Friday, May 7, 2021

TRAGI-COMEDY OF ERROR

 हमारे समय में स्कूल से  भागने या घर से स्कूल के लिए चल कर भी अनुपस्थित रहने वाले एक-दो विद्यार्थी हर कक्षा में होते थे । कभी घर से कोई  आता था तो अनुपस्थित पाए जाने पर घर  में ज़रूर मंजायी होती होगी पर असर कम ही दिखता था ।

मैं चाहे अच्छा या बुरा  जैसा भी स्टूडेंट रहा हूँगा, पर हर तरह से अनुशासित था और  नियमित रूप से स्कूल में उपस्थित रहता था ।

स्कूल आते  समय एक भद्र पुरुष से रोज़ सामना होता था जो  मुझे ध्यान से देखते थे ।एक दिन यह सोच कर कि शायद मेरे पिता श्री के कोई परिचित होंगे, मैंने उन्हें नमस्ते कर दी ।

विडम्बना यह कि  मेरी नमस्ते सुनने के बाद बम कुछ यूँ फूटा 'हाँ भई भागता तो नहीं अब ?' मैं और मेरा एक सहपाठी जो मेरे साथ था, दोनों हैरान परेशान ! मैंने कुछ सामान्य हो कर कहा कि उन्हें कुछ गलती लगी है । ' तुम्हारा नाम ....नहीं है ?' उन्होंने पूछा । ' जी मेरा नाम रमेश है ।' मैंने कहा । 'ओहो, ग़लती लग गयी' कह कर वो चलते बने ।

सबसे पहले तो मेरे साथ के सहपाठी ने ही खबर ली कि एक अनजान आदमी को नमस्ते करने की क्या पड़ी थी । उसके बाद उनके द्वारा बताए नाम के लड़के की खोज की तो लगा गलती लगने लायक़ समानता क़द काठी और complexion में ज़रूर थी ।

इस घटना के बाद भी उनसे सामना होता रहा पर दोनों अपनी अपनी  झिझक से एक दूसरे के पास से गुज़रते रहे ।

Thursday, May 6, 2021

कॉरोना काल की फैंटेसी

 सुबह उठते ही  धर्मपत्नी का फरमान ‘ तंग भी आ जाती हूँ एक ही रूटीन से। आज खाना कहीं बाहर खाएंगे’। अब मेरे पास मना करने का न कोई कारण है न कोई दलील, सारा काम वही तो करती है । मैं हामी भर देता हूँ मन ही मन सोचते हुए कि कुछ अलग तो मुझे भी चाहिए ।बस मैं उसे मेरे लिए नाश्ता  बनाने के लिए कहता हूँ क्योंकि वो नाश्ता नहीं brunch ही करती है । इसके बाद रोज़ के कार्य का निबटारा होता है जिसमे साफ सफाई, स्नान और पूजा आदि शामिल हैं ।  HRTC की टैक्सी जिस पर Ride With Pride लिखा रहता है और जो प्राइवेट टैक्सी से लगभग 1/6 किराए पर सीधा मॉल पर ले जाती है ही एक मात्र विकल्प है । दोपहर में वही टैक्सी हमें मॉल पर पहुंचा देती है । मुझे तसल्ली इस बात की है कि लंच का मतलब लंच ही  होने वाला है क्योंकि her highness का  पसंदीदा रेस्तरां Baljee’s बंद हो चुका है जहां इडली दोसे पर ही अपनी सुई अटकती थी । शाकाहारी होने के नाते रेस्तरां या ढाबे के विकल्प बहुत कम हैं इसलिए मिडिल बाज़ार में ‘Gupta jee’ के जाना होता है । शुद्ध शाकाहारी खाना मिलता है और गुणवत्ता के लिहाज़ से rated भी है । खैर अपनी पसंद का लंच हम दोनों करते हैं और तृप्ति अनुभव करते हुए बाहर निकल कर सीढ़ियाँ चढ़ मॉल पर आ जाते हैं ।

कई दिन से शॉपिंग नहीं की इसलिए DCAR का रुख करते हैं , मैं अपने लिए एक शर्ट खरीद लेता हूँ । पत्नि को अपने मतलब का कुछ वहाँ नहीं मिलता तो दूसरी दुकानों/ शोरूम में जाना होता है । वह भी  अपने लिए कुछ खरीद लेती है । मॉल का काम बस इतना ही है, इस बीच कुछ परिचित मिल जाते हैं तो उनसे दुआ सलाम होती है । अब लोअर बाज़ार का रुख़ कतरे हैं और  mehru’s के यहाँ गुलाब जामुन का आनंद लेते हैं । इसके बाद कुछ फल और सब्ज़ी की खरीद होती है और वापिस टैक्सी स्टैंड पर। वही Ride With Pride घर भी पहुंचा देती है । इस तरह समय का कुछ भाग बहुत अच्छा कटता है ।


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कोरोना काल की यह fantasy आपको कैसी लगी ?

Thursday, March 25, 2021

तेज राम शर्मा


 स्मृति शेष-

तेजराम शर्मा

(25/03/1943- 20/12/2017) 


अनबुझे सत्य :

 

लम्बी अंधेरी सर्द

रातों के बाद

कितनी ही बार मैं

धीर आश्वस्त हो

चूल्हे के पास जाता

और राख के ढेर में

छुपे अँगारों को

ढूँढ लेता था


अनबुझे सत्य की तरह

छोटे-छोटे अंगारे

सूखी घास का

संपर्क पाते ही

स्लेट की छत के बीचों-बीच

धुएं की पताका

फहरा देते थे


माँ ने कहा था

अँधेरी रातों में

अँगारों को राख में

छुपाकर रखना

ताकि सुबह होते ही

आश्वस्त हो

बार-बार ढूँढ सको

तुम जलते अँगारे


पर कितनी ही बार

गर्म राखे के बीच

मेरे हाथ कोई भी

अँगारा नहीं लगता था


हताशा

निराशा

कितनी ही बार

गर्म राख़

मुझे धोख़ा दे जाती थी।


-तेज राम शर्मा

Thursday, March 11, 2021

महाशिवरात्रि

 हिमाचल प्रदेश के ज़िला मण्डी का अंतर्राष्ट्रीय शिवरात्रि मेला तो जगत प्रसिद्ध है ही पर अन्य स्थानों पर भी शिवरात्रि का अपना महत्व है ।गनीमत है कि इस त्यौहार पर अभी बाजार का साया नहीं पड़ा इसलिए व्यापारीकरण से बिलकुल हट कर इसका केवल सांस्कृतिक और धार्मिक महत्व है । आस्थावान लोगों में व्रत करने का भी चलन है । बबरु, भल्ले, सणसे, आदि न केवल हर घर में बनाये जाते हैं बल्कि शिवजी को अर्पण करने के उपरांत प्रसाद रूप में ग्रहण किया जाता है बल्कि पड़ौस या परिजनों के बीच इनका आदान प्रदान भी किया जाता है । ब्याही हुई  बहिन- बेटियों को 'बाँटा' देने और भिजवाने का भी रिवाज रहा है पर पकैन का स्थान अब शायद नकदी ने भी ले लिया है ।

खानपान के अलावा हम रेडियो पर शिवजी के भजन सुन कर बड़े हुए हैं । फ़िल्मी भजन ' शिवजी बिहाने चले, पालकी सजा के भभूति लगा के ' आज भी कानों में गूंजता है । इसके अतिरिक्त  ' शिव भोला भंडारी साधु भोला भंडारी' में भी शिव का स्तुति गान है । ' शिव कैलाशों के वासी, धौलीधारों के राजा, शंकर संकट हरणा ...'भी बहुत लोकप्रिय है ।

प्रचलित है कि देवों के देव महादेव थोड़ी सी भक्ति से भी  प्रसन्न हो जाते हैं । दानवों और असुरों तक को इनसे वरदान मिल चुका है , बाद में जिनका संहार देवी के शक्ति रूप को करना पड़ा ।

सत्य ही शिव है, शिव ही सुन्दर है !

सत्यं शिवं सुन्दरं !!

ॐ नमः शिवाय !!

Monday, March 8, 2021

अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय महिला दिवस

 ईद का दिन है गले आज तो मिल ले ज़ालिम 

रस्म-ए-दुनिया भी है मौक़ा भी है दस्तूर भी है 


- क़मर बदायुनी

कुछ ऐसी ही अनुभूति आज ' अंतर्राष्ट्रीय महिला दिवस' के अवसर पर हो रही है ।

समाचार पत्र लबरेज़ हैं उन युवतियों व महिलाओं के चित्रों और  उनकी उपलब्धियों के वर्णन से जिन्होंने अपनी मेहनत और लगन के बलबूते विभिन्न क्षेत्रों में उपलब्धियां प्राप्त की और अपने माता-पिता व परिजनों का नाम रौशन किया । इनमें से अधिकतर को पढ़ने और बढ़ने के अवसर प्राप्त हुए और उन्होंने इनका भरपूर लाभ उठाया । कुछ ने साधन संपन्न न होते हुए भी बाधाएं  पार की और अपने लिए अवसर जुटाए ।ये सभी महिलाएं बधाई की पात्र हैं ।

पर तस्वीर का दूसरा पहलू भी है जो क्षुब्ध और विचलित करता है । आए दिन महिलाओं , यहाँ तक कि कमउम्र  बच्चियों के बलात्कार और हत्या की घटनाओं में हो रही वृद्धि  चिंता का विषय है ।शिक्षित/ अशिक्षित महिलाएं घर पर और अपने कार्य स्थल पर प्रताड़ना का शिकार होती हैं । गाँव और शहरों में कमज़ोर वर्ग की महिलाएं पुलिस की ज़्यादतियों को सहने पर मजबूर हैं ।

अज़ीम शाइर साहिर लुधियानवी ने अपनी ख़ूब सूरत शायरी के माध्यम से  मज़लूम महिलाओं के पक्ष में सदा आवाज़ उठाई है। संयोग से आज उनकी जन्म शताब्दी भी है

वो लिखते हैं


मदद चाहती है ये हव्वा की बेटी

यशोदा की हमजिन्स राधा की बेटी ,

पयम्बर की उम्मत ज़ुलेखा की बेटी,

जिन्हे नाज़ है हिन्द पर वो कहाँ हैं.....

एक अन्य गीतकार के शब्द भी गूंजते हैं-

'अंधेरे  में जो बैठे हैं, नज़र उन पर भी कुछ डालो अरे  ओ रौशनी वालो...

गरज़ ये  कि अभी तक सब कुछ  अधूरा और  खोखला है ।

अभी और मंज़िलें तय करना बाक़ी है , नारों और वादों से ऊपर उठ कर ।

शुभकामनाएं !!

Friday, March 5, 2021

REMEMBERING AN ACE MOUNTAINEER AND AN OUTSTANDING SOLDIER:

 In


late Sixties, one fine day, in the  Morning assembly  of  our S.D.Higher Secondary School, Shimla, we were face to face with a smartly turned out gentleman in Suit & Tie, who was introduced by the Principal as Lt.Col. N.Kumar , an old alumnus of our school who had scaled  Mount Everest in 1965. He made an inspiring  speech which was listened to with rapt attention, the eyes glued to him throughout.

As it happens , the matter remained embedded in our psyche , only to surface again when we read about him in newspapers on various occasions.

Col. Narendra 'Bull' Kumar , PVSM ,AVSM, Kirti Chakra, Padmashri, was born on 8th December, 1933 at Rawalpindi in undivided Punjab. He attended a Scouts Jambori in 1947 at Russia and returned to a partitioning India, the ship dropping him at Bombay ( today's Mumbai ).

He was commissioned in the Indian Army in 1954 and got Kumaon Regiment. Developing an interest in the mountains and mountaineering, he completed a course in Mountaineering at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling. Subsequently he became the deputy  chief of the Expedition that scaled Mount Everest in 1965. Besides, he was a part of the Expeditions to Karakoram and Saltoro Mountains.

He is also known and remembered for the Operation Meghadoot, in which due to his reconnaissance operations in Siachen , Indian Army was able to reclaim the Glacier territory. This earned him the sobriquet 'Hero of the Siachen'.

As for the sobriquet 'Bull' attached to his name, the same was earned by him during a Boxing bout with a  fellow soldier S.F.Rodrigues, the future Army Chief.

He authored a few books also.Col.Narendra Kumar was also an Arjuna Awardee .

The Wikipedia makes no reference to his education etc, and only has a passing reference to the fact of his family shifting to Shimla after partition.

Col . Narendra Kumar left for his heavenly abode at Delhi on 31st. December, 2020  aged 87.

Our humble tributes to the distinguished  soldier and mountaineer !

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

COVID BLUES

 Today marks the completion of one year of my ' Home Stay'. The last I step out of home to venture out was  on March 4, last year. Though the presence and menace of Covid 19 Pandemic was officially recognised in the last week of March, I had stayed put, as if by intuition, much before.With no social life worth the name, this has not been much of a deal. The Lady of the House, has been taking care of bringing and arranging grocery and vegetables. All the periodic bills of water, electricity, telephone and recharging of prepaid mobile etc are done on-line, so there is no need to step out for these small chores. 

 The last twelve months have been of upheaval,disturbances,economic slowdown, loss of employment for a very large number of people, being underpaid  for work done personal tragedies for many 

due to near and dears falling fatal victim to Covid and last but not the least , a kind of totally uncalled for stigma of testing positive, and resultantly being subjected to quarantine.

Many of the people have put up a brave front , some creative people seeing an opportunity to come out with poetry collections and the like. 

Some god sent good Samaritans rendered yeoman's service in the shape of free food, rations to the needy. Many of the Corona warriors succumbed to the Virus while doing their assigned duties. The students have suffered badly in absence of regular classes , the online lessons and teaching being a poor substitute with many not having access to the facility for whatever reason. 

The light at the end of dark tunnel had seemingly appeared in the shape of Vaccines being developed and administered , but now we see mutated forms of Virus coming from various quarters adding to the woes of humanity and rendering all efforts made in this behalf inadequate if not infructuous.

There is no complete respite in view, and the precautions are to be taken to stay safe .

Good luck to all.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

BEING A VEGETARIAN

 Since childhood I have had  aversion to meat and other non - veg  food items so much so that the sight of raw meat and smell of even  cooked stuff is enough to put me off.  We in our  family  except my late father have been strict vegetarians. This  is due inter alia to belief in astrology that showed a marked presence of Jupiter in the horoscope , which doesn't agree to non-veg food items being taken. 

Amusingly in my early days as a student of Class IV in  Lady Irwin School, a classmate named Rajinder would  literally bully me into asking my mother to cook meat . This perhaps  had something to do with

his Rajput blood and genes or liking for non -veg in his family. Anyways his bid never happened for obvious reasons. As a kid, I remember once  accompanying my father to the meat market on a Sunday, but I was too young to register anything in my mind , mercifully . He too took meat only once in blue moon as all others were averse to it and he had to cook himself.

In later years also whenever he cooked meat, other got 'compensated' with matar paneer.

 At other places, it was either our landlord  or an uncle- a first cousin of my mother,  who would either send him some stuff or invite him over for dinner.

As I grew up, the aversion became stronger inasmuch as the second half of Sabzi Mandi became and still is a forbidden place for me. Even otherwise no other charm exists for me except a rare visit to the Bengal Crockery shop .

I remember once accompanying a friend who wanted to buy chicken as his father was visiting from his native place. I stayed at a distance.  After sometime he came all smiles, saying that he got it because of me . The reason was that the shop owner had studied with me and after initial refusal, recognizing me chose to oblige.

Last but not the least , due to my aversion,  I could not study for and enter the medical profession .

It was destined that way !

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

MY TRYST WITH THE NEWSPAPER :

 

 THE TRIBUNE, a prominent daily of Northern India completed 140 years yesterday . Befitting the occasion, the Paper carried 2-3 articles , one of which I also shared on my Facebook wall.

The occasion made me somewhat nostalgic too.

My tryst with the English Newspaper started  more than fifty years back in the  mid- sixties. In the beginning THE TRIBUNE was subscribed to occasionally, during the days when University Examination results were expected, as these were published in the Newspaper. The Newspaper during that period was something to wait for eagerly and anxiously. These days offered an opportunity to glance through the paper though we had no nose for the news whatever.

I became a regular reader of The Tribune in 1970 when I went to college. Back from college , I would read the paper back to back daily and underline the difficult words to look up the meaning in the dictionary. The language appeared somewhat difficult at that time.  The Editorials written by R. Madhavan Nair were not easy to understand and follow. There was a change  in the format when  Prem Bhatia took over as the Editor. The English language became easier and simpler and the style was quite appealing.

Post studies I wrote a few letters to the Editor that got published . Apart from this , my desire to see my name in print remained an unfulfilled dream , even though, my name did appear for not good enough reason as it would be there when I got transferred to some remote place.

Anyways, I learnt to write English from browsing through the Newspaper , particularly The Tribune. The initial preference for the TRIBUNE  was also the reason that this was the only paper that had a City Edition, being published from Ambala and subsequently  from Chandigarh.Other papers like Times of India &. The Hindustan Times , being published from Delhi those days were late with the news, besides coverage of Himachal news was not enough. It is amusing to be told that post independence, The Tribune was published for sometime from Shimla too.

My preference for The Tribune continues to this day as the paper does not profess any political ideology.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

THE STROKES OF SOLITUDE


 THE STROKES OF SOLITUDE

A Collection of Middles and Essays by

Dr. Ritu Kamra Kumar

Publishers :Authorspress, New Delhi

ISBN 978-93-90459-16-2

Pp :219

Price:₹295/-


THE STROKES OF SOLITUDE is a second Collection of Middles and Essays by Dr. Ritu Kumra Kumar. Earlier a Collection of Middles and Essays titled  ‘The Priceless Petals’ , was well received. Her first book was a Literary critique on the novels of Shashi Deshpande. She is an academic working as an Associate Professor in Post Graduate  Department of English , Mukand Lal National College, Yamunanagar , Haryana.

A frequent and prolific contributor of Middles to prominent National Dailies , she has a knack of writing on varied subjects. I have gone through quite a few of the Middles that figure in this collection, which she has been graciously putting on Facebook .

The title is an appropriate one and the picture of a landscape painted on the Canvas on the cover complements it. These Middles and Essays are the word pictures painted so beautifully by the writer.

There are Eighty One beautiful pieces of writing divided into five sections  which are titled  Kith & Kin, Myriad Musings, Woman’s Word, Academia Aesthetic , & Resonant Realities , aptly and conveniently  represent the central  theme of the Middles/ Essays.

The Collection is rightly dedicated by the writer to her husband and son , who  occupy centre stage in a happily married woman’s life. The first section Kith & Kin  covers, the less talked about role of a father, gift of motherhood, the essence of a place called home,nicknames, friends & friendship and fond remembrance of a departed  relation  and of a colleague.

The second section  Myriad Musings, that happens to be the  biggest one contains thirty one beautiful pieces about drawing sketches on the note book in the class, mangoes, scooter rides, New Year, Chrismas Cheers, Karva Chauth etc. etc.

The third section  Woman’s Word , or is it  Woman’s World discusses topics like Jewellery, Agony Aunt’s Advice, Women’s Day, Female Sisterhood and Solidarity . Unnnao Rape  etc.etc.

The section Academia Aesthetic is about the writer’s experiences as a teacher in the Classroom  and otherwise with a beautiful write up on the late  V.S.Naipaul, the  Nobel Laureate.

Lastly in  the section Resonant Realities , the writer keeps a tab on the times , discussing social issues, Pandemic- both blues and disguised blessings-,  parental  understanding of teenaged daughters, Fashion, Fusion Food etc. etc.

A foreword by Lily Swarn, an internationally acclaimed poet and author, with views from some other known personalities from the field of Journalism , Police  Service & Administration and Authors as also the Acknowledgements form an integral part of the Book. The writer has been generous enough to add views from some of her admiring readers.

The Middles/ Essays have been written during a period of roughly three calendar years with entries as late as November, 2020. The Pandemic period has been beautifully covered bringing out various aspects. A Court Judgement on an important issue also finds mention in one of the write-ups .

The writer has impeccable command of language and idiom, with not a word superfluous or falling out of place  .  She is well  read  as  being able to quote from a host of  authors.

All the Eighty One  pieces are a pure delight . Unlike fiction , it is not a one time indulgence as one would like to read the nuggets again and again .

Wish more power to her pen to come up with many more such ventures !!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

COVID BLUES

 

 Living literally the life of  a recluse  since my  retirement from service  more than  eight years back, now the things have come full circle  since   Covid rocked the World and assumed the dimensions of a Pandemic in March last. There is no need to repeat and mention again how the Covid Pandemic wreaked havoc upon our lives in more ways than one. 

One could not simply close one's eyes on the existing  horrible scenario, unless one were insensitive enough, devoid completely of humane feelings . 

Fortunately with an inbuilt mechanism against what is commonly known as depression, nothing affects me so  easily . However, I am fed up with over protective environment prevailing for months now. To be on the safe side, finally I had to call the barber home to have a proper hair cut, as the trimmer proved only a  makeshift arrangement.

Another realization that comes to mind is the value I have put on my life, with so many persons, known or unknown have fallen  fatal victims to Covid.

Again  with now Vaccine having entered the scene, it is no win- win  situation as yet, with doubts arising  not only as to its efficacy, but also the apprehension of its side effects. 

On a lighter and not altogether unfounded note, one of the Facebook friends came up with a very inventive idea about the dilemma people find themselves in thus :

मिलो न तुम तो हम घबराएं,  मिलो तो आँख चुराएं हमें क्या हो गया है....!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

KINGRI



  One of the charms of our growing up years at Shimla was the sudden appearance during festive season of a tall person wearing turban, a long  Kurta, tahmat, and  jutti,  moving about in the Bazar and residential area with a huge tokra full of  primitive form of Iktara, also called Kingri, as I have come to know just now. While walking he would play with the instrument the tunes of some beautiful song like Tan Doley Mera Man Doley.....from the movie Naagin, and some other songs. The tune was so attractive and so deftly played that we children would buy the instrument for as little an amount as  25p.or 50p depending on the size. It was a simple instrument with an earthen / clay matka which was covered and through which passed a bamboo strip joined at both ends with a hair- thin wire. A bow-  like device with horsetail hair  tightly joining the two ends would be moved along and across the thin wire to produce the sound. We could never produce any sound, much less a song tune and the money spent would go waste. However the charm persisted and we would buy Kingri again and again.

The actress Sandhya singing the song - Saiyaan jhoothon ka bada sartaj nikla - in the film Do Aankhein Barah Haath, purportedly playing the tune with a Kingri,and carrying the tokra on her head in the same fashion and manner is enough to recreate the scene. 

The Good old days !!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

PANCHAYAT ELECTIONS 2021

 Today is the third and the last phase of PANCHAYAT ELECTIONS in Himachal Pradesh. The results in respect of Pradhan/Up Pradhan/ Ward Member in the Panchayats covered in first two phases are already out. The results of 

Pradhan/Up Pradhan/ Ward Member  of the Panchayats being covered today will also be out by late night today. The results of BDCs and Zila Parishads will be declared only tomorrow when counting is done. Except Covid Pandemic, Elections this time are no different than the earlier ones. 

One hopes that the elected Candidates 

meet the expectations and aspirations of their voters by working honestly and diligently for the development of their respective areas . 

It will be amusing to see the Political parties laying claim to the winning candidates as having been 'supported' by them. It is common knowledge that Elections for the PRIs are not held and contested on Party Symbols. Candidates file their nomination in individual capacity and symbols are allotted according to their names in the Alphabetical order.  No Political leader worth the name from outside the Panchayat/ BDC/ Zila Parishad ward comes for canvassing or holding public meetings / rallies. On the face of this the claims of Parties supporting the candidates seem hollow , unfounded and quite an aberration. There is only one aspect left  and that is of financial support . Again , if parties help a candidate financially out of the Party fund even on the sly, there is no point in holding the Election on independent non- Party symbols.  Ironically such unauthenticated claims make headlines of the Press, especially the Hindi newspapers.

The other amusing aspect is of the pictures of very old voters being carried to the Polling booth to gain publicity. Though this is a sign of healthy democracy, if very old people  participate in voting, there is no point in carrying sick people from  the comfort of their homes. Sometimes there are exaggerated claims regarding their age, which is nowhere documented.

Good luck to all who are in the fray !

Hail democracy and the spirit of democracy !!



Saturday, January 16, 2021

PANCHAYAT ELECTIONS

 PANCHAYAT ELECTION is the buzzword in Himachal these days. Open canvassing having come to an end, however,  the supporters of candidates may silently go door to door to make a last ditch effort to garner support. The Elections not being held on party lines, the candidates are constrained to make personal requests on social media as well , spelling out their credentials and holding out promises on development plans envisaged   by them for the villages in the respective Panchayats.This is another matter that majority of the candidates enjoy the indirect support of one political party or the other.  With the least of stakes involved unlike the State Assembly and Loksabha Elections, ironically the Panchayat Elections are the most sensitive in terms of personal prestige and reputation as  the  electoral constituency is of persons personally known to the candidates and vice versa, whereas due to the larger area of constituency involved in Assembly and Loksabha Elections, it is the prestige and reputation of the respective Political parties at stake. 

The conduct of PRI elections is cumbersome for the polling parties as the same party has to conduct elections at three different stations  , the interval being given for movement and setting up booth at the next station. There is simultaneous voting for Pradhan/Up Pradhan/ Ward members  as also for the BDC & Zila Parishad members. This is all very cumbersome for the polling officers.

The candidates for the various offices are on tenterhooks right till the declaration of  results for which they wait with bated breath. The village politics is at full play there being many individual considerations.  Undeniably, some people might think it a chance and opportunity to set scores , in case the voter harbours personal grudges against a candidate for whatever reason. The political parties are also in the fray though indirectly. The poltical leanings of the candidate are well known within the segment.The scene at the counting centre resembles the one during a festival, people all agog with enthusiasm and anxiety.

All said , these elections being local in nature serve as a nursery for poltical awakening and participation so crucial to a working democracy.

Munshi Prem Chand 's classic story पंच परमेश्वर' automatically comes to mind, as putting up a bench mark of sorts for the elected candidates, as far as integrity and impartiality are concerned.

Good luck to  Candidates and voters alike !

Do the best; expect the best !

Fate for good or bad is going to be sealed for the next five years !!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

RANDOM MUSINGS

  A ray of hope however dim it may appear  is in sight after a long time .I have already mentioned in some of my previous posts that to me , a retired person leading a laidback life ,forced restrictions on movement are not a big deal. But on other accounts I am as much a worried person as a common man can be in these circumstances. All through this Covid  period , I have closely followed news on mainstream  Media-printed & visual- and social media and have   read about and seen  the plight of people reported on day to day basis. The Economic recession , resulting in unemployment  and  deaths caused by Covid in such large numbers are the worst fall out of the Pandemic.

With the Vaccine  ready to be administered to health workers in the first instance and in  near future hitting the market for common use , there is optimism  and hope of some kind albeit with some reservations. Despite the va ccine , the precautions and safeguards are there to stay for a long long time.Physical distancing and mask will continue to be a   part of life till 100% immunity is achieved.

I am waiting for the day,  I may move about fearlessly, shaking hands with friends and exchanging pleasantries.  

Though never a regular on the Mall, and now with no charm left after the closure of my favourite Baljee's, I hope to have lunch at Gupta jee's in Middle Bazar. 

Next will come some random shopping at DCAR !

Monday, January 11, 2021

COVID19 in 2021

 For months together we have been literally on our toes waiting anxiously for the magical Vaccine that  would rid us of the threat of Covid 19 and help lead normal lives. The medical scientists and researchers  across the world  worked day and night in this direction. Now that 2-3 types of Vaccine have come up and hit the market, the slugfest so  natural to the   immensely competitive  world of today has started sooner than later. The doubting Thomases waxed eloquent about some imaginary or imagined misgivings, but mercifully not lent much of ear. The rival manufacturers and developers have made claims and counter claims about the comparative efficacy of various brands and types, which might get  get laid to rest in due course. The sad incident of  death of a young volunteer offering himself for the testing in MP is no doubt a dampener and rightly has invited an Inquiry as to the cause of death. 

The Government of India has already made a roadmap and issued guidelines for the order and manner in which Vaccine is to administered , considering all aspects. The countrywide launching of vaccination program is slated for 16th this month. A beginning has been made. We hope to meet with the desired results. We as people have suffered enough one way or the other.

Good luck to us all  !!

Sunday, January 3, 2021

PANCHYAYTI RAJ ELECTIONS

 Elections to the Panchayati Raj Institutions in most of the areas of  Himachal Pradesh are slated in three stages on 17th, 19th & 21th of January. Like elections to the Loksabha and the State Assembly, the Panchayati Raj elections too are a quinquennial exercise. The rural people down to the village level  become very enhusiastic about these elections as they  have the right to vote for and elect their representatives to address local issues at Ward and Panchayat level in the shape of Ward members, Pradhans and Uppradhan . Up the  ladder under the three tier systems are the Panchayat Samiti or the BDC at the Block level  and the Zila Parishad at the District level. The members of the BDC and the Zila Parishad are fewer in number and represent a larger area. 

As is generally observed that in terms of seriousness and sensitivity, the PRI Elections take precedence over Assembly and Loksabha Elections , in which the Party of affiliation rather than the candidate himself/ herself  become more important. The Panchayati Raj Elections are not held on Party symbols, rather symbols are allotted  in the alphabetical order of the name of the candidate. No candidate has the choice of a symbol. 

To an observer, it is amusing to see the maximum  zeal and fervour of voters during the PRI elections  though the stakes are not the that high. Ironically the Loksabha Elections  where the stakes are the highest ,engage the voters the least in terms of   zeal and enthusiasm as the M.P. they vote for has a larger Constituency to cater to , often consisting of 3,4 districts . 

Even though PRI Elections are not contested on Party symbols, the presence of political Parties on the sly is all too evident and some statements from the Party persons make this more confirmed, when they mention the name of candidates supported by them. In this scenario, the all appeals to the voters to vote  for a competent, capable, knowledgeable candidate are given a go by. The ruling party in the State has an obvious advantage, as it  is believed and rightly  so that the ruling party supported candidate would  be better able to push matters and get work done.

In essence and if taken in the right earnest,  the PRI elections train the people to participate in the democratic process of decision making.

The aftermath of the Election is worth watching when the rival Political parties lay their claim to successful candidates.

The social Media has become a useful and effective tool for the candidates to reach out to the voter, apart from personal appeals made by visiting the homes.


Friday, January 1, 2021

THIS DAY TWENTY YEARS AGO:


  As I woke up to the New Year Day in 2001 at Reckong Peo, the District HQ of Kinnaur, a telephonic call from the Deputy Commissioner, Solan informed me of the sad demise of Sh . Thakur Sen Negi , at Salogra, where he used to stay. Sh. Negi is a revered name in Kinnaur, who being an IAS officer had retired  as the Chief Secretary to H.P.Government in the '60s. Joining politics post retirement, he was a five time MLA from the Kinnaur Constituency and had  been twice a  Speaker of H.P. Vidhan Sabha and once a Cabinet Minister. The Deputy Commissioner Kinnaur was  out of the District on tour. The District had suffered flashfloods  in August 2000, which had caused massive damage to the National Highway , bridges buildings and private land along the Satluj river. The restoration work  was underway and  the road had not been restored. 

I made a call to Sh . Subhash Negi, a very Senior , affable and approachable IAS officer to inform him of the prevailing situation. He asked me not to worry as he would  handle the  situation . Since it was not possible to bring the mortal remains to his native place in Kinnaur, he was accorded  funeral as per protocol befitting his status, at Shimla with many VIPs in attendance.

Sh. Thakur Sen Negi  was a highly respected leader and a person known for his impeccable credentials both as a senior Bureaucrat and a politician. Known for his intelligence, learning , honesty and punctuality , he was held in esteem by all, cutting across party lines.

He was associated at different times with the Congress, Janata Party and lastly the BJP. He did a lot to meet the aspirations of the tribal people and also wrote a book about the Scheduled Tribes of Himachal Pradesh.

He was a B.Sc.(Agriculture) from Lyallpur Agriculture College and had a degree  in Law. He had served as a Naval Officer and a Tehsildar before getting inducted into the IAS. I had the opportunity to meet him when he visited  Kinnaur in 1998. The Government Degree College Reckong Peo  bears his name and  there is a statue erected in his honour at Reckong Peo.

Humble tributes to the highly respected person and an iconic personality !