Follow @vijayjdarda
Latest Post

Where is our society headed?




Vijay Darda : The occasion was Diwali this year. Like every year, traditional pan supari programme was organised at Prithvivandan at Gandhi Chowk in Yavatmal where the Lokmat Group was founded. One of my childhood friends, who is a follower of Islam, came to attend the programme. We were meeting after almost 30 years. We hugged each other and suddenly wept inconsolably. During our childhood days, he used to stay close to our house in Yavatmal. I asked him, “You stay there only!” “No. I have shifted to the locality of Muslims now,” he said.
I was astonished. The city where people lived in harmony, had been divided on the basis of caste and creed. Telis, Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Punjabis and Kunbis now live in their localities. I asked him once again why he did not meet me for so many years. His reply was even more shocking. He said, “Vijay, you have become a wealthy person and that’s why I was hesitant to meet you.” I remember my childhood when there was no rich-poor divide; friendship meant friendship only.
At that time, Urdu and Marathi medium schools would be the same. We would celebrate 15th August and 26th January together, would make arrangements for flag hoisting together. Right from applying cow dung to lime, we would do it all together forgetting caste and religion. A Muslim trader would lend us a pipe to unfurl the flag. Once, we went to our English teacher Qureshi sir and asked him which colour is on the top of national tricolour, green or saffron? This left him absolutely incensed. He said you don’t know the colours of tricolour! Wait, I’ll punish you and make you stand under the Sun. That feeling of patriotism, devoid of even an iota of caste and religious consideration, was amazing.
On 15th August and 26th January, a Prabhat pheri of school students would be organised wherein students would raise the slogan ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. But caste or religion never caused any impediment then.
I am also reminded of Ganeshotsav during our childhood days. We all used to sweep the ground clean, decorate the pandal and worship together. There was no distinction on the basis of caste or religion. Be it Eid, Diwali or Christmas, we children would visit each other unhindered. We were children and childhood was our religion. My religion never became an obstacle in celebrating Eid. We celebrated Ganeshotsav with the same enthusiasm with which we commemorated Eid and Christmas. My mother would help me dress and prepare for Eid and Christmas. We would go to the mosque and church. I still go.
But where did that religion of childhood go? What exactly has gone wrong? I have been in the public life for quite long now and from experience I can say that our society has gone astray. Hatred has replaced harmony. It takes courage to admit publicly that the society today has been divided more than ever before. The difference of being a Hindu and a Muslim is more today than it was before! The religion interfered with the politics and created such an environment that the old bond of affection for each other was broken. The line of suspicion has been drawn so deep that it may take us generations to erase it. At the moment, there appears to be no hope. The way the organisations have been formed in the name of protecting religion and the way they are systematically nurtured, is even more dangerous.
This is not confined to religion only. Caste feelings have also started to unleash with alarming regularity in the past few years. Many times it seems like we are hell-bent on returning to the tribal era where people of one clan used to behead the people of another tribe! The flourishing business of casteist forces has become a source of easy money for some people. And for politicians, it is a kind of ‘vote farming’ which they promote to get good harvest.
In fact, the society has reached such a state where there is no such thing as role model! Had Gautam Buddha, Mahavir Swami, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Ramkrishna Paramahansa, Mahatma Gandhi, Acharya Vinoba Bhave or Sane Guruji ever envisaged such a society? Not at all. They wanted to create a society that would be ideal for humanity because this work can only be done by India, which gave the message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam to the whole world. But we have reduced to dust the thoughts and ideas of our own great men! The society has degenerated so much that we have lost respect for each other. The new measure of respect is position and wealth. Let alone some cultured people, you may have hardly seen a rich person respecting the poor. My Babuji and my mother believed in social harmony. They sent us both brothers to municipality school so that we should understand and experience the pain of the poor. In fact, today the parents themselves do not want their child to come in contact with the poor. Many of my friends were very poor but they got the same respect in our house which we got. Such an attachment has become scarce now. These values should be taught to the children by their families.
Another vice -- to denigrate each other -- is spreading fast in the society. You may have experienced it yourself that when a person is before us, we greatly appreciate him. But as soon as he is gone, we start speaking ill about him. This kind of behaviour is embarrassing and dangerous for society. Why do we not take into account all that is good in that person and try to imbibe that goodness in ourselves? If we keep looking for evil then how will we get good? Believe me, if we find good, then it will help remove another big evil of the society called fraud. Though fraud and deception have been part of human history, we should hope that we will overcome this vice while progressing on the path of development.
I am also pained by the fact that society is deviating from the golden tradition of respecting women. The rise in the incidents of molestation and rape is agonising. Where are our kids getting these dirty ideas from? Obviously, there is some disturbance in the family and society! Clearly it seems that we have become victims of the lack of cultural values.
In the past, children would be imparted cultural values. Apart from imparting bookish knowledge, the teachers in schools would also instill values among the students. They would also be aware of what the students are doing after school and whether they are deviating from their path. Our Sadiq sir and Halbe sir never differentiated between students on the basis of their caste and religion. They equally loved all their students. Where are such teachers today?
It is the absence of sanskars which fills us with malaise. A restless person breaks every law of life. People flout traffic rules. When the airplane lands, people open their seat belts as if they were in captivity. Even before the aircraft halts, people get up from their seats. We have to find a solution to do away with such restlessness! If we change, society will change!
Before I conclude
Bill Gates has correctly said that merely reading books is not study. Our Sant Kabirdas has also said that nobody becomes a pundit by reading scriptures only! My personal belief too is that knowledge is not acquired from books alone; it is around us. Refine your skills and you will go on acquiring knowledge automatically!




Such fanaticism will destroy our country!


Vijay DardaThe hue and cry raised over the film Padmavati and the use of intemperate language by some outfits and their leaders in opposing the film has astonished me. What an irony that the film which has not yet been released, which people have not seen yet, nor any remark has been passed by the censor board regarding the content of the film, yet the extremists have become active and started raising furore over the movie. Is raising furore over the grapevine and issuing fatwas, culture of India? We should not forget that we are living in a democratic country. Here, people who respect all religions, languages and history live in harmony. It is not the country of fools who start creating uproar unknowingly, without thinking.
Seeing the ugly action of these extremist elements and the government’s indifference, many times I feel like asking the government what country are we living in? Are we living in the country of terrorists? Are we taking to the ways of Taliban or living in the sultanate of IS where any Tom, Dick and Harry can issue fatwa? This is not the first case of issuing fatwa. Earlier too, such acts have taken place, but unfortunately, our governments have continued to ignore them.  Political parties and politicians are vying with one another so intensely to woo voters in the name of religion, caste or community that nobody even thinks about reining in such elements! I want to say in no uncertain terms that this will never be acceptable in a country like India. The government will have to deal firmly with those who speak the language of terror irrespective of their religion and caste affiliation! Otherwise, such elements will hold sway and ultimately the country will suffer. The government must understand that none is bigger than the country, neither the government nor the leader, neither any religion nor any caste! The country is paramount. I consider such fanaticism as an attack on the country and such elements as the enemy of the country.
We live in a democratic country and, of course, there should be respect for the views of either side. As far as Padmavati is concerned, if after watching the picture, it seems that there is some distortion then surely it should be removed from the film. The Queen of Bundi too has said that let people watch the movie first and then comment. I believe that if there is an insulting scene and sentiments have been hurt the matter of protest can be understood. It is the culture of India that we should not hurt anyone’s feelings.
But we should not forget the fact that this is a movie, and not a historical documentary. The film Padmavati should be looked upon only as a drama. I am surprised that certain organisations took to streets in protest even when the film was under production and no one knew anything about it! Ghoomar dance was being shot in Jaipur Palace when the entire set was demolished, causing loss to property worth lakhs of rupees. Sanjay Leela Bhansali accepted it as a challenge and put up the set in Mumbai’s Mehboob Studio. After 45 days of continuous shooting, the film got ready. A total of Rs 160 crore has been spent on the movie. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a person who does not create any noise; never goes to the party; does not indulge in any politics. He keeps doing his job. He has produced and directed a number of good films so far. He has made films on every culture: ‘Bajirao Mastani’ on Maharashtrian culture, ‘Devdas’ on Bengali culture, ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ on Gujarati culture, and now ‘Padmavati’ on Rajasthani culture. Prior to this, he had made ‘Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela’. He has worked to unify every religion and community through his cinematic productions. He made the film ‘Black’ on Alzheimer’s. He is a creative person and has a creative mind. Therefore, it  is not proper to play politics with such a person.
For Padmavati, Deepika Padukone has executed the Ghoomar dance by wearing a 30-kg jewellery and 30-kg costume. Is it easy to dance carrying a weight of 60 kilograms? In fact, we should encourage an artist. But unfortunately, it is sad that some fundamentalist forces take to such cruel way of protest simply to serve their own interests. These are the people who can do anything to get cheap publicity. And yes, the media should also think how much importance such people should be given. Once again I would like to point out that the government as also all the political parties will have to deal with such fundamentalist forces extremely harshly, lest they will destroy the country!
Change condition, not name!
Here is another newsbreak. The news is that efforts are being made to rename Indore, the historical and commercial city of Madhya Pradesh, as Indur. The proposal is about to reach the Madhya Pradesh government soon. Since the same party is ruling the municipal corporation as well as the state and the country, it is not surprising that after a few months we will be forced to call Indore as Indur. My question is, what will the renaming achieve? Calcutta became Kolkata, Bangalore became Bengaluru, Madras became Chennai, Bombay became Mumbai, Mangalore became Mengaluru and Poona became Pune, but what happened? The problems of these cities remain the same today as they were prior to the renaming. Is it easy to live there? Did these cities start getting purified water round the clock? Is there any reduction in pollution? Then what is the benefit of renaming? Changing the name, in my view, is nothing more than a political move. I am reminded of one song... Ye jo public hai ye sab jaanti hai..!




Path of ease of doing business still not easy!



Vijay Darda - After the release of World Bank’s ease of doing business index, a buoyant impression is being created that reaching 100th rank from 130th position means that everything in the country has changed and foreign investors will now rush to the country! No one is taking pains to explain that this ranking has been released only on the basis of studies in Delhi and Mumbai. The World Bank considered these two cities as models. The study found that the condition has improved to start business in these cities on indicators such as obtaining construction permits, getting loans, paying tax, bankruptcy settlement, etc. But are the conditions similar in other cities of the country too?

There is no doubt that the process of improving business environment in India is underway. And that is why the World Bank has incorporated India among top 10 countries that have improved the business environment. This report has been issued in 190 countries based on the reforms made during the period from June 2, 2016 to June 1, 2017. If we are at 100th rank among 190 countries, it is still a matter of concern because in terms of population we are second in the world. In the midst of excitement of getting good ranking in the ease of doing business index, I would definitely like to remind that in this column last month, I wrote about hunger, i.e. the hunger index.

We have gone up and down in this index. Earlier, we were at number 97, but in this year’s report we are at the 100th position. How embarrassing it is that in the hunger index, we are behind our neighbours like China, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. A girl from Jharkhand dies of hunger while crying out for rice and our government remains unmoved? The question is why can not we bring this index of hunger to zero? The government has got such a huge mandate; it has got all the power and resources at its disposal. Then what is the problem? Our Prime Minister works a lot, no doubt about it, but a labourer also works! The main thing is what is the outcome of that work? What is being achieved from it? Today, there is lack of quality in every field. Adulteration reigns supreme. Corruption has spread everywhere.


The question is: Why does the government not bring in such a Bill that provides for a severe punishment for the adulterators and the corrupt! What is preventing it from bringing in such a Bill? If there is a death due to hunger, why should not the chief minister and officials concerned of that area be held responsible? If a bridge falls, why not send the officer to jail, even if he has retired!

The root cause of the problem faced by business sector relates to bureaucracy! Though we may have improved our ranking in the index, the situation here has not eased much. The government was trying to get India included in the list of top 50 countries. But that did not happen. The world believes that starting a business in India is not easy. A businessman has to face red tapism, procrastination and bottlenecks even today. If you want to start an industry or business somewhere, such Byzantine bureaucratic hurdles await the aspiring entrepreneur that if he is weakhearted, he will pass out and die! However, it is claimed that in the last 14 years, India has effected 37 improvements to facilitate business. It is also claimed that nearly half of these improvements have taken place in the last four years. I tried to find out the truth about it from the owners of small, medium and large industrial units and business friends. Everyone said there are so many bureaucratic hurdles that many a time they start to feel like they have committed some mistake or sin by setting up the industry and business!

The atmosphere of credibility is lacking in India. On the contrary, look at China. There is no democracy but the whole world has been investing there for a long time, because China has created a credible and best environment for the business.

If you look at this report carefully, you will see that we were at 26th position in case of power availability earlier, but now our ranking has slipped down to 29th position this year. Our ranking in cross border trade has come down from 143rd to 146th and in the ranking of business start-ups, we have slipped down a notch from 155th to 156th. The natural question is why is there a decline in these areas?

We should not feel complacent for positive report on ease of business as it will not solve our problems. The government will have to bear in mind that only Mumbai and Delhi are not important. Small and medium industries are running too in thousands of other cities across the country. The reality today is that the atmosphere for them has not improved at all. The problem that the businessmen have been experiencing post implementation of the GST, has been felt by the whole country. The statistics of Reserve Bank of India also confirm this. Loans for small businesses are declining. Obviously, if small business condition improved, people would expand business and the size of the loan would also increase. One more thing -- just ask any industrialist or a businessman as to how developed corruption is as a style in our country?

Before I conclude


I am upset with the reports of one gangrape after another and wonder why some people in our country are so pervert? In Bhopal, the role of the police after gangrape of a girl fills one with anger, while the rape of a hundred-year-old woman and her subsequent death leaves everyone shocked. I think this problem can not be addressed properly unless provisions are made for immediate and harsh punishment for the offender. The punishment should be extremely harsh..!

Why are our teenagers taking to crime?






Vijay Darda : Today, there are two serious issues facing society. The first is the rising crime towards children and the second concerns the growing numbers of children themselves taking to crime. India's history of thousands of years tells us that we never had these problems but the last fifty years have worsened the situation. Poverty has been one of the major reasons for this phenomenon, our growing alienation from cultural and moral values have exacerbated the situation.

Fascination with materialistic life leads many children to crime. They either take to crime of their own volition or are lured by others into a life of crime. Many of these children start with petty crimes and later graduate to becoming 'dons'. Even terrorists are using and involving children in their outfits. Today, India aspires to be one of the fastest growing economies in every field. We are hoping to educate all our citizens well and attempting to infuse exemplary values in them. But children taking to crime is one of the biggest impediments in the nation's development and pulling us backwards. Today not only are children being raped, many children are also indulging in such criminal activities. Children are also accused of murder. There are many children involved in the drug trade. Little girls are being kidnapped for prostitution. So whether they are victims or perpetrators of crime, children are being ruined either way.

According to statistics coming out of the National Crime Records Bureau, 89,423 cases of crimes against children were registered in 2014, but this figure increased to 94,172 in just one year in 2015. Most of these were cases of sexual violence. According to the data furnished by Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, most of the people who sexually exploit children are their relatives or acquaintances. So it is time to ruminate on why this is happening in Indian society which is upheld as among the most evolved and civilized societies in the world.

Why are our children not safe amongst our own? Why are our mindsets so debased? Every citizen must mull this over and exercise caution, only then will we be able to find a way out of this crisis. So far as the issue of children taking to crime goes, we must take into consideration the statistics for a clear understanding of why this is happening so frequently these days. In February 2016, the government had informed the Rajya Sabha that 22,740 cases of juvenile crime were registered in 2010, whereas in 2014 this figure increased to 33,526. That means, in just five years, a 47 per cent increase in juvenile crime was reported. These are official figures, though the actual numbers are likely to be higher because not every case reaches the police station.

It is clear from NCRB data that 60 per cent of the juvenile crimes are committed by those between 16 and 18 years of age. These crimes also include heinous ones like murder and rape. The country has still not forgotten Delhi's 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder. A minor behaved like a monster towards Nirbhaya. 
Memories of the 2013 tragic gang rape in Mumbai’s Shakti Mill are still fresh in mind wherein a minor was among those involved. Now it is the Juvenile Justice Board that decides the punishment of minor offenders and these sentences are not more than three years. The offender is confined to the child remand home for the course of the punishment. The law of juvenile justice has been framed in terms of providing an opportunity to the offender to mend his ways. He is expected to repent, reform and become a good citizen when he returns to society. But surveys have shown that such juvenile offenders often almost never reform. It is a matter of concern and merits legal reconsideration.

To go back to the question of why our teenagers are increasingly becoming criminals, even psychologists are flummoxed and in constant search of an answer. The joint family tradition of our country once upon a time facilitated the monitoring of children and adolescents by both the family and society. Neighbours too were free to scold a child if he or she misbehaved and to teach them to distinguish between wrong and right. Parents and grandparents at home lived in close proximity to children and could detect any change in a child's behaviour or attitude instantly. Now with nuclear families gaining popularity and joint families breaking down rapidly, things are different. Not all parents have enough time to devote to their children in a nuclear family. Under the circumstances, children become victims of loneliness and undergo all kinds of emotional upheavals. They seek solace in bad company and nefarious activities, at times simply to gain the attention of their parents. In modern times the Internet is an added source of concern. The availability of porn on the Internet has spawned newer ways of crossing the line on norms of acceptable behaviour. Porn unduly excites teenagers and also infuses values of bestiality in them. Moral values go for a toss even before they have a chance to take root and materialism takes over. The teen then is ripe to commit any and every kind of crime. To restore traditional values, we will have to first restore family to the children, infuse them with good values and ethics and draw closer to them to understand them and make them understand. We will have to watch them like hawks while cooing at them like doves!

Before I conclude

Do readers remember Budhia? In 2006, at four years of age, he had just run a marathon. After that, coach Birchari Das was murdered and Budhia went into oblivion. The country also forgot him. Now it is a matter of joy that he has got a new coach in the form of Anand Chandra Das. The 15-year-old boy from Odisha is doing a lot of hard work and his dream is to run in the Olympics. My best wishes to Budhia!




India will have to be more alert against China


As expected, Xi Jinping was elected President of China again. But more important than that is the fact that the party has incorporated Xi Jinping’s ideology into its constitution. This has elevated Xi Jinping to the stature of the party’s founder Mao Zedong and the subsequent leader Deng Xiaoping.

Before knowing what ideas are included in the party constitution, let us know what Jinping did after his re-election as President. It is important to know that Jinping is not only the President of China but also the head of the Chinese army and party. On Thursday, he addressed a meeting of the Central Military Commission, which comprises top commanders of the army. At this meeting, Jinping said the army should be ready for war. He did not say against which country the war is to be waged but it is being said that India is on its target at the moment. He must have been pained that despite having 23 lakh soldiers and officers in the army, India browbeat China in Doklam and forced it to retreat. As for the Indian Army, there are about 12 lakh soldiers and officers.

However, Jinping asked Chinese military commanders to focus more on how to win the war. Immediately after this meeting, the Chinese defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqing issued the statement that Jinping’s plan would be fully implemented and every order would be followed. India should be cautious with this attitude of Jinping because the cracks between the two countries can now turn into a conflict.

As a matter of fact, Jinping is working on long-term plans. He is working on spreading trade and business all over the world and for that a strong grip on the Indian Ocean is very important. At present, India is a big power in the Indian Ocean and Indian Navy is more powerful than Chinese navy. Jinping, who realises this deficiency of his country is taking steps to strengthen the navy. His military is 23 lakh strong and he has presented a blueprint whereby he has stated that the Chinese military is shorter by 3 lakh. It is obvious that he wants to reserve it for strengthening the navy. Obviously, he has taken this step by keeping India in mind. India has made it clear that if the presence of Chinese military increases in the Indian Ocean, the latter should clearly guarantee that it will not be against Indian interests.

Another important thing is that China has a lot of missiles, but in that proportion there is no aircraft carrier. Defense experts believe that it is because of this reason that China has not become aggressive right now. Jinping is desperate to change this situation too. China is engaged in mobilising such an aircraft carrier. He wants to acquire such a military strength that no one can dare challenge it. And when there will be ‘no Doklam’ in such a situation, it will be able to expand wherever it wants.

Indeed, it is not just India but all Asian and other countries of the world which need to be wary of Jinping. Now China is much stronger at the domestic level and it will apply full power to maintain its strong hold on the world. Their One Belt One Road (OBOR) proposal envisages industrialisation from Central Asia, Central Europe to Africa. China has clearly stated that it will lead the development of entire Asia. Obviously, China is not there to do charity. It has designed the policy of expansionism so that it could compete with America. In Asia, other countries can be completely overturned. Now you see that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Jinping has started, passes from very close to India’s Kashmir. What is the guarantee that China or Pakistan will not use this route militarily? It is a plan to surround India directly. The railway line which China has laid up to Tibet is proposed to be extended up to the Nepal border. Unfortunately, Nepal is getting attracted towards it.

Now, let’s take a look at the Xi Jinping principle that has been incorporated into the party constitution. It wants China to develop into a political and economic power as well as get a new identity in the world as a liberal and prosperous country by 2021. Right now, China’s economy is $11 trillion and Jinping wants to expand it to $18 trillion by 2023. If he succeeds in doing so, China will be the world’s largest economy. China is actually working on such a strategy that it can overshadow the US in every field and unquestionably become the world’s Chacha Chaudhary! The problem with the US is that at the moment its leadership is not strong at the domestic level. At present, there is no other way to prevent China’s economic imperialism. This is a challenging time, especially for India. We have to tread extremely cautiously.

Before I conclude

I am in politics but I am often astonished by the bombastic talk of the politicians. Now for example Shivraj Singh Chouhan, referred to as mama (maternal uncle) by the children in Madhya Pradesh. He bragged about the roads in Madhya Pradesh in the US. In a seminar on the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum in Washington DC, he said the roads in Madhya Pradesh are better than the streets of America! Dear brother Shivraj ji, you should have given a thought before making such a tall claim! I have visited the US many times and frequently travel to Madhya Pradesh. What will you do or say if some NRI or American who attended the seminar, really came to visit Madhya Pradesh?