Antimony’s Weblog

June 14, 2012

Should we choose a President?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antimony @ 7:36 am

This post isn’t meant to be a joke. It isn’t meant to be a gag that one pulls off for a few laughs. This is a post that tries to examine the very need of a President for the Republic of India.

What do we know of the Presidency? Well, for a start, we know that the President has a term of 5 years and lives in one of the biggest mansions in the world. That is probably the most basic thing we know. However, if we strain ourselves hard enough to remember our lessons from Civics till Class X (or just google it), we realize that the President has some other functions and powers too.

Mind you, these functions and powers are like what you see on brochures and advertisements when you are interested in a product – terms and conditions apply. Most of these powers of the President can only be exercised after rounds and rounds of consultation with the prime minister and his/her cabinet of ministers. The imposition of President’s Rule, one thing that sounds majestic, is misleading. In effect, it is based again on the same set of people to make the argument that a particular region is in a state of anarchy and the best approach forward would be to impose President’s Rule. The President being the chief of staff of the armed forces again cannot take any decision by himself or herself. If the legislature passes a Bill that the President does not agree with, he/she is left with little option but to ink it and pass it unto law when brought before him/her a second time. All high profile appointments, including those (President) nominated MPs of the Rajya Sabha, involve very little consultation with the President.

All this then makes the President, as is known publicly yet acknowledged only privately, hugely ceremonial.  In today’s world, is there a need for such a post?

One could argue that there must have been some underlying reason why the post of the President was created in the first place. Would our forefathers still have held on to the idea of Presidency now when instead of focusing on core issues, the government, its allies and the opposition are all trading names like that in a trump card game?

Couldn’t a bench of Supreme Court judges (perhaps rotated so as to ensure no one person holds on to power for long) discharge the duties of the President in legal matters? Can’t the PM and the cabinet receive foreign dignitaries and host them? Can’t the judiciary and the legislature working together replace the need for the executive? Wouldn’t the nation be able to save valuable time, money and resources that are currently at the disposal of the Presidency?

With the crazy horse trading going around that we hear about in the news, perhaps it is time for the MPs, MLAs and MLCs to listen to their wards. The question is probably not “Who should the next person be?” but is more likely “Do we need a President in the first place?”

April 23, 2012

A.P.J.A.K.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antimony @ 3:05 pm

This note hasn’t been written to capitalize on the current frenzy of India’s Presidential candidate. This has been written, from the point of view of a layman, to make a case as to why one of the nominees should actually not take up the post if he is chosen for it.

The candidate who I am referring to is Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Before you stop reading the article, perhaps out of exasperation or out of contempt that someone would not want Dr. Kalam to be India’s President, allow me to explain the rationale behind my thinking. What I need from you now is patience.

Yes, we all know that Dr. Kalam was probably India’s most well-known and most celebrated President. The nation was truly in a frenzy when his candidature had been announced and he had accepted to be the 11th President of the Indian Republic. A man, who had become well-known throughout the length and breadth of the nation and who elicited the same respect from the young and old alike had been chosen. He was probably one of the very few Presidents who dared to disagree with the government on issues and it was probably for this reason that he wasn’t asked to take on a second term right after his first.

If nothing else, this should show that I greatly respect the man. And it is the fear borne out of this respect that I wish he does not take up a second term.

You see, when his first term was done (in 2007) and when public opinion almost unanimously voted to give Dr. Kalam a second term, he was overlooked. The government that was in power then (and funnily enough, is the same one that is in power now) never bothered to give a valid explanation as to why Dr. Kalam had not been offered a second term. To the common man, who had seen the President refuse to sign some of the legislative bills that had been decided upon by the Parliament, it seemed to be nothing more than revenge. To make matters worse, the candidate that had been put up, was one whom none but a select few from the ruling party had ever heard about. None knew her credentials. None knew her capabilities. None knew her contributions to the nation. And yet,out of thin air she had been plucked and installed as the President of India. Over someone who had practically helped put India in a select club all over the world!

That was probably, one of the biggest humiliations that Dr. Kalam has faced.

Even today, the ruling government has not come out in support of Dr. Kalam’s candidature. Even the other parties, which have a major say in the President’s election, have made statements that are at once both condescending as well as conveying that if Dr. Kalam wanted a second term, they would see what they could do. To quote, ‘”We don’t have any problem if Mr Kalam becomes President,” SP leader Shahid Siddiqui said today.’ (Source: NDTV)

A national treasure, surely, deserves better?

Lets face it. What does a President actually do? The post is largely ceremonial, which is made all the more redundant by the fact that the Constitution requires the President to pass unto law any Bill when it is brought to his/her attention a second time.

Perhaps it is best that someone with intellectual acumen like that of Dr. Kalam actually not take up the President’s post. He could then be his free self, educating the youth and promoting social causes pan-India. Instead of being forced to sign Bills that he does not agree with and yet is helpless to prevent its passage.

I would like to end with a small appeal to Dr. Kalam himself:

Hold not the President’s post
We need you elsewhere the most!
Ignited minds, of which you have spoken
Paths we see not, for they are broken
Guide us youth to beget our wings of fire,
We humbly ask of you, sire
Dream we do of your India 20-Twenty
Teach us students, we are aplenty!

March 9, 2012

Jammy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antimony @ 5:35 am

In the summer of 1996, two Indian lads made their debut at the home of cricket. One was a left hander, or as some commentators like to call, a southpaw. A century on debut, and it was probably just a matter of time before his brilliance, first as a player and then as a captain, would shine through. His batting was marked by some serious boundary hitting as evidenced from the 20 odd boundaries that he smashed en route to his century.

The other gentleman, and the word gentleman must indeed be stressed here, was a right hander. He came in when India were 5 wickets down and were still behind England’s first innings score. He joined his comrade at the crease and together they stitched the biggest partnership of the Indian innings – 94 runs had been added by the pair before the other departed.

His innings though was as alike as chalk and cheese to that of his colleague’s. The innings had a grand total of 24 runs in hits to the fence highlighting how the rest of the runs had all been earned the hard way. Unlike his fellow countryman though, he departed five runs short of his own landmark. But the initiative had been seized from England. And to him, that is what mattered more.

Nothing probably exemplified the batting personality of the right-hander better than this debut match. His willingness to work hard and grind down the opposition if need be while at the same time stitching invaluable partnerships has always been the crux of his batting. This is the same man who is part of the world’s highest and second highest partnerships in ODIs. This is the same man who has had a record number of partnerships with Tendulkar and has almost always been involved in a partnership when India had to win or save a test match. This is the man who holds the record for most number of catches ever caught in Test matches.

But this isn’t about how many successful partnership stands he has been a part of. Nor is it about his textbook batting. This is about the man himself. About how, he has been the most complete team player that India has ever seen. About how, he has been willing to do whatever it takes to help the team achieve their potential. And yet not utter a single word of protest or in anger.

Selflessness is a virtue that few are blessed with. And it is the good fortune of those in company of the selfless ones, that they are able to reap rewards. A couple of situations are mentioned here:

When Saurav Ganguly, the left-handed Lords debutant, led the Indian team, it was felt that perhaps training one of the batsmen to be a keeper would help accommodate an extra batsman. Rahul Dravid, the right-handed Lords debutant, agreed to take up the role and to don the wicket-keeping pads. Added to the keeping duties was the fact that he was also India’s number 3 batsman. Meaning that the time he spent on the field was far greater than the time he could rest his tired legs if India were chasing. And yet, there was not a single word from him. His team had asked him to do it and he sacrificed everything for the cause.

When Rahul Dravid was captain, at the 2007 World Cup, India never made it to the second round. A casual match against Bangladesh and their inability to pick themselves up in time for the next couple of matches saw them exit the tournament in ignominy. The blame for this though, was placed solely on Dravid, with a few then youngsters in the team, openly supporting another senior. He was sacked unceremoniously and was the subject of much abuse throughout the nation. The rift between Ganguly and Chappell had claimed another victim, and yet, Rahul Dravid refused to speak ill of his colleagues. Not a word was mentioned in anger against anyone. The team was already fractured at that point and so the team man remained quiet, took the blame on himself, hoping that the wounds in the team would heal soon. Not one person came to his rescue, to endorse the man who had led the nation to 15 consecutive wins chasing (still a record). Not one soul came to support the man who was at the helm when India won a series in England after a long time and the first to win a match against South Africa in South Africa. And yet, he never went to town with his feelings, always keeping quiet and accepting the blame for the greater good.

Of course, there have definitely been times when Dravid hasn’t lived up to the mark. When he seemed to be stuck in neutral when he had to be on a gear. That is commonplace to many, and even the mighty fall at times. A quote applies here, one that a friend mentioned before facing challenges in life, “everybody falls; champions simply rise up again”. And that has been the case with Dravid. When people wrote him out, he came back stronger than ever and yet remained nonchalant about it.

But this article isn’t going to go on and on about Dravid. If it did, then it wouldn’t be a tribute to him. This is about the second violin in an instrument ensemble, the one which is needed to play a beautiful piece of music, yet is not noticed. The greater good has always been his prime concern and perhaps it is for that reason he leaves. To blood younger players so that one day they might help the Indian test team rise from the hell that it currently languishes in. In much the same way as players of his generation did to put back Indian cricket firmly on the map. And it is to do this as soon as possible that he leaves immediately, without a farewell tour, without hoopla or emotions.

Let us hope that the coming generations of Indian cricketers and all generations of the Indian public learn to respect this man, one who is considered to be an all-time great everywhere in the world but in his own country.

Thank you Rahul Dravid for your yeoman service! Thank you Jammy! We will miss you. The Wall shall always, always stand tall!

December 1, 2011

The Doubt

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antimony @ 12:12 pm

Mother, our doubt can you clear?
One that has brought us much fear
Why does he get all the fame?
Are we both not worthy of the same?

Do we have not his glamour?
Why have we, no clamour?
Champions we too were in the past
Flew our flag high, at full mast
But nothing ever seems to last
Else why is forgotten everything so fast?
Once the pride were we not?
How did we end up in this rot?

Mother, we do not ask for much
Yet it always seems to sound as such
A fraction of his monies is all we need
Rest assured this isn’t greed
Some time too if you can spare
To show that about us you really care
Is this too much we ask mother dear?
Help us, we’ve shed many a tear.

Your sons we are too
Isn’t there anything you can do?
Help us out mother we plead
Lest we run out of blood to bleed.

Who are we, you are bound to ask
Without further ado off comes the mask
Soccer and hockey, the both of us be
Cricket the glamorous one, makes it three.

Note: This is based on a recent news item that I read. Here is the link to it: NDTV News Report

August 24, 2011

A letter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antimony @ 5:41 am

Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh,

Hope that this letter finds you well. You may not have heard about me and till last week I hadn’t heard about you either. But it was a friend of mine who evoked an interest in you by using the choiciest of expletives none of which I would like to repeat in this mail. Having said that though, I think I might actually be able to help you out, my dear sir, with some of the problems that you have been facing. Allow me to explain in my own way.

From the limited knowledge that I have gained by poring over the recent news posts, I see that you have encountered one problem after another. It seems that ministers in your ‘cabinet’ have caused much damage to your reputation in the form of corruption cases against them. Now my dear sir, I have no idea why you would want to keep ministers in your cabinet, it seems such a strange thing to do. For you see, where I come from, there is only one minister and he is just too cool with earrings and stuff. But wait, I am digressing from the point once again.

The point that interested me most was the fact that you mentioning that you did not have a “magic wand” to solve problems. Now Dr. Prime Minister, I am not entirely sure that all your problems can be solved by a magic wand but I would like to suggest that you try one and see.

For you see my dear sir, I specialize in magic wands. And I believe that to my credit I have managed to match every single wand seeker with the wand that best suits him or her. Of course as I often quoted as saying, it is not the wizard who chooses the wand, but it is the wand that chooses the wizard. But I am pretty sure we can work something out for you as well. So I have a simple suggestion sir, that you come over to my shop and we will find you the wand that best suits you. Needless to say, I am currently the finest wand maker around and you can be assured of the best possible quality in your wand choice.

If you find this a suitable proposition, please fill up the short questionnaire about yourself. This would help me in trying to narrow down the wand core combinations that might suit you. I pride myself in being able to construct wand cores from dragon heartstrings, unicorn tail hair and other formidable creatures. Although if what I hear from my friend is true, I would have to create a one of a kind wand for you – from the heartstrings of a mouse of possum (I think that is what he said).

Thank you for your time sir. I look forward to receiving a favourable reply from you shortly.

Sincerely,

Ollivander (Mr.)
Managing Director
Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC
Diagon Alley
London

Encl: Personality questionnaire

March 20, 2011

The Seven Cages

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antimony @ 3:58 pm

All the world is but a zoo
Yes, you, me, everyone too
All humanity be mere exhibits
In cages, some cozy some tight fits

Caged be each one from the start
Some made to resemeble tart
Others be the end of a free fall
Seven, the cage count be in all

Begin it does as a tiny tot
Sleeping, crying in the cot
Physical cages they be – the crib
I kid you not, I ain’t glib

Next the school child it be
Hours away at school, not set free
‘Math! Science! I want to egress!’
‘Have I no chance to digress?’

End of studies, begins the grate
Told you didn’t I, it is all fate
Working life thus begins in a box
And fake sincerity like a fox

Enter some time the parent stage
Some too young and others too age
Working ceaselessly for your child
Your life be hard and his mild

Aged you become as years go by
No more strength left to fly
Begins your life of on the pills
And cautious you be, no more thrills

Dependent you become on your child
But he is not in the least bit mild
Imposes his will on you he must
And you have no choice but to trust

Comes the end of life, end of fate
You end up most likely in a crate
Caged we all are from the start
Even when death splits us apart

September 22, 2010

Anguish

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antimony @ 3:59 pm

Oh my dear child, what have you done!
Is this your idea of having fun?
My child, why can you never see?
This brings naught but tears to me!

My dear child, I have lost count
Of all my trips to ‘shame’ mount
And make another trip I have to, I see
Is this ever fair to me?

Why dear, why torture me like this?
Can’t have I ever a moment of bliss?
Fighting with your siblings you always are!
Why can’t you treat them at par!

For months you have fought, yes?
Yet, no solution for this mess!
How long will continue this game?
Makes me hang my head in shame!

Pledge to me, you daily do
Yet not a single part of it is true.
Interested in your own progress you always are,
You just don’t care about those near and far!

Lot of harm you did to me
But as a mother to you, I let them be
Forgave you most times I did
Yet sometimes I did blow my lid!

You now asked me for a chance to play host
Told me it would allow us to boast.
Agreed I did to your desire
And yet here I stand eyes mad with fire!

You promised the world you did!
And yet nothing is better than less tepid!
Not one thing has been done right
And all you do is internal fight!

They showed us on the news you know?
About how we are an absolute no-no
Is this what you wanted, my child?
Accusations against you, anything but mild!

Shamed me you have in front of all,
Pushed me to tears and beyond recall
Goodbye my child, I bear no more
For I have bled enough through every pore!

May 1, 2010

Story Attempt 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antimony @ 3:08 am

Fri, Jan 16th 2130hrs

The meeting had gone off well. And there were no witnesses. He had ensured that his guards had been posted to the gates of his residence. They were to remain there at all times. His family was also off to some place on a holiday. Everything had been setup perfectly for the meeting that had just taken place.

His guest had arrived promptly at 2000hrs. Just as he had said he would. He and his guest then dined on a fine 7-course meal that his cook had been instructed to prepare. After the dinner, they retired to the study to go to work.

The guest was obviously no stranger to what he was being asked to do. He spread it out on the table so his host could see what and how much of it he had brought. He took care to ensure that he placed not only what the host had expected, but also a bit more. The host licked his lips at the glorious sight. He then took a moment and looked his guest in the eye and smiled and nodded. The deal was done.

Two months later

The news agencies were having a field day. All of them screaming the same headline and craving for attention. This time though, the headlines did merit attention. Or so thought the common man.

Many soldiers, numbers beyond belief, had fallen. There had been an exchange of gun-fire in which most of them had their lives cruelly ended. The initial reports coming in stated that there seemed to be something wrong with the bullet-proof jackets that the soldiers had been given. The common man looked at it in shock. Surely they were joking? Only two months back had there been a news item announcing that the soldiers were going to be given brand new bullet-proof jackets to help them fight better. And now the reports say that there was something wrong with the jackets? Something was very, very wrong. Something was just not right. Somebody had to take action! Somebody had to be held responsible for this fiasco!

Two months later

The attack that had killed many soldiers was now a story of the past. Well, it had been a story of the past 3 days after the incident happened. The mood now was of the high profile marriage of a couple of actors. Nobody really cared about the soldiers or for the state of the nation. Something was just not right had been replaced with obviously something was a trivial mistake. Somebody had to be held responsible for the fiasco had been replaced by nobody can ever be held responsible. And the nation went back into a stupor on its own affairs. After all, this was the coming union that had long been speculated but always been denied by the two parties involved. So naturally, the whole country was more interested in it.

Meanwhile, the intelligence agencies had gathered evidence that some anti-social elements were planning to attack senior personnel from different departments of the government. They had issued an advisory to all personnel to try and get more protection for themselves. They had also been asked to wear at all times, bullet-proof jackets. However, in order to ensure that the quality was good enough and not the same as those given to the poor soldiers, they had to get it cleared from some of the labs part of the defense ministry.

The man read the reports from the intelligence agency and thought that the odds of that happening were really low. Besides, who would want to wear a heavy jacket all the time? Maybe he could just have more security personnel guarding him to counter this. Let the attacker try and get him then. The attacker would stand no chance!

A couple of days later though, he was informed that he could not be given additional security because all the security had to be deployed for the protection of people higher than him. The agencies pressed him to get a bullet-proof vest soon and finally he caved in under their request. The man managed to get one and began using that regularly.

A couple of days later, the predicted attacks took place. Except that it took everyone completely by surprise. There had been someone on the inside who had informed his colleagues outside and the plan had been changed which the protection force hadn’t been prepared for.

The man stood in shock as he saw the events unfold right in front of his eyes. His attacker was charging towards him with a pistol pointed straight at his heart. The security personnel were trying to bring him down but the attacker was very skilled to keep dodging the bullets. Finally, they managed to bring him down, but not before he had shot one right at the man. The man, wearing the bullet-proof vest, didn’t notice it coming towards him. It hit him squarely on the chest. He didn’t think much of it since he was wearing the jacket.

The man took a few steps and then collapsed. Some of the security personnel rushed to him and others went to get an ambulance. When the ambulance did arrive, they realized it was too late. The bullet had gone right through the jacket. The jacket had not even offered a shred of resistance. The bullet wasn’t that powerful, but those near the fallen man realized something of the jacket. It was the same as the one used by the soldiers.

November 14, 2009

Story Attempt

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antimony @ 5:18 am

The teacher looked at her students again. And sighed again. She wasn’t sure how many times before this she had sighed already. But it seemed to be the only thing she could do.

The class sat in front of her. Their small little eyes, set in their small little face of the students, eagerly watching her every move, their small little ears listening to her every word. After all she was telling them a story. And which kindergarten kid wouldn’t want to hear stories, she thought.

She returned to her story narration. She had just gotten past the part where Goldilocks enters the home of the three bears while they are out for a stroll. But her mind wasn’t in it. She just couldn’t concentrate on the story. And she didn’t want to tell them a story when she wasn’t in the mood. She wanted them to relish every little detail when she said it patiently and that clearly wasn’t going to be the case now. Goldilocks would have to continue waiting at the bears’ home till next time.

‘OK class. Take out your drawing books now. Lets do some colouring!’, she called out to the class. They seemed puzzled, puzzled at the fact that the story had not been completed, but they took out their colouring books nonetheless. ‘Here is what we are going to do now. I want you to turn to page 76 and do the connect the dots on that page. Colour it well too! The best coloured will get a big chocolate from me’, she said with a big smile.

The class went into squeals of excitement. And they got started. That should give me time to think about this again, the teacher thought. And she got back to her thinking.

She thought about how each and every one of her students knew the other by name. How each and every one of them got along with the others in the class with no hesitation at all. How each and every one of them truly believed in the other. How each and every one of them placed genuine trust in their teacher as well as their friends. How each and every one of them were so very innocent and sweet.

And yet, she thought, a few years down the road, names would be forgotten. Frictions in friendships would crop up. Betrayals and cynicism would prevail over trust and belief in the other. Innocence would be lost and a desire to win at all costs would come out in its place.

Who really needs to learn from who?, the teacher wondered. We teach them how they shouldn’t become. We impress upon our children, our beliefs, our sense of ethics, our sense of etiquette. But if we think carefully, shouldn’t the children be the teachers? Teach us adults how to overcome the hostility between ourselves. Overcome the deep sense of distrust that we shouldn’t have developed in the first place. Teach us how to bridge differences and build bonds with others. Teach us to reclaim the lost world of innocence. And in fact, teach us the very way to actually leading our lives?

Ah well. Pretty heavy thoughts for the past five minutes of thinking, the teacher thought. Time to check on the class. And oh yeah! She wasn’t on good terms currently with the teacher next-in. So she would have to leave pretty soon. Maybe, she would ask the children to teach them how to be like them. But for now, she thought, think am going to give everyone a big chocolate.

October 13, 2009

A Hero

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antimony @ 12:26 am

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8299780.stm

Now, this guy deserves serious respect. More respect than that is given to political leaders worldwide. He embodies CHANGE itself.

P.S. Thanks to Sathiyavelan for bringing this to my attention

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