Who will Lick the Wounds?

Orginally written in April 2006.

Disclaimer: I am not against the SC/ST/OBCs. I am against the reservations. The reservation is responsible for making them stand out as a different cast from the rest (even now). This review is a reflection of my own personal thoughts and it is not meant to hurt the sentiments of anyone.

Before we go any further, let’s take a look at a few scenarios:

Sports: The newspaper headline screams out: 40% Reservation for SC/ST/OBCs . The article elaborates that the sports ministry has decided that the OBC candidates have to run only 240 mts instead of 400 mts in Olympics. The sports ministry justifies that this is the only way we can bring in more such people to play sports and represent our country. So they are planning to meet and speak with the Olympics authorities to convince them that this is important for India’s progress!

Cricket, hockey, and other sports teams will be revamped to accommodate 49% reservation. Rules will be changed for these reserved category sportsmen. The future? These teams will cease to exist— ’Indian Cricket team will be a matter of history.

Heaven: Up in the heavens, Gods are having a meeting. Narada Muni tells them what had been happening in the earth. That also includes some update about the proposal for reservation for the OBCs in IITs and IIMs. Brahma, the creator wonders, ’’Now, what are they? I remember that we created human brings!’’

Narada explains the concept to him and to the other Gods. The Gods decide that they also have to do something to help the SC/ST/OBCs. Shivji’s wife, Parvatiji suggests, ’’Why don’t we reduce the pains of the SC/ST/OBC women? Instead of carrying the child in their womb for 9 months, they should do so only for 5.5 months.

Glamour world: The leading producers and directors of Bollywood are in a state of panic! The new rule states that out of every 2 films they make, one should have an all SC/ST/OBC cast and crew members. Karan Johar is said to have placed an ad in the paper, internet, and social media for such a crew and he is still waiting for the right combinations for the last 5 years.

The ad world is equally shaken. 49% of the models walking the ramp should be SC/ST/OBC, same goes for the fashion designers and ad photographers.

Pilots: The politicians are in a state of panic. A new rule has been passed saying that there should be a special squad of pilots consisting only of BCs who have come in through the reservation catergory. These pilots have been granted the title after flying half the time required to become a licensed pilot.

The politicians who opened their HUGE mouths without thinking about the future of India, are now refusing to be flown by these pilots.

Theatres, restaurants, theme parks: They are all half full (or is it half empty?) because of the almost 50% reservation for the SC/ST/OBCs. After filling up half the seats, the guard at the restaurants allow people inside only if they show the identity card to prove that they are SC/ST/OBCs. The same happens at the theatres and the theme parks.

STOP IT! Is this the Future of India?

Arjun Singh says the Central government will raise education reservations of the ST/SC/OBCs to 49.5 per cent in India’s premier institutions. Currently students belonging to SCs and STs already enjoy 22.5 % quota. The government is proposing to bring OBCs under the quota regime by giving them 27 % reservations.

In simple mathematics, this means that out of 100 students in one such institute, about 50 students will belong to the ST/SC/OBC. Do these 50 students really deserve to belong here? Probably Arjun Singh may scream a big No in his mind, but outside he grins and justifies his decision. Will this help the backward classes prosper? Or will this lead to more controversy and more diversity.

General

It is but the truth that one and all, irrespective of caste, creed, color, or language should get the access to good institutions for education, but this is not the way to go about it! Foisting reservations on IITs and IIMs that have over the years built up a reputation of excellence is unfair. The government must go beyond the reservations rant and look for innovative, right, and correct ways of providing equity to such groups. Else, it will destroy not only the reputation of these institutions, but also of our country

Now, India is gaining reputation and is poised to emerge as a powerhouse of academic talent. At this stage, such a decision by a bunch of fools would take India backward by half a century and then it would take another century to reach where we have reached now. This is the time when we have to seriously think and scale down the existing reservations not only in educational institutions, but also in all areas of function, rather than increase them.

Conclusion: I, as an educated Indian, feel that the problem should be tackled at a grass-root level and for the want of tackling the problem. First and foremost make education till class 12 free, if not for all, atleast for the SC/ST/OBC. After this, higher education should be performance based.

Lowering the standards of institutions is not the answer to the upliftment of the downtrodden. It never was and never will be. But the question here is are SC/ST/OBC actually downtrodden? They definitely are not! It is only in the mind set of the politicians when they try to scheme of getting a bigger vote bank!

The other societies have irradiated the caste system over time because they wanted to do it. The Indian politicians have made an this issue and have kept it alive instead of allowing the cast system to die a natural death. Hence I strongly feel that even the reservations for the jobs should be taken away. There should be no reservations — for SC, ST, OBC, or women! It is sheer hypocrisy to create a barrier and then say that it is done so that the barriers can be removed.

Even now, there is a shortage of trained manpower, good teachers, and doctors in India. With the boom in the IT sector, there will be a shortage of good and knowledgeable engineers within a few years. With these reservations, China will soon overtake us in the IT software sector too and we will be left far behind. I wonder what the politicians have to say about it? Will they be in a position to help the industry, the economy, and in short the MESS they have created? Will they help India lick the wounds?

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Who Moved My Cheese

A few years back, I borrowed a book from a friend—it had an interesting title “Who moved my cheese?”. After reading it I wondered how the author came up such a simple example to tell the difficult truth. In a couple of months it turned out to be a best seller! It is probably the only one self help books I read back to back and enjoyed it as well. Imagine having mice (a species you want to shoo sway) as the character of a self help book. Yes, this book is different.

The Author: Spencer Johnson is a best selling author whose books have helped millions of people discover simple truths they can use to have healthier lives with more success and less stress. He has often been referred to as the best there is at taking complex subjects and presenting simple solutions that work.

Dr. Johnson is the author of 10 New York Times Bestsellers, including the Bestseller The One Minute Manager, the world’s most popular management method. His other bestsellers, include: The Precious Present, Yes or No: A Guide to Better Decisions, The One Minute $ales Person, The One Minute Mother, The One Minute Father, The One Minute Teacher, One Minute For Yourself, The Value Tales series (children’s books).

The Book: The book describes an amazing way to deal with change at work and in life. The book also contains real life experiences.  The book encourages managers to conduct departmental meeting on a regular basis called Smell The Cheese Often Meetings. The team members meet and discuss projects and plans. There are some questions listed in the book that can be asked during such meetings.

The Story (an introduction)

Once up a time, long long ago, in a land far away, there lived four little characters, who ran through a maze looking for cheese to nourish them and make them happy.

Two of them were mice named Sniff and Scurry and the other two were little people—beings who were as small as mice but who looked and acted a lot like people today. Their names were Hem and Haw. Due to their small size, it would be easy not to notice what the four of them were doing. But if you looked closely enough, you could discover the most amazing things!

The story is about the attitude of the mice Sniff and Scurry and the little men Hem and Haw. The mice used a trial-and-error method to find the cheese. It method was simple but inefficient. They ran down one corridor and if it was empty, they turned and ran down another. The little people used a different method that relied on their ability to think and what they learnt from their experiences. After a while, their confidence grew into arrogance.

One morning they discovered there was no cheese. Since Sniff and Scurry had noticed the supply of cheese had been getting smaller every day, they weren’t surprised. Actually they were prepared for the inevitable and knew instinctively what to do. They were quickly off in search of New Cheese.

On the other hand Hem and Haw had not been paying attention to the small changes that had been taking place each day, so they took it for granted their Cheese would be there. They were unprepared and just not ready for this situation.

While Sniff and Scurry had quickly moved on, Hem and Haw continued to hem and haw. They ranted and raved at the injustice of it all. They decide to separate and look out for cheese. To know what happened, read the book.

As the story proceeds, Haw uses his brain to do what he could do better than mice. He reflected on the mistakes he had made in the past and used them to plan for his future. He knew that he could learn to deal with change if he had noticed when the little changes began so that he could be better prepared for the big change that might be coming. Thus he could adapt the changes faster.

Moral of the story: Don’t bind yourself to your comfort zone. Even when there is a great supply of cheese, go out of the maze and explore new areas. It is safer to keep yourself updated about the happening around so that you are prepared for change, if any.

Mayor of Casterbridge

During my school and college days, Thomas Hardy has been one of my favorite authors. I liked all the books written by him and read all of them more than a dozen times. But the most favorite of his books has been The Mayor of Casterbridge—I must have read it more than 30 times.

About Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy wrote poetry and novels, though the first part of his career was devoted to the novel. At first he published anonymously, but when people became interested in his works, he began to use his own name. Like Dickens, Hardy’s novels were published in serial forms in magazines that were popular in both England and America.

His first popular novel was Under the Greenwood Tree, published in 1872. The next great novel, Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) was very popular. In addition to these larger works, Hardy published three collections of short stories and five smaller novels, all moderately successful. Before his death, he had written over 800 poems, many of them published while he was in his eighties.

About The Mayor of Casterbridge

The story is about Michael Henchard, a hay-trusser, traveling in look out for a job. He is accompanied by his wife Susan and their little daughter, Elizabeth-Jane. He finds it difficult to find employment or housing in the village. Discouraged, Michael takes liquor and becomes drunk. He believes that his marriage at a young age ruined all his chances for success. Michael hears an auction of horses, and in his drunken state he offers to sell his wife and daughter to the highest bidder.

Most of the people treat the auction as a joke, but soon a sailor offers to buy Susan and Elizabeth-Jane for five guineas, but first he makes sure that Susan is willing to go with him. Susan tries to reason with her husband, but he does not listen. She is so disgusted with Michael’s behavior that she is ready to leave with the sailor. After the auction Susan along with her daughter leaves with the sailor—after hurling her wedding-ring at Michael.

Michael wakes up—the wedding ring and the money brings the events of the evening back to him. He realizes that he was to blame for his actions, but also blames Susan for taking things too seriously. Since his excessive drinking caused the whole situation, Michael makes an oath that he will abstain from all liquor for 21 years and he sets out to search for his wife and daughter. Soon he learns that 3 people matching their descriptions have emigrated. Michael gives up the search and goes to the town of Casterbridge where he lives the life of a gentleman. He slowly becomes influential as a prosperous merchant and also becomes the mayor.

Eighteen years later, Susan and Elizabeth-Jane return in search for Michael. Elizabeth-Jane believes that Michael is a relative. Susan seeks Michael because she believes that he can help them now that the sailor (Newson) is no more. Susan comes to know that Michael is the Mayor of Casterbridge. After this part, the story talks about the ups and downs of Michael’s business and how he deals with the issues. It also talks about him courting Susan. They agree that Elizabeth-Jane must not know the truth of their relationship. Michael finally lives up to his promise, making amends to Susan by marrying her.

Susan and Elizabeth-Jane settle into their new household happily. Elizabeth-Jane flourishes in her new environment. However, her change in status and style of living does not change her mindset. Michael now longs for a deeper connection to his daughter. He wants her to take the name Henchard. Susan is hesitant, but agrees to the change if Elizabeth-Jane is ready to accept it. Susan falls sick and grows weaker by the day. She writes a letter and addresses it to Michael Henchard with a note, “Not to be opened till Elizabeth-Jane’s wedding day’’ which she locks the letter in her desk. One Sunday morning Susan dies.

A few days after Susan’s funeral, Michael and Elizabeth-Jane speak of the old times. Elizabeth-Jane repeatedly refers to Newson as her father which annoys Michael. He confesses that he is her real father, and tells her of their first marriage. Michael now asks Elizabeth-Jane if she is willing to change her last name to Henchard, to which she agrees. As Michael goes thought Susan’s desk for some papers, he comes across the letter that Susan wrote on her deathbed. The letter was not sealed very well, and as a result, the letter was already opened. So Michael reads it.

To know what happens after this, you should read this book.

Writing Style

Thomas Hardy has a way with words. You can experience Michael’s pain when he realises what he had done when he was drunk, you feel his frustrations when he hears the jibes of the townspeople and the councilmen. You love Michael for he tries to fight back against fate, makes amends for his mistakes. All these are the magic of Hardy’s words.

In all his book, Thomas Hardy has described the surroundings and happenings so well that you can actually visualize the story well as you read the novel and it is etched in your memory for ever. Also, what is visualize is almost identical to what some else visualized the scene.

 Another thing you note as you read the book is that the setting reflects the emotions of the characters. For example, in the beginning, when Michael is traveling in look out for a job, the road is surrounded by clouds of dirt and the trees are in a rotting condition.

Though the novels are slow paced because of the descriptions of the nature and the surrounding, Hardy keeps you engaged and makes you eager to see how the story will unfold. He introduces elements of suspense as he writes.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is the only novel by Emily Brontë’s. But this one is enough to be considered as the beautiful and wonderful expression of her poetic vision. The novel was considered to be extremely bold at that time—it is not the sort of novel that a gently-bred Victorian lady would be expected to write. Publishers had rejected it saying that it is insane and obsessed with cruelty.

Though it is often referred to as story of love, I have always felt that it was full of hate. There was too much of hate even in love! But the way the emotions are handled in the book is really interesting! Each of the characters in the story has a distinct dominant streak. For example I found Heathcliff  cruel, untamed, volatile, wild, menacing, dangerous, and brooding. He is capable of deep-seeded hatred, and incapable of any kind of forgiveness or compromise. He establishes his great love of Catherine and shows resentment towards many other characters with the same intensity.

I started off by writing the entire story, but then decided to keep it small and sweet just enough to give a gist of what the story is about. The reason is that as I started writing the review, I realized that this is a book of character, romance, violence, social values and you really should explore all that for yourself. Each one of you will have a different opinion about the book. I first read a very short, condensed version of the book when I was in school (probably in the 8th grade) and I have read it more than 10 times since then. Each time I made a different opinion about the characters and the story in general.

The Story in brief: Wuthering Heights is the name of the farm that belongs to Earnshaw. Once when he went to Liverpool on a business trip, he found a little boy who had been abandoned on the streets. Kind as he was, he brought the child home with him and named him Heathcliff after a son of his who had died. Catherine became friendly with him but Hindley feels as though Heathcliff had taken his place.

Wuthering Heights is the unusual love story between Cathy and Heathcliff in the Yorkshire Moors. Cathy and Heathcliff seem to be made for each other but one day Cathy meets handsome Edgar, is attracted by him and tells that to her nanny. Heathcliff listens to, feels betrayed and disappears. Years later he comes back a rich man only to see that Cathy married to Edgar.

All he wants now is revenge. At first, he ruins Cathy brother completely, takes power over his son and seduces Edgars sister. Both couples have a child each. Highlight of Heathcliff´s revenge is that he forces his son to marry the daughter of Catherine. He seems to be like the devil but everything he does is the result of his unique love for Catherine.

Characters

Ellen Dean has been a servant with the Earnshaws and the Lintons for all her life, and knows them better than anyone else. Probably that is the reason she does justice being one of the main narrators. She is fondly called Nelly by Mr. Earnshaw, Catherine, and Heathcliff.

Lockwood is another narrator of the novel.

Mr. Earnshaw is fairly well-off farmer with few pretensions. But he is extremely kinds at heart. This is proved by the fact that he takes in Heathcliff  into the family and is raised with his children despite the protests from his family. He has two children, daughter Catherine and a son Hindley. He is a stern father.

Heathcliff seems to represent the wild and untamed person in this book. No one knows about his past bust have taken for granted that he is dangerous for society. He is totally devoted to Catherine and that is the moving force in his life that keeps him going. He also has an equally strong hatred for all those who stand between him and Catherine. In between we can see glimpses of a hungry, abandoned child.

Catherine is Mr. Earnshaw’s daughter (Hindley’s sister). Cathy as she is fondly called is beautiful and charming, but she is not civilized as she pretends to be as she is an unruly temper. She is extremely wild and a little cruel at times. She grew up playing on the moors with Heathcliff (who happens to be her foster brother and beloved). Edgar, her husband calls her Catherine.

Hindley is the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Earnshaw. He is Catherine’s older brother. He has always been a discontented boy. He hates Heathcliff because he felt jealous of his father’s affections for the other boy. In return, Heathcliff hates him even more in Hindley. grows up to be violent and turns alcoholic when his beloved wife (Frances) dies.

Edgar Linton marries Catherine Earnshaw. Edgar is just opposite to Heathcliff—he is a gentle, well bred and a refined man. He is a patient husband and a loving father. His only flaw is that he has a tendency to be cold and unforgiving when his dignity is hurt.

Catherine Linton is the daughter of the Catherine and Edgar Linton. She has all her mother’s charm without her wildness. But this does not mean that she is submissive and spiritless.  Her father, Edgar calls her Cathy. Catherine marries Linton Heathcliff and then marries Hareton.

Isabella Linton is Edgar’s younger sister. Before her marriage, she was pretty, quick-witted but a little foolish. She marries Heathcliff and they have a son name Linton. She has a very unhappy marriage as Heathcliff  never treats her with love or dignity. She starts hating Heathcliff with all her heart— an element of cruelty in her character brought by the unhappy marriage and her husband’s misbehavior.

Linton is the son of Heathcliff and Isabella. He is a combination of the worst characteristics of both parents. He is extremely weak, cruel, and manipulative. His father despises him. Linton marries Catherine (Jr.) and dies soon after. 

Hareton Earnshaw is the son of Hindley and Frances he marries Catherine  (Jr.) after Linton’s death. He is rough, rustic and uncultured. He grows up to be like Heathcliff, but is more sweet-tempered and forgiving.

Zillah is the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights after Hindley’s death and before Heathcliff’s. She doesn’t particularly understand the people she lives with, and stands in marked contrast to Ellen, who is deeply invested in them. She is an impatient but capable woman.