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An ode to spring

AN ODE TO SPRING

At dawn when I open my doors, windows

I am greeted by my regular companions

Flocks of tiny, playful and lively sparrows

with spirited mynas, bulbuls, and pigeons,

Who come gliding from their night shelters

in the Kachnar, Champa, Harsingar, Neem

And Gulmohar trees, shrubs and creepers

adjoining and touching balcony of my room

They come looking for their daily feeds

with friendly tapping on my window sills

For jowar, bajra, corn and other seeds

even rice, wheat puffs, nuts and biscuits

Squirrels watchfully spy the bird rations

and it is a sight to see how they pick the nut

Clasp and gnaw on it with swift actions

hiding in the small openings in the parapet

Bird experts say sparrows are getting extinct

and no longer dwell in concrete jungles

But I am blessed with the idyllic mornings

with my little friends providing jingles

The sweet sound of sparrows chirping

their calls of mobbing, duets and mating

Make my idyllic and cheerful morning

as my mind is enchanted in their playing

But it is now time to bid adieu to my lovable pals

For getting prepared for my share of earthly tasks

And face the day’s targets, meetings and mobile calls

With the polluted air, din of horns and traffic jams

***

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Good governance and justice for the common man

The present government’s commitment to ‘maximum governance with minimum government’ is well known. This has also been adequately reflected in the ten-point road map set out immediately after the new government was sworn in. It encompassed matters relating to economy; infrastructure; people oriented systems; education, health and water. Included also were transparency in government, building of confidence in bureaucracy, innovative ideas for governance, resolution of inter-ministerial issues, stability in government policies and time bound implementation of policies.

However, while the confidence building in bureaucracy has made the list, an important point missing is the reinforcing our judicial system, which is also deeply linked to the justice for the common man. The fact remains that there is need for an immediate debate about accelerating the adoption of measures for restoring the confidence in the judiciary which, from the advent of civilization has been of utmost importance as a part of good governance

To elaborate it further, it would be pertinent to have a look at the meaning of governance.  It simply means “the action or manner of governing a state, organization …” and that would obviously include conducting of public affairs in a manner that would render good justice to the subjects of a state.

 It is notable that Naïf Al-Rodham, in his 2009 book Sustainable History and the Dignity of Man: a Philosophy of History and Civilisation Triumph, had included participation, equity, and inclusiveness as well as the rule of law in the eight minimum criteria for ensuring good national governance.

 In this connection, the following quotes from our scriptures, Manu Smriti and Kautilya’s Arthashastra are also relevant:

 Manu Smriti:

  Chapter VIII, Para 12: “But where justice, wounded by injustice, approaches and the judges do not extract the dart, there (they also) are wounded (by that dart of injustice).”

Chapter VIII, Para 15: “Justice, being violated, destroys; justice, being preserved, preserves: therefore justice must not be violated, lest violated justice destroy us.”

Kautilya’s Arthashastra

Book III, Chapter I:  Concerning Law: “As the duty of a king (and the administrators of justice) consists in protecting his subjects with justice, its observance leads him to heaven.”.

 Unfortunately, however, the present Indian legal system, a legacy of the British, is inadequate and needs a lot of fresh thinking and corrective actions by the government. 

One problem which the government has to address is the acute suffering which the common man seeking justice in India faces due to inordinate delays, high costs and limited reach to the judicial forums. This is aggravated by the fact that there is long pendency of cases in the courts. The figures are stunning.  Pending cases in Supreme Court are around 65,970 (as on 1.7.2014); in High Courts around 4.5 million and in district courts over 26 million in 2013.  This massive grid-locking at the judiciary needs to be undone by immediate filling of vacancies, appointment of new judges and adoption of new technologies.

  Another is the restoration of trust in the judiciary, which has been declining of late.  This can be achieved by ensuring the transparency in the judicial appointments, independence of judiciary, and institutional checks and balances. Whether the collegium system, which works in a the exclusive domain of judiciary in a closed environment,  and where one set of judges take decisions about judicial appointments,  should be replaced by other systems with a broader  decision making platform  is a matter that has to be decided by the government expeditiously.  Same is the case about strengthening judiciary as an independent institution free from bureaucratic interference. Otherwise, the democratic fabric of our democracy would continue to be damaged.

 There is  another important perspective to these problems, which the new government cannot overlook. By virtue of its constitution, India is a welfare state and as per the directive principles of state policy laid down in Part IV, the State has to promote the welfare of people by securing and procuring effectively a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life (italics mine).

 It is imperative that  the  government, judiciary and the entire legal fraternity  rise to the aspirations of the common man and generate a judicial environment where mass public would be always comforted by a feeling that there is a fair and unbiased institution to provide speedy justice to him.

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GREAT REVIEWS FOR WINGS OF FREEDOM–A HISTORICAL NOVEL SET IN INDIA

I’m thrilled to share that WINGS OF FREEDOM has received fabulous 5 star reviews on amazon, goodreads, shelfari and readersfavorite

Here’s the latest 5 star review from http://readersfavorite.com/review/6274

Book Review

Reviewed by Anne B. for Readers Favorite

“Wings of Freedom” by Ratan Kaul is set in the early 1900s when British Imperialism was at its peak. The Indians struggled for their independence from the British just as the British struggled to keep control. This fictional story transports readers back in time to an era where interracial romance was illicit. Our tale is a forbidden romance between a young college student, Raj Kumar, and an eighteen year old British national, Eileen. It is 1911, the year King George V held his coronation in Delhi. Shortly before the King’s arrival there was a fire in the Royal Camp. The British suspect arson and a possible assassination attempt. Two of Raj’s friends were accused and murdered despite their innocence. The Indians were a peaceful people but Raj was angered and turned against the British imperial rule. Eileen was the daughter of a British officer. Unlike most Brits she obviously loved the country, the culture and the people. 

“Wings of Freedom” is a beautiful love story. While the characters are fictional the author has created it in a non-fictional setting. He has captured the essence of the turbulent era. The plot captured my attention and held me hostage to the last page. I felt as if I was invested in the relationship of the young couple and the Indians. The romance itself was mesmerizing but when you add the demands of society, the treachery of the era and the risk involved when Raju and Eileen fall deeply in love, it becomes a great story. The love story would have stood well alone but the author didn’t stop there; he spent much time in research allowing him to create an entertaining plot that was also informative. He also allowed the characters to develop at their own pace. It is with great honor that I highly recommend this book.

ACCOLADES FOR WINGS OF FREEDOM–A BRITISH INDIA FICTION

REVIEW ON AMAZON (*****)

“Praise for Ratan Kaul and Wings of Freedom”
By Juanita Kees (Perth, Australia)
This review is from: 
Wings Of Freedom

 Ratan Kaul’s dramatic opening to Wings of Freedom captured my attention immediately. I wanted to turn the page and keep turning. The story flows with the ease of cleverly descriptive language. The power of Raj’s love for Eileen reaches into your heart and draws your head into the conflicts of cross-cultural love during British rule in India.

So well written, I could hear Raj’s voice in my head. Poetic language ebbs and flows as Raj tells of his love for the beautiful English Eileen.

The poetry soon gives way to seriousness as Raj tackles the complicated political web of intrigue that epitomizes India in the early 1900’s. Extreme praise here for Kaul’s writing. The controversial political setting is handled brilliantly, giving a very clear view of both sides of the coin.

Excellent character building and amazing attention to detail makes Wings of Freedom an incredible reading journey. Feel Raj’s inner conflict, hear the pain in his voice as he is torn between love and his country. Experience danger and betrayal as they find enduring love against all odds.

A wonderful lesson in values, humility, love and fighting for what you believe in.

*****

Amazon linkhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B0063C0VT4

Website: http://www.ratankaul.in

 


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Wings of Freedom

Wings of Freedom

Book cover

WINGS OF FREEDOM: A BRITISH INDIA HISTORICAL NOVEL

The novel,  depicting  a  gripping blend of  history, passionate romance and mystery with the backdrop of political conflicts and World War I,  during the turbulent  British India of the early twentieth century, is receiving accolades from across the world.

See the spotlight on the novel with author interview and book excerpts on

http://lauries-interviews.blogspot.in/2012/04/wings-of-freedom-by-ratan-kaul.html

Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us about your current release.

Wings of Freedom, released recently as a kindle book on Amazon, is a historical romance novel. It depicts a passionate cross-cultural romance defying the fury of intense political, cultural and social divide in turbulent British India. The story is accentuated by the backdrop of coronation celebration of King George V amid speculation of sabotage, freedom revolution swirling furiously in the country and the ravages of World War I.

I’m taking the liberty to give an excerpt below from a review on Amazon that aptly sums up the features of this novel:

“Any readers of historical romance will really love this novel. Kaul has created a wonderful story dealing with amazing fictional characters during the British occupation of India in during the early 1900s. It’s a story of forbidden love, society ideals, betrayal, and danger.”

“Kaul is a fabulous writer, engrossing the reader in his story as the beautiful descriptions, the gripping action, and the sweeping romance all come together to create a wonderful novel that I couldn’t put down. I am not usually a reader of historical novels, yet Kaul’s historical fiction is fabulous and I would recommend it to anyone.”
Tell us about a favorite character from your book.

Eileen, the female protagonist in the novel, is my favorite. Looking at her, you’d think of her as a sweet, beautiful, bubbly woman on the threshold of adulthood.  But inside, she is intensely emotional and sensitive, suffering the plight of a motherless child that is accentuated by her being trapped between the powerful currents of her British parentage and her love for India, where she was born and brought up.

She is an effervescent child till she loses her mother at the age of ten. That transforms her and makes her a kind of recluse, craving for a shoulder on which she could rest her head, cry and shed her grief. Because of these inner conflicts she also gets recurrent, mysterious dreams of boating in the River Jumna flowing close to her house, with a call from some supernatural source. Her personality continues to remain suppressed till she meets Raju, the male protagonist and then their romance, maturing from a subtle to a passionate level with rendezvouses on boats and in old castles and monuments frees her from her shackles resulting in the  culmination of her ‘predictive dreaming’ episodes. This also makes her a determined woman, ready to defy the political and social order in the colonial India.

It won’t be an exaggeration if I say that at times I became sentimental while writing her character.

 Who is your favorite author?

The name of Mary Margaret Kaye comes at the top. In fact, I’ve been inspired by her novels, most prominent out of them being The Far Pavilions, which depicts the story of a passionate but dangerous cross cultural love between an Englishman and an Indian princess.

As you’d know The Far Pavilions, which was published in 1978, sold millions of copies and inspired a popular television adaptation as well as a musical play.

However, my novel, Wings of Freedom, has a vital distinction as it’s written from an Indian’s point of view, and reflects the aspirations of the Indian masses during the turbulent colonial period. Moreover, with the Indian authorship, it depicts appropriately the locales, language, dresses, social customs and flavor of the Indian society as it existed a hundred years ago.

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Wings of Freedom: Amazon list “Some Historical Romance Novels From British Raj by Indian authors”

Happy to share the link

http://www.amazon.com/Some-Historical-Romance-Novels-From-British-Raj-by-Indian-authors/lm/R2BO7S3IYWGCOC/ref=cm_srch_res_rpli_alt_2