Will No Smoking work in India?

It sounded like a joke when the Indian government prohibited smoking in public places. They introduced this law on the 2nd of October, the birthday of Gandhi. I was always suspicious whether people would follow this rule. In the very first week after the law was implemented, media people took pictures of people smoking at public places and showed it to the DM (district magistrate) and asked if this rule was made for Benares or not. DM said that they hadn’t got the written copy of rules yet, and that is why they did not know in what case they should stop people.

I was in Delhi few days ago. I went to the Delhi High Court for some work. I was surprised to see that a lot of advocates and the police were smoking inside the high court premises. First of all I thought that I had come to the wrong place because I just could not imagine that law makers would go against the laws that openly. There was a canteen inside the court premises where people could smoke, I am not sure about it, but a lot of people smoking outside of the canteen and most them were advocates.

I came out of the court after finishing my work. There was a tea shop about 50 meters away from the high court. I went there and asked for a tea and a cigarette. The shopkeeper did not have cigarette. I asked him where was the nearest cigarette shop and he said – inside the high court. I asked why he was not selling cigarettes and he replied that it was not allowed to sell tobacco products near the high court area. Then I told him that I had seen a lot of people smoking inside the high court. He also did not know why it was allowed to sell tobacco products inside the court but not outside.

I often see people smoking at public places including inside the trains and buses which has been prohibited for years. All the restaurants that are for foreigners allow their customers to smoke. People talked about this law for the first few days after it was implemented but I am sure nobody ever followed it, and nobody will ever follow it. Just nobody just cares about it. Everybody makes fun of this law. They know that it will never work in India.

Indian government made the law to stop the smoke that comes from cigarettes but the same government took the law called ‘POTA’ (The Prevention of Terrorism Act) back, which was implemented by the last government of BJP, to stop the smoke of gunpowder (terrorism). Terrorism still existed even when this law was in, but it was not too much. Terrorism was very much under control. The number of terrorist activities have increased rapidly after the government took out this law.

The whole world is making new laws to stop terrorism but I think India is the only country which is taking the existing laws back. This law was taken back only because of political reasons. We had sixty-four bomb blasts within the last six months. I don’t know how many people died but we had never seen this many bomb blasts.

photo documentary about Ganga

A student from Singpore is staying at my place. She had contacted me through couchsurfing. She just wanted to meet me. But when I saw that she was doing research about Ganga, I asked her if she would be my paying guest. She was also looking for home stay so she decided to rent my apartment. She is making a photo documentary called Son of Ganga which will be about people’s relation with Ganga in Benares. She says that it was her own personal research motivated by her father but when she informed her school about it and asked for leave, her school told her to do it with them.

She wanted to do her research with Sankat Mochan Foundation. She wrote them about twenty days ago but hasn’t got any response yet. I had already talked to her a lot about pollution in Ganga. I took her to a place where sewage is discharged directly, without treating, to the river. She was shocked to see the quantity of the sewer water. She said that she never thought that Ganga was this polluted. When I told her that there were more than 10 places like that in Benares alone, she just could not imagine it.

I showed her another point of sewage discharge near Shivala ghat and Assi ghat. Assi ghat sewage drain has a funny story. The Government spent a lot of money to divert this drain and mix it with Nagwa one so that people don’t see a direct sewage discharge. But now Assi ghat drain has started again. It again has a lot of sewer water that mixes with Ganga in front of people. I never understood why government spent that huge amount of money just to hide it. They could have spent the same money to built a small treatment plant.

There is an another river called Varuna in Varanasi which has become a complete drain now. The Hindi word for drain is ‘nala’ and this river is known as “Varuna Nala” by the locals. I never knew that Varuna River and Varuna Nala are samething. I just came to know about it few days ago. There is a religious walk called Antargrih where people start walking from Manikarnika ghat and cover all of Benares. One part of this walk is to walk along the Varuna River and do some rituals where it mixes with Ganga.

Most of the Muslim neighborhoods and slaughter houses are along the Varuna river. All the animal waste from more than ten-fifteen slaughter houses is dumped directly into the river. There is lots of sewage discharge also. Varuna River is the best place for criminals to throw murdered bodies because nobody wants to walk along this river. So it is not rare to find human bodies as well in this river. And it all mixes with Ganga after seven or eight kilometers.

This walk is sometime this month and I and Nadia have decided to do it. I have heard that people drink the Varuna’s water when it mixes with Ganga. They walk along the river, see all the waste mixing in it, human and animal bodies flowing in the river and a huge quantity of sewage discharge, but they still drink this same water just because of the religious reason. I can not imagine what I will be seeing but I am so excited for it.

Good people and bad people look for jobs

The title of this post is upside down because I have noticed a few things where quality is thrown out and garbage is being collected by our people and government. First off I want to talk about my brother who is an Italian interpreter and works for a very big travel agency in India. He lives in Delhi and has been working as interpreter and escort with Italian tourists and researchers for the last two years. He doesn’t have a tour guide license but he has very good knowledge.

A lot of Italian travel agencies recommend him for their groups. He started working two years ago and his first group was of only two people. His last group consisted of sixty people. It means that he progressed rapidly. He has to hire a government-authorized tour guide in all the cities he goes to with his clients because non-licensed guys are not allowed to work. The guides that he hires are supposed to be quiet and let him work. They are hired just to protect him.

A lot of government authorized guides don’t like him anymore because he gets big groups, and those guides have to be satisfied with small groups. Last week he went to Jama Masjid in Delhi with his clients but he was stopped by the licensed tour guides at the entrance gate. They asked for his license but my brother did not have it, but he had a licensed guy with him. Government authorized guides asked this other licensed guy if he knew Italian. This other guide was a English speaking guide and did not know any Italian.

Government authorized guides told my brother that he could not go inside the Jama Masjid because neither did he have a license nor the licensed guy know Italian. Even though they are not authorized to check the license but they did it. All the guides have same license, it doesn’t not talk about any specific language. You just need to have a license and then you can work. But those government authorized guides wanted my brother to have an Italian speaking guide. I am sure this was all done to disturb him.

At the same time another group of my brother’s travel agency came at Jama Masjid and they had an Italian-speaking government guide. My brother sent his group with this Italian-speaking guide but he could not work. Same thing happened with him in Rajasthan also and again he had to find an Italian speaking government authorized tour guide. Finally he gave up and has stopped working now. He says that he will work with a few groups that had already propositioned his travel agency to send him with them and then maybe not work in the future.

He is not working this year. Now he has switched to operations. He never worked in operations but now it is his compulsion to work in this new department. He says that maybe the government guides will never let him work in the future therefore he needs to learn something new. I am not concerned about his future because he is very smart and can get a job very easily but I think about the politics in tourism industry. A guy who has very good knowledge and experience has been thrown out and the other guys who are outdated and don’t know anything are given work and support. UPSIDE DOWN.

Another story is about one of my relatives. He is a twenty-four year old guy who never wanted to go to school. He always wanted to be a criminal. He has been arrested by the police several times for several reasons. He went to school for a few years but never as a student. His father works at a Sanskrit university in Benares. He arranged 10th and 12th class certificates for his son by bribing some school in the state of Bihar. Later he arranged a graduation degree from his university. Now the son has a graduate degree without going to school ever.

His father got him admitted in a B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education) course somewhere in a university in Gujrat state. This was also done by bribing because the son never participated in any kind of admission test. The son still stays at home and is involved in the same kind of bad work that he has been doing for years but his record at the university is maintained properly. So after three years he will have a B.Ed. degree and will become a teacher. His father says that he can get a teacher’s job at some government school for his son by bribing government officers.

Last year I saw a news paper advertisement for peon job in the municipality of Benares. The requirements for this job were 8th class passed certificate and knowledge of bicycle driving because peons are supposed to visit the nearby areas and watch the illegal construction. But a lot of Masters and Ph.D degree holders had applied for this job. It shows that even Masters and Ph.D degree holders have no job here. Finally the municipality invited all the highly educated guys for the interview, and Masters and Ph.D degree holders got jobs as peon.

They said that since they were facing job problems, they decided to just start something. Now Ph.D degree holders will drive bicycles and watch the illegal construction and report it to the municipality. Their whole lives labor did not help them. I am sure they will be involved in lots of bribing because peons get very little money and usually they bear their expenses by getting bribe from the people who do illegal construction or do any kind of municipality-related work.

So a guy who never went to school will become a teacher in the future and the guys who have Pd.D degrees are working as peon in this municipality. I was wondering what my relative could teach to the students- how to loot people? or how to beat someone? And the guys who did research, did a lot of labor have the lowest job in the industry. UPSIDE DOWN.

Police take a rickshaw ride

I saw something very strange, maybe it could be the strangest thing for an Indian. I was sitting in an auto rickshaw when a policeman stopped it. He came and sat next to me. Police never pay the fare for any transportation whether it is auto or bus or train. After a drive of two-three minutes someone else wanted to stop the auto, but my driver did not stop it. My driver said that the guy who wanted to stop the auto was also a driver and wanted a free ride. That other driver seemed so angry and was shouting loudly.

The second driver showed up again near the railway station. He had reached there before us. Also now he had his auto rickshaw which he had stopped and was waiting for us. This time our auto stopped. The other driver just came and grabbed the collar of the policeman’s shirt and started abusing him. I was shocked to see a auto rickshaw driver abusing a policeman. Not only me but everyone else in the auto rickshaw was shocked. He was kept abusing the policeman and the policeman was just telling him that he will see him later.

This other auto rickshaw driver said that the policeman wanted to sit in his auto, but he did not let him sit because his auto was already full, so the policeman slapped him. I think policeman came to my auto after slapping the other driver. The driver kept abusing and asking the policeman why he slapped him. And policeman kept telling that he would see him later, and send him to jail. Driver said that this policeman often sits in his auto and never pays any fare.

After a while the policeman started asking the driver if he had a permit to drive an auto rickshaw or not. I am sure he was doing this just to threaten the driver. He said that he would arrest him if he did not have the permit. But the auto rickshaw driver was so good. He said, “Do I give you Rs. 10 every time I driver to the railway station to fuck me”. He said that police charge him Rs. 10 every time he drives to railway station. He drives on university-railway station route and police would charge him Rs. 10 every time he would start his auto. After hearing this, the policeman could not say anything.

Police taking bribe from an auto rickshaw driver

I liked this answer a lot. One other auto rickshaw driver told me that the police have fixed a rate for different routes. They charge the drivers who work in the downtown area Rs.60. Heavy vehicles are not allowed to enter inside the city after 8 o’clock morning time but still a lot of trucks and tractors could be easily found inside the restricted area during restricted time. They are stopped at every crossroad by police but not to be checked, because they give a bribe. Truck and tractor drivers always keep a few Rs. 20 notes because they have to pay the police at every crossroad.

I was just sitting and watching the driver abusing the policeman and I was really enjoying it. Then a few other people came and started favoring the policeman. I was surprised to see this. Each and every person knows that the police are corrupt and they always harass people. I was hoping for them to favor the driver, but they were all favoring the policeman. As the policeman saw people favoring him, his voice turned loud and he was feeling comfortable now with the support of other people.

People were telling the driver to move and let the policeman go. Finally that auto rickshaw driver left the policeman. More than fifty people had come to see this drama and this policeman was insulted in front of them. I really loved what happened with the policeman. The policeman sat again in my auto. He said that he would arrest and beat the auto rickshaw driver. As the railway station came the policeman got off the auto rickshaw and moved again without paying.

I just can’t imagine how shameless people they are. He was called out right before two minutes but again did not pay the fare. I know the rickshaw driver will be arrested and beaten hard for sure, but I really liked the way he responded to the cop. I think we need more and more people like him who could fight the most dangerous terrorists for India- THE POLICE.

Meeting advocate for tour guide lawsuit

I went to Delhi on the 9th to be part of the case that is going to be filed against the Ministry of Tourism for the Government of India for not the starting tour guide training program in 2008. This training was supposed to start from the 6th of October but could not because the Guide Association of Jaipur sued the government for organizing training in different way than their training. I had a lot of work to do in Delhi but I could not do anything except meeting the advocate because the train was delayed for three hours and the advocate was busy with someone else.

I was supposed to arrive in Delhi at 9 o’clock but I reached there around 12 o’clock. I had planned to get my laptop and camera checked at some store in Delhi, and get some photos of the hills of plastic around Delhi city but I could not do anything because of the delay of the train. I went to meet the advocate at the High court of Delhi. He was already busy with some very important person. I had to wait in his office for more than two hours. The advocate said that he was talking to the DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police).

The advocate said that there was some case against the DCP related to extra income beyond normal salary. I heard them talking that CBI (Central Bureau of Invistigation) was also involved in this case which means this DCP was too corrupt. A DCP gets around twenty thousand as salary, but all the DCP rank officers have very fancy cars, bungalow and a lot of other luxury items. How do we hope for a good system if the system makers are not systematic? If a DCP is corrupt then everyone working under him must also be corrupt because the bribe never goes directly to the upper officers, it always passes through the lower management people.

After waiting for two hours I finally met the advocate. I was surprised to see that a young, only 30-35 years old, High-court advocate knew nothing about computers. He was not even able to type properly. He took at least ten-fifteen minutes to type my name and address. He told me to type on his computer but I did not do it because I had enough time and because I wanted to see a High court advocate struggling with a computer. He printed the wrong paper three times. He would write my name but print someone else’s paper.

After spending one hour watching the advocate struggling with the computer my work was finally done. He told me to call him on the 22nd of this month to see the judgment of the court. He charged me Rs. 3000 as his fee. He had charged Rs. 2000 last time for the same kind of case so I don’t know why he charged me Rs. 1000 extra. It is worth giving three thousand if he can get me the permit. He said that this time he will appeal the court to order the Ministry of Tourism to provide a license which would be valid until they start the training program.

Last time permit was only valid for one month and I had to go to Delhi again and again to get it renewed. I hope this time they don’t do this. I walked all the way from High court to Cannaught place and took some time there just watching the modern people of modern India. I think now the time has come for the government to introduce some health-related subjects to all the students. I saw a lot of, lot of young fat people. I am sure it is neither from meat nor from ghee (butter). It is all impact of western culture.

People in modern cities of India like to have lots of fast food and soft drinks which is the prime cause of obesity. The percentage of literate persons is higher in big cities than small cities, but health of the people is still better in the old cities like Varanasi. I see a lot of people driving Mers and other luxury cars or the people who look very educated opening the window of their car and throwing rubbish on the road. I think we need a huge change in our education system.

I had planned to take some pics of dumped plastic near the railway track but could not do it because it was already so misty, and anyway I had already taken few photos morning time. I think I have to take pics in Varanasi. It was not very successful trip but neither do I regret I went to Delhi. At least I will get the license.

Hindi or English???

I went to Delhi public school, Varanasi branch yesterday with my friend. His nephew goes there. There was some kind of music festival in the school yesterday. I liked everything there but did not understand why all the kids and teachers were speaking English to each other. All the parents were supposed to meet the warden, but my friend did not want to because his English is not good. He said that even though he speaks Hindi to the school staff but they always talk him in English.

My friend told me to talk to them. I talked to them in English but they spoke to me in Hindi. And finally I had to switch to Hindi. It was second time when I was talking to them in English but they talked to me in Hindi. I had talked to same guy to whom I talked this time about four-five months ago for my friend and he spoke Hindi to me. My friend was wondering why they speak English with him. I think the warden speaks English only to non-English speaking people.

English has become a fashion nowadays in India. A lot of people speak English to each other. A lot of families, maybe 80% of the upper class and 50% of the upper middle class, in the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai have adopted English as their first language. They never speak Hindi. On some television shows where people call and ask questions to some expert, big city people call and speak English. Usually these shows are Hindi shows therefore the host of the show tells these people to ask their questions in Hindi but they say that they don’t know any Hindi.

Now I see people in small cities like Varanasi speaking English to each other; they don’t want to learn speak Hindi. It is impossible to get a good job in India without knowing English, and it is very good for everyone to learn English; but I don’t like the idea of adopting English as the first language. A lot of foreigners come to India to learn Hindi but Indians have started adopting English and English culture. It seems strange to me. What is the need to do this?

Once I was working with Krista, a research scholar from University of California, in Mehndiganj. We went to interview a Coke worker but an American was already interviewing him. So we had to wait until her interview. She had a translator with her who was from Delhi and worked for an NGO called ASHA. She was translating for that American girl and collecting some information for her NGO. She said that her NGO was going to publish a book, and this information would be printed in that book.

I was also there and listening to their interview. She would often speak English to a village guy who did not know any English. She knew very well that the interviewee did not know any English but she was asking questions again and again in English. And the interviewee would just shake his head and it was the answer for her. What could be more stupid than that? I never understood why she was speaking English or to whom she wanted to show that she knew English.

All offices, whether they are government or private sector, have printed their letter pads saying that – They appreciate if you communicate in Hindi. But most of the time they communicate in English. People get their more attention if they have a letter written in English. If they write a letter to some office in English then their work is done quickly. I think offices communicate in Hindi only on Hindi day. Which means there is only one day for Hindi and 364 days for English.

Raj Thakarey- Chief of MNS

Raj Thakre, the chief of a political party called MNS from Maharashtra, protests against Hindi speaking people from U.P. and Bihar living in Maharashtra. His boys beat people who speak Hindi and destroy shops who have stock written in Hindi. They don’t want to anyone to speak Hindi in Maharashtra. They want everyone to speak Marathi. Hundreds of people have been killed in riots in Maharashtra regarding the issue of language. The Government is not doing anything.

There is no problem if they want everyone to speak Marathi, but nobody should have rights to stop people from speaking Hindi in India. Hindi is our national language but it’s a shame that a group of people don’t want Indians to speak Hindi in India. People are getting killed only for speaking Hindi. I think it would be better if they protest against English. It doesn’t make any sense to protest against Hindi in India. The Government supports them because of politics.

MNS guys beating Hindi speaker in Mumbai

They want to separate the Marathi vote. The biggest and strongest party in Maharashtra is Shiv Sena. Basically it is party of Marathi people. The nephew of the chief of Shiv Sena formed his own political party called MNS. This was a good opportunity for Congress to get the Marathi vote split into these two parties headed by the chief of the MNS and Shivsena. And Congress supported him so that he would get more attention and separate the Marathi vote, which would be beneficial for Congress.

Raj Thakare was arrested two-three times but never stayed in jail for more than two days. He was arrested only so that people would think that Congress was doing something. Congress did this so that people living in U.P. and Bihar wouldn’t neglect Congress. I don’t know if this whole drama will increase Congress vote or not, but one thing is sure that our politicians would do anything for getting vote. They don’t care if people are dying or what is going on. They just need votes, and that’s all.

I learnt English to get a job and I never want to speak English to any Hindi speaking person. But a lot of people think that they will be considered as smart if they speak English. I think if language is gone, then the culture is also gone. Language keeps people connected to the culture, and India is good so long as it is India, Indian people are good so long as they are Indian. We can never ever live a better life or develop by adopting English culture.

I think girls want to be more modern and show off a lot. They think if they speak English to a non-English speaking person, they will get more attention. When I hear girls talking to each other, they want to use as many English words as they can. It sounds funny to me. I don’t like Hindi speaking people speaking English to me. I am sure we understand Hindi better and we can make people understand us better if we speak our first language.

It would be a shame for us if we lost Hindi. I don’t know what will happen after ten-twenty years when a lot of people will have adopted English as their first language. If Hindi is gone from India, it means India is gone and Indians are gone.

Another case against tour guide training

Now it seems like it will take another year to complete the guide training program. The guide association of Jaipur has sued the government again. They want the government to organize training exactly as it had been done with them. Their training consisted of classes for three and a half months and a orientation tour for fifteen days. This time the training is like forty-five days of classes, fifteen days of orientation tour and two months of research. I think this time training is better than the last one.

The guide association of Jaipur says that some candidates of this year program have submitted fake documents. They are asking the government to get each and every document checked through related office. I am sure they just want the training to be delayed as much as it could be. They don’t want new guides to work during the Commonwealth games 2010. About ten million tourists are supposed to come to India to watch the Commonwealth games and they don’t want anyone else to take benefit of it.

Since our training is postponed, the candidates of this year’s program are going to sue the government again for not starting training. I got a call from the advocate who is going to sue the government. He says that the government will issue temporary licenses to all the candidates who are supposed to get training this year. I will also go to Delhi to get the temporary license. I don’t know how long will it take to get the permanent license, but it is overwhelming now going to Delhi again and again and paying advocate’s fee.