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 .
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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.