The Common Man Speaks

10Feb/154

7 reasons for AAP’s triumph in Delhi

By: Keyur Seta

It would be an understatement to say that the results of 2015 Delhi Elections have surprised Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters. ‘Pleasantly shocked’ is the right phrase to describe their situation right now. Who would have thought AAP will win 67 out of the 70 seats? It still sounds unreal!

Various reasons can be attributed to AAP’s unthinkable success. Here are some of them:-

Apologies: The biggest mistake made by AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal was to quit as the Chief Minister of Delhi last year after just 49 days. This was the major reason for all the flak he received. However, taking it by his stride, he accepted his mistake and sincerely apologized many times over at various rallies and interviews. Remember any other politician ever doing this?

Maturity: After receiving sudden success in the last Delhi Elections, Kejriwal and his party got a bit carried away which was seen in their actions (Dharna), statements and their ambition to go national in last year’s Loksabha Elections. But this time around, we got to see a different mindset of Kejriwal and AAP leaders. There was a lot of maturity and wisdom in all their public speeches.

Picture: NDTV.com

Picture: NDTV.com

Winning Trust: 1) After the arrival of gloomy days, the challenge was terribly tough for AAP to win people’s confidence again. It took many rallies and sabhas for them to finally be able to do it. And again, it took a lot of apologizing, which they did with respect.

2) AAP is the first and the only party in India to display accounts of their donations. This also saved them from the wrong hawala accusation. They are also ready to come under RTI for funding whereas other parties are petrified of it. This went a long way in gaining people's trust because before AAP's emergence, nobody gave a thought to the funding of political parties.

Manifesto: AAP had a well-prepared manifesto, which highlighted the biggest problems Delhi is facing currently – women safety, corruption and high electricity bills. Their idea of installing 15 lakh CCTV cameras in the city was the stand out promise. However, it will be left to see how they manage this humongous task.

Not Abusing Back: The BJP insulted, mocked and made fun of Kejriwal and AAP many times over during their campaign. Their cartoons also went to the extent of showing Anna Hazare dead just to insult AK. However, by showing maturity, none of the AAP leaders abused back to BJP.

BJP: This is one of the major reasons. BJP’s blunders during their seven-month-old rule at the Centre sowed the seeds of their downfall. Their blatant lie about bringing back black money was the biggest of all.

No Show Campaign: But the biggest blunder came in the form of BJP's disastrous campaign and strategies during the run up to the Delhi Elections. Roping in Kiran Bedi, who has targeted BJP in the past, was the final nail in the coffin as far as BJP’s chances are concerned.

But despite these many factors in AAP’s favor, winning 67 out of the 70 seats is unthinkable. This is pure miracle!

10Feb/1513

11 reasons for BJP’s downfall

By: Keyur Seta

Many felt that the exit polls over-estimated Aam Aadmi Party’s win percentage in the 2015 Delhi Elections. However, the results have stunned or, rather, shocked everyone. With AAP winning as many as 67 out of the 70 seats and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) reduced to an embarrassing 3, it looks like the exit polls were actually under-estimated.

Despite BJP winning the Lok Sabha polls last year with a resounding majority, the party is now in shackles after just seven months in power. If we analyze closely, the actions and intentions of the BJP, right from the time they formed government at the center, are to be blamed for this.

Let’s have a look at them:

Communal Politics: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi time and again stressed that his party will only focus on good governance and development. However, some prominent people from his party and some affiliate organizations like RSS had other plans. Communal statements and slogans like Ram Zade-Haram Zade, Ghar Wapsi, Bahu Lao Beti Bachao, asking Hindus to bear 4-5 children and India for Hindus overshadowed Modi’s talks on development and good governance.

Lack of Control: Despite a series of communal antics, Modi didn’t utter a word against the offenders. Had he publicly condemned them, things would have been hugely different and it wouldn’t have reinstated BJP’s communal image.

Black Promises: In order to gain votes during the Lok Sabha elections last year, the party promised with a lot of heroism to bring back India’s black money stashed in foreign banks. But the black money bubble busted soon and how!

(To know the reasons for AAP's success, click HERE.)

Picture: Indianexpress.com

Picture: Indianexpress.com

Curtailing Important Budgets: The Center curtailed India’s Education and Healthcare budget by 3000 + and 4000 crores respectively. On the other hand, they are happy to spend 4500 crore and 1000 crore on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Shivaji Maharaj statues and their crazy promotions. Are statues more important than proper healthcare and education?

Favors to Adani: BJP cleared 370 acre forest land to Adani Group to install and run a power plant. Development cannot take place by destroying nature.

Hiring Arvind’s Ex-Buddies: In order to gain the upper hand against AAP, BJP roped in Shazia Ilmi and Kiran Bedi, who were once with Kejriwal and have now turned against him. However, welcoming those who had openly lambasted BJP didn’t go down well with their own party members.

Questioning Funds: The BJP went down heavily on AAP for their funding for one of the donations despite it being made through proper cheque and bank records and being listed on their site. However, they are not ready to list down their own sources and are not ready to come under RTI for funds.

10 Lakh Suit: With slogans like Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, Modi gave indications that he is the leader of the Common Man. But his suit worth as much as 10 lakh with his full name inscribed throughout indicated otherwise. On the other hand, when Kejriwal traveled business class just once and that too by not paying from his own pocket or party funds, the BJP made a hue and cry.

Bedi Blunder: The less said the better about Kiran Bedi and her unintentionally hilarious speeches. In fact, she managed to match Congress’ Rahul Gandhi on several occasions. Plus, running away from serious questions showed her lack of confidence to stand up on her decision.

Negative Campaign & Arrogance: Instead of bringing in some agenda for several problems Delhi is facing, the BJP only focused on badmouthing Kejriwal and AAP with a lot arrogance. Words like Naxal, Bhagoda and Dharnakarne Wale were frequently used. In fact, they even went on to the extent of personally attacking him for his cough, muffler and, worse, caste through their insulting cartoons, where they even went on to show Anna Hazare dead! The Shahi Imam controversy also hurt them badly.

Over-Desperate Promotions: BJP’s helplessness and desperation was seen from the fact that the entire party, including the PM, Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers from BJP run states and many MPs and several party-men left their tasks and teamed up in Delhi to fight against just one person – Kejriwal. This coupled with over-desperate bombarding of BJP advertisements made them look desperate for a win.

27Jan/150

When life presented her with muck, she grew a lotus

By: Keyur Seta

(This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus. Under this activity, we have to write about a woman who, after being just a wife, went on to join a profession.)

For those grown up in late 80s and 90s, like I was, it was a normal thing to see a woman either choosing to be a wife or a hardworking professional. Through the society, films and advertisements, we were always indirectly told that a woman can’t play both the roles. If she starts working somewhere after finishing college, it is obvious that she will have to give up her career after she gets married to serve her family and raise kids.

But no society can escape change and India is no different. The aforementioned notion about women has changed quite a bit over the years as now she chooses to be a working professional along with being a wife. However, the change is far from complete. There is still a long way to go before the regressive ideologies get completely washed out.

Picture: Thesundayindian.com

Picture: Thesundayindian.com

But be rest assured, we are reaching there slowly but surely. There are a number of unknown faces going through such self-realization. I would like to highlight the story of one such woman, whose name I am not aware of.

Many a times, we come face-to-face with real-life inspiring stories in the most unexpected situations. Had anybody predicted that I would hear an inspirational tale while I was looking after my grandmother when she was admitted in hospital, I wouldn’t have believed that person. But this is exactly how it happened in mid-2013.

The protagonist of the story is the caretaker or helper at the hospital, someone who works under the nurse. We found her to be cheerful and, energetic and full of life; someone who always smiled and happily chit-chatted even while doing petty jobs (petty on paper but difficult in reality). But some smiles are earned after prolong periods of sorrow and grief. Her case wasn’t different.

We came to know about her dark past after she narrated it to my granny after building a rapport with her over the days spent. Belonging to the lower strata of society, she was one of the many unpaid maids disguised as housewives. But the biggest pain in life was her drunkard husband. Staying with a man who regularly consumes alcohol and creates havoc can make any wife experience hell on earth.

Picture: Toledoblade.com

Picture: Toledoblade.com

Her case was even worse since her husband faced serious health issues and was strictly advised to keep away from the bottle. But temptation can make anyone logically blind and he too fell under this category. Despite being urged to stop his habit, he didn’t. The outcome was his untimely death, leaving behind his wife, two small kids and his mother. The woman’s grief was coupled by a frightening question of who will run the house and feed everyone.

Instead of looking for answers from and caring about anyone, she answered it herself by deciding to work at this hospital. Although she didn’t tell this, it is quite obvious that the initial period would have been terribly tough to deal with. But here she is today, smiling her way through the tedious and thankless job and feeding her family. When life presented her with muck (keechad), she grew a lotus in it.

She proved that she, like many other women, can be an ‘and’ and should no longer be confined to being just an ‘or’. There are many out there constantly proving or trying to prove the regressive theories wrong.

26Jan/152

R K Laxman: Rest In Peace revolutionary cartoonist

By: Keyur Seta

‘Common Man’ is no ordinary title. The term has given a unique and respectful identity to a large majority of Indians falling into the middle-class and upper middle-class category. They may be divided by religion, caste, language, region or what not, but they stand united under the umbrella of ‘Common Man’.

This title has given them a voice. It has highlighted the fact that the betterment of India can only take place when the life of people falling in this category is bettered. This can be seen from the fact that the main agenda of each political party in India is to serve the Common Man. Whether they have been able to achieve it is a different story. Hence, it won’t be an overstatement that ‘Common Man’ is a revolutionary title.

Picture: Fullonsms.com

Picture: Fullonsms.com

Today, the person who coined this title breathed his last. India’s greatest cartoonist R K Laxman returned to heavenly abode at a Pune hospital after a prolonged illness at the age of 94. May his soul Rest In Peace.

There is no doubt that he was an excellent cartoonist; easily the best the country has seen. However, he has influenced my life more by his ‘Common Man’ feature. In fact, I live this theory every moment as it has become the most important philosophy of my life.

Needless to say, the name of this blog is solely influenced by Laxman’s ‘Common Man’. Although I also considered Naseeruddin Shah’s character in A Wednesday while naming it, the germ of this philosophy was created by Laxman. Today, the name of my blog has played a large role in whatever little acceptance it has received from readers, friends and well-wishers. All thanks to R K Laxman!

The man has passed away but his legacy of ‘Common Man’ will be kept alive in various ways. The ‘Common Man’ might fail every now and then but he will never get tired.

 

R K Laxman's Common Man. (Picture: Students.smcm.edu)

R K Laxman's Common Man. (Picture: Students.smcm.edu)

His masterpiece sketch of Malgudi Days (Picture: Universityexpress.co.in)

His masterpiece sketch of Malgudi Days (Picture: Universityexpress.co.in)

12Jan/150

Vivekananda gave me another birth: Kangana Ranaut

By: Keyur Seta

Actress Kangana Ranaut has spoken about herself during her innumerable interviews. However, very few of us know that she considers Swami Vivekananda as her biggest inspiration and motivation. She spoke about this little known aspect about her life during the 153rd Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai.

Kangana Ranaut. Picture Source: Sonam Budha @sonambudha1

Kangana Ranaut. Picture Source: Sonam Budha @sonambudha1

“There was a time in my life when I couldn’t face tough situations. I was a lot confused about a lot of things. One day, my Yoga Guru gave me few books on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. That changed everything. His book on Karma Yoga provided me with a lot of inspiration. Only I can understand how his teachings gave me another birth. I am Vivekananda’s product,” said Kangana with a broad smile.

She added, “I always wanted to connect with R K Mission. I am happy that I finally got a chance to be here and speak.”

As always, the address by Swami Sarvalokananda, secretary of RKM Mumbai, contained messages for the youth. “When Swamiji went to the west, he used to proudly say that he is from India. But today’s youth show a lot of hesitation to reveal that.” While speaking on leadership, he said, “We need servant leadership.”

Arunagiri Mudaaliar, Chairman and Chief Mentor of E Cube India, pointed out how Vivekananda’s teachings also help management students. “His most important teaching which the management students adhere to is – Before managing external environment, manage yourself internally.”

Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor at BARC and Dr Srikumar Banerjee, from the Atomic Energy Commission, Mumbai also spoke about the relevance of Vivekananda’s message in today’s times.

A large number of school and college students were invited for the event since Vivekananda’s birthday is also celebrated as National Youth Day in India. This time, his birth tithi coincided with his birthday.

6Jan/150

Lokmanya (Marathi Movie) Review

By: Keyur Seta

Rating: * * * *

The basic motto of a biopic is to do complete justice to the person on whom it is based. The next challenge for such genre of films is to leave behind a solid impact on the heart and mind of the viewer through his message or teachings. Om Raut’s Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush succeeds in both areas while also making sure it is not just any other freedom fighter biopic.

Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush focuses on the life of India’s freedom fighter, journalist, teacher and social reformer, Bal Gangadhar Tilak aka Lokmanya Tilak from the time he was a college student till the end of his life. The film highlights his fight against the British rule through various means and its consequences.

The story of a newspaper journalist (Chinmay Mandlekar), based in today’s times, is also narrated simultaneously. Hailing from Mumbai’s middle-class, he is about to marry his rich fiancée (Priya Bapat). But a chance incident ignites some serious inner conflict within him.

lokmanya-marathi-movieBiopics face a danger of becoming a bit boring or a drag, making it unacceptable for the youth. But Lokmanya steers clear from it. Through a riveting screenplay, powerful dialogues and appealing presentation, you are kept engrossed. It also makes sure that the protagonist’s inspiring lines don’t turn out to be fake or corny. Although the film is filled with soul-stirring events, the sequence about the explanation of the Bhagvad Gita and the sad truth during opening credits deserve mention.

But as mentioned before, the film stands apart from the usual biopics. This is due to the story of the journalist, based in today’s era, which is connected to the life story of Tilak. This aspect will break your heart about the kind of lives people are living today. It will force you to question not only others but also yourself.

Lokmanya has few issues though. The commercial element in some sequences should have been toned down. But the biggest question mark is the change of heart of a supporting character, which is unconvincing.

Ajit-Sameer’s music enhances the proceedings to a greater level, especially the theme song. The same can be said for the technicalities (camerawork, background score and editing), production values and costume designing.

Lokmanya wouldn’t have been reached this level without Subodh Bhave’s brilliant enactment of the protagonist. With a powerful and heartwarming act, he shows why he is one of the finest artists around. Sameer Sanjay Vidwans too shines in the role of Gopal Ganesh Agarkar.

Chinmay Mandlekar succeeds in displaying frustration and helplessness, mostly through his expressions. Priya Bapat too plays her part perfectly. Angad Mhaskar, as Daiji Khare, Prashant Uthale, as Chapekar, and the rest of the actors play their parts well. However, the actor in the role of Swami Vivekananda is a miscast.

Overall: Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush is an ideal film for today’s youth to know this important personality from India’s freedom struggle. It is expected to do well at the box office.

Director: Om Raut

Writers: Om Raut and Kaustubh Savarkar

Producers: Neena Raut Films and Emmay Entertainment

Cast: Subodh Bhave, Chinmay Mandlekar, Sameer Sanjay Vidwans, Priya Bapat

Music: Ajit-Sameer

Genre: Period Drama

19Dec/142

PK Movie Review


Rating:
* * * * ½

By: Keyur Seta

It is very difficult to commence the review of a film like PK. However, I have no problems with it at all because this writer’s block is an outcome of the greatness of the film. This is exactly how the Rajkumar Hirani film can be described – one of the greatest movies ever by a master filmmaker!

PK tells the story of Jagat Jananai (Anushka Sharma) aka Jaggu, who is studying in Belgium. Her chance encounter with Sarfaraz (Sushant Singh Rajput) blossoms into love but all doesn’t go well for them. Sometime later, she meets a weird man, who calls himself PK (Aamir Khan). Just like his appearance and talks, PK has a weird mission. What is it? And who exactly is PK?

Although the subjects of Hirani’s previous three films were entirely different from one another, they had a common link in the content, which was a work of excellence. The same is repeated here too in a novel concept. The entire film is a pleasurable mixture of delightful, thought-provoking, emotional and hilarious situations. And like his previous films, here too Hirani and co-writer Abhijat Joshi have put forth their message in a brilliantly creative and entertaining manner.

PK-movieBut the biggest overwhelming factor here is the manner in which the film gives complete thumbs down to the so-called Godmen and, more so, to those who constantly divide us on the basis of religion for their own shoddy benefit. In fact, it gives a fantastic slap to the political class and so-called religious organizations spreading venom these days. It is a huge co-incidence that it has released exactly at a time when there are continuous efforts being made to divide us.

Like Hirani’s previous efforts, this one too has glaring errors. The biggest one is the base of the most important plot twist. But, again, like his previous film, it hardly bothers you for the experience it provides in return. The subject makes you recall Umesh Shukla’s Oh My God, but the main story is nowhere similar to it.

When I have already labeled the film as one of the greatest ever, it is needless to say that it scores high in the technical department too. Murlidharan Raja has done a fine work as the cinematographer. The special effects, background score and editing deserve praise too. The music also falls in the impressive category. Songs like ‘Chaar Kadam’, ‘Bhagwan Hai Kahan Re Tu’, ‘Love Is A Waste Of Time’ and ‘Tharki Chokro’ stay with you long after the film.

Like all brilliant films, the performances in PK too are highly praiseworthy. Aamir Khan keeps getting better with every film. He continues it with PK too and how! Only an actor with such high caliber of talent and dedication can pull off a character as novel, difficult and complicated as this one. His Bhojpuri talks are simply a delight!

Anushka Sharma too joins in with a mature performance. Saurabh Shukla is outstanding as a fake Godman. Sushant Singh Rajput has a cameo but he leaves behind a mark. Sanjay Dutt and Boman Irani, in extended cameos, are lovable. Parikshit Sahni provides decent support.

Overall: PK is not only Hirani’s best effort, it is a masterpiece. It provides a spiritual experience worth indulging into more than once. With such content and massive excitement, it is sure to break box office records with its enormous collections.

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Producers: Vinod Chopra Productions, Rajkumar Hirani Films and UTV Motion Pictures

Writers: Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi

Cast: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Saurabh Shukla, Sushant Singh Rajput, Sanjay Dutt

Music: Shantanu Moitra and Ajay-Atul

Genre: Drama

17Dec/140

Swades: 10 Years of Simplicity (Memorable Scenes Included)

By: Keyur Seta with valuable inputs from Padmanabh Subramanian

swades-srkWhenever a list of most memorable films from a particular country or film industry is made, it is obvious that it will only contain names of box office successes. However, there are quite a few films, at least in Hindi cinema, which have become cult classics over the years despite the fact that they didn’t succeed at the ticket window when they released.

Films like Jane Bhi Do Yaaro and Andaz Apna Apna are classic examples of such films. But they slowly started gaining huge appreciation in the following years after they were screened on television and cable channels, so much so that now they are labeled as ‘classics’. Over the last decade or so, yet another Hindi film has achieved this status in spite of its box office fate.

Ashutosh Gowariker’s Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Swades found a lot of takers when it released in December 2004, especially the lovers of meaningful cinema, despite its strictly average box office performance. Like the aforementioned two films, its appreciators kept on increasing over the last decade at a rapid pace and the film gained a respectful status of Gowariker and Shah Rukh’s one of the best works.

Today, Swades completes exactly 10 years of its release. The film is known for striking an emotional chord with the viewer without or hardly saying much. It is this simple visual narration that is largely responsible for the film gaining such applause.

So let’s have a look at the film’s most memorable scenes, which say a lot without saying much:

- The first one that comes to our mind is the one where Mohan Bhargav buys a glass of water from a child vendor. In fact, this can even go down as one of the most memorable scenes from Bollywood. By just showing the character purchase and consume the water, the writer and director have portrayed Mohan’s massive change of heart, or hriday parivartan, since, before this scene, he strictly drank only packaged water. Of course, SRK’s brilliant expressions also say it all.

- The climax sees Mohan returning to Charanpur, India forever after quitting his lucrative job at NASA. But such major story development is shown without any rona dhona and by just a sweet Kushti scene. In spite of this, it succeeds in moving you.

- The village of Charanpur strictly followed caste system, wherein the members of the ‘upper caste’ stay away from the ones of a ‘lower caste’. In the song ‘Yeh Tara Woh Tara’, the protagonist gives an overwhelming message against this division by making the kids, sitting at the area reserved for ‘lower castes’, pass over and sit in the area reserved for ‘upper castes’. Once again, a strong message without dramebazi.

 

- The film also speaks about Indian culture. This was seen the most in the pre-climax as Geeta (Gayatri Joshi) gives a teary farewell to Mohan. But as per the intelligent narration in the rest of the film, there is no gyan giving on Bharatiya Sanskriti. Geeta makes her point about the same by just presenting a box to Mohan with few items that would enable him recall India.

From the Facebook page: 21 Fools

From the Facebook page: 21 Fools

- In this particular scene, Melaram wants to point it out to Mohan that there is no point going away from our near and dear ones in our country and serving some other country. But all he says is, “Apni chaukhat ka diya and giving light to neighbor’s house.” It says all!

- Kaveri Amma hands over Mohan the task of recovering money from Haridas, who stays far away from Charanpur. Mohan is deeply hurt to see the abject poverty Haridas is facing. However, he hardly expresses this and lets his expressions speak. Even while he is returning, he keeps the same expression throughout the journey.

10Dec/144

Patient Solidarity Day: Demand for healthcare access to all

By: Keyur Seta

The ever-increasing medical cost is fast becoming a big reason for increasing number of deaths currently in India. Sundari Raju lost her husband due to the same reason. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, his troubles started increasing and with that, his medical bills too. “There came a time when he was required to take four injections per month and each cost Rs 8,000. So it was impossible for us to afford it. I wish I could have afforded. He would have been alive then,” she said.

Sundari Raju

Sundari Raju

She was speaking on the occasion of Patient Solidarity Day in Mumbai, where doctors, patients, members of patient groups, pharmacists, bloggers and laymen had assembled for a round table discussion on how to provide proper access to healthcare for all patients across India. The event was organized through the efforts of Dr Bejon Misra, Partnerships for Safe Medicines (PSM) India, Consumer Online Foundation and International Alliance of Patients’ Organization (IAPO).

When it comes to the high cost of medicines and treatment, the mention of multinational companies, which manufactures medicines, shouldn’t come as a surprise. “MNCs are here to make money. Philanthropy is not their goal; it will never be. Government wants to do something about this. But they won’t unless we and various NGOs keep pushing. They also have to listen to courts so we should use that option too. Medical Council of India can also help,” said Dr Salunke.

Another doctor present at the discussion raised the point of new doctors forced to recover the enormous amount they spent to study medicine. “People spend around Rs 1 crore in private medical colleges. So obviously they won’t do any social service. Government also keeps spending more on private colleges rather than government run colleges. The ratio of both types of colleges is very high in favor of private colleges.” He also stressed on the need for qualified nurses, who can take away half of the headache of the doctor.

India has also become home to diseases like Fibromyalgia. Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli, who is suffering from it, expressed the need to spread awareness about it as hardly anyone in India knows about it. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread musculo-skeletal pain, stiffness and tenderness of muscles and joints and also psychological issues. “Today I am at this event. So tomorrow or day after I might have to take bed rest. There are cases where parents ask their daughters to be active despite being diagnosed with the disease and not disclose it to their prospective grooms. But the daughters don't wish to lie. There is an urgent need to include study of Fibromyalgia in medical curriculum,” said Anuradha and her demand was agreed upon by Dr Misra.

Dr Ketan Parekh

Dr Ketan Parekh

Since recent times, there has been a constant demand of making generic medicines available to patients as their cost is much lower. “Generic medicines are available in Tamil Nadu. So if they can be made available in TN, why not in Maharashtra? Our ex-Health Minister Suresh Shetty also didn’t do anything for this in 10 years,” continued Salunke. Dr Jahangir also echoed his sentiments and expressed bewilderment at some doctors criticizing it. “I can’t believe a doctor criticizing generic medicines. Rather than letting a patient die, let him get treatment.”

The situation in rural areas was also described. Said Dr Ketan Parekh, “Twenty percent districts in Maharashtra don’t have a pediatric surgeon, whereas 2% of all new born babies require immediate surgery. A list of 80 doctors, who were willing to volunteer, was given to the government. But there was no response.” Salunke also added an incident he witnessed at a village. “A doctor was giving just 1 cc injection dose to patients. When I asked him the reason for giving such a tiny dose, he said they have just one bottle of dose and the number of patients is 35.”

This wasn’t one of those events where people would discuss and then just disperse. Dr Bejon Misra announced and assured that the discussion will be followed by action. “We will collect evidences and each one present in this room (for discussion) will come together to make sure our voice reaches to the people in power. If they don’t listen, we will be compelled to go to courts. Universal healthcare should become a reality and not just remain a dream.

More pictures from the discussion:

Dr Bejon Misra

Dr Bejon Misra

patient-solidarity day

All pictures courtesy: Partnership for Safe Medicines India

All pictures courtesy: Partnership for Safe Medicines India

9Dec/140

No Big Deal (Short Story)

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda. This post is for the same.

By: Keyur Seta

Mumbai’s Versova locality is a residence for the rich and the super-rich of the city. As the price of a single apartment is easily over Rs 2 crore, it is impossible for the middle-class to reside in this suburban vicinity. This is solely the reason for the area to be home for a large number of film and television artists. Hence, owning a big apartment in this part of the city is proof enough of a family or a person’s healthy financial condition.

The same is the case with Dubey’s, who lived on the 10th floor of a typical posh Versova tower, overlooking a famous multiplex. With Mr Dubey striking gold in his garment business since more than a decade, his house is blessed with all the luxuries Mrs Dubey could ask for. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the family has maids and servants for every household chore. This ensures that Mrs Dubey can spend her day mostly watching television and socializing while their only child, Rajiv, juggles between school and coaching classes.

On one morning at around 11 am, Devi, their maid, returned with a stock of vegetables for the family. Like her normal routine, she stored them in the fridge. It was like an age old exercise except for the fact that the plastic bag carrying potatoes was torn, which the maid didn’t notice before storing. So the main bag, in which Devi carried all vegetables, had few potatoes left.

Around three hours later, Mrs Dubey ventured into the kitchen for her post-lunch fruit session when she noticed few potatoes lying in the bag. Cursing the maid, she decided to put them with the main stock.

A tower in Versova (Picture: Mid-Day)

A tower in Versova (Picture: Mid-Day)

Not so far away from Versova falls the locality called Oshivara. There isn’t much difference between Versova and Oshivara but for the presence of some shanties in the latter. In one such namesake of a home stayed Shanta with her seven-year-old son Ramesh. Her husband and Ramesh’s father passed away few years back after falling prey to alcoholism. Considering their situation and the place they call home, it is needless to say that they literally lived from hand-to-mouth. Plus, Shanta’s self-respect doesn’t allow her to ask or beg for food from anyone.

Shanta, off late, has been in a dilemma as to whether she should continue sending Ramesh to the government school as her income as a sweeper and through some odd jobs is clearly not sufficient to support the two in today’s price-rise era. She is toying with the idea of getting Ramesh employed as a worker in a nearby plywood store. Her idea has created a bad blood between the mother and son as the latter wishes to study.

The tussle between the two reached a new level today. There were literally no vegetables left and there was still time before she got her next payment. On top of that, the vegetable vendor had plainly refused credit any more. This was enough for Shanta to force Ramesh in giving up studies so that he can earn. Although deep inside she didn’t like this at all, the thought of starving was too scary for her to ignore.

After a lot of conflict, Shanta announced, “Okay. If we get some food by today evening through some miracle, I will let you continue your school. If God really wants you to study, he will arrange something for our stomach by evening. If not, you should join that store from tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, while feasting her eyes on the sunset at Versova beach from Dubey’s apartment and at the same time speaking with someone over the phone, the chief maid was waiting for the woman who brings groceries for the family from the market. When the woman arrived, the chief maid signaled her to take the main bag and the money kept in the kitchen, which was the normal practice since months.

When Shanta picked up the main bag, she felt some heaviness. When she peered in she realized there were a few potatoes. She was highly surprised. But soon a wide smile emerged on her face. She recalled how Mrs Dubey had long back handed over few extra vegetables to her. She was sure she had done the same again. Now, she didn’t need to drop Ramesh from school.

“God wants Ramesh to continue studying,” she happily thought while leaving the house. How would she know that a phone ring had stopped Mrs Dubey for storing those potatoes after which she forgot about it? Few potatoes were no big deal for Mrs Dubey. But for Shanta, they were not only a big deal but a new lease of life.

When an unintentional distribution of food can bring more than a ray of hope, just imagine the positive effect of a small amount of intentional donation by those with surplus wealth. Considering India has 100 billionaires (out of the 2325 worldwide) and many rich and super-rich, it is surely not a big deal for them.