Posted December 10th, 2008 by Ashwin and filed in Social

Grassroutes is a social venture by a non-profit society, Youth Factor. This is an initiative to “zoom in” on changes that are happening in various places of our country, spearheaded by many organizations not heard of at a larger scale. Grassroutes tries to handle this by forming a group of young minds who travel to the roots of change, meet the people involved, experience the change first-hand and share it with the outside world.

In addition, these people serve as ambassadors of organizations that are responsible for the change and help engage more people to contribute towards these organizations. Following links should help you know more about this venture. Great to know that there are many minds behind this from my alma mater, BITS Pilani.

Grassroutes Home

Grassroutes Program

Grassroutes Q&A

Grassroutes Blog

Grassroutes Team Blog

The Road Ahead…

Posted November 30th, 2008 by Ashwin and filed in Social

The worst may be over at Mumbai, but we see no end in sight for terrorism.  Indian security system is highly vulnerable to terrorist attacks and no Indian city is safe.  The modus operandi and the magnitude of the disaster in Mumbai, definitely has multiple implications - politically, economically and socially. It is time that India (read Indian Government) and its citizens, handle this professionally and equip themselves better.

Following are some thoughts from the mind of an Indian citizen, who desperately wants to see a change:

  • Repair the damage - Numerous lives, limbs and property were damaged in the carnage.  Appoint a committee to analyze the extent of damage and provide suitable assistance, both financially and physically, to the real needy
  • Reorganize the Security forces - Stationing NSG commandos only at Delhi, no longer holds good.  Virtually any Indian city or town is vulnerable.  Distribute the forces, at least across the Metro cities for better management
  • Strengthen the Security system - Intelligence is the key to prevent terrorist attacks.  With terrorists resorting to technological tools for communication and coordination, it is high time that the security system is revamped.  Take consulting help from developed nations like US and UK to introduce the security and intelligence forces to technological advancements.  If required, these forces can be trained by experts from abroad
  • Procure sophisticated arms and train security forces - When terrorists procure sophisticated arms and get themselves trained, why not the security forces?  Do this and equip them better for disasters
  • Better manning of the Port of Entries - Time and again the intelligence reports talk about terrorists filtering into India.  Airports must be better manned and constantly surveillanced for unscruplous elements.  Indian coastline is porous and better manning is required there too
  • Elaborate the situation in a summit - This incident and the other terrorist attacks, definitely are a hit to India, economically.  Investors and MNCs from around the world, would think twice before moving into India.  It is up to the Indian Government to change the mindset of the external world.  Once the situation stabilizes, host a summit that possibly includes leaders from around the world and discuss on the conditions and steps taken to counter terrorism.  This can also help to obtain assistance from other countries
  • Nab and punish/remove corrupt officials - Terrorists cannot flourish without black sheeps within the Governmental system.  Nab these ba****ds out and punish them suitably.  They spread like wild fire, corrupting the entire system

We, the citizens, pay a hefty 33% tax to the Government.  We are even ready to pay a little more, towards strengthening the security system.  But more than the money, what is required is inspiration, accountability, and responsibility on part of the Indian Government.  WE NEED A CHANGE AND A SECURE SOCIETY.   Can they (or is it we??) deliver it?

Terror struck Mumbai

Posted November 28th, 2008 by Ashwin and filed in Social
Tags: , ,

Mumbaikars must definitely be in a grip of terror. Mumbai, the Commercial capital of India, is the city that had witnessed grueling terrorist activities over the past few years. I am physically away from Mumbai; but from the scenes I witnessed over the television and the news sites, made me feel sick and sad. I can empathize the mental state of those who were held hostages and back free into this world. Also, it is not just about the Taj, Oberai, Nariman House and the Jewish center. Numerous innocents were assailed in the railway station, cinema and a historic cafe.

This incident adds fuel to the fire for the Mumbaikars - many of whom were already made poor by the economic downturn. A new group named “Deccan Mujahideen” has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Who the f**k are they? The series of events and the target of the attacks clearly stand out from the previous mishaps. The primary targets were foreign citizens, who were stationed at luxury hotels. Also ruthless shootouts at public, is something unheard of. Top leaders in India think that some Pakistani groups are definitely behind these attacks. But, Pakistan strongly objects to it and even goes to the extent of offering intelligence assistance.

Frankly speaking, the terrorists who are on the act and give up their lives, are just the tools. The real mission of the anti-terrorist squads must be to identify and nab those, who manage these terrorists. Once those roots are identified and the funding for these activities come to a halt, it becomes a lot easier to put a check on the terrorist activities. Also, a social difference between the Hindus (~80% of the population) and the Muslims (~13%) is cited as a reason for the anti-communal activities. So the mantra for the anti-terrorist squad - identify and nab the roots and the officials who groom these terrorists.

A salute to the Commandos who fought (and still fighting) through day and night, for the lives of the hostages. Sandeep Unnikrishnan, a NSG commando lost his life fighting for his country. May the soul of those who were victims to the cruel act and who laid their life for the sake of their country, Rest in Peace.

I just wonder if these terrorists have a family and recognize the importance of life. It is high time that they realize and turn humans; and it is also high time that the Indian Government has to be serious on the act.

Indonesia turning “porn-less”…

Posted October 30th, 2008 by Ashwin and filed in Social
Tags: indonesia anti-porn bill

Anti-porn bill has been passed in Indonesia, that would ban images, gestures or talk deemed to be pornographic.  Following is the justification by the Islamic groups:

Islamic parties said the law was needed to protect women and children against exploitation and to curb increasing immorality in Indonesian society.

Interesting! What is to be seen is how this ban is put into practice?

Secularism in India

Posted September 21st, 2008 by Ashwin and filed in Social
Tags: christianity conversion charges, karnataka riots

Incidentally, I am thumbing through ‘The Argumentative Indian’ by Amartya Sen which talks heavily about Secularism in India, when Christian churches are vandalised and Christians tormented in Karnataka.

India had been a secular state since Independence, hosting people from various religions and communities.  Though Community clashes are nothing new, an unsung harmony existed between these communities.  But in recent times, the scenario has turned tumultous.  We often read about communal clashes, especially involving Hindus, Christians and Muslims.

Latest of one such tensions, is the religious conversion charges against the Christian missionaries, in Orissa and Karnataka.  In the Northern Karnataka town of Davangere, many Churches were vandalised in the last few days.  Christian minorities and missionaries face serious threats, on anti-conversion grounds.  

Some news agencies claim that these tensions were extrapolated, with BJP ruling the state.  What do these rioters really think?  Are people dumb to follow a missionary and convert into Christianity?  The entire concept sounds illogical.  

In a secular state, no one not even the Government, has any rights to interfere into an individual’s religious beliefs.  A citizen of India is free to practice and follow any religion, as long as he/she doesn’t interfere into another’s rights.  With that being the case, it is a highly condemnable and punishble offence, to damage places of worship and burning religious scriptures.  

The Police must take immediate measures to pacify the public.  Those who try to disturb peace, whether Hindus or Christians, must be put behind the bars.  It is the responsibility of the Government, to keep these communal forces under check and let innocent public lead a free life.

A noisy thought on the Independence Day!

Posted August 15th, 2008 by Ashwin and filed in Social
Tags: clean, , society

Happy Independence day to all readers! But, how independent are we, constantly dreading about a mishap on the independence day; how independent are we, when an educated corporate woman working late in the night, can be mishandled by miscreants; how independent are we, in the hands of corrupt politicians. But that’s a separate topic altogether, which this post is not meant for.

One can do good to the society in two ways - By starting to do something good for the society or By stopping something that he/she is already doing.

Just a few tips on stopping something that you might be already doing (if not, you are the man!), which might be better for the society around you.

  • Stop scattering litter and trash in public. Use proper bins provided, all the time! (even for a piece of paper or a chewing gum)
  • Stop lighting the cancer stick (a.k.a. cigarette) in public. Use them at your peril, only at specified secluded zones or at your home!
  • Stop jumping traffic lights. You definitely know how good it is, when someone abides rules and paves way for you!
  • Avoid listening to loud or noisy music in public. This also includes unpleasant or over-pleasant ring tones on your “spare-only-at-sleep” gadget
  • Avoid as much possible, the use of four wheelers and two wheelers. Thumb rule - Try to see if you can use a two wheeler, when you feel like using the car. Try to see if you can walk, when you feel like using the two wheeler. By the way, how long has it been, since you rode a bicycle?

Many of us should be able to do all these, with least effort. Let’s try to make India sound, smell and look, clean!