Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sarabjit and Sanaullah : Lost Humanity

The quote ‘Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent’ best explains the murders of Sarbajit and Sanaullah.

To think that for some this is how justice is defined is reflective of the state of humanity we are living in and it’s shameful. There is no justification for this attitude.  This mentality is both horrifying and sad.

Countries like India & Pakistan are already facing a plethora of issues and instead of adding to the list, it is better that we look for solutions collectively. Our problems range from the very basic to the extreme complexities. A big percentage of our population doesn’t even have access to the basic necessities of life. Incidents like these are not going to add to the fuel of mistrust and hatred.

‘When one man dies, it’s a tragedy, but when many people die, it’s a statistic’.

It is sad that with all that rage between these two countries, there are a lot of things where we stand at the same level, & the state of human rights in both countries is one such common feature. Neither side can claim that they are the champions of human rights and at times the situation gets really disappointing.

However, in this madness the rays of hope come from individuals within our societies, the small acts of individuals that represent all that is the essence of humanity. This is when the solution becomes clear. The need is for the proper implementation of the laws that are already there for the equal rights and protection of humanity in most of the cases. Like many other things that are there on paper but not practiced, here too the results are painfully obvious.

It is high time that those responsible get their act right, as the stakes are extremely high.     

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sarabjit and Sanaullah: Victims of Fanaticism

Sarabjit Singh's murder in a Pakistan jail shocked and bewildered all of us. Occurring early last month, it led to a lot of speculation, with many knots left to be tied up. Soon after, in what seems like sheer retaliation, Sanaullah Ranjay succumbed to his injuries after brutal assault in a Jammu jail. This is not an India-Pakistan fight anymore; it is overstepping humanity itself.

An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind. And it is blind fanaticism here that has led to these two murders. Sarabjit and Sanaullah were two casualties in this blind fight to even the scales. And now their death has made them martyrs--martyrs due to blind, thoughtless actions.

It might be surprising to note the statistics that the Asian Centre for Human Rights offers. According to the report, a total of 14,231 persons (more than four per day) died in police and judicial custody in India from 2001 to 2010. Alarming yet? Here's what Mr Suhas Chakhma, director of ACHR, says: “About 99.99% of deaths in police custody can be ascribed to torture and occur within 48 hours of the victims being taken into custody."

These are rather depraved statistics. But to look up from it all requires a mere inspection of the mentality of the people. As if India-Pakistan relations weren't strained enough, now we have another boulder in the way. Instead of beholding the two victims as possible preludes to peace, they will be portrayed as martyrs. Tensions will keep rising. More blood will boil. And look, we're back to where we started from.

Possible solutions? Mr Chakhma has an immediate one: that the government should enact the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010. Just because we can't get to the root and change the mentality doesn't mean we become lax and complacent. And this Bill could do a lot to prevent further incidents if enforced appropriately. Since it's not simply an India-Pakistan thing; it's a humanity issue.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

President's Message - RAC Lahore

                                                                  Rtr Omar Farooq
                                                                President 2012-2013

During my tenure as president my top most propriety was to participate in building local communities through projects that would empower them in the long haul. Although this approach may seem parochial but we had our eyes set on some substantial international projects as well. When Rotaract club of RUPG approached us we could not have been happier. 

The history of Pak-India relations has varied from very hostile to diplomatically tolerant. It seems quite unnatural for two countries that share so much in common to harbor enmity for each other.  But when I finally got to interact with Rotarct club of Mumbai, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we shared similar views on increased people-to-people contact from both sides of the border.  We discussed disparate issues and future projects, and the conversation proved to be highly productive and refreshing. We hope continue such projects regardless of political environment in the hopes that someday Pakistan and will learn to live with each other in peace.

Round Up of RAC Lahore's Activities for 2012-2013

RAC Lahore has had another quite productive rotaract year. The activities that the club conducted tried to cover all the heads that have been established by Rotary International. The main focus has always been on the motto ‘service above self’, so the activities that you will see listed here will have a lot of community service activities. Added to these our club is fully committed to have a representative international presence & therefore, we have undertaken many International Projects with other Rotaract Clubs around the globe. These activities we believe will not only help us make close bonds with the rotaract community around the globe but will also represent the right image of the people of Pakistan.

It is never always about doing something at a huge level. Touching one life at a time in a sustainable manner is the key that will bring real change and this is something RAC Lahore is committed to.

The Joy Drive

The ‘Joy Drive’ is another project that RAC Lahore is associated with since two years. We are a group of people who want to spread smiles, make a difference and do good unto others.

Every year at the time of Eid-ul-Azah we pick a specific area that is dominated by the laborers community and distribute among the children new clothes and toys so that they too can join in the celebrations of Eid. We also include the children’s’ ward and Thalessemia Centre at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in our distribution activity.

This year we distributed 250+ cloths, many toys in the said areas and the remaining cash was given to the Eisaar Trust for its school for street children.

Meeting the Charge d affaires

Members of the club were part of an exclusive meeting with the ChargĂ© d’affaires Ambassador Richard Hoagland. The invites were sent by the US Consulate Lahore. Among the many different topics that were discussed in the meeting, the members introduced RAC Lahore & its activities as well. 

Movie Club

We have started a movie club of sorts where we try to screen topic oriented movies. Mostly so far the screenings have been associated with the topic of environmental sustainability. However, the project is still in its infancy and we intend to turn it into a permanent feature of our club. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

President's Note: RCUPG

Rtr Binjal Shah
President 2012-13

This was an initiative that has always been a dream of sorts, ever since I came to terms with the actual magnitude of the platform provided by the Rotaract Movement's network. This organization has an unmatched reach, and if capitalized on adequately, it can indeed make a difference, in the true sense of the term.

I decided to do just that, as a project with a club in this country was atop the check-list I had prepared for myself, when I prepared the blue-print of my year on assuming my term as president. World Peace day came along, and connecting with a club in Lahore seemed like a project that would epitomize 'promotion of peace'. Various clubs were contacted, and we were lucky enough to seal the deal with a club with people who are as friendly, enterprising, ebullient as ourselves. We have the same wavelength, and the chemistry has been crackling so far!

However, the Indo-Pak issue remains to be  a sensitive one, and I knew we were treading on thin ice on the eve of the day the video conference was scheduled to happen. We encountered stiff resistance from authorities who even feared for our safety, if the word was out.

But our resolve was unbending. We went ahead with it, and it was one fruitful session that I am and will remain to be immensely proud of this year! It was one of our most applauded initiatives, and the consequences are going to be more and more apparent and felt by the day.

A Look Into RCUPG's World

Rotaract Club of Usha Pravin Gandhi College of Management, RID 3140

RCUPG… one club, five letters, yet, innumerable connotations! An object of envy for an outsider, a yearning for an aspirant, a source of beautiful memories for its members, a channel to the passion of its board of directors, a sense of pride for its alumni, a way of life for its core team, and LIFE itself for its presidents!
And most importantly, an IDENTITY for all RCUPGites.

RCUPG is the UPG counterpart of the prestigious worldwide Rotaract fraternity, with a well-established network in more than 206 countries. Rtr. Husena Painter's unwavering resolve and relentless perseverance were responsible for this club's inception in UPG College in the year 2010, and well, the rest is history. With every passing year, the club has witnessed an unwavering skyward-bound progress graph.

We’re not just making tall claims, when it comes to that one. At the end of year 2011-12, under the leadership of Rtr. Juhi Shah, RCUPG was sitting atop at rank No. 13, amongst 138 clubs operating in our district. It is indeed competing in the league of some of the most dynamic and powerful clubs in Mumbai- the likes of The Rotaract Clubs of HR, Jai Hind and NM College, and was awarded the coveted title of “The Most Upcoming Club” at the District Level Award ceremony. And what’s baffling is that most of its peers have been in the movement since 20 years, while RCUPG is just three years old!


This enthusiastic and ambitious lot swears by their club cheer:

"Out to create history,
        Minds are fresh and Souls are free,
 Take a wild guess who are we,
Rotaractors of U-P-G!"
This can be the very definition of their spirit!

The motto of the movement reads, “Self-development through fellowship and service”, which entails that the club offers a platter of delicious dishes that ensured that its members had an enlightening journey of self-fulfilment and satisfaction, coupled with an exemplary, all-round, power-packed experience.

The year 2012-13 was spearheaded by Rtr. Binjal Shah, fiercely passionate, ambitious and unstoppable in her resolve to take this club to the pinnacle. And under the tutelage of her and her livewire Board of Directors, the club has surged into the league of the BEST and most sought after clubs around. This year, the club has undertaken a mind-boggling NINETY SEVEN events, all round the year. 
Here’s an insight into some of our most grand initiatives, that make for the brightest jewels in our crown.


...Because we believe everyone needs food, clothing, shelter and mauj! This was the inspiration behind the Rotaract Club of UPG College's event 'Mauj-e-Manch'. Simply put, Mauj-e-Manch is a cultural extravaganza, the largest in all of Mumbai, for the orphaned and underprivileged children of Mumbai—a rare platform for them to show their hidden talents! Inviting about 700 children—from five to fifteen years of age, to exhibit their excellence in all spheres of talent—literary, performing as well as fine arts.
      With a long list of sponsors and PR tie-ups, this was nothing short of a glamorous college festival, where the children also got the chance to meet people they had ‘always wished to meet’, as some celebrities graced the occasion with their presence. Lesle Lewis and Dolly Bindra were courteous enough to come and spend time with the kids. Upbeat Dolly Bindra energised all the children. Lesle Lewis even performed for them, which had them truly spellbound!


It's amazing how pervasive food is. Every second commercial is for food. Every second TV episode takes place around a meal. In the city, you can't go ten feet without seeing or smelling a restaurant, but somewhere, very nearby, there are people out there who have no job, no food, nowhere to live. We initiated Food Bank, wherein we adopt 60 families in 6 months and provide them with food grains enough for them for at least a month, in Mumbai’s most downtrodden area, Malwani, Malad. A phase two is also going to follow, where we tie up with restaurants to make good use of their leftovers every week.

Nanhe Haathon Se Maa Tujhe Salaam

We know what we have when we see what others don’t have. What is Diwali for the ones at the border? They celebrate Diwali throughout their lives on the sound of gun shots! We approached over 300 differently-abled children at St. Teresa’s Convent Special School, Dilkhush Special School and Shishu Bhavan and made Diwali greeting cards, diyas, lanterns etc and sent them to the jawans at border to make them feel special and remembered on such an auspicious festival.

PROJECT N.A.I.L. 2 – Nip It At Its Larva 2

N.A.I.L. 2 was a week-long project executed to create awareness and prevent life threatening diseases like malaria and dengue amongst people in Mumbai’s most critically malaria prone area, Madanpura and the Slums at Reay Road (Kawla Bunder).
      Approximately 5000 houses were covered in the initiative, with a population of over 15,000 people were met with personally and explained about the ifs and thens and the dos and don’ts  in case of such diseases. Also, for prevention of the same, we distributed Odomos- mosquito repellant creams, mosquito nets and All-Out machines and most importantly, purified the stored water in drums with abate solution in each dwelling in the area.


While it was a household full of celebration for us, it was the depressing ambiance of a hospital for some. While it was colorful crackers for us, its colorful pills and medicines for some. Those are the children suffering from CANCER. We flashed the human streak in us and joined hands to organize a whole day event with a magic show, a puppet show and an entire entertainment package for the kids suffering from cancer at TATA Hospital. We ended the event by giving goodie bags to each of them consisting of apples, tiffin boxes, books and chocolates to more than 200 kids suffering from cancer at TATA Hospital.


The club services team organized an adventure packed trek for RCUPGites to enjoy, as they scoured through Sanjay Gandhi national park like scavengers completing tasks on the way up to Kanheri Caves. They bonded over the sweat they shed to emerge as the Toughest Scavengers!


After all the toil and the burning of the midnight oil during exams, it was time to breathe free and fly like a free bird. After the first half of the 2012 semester, RCUPG organized a 2 day trip to Nagaon which is a 2-hour journey from Mumbai. RCUPGites had the time of their lives sportingly availing the water sports that were there on the beach.

Behind Closed Doors 

This is the second time Behind Closed Doors happened, in a greater scale and it was highly successful yet again. The campaign was organized as an attempt to curb the annoying Public Display of Affection in our city. It took place at the spot most notorious for the cause for concern: Marine Drive. The most striking part of the event, apart from its sheer character was the catchy one-liners which were employed, like:

“Bhaiya kuch toh sharam karo,
Ye sab apne ghar pe karo!”

“You and your hottie, stop being naughty!” 
The media presence like TV9 and the supporting crowd only added to the offenders' embarrassment.

Oye Birdie, Birdie Oye

Oye Birdie Birdie Oye is a month-long three-dimensional project to celebrate World Bird Day! The RCUPG team had gone to Gujarat to save the little birds and cure those who get tied up in between the strings during kite flying. Along with that, we had bought several caged birds and released them in the sky where they are supposed to be. And finally, we distributed bird feeders to the birds all over Mumbai.

Nuts over Nutella
Nutella – God’s gift to mankind! To celebrate World Nutella Day, RCUPG came up with a perfect event that includes an International twist! Each team where given countries along with a jar of Nutella and other confectionaries like bread, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate sticks, milk etc, from where they had to hunt down a famous monument and create it with all the things provided.

Zauber—The Hunt for 3140's Human Dictionary

Zauber was a literary (language, to be more specific) event to determine ‘3140’s Human Dictionary’! Editors and members from Rotaract Clubs across the District were invited to participate. We had three rounds, from a straightforward spelling round to a Scrabble game to the final Anagrams round. It saw about 38 participants fight for a trophy over different difficulty levels that tested their skill and quick thinking.

Any Time Memory

A good memory is always hailed and RCUPG brought forth a workshop to enable little tricks to make this ordeal a lot simpler.

Boogie Nexus

Drawing from the principle that dancing is one of the activities that polishes an individual from the core, we aimed at providing students a chance to develop their personality through this art form. The workshop was conceived in the manner that each month will bring to the students a new art form right in the college. 

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas was an exuberant and elite Casino and Lounge party where the RCUPGites had the time of their lives from spinning their luck in the roulette to quoting bets on the poker table. It was an evening where their luck could take them places... And well, if it did not, they could still dance their sorrows away to the most happening numbers!
      After a thumping round of games ranging from Poker, Black Jack, Roullete, Craps, Jackpot to 7 up 7 down, RCUPGites let their hair down to commercial house music with all the strength left.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Message From the Clubs

RCUPG Says...

The India-Pakistan relationship has been strained for years and years. Today’s youth largely believes that these communal differences should not be used as a base for any conflicts. Why not put aside our differences and explore similarities between the two countries? (And yes, there are many!)

And so, what we aim to do through this sister-club agreement of RC UPG and RC Lahore is bring to the fore concepts, ideas, vehicles for change that are in our capacity. This blog is only a part of it. But what we’ll explore in the blog will be matters pertaining to the youth of both countries, who have more things in common than they might have thought! We’ll address issues and more importantly, talk about the overlapping culture of the two countries.

Along with our thoughts and ideas and interpretations, we’ll be also talking about any upcoming joint events. We hope to pass a message of goodwill and peace. This is a big issue that we wish to take a small positive step towards. In our own way, we could make a difference. After all, it’s an India-Pakistan thing!

RAC Lahore Says......

Pakistan & India are sibling countries, who share a rich culture & history. Unfortunately, since partitions the relations between the two countries have always been difficult. This is the exact opposite of what the founding fathers had in mind. The result has been the suffering of the people on both the sides. 

The past cannot be changed, but the future can be & it is high time that the future of the relation between the two countries be set in the positive direction. Youth from both sides of the boarder want change & are involved in activities that are aimed at bringing the people on both sides closer.

This joint blog by RCUPG & RAC Lahore is one such small contribution in the direction of a peaceful & prosperous future. The motto of Rotary/Rotaract is ‘Service above self’ & this forum will be used to look for innovative solutions for our problems, which are so similar. The people have the same issues but their causes are ignored because all the energy is wasted in dividing the people.

Let’s revisit our shared roots & build a better future!