My Musical Journey

How I overcame my apprehensions?

Is failure the best teacher?  

Why failure is a great teacher?

It teaches us about ourselves.

When we fail, we learn things about ourselves that we would never have known otherwise. We learn what we are good at, and what we need to work on. This self-knowledge is invaluable, and it can help us to be our best selves. Thus, it is important that we fail and learn and move on to grow in life.

Covid 19 changed many lives, including mine. With time at hand and work reduced to the minimum, I came across a post on Facebook about a music academy teaching music – classical & Bollywood. I thought, why not try this? It looked promising…but I thought only children can learn whereas adults can only teach. I was apprehensive, what if I cannot learn (read fail) and everybody comes to know about it?

Self-admittedly, I had faced minimal failure in life which had made me slightly complacent. Here, I was afraid of failure. I discussed my plan with my mother. Her reaction was: Arre kuch aur seekh le, music, woh bhi classical, not your cup of tea. You can’t sing a song properly, better stick to something related to writing.”   

Now, I was confused…still went ahead and took admission.

My musical journey started. In the beginning, I faced a lot of rejection and dejection and thought of quitting but somehow continued and today I am singing well and adding to the pride of my family. My mother today is the biggest fan of my singing. She is glad that for once I have proven her wrong. The credit for this situation would be attributed to Ms Raina Lahiri, Chief Mentor, Raina’s Music Academy who took me into her fold and brought out the singer in me. Though she could sense that I was singing as if I was making a corporate presentation which I had done all my life. Probably, she took the challenge in a student like me!

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” —Robert F.

Had I not tried, I would not have achieved what I have.

Another aspect, because we fear failure, is that we want to be perfectionists. I am the one who is having such perfectionist tendencies, I do not like doing anything for mediocre results, I like outstanding results. It does not happen all the time.

Ms Smita Mehta, Guiding Angel, in letter and spirit.

At a time when I was nearly giving up on my singing journey, I shared my decision with my dear friend, Ms. Smita Mehta, who is a famous Tarot Card Reader. She threw a sixer at me, who said, “You are Sachin Tendulkar in writing, but you will become Lata Mangeshkar in singing, that is not going to happen. Don’t give up without trying your best, you will reach somewhere.” How right she was!

Here, a special mention of my dear friend, Ms Amrrita Bhatija, an academician par excellence who has always displayed faith in my abilities and motivated me to the hilt.

Failure happens, it’s not optional. But as put appropriately by Zig Zagler, It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce those counts.”

I repeatedly hear from people that they are afraid to fail, even though failure is the best teacher. They fear what others will think about them if they fumble toward their goals. They’re afraid to endure the pain of falling short, making fears their reality.

With Amrrita below – A consistent Partner in crime!!

Little do they know that “Failure is the best teacher.”

They stop short of realizing their goals or, worse; they don’t take action. I certainly have feared failure. And my fear has paralyzed me. If you have experienced this, you know how much it sucks. But failure should teach us instead of paralyzing us. Sometimes the fear of failure is rooted in perfectionist tendencies.

Perfectionists struggle to understand that failure is the best teacher. At their core, perfectionists never feel good enough. When they realize they have made a mistake, it’s enough to take them down a spiral of self-criticism and shame. Often, this stops perfectionists from doing anything at all.

But failure should teach us instead of paralyzing us.

Do you like me constantly trying to make everything polished and perfect? Does everyone think you’re amazing—all the time? It can be an addictive and wonderful feeling, but there are better ones. Like what? Try being liked for who you really are! Instead of perfection, aim for genuine.

This will help you feel more grounded and capable of accepting failures and successes alike.

Most special thanks to my husband – Mukund who put up with my singing most of the time and supported to the T and daughter Tanya who tolerated it with Elan!

This way we see that failure is the biggest teacher.

Election Bugle 2024


March 2, 2023, was another such day when people were hooked to news channels as results for NE states – Tripura, Meghalaya, and Nagaland were to be declared. For the first time, I noticed such hysteria and anxiety over NE results when the entire nation wanted to know.

Northeast India (officially the North Eastern Region (NER)) is the easternmost region of India representing both a geographic and political-administrative division of the country. It comprises eight states—Arunachal Pradesh, AssamManipurMeghalayaMizoramNagaland and Tripura (commonly known as the “Seven Sisters”), and the “brother” state Sikkim.

Results did not deviate much as anticipated, Congress went downhill in these hilly states, and BJPs rise & shine as per guesstimate, owing to the infrastructure development done in this challenging terrain. Moreover, bringing NE into the mainstream, which the Centre has been striving for, has been well recognized and rewarded with this massive win.

BJP, which was a non-entity in NE for so long, made inroads in the hearts of the people of NE with PM crossing half a century through his visits to these neglected states. Modi blew the 2024 election bugle with his address yesterday after the result from BJP Headquarters in New Delhi amidst the huge presence of karyakartas from all over. His address was full of josh! Through his address, PM Modi delivered one of the best punch lines: Now, North East is neither far from Dilli nor Dil…

PM Modi’s magic worked in this tough terrain for the party. He praised the hard work put in by all Karyakartas and particularly of the Northeast. BJPs victory in Tripura for the second time marks the popularity of the Government’s beneficial schemes which helped BJP win supporters even among those who did not support it then.

Winning the three NE states reinforces BJPs continuing ascendancy and marks another boost for its efforts to emerge as a party with a countrywide presence. Now, with Karnataka and Rajasthan elections on the scene, BJP is again busy strategizing, masterminding, and delivering!

Attributing the win to Triveni which drives BJPs success, the PM said:

  1. The work of BJP Governments
  2. The working style of the BJP
  3. The Karyakartas of the Saffron Party

Quite upbeat with the results, where BJP scored 3/3 by keeping Nagaland, Tripura and reuniting with Meghalaya ally, BJP’s Josh is High!  

The stage has been set, still, Dilli is door for all political parties as no one knows which voter will swing in which direction. The opposition, not only needs to unite but also strategize well to counter BJP in the 2024 elections.


In the final count:

NDPP won 25 seats, BJP won 12

Putting the only pre-poll alliance in the state in a position to comfortably form the next government. This also marks an improvement in the alliance’s performance since the last election, when the two parties jointly won 29 constituencies.

Follow my blog for such updates!

Modhera’s Sun Temple shines bright!

This Sunday, October 9, 2022, news channels were agog with 3-D light & sound show at Modhera’s Sun Temple in the Mehsana district of Gujarat. It was a real pleasure to watch TV channels for once.

Earlier during the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji performed Darshan and Pooja at the Modheshwari Mata Temple, then went to Surya Mandir. The Mandir premises came alive with vibrant lighting and sound show interspersed with a cultural program, making the whole atmosphere radiant.

The exclusively carved temple complex and the magnificently sculpted kund are jewels in the art of masonry of the Solanki period apparently which was also known as the Golden Age of Gujarat. You can savour your voyage through time to the magnificent aeons of the Golden period as you get welcomed personally by the life-like icons, narrating stories and legends of Modhera.

The Sun Temple of Modhera is a Hindu temple dedicated to the solar deity Surya located at Modhera village of Mehsana district, Gujarat, India. It is situated on the bank of the river Pushpavati. It was built after 1026-27 CE during the reign of Bhima I of the Chalukyas dynasty. No worship is offered now and is a protected monument maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The temple complex has three components: hamanapa, the shrine hall; Sabhamanapa, the assembly hall, and Kuna, the reservoir. The halls have intricately carved exteriors and pillars. The reservoir has steps to reach the bottom and numerous small shrines.

A bit more about Modhera Sun Temple: As one traverses the length and breadth of Gujarat, one constantly stumbles across architectural legacies of the ‘Solanki’ rule. You keep coming across, living spaces and monuments of another time, offering an eclectic glimpse of the artistic and ingenious beauty that makes this state exotically vibrant.

A soothing drive amidst green farmlands just 25 km away from Mehsana on the way to the temples of goddess Bahucharaji reposes the village of Modhera. Set along the backdrop of River Pushpavati, surrounded by a terra-formed garden of flowering trees and songs of birds, rests the famed Sun temple of Modhera.

As you relax and soothe your nerves, become one with nature and open your mind to the poetry in stone, dedicated to the sun god, living glimpses of the era far elapsed emerge out of the intricacies of narrative sculptures. The remains of the Sun Temples at Modhera are relics of times gone by when reverence of the natural elements fire, air, earth, water, and sky were at their peak sharing space with myriad manifestations of Vedic gods.

The ancient philosophy venerating natural elements and their association with humans was considered the prime force and energy of the life cycle. A walk around the serene temple campus makes you aware of the positively strong aura of energy that the place radiates and through it brings one closer to the environs.

Modhera, India’s first village with continuous solar power, embodies PM’s ambition for solarizing the town of sun temples. The project comprises establishing a ground-mounted solar power facility as well as more than 1300 rooftop solar systems on homes and government structures, all of which are connected to battery energy storage devices.

The project will showcase how India’s expertise in renewable energy can empower people at the grassroots.

“We won’t be paying for power anymore; instead, we’ll sell it and make money off of it,” declared Prime Minister Modi speaking on the occasion. Residents used to get power from the government; however, with the installation of solar panels, people will now be able to generate their electricity.

This empowering move made by the Prime Minister further instils India’s ability to grow and develop the nation in accordance with sustainable and future alternatives to power which not only helps the people but also aids in environmental causes for the future generations to seek an example out of.

Certainly, it will be another feather in the tourism cap of Gujarat and Gujarat Tourism has added attraction to attract tourists to the state.

Courtesy: India Today

Pitru Paksh (पितृ पक्ष), when we are one with our ancestors

Pitru Paksh (पितृ पक्ष), when we are one with our ancestors

Yesterday, my author friend – Edward J from LA called to tell me about an Author’s Conclave in LA at the year-end and was just checking on me about my book. (Life-An Existential Cocktail). During the conversation, he mentioned “Ganpati Celebrations” in Mumbai, I was pleasantly surprised at that. He mentioned that he has friends from Mumbai in LA, and now I was not surprised.

Edward further asked me, “Which festival next?” I replied, “Not really a festival but now we have Pitru Paksha coming up for the next 16 days.” This made him curious and he wanted to know about this period in detail. As an author, Edward is a keen observer and curious soul.

I told him, “During this time, Hindus pay tribute to their ancestors for the repose of their souls. Pitru Paksha holds a special significance in Hinduism. In Pitru Paksha or Shradh Paksha, Pind Daan, Tarpan, and Shradh is performed for the peace of departed souls.”  

Elaborating further, I added, “PitruPaksha (Sanskrit: पितृ पक्ष, Pitṛ pakṣa; lit. “fortnight of the ancestors”) is a 16–lunar day period in the Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. The period is also known as Pitri Paksha/Pitr-Paksha, Pitri Pokkho, Sorah Shraddha (“sixteen shraddhas”), Kanagat, Jitiya, Mahalaya, Apara Paksha and akhadpak, Pitru Pandharavda or pitru paksh.

I am not sure, how much did he understand what I told him, but he had many more questions about this period, which is unique to Hinduism. 

I present here in this article what all transpired during our conversation.

There is a certain ethos we follow, which ascertains our continuance as the civilization of the world. Pitru Paksha is one of those, which begins on the Pratipada (first day of the fortnight) ending with the no moon day known as Sarvapitri Amavasya, Pitri Amavasya, Peddala Amavasya, Mahalaya Amavasya. The end of Pitru Paksha and the beginning of Matri Paksha is named Mahalaya.

Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or Tarpana. It is not considered appropriate to buy new things, start a new business or undertake any social celebration like marriage, etc. Oftentimes, we have also heard that we shouldn’t buy anything prominent, including a house or a vehicle, during Pitru Paksha.  This doesn’t in any way mean that Pitru Paksha is bad, a time to remain mournful and not perform any good actions.

This ritual about Pitru Paksha has been framed by our ancestors so that we can forge a cosmic connection with our ancestors and stay in their remembrance. The purpose is to divert our attention from the attractions of the material world and connect ourselves with the subtle realm, the plane belonging to our ancestors. These 16 days of Pitru Paksha have been fixed so that we may spend some time for our ancestors, with dedication and reverence. This way we see that it is not an inauspicious period, but a way to live in the divine presence of our ancestors.

We Hindus believe that Shraddha of ancestors performed during this period grants peace and salvation (moksha) to our ancestors, which makes it a festival of celebration, contrary to the popular belief.

This has been mentioned in the holy writings of the Gita and the Vedas, which say, offerings made to the departed during Pitru Paksha bring peace to their souls and helps them reach their divine destination. Thus, making it a cause of happiness for the current generation.

Hence, the current generation repays their debt to their ancestors in the Pitru Paksha. This debt is considered of utmost importance along with a person’s debt to his gurus and his parents. The period to repay the debt of not only our immediate ancestors and their ancestors and their ancestors but of all those from whom the human race descended. We should be grateful to all of them who nurtured our forefathers with love and affection.

Performance of shraddh is a gateway of obeisance for the current generation. Hence, it is considered compulsory by Hindus, to ensure that the soul of the ancestor goes to heaven.

The scriptures preach that a householder should propitiate ancestors (Pitris), along with the gods (devas), elements (bhutas), and guests. The scripture Markandeya Purana says that if the ancestors are content with the shraddhas, they will bestow health, wealth, knowledge, and longevity, and ultimately heaven and salvation (moksha) upon the performer.

Suppose, one doesn’t know the right tithi of his forefathers to perform shraddha, he can do so on the last day – Sarvapitri Amavasya. Rites performed on this day can also compensate for a forgotten or neglected annual Shraddha ceremony, which should ideally coincide with the death anniversary of the deceased. According to Sharma, the ceremony is central to the concept of lineages. Shraddha involves oblations to three preceding generations – by reciting their names-as well as to the lineage ancestor (gotra). A person thus gets to know the names of six generations (three preceding generations, his own, and two succeeding generations -his sons and grandsons) in his life, reaffirming lineage ties. 

I hope author Edward Johnson got replies to all his questions on Pitru Paksha.

Information courtesy: Wikipaedia

Senior Living

Your SUNSET years brightened!

Indeed, life is challenging when you start ageing. You retire from active work life and look forward to settling in an abode that is calm, quiet, and peaceful … at the same time providing family-like care. After all, you are looking for a home away from home in your sunset years.

Considering their needs, aspirations, and special care needed for senior citizens, mainly when children are busy with their own lives, the concept of senior citizens is catching up fast. A few years ago, the concept was considered taboo to be discussed in Indian drawing rooms. Social pressures were high against leaving one’s parents in senior citizens’ homes. This was an uncomfortable situation many times, but couldn’t be helped.

The concept of senior citizen living gradually started catching up with the onslaught of the software industry and other new-age workplaces. Also, when children started moving abroad for lucrative job opportunities, leaving old parents on their own, the concept gained momentum. Nowadays, you find many senior living complexes which are laden with facilities like medical and health care facilities, banquets, social gatherings, doctor on call, round-the-clock nurse availability, and green patches to live amidst nature.

While on a recent visit to Vadodara, I chanced upon an opportunity to visit a senior living complex which proved quite an eye-opener. Conceptualised and executed by veteran and patriarch, Shri Jitendra Dhadhania (fondly called Jitu Kaka) of Everest Developers, Everest Dignity, which is home to many senior citizens, spending their lives amidst like-minded people from across India. Their second project – Everest Dignity 2 is coming up on Bhayli – Vasna road (across Sun Pharma Road )– Vadodara, Gujarat, India which is a project to watch out for…  It is ready to host senior citizens with a dining facility serving delicious Gujarati food, guest rooms, a doctor’s room, indoor games & gym, and a multi-purpose hall.

A conversation with Jitu Kaka revealed, that after a lot of interactions with authority, Dignity 1 was designed. He adds, “It was a big challenge initially to market the concept as people were not easily accepting it. Then I thought of adding facilities which were tailored as per senior citizen’s requirements and since there has been no looking back.” 

A casual chat with Mr Kaushik Patel along with Paresh bhai ( residents of Dignity 1) revealed that it is a very happy life here and even their children are assured of their safety and well-being here. Their children sometimes come over to spend time with them here.

Staying here has added at least 4-5 years of my life here, signed off Paresh Bhai.

Here, you are living in your dream apartments which are well illuminated and ventilated amidst a beautifully landscaped garden with plenty of activities with your friends…

…Relive your childhood here!

Baroda to watch out NEXT

An impromptu visit to Baroda proved to be quite an eye-opener about this culturally vibrant city of Gujarat

Today’s Vadodara was formerly known as Baroda but even today is fondly addressed as Baroda. Vadodara is the 18th-largest city in India with an area of 235 square kilometres and is the third-largest city in the Indian state of Gujarat.

Vadodara Railway Station

As you alight at Vadodara station, you start getting feelers that you are in Gujarat. The neat and clean station is a major junction of the Indian Railway which is connected by umpteen trains from Mumbai. The journey was smooth, barring a breakdown of overhead wire at some obscure station which led to 3 hours of delay. The reach to the hotel was smooth and stay pleasant.

While we visited a friend living in Baroda for many years in her spatial 4 – BHK luxurious villa in a prominent locality, it set us thinking, why not explore the property scenario…

Believe me, it turned out to be quite a revelation. The development work is at a feverish pitch…all over flyovers are being constructed. All major/minor localities are interconnected with proper roads. Every road connects every end. Many posh colonies are coming up all over with fancy dwellings. The drainage system has been developed and upgraded. Baroda had one of the most effective drainage systems in the 1900s which was unheard of in those days.

So, roads are wide and quite a pleasure to drive around the city, traffic during daytime is minimal and in peak hours manageable. Markets are open from 11-3 PM after that 4 PM onwards when most of the purchasing/outing happens. It has big, very big, very very big showrooms of the national and international brands, you name it, Vadodara has it! And some very happening and upcoming malls are changing the commercial landscape of the city. What to say of markets in designated areas like Mangal Bazar where you can shop to your heart’s content at dirt cheap prices. It is located in the vicinity of Sur Sagar Talaav.

Coming to Sur Sagar has one of the tallest statues of Shiv Ji located amid Talaav. It has a very spic and span promenade all over where visitors enjoy their evenings and maybe mornings too. I visited Sur Sagar all days of my stay as loved being there, shopped at Mangal Bazaar, and ate Kairi Masala there, which tasted yummy.

Undeniably, it is the prominent education centre of India with the famed Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and Parul University and many more. It has a famous music college too. Spread in a radius of approx.10 Kms. Vishwamitri river passes in the midst, where the cabby told me that crocodiles come on the roads sometimes, to catch people unaware. It has some very famous hotel chains like Vivanta by Taj.

Prominent Everest Group has an interesting lineup of Residential and Commercial Projects at a prominent location in Vadodara

The construction of residential and commercial properties caught my attention, having been associated with RE for many years, it was quite natural. Guided by my friend, checked in some residential complexes by famous groups. The construction quality is top–class, and projects are resident-friendly and well-planned. The team members of the construction group are very smart, sharp, and knowledgeable and don’t differentiate whether you will convert into a buyer or not. We really had some stimulating discussions with people there. They attend to you wholeheartedly. Coming to prices, I had some preconceived notions about the place like it will be quite cheap, but on the contrary, prices are quite high and governed by the area, construction quality, amenities, builders, etc. True, it is nowhere close to Mumbai pricing, still…

… a Countless number of projects are coming up all over hence you are spoilt for choices! If you want to buy a property there, you can go with a broker or builder directly. They are very cooperative and address all your queries patiently.

What to say about eating joints: fine dining restaurants, street food corners, ice cream parlours, and mithai and farsan shops spreading aroma with their unique flavours. If you are a foodie, Vadodara is for you!  

There are many unique places for sightseeing, prominent being Laxmi Vilas Palace, Sayaji Garden, Museums, and theme parks, or if you love to walk, start walking on any green patch in your area.

No wonder, Vadodara is a go-to place for many of us who love the peace and culture of the city.  

PS: Me & my husband Mukund recently visited the city

Sari & Shayari, Shayari & life!

“अल्फ़ाज़ ऐसे जो दिलों में आशियाँ बना ले, वही शायरी है।”

“अपने जज़्बात को अल्फ़ाज़ में तब्दील करना ही शायरी है।”

“अपनी ज़िन्दगी रूपी यात्रा में जो लम्हे छाप छोड़ जाते हैं और हमारे ज़हन में अटक जाते हैं, और समय समय पर ग़ुबार बनके निकलते हैं वही शायरी है.

हम बेहद खुशनसीब हैं की भारत भूमि पर ऐसे अज़ीम शायरों का जन्म हुआ, जिन्होंने अपने सुन्दर कलाम से इस धरती को नवाज़ा जैसे अहमद फ़राज़, मीर तक़ी मीर, अली सरदार जाफरी, कैफ़ी आज़मी, जावेद अख्तर, फैज़ अहमद फैज़, निदा फ़ाज़ली, शहरयार और मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब! यूँ तो सभी शायर एक से बढ़कर एक हैं पर मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब का रुतबा  जुदा है जिन्होंने अपने सहज, सरल और सुन्दर शेरो से बड़ी से बड़ी बातें कह डालीं. मैंने जबसे शायरी समझनी शुरू की है मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब की शायरी हमेशा साथ रही.

उनकी अदायगी भी और शायरी भी लाजवाब…खुद उन्ही के शब्दों में पढ़िए …

“हैं और भी दुनिया में सुखन्वर बहुत अच्छे, कहते हैं कि गालिब का है अन्दाज-ए-बयां और”.

ग़ालिब का सबसे पसंदीदा शेर जो की हम बहुत से लोगों के जीवन की सच्चाई है:

“हज़ारों ख़्वाहिशें ऐसी, के हर ख़्वाहिश पे दम निकले
बहुत निकले मेरे अरमान, लेकिन फिर भी कम निकले”

जब साडी क्लब ने साडी और शायरी का थीम दिया तो मैं अपने को रोक नहीं पायी …
देखीये क्या तारतम्य हो सकता है इन दोनों में…

साडी और शायरी के तारतम्य पर मेरी शायरी:

मुझे नहीं मालूम!

साडी और शायरी का क्या नाता,

अगर होता तो बहुत ही नायाब होता,

शायरी, हमारे ख्यालों का दर्पण है, तो

साडी हमारी सुंदरता का आवरण है.   

शायरी सुन्दर हर्फों का जाल है, तो

साडी स्त्री की पहचान का पर्याय है.

ऐसा तारतम्य क्या सचमुच होता

मुझे नहीं मालूम!

जीवन में महत्वपूर्ण क्या होता है?

वक़्त और समय बदलने के साथ-साथ जरूरतें बदलती है और जरूरते ही तय करती है कि जीवन में महत्वपूर्ण क्या है. बचपन में एक बच्चे के लिए महत्पूर्ण उसके खिलौने, टॉफ़ी, दोस्तों होते है. जब हम युवा होते हैं, तब सफलता हमारे लिए महत्वपूर्ण होती है. जब सफल हो जाते हैं और उम्र बढ़ती है, तब मशहूर होना चाहते हैं, जब मशहूर हो जाते है तो सुकून चाहते हैं. और जब मौत के द्वार पर खड़े होते हैं तो ईश्वर को देखना चाहते हैं या मोक्ष प्राप्त करना चाहते हैं.

अपनी ज़िन्दगी रूपी यात्रा में जो लम्हे छाप छोड़ जाते हैं और हमारे ज़हन में अटक जाते हैं, और समय समय पर ग़ुबार बनके निकलते हैं वही शायरी है.  

तुम शायरी की बात करते हो

मैं तो बातें भी कमाल की करती हूँ…

ऐसा मैं नहीं कुछ लोग कहते हैं …

पेशे खिदमत आपके लिए यह नज़्म

The Kashmir Files: A heart-wrenching tale of the sordid saga

This is not a movie, it is a revolution, it is a revelation, it is an expression and it is an emotion!

Circa 1990, January 19: That dark night of Indian history when Kashmiri Pandits were asked to leave their homes unaware, in a most brutal manner, history is the witness of. Kashmir has always been a hotbed of terrorism, which I recollect since my childhood. I recollect – famous Kashmir Issues activist – Sushil Pandit joined my class in KV, Tagore Garden. He looked true blue Kashmiri but had a distinctively intense expression on his face, like today. I asked him once during lunchtime, where are you from? Your father got transferred to Delhi? He replied, “I am from Kashmir and no, we had to leave our homes in Kashmir overnight to take refuge here.” I was quite surprised at that…how can one leave their homes in breathtakingly beautiful Kashmir – Jannat on earth. But as a little girl, it was all beyond my comprehension.

My interest in Kashmir grew when a friend, who lived in the colony – a beautiful Kashmiri girl narrated to me the story of Kashmir…

Probably, it was all simmering underneath to lead to the incident of January 19, 1990, which is the mainstay of the movie: The Kashmir Files. Surprisingly no one talked about it, wrote about it, thought about it and felt about it, hiding all the brutal facts under the carpet. As I lived in Delhi, I came in contact with another friend from Kashmir, Gautam Jalali, who narrated to me the incident, this was 1990. I was moved to tears…such a beautiful state…such beautiful people…subjected to this fate.

I always wanted to go to Kashmir for my honeymoon like shown in movies then…but that was not to be!!

Cut to The Kashmir Files, I am yet to see the euphoria, frenzy, reactions, national pride, tears surrounding any movie…and I am a movie buff. There was an unnerved silence in the hall, everybody was watching in rapt attention, some sobbing, while some in deep thoughts. I have been following all talks/ press meets/ discussions around the film by Vivek Rajan Agnihotri (Director) and made up my mind to watch it.

The hero of the film is its research done on the subject, there is hardly any misplaced fact. Till now, Bollywood has been presenting Kashmir and terrorism in a different light. Vivek is brave enough to bring and present facts surrounding the genocide, which was marked as exodus till now. Not surprised to note that, it is the biggest genocide in the history of mankind. Five lakh Kashmiris were displaced in a night, but not before subjecting to loot, extortion, rape, murder…whatnot.

The acting of the entire cast: Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Pallavi Joshi, Darshan Kumar, Bhasha … everyone is class apart. While you empathise with Pushkar Pandit, you detest Bitta and want to shake Radhika Menon, why make Krishna Pandit a mohra?  I loved the song “Hum dekhenge…” The last speech by Darshan Kumar aka Krishna Pandit is an eye-opener. It was quite a revelation for me to know that the name Kashmir descended from Rishi Kashyap. The character of Anupam Kher as Pushkar Pandit moves you to tears, he was not acting, he lived the pain, the trauma of Kashmiri Pandits who wrote 6000 letters to the Government then to do away with Article 370. It took so many years to become a reality as it faced umpteen resistance from all quarters.

Indeed, it is a very brave attempt by Vivek Agnihotri to put a challenge before Bollywood in the form of this sordid saga, a true story, presented most honestly which garnered such rave reviews and passionate viewership, the world over. The film is a HIT. The reactions are worth noticing, absolute contrast – some are silent, some are violent!

Indians will not forget, the courts which opened at midnight for dreaded terrorists could not open the files of Kashmiri Pandits, even in the last so many years. I Hope, it is done now and our brethren get #righttojustice.

This is not a movie, it is a revolution, it is a revelation, it is an expression, it is an emotion!

Must watch to know the truth behind the Kashmiri Pandit genocide of the 1990s.

Watch the trailer here, to be in sync with the film:

Saffron socialist rises AGAIN!

Circa 2022: March 10

Whether we admit it or not, elections results were a shocker.

Pro-Incumbency, there is no other term that could be used to illustrate these elections well. Since the time dates were announced, approaching March 10 was giving butterflies in the stomach. Sleepless nights, anxiety, preoccupation, discussions, analysis, panel discussions, social media outings, media bytes…what not! But yesterday, it all looked worth it, hard work rewarded.

Not many would have imagined that BJP would retain all four states, where it was in power already for the last five years.

The hard work and the work done worked in BJP’s favour. The decision of sending Yogi ji Gorakhpur worked well, though the result wouldn’t have been different, had he contested from elsewhere. Though BJP machinery was at work in all the states but UP was most talked about for obvious reasons…the media mileage it received was just unsurmountable for any event. These were the most closely watched elections.

It can’t be denied that all parties put their might but probably strategies didn’t work or voter had already made up their mind. SP led by Akhilesh single-handedly could garner some good numbers, but his returning to power was questionable. Still, he took a good fight and gave a good fight. He packed quite a punch with numbers. At one point in time, it was looking like a game-changer, putting BJP on tenterhooks. Congress had no agenda except Ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon…which could create no magic. Probably ladkiyan wanted Yogiji to fight for them.

Indeed, UP’s culture, character, infrastructure, and the voter have transformed drastically under Yogi’s tutelage still one couldn’t be so certain of such phenomenal victory. Voter swing and mood are some of the most unpredictable things on this planet. They can surprise you, shock you, overwhelm you … as has happened with these results. As I have been sharing, UP voters are quite aware, conscious, and decide in silence and unison. Here mention of Western UP’s and Purvanchal’s voter needs a special mention who remained unnerved by the Kisan issues.

Double Engine concept…provided assurance. They appreciated Modi-Yogi’s Jodi who is similar in many aspects.

Bulldozer bulldozed many aspirations…

…vaccination drive, free rations, law and order, security & safety of girls, good governance, corruption-free working, heads on the handling of issues, quick revert, etc. silenced many criticisms.

Ram Mandir, Kashi Corridor, attached with every Hindu’s sentiment paved the way for such a big mandate. Moreover, BJP is covering agendas point-by-point as per their manifesto. Of course, Hinduism was the most popular undercurrent in these elections but it can’t be denied that every caste, community, minority, and majority were taken care of well during Covid times. Social engineering and strong social media campaigns were icing on the cake. It is the dawn of a new era, the jinx of repeating the term has broken.

Yogi, an excellent blend of Monk & Manifestation, Yogi & Administrator, Grounded & High-flyer, Traditions & Modernity, who oozes Hinduism but is a global ruler. He is a pleasant personality but a hard taskmaster. He breathes Uttar Pradesh…

Prediction made by Atal ji couldn’t have been truer than now on Congress:

आज आप हमारा उपहास उड़ा लें, लेकिन एक वक्त आएगा जब लोग आपका उपहास उड़ाएंगे।’

Yesterday, Congress faced its worst defeat – Rahul / Priyanka could spell no magic due to their confusing strategies. All these years they took UP voters for granted. Had they done some constructive criticism, things would have been different. In fact, they should felicitate the two winners…

Yogi has proven himself time and again but BJP needs some serious introspection about lost seats. They need to analyze and study the voting pattern of lost seats. Still, winning 4 states out of 5 is no mean feat.

BSP performance, the less said the better. It is an indication that people have voted rising above caste, creed, and religion, which is a positive sign.

BJP – Way to go!!


My perspective on U.P. Elections!

Aravind Sundaram, CEO, Thought Habitat in an exclusive conversation with Bienu Varma Vaghela, Author – Life: An Existential Cocktail and Blogger.

  • UP being your home state, you are closely watching forthcoming elections, besides being a social media influencer and blogger. How were the elections in the 80s and 90s compared to this day?

First and foremost, thanks Aravind for the opportunity to take your audience down memory lane…and present the commoner’s perspective on the most-watched event of 2022 – The U.P. Elections.  

UP has always been a hotbed of politics and the first elections were held in 1957 in independent India. Since, then UP has been witness to the appointment of several CM’s, sacking of CM’s, resignation of CMs, fall of CMs, and successful stints of CMs. Times were different than in the way they were conducted. It was people’s election…candidates and voters interacted face to face and communication were just one-way. People didn’t have a voice in the absence of technology and social media. They were attending rallies, reading newspapers, and believing word of mouth or influential people in society. But the results were astonishing…they made their choice.

The late ’80s saw the emergence of a new kind of politics and CMs emerged from humble backgrounds who were successful in doing effective social engineering which proved a game-changer. Coalition set up was at its peak…due to fractured mandate… so strange bedfellows, completely different ideologies joined hands with a single focus on forming the Government.

As far as outreach was concerned, the main source of publicity for any party were posters which painted the town red, newspaper ads. editorials and loudspeaker announcements besides rallies. There were no 24×7 news channels, influencing your viewpoints and showing panel discussions. But I must say UP has a very conscious voter who understands politics well.

  • As everybody is talking about UP elections, I am sure you too must be closely watching it – How do you view elections – 2022?

Today elections are very different, keenly watched…and these are not just any elections, these are the elections to watch out for, for their many firsts. From being a one-way communication from candidates, it a strong two-way communication. Social media activity is at its peak though it has its upside and flipside both, Upside – commoners have an opinion and a voice too, and flip side – too many noises making it chaotic sometimes. People are quite open about expressing their choices and airing their views, whereas in 80 – the 90s people kept it close to their chests. Opinion polls are another effective tool that penetrates the voter’s psyche. Elections have become a round-the-clock preoccupation.  

  • So, this way these elections are different, and not too different too. What do you have to say on this?

Yes, you can say so. Some aspects remain the same, some completely transformed. Now, there is a viewpoint and information overload. There is a lot of instigation towards rivals which is in bad taste. Budgets are really big and reach extremely wide – worldwide. Media is playing a strong role in not only airing opinions but in building opinions too.  Elections are different, very different in their magnitude, budgets, outreach, demographics, voters’ profile, and people’s exposure. But I am still surprised that it is still banking on strong social engineering, I mean caste-based politics. We should think as Indians and vote accordingly and not that we belong to some particular caste.  I recommend a regulator for elections like we have RBI or IRDAI to monitor what is content is being circulated and leads to untoward incidents.   

  • People say governance has changed with Yogi Adityanath. How true is that?

              When a call came to me from a Lucknow Journo that Yogi ji has been called to Delhi, I was taken aback. I thought Yogi for UP, most politically charged the state with its set of unique problems and the state needs to progress. But I must say what a phenomenal administrator he came out to be, surprising everyone. His knowledge, understanding, technological abilities, commitment, and social connection is praiseworthy. He has inculcated fundamentals of good governance and faster decisions on critical issues. Thus, giving a good image to UP as a State that it lacked. UP has undergone a huge transformation under his regime with good law and order, flyovers, expressways, metros, railway stations, schools, medical colleges, airports… the organization of Kumbh Mela – the biggest congregation of humanity. He has proved his mettle. He lives to breathe UP.

Yogi Adityanath, UP, CM
  • You worked as a Class I officer under Mayawati and even Mulayam Singh Yadav. Would you like to share your experience of working with them?

Being in that position and as a young officer, I was always thrilled to go to Vidhan Bhawan for some work or the other. I looked up to Mayawati Ji as she has risen like a meteor in UP politics on her own which was truly inspiring. She was quite clear in her thoughts about how this particular work would be done. Yes, she never forgot to check if I will be dropped home if it was late.

Mulayam Singh Ji, Neta ji and in Neta ji’s mode, had strong political back-up and had been a student leader, so a leader in that sense. His connection with people was great and once I got an opportunity to briefly interact with him when he told me how he wants to see UP as an Industrialised state. He asked me about my position and my family and heard me with attention. He came across as a very amicable leader.

  • With outdoor mass campaigning banned, how do you think political parties would cope up by reaching the masses?

Unfortunately, the pandemic spread as a third wave and new variant has changed the flavour of the election but thankfully, we have media, social media, and technology to fall back on. It is challenging for small regional parties which banked on rallies to reach out to voters. But yes, the parties which have the paraphernalia, technology, media bandwidth, and strong social media presence may prove to be a game-changer. But as it is a natural challenge that all parties need to address. Still, parties cannot negate the importance of social connect, reach out to voters, hence taking up aggressive door-to-door campaigns. Not just social engineering but social outreach is also very important and these elections are an amalgamation of that.

No challenge is bigger than the elections!

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