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A Trek to Triund, India

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“Back up along the edge, even the smallest of them have to, the curve is too shallow, to manoeuvre”

This line sums up my recent trek to Triund, in India. Coming at a time when I am at the cusp of a change in my career, preferences and likes. It showed how even the mightiest and the smallest have their powers and limitations.

Triund is located at a height of 3000 meters above the sea level. The place is a ridge with a vast expanse of green cover during the summer months. The trek to Triund starts from Mcleaodganj and takes about 3 hrs for a new trekker to scale the stretch. The path to the top is quite rocky and becomes steeper as and when one approaches the top. The last two kilometers are particularly enervating and a pain in the ankles, literally.

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Apart from the anticipation of a mesmerizing end the trekkers are enthused all along the way by the artistically molded shapes of tall Oak and Deodar trees which makes you smile at their audacious attempt to scale the mountains and reach the top. On the way you can take rest at various snack points which sell water bottles, biscuits, chips and tea that will keep you energized all the way.

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However, as the saying goes “don’t lose heart and let the whole story unfold”. On reaching the top you are greeted by a mighty looking snow clad Dhauladhar range which looks mesmerizing and humbling at the same time. The ridge offers a 360 degree view of the mountains in the front and the city of McLeodganj down on the back side. The obscured view of the white mountains rising among the clouds fills you with awe and admiration. You see, even the high mountains can be shrouded by periods of haze which can often render them unrecognizable and unseen.

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Thoughtfully, it is not just the Dhauladhar peak but the air of the ridge that reeks of silence, giving you a chance to experience the goodness and creativity of nature that manifests into the beautiful things around but is seldom noticed. At night, the place goes pitch dark after 1930 hours with only a few mobile phones and night lamps being the only source of light. The sky dotted with numerous stars is one of the best aspects of the nights on hills. It makes you come face to face with the eternity and you wonder if raising one hand will let you to touch and pluck a few stars to take home to the plains only to be riveted by the scenery.

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After spending the night when you rise early the next day, the sky is light red with a tinge of blue on the outside, the cool air fills you with devotion for the loving nature of the creator. It happens that when we become one with the surroundings and the veil of self subsides we are able to admire the beauty surrounding us which is eternal and rejoicing.

After the sunrise we started our  downward trek with a hope to respect, love and care for each and every thing on the planet. After all the though we admired the skies dotted with stars we tend to forget about the little houses with lights that look same from the hill top, these are the projections of stars on the earth.

Looking up at the stars is longing, looking around and embracing life is love. Perception matters.

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Plight of the “Aadharised” Cow

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Hindutva and Saffronisation are the rancorous topic these days with almost every Tom, Dick and Harry offering their opinions and suggestions. The most interesting topic occupying the front of the Indian tabloids is our Government’s plan to have all the Gau maatas of the country “Aadharised”.  Sounds preposterous isn’t it, well it is true and Indian Government has actually mooted a plan to identify all the cow maatas by a 12 digit number by the end of this year.

Article 48 of the Indian Constitution mandates the states to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves. This is keeping in mind the religious sentiments and is a sort of our way of paying back the maata for all the good she does for us. Right from the childhood Indians have made a feast of cow’s milk and various by-products of it so naturally a feeling of association and forbearance sets within our hearts. After all Indian’s are so large hearted people. So banning beef and cow slaughter in the country is still justified at large but having an Aadhar for all the cows of country is giving way too much identification to the poor thing.

Hindu scriptures describe cow as an animal that are closest to the humans and they are said to feel the pain and suffering of their masters by shedding actual tears. But that in no way guarantees a right to the policy makers to spend crores on this plan in a country where one third of the population is still below the poverty line. This also belies the Government’s development and economic growth plank on which it rode to an astounding victory about 2 years back.

Stats say that the states where the cow slaughter was banned have registered a decline in the cow population further underlining the Government’s overreach with its ambitious plan .Disappearing grazing land including feed and fodder, healthcare and unplanned urbanization have negative impacts on the cow population thus declining cow population is more of an economic problem than being just a religious issue.

Lets focus on the right issues as I am sure any cow today would be happier to see an improvement in the quality of the country’s poor than having assigned an ID.

Empowerment, the buzzword.

Empowerment is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the process of becoming stronger and more confident especially in controlling their lives and claiming one’s rights.”The question being asked in the Indian context is that if voicing my opinion on social media initiates this process. Even if it would how would  it sustain. Let uss read a story to understand this

Dhani is a daily wage labourer who works in a Government funded construction project. He barely manages two square meals a day but lives in a pucca house that is given to him as a dole under a Government housing scheme for poor. He curses the government for his pitiful condition but no matter what life goes on. Munni and Chunni are the daughters of Dhani Ram. They know about the prevalent social condition in India and feel strongly about freedom to women and their social rights but rather than being fatalistic, they approach life in very different ways.

Munni likes to go to school . Although being from a conservative family she is not allowed to go outside the house after 8 in the evening yet she happens to manage. She knows the importance of education and keeps doing what any school going student in India is expected to, gain knowledge and pass the exams. She overcomes the obstacles and later on becomes an astronaut. She writes a book about her experiences and how she overcomes  the ups and downs to become an individual in her own right . The whole world listens and appreciates the book

Chunni on the other hand is a bit different. She is vociferous about the issues pertaining to women rights. The constant hankering by her parents about her womanly duties irritates her. She decides to change a few things at home and in society by taking part in student agitations and dharnas. She is after all born in free and liberal India which guarantees equality for all. However in the midst of this charged atmosphere she misses out on her studies. Today Chunni is still living in that Government funded house just a few blocks away from her father’s house. She still keeps herself active by taking part in fashionable and seasonal dharnas.

The story is simple to understand but the cues from it are relevant in today’s digital India. Youth of today should understand that the start of any change is through Education and knowledge. No doubt through social media it is easy to reach the masses and propel your opinion on the national scale but if ill founded these ideas no matter how worthy lose steam and fizzle out.The college going youth must be aware of the political backing of the ideas and should make informed choice that have both the self and societal goods attached to it.  

This Independence Day let it be free

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In the realms of my hands cuddling as if its world is comprised of just the area within the cup of my hand. I came to me on a one fine morning when I was a kid, starting an unknown journey that I don’t know what would have been if not without it. After all I can’t find one instance when it was not there with me if not physically then in my thoughts. It was not long before the days passed when we were always together no matter what the weather or the place, it always came to me. The window sill where she sat while I crammed for my History exams or the treetop in the prayer grounds where it sat smiling while I collected awards and used to see it from the stage wondering would I have the same smile if it won’t be there clapping or those times when I just used to smile just at the sight of it in the morning while I waited for my school bus

I stroke its weathers gently  trying to count them as the time passes softly before she flies away to a strange little bird world. After all life is transient and no matter how much we try we have to let go of the best of things and on the other hand no matter how much we try their memories continue to make us smile halfheartedly, longingly wishing how would it have been if only it had stayed.

The rays of the sun are piercing the body now as if trying to melt the outer core and exposing the innards, the innards that have been covered by multiple layers of happiness sorrow and the toughest of them all resolution. She looks towards me with gleaming eyes, bubbling with energy and raring to go. After all new place, life and people await her. I thought only humans feel elated at the  prospects of new but here it was feeling excited about leaving the past and embracing something new. I look back at my past and see that I too have run away from people and situations but the fact was in the hindsight I knew she would be there overlooking me from somewhere behind the clouds above.

It flew spanning its small wings high in the sky circling above me getting ready for a long flight that will take it towards mountains that will be hard to scale, that will offer various hurdles and test its limits. I am skeptical about the future but my concerns wither away when I see its determination and enthusiasm.

So I smile one more time before saying adios to the bird who had been second to none and who I don’t want it to turn back to say final wishes because breaking the chains of past and unleashing the ropes of future  is what helps in the journey of life.

This independence I let it fly to somewhere………far.

1.0 Rocks And Waves

A few days back someone who holds just as much importance in my life as before and with whom I had no contact for quite sometime now  accussed me of being partial to “men” and “boys”. That someone read all my blogs and found my stories soft on male. She texted me “Is it your sordid past you write about mister or are you really that selfish, if it is so stop accussing and prophesizing your sorrows. I wonder if you would ever tell the other side of the story”. So here it is, first time I am trying to write a story with a women’s point of view. I Hope it does justice to her thoughts:

The story begins:

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She walks back towards her house in the uptown area of New York. The weather is good and summer is what every New Yorker looks forward to after a harsh winter. She decides to walk towards her house which is 6 blocks down from the next right from the upcoming signal. The gentle breeze blowing across her face forming swirls on her perfectly ironed skirt as if caressing it with a gentle pace that is not too fast and not very slow either, just perfect so as not to destroy the pleats formed on the front clothe. The momentary pleasures tend to wither away as soon as they are formed like a lover’s touch or the early morning glow of the rising sun, which leave you longing for more. Today she was in no mood to go home early. There is nothing expecting her at home at this hour anyway the kids won’t be back from the evening tuitions until an hour and Ric had already called that he would turn up late. So she decides to make the most of this opportunity today which is hard to come by her. She used to be a regular visitor to the beaches during her post graduation years at the NYU until her kids and husband took the better of her.
The gentle wind was threatening to gather some speed, with the met department already sounding an alarm of an approaching storm she knew the timing cannot be perfect. Coincidentally she found her legs turning towards the left instead of taking the right which was her usual way to home. A force pushed her towards the direction that she had stopped taking since that fateful day 16 years back. She knew she had to turn back from here, the way to her home was not so sandy, it was hard. It can’t be so irregular after all New York doesn’t have space for irregularities, here people and things are alike, perfect. She wouldn’t have been where she was if it was for the irregular. But today it was different, she thought. She stopped thinking right there “let me see where this force takes me“, as someone from her distant past echoed “you need to go with the force , at least sometimes, you always try to be so very hard“. Maybe she was hard but hardness was the weapon of a woman, a woman can’t succeed if she is not hard because this is the only attribute that God did not bestow a woman with, He made her soft and supple so that she could be caring and loving. “She” made herself as hard as a rock and pointed at the edges so as to succeed and make her mark. In her mind she knew she had succeeded after all her life here at New York was a testament to that, but what about her heart, well she never cared about what her heart felt as long as the mind had a control over it. She kept walking until the sounds of the violent waves hitting the shoreline rang in her ears. She found herself standing at the perfect spot, for others it was a rough weather but for her it was a perfect time to visit her favourite pastime of those childhood days of her life in Cochin, India.
She stared at the vast expanse of the raging Atlantic that was hitting the rocks with all its might. She stood at the little opening of rocks inside the ocean just when a shower of sea water hit her face thus enabling her escape the thoughts that were beginning to overpower her and snatched her from the past, the past that was grim, a past that was not so distant as the date suggests it to be. She lies down on the rocks and looks above towards the sky. The night was falling on her in the form of little coloured openings from the sky . Even the sky has openings that are only visible at night, she thought. The sun had set down and it appeared as if the orange was the new black. A little strand of hair was hindering her vision of stars and the. She does away with the involuntary thought of removing it and kept her gaze at the place beyond the dark among the stars and the memories of her sordid past begin encompassing her her vision , her mind …………to be continued

India spitting :)

 

Mr. PM of India is doing everything he can to deliver on his selection err election promises, from bringing in the dollars to throwing away the “kachra” away from India. But i am man of limited wants and immediate needs. I am a common man of India and inflation is not my concern but spiraling prices of aaloo-pyaaz are( I don’t know why these two fuckers always occus in pairs), no I am not concerned with the fiscal deficit but cutting interest on my hard earned or hardly earned ( pun intended) “kamaai” is well within my interests. Thus this is the magnanimous problem of our mentality of immediate needs.

Our country is going head over heels with this “swachch bharat” campaign. Everybody is suddenly interested in wielding the broom hoping to make bharat clean by 2019. But ask yourself can this really happen, if it does I am offering the only precious thing I have, my halls, coz I have already lost my “izzat”(respect) when I failed JEE twice. We have this love for thooking(spitting) at everything. Take this, two boys having an argument over a topic is not our concern but the number of times they spit on the ground just to overemphasize on their expletives as the argument goes on surely is. The noticeable thing is that the thook(spit) is always at the intended mark on  the ground it lands everywhere but not on the feet of the thooker(spitter), great shooter err spatter I must say.

Experts say that even if each countrymen takes even the 10 meter area surrounding him and ensures that it is clean then no “maa ka beta”can dirty it. But this idea is as preposterous as the campaign of “each one teach one.” Let us say even if it happens what then, does India becomes epic and span. Haha hold that bad thought right there because we are masters in this art of thooking(spitting) we will aim and the phlegm will just cross that 10 metre mark around us. Same applies to littering other than confines of the 10 metre we will litter the area beyond it.

Cleaning is good but disposal is better because believe me “etiquette and dust bins just don’t exist here”. There should be a proper disposal system in the country. The bio degradable waste will take care of itself we need to take care of the non biodegradable waste. It should be made sure so that the next time someone argues a dustbin is there sitting beside them slurping the “thook”. That should be the motive of “swach bharat abhiyaan”. Take a pledge and keep at least one dustbin beyond the boundary of your house.

Know your options in life

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“ I am done with this large equations and complex formulas” said Sameer using both his hands to shut his arithmetic book.

The loud thud startled his mother who was preparing the afternoon meal in the kitchen. She came out and looked at his father who was by now looking towards Sameer. He shot a glance towards the mother as if trying to decode what the future has in store for their son, because if not studies then how would Sameer fend for himself in this breathtakingly fast and ultra-competitive world. The same age old roti kapda makaan and yes car too, after all a car is a must have “zarurat” these days, question haunted them. Sam’s detest towards arithmetic was not something new, it was a topic as hot as a furnace and as steamy as the yummy chennai idli sans the yum part of course, in their 3 bedroom house. It all had been perfectly fine till Sameer’s choices and decisions were taken by them but as he grew bigger in body, God forbid his mind also somehow gained a few kilos thus prompting him to do what any Indian parents would never want their children to do themselves, yes folks sameer started thinking and making his own decisions when i say making it is no way similar to taking because that luxury is entirely his parents prerogative. Sam walked away from the dining area and stood at the window in his room overlooking the main road crisscrossing through the city not knowing where it will end or stop. After a few miles turning into a black line disappearing among a herd of cars and a fleet of people. He was over his bad mood by now and started to contemplate, which was what he enjoyed doing, he liked to reflect on things  be it the rising sun, the blooming flower or a sparrow feeding it’s children on his window sill everyday. He laughed at mankind and always thought ” what if we have reached the moon, conquered the skies but ultimately technology the subject that his father wants him to pursue has  taken away childhood away from a child who is bespectacled and hooked on to a tab the whole day. It has replaced mother’s lullaby with dick sized thing blurting shitty songs that make small children’s sleep, it makes parenting so very easy.” Man made cars to shorten the distances between places, unsatisfied he made aeroplanes only to further shorten the distance all this while polluting the environment. So the new past-time is controlling pollution and so summits, reports, protocols and what not to reduce the pollution entered into the scene. Maybe technology has a solution for this too, but how far are we ready to go in order to satisfy our ulterior motives and make life easier. We create problems and then find their solutions which only give rise to more problems and many more solutions.  A person is intertwined in so many things that ultimately running behind pleasures becomes his sole motive. Although Sam did not know what he wanted to do in life, but he surely knows that he would not be a part of this “pleasure seeking, self-destroying” herd. He looked once more at the road and now the black line was a bit clearer or at least he could look farther anyway.

 

So the bottomline is don’t be plagued by the question of what you want to do, because that question seldom has one concrete answer, try picking out things that you will surely not do in your life. At the dusk of life when the stars are twinkling and the moon is shining you will know that all this while everything that you did was all that you could have ever loved and enjoyed. That will make the night less dreary and more starry.

“Sex Education” Can Indian youth do without it?

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Last Week Dr. Harshvardhan, the Health minister of India, created a furore by expressing his views on “sex”, that is still a taboo in this part of the world. He suggested of doing away with sex education in schools and instead talked of inculcating abstinence and yogic values in the young minds.

I remember the first time I had my “fall” it was during while watching a semi explicit scene from a Hollywood movie, that had Drew Barrymore doing a car wash, as a matter of fact this much is enough for anyone at that time to go weak between his knees and when I mention hot-pants and a string top, the temperatures is sure to go up a few notches. But this was the time when the internet hadn’t taken over our lives completely and we were still dependent on fashion TV and HBO for our daily dose of sexual content. What followed it were beads of perspiration, feeling of loosening of legs and a flaccid penis. A child with no knowledge of what was happening to him is bound to get frightened and impatient at the sight of slimy white fluid trickling down. This impatience in our days led us to flicking between the Hollywood channels in search of anything explicit. In those days even a girl in a skirt excited us to limitless extents. But this is not the case now, today in the internet age you don’t have to go looking for the sexually explicit content just click a button and you can visit any female part in detail. So the sex education becomes all the more important.

In India, sex education starts in 10th standard with a chapter on “reproduction”, talks of every organism except “homo-sapiens”. It gives just a fleeting reference to post puberty changes in male and female body. The problem is how we in India view “sex”. Instead of referring to it in the same way as any other natural process. The mention of the word follows by giggles from teenagers and a stoic silence from the parents. The condom ads on the TV still evoke a discomfort of sorts when the whole family is watching the television together.

“filthy” is how sex is defined in India precisely and something that is filthy “we Indians are a cleaner lot, we don’t talk filth”, but given India’s ever and overgrowing population I think the definition of “filth” is different behind those four walls.

The need of the hour is to introduce sex education from Class 5th itself, the tender minds should be exposed to “reproduction” in a constructive manner much before they know what “porn” is.  Mr. Harshvardhan’s idea of introducing yoga and values instead of sex in curriculum in this age of internet does not cut ice, acting noble does not make one noble one has to think noble.

Sacrifice

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“Sacrifice, what’s a sacrifice mother” enquired Keshav while trying to completing one last question before he was headed for his daily one hour playtime. Mother engrossed in churning out ghee,  smiled at the question which raised a wave of thoughts about the types of sacrifices that all make at some point whether its as big as for a women quitting her job for her family or is it as small as for a father offering the last pie of food to his son and pretending that he is full, so she said to her 7 year old “its an act, the last time your 4 year old sister asked for your share of chocolate and you were so forthcoming, that was a sacrifice

“Really mother, that’s it, so this was the sacrifice that our English teacher made a big deal out of in todays class while teaching us the topic “Bheeshm“- giving up his accession right over the  kingdom for his step brother. Huh!! Anyways i was full that time that’s why sister got my share otherwise the only place that chocolate belonged was the intricacies of my stomach” said Keshav licking his lips.

Mother laughed at the innocence of her child and gave him a light pat ” haa! Do your sum” and she returned to stir the “kadai” lightly, while the child returned to his world of tricky “problems” and simple “solutions”. The aroma of ghee was slowly spilling into each and every corner of their 2 bedroom flat in the suburbs of Mumbai.

Years rolled by and while many suns went down in the marina beach Keshav grew into a teenager of 18 years, 5 ft 10 inched broad shouldered, he was now a student in one of the good b.com colleges. But as they say everyone in life has his fare share of penance and grief, so did Keshav but may be his penance was a tad more , so thought he. He was standing near his mother’s tombstone offering flowers, with father beside him. Its been 6 years since he had lost his mother to the deadly leukemia. Since then he and his father had shifted to Chennai,a city of beaches and south Indian delicacies, here Keshav found solace in roaming at the banks of river cooum or spending those after college hours sitting on the marina beach staring at the huge waves that formed a white foam on the water every time they hit the shore,  gently forming white foam in water, 6 years had formed a clot on his wound but still every thing seemed to relate to her in one way or the other but the difference was that earlier these resemblings left a trail of tears but now just a half grin. Same feeling different emotions, “time is a cunning deceiver”,thought Keshav.

“No auntie, one more morsel and I feel my stomach would burst” said Keshav to Madhav’s mom

“Its your exam eat well, someone has said even soldiers did not fight on empty belly” said mrs.Khanna while coaxing him to have one more paratha.

Keshav smiled at the soldier analogy and ate the last “paratha”.

Then as was the custom both he and Madav bowed before god and mrs. Khanna offered them a spoonful of curd as a good omen.

Both Madhav and Keshav left for college with Keshav driving and Madhav sitting pillon.

This had been the custom since the past 5 years. Madhav’s father was a subordinate in Keshav’s father’s firm. They were introduced in one of the office dinners and stuck a chord immediately. Keshav had become Madhav’s best friend and mrs.Khanna’s second son.

Keshav in turn respected mrs. Khanna as his mother and Madhav was a precious asset that life had offered him and he had accepted it with both hands. Thus time gave him a second family. What a cunning deceiver the time is, surely.

3 years of college life passed. Keshav and Madhav’s friendship grew as strong as the binding between stars, invisible yet there. Now it was a time for placements and like everyone else they both were aspiring for one of those big companies. Many companies came to the campus but Madhav wanted to get placed in this particular company named ‘ignite’, both friends had to attend the interview the next day. Keshav faced a certain dilemma, he knew that his yearly scores were better than Madhav’s and if he attended the interview Madhav would stand no chance of making it to the final list. He had to make a small choice, either he could attend and get selected have a good life or he could choose the otherwise and let his friend realise his dream. He looked out of the window. The sweet shop opposite to his apartment was opened for the day and the cook was warming the frying pan, he remembered the day he had asked his mother about the meaning of sacrifice and his mother had replied ‘ its less of an act more to do with the feeling’ , today he realized the depth of her words, the thought brought a wet half smile on his face, the aroma of  ghee being fried in the pan was slowly spreading into the air.

Kejriwal and Nadella-> Victim, and Hero of Indian media’s false deductions

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We Indians are a fickle minded specie, past few instances that I have read  about in media have time and over again reiterated this fact. The recent example is the case of AAP(Aam Aadmi party), its not even one month that there was a great hoopla surrounding its anti corruption crusader Mr.Arvind Kejriwal, the jhaadu wielding man who had jumped into the “great indian political tamasha”.The media was abuzz with a “messiah” taking the  human form who would free India from the dredging clasps of corruption and puppet governance. But only after one month of the party taking charge of Delhi the media is again rife with speculations of AAP failing in its promises and undefying its anti VIP treatment that somehow has been made its tagline. I ask what is wrong if Kejriwal demanded a duplex , does a guy who has embarked on a journey to free India of age old fallacies doesn’t even deserve this much? Never before in the last 10 years the tenure of a government analysed so critically in a day to day basis. Its been just one month and the media is out with the “AAP report card”. Give the guy some room to perform guys.

The second instance was the appointment of Mr Satya Nadella at the helm of Microsoft affairs. The newspapers the next day went from corner to corner with this so “enlightening “ news. Some even termed it as a sign of “India progressing” or as “how full of caliber we Indians are”. Manipal Engineering college which has been there churning out engineers in  India god knows since when was also given its share of media space. One of the articles termed it as “Manipal the poor cousin of IIT”, i  am not sure if this phrase was of appraisal or not because terming anything a poor cousin  of something is never going to rub down too well the subject in consideration, no matter how highly praised the IITs are. Anyways did anyone ponder on the fact that Nadella had actually been working at Microsoft for the past 22 years and that’s what was cited as the reason for him being choosen for the top post. Now someone please tell me how much part has Manipal played in it other than awarding him an undergraduate degree that must be kept somewhere in his drawers.

Thus we Indians tend to get carried away with the flow and try to squeeze out the maximum from any good situation that presents itself that we tend to forget about the other perspective that is equally as important, and ultimately when we have had enough of the goodness we try too look for ways to subjugate the originality in it. Rather then looking at Nadella’s appointment as one more company appointing its CEO because of his brilliance we tried and base it on his college, community, country and what not. So India move on because there are far more important issues that need your critical and” in deapth” analysis, so for the time being let Kejriwal and Nadella take a breath.

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