Rajnikanth in politics

Rajnikanth, will reel actors be real actors!

There is a noticeable trend that all the beauty pageant winners end up in Bollywood and eventually almost all Bollywood biggies end up in politics. Do they serve any good to Bollywood or politics? Even in last general elections lots of people from films contested from different constituencies. Some lost, some won, as expected. The ones who won were Hema Malini, Kiron Kher, Paresh Rawal, Vinod Khanna, Moonmoon Sen, Shatrughan Sinha among others.

Losers included Gul Panag, Rakhi Sawant, Ravi Kishen, Smriti Irani, Bappi Lahiri, Nagma, Mahesh Manjreker, Prakash Jha, Raj Babbar and Javed Amongst them Smriti Irani still became a minister having been already in the Upper House. It is rare that these Bollywood people have any political blood. Still, they manage the right contacts to enter politics. But for what? Continue reading Rajnikanth, will reel actors be real actors!

Sheila Kaul in her youth

Congress leader Sheila Kaul’s 100th Birthday

Sheila Kaul addressing people.She smiled and said, “You know a cup of Nimish would cost from one anna to two annas (16 annas made one rupee). Along with Nimish, came the vendors with golden crispy ‘Jalebis’ full of sweet syrup and these were sold on fresh green leaves, 10 to an anna. At times this could be our breakfast together with a glass of milk which the milkman brought in over-sized containers. My mother came to meet her father every year in Lucknow and it was here that I was born.”

Suddenly there was silence. I turned and looked at her. She had slept off with smile on her face while she was telling me how she was born. It was a special day and she had many a visitors. She looked tired but she was smiling. An hour later she woke up, looked at me and asked, “Why are you sitting here my dear? Want something?” I smiled and said, “Yes you were telling me about your childhood.” She laughed and said, “It was long back and I don’t remember. Can you make me a cup of tea please?” I smiled, “Yes.”

She held the cup in her hand trying to balance it with my help and said, “There were no buses or cars in Multan and the only transport was the ‘Tonga’. However, within two years a bus came and we used it for going to school. Amy, the girl next door would also come with us. One day she told me her young aunt had died and would I care to see her when she was being taken away. I went, they made her look like a bride who was going to be married. Her face looked so pretty.”

She continued and asked me, “Tell me why are all these people here with flowers? I said, It is your birthday. They have come to wish you.” She looked at me… “Am I this much?” I said, “Yes you are.” Then she went back to sleep.

The above conversation happened few years ago.

Sheila Kaul addressing a function.Sheila Kaul, born on the 7th of  February 1914 to Rajeshwar Nath Kaul and Saraswati Kaul, turned 100 this year. She spent her childhood in Lucknow, Multan, Ferozepur and Lahore. In her youth she was driving, her father had a Willy’s Knight and eventually a Sedan Chevrolet. People in those days around 70 years back had not seen many a cars so they would gather around her car and see velvet seats and the glass windows going up and down the door of the car.

As she completed her matriculation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had come to Ferozepore. They all went to hear him speak. When they came back they made a bundle of all non-khaadi clothes and discarded them. New khaadi sarees were bought and khaadi blouses stitched at home. By this time, Bhagat Singh along with Sukhdev and Rajguru had become her heroes.

She graduated for teachers training from Sir Ganga Ram Training college, taught for a while and then got married to Kailas Nath Kaul. In 1939, for the first time, she attended the Congress Session, along with Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Vijay Lakshmi Pandit and met Subhash Chandra Bose. The same year she sailed for London on the July 1 in the S.S Strathmore. Her husband was in-charge of the India Section at the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew.

The second World War had started and she moved to Gloucestershire and gave birth to her first son in 1941. In 1944 her second child was born in London after which she moved to India. Then she moved to Kanpur had her third child there and shifted to Lucknow in 1953 where she started her social work with the Red Cross. She was elected as a Sabhasad and later became the Member of the Legislative Council of U.P.

Sheila Kaul with Margaret Thatcher

She won the Lucknow seat in 1971 an entered the Parliament. Then she worked hard and travelled to Paris, USSR, Copenhagen, the U.S. and Yugoslavia from 1971 to the early 1980s with the Indian Delegation. In 1980, Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister and she won from Lucknow and looked after Education and Social Welfare Ministry.

Her husband died on 21st of February 1983. What a coincidence, they were married in the month of February on the 9th and both were born also in the same month. He loved the month of February and did not know that the same month would take him away.

In 1984, she was the Member of Parliament from Lucknow and a minister in Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet when a few minutes past 9:00 am she received a call at her office at Shastri Bhawan when a voice on the other side said, “Indira Gandhi has been shot.”

Rajiv Gandhi made her the Chairman of the centenary celebrations of the Congress  Party and she travelled all over and in 1989 she won the elections from Rae Barely. In 1991, she became the Urban Development Minister till 1995. And then, the small girl who was running in the by-lanes of Rani Katra entered the Raj Bhawan as the Governor of Himachal Pradesh.

Sheila Kaul in her youthA dynamic lady who always had undying love and devotion for people and an honest lifestyle is what can be said about her, today. She is the oldest living member of India’s Congress Party.

As I recalled her life on her 100th birthday this 2014, watching her …as we all celebrated, cut cakes, blew out candles, she could be seen smiling as everyone sang for her. I’m yet to see a person as awesome as she, who once said – Preserve Your Youth While You Are Young.

Happy Birthday Nani on this 100th Birthday! Cheers!! Stay young and make me even younger!!!

Where have the leaders gone?

True Leaders – Pride Of India

Jawaharlal Nehru arriving for delberations during the Simla Conference, 1945.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru arriving for delberations during the Simla Conference, 1945. He became the first prime minister of India.

I sit on a cozy sofa with a cup of tea in my hand, and the phone beeps – a few jokes are circulated… everyone laughs. I realize it is on the highest serving leader of our country.

Well, not one but many jokes are enjoyed upon and leaders ridiculed. It so saddens my heart to see how people are enjoying and sharing all these, both privately and publicly.

They say our politicians are worse than dogs but I beg to differ as I am a dog lover and can vouch for the loyalty of a dog even in today’s times.

When I was a child we had leaders in our country. We had people who served the nation. We had stories of freedom fighters. Yes, I was innocent as all other kids of my age and knew no politics but at that time our leaders were God. One such leader I remember was Indira Gandhi the then Prime Minister of India.

Those days not every house had television sets and basically radio was the only channel into the world around me.  Radio was honest, loyal and no crap was portrayed. The channel would be on, with all ears to hear the speech our Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first president of India.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first president of India.

Then, to get a simple glimpse of the leader, we would sit and watch the whole functions, be it a public meeting or a national day. Not only me, the whole clan would sit, all the servants, everyone. There would be pin drop silence too.

When a leader died those days the nation would be traumatized. There would be a national mourning even if they were not serving.

Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi sharing dais during a speech in 1980s. Photo copyright gcaffe.com

Indira Gandhi, Sheila Kaul and Rajiv Gandhi. © gcaffe.com

And now we share dirty disgusting jokes on each and every public forum about our leaders and activists. Where are all the good people? What happened to our leaders? Why are they doing such things that people are criticizing them in this manner?

Today the leaders are given written speeches to deliver and that is what they do and sadly without any expressions. I miss the men and women who spoke from their hearts looking straight into your eyes.

Was the world like this only when I was a kid or have I matured in the last three decades? Whom will our present generation idolize and look up to? Whom will they be inspired from? Will it be Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan or Salman Khan as they are more famous than our leaders of today?

When will the good people rise from their dormancy? When will the lava flow?

When will I have a true leader I can be proud of? When?

Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi on a dias giving speech. Photo copyright gcaffe.com

Hopes And Prayers For Rahul Gandhi

The other evening I used a sentence which had two words ‘hope’ and ‘pray’.  A wise man then said very politely, “We don’t need to use ‘hope’ with ‘pray’, as a prayer includes hope.” I wanted to tell him I use the word hope together with pray as I really want that my prayers do come true, so I add some more hope to it. But I remained silent and just smiled.

I’m not a very political kind of a person but I do read headlines. When the news about Congress party’s new vice president Rahul Gandhi’s speech spread, I heard he had delivered a very emotional speech at a party conference in Jaipur. But I did not bother to go beyond the headlines and the day went by as usual. During the day I caught up with some more talk on the speech, some tweets, some comments, some updates on Facebook… inquisitive, I did hear the speech on YouTube.

Rahul GandhiSince I don’t watch much of television, I saw Rahul after so many years. I still found him so cute, though he has aged. He has more curls now at 42 and a receding hairline. I sometimes feel very bad for him. The whole country has so many expectations from him due to his lineage that he is unable to fulfil. So much pressure he must have had before his speech. Just how many people must have approved his speech!

He started off well and then went on to ask a thousand questions about all sorts of failures which India faces today. He asked, “Why do a handful of people control the entire political space?” Any answers?

A little later he mentioned, “That people who are corrupt, talk about corruption”, … took a pause and broke into the sweetest smile with dimples in his cheeks… aawww that was so cute. The audience applauded. I smiled. Got me thinking – Did he enter politics by choice? Or was it just the pressure of his parentage?

Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi sharing dais during a speech in 1980s. Photo copyright gcaffe.com

Sharing Dais: Indira and Rajiv. Photo: gcaffe.com

I am lucky I was born a little early to have seen his gracious grandmother speaking and what a dynamic personality she was – Iron lady to the word. Oh how we cried when we got the news of her assassination that day in October 1984 and how shell shocked we were, as that was the first such kind of incident I had seen or heard of. The shock remains till now. We spent hours hooked to the radio for more news and more news. In those days television screens used to go blank  during national mourning.

And then I fell in love with the ever so handsome Rajiv Gandhi – our youngest and the most dashing prime minister. He spoke so well and India was shining. I was growing – a golden period of my youth I saw with my India and Rajiv.

Rajiv Gandhi addressing. Photo copyright gcaffe.com

Rajiv Gandhi. Photo: gcaffe.com

That was the time when I saw dynamic leaders who spoke very well without reading their speeches and led the country through golden periods with the best resources in their youth. Now, Rahul Gandhi says: “Congress is a symbol of hope”, “Congress is my life”, and “I will fight with everything I have”…

Well! I now ‘HOPE and PRAY’ that India does get a good leader whomsoever it maybe, so that after a few decades my children would have some stories about their leaders to share and a few speeches which are not read from paper to remember.

I know the wise man will read this and smile too.

The Legend Unknown – Prof. K.N.Kaul (Part 12)

…continuing the Kaul Journal series

… as I turn the pages I’m enlightened at every word I read. A young mind in turmoil but I see that determination and zest for learning is what takes him places. What follows is the Kaul Journal In Prof. Kaul’s own words:

Prof. Kailas Nath Kaul

Prof. Kailas Nath Kaul

BACK AT SCHOOL

I left working in the villages and returned to school. I was underage. But, from Lokmanya Tilak to all great leaders of the Movement, I had met them all. I had been very near to some of them. I had worked under their instructions and, in a sense I was now a part of their group. But I felt my capabilities were zero. At a young age, I had become an old man. I walked like an old person. When I spoke, I waved my hands. But, I did not understand how to be a leader. I was like an empty bottle that needed to be filled with knowledge and wisdom.

None of the leaders or any of my friends offered to enlighten me. I realized the emptiness within me and was determined to fill it as I felt I had wasted a lot of my time. Until I filled this emptiness, I would not be able to help others!

Our school had opened only recently. The principal, a very good and capable man, was from Aligarh University. He had made a very good library in the school. I began to read. It was in my mind that I should read whatever came before me. If I was not able to understand it fully, at least I would understand it partially.

My masters would ask me, “What will you understand from these books?” They thought I was too young to understand. I would not be able to grasp these deep and profound ideas. They had no idea of the extent of my thirst for knowledge. I did not read these books so that I would do well in my exams.

The-Kaul-Journal

I had seen the poverty in the villages. I had seen the kinds of hardships the people faced. I felt that if I was capable and knowledgeable, I would be able to fight their enemies.

I was going to confront the rulers of the land. I was going to confront the religious leaders. I had made myself into a soldier who would fight injustice. I did not speak about my ideas to anyone or ask for anyone’s help. I felt there was no one who could really help me in my quest. Only technical knowledge would aid me.

My thirst for knowledge was so overpowering that  my parents, who used to say that if I didn’t study I would end up being a grass cutter, now told me not to study and read so much, as I would lose my eyesight!

I considered this as the best part of my whole life because, at this time, I was fulfilling a need which was there deep in my soul. My peers studied to get good jobs but, I was never interested in getting a good job.

I left the road towards a secure future and strove to fight injustice.

                                                     … and the Kaul Journal continues