Unconquerable

Through my black holes,

and the pits that lay dark,

I was not to succumb,

i was not to back down…

 

Through the clutches of desires,

fighting each circumstance,

i know i may waver,

i may get lost…

 

But…

I know i am unconquerable,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul!

I am Invictus!

 

Invictus inspires me… I have written this poem, taking inspiration from a short Victorian poem by William Ernst Henley in 1885 named Invictus…

This is the original poem…

 

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeoning of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

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Don’t Count Your Chicken Before they Hatch

There are several kinds of people about us-some who, are forever planning and so paralysed by their thought process that they just can’t act. And then, there are  people who just jump headlong on hope that their fondest hopes, dreams and plans would be lined up like Paolo Coelho said “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. Is it so mathematical? Well, the idiom-don’t count your chicken before they hatch possibly motivated this famed author to say so!

I feel, this mathematical certainty doesn’t exist. Faced with challenges, one must optimistically fight, but one should be a realist-what if, the blessed plan fails? Would the approach of counting in your chicken before they even materialise not be like that of a compulsive gambler who has gone over the edge, betting on the monies he hopes to get from a lottery, sinking ever more deeper?

However, when I say one has to be a realist, one must have a healthy balance of optimism and faith that even a formidable challenge can be overcome-but at the same time one has to have a healthy dose of scepticism. One may hope to tame a black mamba, but to take it as a pet one can play with on this hope, with abandon won’t be a good idea. Similarly, when one has to take decisions which would impact life and death of others, one has to be cautious.

But if one were ever so cautious, would space travel or victory over the depths and heights of this planet possible? Moonshot was declared by the US president almost a decade before Neil Armstrong took that small step for the mankind on lunar surface. The technology which could have enabled this didn’t just exist. But this declaration committed a legion of scientists and engineers to invent the methods and make it possible. One must, however note that the president knew that he was depending on so many nascent technological developments to mature successfully before they could take that shot on moon-but the country did count in their chicken before they hatched. But they didn’t put man on the top of their rockets before they ensured that every thing worked reasonably well.

History is full of such examples where a dream spurred inventive people to solve otherwise unsolvable problems-but taking a risk which endangers life or limb without preparation and backups isn’t a good idea.

Why Humanities?

“ Until lions learn to speak, history would always be written by hunters!’ This quote aptly describes the state of a humanities student who now wants to break this monotony and prove his mettle. People are unable to discover the beauty of such a dynamic subject that deals with a lot of debatable matter and a good command over political and social affairs.

It deals with all human activities be it be social or political or psychological. But this subject faces a lot of criticism, misconceptions and prejudices.

Humanities being a diverse subject helps in overall development of a being. It enhances the skills of critical and analytical thinking through a very pragmatic approach.It even intensifies the linguistic skills and perceptions as it broadens the horizons as compared to a commerce or a science student who all through stays confined with narrow ideas about the universally accepted principles taught in the same cliched manner.

No single subject can deal with only pros of the matter. With so many advantages, this subject even has few disadvantages. The basic problem faced by humanities is that it is preconditioned as the theories of it remain stagnant whereas science and commerce deal with dynamic progression based on inventions and innovations.

Other negative aspect is that if taken this path, a student cannot sit for any IIT or NEET exam, whereas a science and a commerce student can still sit for UPSCE.

Today’s era demands for world class thinkers, industrialists , economists, etc who are humanities products.From time immemorial, science students have been able to earn a name and a standing in the society. It is high time that the humanities students now perform. From time now till ages to go, Humanities will rule.

My dreams and my hopes

“Hope is not a dream, but a way of making dreams become reality.”

Isn’t it interesting to note that hopes and dreams are way different yet alone without the other? As children, we were always told to have an aim in our lives- hopes and dreams… We were told to dream, to aspire, to achieve and to accomplish- thats the need of the hour- to survive.

The sapiens race was meant to be at the top rung of the society-be it be the times of evolution of the species or times now.Everyone even as of today have dreams and the journey leading to that destination-hopes!

Even I was brought up the same way. But as a child, i did not get the purpose of dreams. What i knew was, the ones you see at night while sleeping. I remember, that whenever asked about what i wanted to become or a dream that could come true, i had an instant answer ready with me- A teacher! or the dream of visiting the Disneyland(though i still have that in my bucket list)!  That is what every child “dreams” to become and to accomplish.

That dream was followed by another dream of becoming an astronaut which further depending on the subject i liked in school!

This is what everyone faces during their primary stages.

I believe , the realisation of dreams and the importance of hopes is understood in either of the two ways.

Firstly, it is when you realise your talents at the right stage and work upon it, being determined to make that your strongest quality which couldn’t be challenged by any.

Or it is when the opportunity has already knocked at your door- you were sleeping and lazy to respond, thats when some other takes the advantage of your opportunity and you repent of not having any dreams and how futile your life has been.

Dreams are like hard nuts to crack! You have to be determined all through. Dreams in other terms can also be referred to as hurdles.These challenge you, only if you have solid hopes to push you through these hurdles, you achieve.

I realised my dreams in class 7. That was the first time when i received the first prize in poetry writing competition.I worked towards gaining fame through writing and speaking.But i did have a change in my dream. A slight change that i was made to identify with during my switchover into adolescense.

As a privileged citizen, i realised the importance of being able to bring about a change- designing a change in the society for which we are endowed by a higher level of intellect as humans.

No one is less than a Mandela or Hawkings, it is just how determined you were till the last. It is when you were broken but still pushed yourself altogether. It is the time when you give up, not realising how close you were to success when you ‘just’ gave up. Edison could have given up at the 1199th attempt! But that hope and trust within you that keeps nudging you to not to stop trying…. this attempt will be successful- brings about all that change.

The quote by our ex- president Dr. APJ Abdul kalam that keeps my hopes and dreams alive is “ If you want to shine like the sun, burn like the sun.” Thats when your signature turns into an autograph. The attitude makes all the difference…… Dream to achieve.

The Soldier’s Boot

The soldiers marching all along,

like the tide, to make the combatant clutter,

the brave-hearts of the country

whose families were to shatter.

Through the muddy terrains,

to the harrowing valleys,

they kept on marching

chanting the song of bravery,

one of him remembering his fiancé whom he is to marry.

The night seemed endless

with firing and bullets and rage,

the martyred bodies lying,

all feeling as trapped in a cage,

few of them taking their last breath ,

Scribbling something on that page.

The only passion is to save their motherland,

the real heroes of the country,

Someone’s father, brother and son,

were showcasing their gallantry.

The war was over,

news of their success was spread far and away,

the families locked up in their houses crying,

praying to see their loved ones marching towards them all the way.

There was something that day that really touched me,

the five year old girl’s innocence did show me the struggles to its roots,

holding my finger she took me,

Where she kept her father’s boots.

Those boots stained with mud and blood,

made me to weep,

and the story of the martyred soldier

trying to resuscitate for peace.

There i saw a note, blood stained

on which was written:

‘This was all i could do for you, my daughter!

You are all for me,

the courage i could gather was because of you and for you.

will always shower all for you from me.’

 

That was the day when I understood the true emotion of a soldier,

who withstands through the scorching heats,

to the freezing cold temperatures

like a boulder.

Here i pledge:

‘I would like to salute all the soldiers’

whom we do not even know,

but those are standing upright on the borders,

to take the bullets on them and give up their today to save our tomorrow.’

Jai Hind!

!Oxy ‘Moron’!

The ambiguous Mr.Schrödinger,

who claimed the poor pussy to be living dead!

created a chaos in the Vienna valleys,

only if he had not used the oxy ‘moron’

only if he hadn’t dared!

 

Then went the cat,

to be found missing,

the deafening silence down the road,

with its absent presence.

 

Mr. Schrödinger being a cheerful pessimist,

started to feel the comfortable misery,

risking his career on the kitty’s hand,

which would lead to intense apathy!

 

The paradox was a work of true fiction,

with the thought experiment and the superposition!

the cat was found missing

only of the oxymoron and the paradox parody superstition!

 

alone together,

the beggarly rich,

paid the price of

the living sacrifice!

 

Look at the power of deliberation of oxymorons

thought provoking ,openly deceptive,

to save yourself,

dare to use them.

 

this was a genuine imitation,

an accident on purpose,

only if the oxymoron was not clearly misunderstood

wouldn’t have created any ruckus!

Fashion is not about new trends and culture but about publicity

It is quite ironic, to note that The Fashion industry which started to bring about new trends and culture in the society is fast losing its purpose and the camouflaged truth is undressing itself.

Infact, dedicated channels like Fashion TV, TLC are so called lifestyle channels. So many other channels, many magazines and various showcases are being organised by big design and fashion houses – to exhibit the not just the designs but also the brigade of designers-established and wannabe and models trying to make a name and niche for themselves.

Using a promising young designer’s talent and enthusiasm to “refresh” a legendary brand is a clever marketing tool. Far from supporting new ideas, it is part of a considered strategy for boosting sales and expanding the X, Y or Z luxury empire.

In this context it’s essential to mention that ‘the trend’ is not what it used to be. Many savvy consumers now follow their own fashion rules, inspired by what they see on the fashion-animated streets, the internet and in the live-streamed fashion shows that are becoming a staple for fashion lovers.

Many retailers and specialists acknowledge that the appetite for niche labels has started to grow, to the detriment of brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Giorgio Armani. This is a disruption in the storied fashion industry. People have started realising that fashion has become more a marketing tool to feed the ego of big labels and designers and hence, the emergence of niche designers who represent purpose, ethics, tradition.

It is a money game-you may feel uncomfortable but still expected to pay through your nose-you may never wear a style, still expected to pay for an expensive ticket to a fashion show. Form, unfortunately in fashion industry has swallowed the substance.

Academic dishonesty- First Step towards Corruption.

Its a topic which at first glance precludes even the chance of being against the motion. However, a short visit to Wikipedia disabused my emerging conviction and set me on a course of thought which, led me to write against the motion.

Yes, let me take the counter intuitive approach, as I do believe that academic dishonesty isn’t something which sets one on course of being corrupt.

Let me begin with the sad story of Aaron Swartz-the star of internet, who at a tender age wrote software which all of us use daily. Aaron Swartz, the whizkid of internet committed suicide at a tender age of 26, upon being charged with several acts of crime, carrying a cumulative maximum penalty of a million $ in fines and 35 years in prison, amongst other punishments. Swartz declined a plea bargain under which he would have served six months in federal prison. Two days after the prosecution rejected a counter-offer by Swartz, he was found dead in his apartment, where he had hanged himself.

What was the crime of this young man?

He believed that knowledge is free and should be accessible to all. He, hence, connected his laptop to the network of MIT-and downloaded all the journals which under copyright were sold at a high price, he intended to make these available for all-without profiting personally.

Now, was he acting a Robin Hood? No, he was victim of his convictions and conscience.

Let me bring forth another aspect-say a medicine is invented which can cure a hitherto incurable disease. This, medicine is copyrighted and patented. The owners of these rights now choose to sell it at an exorbitant price taking the medicine way out of reach of the poor. What would we say if a researcher decides to copy this medicine and make this medicine affordable to millions. Can we still call it dishonesty? Strict definition of propriety does make this an act of cheating. But I don’t consider it so.

Infact, the entire debate of generic versus patented medicine is resting on this very premise and is a matter of hot debate globally.

I don’t condone acts of cheating, and don’t stand for plagiarism or cheating in exams or impersonation-however, when I see the topic in larger context, I find that there are shades of grey.

Statistically, there is clear preponderance of cheating in all the countries if we include copying of assignments, plagiarism, impersonation and cheating in exams. However, this number does not get reflected in the corruption in society.

My worthy opponents would talk of the spectacle which unfolded in Bihar recently in their board examinations and draw a link with corruption prevalent in that state. I beg to differ. I don’t find parents and friends of students of this college, hanging on to the windows and passing chits-because we aren’t just judged on our performance in just 3 hours of final examination. We get evaluated daily and our teachers invest their efforts in us on a daily basis. This makes us less prone to such acts as seen in Bihar. Whereas, in places where the schools are dysfunctional-the entire future depends upon one’s performance in those 3 hours-motivation to cheat and resorting to unfair means is very high. I would call this a failure of the society and not the failure of the individual.

I close by submitting that act of cheating or dishonesty in academia is matter of definition and perception. I am sure, the house would agree with me that larger good of many should get precedence over good of few. So, if a researcher copies a medicine and makes a life saving medicine affordable-I wouldn’t call it an act of cheating or a crime though it does violate copyright laws.

Lets aim at honesty in education and transparency in academics. The academic rigour can’t make education and education can’t make knowledge its slave. The framework of honesty or dishonesty tends to make us view the transgressions as immoral or even criminal, which clearly as I submitted, is not the case.

The sad demise of Aaron Swartz, is a grim and compelling reminder that there is need of taking a relook at the concept of probity and propriety in academics.

Developing Civic Sense for Clean India

Take a train journey to the seat of India’s political power-New Delhi, or fly in to Mumbai-India’s financial capital-stagnated, smelly pools of water, mountains of waste and countless thousands of unplanned construction euphemistically described as JJ clusters (Jhuggi-Jhopri clusters) greet you. Drive in to Bangaluru, the Indian Silicon Valley or Kolkata, the Cultural capital of India and one drives along or on the garbage. Industrial towns of Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Allahabad present no different sights. The centres of hard and soft power of our country stink-to put mildly.

Foregoing clearly disabuse the notion that filth is caused by acute poverty for its all pervasive in the country. Why the Indians who litter without any regard are so very careful even in disposing a chewing gum in Singapore? Why cities like London and Paris which used to drown in their own sewage and face cholera epidemic have overcome the problem more than a century ago? Why a more densely populated country like Japan is so clean, so well organised, how a sleepy cluster of villages not even having own source of fresh water became toast of Asia-Singapore? This disabuses the notion that dense population leads to the stress on the resources and hence the filth.

Countries like Switzerland, Japan take pride in the fact that every tap carries potable water. Whereas, in our country even the wells and hand pumps give polluted water.

So, what has gone wrong for our country?

A careful analysis of above indicates that cleanliness is outcome of well thought of systems approach which considers the issue of cleanliness holistically. A disciplined society is but one requirement of clean environs. A carefully planned municipal infrastructure and services is the bedrock of cleanliness. There is hence a need of well planned network of sewers and storm water drains, also a well planned garbage collection and disposal is an imperative. However, a most diligently planned and executed infrastructure full fall flat if its in hand of callous populace.

This brings us to the issue of sense of responsibility, loosely referred as ‘civic sense’. However, the conventional civic sense needs to be upgraded to include the way we treat not just our fellow citizens, but also the way we treat our infrastructure. To illustrate, upon entry in to Delhi, one is greeted by the mounds of plastic waste, which chokes the drains and present challenge of disposal even after the drain are cleaned. Adopting environmentally benign life style now underpins the civic sense of modern times. Extending courtesies and accommodating fellow citizens continues to be an important facet of civic sense, but as explained, there is need to expand the definition to include extension of courtesies to mother nature and civic infrastructure.

So, how to instil civic sense? The role models of society-the political leaders, celebrities and media need to supplement well crafted inputs through academic institutions, local governance institutions. Deep rooted practices need a generation long inputs. Mass media and internet gives unprecedented reach to the last citizen to educate them about the issue.