Where are they now?

Source : Google photo

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Synopsis: We all have the tendency to remember good people who are our friends or mentored us when we needed them, but we tend to forget those who were only acquaintances and never our friends. A real friend who remains steadfast and loyal is hard to find so they must be cherished.

When I was seven or eight years old, I used to go to the park nearby where I played with a few youngsters like myself who gathered there to play. We were not supervised by our parents or elders like in some countries, so we were free to do whatever we wanted like climbing trees to pluck a few forbidden fruits or jump over the neatly cut hedges only to fall flat on the flower beds.

There were girls of our age also but mostly they were not a part of our group because we at that age were not really interested in girls in ways boys look at girls or vice versa because our hormones had not started to kick in because we were just children. We did what other children did that mostly included having fun without having to pay for it. We did not have pocket money or fancy toys to play with, so we improvised a lot that included many types of mischief making like grabbing nasty hornets to attach a string in it and make it fly like a kite. There were other mischiefs that I will not write about here because the list is long.

In the process of growing up, I got to know some kids better than others like Nantu who never told me his real name nor did I to him because everyone had a nick name like Nantu. The formal introduction was not needed. Nantu came from a prosperous family of 2 more brothers older than him, but his father was a well-known doctor who was also a very religious man, so his three sons were also given good training at home to be religious.

How religious they were was hard to tell but Nantu was often required to do the evening Lakhsmi Pooja at home that he did well. He memorized all the chants and hymns and knew all the rituals by heart while I waited patiently for him to finish so that we could go to the park to play.

Nantu went to an expensive English medium school like his brothers and proudly showed off his dark blue shorts and light blue shirt uniform while I went to a poor school with leaking classrooms and worn-out desks and stools so there was a big gap between us, but it did not stop us to become friends. Our parents knew his parents and we went to their house on special occasions like Durga Pooja.

Nantu and I were inseparable. We talked of many things’ children talk about and we played together. At that age we did not have big dreams and a solid plan for our future, but we did make plans to steal a few fruits from the garden and risked the wrath of the gardeners who were always on the lookout for the naughty kids like us. Sometimes we quarreled over petty things but were also quick to make up and be friends again.

We exchanged small gifts like marbles or a colored glass bead, so it was simple. I often kept the nasty hornets in a match box in my pocket that too served as a prize gift Nantu loved. I made many kites land on our roof with the help of a stone attached to a string so that too I shared with Nantu and taught him how to bring down a kite while the kite fliers never guessed who the kids were and where.

Thus a few more years passed, and we started to grow up and move up to the next level in our school where eventually we reached 10th grade that meant taking the Board exam. But by this time, we had moved into our new home quite far from the neighborhood where we had lived so I did not see Nantu again until one day many years later when he suddenly showed up. He had grown taller and more handsome but essentially the same old childish Nantu I had known so long ago.

I was delighted to see him again and asked him what he was doing all these years. He said that he had run away from his home and joined the Army by faking his real age and slowly rose in ranks to become a captain in the signal corps. While we were thus talking, a postman came to deliver a brown envelop to me that contained my passport. Nantu was excited and asked me why I needed a passport and where I was going. He showed great delight to know that I was going to Vietnam, so he said that it needed a celebration of sorts. We spent the rest of the day eating and talking together.

Then Nantu said goodbye and disappeared from my life forever leaving a void that only a dear friend like him could. Nantu took his life one day, but I will not get into the why and how, but I do miss him and cherish all the time we spent together as children.

In our life we meet many people while growing up, later in school and college. After graduation we get a job somewhere so we meet new people in our work place. We settle down at a certain age with a wife and have children so we get to meet new people in our new community so in each phase of our life we get to meet new people who may or may not become our friends.

I too knew many people, but they did not become my friends like my classmate in high school who was my seatmate for 7 years and I often played with him in his house but when I met him again after some 20 years, he simply said Hi and then disappeared claiming that he had an appointment to keep somewhere. Many of my playmates of yesteryears are aloof and do not even ask what I am doing or where in the world I live. I could have told them many things, but they showed no interest except superficiality. One guy showed fake excitement and promised to come to our house later for a longer talk but he never showed up.

Another fellow who was passing by our gate showed no emotions on seeing me some 30 years later and disappeared saying that he was in a hurry. This was the same fellow who I used to walk with every evening and who went to the airport to see me off when I was leaving for Vietnam but now, he had no time.

So, in life we get to meet all sorts of people. It starts from our childhood and continues until we die but how many of them, we consider our friends? I can now say that most people we get to meet and know fall into the category of mere acquaintances because they remain aloof and show no interest in you as a person unless they want something from you.

Many of them said that I should bring them a camera or something from abroad. One even asked me to buy French perfume for his wife but backed off when I said that a small vial of Poison can cost over 60 dollars. Poison is a very famous and expensive perfume.

So, when a friendship solely depends on what gifts you can bring for them then a true friendship does not develop. One of my classmates in college who now lives in Delhi said to me that I must bring him a bottle of blue label Johnny Walker whiskey the next time and derided the red label Johnny Walker, I gifted him.

We used to study whole night together to prepare for our final year exams and he was supposed to be my friend, but he let me down big time when he promised to do something very important but failed to do so and gave the job to someone who ran away with my money. It had to do with the renewal of my wife’s passport. All he had to do was to deposit the money at the Embassy.

My sweet wife often says that friends are for a reason and a season. When the reasons and seasons pass, they too disappear leaving no trace. A fake friendship falls apart quickly when jealousy is involved as it happened in my case. My classmate in high school got less marks than me in our Sanskrit class so he got very jealous of me because I got distinction in the Board exam. I never saw him again which was good.

This sort of thing can and does happen in schools, colleges and in workplaces where your school mates, college mates or your work mates may get jealous of you if you excel in what you do and get the attention of your teacher or your boss who may promote you to a higher-level position because they notice your intelligence and better creative abilities.

I had to contend with classmate jealousy because our professors always singled me out for any assignment because I did it well and always asked me questions in the class that I was usually well prepared to answer. I did my homework well.

This feeling of jealousy starts early in high school and may continue in college, so a smart girl is often bullied by those girls who are not smart but villainous in nature because of arrogance of rich parents, fine clothes or latest gadgets they bring to the school. They do not even try to understand the qualities of a smart girl or a boy so who do you think ends up being a top scientist or a doctor or a great engineer later in life? Vain and jealous people do not become friends to anyone because they think that they are superior to others so they cannot accept someone better than them.

Basically, a friendship starts because of shared values, shared ideas, shared toys or books. When we do things together like playing, it brings others closer to you but not all of them become your friends no matter how many years you have played with them. So, what brings two persons together who become friends like Nantu and I and why others have disappeared?

I think true friendship develops like a sapling at first that later can grow into a tree given a chance. So, a friendship must be nurtured like a frail sapling at first and maintained until well established. I still wonder what great length Nantu and I would have gone to maintain and grow our friendship given half a chance. Sadly, I was not given that chance, so I still miss my childhood friend who was so innocent and loyal.

There are a few who have left an impression on me whom I miss today because I know that I will never get to see them again. There are those whom I never wish to see again because they were not my friends so have disappeared from my memory. My brain thankfully deletes their memories and keeps only the memory of those who were my friends and who left an impression on me.

You are lucky if you just have one true friend you can count on. Most people are not so lucky so in their old age they become alone. The email, Facebook or numerous social media can bring you in contact with a lot of people but only very superficially. They tend to disappear just like a photo or a message at the press of a button so remember that people become friends for a reason or for a season.

I remember some very good people like Eberhard from Hamburg, Monique from Domremy aux bois, Marie Françoise from Compiegne, Pierre, Catherine Leguier of Paris, Mechell and Russell, my mentors like Dr.Ghosh and Dr.De Datta, my friend and mentor Dr.Kennedy, my professor Mr.Dey, Prof. Leighty, my friend and librarian Miss Thomas. Many are dead while others have disappeared leaving no trace.

I often wonder where they are now who are still living. Do they still have a tiny space in their heart for me? Do they still remember me as much as I remember them and miss them? I guess I will never know.

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

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Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

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Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

The idea of Indian union

Source: Google photo of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia

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Synopsis: The idea of an Indian Union just like the EU does not seem too far-fetched, but it has many hurdles to overcome. Great visionaries like Dr.Ram Manohar Lohia and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay put forth this idea long ago but said that it could be more of a union of shared cultural values and traditions making physical and political boundaries less important between nations. The blog looks at the benefits of such Union.

I am not a political person so normally I do not like to write about the politics of any country, nor do I support any political party or its agenda, but I watched a video where a gentleman was talking about how an Indian Union could be created that would be similar to the European Union. It made me think about the idea so I wanted to explain this idea to you in plain words because the author of the video was speaking in Hindi that you may not understand.

It was not his original idea. He was simply explaining it on behalf of the persons who wrote about it, talked about it and encouraged everyone to promulgate it so that one day in the future their ideas could turn into a reality for the benefit of the human kind that is hell bent on harming each other in the name of ideology, religion and hard core fundamentalism that has taken millions of lives and continues to divide the people in the Indian sub-continent.

These visionary men are no longer alive, but they have left the seed in the minds of progressive people who think about the idea of an Indian Union that does not seem so far-fetched. They were some of the most fertile minds in the recent Indian history who left their huge footprints that no one seems to measure up to.

Such a man was Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia who openly challenged the so called visionary Prime Minister Nehru in the Parliament on his faulty policies that Nehru could not counter and kept mum. Lohia was a firebrand politician and a member of the parliament who never hesitated to speak his mind openly, but he was respected and listened to. He was fearless as an opposition member of the Parliament.

Another leader and a man of great wisdom was Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay. Deendayal Upadhyaya (25 September 1916 – 11 February 1968) was an Indian politician, proponent of Hindutva ideology espoused by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and leader of the political party Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), the forerunner of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Sadly, he was murdered by the opposition political party people who saw him as a threat to their existence.

There was a time long ago when India stretched from Afghanistan to Burma that included Afghanistan, Pakistan, present India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka ruled by Hindu Kings before the advent of Islam in the sub-continent called South Asia. Later the Buddhist religion spread to many parts of this empire including Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Much later the Moslems spread to all the countries where they tried to suppress the Hindus and people of other faith like in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Sadly, this process still continues. We all know how Buddhism was eliminated in Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to declare Islamic Republics, so Buddhist and Hindu statues and relics were systematically destroyed like in Bamiyan.

Here I would like to first mention how the European Union came into being and how many treaties were signed, where and how many countries in Europe joined so I will quote this paragraph from Wikipedia that explains it better than I.

“The European Union is a geo-political entity covering a large portion of the European continent. It is founded upon numerous treaties and has undergone expansions and secessions that have taken it from 6 member states to 27, a majority of the states in Europe.

Apart from the ideas of federationconfederation, or customs union such as Winston Churchill‘s 1946 call for a “United States of Europe“, the original development of the European Union was based on a supranational foundation that would “make war unthinkable and materially impossible”[1][2] and reinforce democracy amongst its members[3] as laid out by Robert Schuman and other leaders in the Schuman Declaration (1950) and the Europe Declaration (1951). This principle was at the heart of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) (1951), the Treaty of Paris (1951), and later the Treaty of Rome (1958) which established the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). The ECSC expired in 2002, while the EAEC maintains a distinct legal identity despite sharing members and institutions.

The Maastricht Treaty (1992) created the European Union with its pillars system, including foreign and home affairs alongside the European Community. This in turn led to the creation of the single European currency, the euro (launched 1999). The Maastricht Treaty has been amended by the treaties of Amsterdam (1997), Nice (2001) and Lisbon (2007).   ( Source : Wikipedia )”

Now 27 countries in Europe have become part of the European Union making it the single most important economic block where all members retain their sovereignty, their cultural identities, their religions, their integrity of their national territories, their food, their distinct languages etc. yet they have all become a part of the European Union.

All their national currencies have disappeared that have been replaced by a single currency called Euro so you can travel anywhere in Europe and use the same Euro. Their national borders remain but now all members can freely travel to any country in Europe without visas or other restrictions, can choose to stay and work in another country without any problem and even buy properties. They can marry in another country and their children can go to a school there.

The trade rules within the Union have been simplified so a farmer can sell his products anywhere in Europe easily. The manufactured goods are traded freely without any fuss within the Union. So, you can imagine the benefits of such a Union.

Perhaps the Indian visionaries like Dr. Lohia and Pandit Upadhyay could be called the fathers of the idea long before the EU came into being and thought that it could be possible to create an Indian Union just like EU. I will explain now why there are some people who do not like this idea, so they oppose vehemently. Dr. Lohia died in 1967 and Pandit Upadhyay died in 1968. India misses these two great men and their profound wisdom.

To understand their disagreement, one has to understand the bloody history of the past 75 years when India fought 4 wars with its neighbor Pakistan and beat them each time, but they are preparing for a 5th war over Kashmir with the threat of using their atomic weapons. India counters by saying that its nuclear arsenals are not just for show and deploys S 400 missile system near the border with Pakistan and China that gives India a complete air superiority over the enemy weaponry.

Both India and Pakistan spend huge amount of money on defensive and offensive weapons and maintain huge army, navy and air force that keep an eye on the enemies all the time to take appropriate measures when necessary. India is a rich country of multi trillion-dollar economy, so it has a huge budget and a very large defense industry that manufactures most of what the country needs for its defense, but Pakistan is not in the same league, so it carries a heavy burden of its defense expenses with difficulties.

Bangladesh became free after the 1971 war with Pakistan and has made progress in developing its economy by improving its agriculture and industries that earns them revenue from its exports of manufactured goods. But it too suffers like Pakistan from poverty, malnutrition and communal violence from time to time instigated by the hard-core fundamentalists who are intolerant of those who are not like them.

Afghanistan is another failed state that has seen nothing but war that has lasted over 40 years and has practically decimated the country, its economy and its infrastructure so people starve, beg on the streets and live in a state of hopelessness. There is a high rate of drug addiction among them because they see the bleak future so take to drugs while their government earns money from the export of illegal drugs like opium, cocaine and hashish to many countries. The fundamentalists who are in power there insist on archaic Stone Age rules to govern their country that brings more misery to the people there.

Now Sri Lanka finds itself in dire straits because the country is bankrupt and cannot pay back its huge external debt to China. People are fighting for a loaf of bread in the streets, so the army is trying to maintain peace and order. India has sent them thousands of tons of wheat and millions of liters of gasoline, but it can only go so far. They also suffer from communal violence because of the fundamentalism that divides the people there.

Now let us just think for a minute what could happen if an Indian Union just like the European Union could be created bringing all these desperate countries into one Union under the same rules like in EU.

There could be just one currency, easy trade between them, easy travel without visa, no customs or heavy import tariffs, no restrictions on buying properties or on investment. There would be no war between them because there will be no reason for it so they could all unite to fight a common enemy like China that has aggressive policy of grabbing land outside its borders. Instead of spending a huge amount of money on their defense, they could spend it on development of agriculture and industries. They could make education for everyone possible and give everyone good medical care.

The benefits are easy to see but the hard-core fundamentalists will find such an idea very hard to digest given their history of intolerance of India and the 75-year-old animosity that does not seem to die down.

The idea of bringing together Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India under one Union can work if people of these countries want it and give their full support to the idea through plebiscite but it is not easy because people are afraid of losing their cultural, religious or ethnic identity.

But this fear is not based on hard reality on the ground that suggests such a union but on emotions that are stirred up by those who oppose modernization, progress through development, education and healthcare for all. In fact, there are more things that can unite them than divide them if they are willing. To live in a failed state in dire poverty and uncertain future with the constant fear of war with neighbors makes people lose their hopes and aspirations.

When two countries that have common culture, language and the same ethnicity are separated by force then a time will come when they reunite. It has happened when East and West Germany reunited but North and South Korea remain separated and wait for the day when they too will be reunited like Germany. Similarly, Burundi and Rwanda are separated by politics, but they have more in common than their differences.

What Dr. Lohia and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay were talking about was not just a physical union of various countries under one umbrella but rather the cultural union of them because after all they all have something in common that can bring them together. All Moslems were Hindus who were forcefully converted but they still share a common heritage and culture with their neighbors and still carry Hindu family names. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains all share a common heritage and culture. They have the same DNA no matter what their religion says.

No country in Europe that is a member of the EU has lost its identity, culture, language, food or traditions, its ethnicity or religious values. They remain sovereign within the Union that has given them a freedom they never had before like the freedom of movement, the freedom of trade, owning property or marriage etc. It has given them choices they never had because all Europeans remember the horror of the past wars and the enormity of their sufferings.

What such a Union gives them all is better governance under the democratically elected governments using free and fair election but working together with other countries under one umbrella of a Union that drastically reduces the possibility of war between them through dialogue and arbitration. Thus, disputes between the countries can be amicably and justly resolved. One currency for all strengthens the Central Bank that can loan huge amount of money to member states for development.

Now imagine how much prosperity can be brought to the poor people in such a Union. Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay believed it could.

Source : Google photo of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay

Many Indians today think of the Greater India as it used to be so the idea of something similar to European Union mentioned by Dr. Lohia and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay long ago is again seriously discussed. Some say that it is not just a dream but will happen some day when people realize that everybody will benefit from it.

I am a diehard optimist so I too believe that Lohia and Pandit Upadhyay were both right but only the time will tell if their vision will someday become a reality. Their souls will be appeased.

Note: My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски