Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Childhood Blues continue to haunt

January 1990, I had just started to crawl when communal forces broke legend long relations and compelled one of the oldest civilized communities to leave the saffron valley.

Along with my parents, I traveled 350 kilometers in a fiat car from south Kashmir to city of temples, Jammu. A deafening silence kept filling each passing kilometer. Moving towards south of Jawahar tunnel, nature started adjusting its color for an undesirable change. Slowly the chinars turned into pines and then finally eucalyptus. Mercury started expanding. As soon as we reached Hari palace, I woke up in my mothers lap saying “mummy tresh” (Mother I am thirsty, give me water).

Months passed on and my growing steps saw the lines stretch on my father’s forehead. Finances started bothering us on each day of the calendar. Everyone around was searching for any possible keyholes of survival. I remember, each morning some or the other fellow being used to come to the door shouting- ‘paksa relief commisionery’ (‘let’s go to Relief commissioner’s office’). No one realized that this relief commisionary would become a parliament for minority section of Kashmir.

As men tried their luck with such authorities, the women too fought their share of struggle. Forced to bargain for vegetables everyday, the female folk tried to adjust a home budget that had inadequate amount in the first place. Monj – Haakh (Knol Khol), a leafy vegetable was in maximum demand. What started with one rupee is today sold at Rs 30 at vendor price. Refusing to alter at least this cultural attachment, we as a community still purchase it with equal charm. Monj-haakh is served hot on our plates daily.

The climate has never been friendly to Jammu especially the summer season. But at times it became as good as spring to me. Every year my Delhi based aunt would get me toys during the vacations. Though summer in Jammu is synonymous to a hot tandoor (hand made oven) but that anticipation for toys, at least for a few moments overshadowed our natural calamity. Today as I reminisce of my childhood days, toys remind me of Sharma Ji- our landlord- who never allowed me to play in the house he owned. He often complained to my parents about me, considering me a noisy child. That b*****d never understood that kids play at this age and when they play they are supposed to make noise. Like my childhood rights snatched in Kashmir, Jammu too did not allow me to celebrate my innocence.

Spending such a shackled childhood left undesirable remarks in my mind. I started believing this is the best that a human being deserves. Perhaps this is the kind of life for all of us. Until, my mother started narrating me stories that I should have faced myself, but fate had other plans. She was, rather relieving her bolted memories upon me. She used to (she still does) start with ‘Kasheri aous ase…’ (In Kashmir we used to have…). Those real life happy incidents of valley were hard to vision in my mind. I deemed them as any other fairy tale I knew about. I still try and force myself to imagine my mother being served by 3 servants. Her references to the past are authentic, but today my mother is pushing herself, beyond her physical strength to serve all of us without any help.

When I entered into my teens, the financial troubles began to fade away to a certain extent, but those luxurious aspirations were only at an imagination stage. Due to my hard work and family’s support, I was selected in two of the best schools of Jammu; in fact I topped the entrance examinations. However I could not enroll myself in neither as a huge fee was not affordable.

As time rolled by, memories got sliced into the good and bad. The bad memories have now forced me into an unshapely adulthood, making me feel that neither did the past bring us anything healthy nor has the future anything good to hold.

A desire to relive those innocent days is increasing every day. I know that this is no possibility and I hope it’s not because of material treasures that now I have begun to acquire. I hope this article is not a sudden burst of emotions. I guess it is only an incomplete childhood….

Well, whatever it may be but “yem fir gindha beiti” (This time I want to play)

Monday, March 16, 2009


New Delhi: If you are traveling through South Delhi and feel like having a hot cup of tea, simply land up in Community Centre (CC) near New Friends colony and relish different flavors at Cozzy Snack Bar.

The tea joint is gaining its popularity each coming day. Customers can enjoy multiple choices of garam chai like lemon tea – naughty lime flavor, Green tea – soothing herbal tea from Assam, ginger tea – fun with India adrak, and regular milk tea and coffee are also available.

Tea maker of Cozzy Snack Bar, Mohd. Sheeraz who hails from land of tea, Assam says “we provide fresh tea and it’s not made in machines, this adds to customer attraction”.
The tea joint is famous among youth especially among students from Jamia Millia Islamia University and office employees who work near Community Centre. Cozzy tea point is becoming a new hang out joint as the tea served is cheap in cost when most of the other similar places serve tea or coffee at higher rates.

“We can chat, relax and have a decent cup of tea. All at a very reasonable price. It’s a nice break from the otherwise crowded coffee houses.” says 21 year old Mohd. Salman, a student who frequents this chai shop almost daily.

The place remains completely filled in the evening.One can order his cup of tea, with ingredients that suit once choice. “We cater to our customers choices and make tea as per our customer requirement, so that they can get the tea they like” explains Javed, the owner.

Among the different types lemon tea tops the choice of customers. “Lemon tea is herbal and good for health and also this place reminds me my college days” remarks 35 year old Suresh, employee in an office nearby, while sipping his favorite lemon tea.

Although smoking is not allowed in the tea bar but smokers usually enjoy the puff outside while having tea. Tea also acts as stress buster in this hectic life. There are many customers living far from area make it a point to visit this place whenever possible.

Apart from tea one can also enjoy a byte of bread omelets and butter toast.
But what about those who don’t drink tea or have few excuses? Owner needs to think about it. When ever I am in a good mood I come here and have a sugar free tea. My diabetes doesn’t allow me have sweetness of tea says Mohd. Naseer with a big smile.

Tourists, 2010 commonwealth games to feel homely

Bed and Breakfast scheme to overcome problem of shortage of room

New Delhi: Bed and breakfast scheme- a policy started by ministry of tourism will make tourists during the Commonwealth Games feel homely. Under the scheme visitors can avail Indian or continental breakfast along with lodging and other residing facility.

Nearly 1400 rooms have been registered for bed and breakfast scheme so far in Delhi and NCR, since its launch by the Tourism Ministry a year ago. While the city is still unprepared for hosting the Games, government is gearing up to attract more families to overcome shortage of rooms.

With well built interiors, ample of facilities, well maintained bathrooms, smoke detectors and modernized kitchen. Many homes in Delhi are preparing for visiting tourists at next year's Commonwealth Games.

“This scheme will cater to the budget of tourists who will get to glimpse Indian traditions and in addition they can save few bucks also," explains Deputy Director General, Hotels and Restaurants, Ministry of Tourism, Vikas Rastogi.

The Bed & Breakfast facilities are categorized into Silver and Gold .Those interested for the scheme and opening their homes to international tourists can enroll by paying a registration fee of Rs 3,000 or Rs, 5000, depending on the type and infrastructure of rooms made available.

The scheme not only solves the purpose to meet the room shortage in Delhi for commonwealth games, it also helps residents earn an extra buck, especially for housewives.

Also house owners will not have to pay any luxury tax,and also they can use electricity and water on domestic rates and not on commercial rates.

The scheme was launched to provide a clean and affordable place for foreigners and domestic tourists, including an opportunity for foreign tourists to stay with an Indian family and to experience Indian customs and traditions and relish authentic Indian cuisine. Homeowners will also have to provide their tenant tourist breakfast every day which will give tourists a homemade taste of India.

"Our aim behind registering our house was upcoming commonwealth games. Tourists who visit India don’t know Indian culture and cuisines. This will provide an opportunity for foreigners to learn and relish Indian traditions.” said Veena Kumar, who runs, Blossoms-Bread and Breakfast scheme in her house.

The Tourism Department has now been advertising and promoting the Bed and Breakfast Scheme to a great extent. Government is especially using Internet as a medium to cater foreign tourists.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kashmir constitutional history and documents - Book Review

By: Mohan Krishen Teng

Ram Krishen Kaul Bhatt

Santosh Kaul

Publisher: Light and Life publishers, Sept 1977

The Book presents the original documentary sources, both official and non-official, pertaining to the growth of the political institutions and the related constitutional cover the most stormy and the turbulent period of the modern history of most stormy and the turbulent period of the modern history of Kashmir and bring to light original sources in regard to the Kashmir and bring to light original sources in regard to the administrative structures established by the Dogras and the frames of political control they devised, the constitutional instruments they evolved for the government of the state and the incredible operation of the British colonial organisation in the India. The documents also bring to surface, considerable fact and data in regard to the freedom movement in the state, the evolution of the responsible government, the transfer of power in India and the political convulsions which struck the state in aftermath of Indian independence.

The papers selected for the present volume have been compiled with a view to facilitate in depth studies in the constitutional history of the state and also presents the readers with ready reference of other relevant sources. Since researches and investigations in the various aspects of the constitutional development of the state, are still to be undertaken, the relevance of the present state, are still to be undertaken, the relevance of the present study is obvious. Most of the documents have been collected from the from the papers presented in the British parliament, printed in the government gazette and published by the government of the India, or in the government of Kashmir, from time to time. Some of the papers have been collected from the archives of the different political organizations which were involved in the politics of the state. Considerable care has been taken to preserve the substantive content of the documents edited for this volume. The documents included in this volume pertains to:

1 the Dogras administrative system

2 the operation of paramountcy

3 the evolution of the responsible government in the state

4 the transfer of power in India and the accession of the state to the Indian union

5 the constituent assembly of the state, and

6 the constitution of the state.

A special feature of the volume is that a comprehensive survey of the constitutional history is included in it and thw reader is provided with a clear perspective of the different trends, the politics in the state assumed. Efforts have been made to present a coherent and conjointed account of the various developments in the state within which the reader can conveniently place the related documentary sources . the authors have attempted to analyse the situational compulsions which lead to various political changes in the state interpret the judicial processes devised from time to time and locate the directions, the evolution of the various political institutions took. No study of this type has been undertaken in regard to the government and politics of the state so far and to that extent the present study is expected to fill a long felt gap in the history of the state.

Friday, January 30, 2009

What else can Kashmiris expect from Indian Railways?

Dream fulfilling, an excursion and more over easy and cheap travel.

Finally after a long span, Indian railways gifted Kashmir its first ever train on 11october 2008.
“This development has left Kashmiris so thrilled that week long reservations were made on the first day” says Afaq Gadda , a media professional in Kashmir.

Students to businessmen to elders each and every one is enjoying this joyous roller coaster ride.
Train in Kashmir has made dream come true for those, who had never seen train till now and never thought this dream to be fulfilled in their life time.

“Stations are beautifully made and one can see pulsating mood in and around stations” says 35 year old businessman from valley, Wahid Geelani, who resides near Nowagam, Srinagar station.

Famous wood carving of Kashmir is what these stations have been designed on.
8 coach DEMU, train that ply’s on 66 Kms from Anantnag to Budgam via Srinagar is designed keeping the cold climatic constraints of valley in mind.
Equipped with heaters and snow defrost systems this train covers beautiful scenery of the valley.

“Train has saved time as well as money. Those who used to pay Rs. 60 for taxi or Rs. 40 for bus have to pay only Rs. 6 while traveling to Anantnag from Srinagar and that too when train can make you reach much faster” adds Wahid Geelani.

It’s also an excursion for Kashmiris. They are so much excited that mostly train remains over crowded and few even travel while sitting on the top of it.

This gift is proving beneficial especially for students who reside at distant places.
“Students from Anantnag and Budgam have vacated their rented places in Srinagar as they travel back daily” says 25 years old, Faheem Pandit, who works as senior supervisor constructions with railways in Kashmir.

Speaking about his working experience with railway officials, Faheem adds “it’s been a great working experience and railway officials are too supportive”.

Commenting from security point of view Faheem further adds that “each coach should have a police personal, and security should be briefed up in stations also”

Opening up of new job opportunities by starting railways, has left people more smiling. Land rates have increased more than 50% since railways started its construction and are expected to increase more.

But story does not end happily altogether. Blaming Kashmiri mainstream politicians, ex- project director, Kashmir train services, Abdul Ahmed Khandey says “they should show more interest in this project. This project is not only a railway project but a national project as declared by former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee in 2002”.

Khandey adds that there should be a monitoring cell by state government which will check time to time development of rail services in valley.

This biggest railway project has still to achieve its aim i.e. connectivity with rest of India.
Phase 2 and phase 3 work is still pending that will connect Anantnag – Baramullah and Anantnag – Katra respectively.

Further adding, Khandey says “this project will be fruitful only when railway line is connected to Jammu. It will be a boon for businessmen and also traffic conjunction of highway will be at ease”.

Although Kashmiris feel traveling between Anantnag and Budgam will be easy especially during winters when Kashmir sleeps under white blanket but they now wish work on remaining phases to complete soon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


It’s a Job Well Done!!!

Sixty hours of live television at the best of times is impossibly difficult. But when it involves an ongoing and precarious terrorist operation and a potential danger to the lives of hundreds of people, it throws up challenges of the kind
that none of us have ever dealt with before.
Even those who have reported for years, on conflict, war and counter insurgency weren't prepared for what they encountered in Mumbai: an audacious attack on a city that was more in the nature of an invasion of India, than
terrorism in any form.
Mumbai was seized for nearly 60 hours during the last week of November 2008 by ten Pakistan based terrorists, where more than 200 people were killed. Nine terrorists (one was captured alive) were gunned down by the security forces. The terror was evident through the live telecast by a number of news channels almost around the globe.
The incident sparked a massive outrage against the terrorists as well as the administration, which was reflected in all media outlets of the country.
Resilience was another word that annoyed the pundits of news channels and their patrons this time. What resilience, enough is enough, said Pranoy Roy's channel on the left side of the channel spectrum. Same sentiments were echoed by Arnab Goswami representing the right wing of the broadcast media whose time is now. They all attacked resilience this time. They wanted firm action from the government in tackling

All this was possible due to courageous work done by brave Indian journalists.
Working continuously for multiple hours is truly a laudable job. One needs to understand that all those smart citizens who were cynical about coverage of Mumbai attacks were actually able to comment due to these brave journalists.
Arundathi Roy, basically a novelist started her piece of journalism by bashing on Indian media and government functionary. Social networking sites started campaigning against media practioners who worked hard day and night without food and sleep. Blogs floated with arguments against the coverage of attacks on financial capital of India.
But none of us really thinks this way. It was due to media coverage that led Shivraj Patil to resign from his cabnit minister post. Massive silent protests across the country post terror attacks actually came into shape when every citizen was fully aware about the heinous crime of terrorists. Kasab, only survivor of the terrorists was first photographed by media. Vilas Rao Deshmukh had to see consequences for himself.

Some apprehend that the live footage shown by TV channels to the viewers could also have been used as free intelligence input by the perpetrators sitting far away from the place of incident who allegedly guided the attackers to take appropriate emergent measures against the positions of security forces through satellite/mobile phones. Such live feed of Commandoes being air dropped directly endangers the success of operations and safety of hostages as well as security forces.
But please do note that at all times, the media respected the security cordon- a cordon that was determined by the police and officials on site- and NOT by the media. In the 72 hours, those reporters stood on reporting duty. They often delayed
live telecasting of images that were sensitive so as to not
compromise the ongoing operation.

Few of coward writers penned that the right of media always comes with a duty - duty to report fairly, objectively and accurately. That duty attracts restrictions and limitations which protect the right of an individual. One should view that freedom of the press is essential for healthy functioning of democracy; however, democracy comes with responsibility. Freedom of the press cast responsibility on media as well.
However not once, reporters were asked by anyone in
authority, to switch off cameras, or withhold images. When they did so, it was entirely on their own assessment that perhaps it was safest to do so. There was no central point of contact or information for journalists who were often left to
their own devices to hunt down news that they felt had to be conveyed to their country. No do's and don'ts were provided by officials. While one needs to understand that
this situation was new for everyone involved, and so the government could not have been expected to have a full plan for media coverage. The NSG chief even thanked the media for
consistent co-operation. Later the NSG commandos personally thanked NDTV for showcasing their need for a dedicated aircraft- which they shockingly did not have - they have now been given there after NDTV's special report was aired.

Finally, question that arises here is, should there be an emergency code of dos and donts for the coverage of such
The media would welcome a framework for sensitive events and will be happy to contribute to its construction. But it is important to understand that in the absence of any instructions on site and in the absence of any such framework, reporters broke NO rules.

The world saw it, Citizens were aware and no doubt, it was “All due to media coverage.”

It’s another Bollywood script!!!


Name of Book: The Three Mistakes of My Life

Writer: Chetan Bhagat

Novel / Fiction


Cost: Rs. 95; Paper Back Edition

Chetan Bhagat, author of two blockbuster novels – Five Point Someone(2004) and one night @ call center(2005), brings another Bollywood script into publication. Witty tale about modern India, pulls out the ethos and isolation of an entire generation to the fore.

In late 2000, a young boy in Ahmedabad, Govind, dreamt of owning a business. To accommodate his friends Ish and Omi’s passion, they open a cricket shop. However, nothing comes easy in a turbulent city. To realise their goals, they will have to face it all – religious politics, calamities, unacceptable love and above all, their own mistakes.

The story is narrated by Govind. Its about his life which is full of people- his mother, his friends, his love and the top most being his dream of making it big. Govind is a born businessman with a gift for calculations. His friend Ish is an splendid cricketer with no future, discouraged by the Stereotyped Indian parents who want their son to earn! Omi the son of a priest who does not want the same path but has been brought up in that environment incorporating the deep rooted religious sentiments! Vidya - Ish’s sister, behind the naive innocent worthy girl fighting for her dreams and wishes under the veil of a worthy reputation!
The plot follows.. A new business selling sports ware shop in the temple complex by three friends. It builds up with good business and extra cricket as well as math coaching. Ali - a child prodigy in cricket pops up to throw Ish out of balance. Teaching Vidya is no easy job because of her blossoming age for Govind. Omi is caught up with religion based politics because of his uncle. Then there are the usual ups and downs and the emotions related to the huge earth quake that hit Gujarat in 2001. A loss is well survived and is pushed to the past. There are visits to Goa as well as Australia to get Ali into the top rung! Behind all this is a love story brewing up between Vidya and Govind. Then comes the religious politics and Godhra riots which the common man never wanted nor accepted but was thrust into. Horrendous killing of innocent people on religious basis with no humanitarian thoughts, by a select few! This is how the plot throws various questions to the readers. It culminates into facing religious politics, natural calamities, unaccepted love and one’s dreams!

Showcasing the everyday life of some of the most common, unassuming and inconspicuous people of India. Titled 3 Mistakes of my Life, but disappointingly, has nothing to do with Mr. Bhagat’s life in itself. Anyway, its something fictional, but an entertainer in all.

Just like his older books, he chose a batch of people who truly represent a good proportion of urban India. This book pictures in the older and slightly lesser developed part of Ahmedabad, Gujarat and features loads of Gujaratis. Although no vernaculars could be observed in the book to make it funny in the slapstick sense, the very style of writing makes it really funny and entertaining.

Making the Indian youth vigilant and aware of some of the biggest problems that plague its society, Chetan covered the following problems in his book: Expensive Education, Lack of development in smaller towns ,Conservative mentality, Extremism in politics ,Religious extremism ,Bias towards agnostics and atheists ,Poverty amongst the brighter lower-middle class youth ,Lack of sports education/infra-structure in schools, etc ,Completely study oriented schools, Small-scale businesses are extremely risky ,Drift between religions, castes, etc, Conservative mentality of parents, Hypocrisy among public, politicians, and everyone alike ;Lack of awareness, foresight and ideas due to lack of quality education ,Smaller schools lack funds and money in everything, just bigger school students get everything ,Bad quality contraceptive devices that don’t allow Indians to get bold early.

Altogether the narrative has been very juicy and content suited the choice of youngsters. Chetan Bhagat have always been famous amongst youth. This book, though not much different from the other two, provides stuff to keep his fan following intact.

All in all a good read. A simple narration.