Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Friendship Day message - A friend lost is a life investment gone

Friendship Day Special -Dr Jawahar Surisetti
A friend lost is a life investment gone

On the cusp of life , the turning point of my life when I joined Institute of Hotel Management at Kolkata , I was trying to find the bearings of my career or thereabouts. In an ecstatic mood of the first achievement in the 18 years of life span , I found myself lost in the metropolis. Coming from a small town , the culture, the language and the openness intimidated me . There were students from across the country and I suppose the culture shock would have been for many.
A Tamilian named Rangarajan found the abuses so common in the daily parlance of Delhiites very repulsive and even ended up in a boxing bout after which he left IHM and joined as a ticket collector in Railways . In such varied circumstances, there were people who held me together . We were the three musketeers . Amitava Mukherjee, the localite ; Anil George basically a Keralite but from Bokaro and I from Visakhapatnam. I was the only hosteller among the three so was privileged to have both the worlds to myself. The three of us stuck together in times when fags and booze engulfed the innocence and ignorance of many who had come from protected backgrounds and suddenly found the freedom to indulge in these and to some extent drugs .
Amitava would play host most of the time in his Garden Reach residence and we would study , do the little masti that we were entitled to and attended college almost 100% of the time .
In three years , we had grown to be inseparable and Amitava and I had a special bond - unexplainable and strong. In the final year he had shifted his residence to Tollygunge . His mother used to cook food for us while we studied and we would use his IITian brother's used one side papers for our study.
Time passed and we passed out and settled in our jobs in different parts of the country and as people in the hospitality industry know , the work sucks people into it so much so that there is no time for oneself leave alone others.
I got engulfed into this myriad domain and lost track of all friends . But both Amitava and Anil kept writing to me at my Vizag address and I was elsewhere so did not keep in touch .
Twenty five years later when I was doing very well in life and looked back in introspection on what I have lost , I realised that I had lost two of my dearest friends to my selfishness and opportunism.
I started finding out using whatever means I had . The hunger to find them was so much that I even gave a front page ad in the telegraph to find Amitava. In the effort , I could trace Anil as he stuck to hotels and found him in Kerala . I rushed to him not to lose him this time and we met after 25 long years like long lost brothers from a Manmohan Desai film . Anil still remains the same - simple , emotional and a true Christian.
But the eerie silence from Amitava was worrying me . I had achieved everything in life but was not able to find one friend whom I desperately wanted to meet . And after 3 years of this search , one fine day I got a message from Vivek Bahadur another IHM friend that Amitava was suffering from a rare brain disease and had been on bed for the last two decades and he had breathed his last on that day.
I was shattered . The disease explained his silence for so many years but the regret was that I could not be with him when he needed me most .
I cried like a child . I had not cried for years but this is one failure that I will carry to my grave . He was there when I needed him but I failed him when he needed reciprocation .
Many of us leave our friends on entering crucial phases in careers . But a friend lost is a life investment drowned . I realised this but it was too late . For 20 long years he was on bed with a failing brain and I could not spend one moment with him .
The moral of the story is come what may , stick to friends for life . This investment pays. Realise before it's too late .
Happy friendship day . Share this message

Monday, March 13, 2017

Modi - the undisputed king


The undisputed king

The election process in the five states rolled to a screeching halt with the announcement of results on 11th March . Instead of writing political obituaries of Akhilesh , Rahul , Mayawati among the many others , it is better to understand that even after a vitriolic exchange of diatribes in all states , the worst being the high stakes UP , it is only wise to accept that PM Modi is a power to reckon with .
I feel that after elections when all the rhetoric has ended and the outcomes stare you in the eyes, it is always a good strategy to to accept failure and agree that what Modi did was right in terms of strategy in the two states that they won . Instead , Mayawati comes with the strangest if excuses in doubting the credibility of the Electronic Voting Machines in an attempt to rationalise the defeat and the reasons for the debacle.
The fact of the matter is that neither BJP was hoping to get 282 seats on its own in the Lok Sabha 2014 elections neither did it expect the 325 in UP 2017 . Something that they did is right which needs to be appreciated . Something which the others did not do night needs to be introspected . But there are still people in Congress who would absolve Rahul Gandhi from the defeat but would attribute in the same breath if Modi loses elections . Two different reactions to the same outcome. They might be trying to get into the good books of the High Command but are doing a disservice by not accepting defeat , rationalising it and also absolving the leader from the defeat. The party is bound to be in the state it is in right now because of these very reasons . There will be a few muted brave voices who will raise questions on the leadership but they will either be sidelined or some disciplinary action taken for their bravado sending a message that sycophancy is valued and real criticism is punished .
The charisma of Modi is unmatched today. There is no leader in the political horizon who has the courage to accept and play high stakes in an all out political game . Congress had the leaders to take it on but all of them have gone into oblivion or have been sidelined. The rejuvenation of Congress is only possible with accepting realities and searching for performers and not surnames. Sonia Gandhi has to take the call. She has shown the courage earlier by spurning the Prime Minister's seat . She will have to look for young , dynamic , potential leader irrespective of the surname who could gain the confidence of the nation , challenge Modi when required and be more moderate in the approach purely on merit. If she could do it fast , it will fetch results in the 2019 elections. If not, Congress second fiddle to regional parties in states and fights small battles .
All parties like Samajwadi Party, BSP , Congress , RJD will have to stop targeting Modi and start talking on the policies of the government or BJP . The moment they do that , the focus will shift from Modi. By targeting Modi , all parties subconsciously convey to the audience that they don't have issues to address so they target an individual . And when Rahul Gandhi , Laloo , Akhilesh , Mayawati or any other leader attacks Modi , they fail in comparison to him . Rahul Gandhi does it again and again and keeps coming out smaller in comparison. His being away from Punjab was a blessing in disguise for the Congress.
So it has to be a part of the larger strategy for the opposition to unite , discuss issues that are not just secularism , caste and minority appeasement, Modi's past , demonetisation and such lacklustre issues. The UP elections show that the electorate has risen above these issues and have rejected parties that bank on caste and minority politics . So a rethink of a united opposition that challenges the government, makes use of the anti incumbency , reduce infighting and show togetherness leaving aside ambitions to avoid total decimation and bide their time . But this process has to start now and not later which will expose the opportunism if their coming together is just before the elections.

Monday, September 5, 2016

A teacher a day keeps the terrorist away

This title might sound too harsh but with all the strife in the world , I am only forced to believe that had these dreaded terrorists who shed blood of innocents , got the shade from the umbrella of a teacher , they would definitely not tread the path of terror. Yesterday , on the teachers day eve , I had two important learnings. These learnings proved that we can learn from teachers around us day in and day out.

We might not know that the person is a formal teacher or not , but if we are part of a good environment, life teaches us something daily if we keep our eyes, ears , nose and heart open.

At 1.30 in the afternoon, St Peters square in Vatican was brimming with close to 4 lakh people witnessing the canonisation of Mother Teresa , a woman who has taught the world what compassion coupled with unselfish character and will to help humanity can do to the world. On one side of the spectrum we see thousands of terrorists killing people in Paris, Kashmir , Pakistan , USA , London and so on . We do not remember the faces of these terrorists . We detest the, for these deeds and throughout our lives we hate them. On the other end of the spectrum , a wrinkled face and lady clad in white , Mother Teresa's face remained etched in our memory with no negative connotation. Single handedly she taught the world how to save and serve lives that have been rejected by society. Such is the power of her persona. Saint Teresa , you taught me to serve mankind and have inspired millions who throng to Missionaries of Charity to be a part of universal brotherhood.

The second learning of yesterday is a more bizarre but thought provoking one. For those who know me , I am a voracious movie goer and am found at malls on Sunday. Like every Sunday , I was at Magneto Mall in the evening after having just returned from a tour. As I entered I saw a teachers day celebration happening at the mall, the kind that felicitates teachers one day in a year. The organiser saw me, coerced me to speak a few unscheduled words and I continued with my journey to the movie. After the movie late in the evening we were looking for a place in the restaurants but there were serpentine queues of hungry people. As we rejected each option of waiting for food, we reached a new joint 'Dialogue in the dark " or "Taste of darkness" , just opened and had a black decor with a girl waiting to welcome us. Having no option we asked her what it was. She told us that you could either feel an Exhibition of darkness or have food in the darkness. Seemed interesting. We entered into the venue and a guide asked me to put a hand on his shoulder and my family followed suit . In pitch darkness we took some serpentine turns and reached a place where I could feel a table and our guide Ramprakash made us feel our chairs and sit . He kept chatting with us on how this German concept of experiencing darkness was doing well in 38 countries and how he was trained to walk in the darkness. While his endless chatter was intriguing to my wife , my thoughts had trailed into how we could have lived without light. Any light giving instrument was not allowed into the restaurant. So we had no mobiles not any light except a few red camera lights faintly visible . So there were night vision cameras watching us to avoid any nuisance in the darkness. The food came and RP took our hands to the plate and asked us to guess the soup and the starter before disclosing. We were using our other senses to the fullest with our sight being incapacitated. A totally new experience. After the food, the finger bowl and then the dessert. RP would excuse himself , deftly walk through the darkness to a sound from the counter and bring back preplated food , water , etc. I wondered what training they would have provided . At the end of the meal , he casually told us that the policy of the restaurant was to "hire blind boys " because they could handle darkness better.

This statement hit me like a bolt. All this while a specially abled boy was showing us the world in darkness, guiding us, feeding us , serving us and entertaining us. We had not realised that in darkness , he had the strength to teach us . How weak our senses are that if one of them is taken away, we become totally helpless. Ramprakash told us that when we exit the door to the world of light , we could see him but he could not see us.

My day was made by a Saint and a specially abled boy . Both of them showed me the way. Happy teachers day to both of you and all the teachers who have taught us formally or informally about life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Leave youth alone - politics' new low

The politics' new low

One fine day , we have a anti India demonstration in Jawaharlal Nehru University and there are some youth on TVs supporting the actions on campus. The very next day, the President of the Students Union of JNU is picked up for sedition. Pat comes the Home Minister's statement that there is a hand of the terrorist organisations across the border in this incident.
Shockingly in a rare show of unity and strength as well as the height of minority appeasement while compromising national security , Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury and other senior Communist leaders gathered to support the demonstration of JNU and accused the Centre of curbing the freedom of speech. 
The terrorist organisations in a move to destabilise the social fabric of India , seem to have plotted these protests and politicians have added fuel to fire knowingly and unknowingly for some minority votes . This is what hurts me. Rahul Gandhi showed utter non-understanding of the situation and in a "enemy of an enemy is my friend" formula, he simply jumped the bandwagon and ended up with an egg on the face.
My view is that instead of cheap politics , we should first wait for a minute, ponder at the turn of events , think of the repercussions and then take sides instead of just taking sides blindly. Whether it be BJP or Congress , I am least bothered but supporting seditious behaviour is nothing short of anti-national behaviour. Add to that , to score brownie points , political parties like Congress, CPI-M , JD-U and even Arvind Kejriwal spoke against the action of the Centre. 
What unknowingly  these political parties have done a disservice to the nation by adding fuel to the fire and that was precisely what these cross border terrorist organisations wanted.
Using universities like JNU and Jadavpur University for political gains will create long term fissures in society . If the youth of India are supposed to be the future , and if we corrupt the gennext then we will be left with nothing else.  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

#SRK retweets Dr Jawahar Surisetti article "Hypocrisy"


Hypocrisy 

Today is 26/11, the day we were attacked by a motley group of Pakistani terrorists , who had laid siege on the city, barbarically killed people, disturbed the whole country and mocked humanity. 
Incidentally, we have reached the peak of the "intolerance" debate , with Aamir Khan taking centrestage. It was initiated by the returning of awards, then taken ahead by Shahrukh Khan's words and now Aamir and Rahman. And the whole fuss about this intolerance is not to the understanding of sane minds. 
There have been rants about beef and Bangladesh since time immemorial. Fatwas have been issued on films, Tasleema Nasreen, Salman Rushdie, MF Hussain and many more years ago. Shiv Sena has been against Pakistani artistes since very long . They have been against Pakistani Cricketeers too and have dug up pitches in the past. So " intolerance " is not a current phenomenon. 
Shahrukh himself had protested when he was detained in international airports and whisked. Rahman has been at the wrong end many a times. So why now ?
But I am concerned about something else. The ISIS is not finding recruits elsewhere in the world and is looking for Muslim youth in India . This news is well known in the Intel circuits. At this point of time , if Shahrukh and Aamir , two of the cult Indian stars cry intolerance , I am afraid of the large followings they have in the youth . Even out of the millions of fans , if a hundred go the wrong way, and practice terrorism taking the Indian intolerance story seriously, the job of ISIS becomes easier. We have seen the influence of stars and movies in the past. Crazy fans have broken laws and committed crimes watching and emulating their stars.

Our Bollywood fixation makes it all the more dangerous if these stars speak anything that is construed or will be contorted by the opposition as something anti national, it will have disastrous effects. This bothers me. The psyche of the youth is vulnerable to the words and actions of these stars. So one one side , it is upon the star to restrain from using words that will have a cause and effect  on millions of fans . 
On the other hand , it is upon the political class, both in the ruling and opposition not to fan these statements of the stars with political air because of their own vested interests . The stars are also human beings and speak their heart out. But if we use their statement to reach out to their fans and gain mileage it is not in national interest .
So in the fight for the mindspace of the people of the country, utterances of stars and politicians without restraint and the fanning of emotions of the political class, we portray our country as being backward and issueless in the world community. These gossips and trivia are the domain of people and nations without work. Whether we wish to show our fast progressing nation in bad light for our vested interests is for us to think.
But for me it's Nation First ! And that the example set by the martyrs of 26/11 .