Sunday, April 5, 2020

History: American Presidents, Watergate Scandal and Vietnam War

I read a few topics from history on the internet today. If we search a history topic with Google, it always shows Wikipedia article on it, if such an article exists, on the top of the page. Recently I read about a ‘Leftist bias” inside Wikipedia where Wikipedia moderators have altered the tone of articles on world affairs to suit a ‘Leftist’ version of the events. Learning this, I decided to read from alternative sources today. Later, I opened the Wikipedia page on the same and compared the two. I found that Wikipedia articles contained a huge compilation of not-so-important threads about the topics. Wikipedia articles on important historical topics have become so huge that it is almost important to read those. If we want to get an overview of historical topics, Wikipedia appeared unsuitable. Wikipedia articles are also cluttered with too many inserts, references and hyperlinks and from aesthetics point of view too, the experience was not good. But one thing I liked about Wikipedia was that it did not contain “ads” on its page.

Anyways, so I started reading about former President of USA, Richard Nixon today. I chose to open article on him. It was really great to know how he started under humble circumstances where he and his 4 other siblings worked in family owned shops to make ends meet. Later on, he funded his college education with a scholarship. He was a completely ‘self-made’ man and reached Senate due to his sheer talent. I also got interested in his “Checker’s Speech” and read its full script here. Mr. Nixon was splendid in it! Mr. Richard Nixon completed his first term as president and he credited for many changes. His strategy of withdrawing American soldiers from South Vietnam but increasing air strikes and giving training to local Vietnamese people to continue the fight is still being practiced by the USA at other places. He also won President elections for the second term with a huge margin. But soon, he had to resign to avoid impeachment over “Watergate Scandal”. I read about Watergate Scandal on here. It is generally hailed as a journalistic enquiry but the fact is that there was an FBI insider who had leaked all the information to the Washington Post. The FBI insider or ‘whistle blower’ was code named “Deep Throat” by WaPo. It was revealed many years later that the person was Mark Felt. So I read about him too on

Mark Felt was Associate Director of FBI during President Nixon’s tenure. A natural question is about why he leaked insider information and devastated the fate of President Nixon? President Nixon, after all had not done any harm to the country and by all accounts he had won his second term on merit. A version of story tells that Mark Felt had revealed information to Washington Post because of ‘patriotism’, since he thought President Nixon had done something wrong. But later on Mark Felt himself was accused of giving illegal orders for house searches on activists and break-ins without warrants. He was also indicted and stripped off his honors. But in a twist to the story, President Ronald Reagan set him free with a “Presidential Pardon”. Many people thought that the pardon was not right. But it means that even the “good guy” got into a soup and was saved by a President using his exclusive powers. 

So after President Nixon, the erstwhile Vice President, Gerald Ford became the next President. I read about him too. It is interesting that he survived two assassination attempts on him by two women within an interval of just 17 days! The first woman was from the infamous Manson Family cult. The woman tried to kill the President as she thought he was not doing enough for the environment and earth! It was crazy to think how fanatic people can become even for noble causes like environment protection. The second woman tried to kill him because of her political inclination. It was interesting how both assassins were women and both failed. After first attempt on his life, President Ford had continued to meet people like always. But after second attempt, he started wearing bullet-proof vest. Perhaps the attacks on him tells more about the rise of radical and popular cults and hippy movements of the 70s.

Later on, I started reading about the Vietnam War. This is the first war where the USA is said to have not won. But reading about it, it looked like a surrender. And it was sad. At that time Cold War was on. The USA was acting harsh on the allies of USSR. The Vietnam War had pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against American ally South Vietnam. More than 3 million people including over 58K Americans died. After President Richard Nixon ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973, in 2 years’ time communist forces ended the war by seizing control of South Vietnam in 1975 and the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It is interesting to know that siding with communists did no benefit to the Vietnam and the country is still poor and under developed. Was it worth it? But those were the times when countries did not know that communism and socialism would be total disasters for the people.

Anyways, I hope to continue reading on linked threads and also more about the US Presidents. Do you know that the White House has maintained small biographies of all the US Presidents till date? You can check it out here.

- Rahul Tiwary

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pictures: Bhagwan Ram

Source: Dainik Bhaskar

Animal Kingdom - Some Nature Pictures - Part 8

⇧ Sleeping ~~

Three of a Family ⇧

Same - Same ⇧⇧

Two Little Tigers ⇧

Is Someone In? ⇧

Colorful ⇧

Grass Bridge ⇧

Tata? ⇧

Sleeping ⇧

Sneaking In ⇧

Hidden ⇧

A Baby Frog Story ⇧

- Rahul Tiwary 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Hindu Festivals: Gudi Padwa and Its Rituals

Gudi Padwa celebrates new beginnings for many communities in India. The Indian New Year, unlike its Western counterpart, also commemorates the start of something positive while ushering in auspicious tidings. Gudi Padwa is also celebrated in other parts of India in the form of Telugu New Year (traditionally known as Ugadi), Kannada New Year (Yugadi), Sindhi New Year (Cheti Chand), and Kashmiri New Year (Navreh).

Some of the rituals if carefully followed will not only help in bringing positive energies but will also help in boosting the immune system.

On this day, houses are adorned with the auspicious Swastika, a powerful symbols in Hinduism, with turmeric and vermillion.

Women decorate the entrance doors with rangolis of different patterns and colours. Most rangoli symbols are meant to protect homes from negative energies.

The Gudi Flag is placed on the right side of the main entrance to keep negativity away and bring luck and prosperity.

Usually family members get together to clean the house and prepare for the spring season. Removal of clutter generates positive energies which in turn makes the mind positive and charged. Cleaning the house and premises is also important so that germs and microbes don’t get accumulated and cause illnesses.

A customary oil-bath is a must on this day. Wearing new clothes, especially traditional kurta-pajamas and sarees also form an integral part of the custom. Oil baths are generally medicated oils, which help in boosting the immunity of the body while new clothes signify cleanliness and good hygiene.

A significant ritual is to consume neem leaves, a custom that marks the beginning of the festival. The leaves can be eaten raw or can be prepared as a chutney by grinding it and then mixing jaggery and other seeds with it.

According to Ayurveda, neem is the best way to purify impurities in the blood. It triggers physical stamina to great heights. Neem also helps in boosting the immune system.

Other dishes that are prepared on this day are shrikhand -- a sweet that is consumed with poori; puran poli, chana, and soonth panak (an ingredient helpful in keeping the respiratory tract clear)

Similarly, sweets and different dishes are cooked from seasonal food materials to improve metabolism of the body, whereas spiritual offerings and rituals bring sanctity to the soul.

Gudi Padwa is best celebrated with friends and family.

Article by Dr Raviraj Ahirrao | Source: Rediff

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Customer Reviews: Why I Uninstalled CRED App

I was using CRED for over a year. I had heard about it from some friend and checked it out. The mobile app had a unique proposition: it allowed us to pay all credit card bills from single interface and it also gave some offers and ‘cash-backs’. When I logged into CRED for the first time, the app had already pulled one of my credit cards there and it was surprising (read scary) to me because of data privacy concerns. Still I listed my other credit card and thought to give the app a chance.

An interesting thing to use in CRED is the “CIBIL Score”. It is our credit score and using CRED we check our score for free any time. And then there were offers. When we pay credit card bills, we earned ‘coins’ which we can use to buy offers with discounts. I took a Uber coupon initially and later on I was not able to find any good offers. Most of the offers of up to 50% discounts were from unknown niche brands. I did not want to buy a new brand just because it offered discounts. Hence I started ‘encashing’ my ‘coins’ (reward points). But as per the algorithm, the cashbacks were very less. Mostly those were like only Rs 7 or 14. I waited for a few months and then gave up. I decided to quit CRED for a simple reason. The risk reward ratio was too less.

Whenever we install a new app, there is always a risk. Financial apps would definitely pose more risk. We are giving away important data like our credit card bills pattern every month and what kind of offers we are taking. It helps create a customer profile where the company can know us well. And then it can target ads to us and also if there is any data leak or data may be unethically sold to other companies. For paying credit card bills, very simple methods already exist – auto debit from net banking is one, or we can choose to pay a card from net banking of any bank. Therefore since the rewards were not attractive enough and the risks were high, I decided to quit. CRED team was helpful and they deleted my account after my request.

But before I deleted my account, I converted whatever unused ‘coins’ I had for charity. I converted the coins into ‘saplings’ which would be planted by CRED on my behalf. This is a noble feature from CRED.

My advice would be that if you are finding the CRED offers useful and if you are using those offers very often, then you can keep using CRED. Otherwise I am not in favor of giving away our data to any financial app which is not necessary and can be avoided.

- Rahul Tiwary

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Bihar: Legacy of Mahendra Misir | महेंद्र मिसिर: लोक की मिश्री जैसे मिसिर

भोजपुरी लोक साहित्य और संगीत की चर्चा भिखारी ठाकुर और महेन्द्र मिसिर का नाम लिए बगैर अधूरी ही रहती है। समकालीन रहे भोजपुरी साहित्य के इन महान साधकद्वय पर संपूर्ण प्रदेश को गर्व है। उनकी रचनाओं पर आधारित गीतों को गाकर और जीवनवृत्त पर उपन्यास, कथा-कहानी, नाटक लिखकर शोहरत पाने वाले तमाम कलाकारों, साहित्यकारों और प्रशंसकों की चाह बस यही है कि पूर्वी गीत सम्राट महेन्द्र बाबा को वह सम्मान जरूर मिल जाए जिसके वे हकदार थे।

पूर्वी गीत सम्राट

16 मार्च 1886 को सारण जिला मुख्यालय से 18 किमी उत्तर में जलालपुर प्रखंड के काही मिश्रवलिया गांव में जन्मे महेन्द्र मिसिर अपने पिता पं. शिवशंकर मिश्र के पांच पुत्रों में ज्येष्ठ थे। बचपन से ही मेधावी रहे। पहलवानी, घुड़सवारी के शौकीन मिसिर जी ने कथावाचन, कीर्तन के साथ भोजपुरी, हिंदी-उर्दू गीतकार के रूप में समानांतर पहचान बनाई। गीतकार के रूप में उन्हें लोक ने प्रतिष्ठा दी।

यह जनश्रुति है और भिखारी ठाकुर की जीवनी पर आधारित रचनाओं से पता चलता है कि ठाकुर जी के दिल में महेन्द्र मिसिर के प्रति अगाध श्रद्धा थी। वे उनकी रचनाओं के कायल थे। यह भी कहा जाता है कि गीत रचना के लिए ठाकुर जी इस पूर्वी गीत सम्राट से समय-समय पर सूत्र भी लेते रहे और उन्हें उस्ताद माना।

प्रकाशन की आस

मिसिर जी की अप्रकाशित रचनाओं- अपूर्व रामायण और कृष्णलीला में उनका मूल दर्शन समाया है। परिजनों की मानें तो कवित्त, दोहे, सवैये, सोरठा आदि छंदों में समाहित महेन्द्र मिसिर का मूल दर्शन अब प्रकाशन की राह पर है। उनके 70 वर्षीय पौत्र रामनाथ मिश्र बताते हैं कि राष्ट्रभाषा परिषद मिसिर जी रचित अपूर्व रामायण का दो भागों में प्रकाशन कर रही है। इसकी पांडुलिपि विभाग को सौंप दी गई है। कृष्ण लीला के प्रकाशन की स्वीकृति भी मिल चुकी है। स्थानीय पत्रकार और मिसिर जी पर ‘गीत जो गाया न जा सका’ उपन्यास के लेखक तीर्थराज शर्मा कहते हैं कि आने वाले समय में इन ग्रंथों के प्रकाश में उनके कृतित्व का नई रोशनी में आकलन होगा। यह बेहद प्रसन्नता की बात है।

मिसिर जी के गीतों को लोक से किताबों की दुनिया में लाने का श्रेय समीपस्थ संवरी बाजार गांव निवासी हिंदी-अंग्रेजी के विद्वान प्राध्यापक प्रो. सुरेश मिश्र को है। प्रो. मिश्र के संपादन में छपे महेन्द्र मिसिर के दो गीत संकलनों और स्मारिकाओं आदि से पिछले दो दशकों से कलाकार व साहित्यकार लाभान्वित हो रहे हैं।

गायन से जिंदा हैं गीत

महेन्द्र मिसिर के इकलौते पुत्र हिकायत मिश्र, इकलौते पौत्र और इकलौते परपौत्र को गायन में रुचि नहीं रही। पर पांच भाइयों वाले मिसिर जी के एक भाई के पुत्र स्व. गौतम मिश्र आकाशवाणी के साथ विभिन्न मंचों से उनके पूर्वी गीत की विरासत आगे बढ़ाते रहे। वर्तमान में मिसिर जी की चौथी पीढ़ी के गायक अजय मिश्र ने यह विरासत संभाल रखी है। परिजनों से इतर गायक कलाकारों में पद्मश्री शारदा सिन्हा का नाम सम्मान से लिया जाता है। इस कड़ी में स्व. संतराज सिंह रागेश, भरत सिंह भारती, ब्रजकिशोर दूबे आदि जैसे लोकगायकों ने पूर्वी गीत गायन में विशिष्ट स्थान बनाया। नई पीढ़ी के भोजपुरी कलाकारों में भी मिसिर जी के पूर्वी गीत गाने की ललक बढ़ी है। इनमें पुरबिया तान की चंदन तिवारी, मनीषा श्रीवास्तव जैसी युवा गायिकाएं शामिल हैं।

कायम है जादू

भोजपुरी गीत-संगीत की महफिल सजी हो तो कार्यक्रम को परवान चढ़ाने के लिए महेन्द्र मिसिर का पूर्वी गायन अनिवार्य माना जाता है। खासकर ननदिया मोरी रे... मोर सांवरिया हो... अंगुरी में डसले बिया नगीनिया रे... जैसे गीत आज भी श्रोताओं को सम्मोहित कर देते हैं।

मिसिर जी का हिंदी-उर्दू साहित्य का भी एक संसार है, जिससे ज्यादातर लोग अनजान हैं। उन्होंने सैकड़ों ग़ज़लें और कविताएं रची हैं। हालांकि प्रो. मिश्र की किताब ‘महेन्द्र मिसिर की प्रतिनिधि कविताओं’ में करीब दो दर्जन ग़ज़लें शामिल हैं। 16 मार्च को बिहार सरकार द्वारा महेन्द्र मिसिर की जयंती समारोह पूर्वक मनाई जाती है, जहां नामी गिरामी कलाकार उनकी रचनाओं को गाकर श्रद्धासुमन अर्पित करते हैं। इसके साथ ही मिसिर जी के नाम पर शोध संस्थान की जरूरत है जहां भावी पीढ़ी उनके कलम की गहराई के बारे में जान सके। 

रामेश्वर गोप / दैनिक भास्कर 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

My Message on International Women's Day

- Women should stop wearing 5 inches of fake heel and painting their faces to be taken "seriously" in jobs. These are same stuff that "circus jokers" do.

- Our society should start considering "mother-in-laws" also as "women". Just because daughter-in-laws are more famous, they are able to exploit mother-in-laws and get away with it.

- Tech companies should stop giving preferential promotions to incompetent women in the name of "diversity". You are making it worse for everyone including yourself.

- Women should stop abandoning their roles of "mothers" just because they have a career. If nature wanted men to breastfeed babies, it would have given it to men. Stop shunning your duties and blaming men.

- Women should not be shamed for taking a break from career due to maternity. Or even giving up career if they want to. It is counted as "my life, my decision" too.

- Greedy men should stop forcing their wives into jobs, should not ridicule her for taking leaves, should not force her to give more priority to salary than her health.

- Women should stop "body-shaming" other women first, before blaming it on men. 

- Women should accept their share of failure in raising good children, before blaming the way this world is filled with crime and evilness.

- In the end, women should stop blaming men just for being men. It is not a crime to be a man. Have a little gratitude and appreciation for men for keeping this world working, safe and sane.

Rahul Tiwary 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Photography: 'A Shepherd's Turban'

Rahul Tiwary | New Delhi | Feb 2020

Travelogue: Delhi Metro Museum, New Delhi

Rahul Tiwary | New Delhi | Feb 2020

Travelogue: Mughal Garden near Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi

A few tips for the visit:
1.      The garden opens for public every year for a month in Feb-March. Please check its opening status and timing every year before visiting.
2.      It is a free public park with no entry ticket
3.      Avoid carrying any items including water bottles. If you are carrying any item, you will have to deposit it in cloak room. You can take your cellphone inside
4.      Avoid visiting on weekends since the crowd is too heavy
5.      There is a single lane which goes inside and once you are in, you can’t turn back. Hence be sure before entering
6.      There is free drinking water just after entering the garden. Do not miss it since there is no next water station until you come out of the garden
7.      After exit of the park, there are several stalls selling snacks and fast food
8.      The visit may be a hassle for small kids and old people and hence be sure if they are fit to visit
9.      Visit would take minimum 1 hour inside and would consist of walking on foot for about 1 km
10. There is a very long queue at the entrance especially on the weekend
- Rahul Tiwary | New Delhi | 2020

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Movie: Love Aaj Kal 2 - Beautiful Love Story

‘Love Aaj Kal 2’ is a beautiful movie. As its name suggests, it is a love story. It is a story of two couples: one is Kartik Aaryan and Sara AliKhan who are playing roles of young people living a cosmopolitan lifestyle and second is Randeep Hooda’s past love story where Kartik once again plays the part of young-Randeep and Aarushi Sharma. Randeep Hooda (who has played his character really impressively) narrates his life story (a romantic tragedy) upon seeing Kartik since young Kartik reminds him of himself. 

All actors have played their parts beautifully. Randeep and Aarushi Sharma’s past love story is very touching. The life as it was during two decades earlier has been captured very well in the movie. And Kartik and Sara both have acted superbly. Contrary to the skeptic opinion doubting Sara’s talent, she has come out very well and the character in this movie suited her personality perfectly. Kartik has the “charisma” of a super star – he has played funny, hilarious, romantic, angry, confused, sad – all types of situations very well in his role. 

Songs in this movie are also amazing and also pictured very well.
Love Aaj Kal 2 is a lovely movie made with lot of heart. All actors have played their roles beautifully. It is definitely a recommendation.
- Rahul