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Hah! this month has been amazing. Not only am I not working as I generally do, but I’m also spending a lot of time with Rimcollians (that’s a term used to refer to alumni from my school, RIMC). Why, just yesterday seven of us met up at INS Hamla and I must say that lots of old memories were brought back. Below are some of the topics of discussions;

1) Apparently Raja Wangdi Sherpa, one of the best cadets I’ve known, had a boxing bout with Vibhore Singh when the former was the cadet captain. Vibhore was recounting his experience and his passionate ‘second’ joshing him up against one of the best boxers. At this time, I also remembered the bout between Major Vikramjeet Singh (now Col.) and Bikramjeet Singh alias ‘bhakka’ that took place in my first sem.

2) When something inside me gave me a ‘go ahead’ to enter the 48-51 kg category to fight against Manjeet Kataria (this guy was the nationals variety) and Romen Singh. I was declared RSC after the first round.

3) Cheating in NDA writtens; UPSC exams. One of the best experiences of my life I must say. There’s no better charm than helping your classmates clear the exam. All of us from different classes were recounting as to how we had done it.

4) Not to forget, Col Houghton and the headless horseman incident. We were trying to recall as to who all were involved in it. I now know that Maj. Vivek Singh was on the ropes, Toshi on the beams and PK Pandey. But we still haven’t figured as to who was riding the horse. 🙂

5) About how Gaurav Madan, Rajan Chikkara, Vishal Singh and Subeg Singh Dhindsa were the coolest people in college during our time. The Best batch went undoubtedly to Raja’s batch.This also included Bhaskar Shukla, Mithun and Srinivas.

6) Of rounds at five thirty and how I dreaded rolling with bajri (pebbles) put on my back on the cemented floor.

7) Of reducing runs; tapkeshwar, robbers cave and lalgate. Coming back after the run and having blankets put on you while you are ‘legs up and hands down’ and people beating you up with hockey sticks so that you sweat and lose weight.

8) Of how chandragupt section always ended up being the underdogs and beat up Pratap once in a memorable football match.

9) Not to forget the Obstacle course which all of us agreed was the most interesting event in RIMC. As to how everyone used to do the course and all the drama that takes place when the last man is on the burma bridge and monkey crawl and everyone is cheering up.

10) Lastly, of the championship; Mr. Vishwakarma’s introduction of the “jhadoo pocha” (cleaniness) cup and sections winning the overall championship and lifting the Arjun tank model. Out of my five years at school, my Section Ranjit won it 3 times. We joined as champions and passed out as one.

A lot more was discussed till five in the morning on the beach and rooms at the station. The Rimcollians present were;

Rahul Choudhary, Vibhore Singh, PInku Singh, Ashish Kumar, M Arun, Cdr. RK Singh and self.

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I’m not much of an American Idol fan. But out of sheer boredom yesterday I decided to watch the grand finale between the David’s and I must say I was in awe the moment I heard David Archuleta singing “Don’t let the sun go down on me”. That guy easily knocked down his opponent David Cook I tell you.

So I slept and woke up next morning to hear that David Cook had won from a record 12.5 million votes and was shocked!!! . Not that this Cook guy was undeserving or anything, but when the judges clearly declared the winner, the public that voted must have found someother judging factor. Maybe it was Archuletta’s age; that guy was just out of college. 🙂

Well, for all I care, it was a good show and I was just a little “zoned out” by trying to understand how the american people must have voted.

I got my semester results yesterday and I must say i ‘expected’ some of those grades. In fact, I understood what it means to go against the system. Actually it was this Teacher in Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) that ‘literally screwed’ my grades. It was a 6 credit course and the highest there is. Well, like I said earlier; for alleging her to the biased and unfair in her marking and complaining to the authorities about it, I got what I expected.

Well, that is one of the downsides for going againt the system. Universities must be seen as institutions that encourage liberal thinking and not enforce the moral ideals and notion of a particular individual. Perhaps, I was fed up with being treated as a primary school student and didnt want to be bound by rules anymore. Rules, where asking a legitimate question would mean doubting the authority of the teacher and something as silly as an attendance is being cut for not answering a question.

The root of the problem is not the infamy of certain teachers but the very way university education works in India. A former principal of my school RIMC, Mr. Hugh Catchpole characterised it as a ‘Guru- Chela’ relationship; where in the student is to do strictly as the teacher says. Students must do their homework, get all their books to class and know everything that is going on. I remember my days in Kendriya Vidyalaya where I had to take heavy bags with all the books possible . That may work in primary and secondary schools but surely not in Universities where every one is above the age of 18 and is to be considered mature enough to make the right decisions. In Universities, students must not be forced to learn but interested to learn; its informed choice that works in this case.

I would like to put forth another instance of the ‘guru -chela’ notion. Two students Canada came over to my jurisprudence class and started addressing the prof. by her first name, while at the same time we address her as “ma’am”. I could notice a distinct openess between her and those Canadians as she was aware of the system out there and appreciated it from them; and she was not open to us following suit, the true reason for which Im not aware of but Im certain our education system has a part to play in it.

Perhaps, this is one of the reasons that I felt a ‘burn out’ in this place. And it is in these times that I feel my going for the exchange programme to Canada comes as a blessing. I’m done with nepotism and sycophancy and have had enough of it. 😛

To

The Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House, Coparnicus Marg
New Delhi-

Hon’ble Sir,

Ahead of Panchayat polls on Sunday i.e.11/5/2008 the ruling party sponsored goons continued unhindered violence in Nandigram in spite of assurance by all political parties in a meeting with Block Development Officer that normalcy would be restored there.

Our fact finding team on getting information of the ongoing disturbances and police inaction reached violence-torn Nandigram today and have gathered information from the villagers that since the previous night the musclemen and goons alleged to be supporters of the largest ruling party CPI(M) flaunting red flags resorted to bloody violence in the area. Those miscreants snatched away the voter identity cards of the villager-voters and beat the possible opponent voters of the ruling party mercilessly even on mere suspicion of not being supporters of the ruling party. As a result of pre-poll clashes, at least 11 to 15 persons including women were admitted in Nandigram Block Primary Health Centre in critically injured condition.

The fact finding team has found that about 1000 to 1500 persons of village Kalicharanpur (Booth no.148 to 155) were robbed of their voter identity cards in the hands of the goons of the ruling party. Sk. Mojaffar, Giyasuddin Ali Shah, Sk. Malek , Sk. Rajjak, Sahauddin Shah, Saibul Shah, Samad Shah, Sk Basir, Amar Khatua, Mriganka Majhi were among other goons who masterminded and carried the operation in the area at the instance of the ruling political party. Moreover hundreds of villagers of Sonachura Gram Panchayat (Booth no.168 to 176), Gokulnagar Gram Panchayat, Bhangabera Gram Panchayat were also not free from such incidents.

Today at about 11 a.m. in the morning hundreds of villagers whose voter identity cards were forcibly taken away, gathered at the office of the Block Development Officer, Nandigram in order to ventilate their grievance and seeking permission to cast their votes after loosing their voter identity cards in the hands of the cadres and goons of the ruling party.  But without any provocation Mr. Debashish Chakraborty, Officer in Charge of Nandigram Police Station with Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel conducted lathi-charge upon the innocent gathering of the people.

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It is not uncommon for us to consistently remind ourselves of the fact that we are one of the most participative democracies in the world. While there might not be serious reservations as to the accuracy of this statement, incidents and exclusionary structures such as the Uthapuram Wall serve as a clarion call to those who believe that our society is the vanguard of equality.

Most of us would be aware of the recent controversy surrounding the demolition of the wall built by the upper castes of Uthapuram village (in Madurai,TN); the allegedly 12 feet high structure, constructed in 1989 in the aftermath of a violent communal conflict, was aimed at preventing the entry of ‘militant and rowdy Dalits’ into upper caste localities ( Ironically, 1989 is more known to us as the year when the Berlin Wall, a symbol of cultural and economic differences, was tore down). It wasn’t until media reports and activist involvement that the structure was brought to the notice of the public; campaigns to demolish the wall strengthened after news broke out that the wall had electrified fencing.

The demolition of the wall is indeed a welcome move, but it does not in any way mitigate the longstanding instances of discrimination meted out to the Dalit communities in various parts of India. Even today, as The Hindu Editorial reports, Dalits are subject to various forms of social exclusion, be it restrictions on access to public areas/utilities to being served tea in a different set of tumblers across shops. Our constitutional commitments to social justice envisage a community devoid of untouchability and other inherently discriminatory practices. Despite governmental action, segregatory walls continue to exist in the minds of the castes and communities across India. The one at Uthapuram is only a physical manifestation of such a tendency.

One must then, ponder over the exercises to impose equality and social justice in India through affirmative action and social welfare legislations. They would be rendered futile if upper castes and dominant, majoritarian communities were to shy away from being active participants in inclusive social growth. It is not surprising therefore, that the upper caste families at Uthapuram have stayed away from the village, refusing to come back. Our perceptions about social security and growth are unfortunately prejudiced to no lesser extent. Until there is awareness on this count, we would continue to witness variant forms of social exclusion, shocking our democratic, liberal values and conscience. And that is a threat to any society which, as the saying goes, is as strong as its weakest link.