirit. Both succumbed to their physical injuries and died soon after their releases from Tihar Jail.

Finally, George Fernandes was arrested on 10 June 196 in Calcutta because of an unknown person's tip-off.  When he was taken to Tihar Jail, he saw the photograph of Mrs Gandhi on the wall. He taunted looking at the jailer,” You are following the orders of this woman, but I tell you, tomorrow this woman will be in jail.”

 The charge sheet of the popularly known Baroda Dynamite Conspiracy case  was filed on 04 October 1976. It mentioned silly charges such as an unsuccessful plot to blowup the dais in Varanasi prior to the PM's speech;instead of any serious acts of sabotage. It was 3000 pages long and nearly 400 plus witnesses were produced by the prosecution. In reply, George prepared and read all the arguments in his defense himself. In fact when he entered the court with his friends in chained hands and pleaded guilty of being forced to take anti-government steps, he became the most loved Leader for all. The Romantic Rebel George said “The chains that we bear are symbols of the entire nation which has been chained and fettered.........Sir, I am proud, very proud indeed, that when Mrs Gandhi became the dictator, I and my comrades behaved like MEN.

None of the charges could be proved against any of the prisoners. The Baroda Dynamite Conspiracy case was withdrawn on 26 March 1977. In his lifetime,George made many political allies and parted ways with many others too. But, one thing he could never "forget or forgive JP's kidneys,the torture to my brother,the death of Snehlata".  
For most of the young and uninterested Indians,it might be just another Breaking news about an ill,old,inactive politician dying of Swine flu and nothing else. But for all those who cherish the democracy they live in today,this man had much more to his claim.  

May the Firebrand rest in peace !

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Spending the Bharat Parv with Josh

26 January, 15 August and 02 October: a few days termed as National Holidays in India are some much looked forward to holidays, not because of their national importance but more because they offer a compulsory leave from the hectic routine of most of the working couples. Very few parents send their children to school on these days as they plan some fun at home or outside with family or friends. If the days happen to be in between a week then most of us plan a lazy morning with breakfast in bed followed by some movie screening or shopping at the nearby malls. Some cleanliness freaks like me, look at it as an opportunity to arrange the cupboards, vacuum the carpets and blankets and remove the cobwebs.

What about the children?

Maybe if they are part of some cultural/co-curricular activity in school, we send them to school. Or else, in most of the cases we let them laze around, play with their friends, watch TV or finish their home works.

With passing years the importance of the struggle of our ancestors and the reason for celebrating these days as National Holidays is fading. It is different with the festivals because we are still a society bound by religion so in some or the other way, the festivals are celebrated in pomp and splendour.  But it’s not so with the Independence Day or the Republic Day anymore. Also, the so-called ‘evils’ of unplanned city lives has made it further difficult for the younger generation to acknowledge the pains taken by earlier generations to build the country.

We can make a change, once in a while and combine our pleasures with our responsibilities as citizens of India. Living in the metro cities like New Delhi and our capital cities this cannot be difficult. Once I got an opportunity to attend the Republic Day parade with my 7 years old nephew. And we made the most of it. We talked about our National Emblem and other National signs and objects. I taught him a little bit of Vande Mataram and he recited the National Anthem with me.

While we sat down to see the parade, he made friends with some other children sitting next to him. He saw the political dignitaries from the country and outside come to attend the parade. He saw the magnificent soldiers and policemen march past the Raj path to salute the President. Then, there were beautiful facades made by different states and institutions. And after that we witnessed the various bands and children dancing on the tunes of folk songs from various states.   
But what impressed us the most was the daredevils from various arms of the Indian armed forces, such as: the soldiers on Bikes riding together in formations; the Suryakirans and Sarang Aerobatic Flying teams from Indian Air Force and of course the Brave Children who were sitting on Elephants. Yes we had to get up early in the morning, walk a lot of distance to the seating arrangement and could not eat/drink anything for a very long time in addition to sitting in sun without any cover. But we found it worthwhile because the impact it created in the young mind of my nephew was long lasting. And as a result of his good behaviour, he got a treat from his grandparents. 

Not every one of us would be able to go to New Delhi for attending the parade every time to create the feeling of patriotism in our children.  We can try to do the same by sitting at home at watching the parade on TV or in our mobiles. But more important is what I keep saying again and again is to Make Memorable Moments for our kids so that they remember what the day means to all of us. I do not mean by saying this that you suddenly, wake up on this Sunday and after reading this article cancel the plans of going and watching the movie Manikarnika. No.

Instead, take help of the movie and let your kids ask you questions about the struggle for Indian freedom. Patriotism is not something which can be instilled overnight. Also, it is not a dormant feeling too which comes to life on these few days. The feelings of nationalism can be generated slowly and steadily in your daily life.  We can take the help of some interesting games such as “Show and Tell”, Pictionary; show Movies of nationalist fervour or tell them interesting stories about freedom fighters or how you celebrated these days in your childhood. Do tell them to be proud of their country because what a nation gives to a kid is: An identity and the Freedom to carry that identity.

Happy Parenting!

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Death is nothing at all

While the last week saw some patriotic emotions running high as the Bollywood drama on Uri Attacks starring Vicky Kaushal and Yami Gautam hit the theaters; another video of young sons and daughters paying tributes to their martyred parents became viral on social media. The reel life and real life once again submerged to remind us of the young Faulads (Fauji Aulads/Kids) trying to forget their personal losses over the motherland’s security.

A few years back when the Pakistani terrorists surprised the Army personnel with sudden attack at Uri in J&K region, Col Munindra Nath Rai, who was commanding 42 Rashtriya Rifles battalion in the region, jumped to save his men. While he led his men from the front in this attack, he gave the ultimate sacrifice himself. The 39-year old Colonel had three children, Alka, his daughter being the eldest. In a very similar way to what was shown in the movie, the brave girl tried to control her emotions and raised her hand to salute her father and shouted the Regiment’s war cry. But being a child, the girl couldn’t control herself. That is when the whole regiment shouted along with her. I am sure all those who saw the video and the movie could not have controlled their tears. 
 Following the attack, there were other news reports too where very young children paid tributes to their martyred fathers, while some others did not even know what was going around during their last rites processions. Some other elder children had to attempt for their Board exams immediately after the deaths of their fathers. They all continued their normal lives, after the attacks, for the outsiders like us. We all forgot about them until we saw the movie Uri and were reminded of their irreparable losses.

Throughout the movie, I kept wondering about how the young ones who did not know much about their parents’ job profiles, who wouldn’t understand international politics and what is Jihad; react to the death of their parents with such composure! Who taught them to be proud of their father’s death? Who taught them about patriotism? Did they even understand that their father had sacrificed his life for the nation’s cause? Would they never be angry about the father choosing the nation over them?

The movie reminded me of another incident I had shared with a child about death. A few years ago, while I was playing in the park with my niece; we found a dead dog. She instantly recognised it to be her friend’s pet and took me to her mother to tell her about it. The mother immediately came out as soon as she saw the dead pet and told me and my niece to be quiet. “You know, I have not yet introduced the concept of death to my daughter. So please, don’t tell her about this. I will think of what to do.” This reminded me of many of my friends who for a long time kept saying that their grandmother had been called by the God to live with Him, because God loved her too much. Many others used to say that when somebody died, it just meant that they go to a faraway land to live because they are angry with us.

 Now, what would these young ones faced with the ceremonial last rites of their fathers be told? Who would have broken the news to them? How would they have reacted? Would revenge, anger, frustration also be a reason for their tears? Would they take to guns? Or would they just give up hope after seeing their mother in deep mourning?

There is another scene in the movie Uri where the character played by Vicky Kaushal, Major Vihaan encounters a young boy with a gun in the PoK terrorist camp. For a moment, he hesitates as if he is confused whether to kill the young one or be killed at his hands! But then with extreme care he tries to take over his gun and drags him into a room and bolts it from outside for his safety. While killing all the other terrorists, he doesn’t hesitate and is very clear in taking revenge of his friend’s deaths. But in this one case, he lets the boy live. Where did the revengeful thoughts go? Wasn't this a direct denial of the mission that there should be no live witness of the attack?

His decision had nothing to do with patriotism, jingoism of Indian Army / SF operatives. It was a clear display of how he looked at life and death in the same way. He was not out there to kill people ruthlessly and validate it saying he had a license to kill.

Is this what we need to teach our children about death? Death is everywhere, around us. Still, it is nothing at all. Everyone would end their journey called life someday.  Not all of us will get a ceremonial funeral like these martyrs. Our death may not even get a mention in the Obituary columns of some newspapers. Still we will be in the memory of all who loved us. But again, that does not mean it will stop the cycle of life for others too.

I would tell my daughter about life and death the way this poet talks about it:

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

(taken from Death is nothing at all- Henry Scott Holland)

What do you say? Till then, keep thinking whether to Tell or Not about Death to your kids......

Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Single Parent

How difficult is it to manage children without the support of your partner? 

Is it possible to rear a child without your spouse? 

What happens when your partner’s contribution towards parenting is zilch?

Growing up in broken families or with Single Parents doesn’t always lead to positive parenting. There are famous examples of celebrities being abused as children and as a result behaving erratically as adults. As children they were deprived of parents who would love and protect them unconditionally. They were never taught to be loved or spread love. They also start feeling that anyone cannot care without any ulterior motives.

On the contrary, many times children with single parents or broken families turn out to be real survivors. They know how to remain focused, positive and independent throughout their lives. They do not succumb to pressure in trying times and instead provide meaning to the lives of others in their proximity.

But how does all this happen? It happens with a lot of patience and faith displayed by the single parent in their childhood. When you are on your own without spouse/partner raising a child in this world, there can be trying times. You feel like hating the child, blaming him/her for your bad times. There are times when you take out all your anger and frustration on the child. There are some other times when you feel cheated as having to lead a responsible life without any time left for fun or personal care.

Looking at it from the child’s eyes, it is not his/her fault that you got into an abusive relationship.

The child is not the culprit behind your suffering but only a mere spectator of it. Just as you find yourself to be the victim of your partner’s misdeeds, the child also finds him/herself to be a victim of your wrong decisions/deeds. But there is always a way to turn your loss into an advantage.

Being a single parent means one can give everything one can to your child.

Life of Reham Khan and her three children is one such example of how being a single mother cannot be a handicap if you have hope left in you. Reham Khan, widely known to be the Ex-wife of present Pakistani Prime Minister and Cricketer of yester years: Mr. Imran Khan. Prior to marrying Imran, she had divorced her first husband after an extremely abusive stay of 12 years with him. One can read about how abusive her first husband was when it came to grooming his children. There are detailed descriptions in her book about miserable incidents full of domestic violence upon her and her eldest son, Sahir. 

The husband wasted no time and energy on loving his family but cursing and hitting them for silly actions was his favorite pastime. Most of the times, his insecurities would be demonstrated through violent punches on his wife and son. He had made it very clear as to how the lady was the worst mother in the world and her son a total failure. In her second marriage again, the husband did not pay much attention towards the emotional or physical growth of Reham’s children. In fact, readers would feel that Imran was more worried about his sons’ (from first marriage) reactions that he did not even once display any love or affection for the lady or her children.

But even after going through all these troublesome times Reham Khan managed to keep her children close to her. Till date she and her children boast of being one unit. She did not let them get into drugs, alcohol or bad company. All of them completed their education with flying colours and are working in their own areas of interest.  Neither of them had any embarrassing moments while they lived close to the political leaders or celebrities.

How could she manage all this with the kind of negative publicity she got on social media and otherwise living with the abusive men?  As she says in her book, she never kept them under any strict dictums. Instead she had put full faith in them and let them do the things that they wanted to do. The only thing that she welcomed them with was her smile and “Never Say No” attitude. She did not share her personal space with anyone else but them. 

She worked hard to feed, clothe and keep them in UK and Pakistan. But she did not bow down to corruption or immoralities. She showed them how to live happily with whatever little you had. So for them too it was the emotional attachments that mattered the most than any other material luxuries. She understood the worth of good education and good parenting even though she was going through a lot of pain in her life. 

She succeeded in making parenting look like fun even when her life was a total dark.

That’s what made her a successful Single Mother.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Driving Miss Daisy

New Year has begun and so have the holidays. Everybody wants to go on a vacation to exotic places. Click selfies at sunset on the beach with your recently tanned skin or while unwinding at the late night “only for couples” New Year Party. All this is welcome till you were single, unmarried or a happy couple. But everything changes once you have children around you. Many parents do not opt for any travel trips or holidays outside home once they have young babies or toddlers at home. Or if they do, these trips are without kids.

But travel doesn’t stop once we have kids. In fact, the fun actually begins once you start looking at the world through your children’s eyes. The same beaches, river banks and mountain tops become alive and adventurous once you have a kiddo with curious eyes and innocent observations in your lap or a toddler by your side. It is just a matter of giving the baby the centre stage while planning and undergoing travel plans. Once the baby and the parents get used to the pace and requirements of sleeping and waking up in different places, rest everything comes together.

As a parent of a young daughter, I made lot of journeys ranging from 2 days - 01/more months to varied places in the country. Once I was travelling with my 08 months old daughter from New Delhi to Coimbatore. While it was freezing cold in the capital city, it was raining cats and dogs in Southern India. So I had to ensure not only good health but adaptability to the food, extra clothes and the languages in the different cities. I did succeed in making the stay comfortable for my daughter as well as myself, only because of a definite plan made and followed before undertaking the journey.

I thought of sharing the same tips with all the globetrotters who have now become parents and keep themselves away from travelling because of their kids.

    1.       Plan the location according to the kids. Going to a long bike expedition or climbing Mount Everest with a toddler would definitely be the wrong plan to begin with. Make a travel plan for the vacation to suit your kids and spouse. A 06 months baby may need frequent feeding/nap breaks which would ruin your jungle safari or night camping plan. So plan a place for your vacation /holiday in such a way that it does not clash with the kid’s basic requirements.

     2.      Keep the pace slow. With young kids, babies and toddlers it is better to keep the pace slow. Do not be in a hurry to view both the sunset and/or the sunrise on the same day. Keep the day’s commitments as comfortable as possible. Try to cover one destination in a day. 

    3.      Include places of kids’ interests. While you roam around the historical monuments, religious shrines, museums or shopping plazas, try to include places which would interest the kids such as local wildlife/bird sanctuaries, caves, bridges, rock gardens or water parks. Let them decide how or what they want to see in these places.

     4.      Prepare them for the travel. Tell the kids in advance about the places you are going to visit and what they will find in these places. This way, they will be eager to visit the place. Also keep some information secret so that their curiosity is alive. Encourage them to read and learn more about the places you are going to visit.

    5.      Keep a stock of food at all times. Since outside food may not always be palatable for all age groups of children, you must keep a stock of food with you at all times. Avoid skipping/merging meals while you travel. Eat healthy and freshly cooked food as far as possible. Also, go for the local food items instead of eating junk food or tinned food. The easiest food items would be boiled potatoes/eggs, soups/shorbas/stew or steamed rice/noodles/corn.   

     6.      Keep yourself hydrated. Many times children forget to drink water as they are too excited to miss even a single site/scene while they are travelling. It is essential to stay hydrated if you want to avoid them falling sick. Similarly, according to the weather and climate, use appropriate clothing and creams.

You can keep adding on to these tips after every travel experience. Never put a stop to travelling around the globe. Most of the times, travelling by road in your own vehicle or a hired one is the preferred way of travel for many globetrotters with kids. Driving with the kids has its own advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless it is always an enriching experience. Children learn a lot through observation as well as by doing things themselves. And, travelling is one of the best ways to let them learn about the world outside their textbooks and classrooms.

Hope you all have Happy times Driving Miss Daisy!!

Wednesday, 2 January 2019


Promises To keep For Parents and Kids

New Year brings in new hope to improve your life. New Year brings new goals and promises you want to follow about your work, own body and mind. You feel these new goals will help you further improve the quality of your life. Absolutely right! But many times, we make these resolutions with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm; but when it comes to following them we keep dilly-dallying our actions. And whenever it comes to parenting, it is very easy to delay our actions because the results are not instantly seen. It takes more than a decade to shape the personality of a child. What parents forget is that only those who hold fast to their dreams and goals move ahead in life. So let’s talk about Making New Year Resolutions with your children.

Do parents need New Year Resolutions?

New Years’ resolutions are pretty popular and so are breaking resolutions. Many parents must be feeling that these are really futile exercises and there is no real time need for making any promises or changes in your life. As it is, parenting is not a very exciting role for many of us;then why complicate it with new promises which we can’t keep. But your life will be like a ‘broken-winged bird’ if there is no scope for changes in it. Change adds spice to life. It may not be welcomed, but it will surely add to your life experiences. Then why not give it a chance!Who knows you might find new hope in the form of your children!

Do kids need New Year Resolutions?

Resolutions! Promises! Big meaningless words for kids. They may not even know that the New Year Celebrations are accompanied with some more rules which the elders would make for them. And, if at all they agree to make some goals, they aren’t likely to set resolutions of profound importance. Most kids probably won’t sit down and make their own resolutions, let alone follow through on them. Chances are they’ll propose something lofty, such as winning every football game they play this season, eat one candy every day and watch “Shinchan” for hours together.
But still,it is important to make them go through the whole exercise of making promises, setting goals and following them till they become a part of their life.

 How to go about it?
1. This has to be a process initiated by the parents.
2. You can start by telling them about how you plan to take that yoga class very badly or learn the art of baking cakes and cookies for them or stop taking your afternoon naps.
3. And then let them have a hearty laugh about how you keep saying it but never end up doing it.  

4. Now coax them to help you jot down some such plans which they will help you to complete on a daily basis.
5. You can help your young ones by brainstorming ways so that they can stay focused and motivated in helping you.
6. Take out a chart paper, pencil and coloured pens and ask your kid to enlist the things which s/he thinks you can follow throughout the New year.
7. Similarly, you can do it  for them.

Here I have jotted down some of the New Year Resolutions which you can try to practice with your children. Remember these may look very easy to you and your partner but your children may not agree to follow them. You might be already practising some of them. That’s why I would suggest to keep these resolutions as an illustration while trying to explain to your children.

Resolutions For PARENTS

      I will listen to my child/ren.
2  I will speak to my child/ren.
      I will spare some WE time with my child/ren every day.
      I will save for my child/ren’s future.
    I will not  shout at my child in front of his/her friends or others.

Resolutions For CHILDREN

      We will respect other human beings.
     We will learn about the world around us.
       We will spend some time daily in improving our mind and body.
     We will learn to share our toys, feelings and thoughts with others.
     We will not get addicted to mobiles, drugs, junk food or alcohol.

We can accomplish what Katie Hurley, author of The Happy Kid Handbook, recommends is a much more important resolution for parents:

Help your children explore their passions. Encourage them to follow their dreams. Help them understand the importance of happiness. Happy kids are more successful in the classroom. Happy kids are more likely to follow through with their goals and reach a little bit higher. Happy kids are confident enough to enter the world without worry. That is the greatest gift you can give your child this year.
Happy Parenting in the New Year 2019!!