Three months after storming to power at the centre, the BJP, for second time running, took a knock in the state by-polls losing 4-6 to the RJD- JD(U)- Congress combine in Bihar and yielding two strongholds to the Congress in MP and Karnataka.

Out of the 18 seats in Punjab, Bihar, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh for which bypolls were held, Congress and its allies have won 10 seats to BJPs 8. This shows a clear downward trend for the BJP, with its vote-share percentage dipping by 7% compared to the Loksabha elections.

Incidentally, in all these assembly constituencies, the recently-conducted Lok Sabha elections had given phenomenal leads to BJP.

With the by-poll results, one can gauge the mood of voters. They have slowly but surely started to realise reality. Facts count not promises. In the history of Independent India, no ruling party has ever lost by-elections conducted within 3 months of election.

Elections are an exercise of faith for the Indian masses. We need to wake up to the fact that it is the masses who decide the fate. The voter today is far more discerning, alert and politically aware. He may be poor in pocket but and he surely knows his mind.

Implicit in the outcome is another message – that state elections may be a different story from the Loksabha polls. Uttarakhand had delivered a similar message recently.

The Indian voter is clever. He was propelled by the Modi wave in the general election but was equally quick to rebuff the BJP when he realized that the ‘Acche din’ slogan doled out to them was in reality a piped dream.

High Court’s decision on Dahi Handi celebration

High Court’s decision on Dahi Handi celebration

Since yesterday’s High Court decision on Dahi Handi celebrations and the subsequent media coverage on the same, I have been inundated with questions, ideas, criticism but most of all my stand was misunderstood by the self-professed votaries of righteous behaviour. Let me take this opportunity to clarify my viewpoint.
At the onset, let me state that I am as sensitive as any of you and let me assure you that as organizers of the festival, people’s safety is of paramount importance to us and utmost care is taken to avoid accidents.
Govinda celebration is an important part of our Marathi culture. Besides the cultural sentiment associated with the festival, I have been fighting that Govinda be declared as Adventure sport and guiding principles be defined for mandals.
Every sport played worldwide has a certain degree of risk & threat to one’s life. However, the risk & threat to life is continuously monitored to mitigate the risk as far as possible by putting in safety measures without IMPACTING the LIFELINE of that sport. Take the example of the just concluded World Cup Football Tournament. Neymar, the star performer from the home country Brazil fractured his vertebra. In cricket, one can cite numerous instances where players were grievously injured or in some cases even lost precious lives. What about Motor Racing and Boxing – to name a few most risky sports. Has the speed of the cars been reduced or a boxer asked to land his punches in slow motion or a cricket bowler asked to bowl at a slower speed so that no injuries take place? Just imagine, if these things are put into practice what will happen to these sports? Any naive person can confidently vouch that they will seize to exist within no time.
If you think of most popular sports and question what are the LIFELINES which attracts spectators to these sports? Answers would be speed, skill, endurance, strength, power, ability, compactness of the game, test of the player’s nerves to delivery in adverse situations, spirit and so on. In short, the more adrenalin is pumped, the more connect it has with the audiences.
Dahi Handi as a sport is no exception to this rule. I was able to take this local Indian sport to National & International level only because of its most unique lifeline – The HEIGHT. Over the years participation of the Govindas kept on increasing exponentially as they strived harder to reach higher & higher each passing year. For them, achieving just one more layer of ring was not less than conquering the highest summit in the world – Mt. Everest. The biggest gift of God to mankind is the sense of satisfaction one achieves upon overcoming a challenge. It is to preserve this gift of God & spirit of the game that I want to challenge it in the Supreme Court. Let the LIFELINE of this sport be preserved albeit with all the safety measures arrived at, amicably, by having open discussions with affected parties. I wholeheartedly embrace the honourable High Court’s decision of limiting the age of participation to 18 years. However, any move to thrust a decision upon us without even allowing us to share our thoughts is objectionable.
It has taken 40 years to bring this Marathi Indian sport on the global map – first as an enthusiastic participant & later as a visionary organizer. Do you want me to just let it vanish into the annals of history?
– Dr. Jitendra Awhad
12 August 2014

Count your blessings, not your troubles!!!

Count your blessings, not your troubles!!!

Appreciation sets one thinking and I am no different from any of you in this regard! The appreciation note from the Kalwa resident last week took me down memory lane, and I recalled some incidents from the past. Felt like sharing one such incident with all of you.

Some months back, it was a usual working day that extended to late night. I got a call on my cell late in the night. I answered in my usual tone, and an unknown voice from the other side said a frantic hello. I immediately sensed the fear in the trembling voice and sat up attentively while the spine-chilling story was being narrated. Apparently, while coming back from Amarnath, their bus was surrounded by terrorists in Kashmir Valley. The area was remote and there was cross-firing going on between Indian army and the terrorists. All the passengers were in a state of fear and panic, to say the least.

My usual instinct is to help and this case was no different. Through sources, I spoke to Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed, ex Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir. She gave me number of Yaseem Bhutt, the MLA of that area who happened to be in her party. When I called Yaseem Bhutt promptly, it was good to know that he was already updated by Mehbooba Mufti and that he was going to the spot soon. Yaseem Bhutt reached the spot, consoled all the passengers of the bus, took them to a nearby dhaba and also made special protection arrangements for them for 2 days. When things settled down in 2 days, he took them to Srinagar, arranged a special flight for them from Srinagar to Delhi with the help of Praful Patel & Sharad Pawarji. In Delhi, we got Lallu Prasad ji’s help for special railway travel from Delhi to Mumbai.

Early morning, I received the family at Mumbai Central . While everybody was in tears, I could myself feel tears rolling down my cheeks. And these were tears of joy, tears of gratitude for everybody who made this day possible. It’s said in Hindi “Bhagwan logon ko hi logon ki madat ka zariya banata hai”. And I am really grateful to Bhagwan Shivji that he chose me to be the instrument of help in this scary tale which may have even led to a loss of precious lives. This is a true incident of a family in Kalyan, who runs the famous ANANT HALWAI.

Am a human being and may have erred at times. But, in all modesty, when I look back and recall such incidents, I do feel graced and blessed. From the bottom of my heart, I have reached out to people and announced that I will be available 24 x 7 x 365 days of the years. I feel happy that this family could remember the name ‘JITENDRA AWHAD’ at the time of crisis and that I could help them come out of the crisis.
Today as I recall my blessings, with folded hands, I bow down humbly before all of you and assure that I will be there for you always.

– Jitendra Awhad

The biggest irony ever!

The biggest irony ever!

The biggest irony ever! Newly-appointed chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) Yellapragada Sudershan Rao justifies the ancient caste system. He had earlier written a blog stating the merits of caste system. How relevant is it in Modern India?

Incidentally, Golwalkar Guruji, Sarsanghchalak of RSS, in his book Bunch of Thoughts, had also written in favour of the caste system, and stated that caste system had helped to preserve the unity of our society. I wonder how there can be unity in discord?

It saddens me deeply that such primitive thinking exists even today. What social development can we talk of in a nation where such archaic thinking exists? And such people like Sudershan Rao are the custodians of our country’s history? One of the objectives of the ICHR is to have rational presentation and interpretation of history. If the chairman’s interpretation can be so regressive, are we moving backwards or forwards is the question. Really sad.

– Jitendra Awhad
15 July 2014