Rising Death of Innocence

There has been a steady increase in juvenile crimes in the country

Writing this piece I am a worried man and so will you be reading this, and so will be those parents who have young kids on their way to become the future of tomorrow. This morning while going through the Pune Mirror, I came across a news item which spoke about a 19 year old boy being handed over to police after being repeatedly caught stealing by his foster parents. The boy was accused of stealing gold ornaments from a home that fed, educated and bought him up since he was four.

Almost a week ago a five year old kid of DRDO working couple was murdered by a 19 year old and his accomplice, a 15 year old boy of 10th standard. Their motive was to demand a ransom of Rs. 1 lakh to purchase a motorbike. Similarly, in April 2012 16 year old Shubham Shirke was killed by his own friends who abducted and murdered him for a ransom of Rs. 50,000. All the three incidents happened in the city of Pune and have left the city shell shocked.

The horror is not limited to Pune. Mumbai too has seen a spate of violence by teenagers wanting to get some money to splurge. Adnan Patravala, 16, was found murdered in Navi Mumbai. He was strangulated by his own friends, five of them, which included two teens. Early this September, a class 9 student along with his friends plotted to loot his own house to purchase a luxury car. These and many cases like these bring to light the increasing use of violence by the young to satisfy their demand of a luxurious lifestyle.

A report by the National Crime Records Bureau makes things even more worrisome. From the year 1999 there has been a constant increase in

Having a luxurious lifestyle has seen kids taking to crime

juvenile crime. The recent 2011 report states that the percentage of juvenile crimes to other crimes has gone up by 0.1% from 1.0% in 2010 to 1.1% in 2011 though 2008 recorded the highest with 1.2%. The rate of juvenile crimes has also increased from 2.0% in 2010 to 2.1% in 2011. The number of cases recorded in 2011 was 25,125 compared to 22,740 in 2010. The crimes include murder, dacoity, abduction, theft, cheating, molestation and even rape.

So what makes our young generation violent? A look at the prevailing social environment should give us the answers. The present society is a world apart from the older times when people were close-knitted and relations were based purely on trust. Having a good time meant spending time with friends and loved ones. The larger section of the young population were more focussed and interested in their future than the present generation. Life was a struggle and only hard work and perseverance paid. Compare that to the current condition and you will find two separate worlds.

It’s worthwhile to note that the kids of today are more exposed to violence, thanks to the ever growing reach of media. The television is over-flowing with crime related series, the modern print mostly has crime and negative news on its cover page, the exposure of kids to violent computer games, the overuse of social media and the neglect of parents are main reasons for kids taking to crime. Time is running out and things may get out of hand if we fail to find a solution right away.

Violent games often incite kids to take the path of crime

So what can we do? Firstly, we must know that children are very tender at heart and do not have a thinking of their own. Their inspiration comes from their surroundings. They try to emulate whatever they see or hear. We must learn to keep a tab on this. Then comes their exposure to games and television. The television for long has being termed as an idiot box. The computer will soon replace it. Most importantly it’s the sheer ignorance and neglect of parents that lead to kids taking the wrong path. While we try to keep our kids under vigilance it is also important to make sure that we don’t pull the strings too strong. A slight miss could be disastrous. Parents could also take to consulting if they feel their kids are wandering off the track. The government too should educate kids by making them aware of their responsibilities and the usage of media.

I hope as time passes by our generation next will have more sense and responsibility of their deeds. But the current state of affairs says otherwise. Can I be proved wrong?

November 2011 was a watershed month for Tamil actor Dhanush. Little did he imagine that his song Kolaveri Di would go on to become a rage among the music crazy people in India and around the world. Though the song was slammed by many for its violent lyrics and low tempo music, Kolaveri Di was a huge hit among party and non-party goers alike.

The song was first released on YouTube and instantly became viral with over 3.5 million views within a week. Kolaveri Di was among the top 10 trending Indian topics on Twitter on 21 November, 2011 and had received more than a million shares on Facebook. It went on to become the first Tamil song to be featured on MTV and also received the honour of “Recently Most Popular” Gold Medal Award and “Trending” Silver Medal Award from YouTube. Dhanush was on a roll.

Praise came from all corners of the world. The young composer Anirudh Ravichander was the most sought after the release of the song. The song also managed to strike a chord with the powerful. Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh invited Dhanush for a dinner with Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda. Japan, which has a huge fan-following for Rajnikanth movies, went gaga over the song. Variants of the song were also taken by many political parties for election campaigns in 2012. While Kolaveri Di still manages to demand a jig, there’s one song that has made people go nuts. Gangnam Style!

A product by South Korean rapper PSY, Gangnam Style has caught the world by storm. Released on July 15, 2012 the song is a Korean language colloquialism that applauds the lifestyle of South Korea’s Gangnam district. The song has received over 246 million hits as of September 23rd and is the most watched K-pop video ever. What’s more interesting and eye-catching are the hilarious moves by the 34 year old rapper who goes on an imaginary horse-riding frenzy with some unique style. The video is flashy in all possible notes and has found a place amongst chartbusters of all times.

The song has topped the charts in 31 countries and has also been nominated as the Best Video for the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards. The reach of the song can be judged by the fact that it entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the “Most Liked” song in YouTube history. Many newspapers and music magazines have hailed it as one of the greatest ever. The song has made PSY one of the most popular pop singers and has been approached by music giants from around the world. Just recently, he signed up with Justin Bieber’s label, Island Records for his songs in the US. Within a short span PSY has managed to capture the imagination of the world and the show is not yet over. While there is no doubt that Kolaveri Di has a space of its own, the time has come to say “Oppan Gangnam Style.”

I am coming home again!

To the homes and to the pandals
To the streets and to the palaces
For the poor and for the rich
Here I come, here I come

To lighten your lives and brighten your minds
To forgive your sins of the days gone behind
So light up your streets and decorate your walls
Give me a jig and sing me some songs

Offer me sweets, offer me some prayers
I vow that I will be your problem slayer
To be back again with you year by year
Here I come, here I come

He is hailed as the god of good beginnings, a remover of obstacles and a lord of wisdom. His presence is auspicious and his blessings a must. Our beloved Lord Ganesha is coming home again. While he prepares to grace us with his presence, preparations are on full swing. From homes to pandals and from social organizations to security establishments, everybody is gearing up to welcome the elephant-headed god. Roads are getting fixed, pandals are being erected, houses are getting repainted and the police force is making the final checks.

Ganesh Chaturthi marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha, son of Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati. The festival is celebrated with excitement across India with all the communities joining in the celebration erasing the boundaries of religion and castes. The 10 day festival which ends on Anant Chaturthi is perhaps the most celebrated festivals of India. In India, the state of Maharashtra sees the most elaborate celebrations followed by Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka and some Northern States. Internationally, it is celebrated by Hindus in US, Canada, Singapore, Thailand and Mauritius amongst others.

Legend has it that Lord Ganesha was a creation of goddess Parvati. He was created when Parvati gave life into a figure of sandalwood paste that she used for her bath. Parvati then asked Ganesha to stand guard as she bathed. When Lord Shiva returned, Ganesha did not allow him to enter. Enraged, Lord Shiva severed the head of little Ganesha. Once Shiva realized that he had killed his own son, he fixed the head of an elephant in place of Ganesha’s head. Since then Ganesha was the elephant-headed god.

Colourful statues of the lord are erected across the country and aartis (religious ritual) are done on a daily basis. Prayers are offered and sweets are extended in his name. Modak, Lord Ganesha’s favourite sweet is the flavour of the season and could be seen in almost all the households. Ganesh Chaturthi is also when social activities are at an all time high. Popular mandals (local communities) conduct gatherings, competitions and charity fundraisers during this period.

Ganesh Chaturthi is one festival that defines the spirit of India; a festival which cuts across caste and creed and holds mankind and goodness as supreme. And as the Lord of Good Times makes his way back to our homes, let us welcome him with all our heart!

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“In the City of God there will be a great thunder,
Two brothers torn apart by Chaos,
while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb”,
The third big war will begin when the big city is burning”

If some historians are to be believed, Nostradamus, arguably the greatest astrologer of all times did predict one of the most catastrophic events in human history. On the 9th of September, 2001 the Twin Towers were mercilessly bombarded with commercial jetliners bringing the world to a standstill. The Twin Towers, considered to be the most iconic buildings appearing on the skyline of the city of New York, were reduced to rubble in a matter of hours. Thousands of lives were lost, billions worth of property damaged, stock markets around the world crashed in an attack which left the world stunned beyond imagination. Most importantly it was the spirit of a country that had taken a big hit. America was under attack from a ruthless and unrelenting enemy who, in the name of religion, chose to massacre scores of lives and succeeded with perfect precision.

11 years later people have moved on. Things have changed. Security forces around the world are more alert than ever, people have taken cognizance of a common enemy named terrorism and the man behind the attack, Osama Bin Laden, has been brought to justice. A new building rises on the horizon and America is looking forward than ever before.

On the fateful day when commercial passenger planes tore the world trade centers apart, the occupants of the building were frightened. The shivering building, the killing silence and the deafening blasts were too much to bear. And while the drama unfolded minute by minute lives were lost and hope shattered. But it is said that calamities bring the best out of us and 9/11 was a testimony to that.

Even as the horrific images of the doomed day continue to scare people, there are stories which give people courage and confidence to carry on. Stories which define the true meaning of human beings and of those which celebrates mankind. These are stories of fire-fighters, policemen, medical personnel and ordinary citizens helping each other in the time of crisis. Stories which cannot be explained in words but only felt by heart. These were the real superheroes of 9/11.

One story that needs a particular mention is that of Michael Hingson. Blind from birth, Michael was on the 78th floor when catastrophe struck. All he could do was hear the noise of what was happening. Not knowing what to do, Michael had a big question in front of him. Will he make it alive? His call for help was answered not by a person, but a canine, a dog that he holds very dear, a dog named Roselle.

Roselle was trained to guide and she was perhaps the best in her class. When the towers were attacked Roselle stood firm and still. Not wavering or showing any signs of nervousness she took commands from her master and guided Michael step by step out of safety. Roselle today is a hero among many others who stood at the time of adversity. Today as we look forward with hope and the promise of the future, we celebrate the courage and spirit of those who put themselves in harm’s way so that we could live another day. Here’s a big salute to all those who proved living was giving!

Onam, coming of age

Until recently Onam for me meant waking up early, donning new attire, visiting the local temple and gorging on sumptuous food for the rest of the day. This time I try to take a different look at a festival that people in Kerala celebrate with much vigour.

Kaikotti Kali

Kaikotti Kali

To get the facts right, the festival of Onam commemorates the Vamana avatar or the fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu and also marks the arrival of King Mahabali. Onam falls in the Malayalam month of Chingam and lasts for 10 days with Thiruonam being the last day. The rice harvesting season also falls during this period giving this occasion even more reasons to celebrate.

I remember my mother telling me tales about Onam and the manner in which it used to be celebrated in the not-so-old days. Electricity was a rarity in villages then and the only source of light during the night was the ever humble oil lamp. Kerala with all its brightness was never low on light. So be it temples, houses or cultural hotspots, a lamp always found its way as a sign of goodness.

Pookalam

Pookalam

The run-up to Onam starts from Attam, the first day, where people start preparing for Thiruonam. Houses are cleaned and painted, old stuffs replaced by new ones and people just about start getting in the mood with Pookalam, the floral carpet, making its presence in front of the house. With each passing day the Pookalam sees a change in size and design with a variety of flowers spread in a complex yet subtle style. Though Onam celebrations differ in each region the idea is to celebrate and cherish the fruits of the hard work done. The next few days has people splurging on clothes and jewellery, buying harvested goods and participating in Vellam Kalli (Boat Race), Kamba Vali (Tug of War), Kaikotti Kali and other functions.

Vallam kali

Vallam kali

The 9th day or Uthradom is much awaited as this is the day when King Mahabali or Maveli will be descending Kerala and spending the next fewdays. Mavelis made of wood and mud are worshipped and pooja (sacred ritual) carried out every morning and evening, a function where only men are allowed. Ironical, considering most of Kerala is a matriarchal society. Cometh the 10th day, people are seen celebrating Thiruonam by gorging on at least 20 different varieties of food, exchanging good wishes and presenting gifts while women take to the traditional dance of Kaikotti kali; all this while the floral carpet is at its vibrant best. Once Maveli is immersed in water after the pooja, men take to the streets to perform the colourful and vibrant Puli kalli (Tiger dance) where they mask themselves as tigers. The next 3 days are also celebrated with much enthusiasm as Onam draws to a close.

It is said that old always makes way for the new. The same applies to Onam, where increasing media coverage and public awareness has seen this

Pulikkali

Pulikkali

celebration take to different parts of the country. Not to mention that you will find a malayalee in every corner of the planet. While the age old tradition continues, Onam now-a-days is more of a cultural show than celebration, or so I feel. The huge number of television channels has made sure that a constant dose of programs and movies are all that people get to watch. Local organisations and societies organise Onam functions and almost every occasion is graced by a celebrity or a politician. Jewellery shops are packed while shopping malls sees a mad rush. Call it consumerism or progressive approach, people have moved on from the very old form of celebrations. Though the modern budget concerned family believes on controlled spending, what must be appreciated is the spirit with which this festival is welcomed.

Though I do believe in the phrase ‘Change is the only Constant’, it must never overshadow our roots. The new age Onam has just managed to balance itself on the fine line between the old and the new establishing a congruence of devotion and pragmatism. Now, it’s upon generation next to carry on the flame ahead. Here’s wishing each and everyone a wonderful Onam and good time!

 ImageOver 350,000 dead; millions displaced, billions worth of property damaged, a civilization completely annihilated and many still suffering. This was the outcome of the catastrophic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which forced the Japanese to surrender and ultimately lead to the end of World War II.

Once; food, clothing and shelter were the only basic necessities that man knew, until his thinking and greed got beyond his own capacity and his wants became his needs and this transpired into one of the worst man-made disasters in human history, The World War!

After the destruction of Europe, the focus was now on Asia-Pacific and Japan, a small island nation to the South-East, was at the helm of things. Japan in those days was at their merciless best. Having captured almost three-fourth of Asia-Pacific, they eyed Europe and after the furious pounding of the Pearl Harbor, their spirits were at an all-time high. But time was quickly running out and they very soon realized that their act had woken up a sleeping giant, who till that day had no specific grudge against them, the USA. Thereafter, what followed was an unrelenting attack by the US which bought the whole of Japan to their knees and forced them to reorganize their armed forces. In a bid to save precious fuel, Japan turned a blind eye to the air raids by America. This would go on to become one of their biggest mistakes which in the end cost many innocent lives.

On August 6 and 9, 1945, the US dropped two atom bombs named the “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. While Hiroshima was an embarkation port and industrial center that was the site of major military headquarters, Nagasaki was a city of both industrial and military significance. When the aircrafts carrying the bombs entered the Japanese airspace, little did they realize that the US planes were here to cause mass murder. Later a Japanese radio announced, “Practically all living things, human and animal, were literally seared to death”, leaving the world shocked and grieving.

It is quite ironical that peace, which can only be achieved by non-violence, is forced upon us by violence and destruction. No matter how justifiable or unwilling America was, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has changed the face of the world and will continue to be seen as a black spot in the history of human race. It is said that the fourth World War will be fought with batons, sticks and knives – such will be the after-effects of World War III. Think, think and re-think. Should we continue to live the way we are or should we change for the better of mankind? For being human is what makes us different!

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When my Content Manager asked me to write a blog on this special topic, I was left wondering as to where to start from. Should it be my school days when Raksha Bandhan meant girls chasing every single boy and tying rakhis in exchange for some sweets or was it that day when cousins who never said hello in a lifetime suddenly called up their brothers and bombarded them mercilessly with their love?

Raksha Bandhan has a special place in my heart as the only sibling I have is my younger brother and the one whom I call my dear sister is my cousin who lives far away in Dubai. It’s been more than 6 years since she has tied a rakhi to me but the bond that we share is still intact. Be it Dubai or some other place on earth, a Rakhi has always found its way to my home – right on time. I’m sure this time it wouldn’t be different.

Our very own Wikipedia says Raksha Bandhan, (the bond of protection) or Rakhi is a festival primarily observed in India and Nepal, which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters, which forces me to ask this question. What’s so special? Legend has it that many kingdoms avoided extinction and social harmony reached a new high with the presence of this eternal thread. The endless love between the Hindu Deity Sri Krishna and Draupadi is much celebrated among Hindus. Once when Lord Krishna cut his finger, Draupadi tore off a piece of her sari and bandaged his cut. Krishna had then promised Draupadi that he would repay each “thread” when the time comes. When Draupadi needed Krishna’s protection and prayed for his help, he came to her rescue. This is one of the stories of the origin of the Raksha Bandhan festival.

Marking this auspicious day, the sister ties a sacred thread around her brother’s wrist, and the brother in turn presents her with exciting gifts with a promise to protect her throughout his life.

Rakhi is not just a thread, but a thought, a promise and a testimony to the very fact that love in its purest form has no boundaries and knows no biases. It is difficult to explain the relationship between a brother and a sister as love has no definition. So be it the sister’s unrelenting demand for gifts or the brother’s constant naughty and irritating acts, the bond between both is beyond the imagination of any person and could simply be termed as everlasting.

As I sit today recalling the wonderful moments me and my cousin spent together, it would be right to say that the bond that we shared was unconditional and speaks laurels about the Knot with a Difference. Truly …Kuch Khaas Hai!
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