Independence

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The boy was staring at the bakery with hunger in his eyes. He had a little, half-naked girl on his shoulder and another little boy was holding his hand. All three turned around and looked at people in the bus stand expectantly. The trio approached a man with a cigarette on his lips in white spotless shirt and light grey trousers and a laptop bag on shoulder leaning on his motorcycle parked beside.

The boy hesitated and then with pleading eyes said “Bhaiyya, Char rupay denge to badi meherbani hogi, sirf ek biscuit packet bhaiyya, hum log subah se kuch nahi khaye” (Brother if u give four rupees it will be very kind of you, just one biscuit packet, we haven’t eaten anything from morning).

The man looked other way and pretended he was not listening.

The children looked up with sinking hopes and boy pleaded “Bhaiyya sirf ek biscuit packet”. (Brother one biscuit packet only).

The man got little uncomfortable, he expressed his displeasure and threw his unfinished cigarette on ground and doused it with his leg and mounted the motorcycle in order to start it.

The boy fearing more insults did not prod the man further and turned away with the other children in tow and crossed the street. The trio was loitering around the shops in the adjoining market but didn’t approach anyone else. After some time there was a little bit of hustle at the bus stand as a bus approached and waiting passengers boarded it in a hurry in order to grab the best seats. It was off peak hour so only a handful of seat got occupied. It was also the terminal stop for that bus so it was to wait there for a while before leaving.

The trio appeared from somewhere and boarded the bus the older boy made baby girl sit in the last seat and started playing with her. The other boy too joined and instantly the bus was filled with shouts and giggles of the children then the older boy started running around the bus and hiding behind the seats.

The younger boy cried out “Gopi Bhaiyya khidar ho tum! Jaldi idhar aao! “(Brother Gopi where are you, come here soon) and tears filled up in his eyes.

Gopi rushed to him and both burst out laughing.

Their little game of hide and seek continued for a while till the conductor boarded the bus. Gopi picked his little sister and got down from the bus and made her sit on the bench at the bus stand and asked his little brother to guard her.

He then boarded the bus again stood at the steps. The bus started moving ahead slowly. The younger brother started waving goodbye. Then the bus started picking a little speed. The children got scared and started crying “Gopi Bhaiyya, wapas aao”. (Brother Gopi come back)

Gopi jumped from the bus and ran towards his siblings. The little ones started smiling and felt secure again.

——————

As another Independence Day is almost here and we celebrate our freedom, independence with ethnic days, pot luck lunches and singing patriotic songs at our places of residence or work. Let us not forget numerous Gopis who have to “independently “fend for themselves and their dependents at a tender age when they themselves need a secure and safe childhood.

This leads me to a question what does being “independent” actually mean? Please let me know your ideas about it.


This post was first published @ N-zine.

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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

What If!

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This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 7; the seventh edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

“Come on Sam! You can just one point!” his team-mates were cheering him but I wanted him to loose. Sameer Arora aka Sam as he liked to call himself. Sam was the semi-finalist the year before whereas Srinu his opponent was an underdog. I was supporting Srinu not only because he was from our batch and we practiced together but we didn’t want that arrogant Sam to win. So we were giving experts tips to Srinu as to How to overcome Sam and I sent a silent prayer to favour Srinu.  That day for a change God had listened to me. Srinu had won the match and went onto quarter-finals. We celebrated with strawberry juice. Oh I’ll never forget the look on Sam’s face.

But that was all a year back. Today an email from HR left me aghast. It said

“Colleagues,

It is with deep regret that we inform you about the sad demise of our colleague Sameer Arora, in a tragic road accident on Saturday.

We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family.

Let us observe two minutes silence at 3.00pm today as a mark of respect to the departed soul.

We pray to the Almighty to give his family courage and strength to overcome this grief. May his soul rest in peace.”

I rushed to his project and found his photo on his cubicle and his bereaved team-mates narrated that Sameer was returning from a party that night and he had his helmet on and had stopped at a signal. A little girl had smiled and waved at him from a neighbouring car and he had taken off his helmet to talk to the little one. Just then a speeding SUV with drunken driver on the wheel lost control of the vehicle and knocked Sameer down fatally. After listening to this tale a lot What Ifs came to  mind but the truth is Sameer is no more with us.

Every year thousands of people die on roads due to drunken driving. We have stringent rules in place but unless we ourselves do not follow the rules we will have to come face to face with such ugly What Ifs.

This post is based on true events and last week I have lost someone I knew. The reason why I replaced the original post for blog-a-ton is more people will read this and would request you to spread the message.

PS: Though this one based on true events names and other details have been changed for privacy purpose.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

The Indian Dream

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This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 3; the third edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

I am reminded of the famous dailogue from the Hindi film Guru(2007) “Sapne maat dekha karo, Sapne kabhi pure nahi hote mera bapu kehta tha”(tr: Don’t dream because dreams never come true my father used to say)

When I saw the topic for Blog-a-ton3 I was completely at a loss as to what to write about but then on reading through the comments of the voting post I found a comment by Indian Pundit who suggested the topic “Its just the DESI version of American Dream……..hope u get the point.
We Indians too have certain dreams and aspirations about ourselves and about our country”
. Oh Ok I got it but wait what is American Dream? Like a true techie ‘Googled’ the words “American Dream” and bang the first on the list was a wiki entry gr8. So I knew the job was easy now and Googled with “The Indian Dream” well there was no wiki entry this time how sad though we have entries for European Dream, Australian Dream, New Zealand dream but no Indian Dream ( I think we can put a wiki entry of ‘Indian dream’ as a summary of the blog-a-ton posts. What say?).

Now what do I do? I looked into some of the search items in Google and found the general usage of the word Indian Dream equates with the ‘Dollar Dream’ that is the software industry which gave way to so many “Indians” from small towns & villages go to West and become a ‘coveted’ NRIs. Let me tell you thats basically a Westerner’s take on Desi version of American Dream. So do I talk of that ‘Indian’ dream or the ‘Indian’ dream of who is born, raised, lives and dies in India.

I think I should talk about the ‘Indian dream’ of one who is born, raised, lives and dies in India. But before I go to the ‘Indian Dream’ lets first define what is ‘India’? “India” that we see today is a country that was shaped by the British who conquered over a bunch of disparate kingdoms and brought them under one administrative system. So now we have a ‘sketchy’ idea what ‘India’ is, now the actual ‘Indian Dream’. So initially the Indian Dream was to live in a ‘free’ country that is a country that is ruled by the “Brown” sahibs instead of the ‘Gora’(White) Sahibs. On 15th August 1947 that dream was fulfilled after a lot of sweat, blood & tears.

Then came the Dream of building a country out of what was left by the British. A strong nation which can defend its people, which can provide the basic necessities to its people. Then we had leaders like Indira Gandhi & Rajiv Gandhi who dreamt India can be at par with the ‘developed’ nations. Rajiv Gandhi said “Garibi hatao” (tr: remove poverty) but over a century ago Swami Vivekanada had openly declared that the real cause of India’s downfall was the neglect of the masses.  The immediate need was to provide food and other bare necessities of life to the hungry millions.

Well they were some of the ‘ancient’ dreams.Lets see what a ‘modern’ dream is. Recently a newspaper cartoon caught my attention in which they showed village women wondering How discovery of water in moon by Chandrayan-I help ease their pain of walking miles for water. I am not going into any debate of what should the dream be but what the cartoon conveyed is an ‘ugly truth’.

The epicentre of “Dollar dreams”,  Bangalore which nearly transformed into American nightmare cannot provide its citizens with 24 hrs of power(which is but a basic thing in the countries from where ‘we’ get the outsourcing contracts), the citizens do not have good motorable roads, neither do they have safe drinking water in every part of the city. Yet the city signals display signboards with ‘Texas Instruments’ etched on it.

Then the dream of a ‘strong’ nation. Well for that we have to sacrifice more than 500 brave and talented men just to drive out infiltrators from our own land. So what happens if a “regular” army attacks( The thousands of men there will sacrifice everything again and ensure that we are safe).

So when I sit down to write about the “Indian Dream” I see we still have so many ‘basic’ dreams and surprisingly we have resources to fulfill them yet we are not able to fulfill them. So whats stopping us? I think its corruption, nepotism, favoritism which has got into the very roots of our systems. So I dream of a country ‘free’ of these and then rest of the dreams will come true on its own.(Does it sound too Socialistic, see this is the result of growing up in a socialist state[West Bengal]).

It will really be interesting to see what all of you have in store in form of “Indian Dream” and maybe our descendants(don’t know which generation) in Blog-a-ton ‘n’ write whether those dreams were fulfilled. So Do I end in true Guru Bhai ishtyle “Dekhna hai ek aur sapna …. banna hai duniya ki sabse khushal desh”(tr: “Lets see another dream…. to become the most prosperous nation in the world”)

PS: I have not read “The Great Indian Dream” by Arindam Chaudhuri and Malay Chaudhuri but now I feel I should read it cause the book seems to have answers to questions above. (Google search threw up this book reviews etc as well)

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Will He Come Back?

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“Dear DM,

Are you still obsessing about a past relationship that absorbs all of your attention and has you wondering if he will come back? It’s time to let go of the past so you can become emotionally available to finding your true soulmate. Get the guidance you need from a love psychic who can support you on your journey. “

This is an extract from an email that I received from an Astrology site a few days back which terrorized me because of the title folks. I rushed to the said site to check whether I have registered my sex correctly and found that they only register birth date, time and place and somehow decide the sex. Probably they read some of my earlier fiction and got confused like some of my early readers. Those of are new to this aspect kindly read this .

Nevertheless I forgave them and added a ‘S’ and pondered over it. “Will She Come Back?”. With the “Love AajKal” in the market this issue seems to be the flavour of the season, BTW do read a review of this film by Priti.

Before asking myself the said question I ask my heart am I waiting for anyone to return? My heart being honest this time says no. Dude you have moved on. Everyone does. Actually I have never looked back in my life I confess I have been like that. I always move on….probably thats why I don’t have anybody to walk beside me now. But Do I really care about it? So why did the question ring a bell? or Did it? Too many questions…

A few days back before “Love AajKal” hit the world a few of my friends were discussing something similar over a drink. And we know how a few pegs makes a man honest and many of them said they moved on and When I asked was it without any mark everybody got uncomfortable.

Actually we belong to confused times and maybe thats why many of us are confused and don’t know what we actually want. No I am not generalizing by anyway please. I know many people out there, who are very sure of what they want and they have got it but still I have come across a number of them who are really confused.

One thing I would like to mention from “Love Aajkal” is that Veer(Rishi Kapoor) tells that today’s generation has too many ‘options’ and in their time they didn’t or rather they didn’t want the ‘options’. But I would like to bring out the Satyajit Ray movie “Ghare Baire” which was adpated from Rabindranath Tagore’s novel of same name. There Ray had talked of options or rather comparision. In the movie the husband(Nikhil) takes his wife(Bimala) out to meet his charismatic nationalist leader friend(Sandip) convincing her that she has only known her husband and no other men. He will never know if she really loves him unless she has opportunity to meet others and prefer him over other men( Very risky propostion !!! Don’t even think of it…everyone is not Nikhil). Bimala falls for Sandip but in end realizes that Nikhil was much better man but by then its too late. You can read about movie here.

So the point is options are required at times but the question is how many options do we need or rather how long do we need? Hence we need to ‘identify’ that “true soulmate” before its too late.

OK folks this is enough I am reminded of Amitabh’s dailogue in Sharaabi which was something like “Hum to upar hi upar tair rahe they kabhi itni gaharai mein uter kar nahi dekha”(tr: I was swimming on the shallow waters never went so deep and saw).

This post is this very un-Dhiman … I can never be serious about anything so guys you must have been bored to death and looking to kill me for wasting your time with some pointless rambling. So please let me know how much did I pakao-ed you guys 😀 🙂 :O

PS: Do you think I should consult this astrology site to help me find “true soulmate” 😉

Mothers and Hunger – The Facts

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This post is my humble way of contributing to the cause of  “Mother’s Day – Help a mother in developing nations”.  Kindly take a look at the facts below and decide.

Key points: 

  • More than 60 percent of chronically hungry people in the world – around 580 million people – are women. (Source: FAO) 
  • In 2008, 82% of WFP’s beneficiaries were women and children. 
  • Educated mothers have healthier families. Their children are better nourished, less likely to die in infancy and more likely to attend school. (Source: FAO) 
  • Increasing opportunities for mothers has a particularly strong impact on hunger because women devote much more of their income directly to feeding their families than men do. One study found that increasing women’s primary schooling could boost agricultural output by 24%. (Source: World Bank) 
  • As women have unequal access to resources, a food crisis – such as 2008’s high food and fuel prices crisis and the present financial crisis – only worsens the situation. 
  • Continuing high food prices have forced families to reduce their food intake while increasing the workload of women in order to earn more income to purchase food.  
  • Breaking the cycle of hunger and poverty at its roots begins with women. Hunger breeds insecurity and often exacerbates circumstances that lead to conflict and crisis, and creates situations where women and girls are often the victims of abuse, rape and violence.

 Other points: 

  • A quarter of all hungry people are children. All too often, child hunger is inherited: up to 17 million children are born underweight annually, the result of inadequate nutrition before and during pregnancy. (Source: Unicef) 
  • Around 50% of pregnant women in developing countries are anaemic. Lack of iron increases the risk of death of the mother at delivery, accounting for at least 20% of maternal mortality. (Source: Kraemer, K. and Zimmermann, M.B. Nutritional Anaemia, Sight and Life, 2007) 
  • Children born to iodine-deficient mothers have been shown to have an average 13.5 point lower IQ than children born to iodine-replete mothers. (Source: Bleichrodt, N. and Born, M.P. A Meta-analysis of Research on Iodine and its Rrelationship to Cognitive Development. The Damaged Brain of Iodine Deficiency, New York, Cognitizant Communication, 1994) 
  • As a result, women, and in particular expectant and nursing mothers, often need special or increased intake of food.  
  • The prevention of maternal and child undernutrition is a long-term investment that will benefit the present as well as the future generation. 
  • Women are the world’s primary food producers, yet cultural traditions and social structures often mean women are much more affected by hunger and poverty than men.  
  • In most developing countries women produce between 60 and 80% of food, but own less than 2% of the world’s titled land. (Source: Rural Development Institute) 
  • A mother will often be the last to eat – instead saving food for her children and other family members. 
  • There is a danger that mothers will engage in negative coping mechanisms, such as prostitution, in order to provide for their families in times of hardship.

 What WFP Does to Help Mothers and Other Women 

  • As the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, WFP feeds the world’s hungriest and most vulnerable people – the overwhelming majority of whom are women and children. 
  • WFP’s policy on gender issues has been in place and guiding our work since the mid 80s. 
  • WFP uses a range of activities to empower mothers and their daughters, providing vital skills and income-earning opportunities through Food for Training and Food for Work programmes.  
  • WFP supports children and mothers by providing them with nutritious foods during the critical stages of their lives, including childhood and pregnancy. Our focus is not to just give any food, but to give quality, fortified foods to ensure that we contribute to the nutrient needs of newborns, pregnant and nursing women. 
  • WFP works with national governments, the African Union, FAO, IFAD and others to encourage increased sustainable food production and a ‘green revolution’ in Africa. Women smallholder farmers are key to unlocking this potential. 
  • WFP supports women smallholder farmers through our local purchasing of food. Half of WFP’s budget comes in the form of cash and we use 80% of that cash to purchase food from farmers in the developing world.  
  • WFP gives extra take-home food rations to girls in our school feeding programmes. This virtually guarantees that girls will attend school, even in cultures where women have had no access to education. 
  • In crisis and conflict situations WFP works closely with our female partners in implementing our projects, including food distributions. In 2008, 574,000 women were in leadership positions on food management committees, an increase of 140% over the previous year. 
  • In camps for refugees and IDPs we allocate family food vouchers to women, thus helping to protect them against abductions and violence. Also, the nutritional support we provide to formerly abducted children, especially girls, has facilitated their social reintegration and reduced their vulnerability to sexual exploitation and abuse.

 References :

Mother’s Day Photo Gallery :

Below are some articles talking about the issues facing women and mothers in developing nations:

Platonic Love – A myth or a reality

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gfx_platonic_relationshipsWikipedia says and I quote “Platonic love (Latin: amor platonicus) is a deep and spiritual connection between two individuals: within such a relationship there does not exist any form of sexual connection or sexual elements.”

Webster Online dictionary defines Platonic Love as ” A pure, spiritual affection, subsisting between persons of opposite sex, unmixed with carnal desires, and regarding the mind only and its excellences; — a species of love for which Plato was a warm advocate.”

This concept of “Platonic Love” used to puzzle me a long time back but it came to fore again after I watched the Bengali movie ‘Anuronon’ the debut film by Anirudha Roy Choudhury in which he showed a platonic relationship very sensitively. The question which always plagued me was Is Platonic Love a reality or a myth ? Because I have never seen it happen in my life or seen it happen in lives of people known to me its something that always I have read about or seen in a movie. I mean is it possible to love someone intensely from opposite sex asexually. Is it possible to keep it only mental, without involvement of physical aspect and that too today’s time and age. When we are being repeatedly pushed to become materialistic,that is go physical satisfaction more than anything else. Can we keep the body totally out of a “man-woman” relationship ?

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Actually if you read the complete wiki article on Platonic Love you’ll see that Plato the advocate this type of love had actually not meant it the way its being interpreted. I again quote from the wiki article

“According to Linda Rapp, Ficino, by Platonic love, meant “…a relationship that included both the physical and the spiritual.” Thus, Ficino’s view is that love is “the desire for beauty, which is the image of the divine.””.

So readers, I request your  honest opinion on this subject that is please narrate any instances where you or any acquaintance has come accross a true example of “Platonic Love”.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonic_love

Disclaimer : Images are sourced from different sources in Internet(www.explorelove.co.uk/platonic_relationships.htm, http://www.experiencefestival.com/forum/news/category/5/love-and-relations/)

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