Saturday, April 28, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
To our surprise and to consternation of one of guys, who hates dogs with same intensity as dogs hate him, we were suddenly joined by two uninvited dogs who became our guides on their own will. They jumped, pranced and climbed the rocky terrain with ease, surefootedness and grace which only they are capable . Only the professional trekker between us could give them any semblance of competition. Later we were to find out that these two dogs are constant on this trek. They live in the Khireshwar village and accompany trekkers who come from outside, taking the cue from back packs they carry. They never accompany local villagers. Undoubtedly, we had a great time with these two animal friends and I would personally any day prefer a friendly and understanding dog trekker guide than a serious, boring human guide. Atleast dogs can be cajoled into resting by inciting them with little scratching under their neck.
The first halt was at Tolar Khind, where rocky but shady paths ends and steepest climb on a virtually vertical rock face starts. This is most interesting and enjoyable part of entire trek. The view after reaching the peak is breathtaking and one is tempted to shout for no apparent reason to hear the echo from surrounding hills. A little inane fun doesn’t do any harm I guess. Trek through the Harishchandra Kalsubai wildlife sanctuary is rather easy but enjoyable. The spectacle on reaching Harishchandreshwar is awesome with old temple ruins and caves carved in mountains suddenly becoming visible. Imagine, many thousand years back, some people climbed these hills and built temples and caves and lived there to meditate and seek Gods. I preferred to stop there for a while and soak in the ambience of the place as others went on onto scale Taramati peak to test their endurance and fitness. The place has its origin around 6th century with caves built around 11th century. The temple, dedicated to lord shiva is beautiful. I don’t understand architecture but I like those intricate sculptures on the ancient temples. They tell you a story if you are willing to listen. And you can feel the people who built them there many thousands of years ago. The caves are etched in the rock face on Taramati hills and like any other historical place in
From Harishchandreshwar, we walked to the Konkan Kada, a breathtakingly beautiful place and a nice culmination of trek. Konkan kada is a sheer rocky cliff, vertical and concave in shape overlooking Konkan region. Rock climbers must get a adrenaline rush from it. As I read on wikipedia about it "it is an overhang, almost like a cobra's hood. It has been climbed twice so far". We spent some time here and soon decided to start the trek back to Khireshwar as afternoon soon was beating down heavily and rocks were getting mercilessly hotter. On way back, I parted away from the group, something which professional trekkers never do and I am not one. The trek back to village was wonderful. It gave me some time alone with my own thoughts, to feel the heat, the silence and wildness of the place and to get into a rhythm I enjoy the most during treks. Rythem is essence of life, like music, like working, walking. I had run out of water and was dehydrated but the rhythm got me going. There is a strange satisfaction one gets when one is pitted against elements. It is then that you find the hidden strength and resolve from within you. Nothing has ever tasted as good as water I drank when I reached the village. Priceless Moments.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Corrupt System: The fact that there is something rotten with our judicial system is hardly a secret. Poor who can't afford lawyers for themselves, keep lodged in jails for years for petty crimes, as their court cases keep piled up for years, waiting to he heard. Rich who do wrong "by mistake" easily buy their way out of legal system. Witnesses turn hostiles, or are bought, important evidences can be misplaced and entire case weakened. ”At almost every point where citizens are governed, at every transaction where they are noted, registered, taxed, stamped, licensed, authorized or assessed, the impressions of being open for negotiation is given" Pratap Bhanu Mehta, India's political scientist has noted in his book "The burden of democracy". We can easily include the whole machinery of justice dispensing in this list of "open for negotiations" label. In a city where majority of police force is over worked and under paid, and where bribe and hafta have become almost a legitimate source of income for policemen, it wouldn't be very difficult for a rich man to buy few policemen to weaken the case by deliberately ignoring vital evidences. Investigations could easily be made perfunctory and persecution could be slack as perhaps happened in Pereira’s case also. Why is it that some cases involving rich are put on so called "fast tracks" when other poor accused keep languishing in jails for years awaiting their cases to be heard, is a question which needed to be asked. Do we have different yardsticks for poor and rich when dispensing justice! Must it be that every case where rich and privileged are involved, justice can only be safeguarded and ensured when there is constant media attention and public outcry! Is it now required for public to constantly do a Rang de Basanti! May be yes, the reason is that corruption is not rotting the system, but it has become a system itself. Most of us from middle class who work in private sector and live their life mostly outside the sphere of governmental controls are not affected by corruption but that is not true for most of Indians who are at mercy of "the System".
Is Judiciary also to be blamed: In case of Alistair Pereira, fingers can be pointed at the judiciary as well. The judge convicted Pereira, of rash and negligent driving and handed him over just 6 months of prison. Was it of no significance that his "rash driving" had killed 7 people? Judge said that chemical analysis report mentioned alcohol levels in blood of the accused but no witness was produced to prove that accused had consumed alcohol! Wasn't the report itself proof enough that Alistair was driving under the influence of alcohol! RTO inspector had testified that car didn't have any mechanical failure and judge himself noted that if a car as sturdy as Toyota corolla had suffered such extensive damage where its engine was ejected due to impact, then it must have been driven at very high speed! Pereira was also accused of acquiring forged papers to obtain license when he as just 15 years old. People who were killed were not walking on the road but were sleeping in their huts along the pavement. Is punishment for driving drunk and rash and killing 7 people, mere 6 months? I don’t understand law in its nitty gritty, but the judgment defies the common sense and logic. This is a travesty of law and justice.
Media Trials: While speaking to DNA after the verdict, Pereira did not express any remorse about what he had done and almost blamed media for his 6 months prison term. "I will have to go in for six months, all thanks to the media." He said. It has been debated for quite a while that there has been a rise in cases where accused are tried by media and public and opinions are made about guilt even before cases are deliberated by court of law. This is obviously a wrong course for law and justice. Accused is innocent unless proven guilty, but the way so called justice seems to be dispensed when it comes to rich and mighty, it is quite easy to understand why media has to take up the cudgels and why punlic at large feels cheated. In Jessica Lall case, the accused was almost but hanged by public opinion and media outcry. Ram Jethmalani, one of topmost criminal lawyers of country fought his case in high court and was highly critical of media's role in the entire case. His point was that it is only law which can decide whether a person is guilty of a crime or not, not the media. But his arguments stood on tenuous ground by the very fact that he almost ended up showing how well this law functions and how law has been hijacked by black coats who use every trick possible to win a case. Where is the truth! Who fights for truth! Truth it seems can easily be fabricated by arguments. See what Pereira's lawyer told to the media after the verdict:
Pereira’s lawyers feel that the six-month imprisonment is too harsh and have decided to appeal against the order in the Bombay High Court. “He is a 21-year-old boy and an accident like this could have happened to anyone,” Majula Rao, his lead lawyer, told reporters.
Bollywood movies for all of their flaws, can be taken as indictor of reflection of our society. In decades of 80 and 90s it was a common theme in various movies where hero of the movie had to take law in his own hands and deliver the justice himself because courtrooms couldn't do that or justice was compromised by scheming lawyers and compromising Police. The images still linger on.
Justice for laborers :Are we going to see "Justice for poor laborers" campaign as we saw it for "justice for Jessica Lall"?. Hardly seem likely but I would be pleasantly surprised if it happens. Jessica Lall had her family fighting for her justice. In present case, poor and perhaps illiterate families of killed laborers were most likely already brought for few thousands of rupees. "Jo hona tha ho gaya, ye sab to unke karm the" They must have said. As for Pereira, his family would stand by him as he is a nice guy and whatever happened was just a mistake. "He is a nice guy, a gem of a person." Some of his neighbors have said in media. Unbelievable, but we do seem to have this logic where if a person is good and perceived as nice guy, we are tempted to pardon him for "mistake". Even if that mistake had caused death of 7 innocent people! As for family, family always stands behind you regardless how severe your crime be. In great epic of Mahabharata, King Dhritrashtra knew that his son Duryodhna was wrong and had caused the battle by insulting wife of his brother, but he opted to be silent.bk_keywords:India books, The burden of Democracy
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
(Source: IPCC and The Economist)
(Cartoon Courtsey: Monsing)
What Can an Individual Do About Global Warming
Individual Action about Global warming
Monday, April 9, 2007
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Monday, April 2, 2007
An old debate of implementing sex education in Indian schools has raised its head again with couple of state government banning sex education in schools even before it could be implemented. We Indian have a strange connection to this topic of sex. On one hand we have produced masterpiece like Kamasutra, on other hand, we squirm in our seats at the very mention of word sex. The debate as such is not new and has been happening for quite sometime even in liberal western countries where topic of sex is not a taboo and where sex education has been implemented for quite sometime. Even after that, they have had their own problems with teen pregnancies and unwed young mothers and this is something we need to learn from. On the contrary, in our Indian society, which is largely conservative, we tend to take a very moralistic and idealistic approach even though we know that we hardly live in ideal conditions and that man by nature is fallible. As always, the solution could be somewhere in middle, but for that to happen there needs to be a healthy open minded discussion based on facts and reality and not on just moral and high sounding cultural arguments and preconcieved notions which are are set in distant past. We can not teach kids in school that go have sex and produce babies but we can not keep pretending that they think that it is really about birds and bees and that babies fall from sky. In the whole debate on whether sex education in Indian schools is needed or not, there are couple of arguments which are extremely annoying. Those who vehemently argue against implementing sex education in schools usually say that:
- It is against Indian culture
- We need to implement yoga education and not sex education.
1. My reservation against first argument is that it is a big debate killer. The moment we don't want to confront a subject or even want to talk about it, we hurriedly term it as against Indian culture and want everybody to keep quite. It could be anything. It could be a movie showing an ugly slice from our past or it could be a festival celebrated by young couples. And nobody, I mean really nobody can perhaps substantiate what this Indian culture is, especially those who use it at drop of their hat. Has this so called Indian culture documented anywhere, engraved anywhere? Is this Indian culture a solidified object which has not changed since it was created, whenever it was created! What is the starting point of this culture? 5000 year back or 100 years back? Has this culture not changed since then! I believe that culture is like a flowing river and not like a pond where water stagnates and starts stinking. If there is anything which is part of Indian culture, it is that we are argumentative. We induge in arguments, we question, reason and try to understand things. This is how our ancestors were able to create some magnificent piece of philosophical literature many thousands of years back. Why do we now don’t deal with the questions just because they are little uncomfortable to our sensibilities? Is khajurao not part of Indian culture! Is kamasutra not part of Indian culture? If Indian culture is about beating young couples who are merely holding hands in public, if it is about vandalizing shops which are selling cards and flowers because young couple wants to buy them, if it is about honor killings where daughters are killed by their own fathers in full view and support of village because they married guys from lower or other caste, if it is about dowry killings, if it is about wanting to have sons and killing unborn daughters, if it is about a being piously hypocritical, if it is about trying to be a saint and not being a human, if it is about being poor yogi sitting in Himalya then I will happily say that I would prefer to be a westerner.