Friday, 24 April 2015

The lost art work in Chaupal of village Gamra (Hisar)

I had first visited this village (dist. Hisar) on 10.5.1997 and had talked at length to Master Balbir Singh Sheoran, 58 Chowdhry Taik Ram, 64 to throw light on the history of the village and the magnificent Chaupal that his elders had built 92 years ago in the year 1923 AD. It came to known that the mason-cum-artists belonged to Karsindu -a neighboring village. The head mason was Kaliya but the paintings in secco-tempera were created by Sariya, who died as lunatic in his later years. So sad an episode. The artist had created paintings in 74 panels depicting Kikar Singh for the first time -reputed wrestler and muscle man in entire erstwhile Punjab, several portraits of Kanphatta Nath Sadhus, the nature and other Gods of the Hindoos.
I had reached the village about 4 PM in the evening and by the time I completed inspection it was already getting dark. Since the building faced east, I decided to stay in the village and take photograph in the morning when the natural light was soft and the interiors also got illuminated. The village is situated 85 kilometers from my home in Rohtak town and returning was not practicable on a two wheeler. The roads in those days were also not so good as are nowadays. The Sarpanch volunteered to lodge us in his home. We were quite comfortable. At least a dozen elderly residents of the village were taking keen interest in the process of documentation and photography that was being done first time. They asked me a hundred questions if it were some scheme of the Govt. or what was the issue etc. but I engaged them on other issues and finally told that it were only due to personal interest in the history of village communities that brought me here. on 19th April 2015 when I decided to again visit this edifice to see if the original temperament, design and other decorative features could be in found, I was shocked to see that the walls had been painted and the art work was gone save a few that could be located in the staircase leading to the roof. One thing could not have changed: the habit of card playing as may be noticed in the two photographs taken 18 years apart. The whole think brought tears in my eyes. The village folk admitted that the loss of art heritage was due to lack of timely awareness. I have only regrets for the loss. The difference in time lag can be viewed through photographs.




Thursday, 9 April 2015

Street Scenes in India

Most people live in filthy conditions and spent life times.........leave more filth behind for future generation..........the filth and garbage accumulates and becomes an eyesore bringing down the quality of life. The people who spread filth think that others such as sweepers deployed by Municipality will keep the common living spaces clean for them. They do come, collect the litter in some ironical corners and burn it. Thus making the air quality deteriorate. It is common to whole of India, particularly in areas inhabited by very low income group families. They watch and watch and do nothing. On the contrary, rural settings are far more cleaner and the people living here have far lower incomes than the city dwellers. Can Modi expect anything from them who has run a Clean India Campaign. These pictures depict scenes in a small but historically significant town located in northeastern Rajpootana.











Sunday, 15 March 2015

Vadodara







I had two hours time at Vadodara before I could embark the Sampark Kranti train back home. As providence would have it, I got a good smaritan autorickshawalah -Usman Bhai, who happily took me to two places viz. Laxmi Vilas Palace and the Museum. The Maharaja of Baroda had a superb collection of bronzes and paintings (regrettably mostly of European origin) and a large number of originals by Raja Ravi Verma including oleo graphs and lithographs. The porcelain collection from China and European countries are impressive whereas the marble statues are attractive. The entry fees in Laxmi Vilas palace is Rs.170/- (INR) and the Museum Rs.60. The royal estate must be covering an area of over 2000 acres in which the orchards, palaces and several other structures as pavilions are beautifully placed giving them good space to full display of magnificence. I was just back in time -an hour ahead of the departure of the train.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Are the States serious about modernization of the Police force ?


The Tribune (17 Feb. 2015) reported on front page anchor that the Central Govt. has asked the Punjab Govt. to submit proof of spending of the grant money that was provided for modernizing the Police Force. It is required to be done by way of physical inspection. The MHA Babus have not trusted the utilization certificate that the State Govt. has furnished. This raised many questions on the honesty of politicians, civil servants and the police department and seriousness attached to the task.
What actually modernization of a police force means? I checked it from various angles and found interesting information from three locations: (i) as it was construed by the highly placed Babus in Home department of Punjab Govt., high ranking officers in the Punjab police force and the political establishment in Punjab, which comes from Akali Dal,(ii) from the news version that is based on the statements of the people to whom the reporter (Mr Jupinderjit Singh) had spoken and assessment/investigation by the concerned reporter on the basis of the papers that he might have obtained in verification of the claims, and (ii) independent researchers including the BPRD (Bureau of Police Research and Development, MHA, Govt. of India).
It reveals a pathetic state of affairs. Police faces several types of challenges and requires to update its personnel in several ways from improving the mindset and educating them in some important branches of knowledge, imparting physical training in some novel manners as suggested by sports-science physiologists, training the communication and information technologies and above all handling of various types of modern weapons and ammunition besides training in driving of flying. I don't say that they need to perform like James Bond does in his brand of films but surely their physique and training have been on the wanting side.
I don't want to write an essay on the subject but would like to point out that if this trend of wasting money received as grants continues in the States, our police force in the states will never be able to perform in accordance with the changing time. Both the State Govt. and the Central Govt. annually spend staggering sums of money from their budgets kitties on various kinds of Police in the country (from regular police to CISF and NSG etc.) but the latter has refused to become smart. There are vast differences in the attitude and training of IPS officers that pass out from NPA and the State Police Academies. The gaps need to be filled up fast and the responsibility lies mainly of the Chiefs of these academies. Gone are the days of the Danda or Lathi wielding Police or mounted police. Nowadays, the police must use advanced vehicles like mo-bikes, advanced cars with computer data linkages and onsite screening/identification facilities, forensic tools for crime detection and nabbing of suspects, helicopters and high tech information system. No doubt, horses are still relevant to control mobs in India but the rider becomes an easy target, if untrained.

Digging into the facts that are available in public domain, one fan find mind boggling revelations about the expenditure and schemes on both aspects: the cost of maintenance of a huge number of personnel and modernization.
What actually is modernization in universal and relative terms and, in particular, Indian context. Books on history of the Indian Police system narrating personal experiences, reports of various committees and commissions and memoirs from the late 1800s to recent times describing the life in the system, policies, finances and forethinking including intelligence networking abound but the most fascinating is a book authored in 1912 by C.E.Gouldsbury of the Indian Police and was titled 'Life in the Indian Police', with 24 illustrations. There have been many previous attempts at reforming the police force and modernizing it latest training schedules and introduction of gadgetry for bringing rapidity and efficiency in action during risk challenge and peace time watch and ward.
The Outcome Budget of MoHA, Govt. India 2009-10 states at para 4.64: 'Some of the major items provided under the Scheme include construction of secure police stations, outposts, police lines, ensuring mobility, security, provision of modern weaponry, security, surveillance, communication, forensic equipment, upgradation of training infrastructure, police housing and computerization.' Besides the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) Project was conceived as mission mode with a budgetary provision of Rs.2, 000 crores in the 11th Five Year Plan.
The total expenditure envisaged as grants under the above plan on police alone was indicated to be Rs.33, 809 crore (plan and non-plan, both) for a combined police force comprising officers and juniors to to whopping 1, 579, 687 numbers. There are 666 number of Police districts in the country in which 12, 702 police stations exist. There is one police man for 700 people in the country.Interestingly, 90 per cent of the budgetary allocation to the the force is spent on payment of salary and allowance and the remainder is used for maintenance. Which is why the State Police is always short of funds for inducting more personnel and inducting technologies and other logistics for improving its functioning. It, therefore, relies on Central grants. If the grants are mis-used, remain underutilized as was observed in the case of Punjab, we cannot expect much and compare it with the best equipped and trained police force of some of the US States, UK, France and Singapore. Let us see what lies in future for both the people and the Police in this country.

Friday, 13 February 2015

भारत में चीनी, गुड़ और खांडसारी -Sugar, Jaggery and yellow sugar






मित्र लोग समझेंगें की मैं पंसारी हो गया या मंडी सुपरवाईजर. ऐसा नहीं है. एक स्वस्थ आदमी महीने भर में औसतन करीब १२०० ग्राम प्योर और रॉ शुगर का इस्तेमाल करता है. हमारे यहाँ पहले महायुद्ध के समय इम्पोर्टेड चीनी होती थी लेकिन बाद में अंग्रेजों की बदौलत और लाला गूजर मल मोदी की वजह से यूनाइटेड प्रोविन्सिस में चीनी मिल लगाई गयी थी. बहुत कम लोग यह जानते हैं कि मोदी जी के पुरखे पहले तो रोहतक के निकट दुजाना रियासत के बाशिंदे थे, फिर कानौड (वर्तमान महेंद्रगढ़) बसे जहां से वे बारास्ता पटियाला और लाहौर वर्तमान में मोदीनगर (सन १९३३) आ बसे.
२५०० वर्षों से शर्करा हमारे देश में बनती रही है और अनेक प्रकार से हमारी फोकलोर का हिस्सा भी है. हाल के वर्षों में निजी क्षेत्र के चीनी मिल मालिकों और उत्पादकों ने एक अजीब किस्म की लूट मचाई हुयी है. न केवल ये लोग राजनेताओं को ही भारी-भरकम रिश्वत देते हैं अपितु स्वयम भी राजनीति में सक्रिय रहकर सरकार में मंत्री वगैरह बनते रहे हैं. जैसे शरद पवार, गडकरी और इधर हरयाणा में विनोद शर्मा. ये लोग चीनी के दामों को स्टॉक रोककर नियंत्रित करते हैं, खुले बाज़ार में दाम ऊंचे रखते हैं, सरकार से करोड़ों रुपये की सब्सीडी लेते हैं, निर्यात के लिये अनुमति चाहते हैं ताकि लोकल मार्किट में अपने ही देशवासियों को ऊंचे दामों पर बीच सकें. अर्थात बे-ईमानी और बुराई के सारे मंसूबे बना कर उन पर अनैतिक रूप से अमल भी करते हैं. गन्ना देने वाले किसानों को समय पर भुगतान नहीं करते, सरकार पर सब्सीडी चालो रखने और उधार चुकाने के लिये सरकार से अनुदान मांगते हैं. देखा गया है कि अंग्रेजों के जमाने में हमारा किसान अधिक खुश था और उसे गुड़, शक्कर और खांड बनाने के मामले में कोई रोक-टोक नहीं करता था. गुड़ और खांडसारी बनाने के हमारे तरीके बेशक आदिम रहे हों लेकिन यदि न्यूट्रीशन वैज्ञानिकों की मानें तो उन्हीं पुराने तरीकों से बने उत्पाद सेहत के लिये नियामत थे, न कि वर्तमान पद्धति से बनी चीनी.
हमारे देश में चीनी मिलों के आने और दुर्नीति के कारण गुड़ और खांडसारी जैसे कुटीर उद्योग का सफाया हो गया है. इससे लोगों को अपनी सेहत ठीक रखने के लिये सही रूप वाली शुगर नहीं मिल रही और अधिकतर लोग प्योर शुगर और मिठाईयों की तरफ प्रवृत्त हो गये हैं जिसकी वजह से उन्हें गाल ब्लैडर में स्टोन होने के अलावा ब्लड शुगर लेवल की अधिकता परेशान किये रहती है. पहले तो मधुमेह वाले लोग भी अल्प मात्रा में रॉ-शुगर का इस्तेमाल कर लेते थे, लेकिन आजकल उन्हें ऐसे शुद्ध उत्पाद मिलते कहाँ हैं?
भारत में इस समय ५०० से ज्यादा की संख्या में शुगर मिल्स हैं. इन पर किसानों का ११ हज़ार करोड़ रुपया बकाया है. निर्यात की इजाजत न होने से देसी बाज़ार में चीनी के थोक मूल्य २३५० रुपये तक आ गये हैं लेकिन रिटेल में अभी दाम ३५ रुपया प्रति किलोग्राम से कम नहीं. शुगर लॉबी इसी बात से परेशान है कि निर्यात न होने से उन्हें देसी मार्किट से फायदा नहीं हो रहा. अर्थात जिस देश में ईंख होता है और आदिकाल से गुड़-शक्कर बनता रहा हो उनका शोषण करने की इन्हें खुली छूट मिले. ज्ञातव्य है कि विदेशी मंडियों में हमारी चीनी ८ या १० रुपये प्रति किलो ही बिकती है क्योंकि, इण्डोनेशिया, पकिस्तान और क्यूबा से प्रतिद्वंदिता है.
यही है हमारे राजनैतिक और आर्थिक शोषण का काला अध्याय.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Jats - Are they showing signs of restlessness?



For the last couple of years the Jats have become restless due to several pressures viz. pressure of livelihood, pressure of acquisition of land, rampant unemployment, diminishing return on land holdings, squeeze on the size of land holdings, political wilderness at the national level and lack of a towering personality as leader, disliking of Jats by other communities, malicious propaganda against Khaps in the national media, tarnishing of image of the Kaum or the race in history and calling them Lootera or plunderer and a subtle scheme to downgrade them at all fronts be it were for high posts in national institutions, foreign service or all India services, honor killing etc.
I could gather that at least a hundred meetings in the last four-five years have been convened by various Jat community bodies or organizations to deliberate on the above noted issues and to regain the lost honor and identity. In fact it was a search for the honor for the race that lost identity as soon as the British had left. It were only the British that had organized the Jats into a fine soldier and constituting Army units as formidable fighting force against the Axis Powers during the First and the Second Great Wars and given them the status of a Marshal Race. They called the Jats as finest farmers in the world and admitted that their nutritional status and physics is matchless throughout the Indian sub-continent. The British relied upon them as their integrity was beyond suspicion and promoted their cause and honored them so that they could sit in the front row when the British Monarch wished to meet them.
In the years that followed independence from the British in 1947 a gradual decline in the honor and status of the Jat race could be seen and the system became so cruel that they found themselves neglected at many fronts despite the fact that there was always a government in Haryana that was called 'Jat Govt.' despite their secular attitude and benevolence. The race could hardly eschew this humiliation that hung large on every Jat face. In fact nothing could come out of the hundreds of so meeting in recent years that ended only with passing of some resolutions and announcements. Everything seemed to have faded away in the oblivion because no solid system -administrative as well as financial, could exist for accomplishing the targets, which in way were false but unattainable in the given milieu.
Again a new meeting has been announced -the second one in the series within a week, that seeks support of the Jat intellectuals. The first one called at Rohtak on 26th ended up as political rally in which Mr Birender Singh, Union Agriculture Minister, was present. The second one is scheduled for 9th January. The former was on the occasion of 251 birth anniversary of Maharaja Suraj Mal and the latter on the occasion of the 157th Martyrdom Day of Raja Nahar Singh of Ballabhgarh Principality. Except expression of views, no outcome is expected from this meet too as told previously that Jats lacks a strong and powerful institution that can carry on the task with missionary zeal. It requires lots of funding sources that are hard to come by. In this instance I can site the example of Sikhs who can attain anything through SGPC. Regrettably, the Jats don't have such agencies as SGPC.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Colour of Shekhawati in 1999




These were the colors of Shekhawati 19 years ago. In these years I re-visited many more Thikhanas and found things have changed and worsening too. Colors have slowly faded, more commercial attitude floating in the air and minds of the locals, link roads still bumby, open and spacious lands in front of a cluster of havelis gone and taken by ugly structures, peaceful ambiance crushed by vehicles cpewing black fumes from exhaust pipes, filth and worn out structures tell a sordid tale of neglect. Once Shekhawati was proud of its painted havelis and open spaces with street full of fine and clean sand. Now..........not grandeur but filth and crowd have taken over. Shekhawati can retain its magnificence only if a grand plan is prepared and implemented within five years. Ramgarh, Fatehpur, Mandawa, Udaipurwati,Mukundgarh, Dundlod, Navalgarh and many more such as Sujangarh and Ratangarh have suffered damage. Indian just don't know how to preserve its heritage. Every visitor can feel excited about the history of Shekhawati and the ambiance of the streets dotted by hundreds of painted havelis. I am amazed at the speed with which Shekhawati has taken to urban culture.
Rajasthan has plans but they focus on bringing more tourists and not for preserving the heritage in original form. We need to act fast, and..........NOW. It is also time we shed steriotyped plans on tourism and instead make good linkages with heritage conservation bodies for which we need to rope in expertise of the Archaeological Survey of India. We also need to built in-house expertise instead of looking at the West.