May 1, 2017


Dear Colleagues

Here is another version of random reflections for your perusal:

  • Today is May Day. It reminds us all of the struggles of the working class and the gains such struggles have secured for us all. We may have forgotten but idea of limiting working hours in a day came out of such struggles. In the digital era, work and working hours have undergone major redefinitions. If Smart Phone is the prime tool of many workers today, what does it imply for workplace, work hours, weekly off, etc. etc.? Work, leisure, play—all seem to have got mixed up in this digital era? Refresh the meaning of May Day then?
  • Different cultures have different traditions of writing and reciting poetry. Kavi Sammelan (gathering of poets) for Hindi poetry and Mushaira for Urdu poetry have been popular traditions in several parts of India. Of late, they have begun to lose their appeal to new generation as witnessed in one such occasion in Delhi. Dependence on government sponsorship and consequent speech-making by political leaders at the start of a gathering of poets does not augur well. Public support to poetry, poets and poetry recitation has dwindled. What has perhaps continued to flourish is a poet in each person?
  • Delhi held municipal elections last week. Many new candidates were contesting along with those nominated by political parties. With small constituencies of voters in these elections, one imagined that the style of campaigning may be somewhat different from national elections. Pamphlets sent through morning newspapers were the dominant form of campaign in our middle class neighbourhood. No door-to-door contacts were mode; social media was also not utilised. Rare mobile messages came from national party leaders only. Some ‘hired’ adolescents were deployed in processions that caused massive traffic jams. Loud and shrill loud-speakers carried messages that no one heard. Irrelevance increasing?
  • Lucknow recently hosted award giving ceremony for panchayats in India. Security arrangements harassed participants endlessly and wasted huge time and resources. Such functions consume most of the time in formalities—giving flowers, welcoming speeches, thank you messages, and glowing references to all those politicians who have occupied the stage. Attendees are only interested in getting photographed with dignitaries, not listening to what they say. Parking lots were full of air-conditioned SUVs. Nature of leadership of rural India has certainly become more prosperous in 25 years?
  • India’s rich heritage manifest in many historical buildings remains largely ignored by public, and mostly neglected by official agencies. Teen Murti Bhawan and Nehru Memorial in Delhi is a well-maintained building, museum and landscape. Not many visitors go there, though. When 50 youth from around the country gathered there recently to participate in an award function, they were over-whelmed by going around this heritage place. The guards and managers of the building and lawns were, however, not very happy with such a sudden influx of lower class youth. No wonder?

All the very best


Rajesh Tandon

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