Shubho Jonmodin

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While sorting through some old notes I stumbled upon the lines below. They were written  in Bengali, obviously I have translated in English for non-bengali readers but as it often happens in translation the soul is lost but I think this one was very easy so it’s very close to the original.

Happy Birthday

Today, 17th Sraban your Birthday.

I still receive the email reminding your birthday every year,
You used to get annoyed on seeing the reminder for the biggest day of your life.

‘Can’t even remember this much’ you had said with a serious face,
And then added ‘This way you’ll forget me as well one day’

I used to smile and say ‘that’s why this eternal reminder’
So, even today I remember your birthday.

Another big date of your life 21st Boishak I remember too,
No! A reminder is not required for it though.

Note: I have not changed the dates from Bengali to English months as somethings should not be translated.  FYI Boishak is one of the auspicious months for marriage in Bengal.

One more thing do you think the first and last 2 lines spoiled the poem? Reason for asking is they were not a part of the original, just added by me while posting.

Update: Before this post my blog had 997 total comments and Now it has 1K ! Yay! A milestone indeed …and I am Glad that it is Neha‘s comment which got me there :D …Thank you all for being so generous with your views here…So Now …10K comments ? :P

Braaazil la …la…la…. – story of my phootballish affair…

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The Venga Boys song comes to my lips every time Brazil goes to play football more so during the FIFA World Cups.  The inspiration of this post is a conversation with Neha of Neha’s Blog fame and the passionate post Football and Calcutta by Guria where she talked about the religion that football is to the people of Kolkata. The post left me nostalgic.

Circa 1987 : I still remember the day when my sports teacher had put me in the class football team (it was mandatory you see) and told me that I will have to  play as the centre back (a defender).  I was told that my role would be to stop any opponent with the football from entering our penalty box. So as the game started I was lurking at my position ahead of our penalty box and rest of our team was jostling for the ball at the centre. Our goalie was insisting me to go and join the melee at the mid field. But I didn’t leave my post and just then a tall, bulky opponent with the ball was rushing towards our goal and I froze. Everyone from the goalie to sports sir was shouting at me to stop the hulk but I was staring at the oncoming giant and not moving (let me tell I was thin and puny in my childhood) then something happened and I had stopped the hulk ultimately, don’t ask me how.  So that’s one of my earliest trysts with the game of football.

Circa 1990 : I was still a school boy and the FIFA world cup was scheduled to begin, the air in Kolkata was heating  up as always but I was more into local football and didn’t know much about international football. It was my math tuition sir (a fanatic football fan) who not only quelled my fear for mathematics but also introduced me to magnificent football team called ‘Brazil’. He would come for tuition and analyze with precision the previous day’s matches for 10-15 mins.  Also another thing had happened that year my dad had brought home a colour TV just a few days before the World Cup opening match kicked-off.  It was a treat to watch the matches in colour.

Oh! How can I forget the opening match in which Roger Milla’s Cameroon  had stunned the reigning champion Argentina and the whole world with an unexpected victory and unique victory dance. For some reason I was happy that day(A potential Brazil fan was in making). Over next one month I witnessed the marvelous Yellow shirts, blue pants and white socks doing samba with the ball. Ok I was mesmerized by Maradona as well but knew it will be Brazil that will have my loyalty all my life come what may.  Incidentally Brazil had not been the champions that year because they were defeated by Argentina in Round of 16 itself. Finally was super happy when Germany lifted the cup defeating Argentina(seeds of Brazil fan were making inroads).

Circa 1994 : Then I was a young adult and was following the matches even at weird hours, remember it was played in USA. I used sleep with alarms to wake me up at right time but was very upset when missed a few times. The significance of this world cup was Brazil became the champions. What a memorable final it was, first world cup final to be decided by penalties. We were up till late night and that tension, frustration at Italy not allowing Brazil a goal. But it was all worth, Brazil won and we were out on the streets with drums,  pipes, people were coloring each-other green(Brazil’s colour is green). When most of the country was sleeping it was a Brazilian carnival in Kolkata.  One has to see it to believe it. Crazy Kolkatans one would say but that’s what we are.  BTW one of my favorite players in that tournament was Roberto Baggio but they were up against my first love, so couldn’t feel bad for him.

Circa 1998 : This was the tournament played in France and I was a college going boy.  But it was heartbreaking to see Brazil lose to France 3-0 in the final, one of lowest times in my football fan life till date. Though I liked Zidane a lot till then but could never accept the fact that his team had beat Brazil so badly.

Circa 2002 : Now I was a man (What? I was working come on). This world cup was held in South Korea and Japan, which meant matches were in afternoon and evening our time. Which created a problem of missing the matches while at work but hey I was in Kolkata. Like Guria mentioned in her post the city comes to stand still during the tournament. The place where I was working was our client’s place but the people were nice and allowed us to watch important matches in their recreation room where they had a TV, especially for the world cup!  Actually they would call us during the matches and we would be shuttling between work and the matches.  The tournament ended with Brazil lifting the world cup for fifth time. The celebrations this time were much mellow from my side as I told you I was not a boy anymore but a working professional.

Circa 2002 : That was a significant year for me as I had moved out of Kolkata for the first time and was still trying to adjust to new life in Bangalore and was not knowing how to watch matches because I still did not have a TV in Bangalore then.   But like they say when God’s with you nobody can beat you. One of my Bengali friend here and his wife are die hard Brazil fans, so they let me into their home at the dead of the night to watch the games. It was a new experience to be in the only home in the entire layout or probably the whole area with TV tuned to world cup match at odd hours.  We used to miss all the off-screen action of Kolkata.  I mean it was strange to see people in general not at all interested in football. I mean why or how? I had supported France in final just for Zidane and Thiery Henry but unfortunately they lost to Italy. Also the famous head butting by Zidane had shocked us.

2010 : This is my second consecutive world cup in Bangalore(outside Kolkata) but I see a significant change with more people following football. Actually my current office has a TV which is tuned to cricket all day long but now they tune to world cup matches and surprisingly there’s a sizable crowd for even matches not involving big names.  Good but nothing can match the euphoria back in Kolkata. The Bangla Channels show visuals of frantic fans in Bengal, making me feel a tinge but ….

This world cup so far is turning out very interesting with Vuvuzelas, the issues of Jabulani balls, the high altitude matches and bigger teams struggling while some unknown names shining(this is a specialty of FIFA world cups).

Final note : Like I said on FB “Seeing India play in FIFA World cup finals is a wishful thing maybe it will not happen in our lifetimes” but honestly how many of us know the name of Indian National League played every year or who is the captain of India team?

Finally, if you feel Kolkata is crazy about only football then just go and see during IPL or any other big cricketing event. I think no other city can match that as well.

PS: A 3-1 win by Brazil yesterday acted like a balm for the pain of my team being eliminated out of BPL.  Also a Big Thanks to all of you for the support you showered for the Inscribe Tribe.

Cast Out the Caste

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Team This post has been published by me as a team member of Inscribe Tribes for the SUPER 5 round of Bloggers Premier League (BPL) – The first ever unique, elite team blogging event of blog world. To catch the BPL action and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai

Srinivas: “What caste do you belong to?”
Amit: “Brahmin”
Srinivas: “But you eat non-vegetarian, right?”
Amit: “Yes, Brahmins in our state do eat non-vegetarian.”
Srinivas: “Hmmm….Great. BTW, I am a Reddy.”

What are the chances that the above conversation is a fiction? Also what is the probability that this conversation took place between urbane, educated individuals? Finally, what is the possibility that this conversation has taken place in our generation? While you find honest answers to the above, let me discuss about the menace called “caste” in India. The caste system in India evolved primarily from the Hindu religion but followers of other religions too happen to practice the caste system.

If we look at the origin of the caste system we see that it evolved from the “Varna” system which basically divided the society into 4 classes based on their profession: the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas and the Shudras. It was never mentioned initially that a Brahmin’s son will be a Brahmin, etc. The Vedas recognized that different people have different skills and qualifications, and it is not by birth but by guna [qualification] and karma [work] that they are to be categorized.  But over the centuries this system of classification became lineage based and turned into a system the way it is today. This resulted in some of the terrible problems that we are facing today.

The reforms against the caste system first began with reformers like Buddha and Mahaveer Jain. Later some of the Saints of Bhakti movement denounced the caste system. During the British Raj first real movements against the caste system was launched in the form of Arya Samaj and Bramho Samaj. Mahatma Gandhi along with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar had worked towards the emancipation of the ‘Dalits’ whom Gandhiji named as the ‘Harijans’. Currently the practice of ‘Untouchables’ has been abolished by the Government of India. The Indian Constitution recognizes only Schedule Caste (SC), Schedule Tribe (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC), for the purpose of reservation.

It is shocking to see the celebrated and established people from media talk about caste knowingly about the menace it has created in India, maybe a little more in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, but it is equally prominent in the southern parts of India too.

“In order to bring to focus the issue of caste discrimination in the state and bring out the actual reality, the Kula Vivaksha Vyatireka Porata Sangam (KVPS, which translated into English means organisation in the fight against caste discrimination) decided to conduct a statewide survey. 8000 activists, divided into 3070 teams fanned out to 11,000 villages and conducted this survey over a period of 15 days. The teams conducted meetings in the dalit pockets in villages and towns and conducted the surveys. Some Of The Major Findings Of The Survey Were: Caste discrimination was practiced in 57 forms, among which included the infamous two-glass system in hotels, bar on entry into temples, denial of access to drinking water in common ponds, wells etc, denial of haircuts by barbers in villages, ban on wearing chappals, riding bicycles, not being allowed to sit in village centers etc. Some examples of the discrimination in towns are: refusal to give on rent accommodation to dalit employees, insulting dalit students etc. After thorough discussions with the community members, representations were formulated at village-level and submitted to the government. After this, roundtable meetings were conducted throughout the state with intellectuals, activists, mass organizations, dalit organizations etc to highlight the survey findings and to take their inputs. The findings and the inputs of round-table meetings were widely publicized. KVPS organized all-caste lunches, all-caste tea- parties whereby people belonging to all castes were, in a symbolic gesture, seated alongside to eat food/drink tea. This programme helped in raising the consciousness of the people to fight caste discrimination. Fight for The Constitution of a Commission: The organization then formulated a main demand that the government must appoint a commission to enquire into the prevalence of caste discrimination in the state and to make recommendations for ending such discrimination. Centered on this demand, the organization conducted meetings. Dharnas at the Mandal-level, padayatras in villages, formation of human-chains in towns, discussions and seminars at mandal, division and district headquarters, and picketings of collectorates at district centers. Over one lakh dalits participated in all these programmes.” (source: http://sficec.org/content/fight-against-caste-discrimination-and-lessons-experience-andhra-pradesh)

Initiatives like the above have been taken to do away with the Caste System but from time to time the politicians of India have been playing dirty politics by employing caste issues as the vanguard to garner votes. Factually, some political parties are solely surviving by polarizing the Caste Based population. They are increasingly using these gimmicks as a weapon to implement the doctrine of “divide and rule policy”. Time and time again, we have seen people going to polls without understanding the significance of their act, a Dalit will vote for Dalit, a Brahmin will vote for Brahmin, the neighbors consult each other and just ape the rights which should actually be based on proper reasoning. Why is it so important to segregate ourselves according to our caste? We have reached in such an era where such things should not matter.  One only needs to know that every person can be knowledgeable, they don’t need to be a Brahmin, Kshtriya, Vaishya or shudra to show their strength and power, just hard work and showing their worth is important to live in a polite society.

Moreover the policy of reservation by itself has become a problem than a solution. All this “vested interest” is pushing back the war against the Caste System. Yet with an increased inter-mingling of the population, awareness is increasing and it is only through increased awareness and focused enlightenment that the issue of Caste System I believe will most certainly recede in the longer run. Also, I would like to consider my feel that our future generations will not engage themselves in such trivial conversations like the one at the beginning of the article, ONLY IF we the citizens of TODAY pass on the right lesson to them.

Image and References: http://krishna.org/the-indian-caste-system/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India

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