Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Corona Lockdown – Food for thought

Corona Lockdown – Food for thought

I have been writing on the lighter side of the Corona Virus from the confinement of my small flat in Jalandhar. Today, I thought of writing something with some serious intent as we proceed to the gradual lifting of the lockdown. Some thoughts came to my mind while listening to PM Narendra Modi speaking to the Panchs/Sarpanchs, his usual Mann Ki Baat and the address of RSS Boss Mohan Bhagwat to the Baudhik Varg (Intellectual Chapter of RSS) yesterday, April 26, on the theme ‘Present scenario and our role’ which I would like to share here as my loud thinking not as an intellectual or any authority on the subject but as a novice.

First let us take up PM Narendra Modi’s assertions about the rural self sufficiency and self reliance at the grassroots in rural Bharat. The Corona Virus has brought to the fore some ideas which we were made to ignore and forget in the increasing urbanization and consumerism. I am reminded of Mahatma Gandhi and his views on the Panchayati Raj and self-sufficiency at the village level. PM Narendra Modi spoke about self-discipline and ‘public driven’ response to meet the challenge of the deadly virus. He also spoke of our cultural and civilizational values of compassion and mutual help. It seems the things have come full circle. Is Gandhi still relevant? Will the ruling outfits who are projected as anti-Gandhi fully own the Gandhi legacy? Corona virus has given us some “Food for thought”.

Second, the address of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat provided me an immediate instigation to write this and share with you. He spoke with understanding, concern and vision, as always. Amid the background of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, as reported in the Tribune of April 27, the RSS Sarsanghchalak pitched on ‘swadeshi’(indigenous)  and ‘svavlamban’ (self-reliance) to meet the challenges of the future. I was happy to note that he also touched the communal aspect which was unduly being highlighted by the media and vested interests. He said, “It is not correct to blame the entire community because of something some people
Ramesh Chander with Mohan Bhagwat
may have done because of ‘bhay’ and ‘krodh’ (fear and anger). We do not help with difference in human beings.  We must help with a feeling of togetherness and affinity. We are not doing any favour to anyone, we are working for our own people.” And added “The problem (COVID-19) has taught us much, we must deal with it with ‘soch’ (thoughtfulness) ‘samj’ (understanding) and ‘sajagta’ (awareness), without ‘bhay’ (fear) and ‘krodh’ (anger). He also mentioned about the need for “Swadeshi” to protect and strengthen the basic economy of the country.

You would observe that in these thoughts of Mohan Bhagwat, there is a clear tinge of the Gandhian thought. In his speech, he also referred to a story of Tathagat Gautam Buddha to make his point to continue to do good in spite of setbacks. He also named Babasaheb Ambedkar and the constitutional norms to deal with the situation. It is slowly becoming clear to which direction the wind will blow in the days to come. RSS Boss Mohan Bhagwat, it is increasingly becoming evident, is a man of vision with accommodative and liberal approach. He stands for, I think, the ‘Middle Path’ of Gautam Buddha and constitutional and social pragmatism of Babasaheb Ambedkar and also earthy wisdom and moral authority of Mahatma Gandhi. Here we may find some “Food for thought” to prepare for the coming scenario in the aftermath of Corona Virus. We are to ‘watch and see’.

Let me conclude with my loud thinking – RSS, the strongest outfit of the majority Hindus, is standing on the crossroads. While preserving and maintaining its core agenda of Hindutva, they ought to pursue the agenda of “Samrasta”- Equality, Justice and Fraternity by owning the legacies of both Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar, the two icons of contemporary India, to make India prosper and happy and the ‘world leader’ of the 21st century.

Postscript: The importance of RSS and the position of its Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat  may be assessed from the fact that the entire mainstream electronic media of the country telecasted in full the address of Mohan Bhagwat. Generally this kind of treatment is reserved for the Head of State or Head of Government on important occasions like national days or national emergencies. This is yet another point as “Food for Thought” for the emerging scenario in the country.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

CORONA is not a laughing matter – The lighter side – 19

CORONA is not a laughing matter – The lighter side – 19

Corona Virus that is COVID – 19 has graduated to be adult and blog - the lighter side of the virus has also reached number 19. Generally, I concluded my earlier blogs with some poetic/shairana input sent my friends. Today, I will do the other way round. One of my friends, Prof. Jagdish Joshi, a poet of standing with a sense of history and culture, has sent one of his
instant nazams which opens with the Mukhda – Hamare Angna Mein Tumhara Kya Kaam Hai, a famous line of one of the Amitabh Bachchan songs. I am sure you will like it as we proceed to finish the deadly virus in the days to come. It is also a matter of gratification that the lockdown is slowly being lifted. Let us hope we come on rails soon.

Yet another redeeming feature of the situation is that scientists and medical experts are reaching near to come out with the
much needed treatment and vaccination to completely wipe out the menace of the virus. I take this opportunity to wish them all the best in this regard. Allama Iqbal said:

Pardon Mein Jo Pinha Hai Chasme-veena Dekh Latti Hai;
Jamane Ki Tabiat Ka Taqaza Dekh Latti Hai.

It will only be fair to share with you some gems to lighten the burden of lockdown and its fallout:

People have run short of their favourite evening drinks. They are trying hard to tell the authorities to open the Thekas (Wine shops) as there is no problem in drinking:

“Someone ate an apple and we were born. Now someone ate a bat and we are dying.
Eating is a problem and not drinking!”

Yet another, people are resorting to blame game to give vent to their frustration:

वैज्ञानिकों ने दूध का पाउडर बना दिया!
सूप का पाउडर बना दिया!
लेकिन उनसे बहुत बड़ी चूक हो गई!
व्हिस्की का पाउडर नहीं बना पाए!
हद होती है लापरवाही की!

Our medical fraternity is facing yet another problem apart from mindless attacks from some insane elements:

“Difficulty is, we are facing a Chinese Virus which may not give symptoms, and we are testing with Chinese Kits that may not give results!”

A  Kavita of Amarjeet, one of my friend,  irresistible from saying his poetic expression, to conclude today:

क्यों किसी की नहीं सुनी, मुझे नहीं पता,
क्या गलत है क्या सही, मुझे नहीं पता,
भूख का वायरस जब जकड़े बाहुपाश में
क्या कोरोना क्या कोरन्टाइन, मुझे नहीं पता!!

अमर जीतअंजान

Saturday, April 25, 2020

CORONA is not a laughing matter – The lighter side – 18

CORONA is not a laughing matter – The lighter side – 18

It is more than a month of the lockdown. There are a few more days, till May 3, to go in the second phase. The authorities would decide the future course of action. It is a matter of satisfaction that with concerted efforts by the governments and also cooperation by the public, we could prevent stage 3 that is the community spread of the virus. It has been officially confirmed by the Minister of Health Harshvardhan. The figure of positive cases hovers around 24,000 as of today. It is also good to know that the recovery rate is also good at more 20 percent as indicated by the experts. We need to be alert and ready for any further eventuality to ward off the danger of the corona virus and many more viruses inflicting the
country. There is no point in elaborating this. The letter of 101 well placed citizens, who’s who, of the top echelons of the country and society have said it in their letter to the CMs of the states of India. I am confident that both the ruling outfits and the opposition parties and the intelligentsia would sit and consider the letter of 101 well meaning citizens of our country. All of them cannot be wrong particularly with regard to their concern on the communal scenario when they said, “The action of the Jamaat in organizing such an event, ignoring the Delhi Government’s advisories was, without question, misguided and condemnable. However, the action of the media in communalizing it and extending it to the Muslim community as a whole is utterly irresponsible and reprehensible.”

Coming to the lighter side, let us see what our friends shared in the social media to keep us going. We are a democratic country and an open society. There is a telling commentary on the functioning of our judiciary in the present context. I share it here as Food for thought:

" सुप्रीम कोर्ट को कोरोना के कहर के मारे मजदूरों से ज्यादा जरूरी लगी #Arnab_Goswami की याचिका "
वकील प्रशांत भूषण का तंज़

One of my poet friends,  Paramjit -  shared a set of 30  proverbs which would make entry into our daily conversations in the post Corona scenario. A few of them -

1) Divided we live, United we die.
4) Home stay is the best policy.
10) Better to be poor and healthy than rich and sick
12) Distancing is the best part of Valor.
13) Don't count your chickens before next March
20) Rome wasn't infected in a day

Some more gems shared by discerning readers
इस लॉकडाउन में जिस पति की अपनी पत्नी से लड़ाई नही हुई...
सरकार उन्हें "भारत रत्न" से सम्मानित करेगी!

One of my regular sources of matter for the blog is the Senior Citizens Group at the Silver Residency Apartments, my humble abode in Jalandhar. Judge for yourself:

लॉकडाउन का उल्लंघन वो ही लोग कर रहे है जो स्कूल के दिनो में...
Miss, May I Go To Toilet
पुछ कर सारा स्कूल घूम आते थे लेकिन टॉयलेट नही जाते थे!

एक ज़रूरी सूचना:
सिर्फ वायरस ही नहीं... खुद को भी फैलने से रोकना है!

As usual, let me close with a CORONA Expression of my colleague Ambassador Zile Singh

   Corona has put a pause on activity.
All are inactive, a newfound equality.
I miss all those to whom I was unkind.
Now I realize, that I was colour blind.
Hell with Corona, eyes on rising Sun.
The bane of Corona is a thinking citizen.

"Let us be thinking Citizens and avoid communalism."

Friday, April 24, 2020

Following up the Road Map – International Day of Equality – Letter to Forum of Schedule Caste MPs and MLAs

Following up the Road Map – International Day of Equality – Letter to Forum of Schedule Caste MPs and MLAs

Keeping with my resolve on April 14 to revisit and pursue the proposal on April 14, birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, as International Day, I right earnestly started my humble bit towards
the goal with my letter to Indian Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S. Jaishankar on April 15 which may be seen at link  http://diplomatictitbits.blogspot.com/2020/04/the-road-map-to-realize-proposal-on.html

 My next step in this regard is my letter dated April 22, 2020 to Sardar Charanjit Singh, Chairman of Forum of Schedule Caste MPs and MLAs which is appended below:

April 22, 2020

Respected Sardar Atwal Sahib,

I believe that you are still holding the fort of the Forum of Scheduled Caste MPs and MlAs. You are aware of the proposal on April 14, birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, as the International Day of Equality. It was good to interact and work with you to carry forward the proposal. I must register my appreciation for the whole hearted support you and your worthy son Inder Iqbal Singh has been extending in pursuing the matter with the high offices like the President of India, PM of India and also at the high-tables of the UN. These efforts are well documented in files of the PMO and MEA and are resting in their cup-boards in spite of the fact that much water has flown in the Ganges in India and the Hudson in New York since June, 2015.

With the City of Burnaby of Canada accepting the proposal and proclaiming April 14 as “Dr.B.R. Ambedkar Equality Day” on April 06, 2020 (Proclamation enclosed for ready reference), we have entered the second phase of our endeavor to convince the GOI to kindly endorse the proposal and make a demarche to the UN to declare April 14 as International Day of Equality. The EAM/PM, who would, as usual, be heading the Indian delegation to the UNGA session in September, 2020 should make it public in his speech at the UNGA. It is our laud thinking on the subject to officially celebrate the Day on April 12, 2021. I have again written to EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar on April 15, 2020 on the subject and has reminded him to kindly look into the matter (copy of my letter is enclosed for ready reference).

Obviously, Sir, my humble submissions do not carry much weight. We are to provide the much needed political and social push to the proposal and make our point reach home with the GOI. The purpose of my approach to you is say that kindly pick up the threads and revive and revisit our proposal on the International Day of Equality not only to honour the greatest son of India in the contemporary times but also the enhance India’s stature in the comity of nations through soft diplomacy. It goes without saying that Forum of Scheduled Caste MPs and MLAs could be a force to reckon with if it realizes its latent strength.

I am confident, Sir, that your support to proposal remains and you would do your every best to pursue the matter with EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar and PM Narendra Modi. I may add that some members of the Forum may be persuaded to take up the matter in the Parliament and the respective state Assemblies appropriately. I will remain available, as always, at your disposal, if you require any further information/consultation on the subject.

With regards,

Yours truly,

(Ramesh Chander)

Sardar Charanjit Singh Atwal,
Forum of Schedule Caste MPs and MLAs

Copy to:
Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot, MoS Rattan Lal Kataria, MoS Ramdass Athawale, MoS Som Parkash, Minister Ram Vilas Paswan

 The Forum, I must write as a word of appreciation, has been very considerate and help full in reaching out to PM Narendra Modi with the proposal in the past. I also copied the letter of April 22, 2020 to some of the Ministers like Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Ram Vilas Paswan, Rattan Lal Kataria, Ramdass Athawale, Som Parkash among others. I will also be directly writing to some of MPs and MLAs, in due course, to solicit their support both in the parliament and various state assemblies. It is a long journey. I am reminded of Robert Frost’s poetic expression which Jawaharlal Nehru quoted in his Last Testament:

Woods are lovely; dark and deep,
Miles to go; before I sleep.

Meanwhile, it is gratifying to note that there is considerable enthusiasm among the stake holders, followers of Babasaheb and the public with regard to the proposal. I shared some of the reactions in my earlier blog and add some more by way of thanks giving:

Editor Prem Chumber of the Ambedkar Times Group of California (USA) wrote:

"It has been a pleasure, since long, to interact and work with you with regard to matters of interest and concern to the community and the society at large. I thought of writing to you to reiterate our dedication and commitment to support you fully with regard to the big project of declaring April 14, birthday of Bharat Rattan Babasaheb Dr Ambedkar, as “International Day of Equality”. Obviously, we, at the Ambedkar Times Forum are to stand with you and other stake holders as our itselfthe Group of publication is fully dedicated to the greatest son of India, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. 
I take this opportunity to wish you all the best in your wonderful work. I assure you, Sir, of the full support of the “Ambedkar Times” and the “Desh Doaba” weekly newspapers Sacramento (California) as your Media Partners in this regard."

Retired IPS Kashmir Singh of the Achievers’ Foundation sent a message on WhatsApp:

“I on behalf of Achievers Foundation will support the project initiated by you. I will be obliged if draft content can be shared. I will dwell on the theme that will be provided by you
I must place on record your initiative for getting 14th April declared as International Equality day in Canada.”

Others who wrote to support the proposal, inter alia include, Harmesh Jassal of Ambedkar Weaker Sections Welfare Society, Madan Lal of Guru Ravidass Sabha of Mohali, Retired Senior Executive of Air India S.N. Biswas of Kolkata, Jeevan Malla of Bahujan Dravid Party of Chennai.

अकेले ही चले थे जानिबे मंज़िल
लोग साथ आते गए
कारवां बनता गया !

CORONA is not a laughing matter – The lighter side – 17

CORONA is not a laughing matter – The lighter side – 17

The D-day of May 3, when the lockdown is scheduled to be lifted, is approach near, if situation remains under control. Let us hope for the best. But it goes without saying that it is going to be long drawn fight. The WHO and other authorities have already cautioned the international community in this regard. Our governments, both at the centre and those of the states, are not oblivious of the situation. We are preparing for the graded lifting of lockdown and rightly so. The responsibility of common people like us increases many fold in such conditions. We are to be self-disciplined. I am told in Scandinavian   countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway etc. follow an advisory lockdown to fight the virus and people are cooperative as responsible citizens. We are to learn from them for own benefit. The consultative culture even at the political level is a must to handle emergencies. It is good that PM Narendra Modi is scheduled to have a meeting with CMs again on April 27 to discuss the situation. Today again, even at the cost of repetition, I am sorry to mention that electronic media is till indulging in creating vicious atmosphere both by discussing unduly the communal issues and also injecting politics by bringing in uncalled references to the
opposition. It should immediately stop. The silver lining in the situation is that  President Donald Trump gas indicated that the scientists were about to develop the much need vaccination of the deadly virus. Let us hope for the better. Yesterday, I named Dr. Mohit Chander, my own nephew, as a frontline warrior. Today one of my friends Prem Shant informed me, while referring to the improved situation in Nawansehar District of Punjab that their daughter Dr. Neena Dhanda and her husband Dr. Dawinder Dhanda were posted at the Civil Hospital of Nawansehar and were fully engaged in fighting the virus head-on. It was gratifying to see our young children were doing their best and contributing positively in the run up to wellbeing of the society.

Let us turn to the lighter side of the situation. People are sitting at home without work and income in the lockdown. My friend Pooja Khanna has shared what a Panda/Pandit told her a couple of months ago:

ਜਨਵਰੀ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਨੂੰ ਹੱਥ ਵਿਖਾਇਆ ਸੀ ਕਹਿੰਦਾ ਬਹੁਤ ਵਧੀਆ ਸਮਾਂ ਆਉਣ ਵਾਲਾ ਸਾਰਾ ਟੱਬਰ ਵਹਿਲੇ ਬਹਿ ਕੇ ਖਾਉਗੇ .

WhatsApp has made life easy but some people are also fed up of the unending messages and advice not to step out of the house. Someone wrote in the Facebook:

लॉक डाउन में घर से बाहर नही निकलने के मुझे इतने मैसेज चुके है कि...
जैसे ये कोरोना मैं ही फैला रहा हूँ!

One of my diplomat colleagues, Amarjeet shared the meaning of Quarantine with reference to often repeated narration as to how we all are scared of our ladies/wives.
अभी अभी एक दोस्त ने हिंदी भाषा में quarantine का मतलब समझाया
शुक्ला की शुक्लाईन
ठाकुर की ठकुराइन
पंडित की पंडिताइन होती है
ऐसे ही कोरोना की कोरोनटाइन होती है
इसीलिए करोना कोरोनटाइन से डरता है और कुछ नहीं कर पाता है।

Hanste Raho Mitro – Let us hope for the best.

Mein Nahin Sandesh Swarag Ka Laya;
Is Bhootal Ko Hi Swarag Banane Aya