Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Aap ki Sarkaar^ again

Four toons on the #AAPSweep of Delhi
Pic courtesy : www.bijoyvenugopal.com

Its time again for the AAP. Aap ki Sarkaar^.The Aam aadmi party has made a resounding comeback, garnering 67 seats in the Delhi elections, a whopping majority. Every other party relegated to the dust. Is this the dawn of a new era in Indian politics, with the voters finally being able to choose? For many decades of single party rule, accompanied by lack of any meaningful alternatives, had more or less brought in despondency to the Indian voter. For what matters more in a democracy than the ability to choose.But, no more. Here appears a strong-willed, clean alternate to the mainstream parties, riding high on popular choice.

The amblingindian is once again over the moon with joy. An idea, of the common man- the amblingindian, who couldn't do much but write, has now metamorphosed into one that can vote. And choose from viable alternatives. A lot hinges now on Mr Kejriwal and his army of supporters. For sure, they started on the right wicket the last time, by bringing in good governance, albeit breifly, but then lost the plot somewhere by resigning after 49 days in power.

Lets hope that time has brought experience and maturity. This time, the world is watching with bated breath,as is the amblingindian. Will they ? Wont they? Will they last the five years and bring the much needed alternative to Indian politics, to life this time around?

Also read .. The aam aadmi arrives, published in 2013( the last time around, when the amblingindian was at 10,000 views).  (The amblingindian close on the heels of the aam aadmi, is today at 20,000 views+ and growing...)

Pic Courtesy : The Hindu

Aina Rao.
The amblingindian

^Sarkar- Government

Year of aam aadmi^

The aam aadmi arrives …

2013- will be known as the year that the aam aadmi arrived. And in what style! From a protest, to support a fasting Anna Hazare* against corruption, to a party that has stolen the show, with capture of 29 seats, and forming the Government, and that too in the capital of Delhi**. Not a mean feat by any standards. The longstan
ding incumbents relegated to the backbenches, and becoming the butt of jokes, and that too by upstarts. And what a journey! From being  called names  - "Mango men", to stealing thunderstage! From being anonymous , to victorious!

The broom wields power

Who would have thought that the educated electorate could actually swing something so stupendous? The common man, depicted so simply by R K laxman, the innocent bystander, who could only watch by the sidelines, is now flexing his muscles and calling the shots. From mere protests, to real power. The year 2013 will certainly be seen as a watershed in indian politics, with the emergence of what me thinks is a real alternative. For people who had no choice but to vote for one criminal over the other, what a refreshing wave. To be actually able to offer an alternative that’s clean, and not surprisingly, having chosen the ubiquitous “Jhadu” or “broom”, to clean up the place, coming up with the real goods. It remains to be seen though, whether the aam aadmi party can actually carry this through, without letting success go to their heads.

As for me, I am over the moon with joy! The year 2013 is when the Amblingindian was also born, close on the heels of the aam aadmi. An idea, that came to mind, from watching helplessly, to doing something. She started with writing about stuff, pouring out her heart. The amblingindian -  the alter ego of the aam aadmi, helpless as she was, watching by the sidelines so far. But hopefully, no longer! She is now the empowered one, ready to take on the new India.. Ready to support what’s right , clean and just. With not a jhadu, but a pen in tow! Power to the Aam aadmi , to the amblingindian…
The amblingindian
Power to the amblingindian


Aina Rao

( The amblingindian also arrives with 10,000 page views today - thank you to all readers!)

^Aam Aadmi - the common man or woman
*Anna Hazare - the leader who led a hunger fast against corruption in India, supported by millions of Indians who are fed up with the rot in the system. 
**Refers to the recent success of the AAm AADmi party in the Delhi elections, where they debuted with a large no of seats, at the cost of the ruling party - the Congress.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Women of India- Innovate !

Save the Girl child :
Gurjeet Singh 's cycling mission:
Pic courtesy : Gaadi.com
It is interesting indeed, the kind of innovation that gets created by necessity, in the face of not just adversity, but what seems like insurmountable odds. Today I’m thinking of a long standing problem for India-Female feticide and what can stop it?  Lots of people, policy makers and common men included have put their heads to the issue which is not new, but seemed to have gained momentum in the last few decades. The dwindling female:male ratio of the Northern states bearing testimony to the fact that people had become quite adept at using modern techniques to find creative ways of solving traditional ailments. So quick ultrasounds at doctor or quack clinics, to reveal the gender of the foetus, followed by a quicker abortion if it was female, did the job. And was well concealed. With the inevitable result that the offspring was always male (Some of my so-called well-wishers, obviously not knowing much about me, and displaying pity after the birth of my first daughter, had suggested this route). With the dwindling female:male sex ratio reaching alarming proportions, to the extent that three Hariyanavi*  brothers had to share a wife, a la Draupadi, the policymakers were forced to sit up and take notice.

And what better way to do that than to try and stem the issue? So ultrasound clinics were banned from revealing the gender of the unborn child, with strict penalties and surveillance in place for doctors. And abortions coming under the scanner too. All these had their impact,  somewhat  reducing the gender selection dilemma. But, surprisingly the problem seems to continue, perhaps abetted by even more innovative means, which may have been discovered by desperate people not wanting a female offspring at all.

What is heartening to note, is the amount of attention this issue is getting. Last week, a cyclist from Punjab," Gurjeet Singh" started a country wide cycling trip to raise awareness of the issue- his mission "Save and Educate the Girl child" . A heart warming  gesture indeed. A slew of other awareness initiatives are to be seen; funnily enough some creative radio jingles by the “Ministry” encouraging people to have more girls. A man, ostensibly “ Mr Gupta”  proudly proclaims, on a ministry sponsored advert - “ I have two girls, both are chartered accountants. And they help me run my company- my turnover has gone up five times. And now I have named the company “Gupta and daughters”. Laudable indeed, Mr Gupta and the ministry of women and whatever, but is this enough? Goading people to have daughters by naming their companies so and so. Or, is something much more drastic, something really innovative needed to stop this poison?

Pic courtesy: Care India
My thought is, India needs to dig deeper, find the root of the issue and then pull it out. In a patriarchal society, even primitive at times, men hold the upper hand. Be it freedom to move around, dress and loiter (to prove this point , a group WEloiter has been setup,where women are simply loitering about the way men do in India, thus asserting their rights to this activity, hitherto the prerogative of some useless men), ownership of assets, or simply the family name, women are always disadvantaged, with very few exceptions (Such as the Nair community of Kerala). So, in effect, we may need to do more to reverse the tide. 

Being a woman should simply be the “best “ that can happen. Be in in property, taxes, employment, education, civil rights or anything else you can think of, the policymakers will have to make it unfairly advantageous to be a woman. Swinging the scale somewhat to the other side.  Just to get the balance right, which you can achieve only after rebalancing, and tilting the other way.  Some measures that are in place already- free education, the tax free interest deposit account for girls for upto Rs. 1.5 lakhs , all good, but need to be upped. Why not make property transfer to a woman free of stamp duty ? That way, a lot of property will get registered in a woman’s name. And as we all know, property equals power. Reinvigorate the parliamentary reservation bill for women which is still gathering dust. Puny measures will not help in solving the issue, but bold, innovative steps are what are needed.

Dear readers, If you have any suggestions about how we can unfairly advantage women, do write to me .. Amblingindian@gmail.com. I will be happy to compile an innovative list of ideas for the cause of women in India and post it too.


Aina Rao, 
The amblingindian.

* men from Haryana, a state in the North of India

Friday, 6 February 2015

The name innovation begins....

Whats in the name?
What is it about us Indians and names? We don't just love our names ( and in some cases hate them, especially if they are a tad too long, somewhat like Parvati Venkata Nag Vijaya Rajyashree . err.. the full name of a person well known to the amblingindian), we adore, glorify and worship them too. And too what an extent!

No sooner does the Party in power change hands than kicks in the "Ministry of renaming conventions". All hands to the deck, the invisible ones that is, get busy at spotting and listing all the names of the hitherto politicians, wherever they may be. So, starting from the airports, the roads, the innumerable schemes, the schools, and perhaps even the slums, nothing is to
be left behind. For all this naming and shaming is important business you see.                            


I thought the new Government would have
enough up its sleeve to sit and work through without actually worrying about these sorry names everywhere. But, how wrong was I in my understanding of the Indian political psyche. This naming is serious business man, especially if you have a history of 50 years of near uninterrupted single party rule (by which nearly every lampole in sight has been named after the party leaders), it demands a lot of hard work to undo all that naming and glorifying business. And not just undo the old ones, but to find new ones too. So, an entire team of historians and researchers is needed to get going, and find all the leaders of yore, and of today too, some of who, need to be kept in good standing by virtue of the fact that they command complete votebanks now. That being their claim to fame, they must share in the spoils or the glory for sure. 
Which way to go?

To quote Abhijeet Majumdar,the Hindustan times : "Only, this is no ordinary change. It is not just about bringing down old photographs and nameplates and putting up a new set. It is far bigger in scale, far-reaching in ambition, profound in its desired result.So far managing to keep the media noise low, the Modi government has set out to unfix the nuts, bolts, nails, dowels, hinges and fixings of the Nehru-Gandhi architecture.It won’t be easy. The family has been in power for about 50 of India’s 67 years of Independence, the last 10 of which with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi as the real power centre watching over her party’s PM. This is excluding PV Narasimha Rao's days in office, on which the family had very limited influence.
After the BJP came to power in May, it had said it would review the use of Nehru-Gandhi family names in 650 schemes, projects and institutions. From roads, parks, colleges, ports, airports, sanctuaries to stadiums and tournaments played therein and trophies distributed, perhaps no part of the country is untouched by these signs of what is variously explained as gratitude and servitude.Of the many mysterious ways the family exercised and perpetuated its power over nearly seven decades, signage was the most visible but, paradoxically, the most subliminal. One encountered it almost at every turn of everyday life.Rajiv Awas Yojna for slum development is going to be named after Jai Prakash Narayan, a socialist and India’s best known anti-corruption activist. In the Union Budget, finance minister Arun Jaitley spoke about setting up the Jai Prakash Narayan National Centre for Excellence in Humanities in Madhya Pradesh. Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi Airport is likely to be named after former Andhra Pradesh CM NT Rama Rao", and so on and so forth.
Hurrah to the name changers- some innovative ideas there. With the new party in power in new India, it sure is time for change. The only thought that comes to mind now, is, why not name all the potholes on the roads too- in memory of some of the politicians who let them live in peace, for all this while. 
Whichever ministry is in power can surely claim that glory. So, here's to the potholed road to be named after the " Transport Minister"; a new innovation for new India.
Aina Rao 
The amblingindian

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Eat, walk, see Bangalore

Good morning, Bengaluru.
Kaikondranahalli lake at sunrise

Image result for kaikondrahalli lake
Kaikondranahalli lake at sunrise
Today starts an innovative series on spending the weekends. This time it was  time for just walking and seeing Bangalore. And discovering it bit, by bit. Followed by breakfast of course. What better way to spend a Sunday than with friends in tow. And that is how, I started off with the "Kaikondranahalli lake". Wonder who named it that- Kaiko Run halli (Why run in the village) . A good excuse not to run, just to take a walk. And what a walk - around a beautifully rejuvenated lake. an amazing sight! Lots of birds, swampland and shimmering water to greet the senses. A calm placid breeze, the tender morning sun and dew dampened grass. A pack of stray dogs to greet.

This lake has been the benefactor of a focused effort to rejuvenate nature's bounty right here in the city, and by a group determined not to allow it to be converted into another ugly concrete jungle. A group that doggedly pursued its dream and came up tops.

An innovative idea, to convert it into a walk-run- cycle or just meet around the lake track. Interspersed with a kids fun area, with lots of  swings. And a musical corner dotted with drums to try out. an amphitheatre to boot. Lots to do, for everyone around. Or just sit and gaze, and feast the eyes on so many things of beauty- cranes, herons, the black- billed platypus, eucalyptus, reeds and plain, calm, pure,refreshing water too. And come home refreshed indeed, for that's a sunday well spent!

Aina Rao
the amblingindian.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The uncommon man passeth

Pic courtesy: Times of india

Last week, as the uncommon man " RK Laxman *", creator of the common man, breathed his last, a shower of tributes, from common and uncommon people followed. Many of who remembered him with nostalgia, from the days when they waited, every morning, for his appearance in the "Times of India", with his witty, satirical insight into the headline of the day. Such was his impact that it was not even necessary to go through the mountains of written pieces that accompanied the little cartoon on front page, but just a glimpse of the common happenings around the common man would be enough. Even though a common man, he was uncommon by all means, with his pointy ears and wonder-struck expression staying on in the minds of the readers, as he watched everything around him, stoically and silently. Chairs may be hurled around him by the honourable members of parliament, or cows elbow him around, but he just stood. And saw. He had no name, he never spoke, but he said it all. And resounded with the masses of common men.                                                                                                          
And sad it is indeed, the day when he fell silent for ever. the 26th of Jan, 2015. No more of his appearances to look forward to. But, such was his charisma and power that he inspired. Inspired many an innovation, starting with Indian Politics . The " Aam Aadmi", none other than a symbol of the common man, that even inspired a party.
Amblingindian- the common woman

And the "amblingindian", a rather modern, forward-looking "aam aurat", yet a commoner in the India of today, joined the ranks of his common followers. But, in contrast, while the common man insisted on silence, the "aam aurat- the amblingindian" and others spoke out, and continue to do so. And hope to be joined by many others too, in their quest for commonness. Hail the common man! May his tribe increase!


Aina Rao
The amblingindian.
The common man stamp

*Rasipuram Krishnaswami Laxman (24 October 1921 – 26 January 2015) was an Indian cartoonist, illustrator, and humorist. He is best known for his creation The Common Man , a satirical innovation, and for his daily cartoon strip, "You Said It" in The Times of India, which started in 1951.