Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Master Plan Delhi-2021

Indians returning from West, often comment that Delhi still gives them a feeling of visiting a third world country. According to one NRI, India lags at least 100 years behind the West in urban infrastructure. A new plan called MPD-2021 has beeen formulated to make Delhi a world class city. But many believe that it is doomed to fail. Read More.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Argumentative Indians

"It’s Americans who are most creative." Dr Edward De Bono, the Malta born psychologist who has written extensively on the working of human mind (Six Hats & Lateral thinking) thinks so.
He says “Americans are creative and have a go–getter attitude.
The Chinese have not started thinking creatively but the Japanese are slowly shifting from logic based thinking to creative thinking. The French think they are most creative. But in fact they are not!’ This is surprising, with those paintings,food,wine and architcture, I thought they were most creative!

And Indians! What he thinks about them? Bono says ‘from the limited interactions I’ve had, I find Indians very argumentative. Argument is a very primitive way of discussion’. Bono is in Delhi on a lecture tour. He implored corporate honchos to ‘think out of box’.
What are three factors which prevent people from thinking creatively? "Lack of confidence, lack of knowledge of adequate creative thinking tools, fear of taking risks," he replies.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Enemy of My Enemy is My friend

With the evolution of Homo sapiens (the first intelligent humans), the history of human conflict begins. The origin of conflict was competition. Competition for food, partner, shelter, authority etc led to conflict among men. Everybody wanted to have things that pleased their body and soul. As they can’t have all the things, there was conflict. Conflict put challenges before them. Challenges helped them in strengthening their survival spirit further. Conflict made the humans what they are today.

In India, I think it was Kautilya, the fourth century BC political philosopher who popularized the saying ‘the enemy of enemy is my friend’. He even wrote a book called Arthashastra, Which is full of political thoughts that lead one to position of authority. He believed in the philosophy of human conflict and its tactful dealing. He applied it in practical life, and dethroned Nanda king of Magadh and established Mauryan Empire in 321 BC. The European counterpart of Kautilya was Machiavelli. He too in his book ‘The Prince’ justified stratagems and deceits to attain political ends.

In the 21st Century, the old kingdoms gave way to new empires. Today, the new empires are big corporate and companies. The war and the battles are still going on sans elephants and horses. Competition, marketing strategy, merger, media war, attrition, intelligence, all these stratagems are used to destroy rivals to gain authority and rule over market.

Modern Offices too are not without believers of the philosophy implicit in the proverb. In offices, we find rivalry among the colleagues to get into the good books of the bosses, attention of the opposite sex, and getting some favors etc. Lobbying, gossiping, befriending the rival of the fellow rival is done with full enthusiasm to checkmate their rivals.

In international relations too, the proverb has practical application. China and Pakistan are friends. Pakistan even went out of way by ceding an important chunk of Himalayan land to befriend China. They both are regarded as India’s archenemy. USA befriended and helped Kuwait to destroy Saddam Hussein. In eighties, it even helped Afghanistan to fight Soviet Union, the then America’s ideological enemy. The old proverb ‘the enemy of enemy is my friend’ has not lost its relevance.

I was surprised to find that in nature too, there is a fish called Pilot fish that cleanse parasites off the body of a shark. These smaller fish swim freely around the sharks, and even inside the mouths of the sharks that could easily eat the small fish. Since the shark's enemy is the parasite and the parasite's enemy is

the smaller fish, the shark considers the Pilot fish a friend and accommodates an otherwise potential food source.

But I wonder what would happen if we get united with the enemy of the enemy and work towards annihilation, extermination, obliteration or neutralization (god forbid such words!) of the enemy; what type of relation then would we have with the enemy of enemy? Would he not become our next rival! Then don’t we again have to find his enemy to destroy him? I think the application of the proverb put us in a vicious cycle.

It is good to have friends. The more we have the better. But I was again surprised to find that Kautilya has written that the deadliest enemy is the one who was once your friend. So be wary in making friends and don’t share all your secrets and weaknesses with them. Who knows tomorrow they may become your enemy! It is bad-bad world!

Though it cannot be denied that the philosophy inherent in the proverb’ the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ has shaped the history of conflict among people, I believe that the conflict has also led many great human minds to come out with philosophies that facilitated a more peaceful and conflict-less society for the humans. In a way it led to a better world. Buddha, Confucius, Christ, Guru Nanak, Gandhi and many such other leaders contributed greatly towards making of a conflict-less society. Their philosophy formed the basis of modern democratic society.

The proverb was a product of a political mind. It was useful where we seek power or have some vested interests, but for a simple and peaceful existence, in a modern civilization where the law takes care of our enemy, perhaps there is no need of such policy. With love and compassion, we can turn even our deadliest enemy into our friend.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Independence Day

Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains- Rousseau

Celebrating Independence is not without its chains in Delhi. Delhi has turned into a fortress. You can't move without security checks in Delhi. Gun- totting policemen greets you everywhere. At every point your bags are checked. In Metro and Buses, you move with fear. What if a bomb explodes! There are people in India, who don't agree with the Indian view of the world. They have their own views on Independence and how their lives should be. They go to extreme to prove their point of view. They are called extremists.

This is not unique to India. Many nations face the same situations. They have to deal with what is called- rebels, extremists, fundamentalists, militants etc. Disgruntled elements abound everywhere. Dealing with them is now a full time and serious policy measures in every country. Men can not live without conflicts.

Yet, there is nothing like freedom. It is desired at any cost. A very Happy Independence Day to all Indians. Enjoy!

Pic Courtsey-HT

Friday, August 03, 2007

Safdarjung Tomb In Delhi

In AD 1754, Safdarjung was the Governor of Awadh (Central India, now the state of Uttar Pradesh) . He was made Governor by Muhamud Shah, the Mughal Emperor. The tomb was built by Nawab Shujauddaulah, the son of Safdarjung. The tomb is surrounded by a number of smaller pavilions like the Moti Mahal, the Badshah Pasand and the Jangli Mahal. There is a beautiful lush garden inside the tomb premise. It is about 300 meters in area with octagonal towers, and is enclosed by 6 meter high wall. The entire edifice stands on a lofty platform that is symmetrically interrupted by arched recesses. A large gateway in the center of the eastern wall gives access to the enclosure. The gateway is beautifully constructed. The remaining three walls also have beautiful pavilions fitted into them at the center. The whole building is made of red sandstone. The central chamber is 20 sq meters and contains eight apartments. Similar apartments are found on the upper floor. The central cusped arch is framed in marble and red sandstone and has a roof containing a triple dome rising from a sixteen-sided red sandstone drum. Safdarjung’s Tomb is a beautiful example of late Mughal architecture and has also been referred by historians as the ‘last flicker of the Mughal architectural lamp’.

Taking a snap of the monument was a difficult task. I wanted to shoot only the monument, not the amourous lovers who thronged the place to copulate with their clothes on. So I went there early in the morning, when the monument had just opend, and no lovers was in sight. For hours, I kept shooting in total freedom. I really loved the architecture, and fell in awe of the love and energy that made such a monument possible. It was love of a son for his father.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Jantar Mantar of Delhi

The famous 18th century astronomer king and the founder of the Pink city of Jaipur, Sawai Jai Singh, built the first of his five astronomical observatories across India. The observatories are known as Jantar Mantar which derives it name from the corruptions of the Sanskrit words 'yantra' (instrument) 'mantra' (formula) over the period.

The Jantar Mantar at Delhi is located on Sansad Marg between Connaught Place and Rashtrapati Bhavan. It is the largest and the best preserved compared to the other four open-air observatories which were built by Sawai jai Singh in Varanasi, Jaipur, Mathura and Ujjain. Vast red and white sloping stone structures hover over palm trees and neat flower beds. They cast shadows, which were formerly used to calculate time, lunar and solar calendars, time as well as movements of planest and stars, all with incredible degree of accuracy.

I enjoyed shooting Jantar Mantar against the backdrop of the modern buildings. It was a contrast in Archetecture. Delhi is fast becoming a modern city with several old heritages.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

India Gate

India Gate, a beautiful pieace of archetecture in the city, is a memorial built to commemorate more than 80,000 Indian soldiers who were killed during World War I fighting for the British. The monument is an imposing 42 meters high arch and was designed by the architect Edwin Lutyens. India Gate was earlier named All India War Memorial. The design of the India Gate is similar to the French war memorial, the Arc-de-Triomphe.
'INDIA' is written on top of the arch on either sides. Names of over 80,000 Indian soldiers are inscribed on the walls of the India Gate. At the base of the India Gate there is another memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti that was added after independence of the country. This eternal flame keeps burning to commemorate the unknown soldiers who had laid their lives to serve India.
I took this picture when it was twilight. Against the speedly moving traffic, the India Gate stood majestically.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dilli Haat

Dilli Haat is a modernised version of traditional Indian village bazzar. You will find crafts and foods from all the states of India. A really nice place, where you can have a look and feel of India in one go.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Red Fort

A good news for India- the Red Fort has been included in the Unesco's World heritage list. Qutub Minar and Humayun's Tomb are other two monuments in Delhi that made it to the list in 1993. Unesco norms bind the government and all other organizations concerned with the monuments with an obligation to maintain and preserve the site. The Unisco's World Heritage Committee lists properties that it considers part of the planet's cultural. They recognize heritages that have 'outstanding universal value'.

History: The Red Fort was the palace for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's new capital, Shahjahanabad, the seventh Muslim city at Delhi. He moved his capital from Agra in a move designed to bring prestige to his reign, and to provide ample opportunity to apply his ambitious building schemes and interests. The Red Fort stands at the eastern edge of Shahjahanabad, and gets its name from the massive wall of red sandstone that defines its four sides. The wall is 1.5 miles long, and varies in height from 60ft on the river side to 110 ft towards the city. Measurements have shown that the plan was generated using a square grid of 82 m.
The fort lies along the
Yamuna River, which fed the moats that surround most of the wall. The wall at its north-eastern corner is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, a defense built by Islam Shah Sur in 1546. Construction on the Red Fort began in 1638 and was complete by 1648. On 11 March 1783 Sikhs entered Red fort in Delhi and occupied the Diwan-i-Am. The city was surrendered by the Mughal wazir in cahoots with his Sikh Allies. This task was carried out under the command of the Sardar Baghel Singh Dhaliwal of the Karor Singhia misl.

After the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, when the Fort was used by the rebels, the British army occupied and destroyed many of its pavilions and gardens.
The Red Fort still attracts the tourists from all over the world.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Humayun's Tomb

The rule of Sultans over India was almost over by 1526. Next in hordes came the Mughals. They ruled over India till 1857, when the British took over the charge. Mughals too contributed to the spectacular architectures of India. One of the most spectacular Mughal buildings, Humayun's tomb in Delhi was added to Unesco's World Heritage List in 1993. Built by Haji Begum, the widow of Humanyun, the second Mughal Emperor, the mausoleum is regarded as the precursor of the Taj Mahal. Built with a cost of about one and a half million rupees, the monument heralded the construction of garden-tombs in the Indian subcontinent.
As soon as one enters the massive double-storeyed gateway, the majesty of the building infuse awe. High walls surrounds a square garden which is divided into four large squares separated by causeways and water channels.
Each square, in turn, is divided into smaller squares by pathways. This is a typical Mughal style garden known as charbagh. Highly developed engineering skills were employed in the laying out the fountains. Red, black and yellow sandstones were used to give variation. Humanyun's Tomb came into the limelight during the First War of Indian Independence also called Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. When the uprising failed, Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor, took refuge in the tomb, before he was sent to the Rangoon jail in Myanmar by the British.
The tomb stands majestically at the center of the enclosure and rises from a platform faced with a series of cells with arched openings. The Humayun's Tomb contains many small monuments. Chief among them are black and yellow marble tomb of Humayun's wife and the tomb of Humayun's barber. Referred to as Nai Ka Gumbad, the barber's tomb is an impressive square tomb with a double-dome

Monday, June 25, 2007

Razia Sultana

The Sultans (a king is called Sultan in Turky language), who ruled over India from Delhi have were reputed for a their colourful lifestyle. They ruled with passion, and perhaps it was their passion (for debauchery) that spell their doom. However, there was one remarkable women ruler among the Sultans of Delhi. She was Razia Sultana. She succeeded her father Iltutmish to the Sultanate of Delhi in 1236. Iltutmish became the first sultan to appoint a woman as his successor. He designated his daughter Razia as his heir. (Iltumish's eldest son had initially been groomed as his successor, but had died prematurely.) But the Muslim nobility had no intention of acceding to Iltutmish's disregard for tradition in appointing a woman as heir, and after death of sultan in 1236, Razia's brother, Ruknuddin Feroze Shah, was elevated to the throne. Ruknuddin's reign was short. With Iltutmish's widow Shah Turkaan for all practical purposes running the government, Ruknuddin abandoned himself to the pursuit of personal pleasure and debauchery, to the considerable outrage of the citizenry. On November 9, 1236, both Ruknuddin and his mother Shah Turkaan were put to death--after only six months in power. With reluctance, the nobility next agreed to allow Razia to reign as sultana of Delhi. As a child and adolescent, Razia had had little contact with the women of the harem, so she had little opportunity to learn the customary behavior of women in the Muslim society in which she was born. Even before she became queen--during her father's reign--she was preoccupied with the affairs of the state. As sultana, Razia adopted men's dress; and contrary to custom, she would later show her face when she later rode an elephant into battle at the head of her army. A shrewd politician, Razia managed to keep the nobles in check, while enlisting the support of the army and the populace. Her greatest accomplishment on the political front was to manipulate rebel factions into opposing each other. At that point, Razia seemed destined to become one of the most powerful rulers of the Delhi sultanate.
But the sultana miscounted the consequences that a special relationship with one of her Assyrian slaves,
Jalal-ud-din Yaqut, would have for her reign. According to some accounts, Razia and Yaqut were lovers; other sources simply identify them as close confidants. In any case, before long she had aroused the jealousy of the Muslim nobility by the favoritism she displayed toward Yaqut. Eventually, the governor of Bhatinda, a childhood friend named Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia, rebelled, refusing any longer to accept Razia's authority.
A battle between Razia and Altunia ensued, with the result that Yaqut was killed, and Razia taken prisoner. To escape death, Razia agreed to marry Altunia. Meanwhile, Razia's brother, Muiuddin Bahram Shah, had usurped the throne. After Altunia and Razia undertook to take back the sultanate from Bahram through battle, both Razia and her husband--neither more than 30 years of age--were killed on October 14, 1240. Bahram, for his part, would later be dethroned for incompetence.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

British Architecture

Various buildings built by the British in India are our most prized heritage. South Block, administrative building in New Delhi is no less than Taz Mahal in grandure. India is full of such great buildings constructed by the British under their rule. The Archetecture of the building adapts to the climate of Delhi.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Moving In Delhi

Delhi is cooler today. Jaiselmer in Rajasthan (India) recorded a maximum of 51 degree celcius. Wow! that's not cool man! I love wandering in Delhi with my backpack whenever I find the temperature a bit down the scale. I have seen most of Delhi just by roaming using cheap public transportation like Buses and the Metro. Autorickshaws ofcourse are not cheaper. The Metro rail has also made it much easier to coummute in Delhi. Though it doesn't take you to every places in Delhi. The Metro network is expanding. I have also taken pictures of many monumments and places in Delhi. Soon I am going to post them on this blog.

Heat and the Taz Mahal.

The heat in Delhi shows no sign of abetting. A few dozen people, mostly poors have died due to heat stroke. But many people keep going about their business unmindful of the heat. I found Deshehri and Safeda variety of Mango selling cheaper. They were a tasty lot. This year I haven't tasted the litcchis from Bihar. The fruit,though of Chinese origin, is widely cultivated in hotter parts of Northern India. They are blood red with a thin coveing and the white juicy pulp inside tastes simply great. Everybody in Delhi is presently hoping for rains to cool down the temperature a bit.

Delhi has so many meadival monuments to see. They were, most of them built by the Muslim rulers of India. They are prized possesion of India. Agra, a two hours journey from New Delhi has a great monument called Taz Mahal. It is majestically beautiful. The taz Mahal is also in fray to be included in the 7 wonders of the world. I hope that it does get included so the tourist flow to it would increase manyfold. Taz deserves to be admired and appreciated for its grandure.