The Common Man Speaks

30Aug/115

True meaning of Ganeshotsav… understood this year!

In 1893, freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak urged the people of Maharashtra and India to celebrate Ganeshotsav as a public event in order to show unity against the British. I have heard this numerous times since my childhood but it is only this year that I am really able to understand the true feeling behind the meaning of this festival.

Just recently, the whole of India protested and fought with social reformer Anna Hazare against the government for the amendment of the Jan Lokpal Bill. The way India got united was never seen after our Independence.

Looking at this unity and fight shown by people of India, I can now truly understand the meaning of Ganesh Chaturthi, more so because it happened just before the festival. I personally believe that the people of India welcomed the elephant God with their unity and fight for the country. The 10-day festival couldn’t have fallen at a better time! (Article continued after picture.)

Picture courtesy - Lalbaugcharaja.in

It was also Avdhoot Gupte’s Marathi movie Morya that helped me understand Ganesh Chaturthi better as it also highlights Tilak’s main motive behind the festival. It mainly shows that in the fight between rival Ganeshotsav mandals, God is always thrown on the losing side.

The film also rightly criticizes violence, hooliganism, vulgarity and drinking culture in the name of Ganeshotsav. Hope it becomes an eye-opener because such malpractices are seen everywhere during this festival. (I have explained this further in my earlier post over here.)

As we welcome Lord Ganesha in 2011, we can pray to him to keep the patriotic flame alive in the hearts of the people and also put the malpractices away. Ganpati Bappa Morya!

28Aug/111

Mumbai Victory March Pictures (Some disappointment too)

Like other cities and towns, even Mumbai carried out a march in honour of Anna Hazare's victory on August 28. However, I don't endorse the loud, nasty band and the DJ type music, which was played there. Hazare has always maintained non-violent and peace in the protest so I got a jolt to see this type of celebrations. I am sure even Hazare wouldn't prefer it either. Even the victory march in Delhi's India Gate didn't have such loud music and dhols.

Nevertheless, it was heart-warming to see such large number of Mumbaikars participating despite the very heavy rains and water-logging.

Some pictures from the victory march: -

Free water being supplied

Parle-G too!

Walking steady even during heavy rains and water-logging!

Devotees from Madina Masjid joined us and shook hands with us. Damn Syed Ahmed Bukhari!

The tricolor being carried

28Aug/110

One man consumed food, a nation rejoiced!

We always feel a sense of satisfaction when we consume food. But on August 28, 2011, the whole of India felt satisfied to see a someone else consume food. There was an atmosphere of relief and celebrations across India as the great Anna Hazare broke his fast after 13 long, painstaking days.

However, we should not forget those numerous souls who have been fasting with Anna. Big salute to them along with a prayer.

But just as Anna said, we must not forget that the main battle is yet to be won. We need to carry on the flame of revolution to even higher levels if we really want to see the change happening. Hazare also said he will continue his fight against corruption and so should we. Although its celebration time but we should also remember that the war is yet to be won!

What deserves special mention is the fact that all this was achieved without resorting to slightest of violence. India set a great example to the world that revolutions can be brought even by non-violent methods.

The man has shown us the path; let us walk on it with the same vengeance!

Let us watch the historic moment when Anna broke his fast: -

27Aug/114

Anna Hazare makes Common Man victorious but battle yet to be won!

Today’s date – August 27, 2011 – will go down in history as the day when a simple, non-violent activist Anna Hazare managed to unite all warring political parties and got the demand of the common man fulfilled with Lok Sabha accepting three conditions put forth by him for the amendment of the Jan Lokpal Bill.

But it was a see-saw kind of the day. Few moments in the afternoon made it look like Anna emerged victorious. However, soon team Anna was disappointed with the news that there won’t be any vote for the passing of the bill. But finally, the pendulum did swing in Anna’s favour as the demands were met when the Lok Sabha adopted a sense of house in the form of thumping of desks.

So, finally and thankfully, the great man will break his fast tomorrow August 28, 2011 at 10am. It took him 12 days of starvation to get the heartless government move into action. But also spare a thought for all those who have been fasting with Anna since 12 days. These people are not in the limelight but let’s give thousands of salutes to them too!

Lastly, this was also possible because of the massive participation from the common man of India. Despite their hectic schedule and personal problems, we the people participated in the movement wholeheartedly. This is something that has never happened before in independent India.

Bollywood personalities have been quiet except few people like Anupam Kher but it was touching to see the big names like Aamir Khan, Rajkumar Hirani and Sonu Niigaam personally going at Ramlila Maidan to support Anna! For your information, this cannot be labeled as a publicity stunt as Aamir and Hirani don’t have any film lined up for release in the next few months. Hats off to them!

But even during such victorious times, I would like to repeat what I have said before – this is just a small victory as the main battle is yet to be won. It will be won only when the Jan Lokpal Bill is properly passed and corrupts are punished!

Till then, we should make sure that we continue our support and participation in the movement with the same enthusiasm. We are in to rewrite history so let’s grab the opportunity with both hands!

27Aug/1115

Morya (Marathi Movie) Review

Direction: Avdhoot Gupte

Story: Sachin Darekar

Production: Atul Kamble, Avdhoot Gupte

Music: Avdhoot Gupte

Cast: Santosh Juvekar, Chinmay Mandlekar, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Ganesh Yadav, Janardan Parab, Vijay Nikam, Spruha Joshi

Rating: * * * *

Story: There is a history of enmity between the youngsters of Ganesh Chawl, led by Manya (Santosh Juvekar) and Khatav Chawl, led by Sameer (Chinmay Mandlekar). Their rivalry intensifies during festivals like Gokulashtami and Ganeshotsav when both camps try to out-do each other.

They get the news that from next year, they will have to organize a combined Ganesh festival as both chawls will be redeveloped into a tower. Since there is ugly hatred between both gangs, they write-off the idea of a combined celebration. Hence, this year’s Ganeshotsav will decide which party will continue its Ganesh celebrations from next year onwards. This starts a warring competition between both parties. They try everything to cut-throat each other by also including politicians in the fight. Their battle gives rise to such dangerous consequences which they hadn’t imagined even in their wildest of dreams!

(For more reviews, news and information on Marathi cinema, click HERE) (To join us on Faceboook, click HERE)

Review: Since recent times, the festival of Ganeshotsav has become more of a rivalry between localities. While doing this, although some of the pandals might become victorious but its Lord Ganesha who always has to be on the losing side. Avdhoot Gupte’s Morya throws light on the issue and emerges an eye-opener. Gupte continues his legacy that he started with the daring Zenda.

Don’t get confused with the title which might indicate that it’s a religious film. Actually, it’s an aptly made thrilling drama about two warring camps with the festival of Ganeshotsav being the seed of the story. It wonderfully highlights the fact that the Ganpati Festival is becoming a medium of fight where even corrupt politicians are jumping in to gain personal benefits.

Sachin Darekar’s story and screenplay might make you recall Mansoor Khan’s Josh but the proceedings in no way look inspired from it. The strong points are the fast narration, intelligent scenes especially the confrontational ones and some creative direction. Special care is taken to show both gangs equal in the fight. It would have been difficult not to keep one gang ahead of the other but the writer manages perfectly.

However, the story is not just about a fight between two rival groups. It is the consequences and the political twists in the second half that keep you grabbed. The writer and director also manage to pull off the most important part – the conclusion, which is meaningful as well as touching.

Gupte has imbibed lots of reality in the proceedings. The conversations and happenings in the chawl are straight from real life, whether it’s a heated argument or a moving incident. The scenes showing the idols of Lord Ganesha fill you with joy. Fortunately, it doesn’t become redundant at all.

It is crystal clear that Gupte is here to stay. He started his career as a music director so one also expects a rich dose of music from his films. That is exactly what you get here as the songs will guarantee that the music album too will attain success. Religious mantra song Gananayakaya Ganadhishaya even makes a number of scenes more interesting while other songs too deserve credit especially the Lavani number Internet Var Gela.

It was highly vital that both Juvekar and Mandlekar provide top-notch performances that match each other. They manage to do it so well that it is difficult to judge who the better of the two is. The former is emotional and expressive while the latter is more cool-headed but equally aggressive.

Veteran actor Dilip Prabhavalkar once again shows why he is one of the most respected artists of Marathi cinema. Needless to say, he is exceptional. But what comes as a surprise is Ganesh Yadav in the role of the inspector. Despite the presence of number flawless performers, he manages to impress very well. Plus, there is a large number of supporting cast which excels too especially the two politicians, Diwakar Pundir and Spruha Joshi.

Overall, Morya is a delightful eye-opener which is a must watch in today’s times. It will surely prove to be a winner at the box-office mostly because of the upcoming Ganeshotsav festival.

25Aug/110

Just a moral victory, war still on!

After a lot of speculation amongst the public of India and a lot of (pointless) discussions within the government, finally the UPA has decided to present Anna Hazare and Civil Society’s Jan Lokpal Bill on Friday August 26, 2011.

Hazare’s crores of supporters have termed this as a victory for the Gandhian for his painful efforts. Honestly, even I am happy for it looking at the way the common man of India has supported Hazare’s movement. Be it battling the work schedule or the heavy rains, people’s contribution has been the backbone in making the movement historic.

However, we should all make sure we don’t get complacent by thinking that the war is over. Even during Hazare’s April fast, the government had promised to take the Jan Lokpal Bill seriously but, like many politicians, it just made a U-Turn.

Classic example of a Congress U-Turn is Manish Tewari. After lambasting Hazare and even accusing him of corruption, he takes back his statement today and says he has immense respect for the 74-year old. Tewari feels the awakened citizens of India will get amused by the worst joke of the century. Due to this and numerous other examples, it is clear that the government is as trustful as a rattlesnake. So, I personally won’t like to consider this as a victory.

Therefore, it is vital that we keep the protest alive with the same zest. Let us throng the roads in the same large numbers chanting the same slogans. Let the government know that what the common man wants is the ultimate victory in the form of the amendment of the Jan Lokpal Bill. The war is far from over!

24Aug/1112

Comparison between Lokpal Bill and Jan Lokpal Bill

Ever since Anna Hazare started protesting against the Lokpal Bill and the amendment of the Jan Lokpal Bill, he has received tremendous support from the masses of India. In fact, the numbers are increasing day by day with more and more people from all walks of life joining him.

However, there are many amongst us who are unaware about the difference between both the bills and why Jan Lokpal Bill is being favored by Hazare and his supporters. So, here's some comparison between both the bills. This can also be an eye-opener for those who are unsure about supporting Anna.

(Source of the following table - http://www.spectralhues.com/2011/08/jan-lokpal-bill-vs-lokpal-bill-in-depth.html)

Subject
The Jan Lokpal Bill
Government's Lokpal Bill
Prime Minister             
Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.
PM cannot be investigate by Lokpal.
Judiciary
Can be investigated, though high level members may be investigated only with permission of a seven member Lokpal bench.
Judiciary is exempt and will be covered by a separate "judicial accountability bill".
MPs     
Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.
Can be investigated, but their conduct within Parliament, such as voting, cannot be investigated.
Lower bureaucracy
All public servants would be included.
Only Group A officers will be covered.
The CBI
will be merged into the Lokpal.
The CBI will remain a separate agency.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
Removal of Lokpal members and Chair            Any person can bring a complaint to the Supreme Court, who can then recommend removal of any member to the President.
Any "aggrieved party" can raise a complaint to the President, who will refer the matter to the CJI.
Removal of Lokpal staff and officers            
Complaints against Lokpal staff will be handled by independent boards set-up in each state, composed of retired bureaucrats, judges, and civil society members.
Lokpal will conduct inquiries into its own behavior.
Lokayukta
Lokakyukta and other local/state anti-corruption agency would remain in place.
All state anti-corruption agencies would be closed and responsibilities taken over by centralized Lokpal.
Whistleblower protection       
Whistleblowers are protected law.
No protection granted to whistleblowers.
Punishment for corruption
Lokpal can either directly impose penalties, or refer the matter to the courts. Penalties can include removal from office, imprisonment, and recovery of assets from those who benefited from the corruption.
Lokpal can only refer matters to the courts, not take any direct punitive actions. Penalties remain equivalent to those in current law.
Investigatory powers
Lokpal can obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, and recruit investigating officers. Cannot issue contempt orders.
Lokpal can issue contempt orders, and has the ability to punish those in contempt. No authority to obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, or recruit investigating officers.[
False, frivolous and vexatious complaints                  
Lokpal can issue fines for frivolous complaints (including frivolous complaints against Lokpal itself), with a maximum penalty of 1 lakh.
Court system will handle matters of frivolous complaints. Courts can issue fines of Rs25,000 to 2 lakh.
Scope 
All corruption can be investigated.
Only high-level corruption can be investigated.
22Aug/110

Pictures from protest outside Priya Dutt’s house (EXCLUSIVE)

As per Anna Hazare's suggestion, it was decided that Monday August 22 will be the day to protest outside the residences of all the MPs of India. So we gathered outside MP Priya Dutt's house.

Take a look at the pictorial narration of the dramatic incident: -

Protestors at Priya Dutt's Pali Hill residence shouting slogans and urging her to join their cause.

5 big police vans, a police jeep and around 40-50 cops deployed for a group of peaceful protestors!

Surprisingly, a cop volunteered to call Priya and she even obliged. However, she took a democratic stand and avoided the question whether she supports the Jan Lokpal Bill. After looking at the demand of the aam janta, she did say she supports the cause. We asked her to give a written confirmation to which she agreed.

We all decided to gherao at the place until we get a written word from her.

As time passed by, the enthusiasm went on increasing with people shouting slogans, expressing their thoughts and reciting patriotic songs.

Demand of the aam aadmi.

Railway employee Stanley revealing how he was affected by corruption during the worst phase of his life (more about him in my later posts).

There comes a letter from Priya. However, it left most of us dissatisfied as she didn't mention whether she is with Jan Lokpal or against it! This triggered more protests.

We decided to send flowers to Priya with a 'Get Well Soon' message for the whole government. A trick from Sanjay Dutt's movie (Lage Raho Munna Bhai) was used to protest against the government through his own sister!

Another bouquet with the same message.

The events outside Priya's residence were passed on to the IAC (India Against Corruption) Mumbai Head Mayank Gandhi (who is also a close aide of Hazare). After analysing the letter, Mayank concluded that we have done a great job as Priya has mentioned that she supports the movement by IAC which means she supports the public demand of the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill. And what's more, Anna Hazare himself applauded our effort! So, we can say this was another feather in the cap for the IAC and a booster for the movement!

Numerous MPs all over India extended their support for the amendment of the Jan Lokpal Bill. This was like a small taste of victory for Hazare supporters.

But there is still a lot of fighting still to be done... of course in a non-violent manner!

22Aug/116

When the Common Man awakened (Mumbai 1 Lakh March)

All my life I had only heard about the power of the Common Man but never really saw it. Apart from the numerous Hindi films, I was yet to see the Common Man strike in real since he has always been too busy with his own life, his personal problems.

But on Sunday August 21, 2011 in Mumbai everything changed. I was able to witness the awakening of the Common Man in real in support of Anna Hazare and the amendment of the Jan Lokpal Bill during the historic 'One Lakh March' rally.

The event was so called as the organizers had expected 1 lakh people to join in. The route was from Bandra West Railway station to Juhu Circle. They were urging Mumbaikars to join in to make sure the number reaches 1 lakh. However, the city-dwellers more than obliged them as over 2 lakh people hit the streets of Mumbai!

Before the start of the rally outside Bandra Station

Before the protest rally commenced just before 4:30, the scenes outside Bandra Station looked similar to that of a cricket stadium with thousands of people gathered with India’s tricolor, shouting slogans. But once the rally commenced and more and more people started joining in, the number went much ahead than any of the World Cup Finals!

In order to test the spirit of the protestors, heavy rains started pouring once we reached Khar. In no time, it turned into heavy showers. However, it had zero effect on the morale of the protestors who kept marching without a care in the world. I personally hate getting drenched in rains, more so because of the fear of falling ill but this event turned out to be an exception. Who cares?

There some touching scenes as well as a number of volunteers started distributing drinking water, biscuits and even soft drinks to the protestors for free! Their motto was clear: We don’t want you to stop by any means! One of the best examples of Spirit Of Mumbai!

As we were about to reach Juhu Beach, the long distance started affecting my body. But looking at the josh and enthusiasm of over a lakh people, my mind and heart urged me to go ahead and they eventually overruled my body!

Then came the historic moment when the rally ended at Juhu Circle. After the very long walk (from 4:40pm to just before 8pm) lakhs of people gathered at the ending point. People were proud of themselves and why not? They became a part of history! Such a scene was never seen after India’s independence! The place really became the next Tahrir Square!

I heard one of the protestors saying, “Me and my friend had been to Bandra to meet a client. After meeting the client, we got to know about the protest rally and decided to participate in it for 15 minutes. But we ended up waling the whole distance.”

This was a huge message to the government as to what people really want. It’s an open message saying – If you really feel India is a democratic country, you must listen to the voice of people who are not going to stop unless the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed. If it isn’t passed till August 30, the movement will become even stronger and your mental state, worse!

For today, let’s gather (dharna) outside the houses of all MPs and urge them to fulfill the demand of the Common Man.

 

Some more pictures from the rally: -

At the final destination at Juhu Circle

The rally ends with a candle light vigil

21Aug/110

A day at Azad Maidan during protest…

I have been participating in Anna Hazare’s protest rallies for the amendment of Jan Lokpal bill in areas like Bandra and Dadar. But the protest which I attended at Azad Maidan was something special.

Till date, I had only heard of India’s freedom movement but looking at the current protest rallies for Hazare, I, along with many youngsters, got a golden opportunity of experiencing it, more so at Azad. The patriotic slogans, enthusiasm, dutiful activities of the general public made me wonder whether I am sent back to the pre-1947 era!

I got to know that a group of people, who were sitting on the stage, were also fasting along with Hazare. Despite that, they showed no signs of it. In fact, some even gave speeches expressing the need to protest with full enthusiasm. There were hundreds of others waiting to be on the podium.


Some volunteers were distributing postcards, which were to be sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to pass the Civil Society’s version of the Jan Lokpal Bill (I know he is not going to read them but at least the huge number of letters will shake him hopefully).

The most defining moment was when Mayank Gandhi, Mumbai in-charge of India Against Corruption (IAC), took stage. He explained the difference between the government version of Lokpal Bill and the version proposed by the Civil Society. After listening to it, I bet nobody would like to keep away from the protest!

I met a number of people who had taken leave from office and a large number of students who have been bunking college just to be a part of the movement. People from all religion, caste and class had united. All total strangers but still each other’s well-wishers as they were united by a single belief – revolution! Has India ever witnessed such scenes after Independence?

The most amazing and, even, unbelievable aspect of this protest is that not a single incident of even a minor violence is reported. In fact, in all these rallies I have not even once heard anyone abusing or using foul language, which is a fad these days.

This was the scene at just one rally. There are thousands of such rallies taking place all over India. The Congress Government better take the voice of the masses seriously else life will keep getting uglier for them.

As it is, we all know their mental condition right now. First they arrested Hazare, a step which turned out to be a humungous blunder! Then, their spokesperson Manish Tewari had to bear crores of slaps after accusing Hazare for being corrupt. Later, another spokesperson said the movement might be a tactic by the US. This became the biggest joke of the year.

Lastly, they accused Hazare of running away from the army during his younger days but this was proved otherwise by the Right To Information tool. These lineups of goof-up clearly indicate the state of mind of our government right now. A clear case of – Vinaash Kaal, Vipritt Buddhi!

Already unprecedented numbers of people have participated in the movement but it’s important to up the ante in order to show our government and other parties the mirror while keeping in mind the most important factor – non-violence!

Some more pictures during the protest: -

My letter which I posted to our PM

Musical artists doing their bit to spread the word increase enthusiasm

Current state of Government?