Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Happy Days Are Here Again

(Picture Courtesy the PM's website)
The extraordinary sweep at the National polls and the initial euphoria has quietened down. It has been six months of the NDA Government in power under PM Narendra ModiFew leaders had raised the expectations of a resurgence as he has done in his short stint at the helm (and even before it began).

A couple of my friends, whose intellect and knowledge I deeply respect, had questioned me on Facebook recently. It is all right that Modi is drawing in huge crowds at his meetings in India and abroad, but is he delivering at the ground level or are these just photo ops? Is the common man actually benefiting from all this? I promised them that I would reply via a blog post and here it is.

Let us first highlight his achievements (I say Modi's achievements because it is more or less acknowledged that his is a one man show, no doubt backed by a able team). So much dependence on an individual presents its own risk is another matter.

When the Union Budget was presented there was a lot of criticism that there was no big bang reform announced therein. The Budget happened to be just an exercise in consolidation. As the Finance Minister has reiterated, reform does not necessarily have to be big ticket reform: small changes on the ground well implemented are equally effective. The long overdue Diesel price deregulation allowed the Oil marketing industry (state owned companies) to breathe easier. They had been saddled with thousands of crores of red in their balance sheets on account of under-recoveries due Government dictated pricing.

Simplification of licencing for industry is rapidly taking shape as is the much awaited GST (Goods and Services Tax) that will usher in a uniform and stable tax environment in country. Land reforms, another key area is also being looked into with urgency. Most importantly the domestic and foreign investors have got the message that it will make life for businesses easier- industrial growth had choked in the last few years.

Focus is also on reviving the SME and MSE's- a badly neglected area which is so critical for boosting employment among the semi skilled. Emphasis on good infrastructure should provide the right support too. One indicator of this is Modi's ambitious vision of Smart Cities (from scratch up) alongside newly built national highways and a mind numbing target for scaling up of solar energy. Modi also knows what technology can do for rural India- thus internet connectivity is on top of the agenda.

The development focus is not just an elitist plan. The Swach Bharat Abhiyaan (Clean India) envisages a toilet in every Indian home. A bank account for every citizen scheme has been a massive success- millions of accounts have been opened and this touches the underprivileged section of society- banking for all also aims at shifting from a cash economy.

Many of these are proposals- what are the signs that the tide is indeed turning?
Firstly and importantly, the FII's (Foreign Institutional Investors) have come back in droves. The massive monthly inflows from FII's have been the biggest proof that they are buying Modi's vision. The Equity markets have rallied to an all time high (BSE Sensex @28,000 ) up from 20,900 a year ago. And if the analysts are to be believed Indian markets are in a structural bull run and are likely to go further up. This has whetted the appetite of domestic investors too (individual as well as institutional). The (AUM's) Assets Under Management of Equity Mutual Funds have scaled record peaks. Corporate heads too have expressed confidence in the the policies and are eager to get back into expansion mode.

This has had a curious side effect too: investors have shifted their attention from safer assets such as gold and property and have placed bets on equity. The result is that the property market has cooled down and erstwhile stratospheric prices are at last headed downwards. Fund raising for Start-Ups has never been so easy- a slew of e-retailers have fetched big ticket funds for expansion.

At the Government level, Modi's no nonsense functioning style has earned him many admirers ( a few from the opposition benches too, much to the ire of their respective parties). His non corrupt image and impeccable work ethic has set the tone for his ministry and officials. He has personally assured them that they need not be afraid of 'reputations', if they faced an obstacle from anybody, however influential, they could approach him. This kind of openness was unheard of in New Delhi. His presence and effective communication on social media has raised his already immense popularity by a few notches more.

There will always be critics and skeptics.

There is, of course, a time lag between investment, expansion and results to show up- especially on employment opportunities. What one must understand is that he took charge at a time when the country was reeling under years of misrule and was ridden with one damaging scam after another. All this set back the image, the business environment and finances of the country by a decade. Modi, therefore, did not begin on a plateau: the climb has been all uphill and to his credit he has not harped on the past but energetically focused on exciting possibilities.

'But the corruption and ineptitude at the ground level is the same. I still have to pay the same bribes, the attitude is still unfriendly."

Just as a corrupt PM cannot justify me compromising on my principles and ethics, a honest PM cannot ensure that all his countrymen take his cue and turn the leaf.

History is not created in a day. Shouldn't we allow our visionary PM some space and time for his grand dream to unfold? Transforming a nation as complex, diverse and vast as India poses a mind-boggling challenge. Modi seems to have an appetite for such a challenge.

"Ache Din Kaise Aayenge?"
The NDA's campaign revolved around 'Achche Din Aane Waale Hain" (Good Days Are Around The Corner)
The above presentation by Puneet Bhatnagar and his Creativity Mission India, asks the pertinent question~ How could we bring about good days?

I think this should answer those who still have doubts..
As far as I am concerned, Happy Days Are Here Again.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Life Is...

Life is...

...the pitter-patter of the rain on window panes

...the rustle of leaves as the trees sway

...the feeling when a child smiles back at you

...walking amid the bustle of the city streets

...birds flying in tandem into the sunset

...the trail of a jet as it fades faraway in the blue sky

...the smell of the soil after the first rain

...the chirping of birds at dawn

...a long drive on a country road

...the view from a mountain at dusk

...that feeling when what you were thinking of actually happens!

...a dark blue night sky sprinkled with twinkling stars and a crescent moon

...sitting on a beach wishing the sun would never dip into the ocean

...a woman's warm, beautiful smile

...the thrill of achievement against all odds

...the fluffy white cloud in a light blue sky

...the warmth that kindness brings to the heart

...a riot of colours on a dynamic canvas

...hearing your favourite song at a cafe, ever growing love

...quietening of the mind to hear the soul sing

...priceless, every reason to live it fully

...the thrill of these words pouring out on my screen

Friday, 26 September 2014

Tip Toeing Her Way To Success

The sun had not yet risen, the skies were mellow. The golden sands of the beach were inviting..she hesitated for a moment. How pristine, undisturbed is the beach, unburdened by any feet on it. Swept clean by the change of tides the night before and unsullied by tourists who would come in later in the day. How dare I be the intruder, thought she?

She then gingerly tip toed with her arms swaying to maintain her balance.

One, two, three.....
step number twenty three...
twenty nine, thirty, thirty one, thirty two, thirty three,
few more, that will be fifty, I'll be free! said she

Forty six, forty seven...screaming she swiveled on her heels
A mean black German Shepherd was hot on her heels

The leash had by now restrained the dog, barking
Our lady not knowing this, kept running

The barking pierced the quiet, there was disarray
Footprints were now here, there, everywhere

She rushed straight into his arms panting
He embraced her, burst out laughing

How can you laugh at me, demanded she
Don't you know what this meant to me?

Hey, come on cheer up, said he
There's always a way, trust me.

They sat down on the beach. He kept his camera aside. She was wistfully throwing pebbles into the waves.

Turning to him she said, the rising sun glowing in her eyes, "I fell short by just three steps!" she ruefully turned around to see the messed up sand."You would have shot the perfect image for my story~ how expressive a visual metaphor it would have been! Footprints on sand have been done to death. Just the imprints of me tip toeing..Wow! Wouldn't it have been so symbolic and memorable for my own success story? I had even thought of a central theme that went perfectly with it~
"A woman quietly tip toes her way to success."

He put his arm around her.
"Nothing has been lost. We could try this out once again tomorrow. And not on this side of the beach where your doggy friend has a taken a liking to you!"

Then he looked straight into her eyes and said, "I have a better idea. Look, you are a renowned storyteller. You could always come up with a new, better theme for your success story!"

Friday, 19 September 2014

Like Father Like Daughter?

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, that is an understatement~ I was overjoyed by my 9 year old daughter Diti's storytelling skills. She has always been creative and has a vivid imagination. (In the picture above she's seen painting the pot that she had crafted with help of a skilled potter).

However, the story that she had written yesterday surpassed any of her creative endeavours. It had been written as practice for her School exams and she was limited by the first few lines provided in her worksheet, which she had to develop further into a full story, that too within twenty minutes. Without bragging any further about it, I'll share her handiwork~ it's entirely her creation.

The Magical Sword

Once there was a merchant named Rasham. He lived in the hills of Himachal Pradesh and had gone to Jaipur in Rajasthan for business. After finishing his work he was riding back home. He had a bag which had a large sum of money. Suddenly there was a storm and it started raining heavily. The merchant thought " this cotton bag is full of money which will get wet in the rain. If I don't find a safe place I'll loose all my money!" He was searching for shelter but he could not find any such place. He thought God was cruel. But he did not lose hope and tried again to find shelter.

At last he found a hut and maybe he could stay there until the storm ended. A crying man opened the door of the hut and let him in.

'Why are you crying', asked Rasham.

"Yesterday some robbers came here and told me to give them one lakh rupees. If I did not do as they said, they said they would kill me. I am very poor. Where will I get the money to pay them?" cried the poor man.

The merchant felt bad for the poor man . He asked him where did the robbers live.

"Two kilometers from away from my hut"

The merchant went as he was told and saw the hut. From the hut people looking like robbers came out. The robbers told the merchant to give them the bag of money. The merchant tried to escape as he got scared. The robbers fired at him but because of the rain the pistol had got wet and did not go off!

Then the merchant saw a sword and with it he killed all the robbers! On his way back home, he went to the poor man's hut who thanks him for saving his life. Then he reached his home safe.

As soon as he enters his house he sees a wonderful sight~ he sees the same poor man as God! He then realises the truth and thanks God for saving his life.

God tells him, "The sword with which you killed the robbers was a magical sword"

The merchant replies, "Despite me calling you cruel, you saved my life"

"No, it was you who saved a poor man's life and with all your might you bravely fought with the robbers".

The merchant bowed before God.
~Diti Nallawala

It is not only Diti's imagination that impressed me nor her story writing skills alone. Does she also have that spiritual streak in her~ Like Father Like Daughter?

A story I had written with an uncannily similar ending (which she hasn't read)~
The Three Priests And Their Guru

Monday, 8 September 2014

Walking On A Beach

It's early morning
alone on the beach am walking

No one around me
as far as the eye can see

Except for the birds, charming
and the music of their chirping

And the stray dog, the vagabond
sniffing, rummaging in the sand

The swaying palm trees 
and their 
rustling leaves 

The crashing of the waves
and rhythmic exchange of crests

The swirling wind embraces me
scared, a crab darts away from me

The smell of the salt in the air
the sheer freshness of the air

Just the vast blue skies above me
bare foot, feel the cool wet sands below me

Eyes devour all the glory
even as each moment is a new story.

The gentle morning sun rises
paints the skies in riotous hues

The horizon rapidly changes colours
dispelling dawn, a new day arrives

Retracing my footprints, reluctantly
 walk back into the day, slowly

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