Sunday, 19 April 2015

A train journey delay I couldn't even howl about!

Originally posted as an answer to the Quora discussion What are some of the best train conversations?



Just a few months back I was onboard a Duronto express bound for Delhi. The train got somewhat late and people were jolted out of their slumber because of continued halts. I was on the side lower birth, there was a lady just above that of mine and there was another guy among the six tiers in front, and finally the other 5 tiers were occupied by a family full of termagants and rather loquacious children, so we three had to start some kind of a conversation to not feel very irksome. 


I tried introducing myself with a little bit of straggling because it seemed somewhat absurd to make an introduction during the last 40 odd minutes of an extended commute. I laid down all facts and concluded with a brief comment on my long cherished dream of seeing my crime fiction manuscript making it to a bound book on a book shelve of some creme de la creme high street book shop someday. And suddenly, I sensed ears all around me. 



These two compatriots, who were till now wondering why in the world I so desperately wanted a parley at the end of the journey, were now seemingly interested. Considering that maybe my ideas were a little too blithe, I puffed my chest in conceit and waited for them to comment. And what ensued became the most memorable experience of my life. 



This lady started her part asking a couple of questions about my book, the unnerving process of getting it published and about a publisher who has paid some heed to me. I thought it's all about "the book" after all. "My book" in fact. And I was pretty gleeful. And then like an epiphany, she says "Actually I too have got a manuscript ready. I'm a mountaineer and I was the youngest woman to have scaled the Everest till 2009. I was Tata Docomo's ambassador for one of their campaigns, and I've written this book with various pictures and accounts on how I scaled peaks all over the world. I just wish to inspire people and tell them that limits are only psychological"



I was a little too dumbfounded and flummoxed to reply. I was so agape, my mouth seemed like the outlet of a doughnut vending machine. I wanted to spurn her story and say "You gotta be kidding me!". But then she did carry this bag full of footwear and a closer inspection of that bag now revealed that they were certainly not stelatoes but some kind of hiking boots or gear. And before I could react, she takes out a big diary from her laptop bag, and puts an exhibit of an entire surfeit of pictures. I kind of felt embarrassed to have protruded my chest at the prospect of publishing a book which now seemed a mere speck in front of what this lady had to brag about. But I was happy I made a new friend, and an emphatic one rather. Our destination was now 20 minutes away and I wasn't sure if this lady had more stuff to talk about. 



And then suddenly, this guy in front, too engrossed in our conversations till now, leaps out of his seat and says, "Actually I've got a manuscript too! I've got an audience with a publisher as well, but it's kind of in the process for long now". And I now mentally prepared myself for yet another story that was to enfeeble the prominence of my own parable. 



"I'm a banker and a part time model and actor. " And then he mentioned a myriad of K soaps and all kinds of television serials where he enacted some character or the other. And then he too had a portfolio out of his bag, a neat collection of the various modelling assignments he undertook, and finally he took out his laptop and started playing Singham Returns, whose 3.5GB HD copy would have been pretty hard to get because who'd want to a have a 3.5GB version of a crappy movie like that? But still, he scrolls the movie to around the 10 minute mark, where a song starts playing and then turns the screen towards me and this lady and points out to himself on the screen and says "I'm the guy who plays guitar in this 5 minute song. 5 minutes dude, 5 minutes!"



Finally, the train entered the NDLS precinct and we just had about 2-3 minutes before it was to halt. By this time, the enigma all around me had disappeared, the lady had a rather desultory smile, and this newly emerged actor had a wide smirk and he seemed to reminisce the grandeur of having delivered another brilliant performance. And as we all moved out to the station and were all set to bid adieu, the lady initiated some kind of a protocol, She said that no matter where we'd go and whatever we do, the first one among the cohort who gets their book published, is going to see that the other two get published as well. It's be a little more than 2 months and our manuscripts are still stuck in pipelines at respective publishers. 



Meanwhile, I've written many more blogs and have started working on a second book, because writing is all I've to talk about in terms of doing something heretic. The lady scaled some other peak in north east, and the actor went on to feature in a couple of bike ads, print ads, and another TV serial. We're a pretty closed coven, and all this just because on that one fine day, the Duronto Express got late by 50 minutes. A delay we will never crib about!

It's pretty interesting how delays and other uncalled for situations can at times go on to give us some opportunities, or endow upon us some miracles which can kind of spur something entirely new in our lives. Indian railways sees to it that a population larger than than of the 20 least populated countries of the world, reaches its destination every single day. We've come across a multitude of instances when trains are responsible for some life changing acquaintances or for the occurrence of some event which transformed someone's very mindset. I just hope we continue getting more and more chances to truly relish the rapture of travelling with trains and allowing train journeys to keep unraveling their enigma. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

JBIMS batch of 2015: One Last Time!

It was the second week of July '13. If the description about the life at JBIMS was anything to go by, I just knew I was going to go through quite a drill. 7 am lectures sounded too unreal until the day we started having them. Lectures running for 13 to 14 hours with a morsel of break time sounded an even more distant possibility till I found myself knackered at the end of one such day when we had them. And for some inexplicable reason, we all became an inhered part of what once seemed like a bit of a walloping. And we went into the mode where we said "Need audience for a lecture? Well, call us maybe!". We suddenly realized we were going through quite a transformation. We were taught by the most dexterous and accomplished of stalwarts who were not only imparting core management concepts, but who were working us through their actual application. And suddenly, we also realized they weren't just lectures after all, and time suddenly started beguiling as we moved on and on with them. 

The schedule was in fact grueling. There were days when you had usual lectures, followed by presentations, followed by a guest lecture and it inadvertently left most of us languid. But now we were the evolved breed. We suddenly realized that every word of what was written in the "Life at JBIMS" description, was now coming true, The same hallowed classrooms which had seen so many students turn into acolytes, who then moved to the industry and became the next leg of leaders, were now giving us a flavor of the same process. Learning became a more and more integrated and quotidian affair. We all knew that the profs who were so much consecrated and venerated by everyone, were indeed a class apart. And all we could do now was to become an inseparable part of a process that was all set to change us inside out. 

It's being a little more than 20 months since our foray inside the iconic JB campus, and now we've seen ourselves changing. We all took up our internships after a year of lectures and most of us managed to impress upon the industry the mettle and might of how we were honed and prepared. We came back for another ineludible phase of learning, and once again our learning was rather seamless. We were now in some kind of an autopilot mode. The prof just had to announce some submission or presentation, and we knew how to go about it. We all had our small caucus of sorts, and yet we remained a part of an identity that shall continue to define us for our lifetimes - The 120 from the batch of 2015!

And as things are about to reach an end, I only wonder how different and how much more astute and sagacious we are today than we were the day we came in, when we were clad in confidence but surely not as trenchant as we are all set to leave this building that has served as the storehouse of all managerial acumen in the world. We have got a different lens to view the world from, and we surely are not going to be bereft of any opportunities to show the world the substance JB has ensconced in us. So as we all move in to the #TheLastLecture for the #OneLastTime, I can only say "Bring it on!". 


Thursday, 16 April 2015

The book whose author never wanted you to read it!

Imagine a book that was written 6 to 7 centuries ago. The lines between different professions were still blurred and most of the works were still touching the themes of philosophy and general disquisitions. On the other hand, a lot many seminal works were being composed by the virtuoso of different fields. Literature was becoming more suave, our understanding of astronomy and the universe was undergoing a riveting transformation, and works on botany and zoology were gaining pace and setting the stage for more thorough analysis later on. Now what if I was to tell you that somewhere around the same time, in some corner of this very planet, some unknown asinine and maybe crestfallen and lonely writer wrote a 246 page book that transcends across these different fields! And if that's not surprising enough, beat this - the book was written in a completely unknown script, one that continues to be untraceable and inscrutable till date! Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Goliath of all mysteries, The Voynich Manuscript. 



Discovered just a little more than a century ago, this enigmatic and peculiar book has remained the subject of much interest and speculation among scientists, archaeologists, botanists, astronomers, cryptographers, carbon dating experts, literature experts, bibliophiles and conspiracy theory hecklers alike. While the manuscript draws its name from Wilfrid Voynich, the avid book collector who discovered this in 1912 in some Italian Jesuit institution library and brought the secret to the fore, the manuscript is said to have switched hands multiple times. Speculations have always remained rife regarding the place and time of origin and multiple theories on that were put to rest and some handful of them were affirmed when a carbon dating analysis dated this to the time frame of 1400s. However, while one part of the giant puzzle was cracked, the other still remained as arcane as it ever was. 

Mystery number 1 - The language itself

While the 246 pages, neatly wrapped up in classic tanned vellum, clearly show signs of being some form of an account, there are a little too many amiss elements about the manuscript that render an understanding of its purpose nearly impossible. The unusual script in which its written has never being used anywhere else in any available books of the same or other times. The left aligned text suggests it was written from left to right, but the text interweaves the diagrams and even the the supposedly same words display inconsistencies on various occasions. Maybe that can be attributed to the fact that this new script was written specifically for the composition of this manuscript. Various language related studies have been done on frequencies of letters and on average length of words. While some associations can be forged between this unknown language and the typical traits found in European languages, some characteristics display a rather idiosyncratic behavior on part of the author. e.g. At times a single letter may be repeated multiple times and there are occasions where the same word appeared consecutively  as many as 5 times. Hence all in all, all linguistic related analysis till now has failed to produce any substantial outcome.



Having said that, cryptologists are now contemplating the possibility of this actually being an encrypted message whose cipher has yet to be broken. Ever since the 1940s, a lot of letter based and word based analysis on the manuscript has been carried out in that direction and it encompassed and successfully embroiled even the most revered and hallowed name in the world of cryptography, William Friedman. Multiple studies have been taken over by various authorities on ciphers and cryptography and with the advent of modern technology and automated code breaking mechanisms, these studies gained pace but all to no avail till now. While the language remains unknown, so does the purpose of the book and even so does the question if the content is even meaningful or pure codswallop. 

Mystery number 2 - The illustrations

With this book, focus and emphasis on one particular subject go for a toss. It seems that the author considered it a little too mainstream to write a book one just one single domain or subject and ended up writing down all the knowledge of the universe in one single set of so many pages, dumping and bewildering the readers for centuries to come. 

One one hand, there is an abundant number of pages which have illustrations on plants and their overall structure and foliage. While most of the drawings have been meticulous and astute, text mingles and sifts through these illustrations, making the task of reading any of it all the more complex, even if someone was to know how to read the script at the first place! On the other hand, one can see large illustrations that can be expanded and completed by unfolding of pages, which finally appear like depictions of some celestial bodies like galaxies. In addition to that, there are various pictures simply enunciating life of people, clad in clothes largely representative of that era of 1400s and doing nothing substantial. And if that was not enough, a couple of pages have women lying naked in large bath tubs, with swerving descriptions beneath, probably delineating why exactly they chose to be watched and manifested on the pages of the most flummoxing of all works, maybe.



Just like with the language, a lot of analysis and study has gone into finding similarities between any of these descriptions and any real life observed entities. Unfortunately, these studies too all project the writer to be a splenetic scalawag who wrote gibberish and wanted to become a genius. None of the 100 odd plants described in the book exist in real, except of course a couple of similarities with some plants, sunflower being a notable example. Most of the celestial diagrams too don't make much sense expect for resemblance with Andromeda here and there. Hence either all of mankind has miserably floundered at the task of deciphering this labyrinth of the millennium, or maybe this was no more than a joke, which if it is, it would have sent the author's soul to perdition, where he would be cackling because he did in fact succeed.    

Mystery number 3 - What exactly does it contain then? 

If for a moment one was to abjure the idea and related skepticism on this being no more than a farce and a hoax, then what exactly could this pursuit be all about? It also makes sense to discuss that case because one really has to be the lord of the lunatics if one was to take up the arduous task of composing 246 pages of text and illustrations, all in a new but legitimate script, and that too in an era where writing instruments were pretty rudimentary and hence a work of this scale would have been quite some assignment. 

The most plausible explanation in this direction is that maybe some scholar or researcher who probably lived as a vagabond, might have been required to move from one territory to the other. And probably, this researcher would have considered their work so seminal, that letting it come out in the open would have seemed a perilous prospect. And hence the author just prepared a script which maybe no one but his/her own small little caucus was supposed to be able to read and comprehend. 



But to leave this account on a high note, we'd like to discuss another theory which has fanaticism in preponderance. There is still a sect, albeit small, of partisans who believe that this is some larger secret than what meets the eye. They give a lot of credence to the historicity of the manuscript and the fact that it has changed hands so many times. It is worth noting that some mentions were in fact made of this manuscript during as late as 1700s so it remained a matter of mystery then as well. So, it is the vehement belief of this small coven that the manuscript is actually a much bigger secret map or a code with which some really invaluable piece of history can be unlocked. While some believe that the code language was written to avoid purloin by bandits who may have been considered a threat to whatever treasure this code leads to, others believe that there is no material treasure but some piece of information which the manuscript attempts to shroud. Given that some pages of the manuscript can be unfurled and a large diagram ensues, is actually concomitant with the belief that this may be a cartographer's job. 

Despite all this research, despite all this speculation, this manuscript still remains the ultimate treasure trove that any fanatic of such phenomena is on the look out for. It remains to be seen whether this turns out to be a book of grime, or a book that makes someone a heir to a fortune. But whatever it turns out to be, no one can deny that for the time being, Voynich manuscript easily tops the list of some of the most inexplicable of mysteries. What do you think it holds so dear as a secret within itself? 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

5 reasons why you simply #CantWait4Zenfone2

Ever imagined of a smartphone that could be termed truly complete in all aspects, without compromising on any one? After an array of smartphones, all boasting to be the champions on some aspect or other, the stage is now set for the belle of the ball, the Asus Zenfone 2.  So as this doyen of a device shines across the horizon to usher a new dawn in the world of smartphones, here are 5 reasons why you simply #CantWait4Zenfone2.



The first ever smrtphone with 4 GB RAM.

And just imagine how loaded a device can be when an already superior processing capability gets enhanced and buttressed with a top of the charts 4 GB of RAM. Perfectly complementing the phone’s powerful processor and engineering brilliance, this much of memory is all set to consummate your smartphone experience by taking the speed and the smoothness of various apps to a whole new level.

The PixeMaster Camera

For someone who has already experienced the impeccable image quality of the first generation Zenfone, this new feature is simply the thing to kill for. The latest Zenfone is not going to stutter or straggle in any situation and shall deliver the brightest and the most clearest of all pictures. Not only that, it can provide stunning photographic abilities even in low light and hence gone are the days when flash and red errors spoiled and stymied the joy of true unbridled photography.

The next gen ZenUI

On the top of your smartphone’s Android core, runs this superior UI service that serves to enhance the comfort and convenience in terms of endowing you complete control of your device's various features and components. With the next gen ZenUI, I believe the kind of ways in which various phone parameters, features and applications could be controlled, would make operation so easy that you’d never get stuck at anything.

The rapid battery charging technology

One of the most vexing of all things with smartphones is quick discharge following heavy usage, and of course the resulting exasperation in charging the device again to a good enough level to get it ready for use again. With a revelation in that regard, the new Zenfone shall be a bit of a catharsis by getting charged to a full 60% in just about 39 minutes, breaking all records ever established. Gone are the days when lack of battery power acted as an obstacle, thereby making your smarthphone experience unparalleled.

A host of other improvements

The new Zenfone 2 shall be a cynosure of sorts because for the first time a smartphone is going to be so heavily loaded with multiple pathbreaking technologies and innovations. All of them would truly redefine one’s smartphone experience by providing an entire slew of new ways in which your smartphone can truly make your job easier. So what your'e waiting for. Check this link and experience this phenomenal device's ebullience for yourselves. 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Lame Indian ads that'll keep airing even after you're long gone!

Advertising on Indian television has come a long way. From the feature and glamour based ads of the 80's when even a little too much of color and contrast in an ad montage was enough to bedazzle the audiences, to cult ad campaigns like the one with Vodafone Zoozoos which literally redefined the role ads are to play. However, amid this transformation of ads now being made with the more sensible and shrewd viewers in mind, there are some advertisers and some brands that continue to remain oblivious to the change and stay incorrigible with absolutely sordid and scruffy advertising. While some of these are types or categories where one product handed the baton to the other, there are in fact a few brands too which retained the essential element; the element of muck! So here are such ad types which are going to keep us haunting till eternity, it seems. 

The glory in eating pan masala 


And I'll never understand why something as decrepit as pan masala could be linked with so much of luxury and grandeur. Pan masala ads elucidate how something as trivial as being a connoisseur of pan masala can automatically make you the owner of a large boulevard, with a large white picket fence with a white clad chauffeur opening the door of your limo, awaiting the entry of the "Achiever who eats pan masala". 

Starting with the oldest one where the absence of Pan Parag on the wedding menu became a bone in the neck for a gamy to go through. Give me a break fellas!





Ah! And while Shammi Kapoor was a sensation of his own times, the Pan Masala brands grew more ambitious and started roping in the 'in' actors. 




And when they found the palace and the luscious lifestyle a little too mainstream, they went on with large alleys and the vibe of achievement and optimism. And that too on foreign land! I mean how in the world are you supposed to take Pan masala there, and two, how would you continue staying rich after paying the fines for spitting on the roads and painting them red all the time? 




And yeah, now pan masala brands also celebrate silver jubilees and that too in style. And ostensibly, their offering is so full of elusive and priceless saffron that it simply sways in the air like anything. What a life! Maybe it's this thug life that inspires people to go chew pan masala at the first place.




The masculinity in cement

Okay, we get it that cement is the most essential ingredient that goes into making a burly and resistant building. And it's a well understood fact as well. But one, cement being a commodity, doesn't have many things on which ads can be made and should be made. And two, why on earth do the ads always end up with a large brawny animated character, either causing destruction stopped by the strength in the cement, or worse, protecting the building because the cement was used in its construction. 




And yeah, they also rope in a random foreigner guy to assert the fact that the cement is good. No wait, not just good. It's the best! 



The curious case of MDH wale uncle ji


Okay, someone once told me that this MDH wale uncle is a really great and accomplished man and he literally spurred innovation in the packaged spices market long before anyone could even envisage the same. So I do have respect for the man and whatever he did but why on earth does he have to feature in each and every one of his ads when he has all the money in the world to have any model he'll like to have. And almost always, the ads, instead of promulgating any benefits of his packaged spices, end up with him puffing his chest in conceit for having achieved so much. And yeah, he's looked the same for two decades at least, so I guess he'll look the same even after I turn senile and die eventually. I just hope my progeny's progeny would see a different class of MDH ads though. 



The vicco vajradanti jingle


Maintaining a legacy is one thing but becoming so obsessed as to let go of it is another. The original Vicco vajradanti ad jingle was a cult as per what I'm told by my parents. It was considered a really cool way for a product to promote itself specifically on electronic media, because the same jingle ran on radio and in the tv ad. And The TV ad supposedly stayed on air for longer than the models in the ad were going to live. 


            

Now after realizing that their returns on this ad were about to reach infinity, Vicco came up with a similar kind of an ad where Vicco vajradanti was going to be the very difference between strong and ailing teeth. I was literally shocked to see that a new ad finally came out but my surprise turned sore when I once again heard the same archaic jingle at the end. Why god, why? Have all the good jingle composers disappeared ever since the original ad was shot? 





So, this was one collection of all those ads I found queer. While the original concept of most of these ads might have become a bellwether in their own times and epoch, they surely need to change now. Just in case you have some other quirky or recondite ones to add to this list, do suggest and we'll put another post on them. And yeah, we love Indian ads! This was just potpourri of the ones that seem too quaint now. But the better ones on any given day more than compensate for these squalid ones. So stay calm and keep watching ads! 

I am joining in on all the Pepsi IPL action in my own style with the #CrashThePepsiIPL activity at BlogAdda.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The mandatory fallout of post independence movement revolutions in India.

From two revolutions to two parties

Just about the same time of the year in 2012, the nation, and specifically the capital, were struck by an amazing gumption. Like suddenly we realized we had this amazing power and asset at an arm's reach. While we all had grown up hearing about the valor with which our forefathers fought for the nation's freedom, and we all were taught how formidable our constitution is, we never witnessed something like this before. We knew the reality and now suddenly this crusader - a messiah and a watchdog, seemed to emerge from a hinterland people in the capital had never even heard of. This senile and frail man from a small hamlet of Maharashtra was ravaging fire in the capital, stirring the reins of power and assimilating the desires and fury of everyone who remained in some kind of furlough till then. A short but stout man finally blew a clarion, feeble in front of the mighty parliament, but still producing a din loud enough to wake up some set of the masses. People joined his movement, the young seem invigorated, the technocrats flooded Facebook and Twitter with rancorous and raging content in support, and everything seemed pretty much in place for this old man's utopic dream to hit the reality of nirvana. And just when things looked merry, it struck again! The age old anathema on Indian revolutions.

Anna Hazare, the leader of the anti corruption moment and the chief proponent of the Jan Lokpal, finally decided to give in to the languor and travails. What started as a revolution on the back of an entire spree of scams that got unearthed one after the other, delineating the gargantuan losses accrued to the exchequer, was now waning under the age old panacea. While it was obvious that the sturdy but senile Anna was going to dither eventually, the entire nation's hopes were predicated on his resolute. And it was even effective, clearly witnessed in the form of unprecedented parliamentary sessions being called up and various politicians trying to side with the renegade turned heroes. It all seemed so very evocative that it gives me goosebumps even today. For the first time I, as a fledgling, thought that I've got a genuine way to contribute apart from remaining virulent on online media, doing no more than getting reciprocal likes and comments from a handful of people. I saw myself as a rebellion and my 'Swades' moment seemed to have arrived. While on one hand I knew what we all were dreaming of was never going to have an easy passage, something inside me made things seem propitious, and maybe for the first time in my life. But Alas! History repeats itself and this time it hit worse than I thought.

Anna led IAC movement at its prime
Almost all fairy tales and parables talk of a hero who manumits the commons by defeating the evil. The evil was the malaise of corruption and a partial form of autarky. People flinched their fists in anger and turned dolorous thinking how their hard earned money was getting stashed away in escrow accounts abroad. While embezzlement of people's money was nothing new, this was the Mount Everest of all purloins to be carried out in our lifetimes. Anna Hazare became an overnight star and for some reason, a battle we knew to be long, didn't seem long enough. A man we all knew would break his fast, now seemed like he might even put his life on the line. And everyone was charged up and ready. Boy did I feel the gushing of the blood inside. 'Swaraj', Freedom and Gandhian virtues became the buzzwords and the nation witnessed a makeover of sorts. It was all going good. It had to be all good from there. But wait! 
And there emerges another hero
Another short and stout man, right out of the folklore, emerges and takes over the crowds by storm. While a forlorn and plaintive Anna is now on the verge of succumbing after a prolonged abstinence from food, a new leader now had to take over the rostrum to speak. Arvind Kejriwal was another unknown face, and another leader who challenged the machinery and who wouldn't cower. It seemed obvious that Anna required a progeny to take care of the revolution and it was bequeathed upon Arvind. People didn't know what this new man would bring. He seemed astute and a little less frivolous so he did score points there as well. It once again seemed things were right. And suddenly came the jolt of my life. A couple of hours of siesta during the afternoon and I opened up the TV, slightly puckering my eyes, full of despair and despondence to see the news flashing brighter than some floodlights. The revolution was called off. And what was the result of the umpteen number of days of toil and torment? Another political party. One that would supposedly be different from all others and would solve all our problems. Humph!

Amid a stifled revolution and tonnes of broken hopes, people receded back to their shells. The ones with effrontery bewailed on seeing such a dreary denouement to such a fascinating journey. The conservative ones celebrated, knowing that a delicate balance between fervor and sanity was finally struck. And then there was the selfie crowd which just went away, somewhat sad that there won't be any more selfies and check-ins at Ramlila Grounds, but faithful that the burgeoning Aam Aadmi Party would give them more chances to appear more suave, uber and topical in the future. All in all, no one had any damn idea what was to happen now, and the fomenting media which was riding heavy on the back of such a lurid piece of news, suddenly felt astray not knowing how to restore the TRPs again. The canopies, chairs and mattresses were loaded away, the microphones and loudspeakers which saw many rancorous folks roar their angst against the government were now dismantled, and Anna Hazare was no longer on fast. The only man standing at the end was Arvind Kejriwal, and the biggest winner was not the nation as he so vehemently proclaimed. It was indeed the other political outfits because they now had to deal with just another party, instead of dealing with a fickle revolution which seemed to be enraging and fulminating the masses. The revolution was dead, splintering away in the vortex of a phenomenon that the nation witnessed just a little more than 3 decades ago.

A crestfallen nation gets some hope
Rewind to the momentous 1970s. While the backbone of the modern 2012 revolution was the government's apathy to corruption, the ubiquitous plague was not witnessed for the first time. Back in those days of Indira's regime, it was not only corruption, but despotism, authoritarianism and constricted growth and development which propelled the youth of the nation to revolt. Parallel movements were going on in Gujarat, Bihar, and various places, all led by students who sensed a pretty drab future for themselves in that regime. And just because a leader not only complements the revolution but is actually a desideratum, for it to go on Jaiprakash Narayan, an ardent activist, was now roped in to lead a revolution that was still surviving as a concoction of bits an pieces. While students and the nation were virulent and glowering, a leader with method and insight was now brought to see that this first profound hankering of the people to see some justice, was done some justice to. And a big tale was there in the making.

A prolonged cold war of sorts was fought along the lines of jurisprudence, right to freedom of speech, and questions on government's judgment and volition on development. The media was all stirred up, seeing an opportunity to act as a catalyst at a pretty big stage just like it did back in the days of the freedom movements. The ruling party had no more than placebos to offer the proletariat, and the primordial but staunch entities of the JP/Bihar movement were now engendering a massive public outcry, making them aware of how bad the situation is, and how oppressed they've been all this time. While the emaciated Indian people, who were used to living under atrocities and dystopian times hadn't bothered much till now, they suddenly squeaked when they realized how squalid their position had become. A massive and giant transformation was on the cards.

The times couldn't have gotten any sleazier
At times, it's sheer hard work and dedication which consummate and help accomplish a task or mission. But for JP and his acolytes, it was serendipity rolled out by the another pillar of the constitution - the judiciary, which hit the nail in the coffin. The Allahbad High Court decreed a landmark judgment in 1975, which shook the nation and jolted the very foundations of the grand old party. In another tale of valor and determination, Raj Narain, the one who was annihilated in the general elections in Raebareli held during 1971, acted plaintiff and arraigned the Congress supremo of using foul play for her victory. The court ruled against her and the leader of the nation proved to be the captain of the corsair. She immediately applied to Supreme Court for a repeal, and issued a nationwide emergency on June 25th 1975, thereby triggering the darkest hour of independent India.

The JP movement gathered traction and what begun as an influential but still not so considerable movement, turned into a quotidian revolution. During emergency, the nation turned into a penitentiary, and multiple clauses and caveats cut the reporting powers of the media with a cleaver. However, nothing could impede the growing prevalence of the JP movement. A country in ennui now turned sullen and agitated. More and more people were now ready to abnegate what they had, for the promise of what they could get with a change. It was a retrospective redux of Anna's Janlokpal movement. Even then it was the youth that catapulted the revolution to the fore. Even then there was one single hero, JP, who eschewed his very life in the service of the nation, and even back then it was Congress, stuck as a loathsome picture in the middle of the dart board, waiting to be hit. Two pathbreaking movements, two emphatic leaders, two gigantic missions, and two separate timelines intertwined in the tapestry of history.

The blank Indian Express editorial
As the JP movement stood at the zenith of its popularity, the crusader Jaiprakash Narain had to take a tough call on what was to be the future course that the movement shall assume. While all affiliates of the revolution did a very good job of berating, repudiating and proving with full mettle that the emergency as well as the Congress governance were absolutely obnoxious, it was now their turn to present their proposition to the audiences. Till now, it was only about sustaining the impetus of the revolution to make sure it wouldn't die out. Now, with Indira Gandhi getting taking her case to the Supreme Court and imposing complete emergency, people were even apprehensive about the independence with which different pillars of democracy function. Hints were also made to prospective connivance between the apex of the judiciary and her party, which reigned supreme throughout these years. The standoff between her and the media also became prevalent and the blank editorial of the Indian Express on 28th June 1975, allegorically manifesting the entire nation's mistrust in Smt. Gandhi's whimsical demeanor, became a legend that remains a cult even till today.


Just a year before emergency on June 5, 1974, JP roared from Patna's Gandhi Maidan and talked about Total Revolution(Sampoorna Kranti), auguring how tightwads at the local government(The procession was carried out mainly against Bihar's legislative body) shall be brought down. The 2012 Anna Movement was pretty much the same. Gandhi Maidan was replaced by Ramlila Maidan, and "Sampoorna Kranti" by "Poorna Swaraj", and of course JP by Anna. During the emergency, all dissenting voices within Congress and most leaders of opposition were immediately arrested. Needless to say, the nation was bemoaning under agony, waiting to go for the kill. Amid so much of kerfuffle, this movement suddenly became the final hope of an ailing nation. A democratically elected ruling dynasty became an autocracy and just like the independence movements, it was conceived that something not so political will hold the solution. But truth be told, the JP movement was never more than a zeitgeist guided revolution. It was true that people were angry and hell bent on taking on the government. It was also true that JP was the most felicitous leader for this kind of a movement. But in reality, the proponents had no idea how the movement could be steered to bring any real change in the governance. And finally when the emergency was revoked 21 months later in 1977, the revolution that set the writing in the wall, dissipated in the grand dream of independent India, and ironically also of those politicians who always set their eyes on the crown. JP made a final call, and one that would go down in the annals of Indian history, as the one that consumed the very movement he himself took forward.

The formation of an alliance
Another JP was brought to existence; the Janata Party Group. All parties that extended their support to the movement right from JP's procession in Bihar to the slew of arrests, were now brought under the umbrella of a unified political outfit, touted as the panacea of the nation, and not just another prosaic political move. It's tough to pass on judgments on whether JP as an abbreviation was intelligently used to strike complete association with JP, the leader, but it was surely a brilliant move. The JP in Jaiprakash now molded into the JP of the Janata Party, and the times were about to change. While this was not the first time efforts were put in to usurp the Congress government, but this was the first time it actually seemed possible. And boy did everybody rejoice the final outcome!

JP, the party, won the majority with the real JP clearly not interested in leading the government. Just like Anna Hazare's aversion to assuming a position where powers are vested by a verdict, JP too said no to the idea of ruling the alliance of multiple parties, and Morarji Desai was elected as the PM. While the new govt began with an all out assault on everyone who could be indited in any cases, specifically for those pertaining to the era of emergency, it was absolutely deprived of any vision at all. While opprobrium on previous leaders and initiation of appropriate legal action against convicts was taken forward just as promised, the new government didn't know what else to do apart from spreading some scrimmage. And then suddenly, even the cases that were brought up against all the erstwhile ministers blew away like a squib. Janata Party's government was reeling under absolute doldrums. They kept losing support on all issues, and even the furrows within the party started running deep and visible. Suddenly leaders who were till now compatriots for a cause, started terming each other nefarious. Acrimony ran deep specially between the then PM Morarji Desai and Chaudhary Charan Singh, the PM in waiting. Finally, all the glory and gravitas faded when more and more leaders began quitting the party. The PM resigned and Charan Singh was appointed the new PM with an absolutely debilitating support of a mere 64 MPs. The revolution was busted, the hopes were extirpated, and Indira Gandhi, who actually lost to Raj Narain in the 77' elections, now once again became the only political solution. And ironically, it was in 79' itself when with the death of the JP in power, JP the revolutionary also passed away. The revolution that could have brought so much if utopia was now history.

Leaders who came out as a result of the JP movement
Most of the leaders left the party and took it upon themselves to stick to some core ideologies, most of which were at loggerheads with each other during their combined rule. What came out as a result were revamped parties like SP, BSP, RJD and so on. BJP too was a spun off from JP with Vajapayee and Advani actually winning sole two seats for their party in the 84' elections, but an entire plethora of parties were now formed with roots and anchors from the JP movement. You can see most of these parties ruling in various states today in pretty much the same fashion as Congress once did, against which they so gleefully hurled tirades and calumnies. In fact some of them went on to become more pernicious and corrupt than Congress itself(Apart from BJP which based on ideologies perpetrated by Hindu watchdogs like RSS and VHP ,realized that joining JP was a grim mistake and rescinded any changes they made in themselves. In short they went back to the olden ways.) In a way a revolution that started off to terminate the hegemony of the Congress party, resulted in a myriad of parties which did the same and some of which took it to a whole new level. Corruption, deception, gory politics, you name it and some party from the JP cadre would beat Congress to it any single day. In reality, JP the leader, even in his wildest of dreams, wouldn't have realized that what he did by deciding to go for a congregation of parties to take the revolution forward, was going to result in a mess that was to last for generations to come. A revolution died a miserable death!

Jump back to 2012, and you'll find more similarities than you'll find in any other comparison. One leader who vowed not to get into direct politics was leading a revolution from the front, citing the need for change. Yes this time the campaign did bring a draft of the Lokpal bill, suggesting that it was the real deal to move ahead. However, just impelling a draft to the cabinet and thinking it'll get passed with hunger strikes and corteges was never going to work. So all in all, the IAC movement too was completely dynamic and unplanned ever since the beginning. While everyone who shows the courage to shout at the government from a lectern becomes a hero, IAC had many heroes whom people were ready to embrace at the drop of a hat. There was cacophony, there were tricks in their repertoire, there was a desi yogi who could even spring up some quality entertainment, and all in all the nation felt the deep urge to commiserate with this revolution. But did the apostates set up against the government know what was to happen when the much needed support from the people was going to come their way? Probably not.

While today it may actually appear as a gambit that the IAC was to culminate into yet another party AAP, it's pretty possible that it was not the part of the plan, if there was a plan to begin with of course. Maybe Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal sought to see how the revolution would pan out and how they could actually see the Lokpal bill get passed. But with a government that would never accede so easily, it was imbecilic of both of them to think that even their deaths could have forced the government to relent, let alone prolonged hunger strikes. So just like what happened 3 decades back during the JP fracas, here too a revolution stalled at a crossroads where the revolutionaries had no idea what to do. While back in 1975 there were many lackeys within the movement who might have suggested a political solution in the form of a new party by amalgamation of multiple parties, here too maybe Arvind Kejriwal and others might have conceived a new party as the only way out of the not so impressive position that they were at. They either had to put Anna's life on the line, knowing that the possibility of his eventual death would be quashed by the government by thwarting the very revolution through use of brute force. Or they had to just wait for the government to take some action which was never going to happen. The jist of the tale is that they didn't have a plan. And whosoever was going to come up with any plausible idea, was going to become the next champion of the movement. And so Arvind's AAP became the sole beneficiary of the revolution just like Janata Party. And Anna Hazare saw his grand old vision get ruthlessly expunged in front of his eyes, with maybe he knowing himself how cretinous it was for them to start off a revolution against the mighty government without a proper plan in mind.

While a couple of days ago, the AAP mutilated all opposition in Delhi just like Janata Party did back in 77', strife and chasm within the party has already begun to emerge, once again just like it happened with the premiership of Morarji Desai in 79'. In 2012, Anna stood out as the blue eyed boy of the masses and Arvind Kejriwal was just another anchorite among various others, just like Morarji Desai sided with JP while many others were in contention for being the most subservient follower. As long as a revolution is a revolution, people don't follow much of a structure or hierarchy. There are no tsars and no hirelings. Everyone has the right to be audacious, everyone has the right to be full of temerity and everyone has a right to act like a leader. But when a revolution gets squeezed, squirting the juice in a political party, all the principles of equality and participation become mere rhapsody from the past and structure and thorough leadership and mechanism assumes priority.

The Janata Party or the Aam Aadmi Party were not inherent vices in any way. They were the outcomes of two different revolutions convoluted in the backdrop of sustained struggle. Both of them were noble in that they were not just another political party coming out with the archetypal commandments and promises, but that they had the provenance of their respective movements. However, both of them were also the victims of a an evanescent fanaticism, which rose to the brim during these revolutions and which suddenly made everyone associated believe that the momentum was powerful enough for the revolutions to turn political. and that these parties would stay true to their original ideologies eternally. It seems like no matter how big a resistance you pile up against the excrescences of politics, without proper direction and guidance, every such battle will finally be fought on political grounds with someone from the revolution holding the reins of the revolution and plunging it in sacrificial fire, because no other solution seemed to exist. It makes sense to note that even in the pre-independence era, politics and influence over politics were often used as weapons for accomplishing righteous motives. However, one should know that a war in the Colosseum of politics was not the only solution, like it now seems after the climax of these two revolutions, spread long over time to feel that it is the norm and the rule.

Maybe AAP will someday accomplish what JP couldn't and maybe despite being in politics the flavor of their rule would be very diiferent. Maybe they'll turn Delhi into one big Elysium by giving all those freebies and ushering the golden era of a fearless unbridled metropolis. But as for now, they seem to be a touch too embroiled in the rigmarole of their own existence and history. As long as Arvind Kejriwal remained the sole face of the revolution, he was the hero of everyone from all sects. But the moment he became the portico of a political party, other contenders, who behind the scenes may have put in 10X the effort, are bound to feel victimized. And just like animosity developed all around a once profound Morarji Desai within just two years of his rule, Arvind Kejriwal too shall have to face some flak, which if he is not politically adroit, is going to splatter him away in the malestrom of a a common phenomenon; the phenomenon of failed revolutions, and the idea of every such revolution ending up in yet another political party. Now will AAP be able to face the heat of its own constituents and pass through the fallacies of its own formation? That's something only time will tell. What do you think?

What now?