Monday, January 26, 2015

The Legacy of My Father

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

My dad was a simple man with little education and the only son for my grandfather, along with his three younger sisters; my aunts.  He was quite simple and yet complex with his own way of life and idiosyncrasies but was kind and gentle.  My dad was well liked. My grandfather made sure that he allowed little room for anyone else to do much including his only son.  My grandfather was for his time a man who worked very hard and lived life fully.  The last I saw him was seeing me off in the old Bombay international airport when I first travelled to America to study.  A whole lot of my friends came to Madras along with my grandfather, but he wanted to come alone to Bombay to see me off.  I was expecting nothing less from him as he always took me to everywhere I went, and seeing me off to America should have been no different.  Seeing him at the Airport gate was my last live look at him, as he passed away a couple of years after my departure to America and I never had enough resources to make a trip back to see him one last time.  I still have the only picture of him framed, and look up to him and think of the time as a child at home.  Nothing will take away the life that was and who I am and where I came from, irrespective of what I am and where I am today.  I will always be his grandson.  My dad, my mom, my grandmother, my aunts and uncles, my cousins and all of my siblings are all unique in their own way and I still remember the wonderful memories of my formative years with each one of them, and also the connection between each of them and my self was always associated with my memory of my grandfather.  After many years of passing away and even losing my father, my grandmother, one of my uncles, and a young cousin and my younger brother who was my best friend, we are still referred to as his grandchildren.  It is no disrespect to my Father, but his father was a man who pulled us all together, his children, his grandchildren and everyone around him and make them feel connected.

To forget who I am and where I come from will be forgetting the legacy of my father and his father.  How could I?  And why should I?

The same applies to who we are.  I am an Indian.  Yes, I am an American now, but I am an Indian first.  For fact that over the 500 years of migration into the USA, it is all Americans who live here but they are all from somewhere else.  The real Indians who lived here before we call it the United Sates and whatever other boundaries that have been drawn, the current occupants of the Americas have been really a recent phenomenon.  The Americans were really Indians, and only after others started to migrate into this great land became American Indians or Red Indians.  It was their land that the rest of the Americans as we call ourselves, who have migrated and continue to migrate is what we call the place we live the United States.

So referring to us as something-American is simply a fact.  Indian Americans. Italian Americans, Irish Americans, Jewish Americans. Polish Americans, German Americans, Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and Latin Americans, further even identify by regional areas of the countries that we have immigrated from to the USA for a better living opportunity is simply identifying who we are.  It is the absolute truth to our being.

Feeling that our forebears have no contribution to our being is simply ignoring the legacy of our father’s and their father’s.  We are what we are because of them, and just by moving from one place to the other on the planet doesn’t diminish the value of our ancestors and their place on the planet.  The recent comments by a son of Indians is simply distancing one’s self from the legacy of our ancestors.  It is far from the truth, and is idiotic and stupid pandering to audiences who themselves find the comments appalling.  Just because one finds one’s self in a small seat of political power, doesn’t make the person any more important than the legacy of the land or its fathers.

We are certainly Americans as with may be 100% of others who live in this land, whose folks have come here for a better life.  We are identified as Americans as we belong to this land and work and live in this land, and are proud Americans.  We are also something – Americans except for a very few of the Native Americans.  We must remember that we are what we are because of our forefathers and the land we come from, and then we have become Americans.  While it is stupid to listen to someone wanting to disown one’s heritage, most of the Americans are certainly proud to be American and also something attached to their American tag.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Democracy and Riches

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

The disparity in income is nothing new to the civilizations.  From the beginning of time we have had the rich and poor, kings/queens and subjects, well to do and not so well to do, however we frame the societies, the differences in wealth factor has always been as old as the human beings themselves.  For many experiments such as Communism and Socialism and Marxism and many a political and dictatorial experiments have come to bearing on various parts of the world, and they keep fizzling fairly quickly as people constantly seek self-determination.

The most enduring aspect of human life is the will to choose and decide on what is best for oneself.  Irrespective of the time and place we all aspire to think for ourselves and decide for ourselves; what is best.

From the early days of kingdoms and emperors to the last century’s dictatorships, we all have seen the results of freedom of thinking; essentially freedom of speech and freedom of expression.  Just like the old times when people wanted to live, think and do what they wanted to, we also in today’s massive in population and very diverse in nature world still want to have the final say in what we do and how we think.  Many a dictatorships have come down crashing, and many a controlled economies and governments continue to open for free markets and open ideas.

The poorest of poor nations where people are deprived of basic amenities and education, and sanitation and food, there are still the very rich who have a life style that is very different with every available luxury in the world to meet their needs.  Be it a democracy nor a communist society the difference in standard of living is highly subjective to the individuals.

Religion, fundamentalism, communism, fascism and whatever other regional or demographic representation that countries adopt to outside of democracies, they all have the same reason to adapt to determination of governance of its people; social equality.  But even in democracies that are as diverse as India and the USA, income and social inequalities are rampant.  There is no question of determining the social stature of individual in a democratic society, as the individuals make the efforts and what follows is the wealth that comes with a successful career or business, and in some cases family money.  There is no question of begrudging the wealthy as they work hard for it, and most times they are doing the right things at the right time to create fortunes.  As the last 50 years clearly shows that with each industry, the creation of new wealth is in parallel, and those individuals who lead the industry as pioneers will end up being the biggest benefactors of the wealth creation on that segment.

The world continues to struggle with the societies with wide income and social disparities, some simply will try to accept the work and wealth factors, and some try to change the politics so that the very rich might be forced to pay more, or might even relocate. Some will try to simply change the structure of the nation to forcefully takeover the enterprises.  There are constantly changing socioeconomic factors that drive the politics of nations, the very wealthy also try to manage their riches and enterprises to protect their interests.

Religion also plays a part in how people behave and respond to their socioeconomic issues.  The very poor either will cling on to the god factor to seek continued intervention by the almighty to help them get through another day, and some will find religion as a factor that drives their attitude towards how they approach life in general.

The history of the world always shows that democracies allow for choices, and somehow or someway find a way of self-correction to leadership and inequalities.  The wealth creation is also a factor of allowing choices for individuals to make their own determination of what they want to do with their efforts, and also get rewarded for their efforts.

While we keep trying various models of governing the people, we always invariable end up with the choice of majority of the people.  Also, the very rich are there because they find a way to work on things that most people need, and cater to them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

I have thoroughly enjoyed cartoons and caricatures since my childhood.  The beauty of these creations for as long as drawings have been around, represent a simple and often meaningful depiction of current events and sometimes satire on something or the other that comes to the mind of the cartoonist at a particular moment.  I still like Peanuts and Charlie Brown, and a slew of single frame cartoons in the Sunday newspapers and often wonder how the imagination of the artist continues to be so comical and inspiring despite the ages and ages of creating the same characters and situational cartoons in a single frame.  Often they remind one of some time on their own life where they might have faced similar situation (dilemma) and often they bring a smile on the face of the reader.  Most times looking at these cartoons is fleeting and often catches a moment of personal retrospection.

For many generations, individual characters have continued to explore the daily life and/or human behavior, most times in comical and situational context.  They are intended to be just that, situational comedies and nothing more.  Millions of people, sometimes billions look at these comic strips as a weekly (some times daily) dose of humor to help get through the trivia of routine and often difficult life.  These pieces of someone’s imagination is clearly aimed to bring a smile to just about everyone who gives a quick glance to them.  Nothing more or nothing less.

The writers and cartoonists have to pick some real or imagined situation or instance to come up with their daily dose of humor.  Having been of the faith of millions of gods and goddesses, I am not a stranger to someone within my own faith or outside of my faith, constantly using the religious symbols to poke at or use them for marketing or advertising.  With so many billions of us around the world and each one of us with our own unique and personal issues to tackle and deal with every day, it is always great to look at something and smile at.  There is so much misery and distrust among the people and various religions and races, there is no further need for any more animosity.

I also come from a small place where (I hope we still do) people of all religions live together and live together well and with respect to all.  Many names such as Hussain Reddy, John Mohan Reddy, Dastagiri Reddy and so on and on are names with a combination of multiple religious beliefs, and that too in a small community I come from.  Each person, each festival, each function, each event, and each activity of a small village never seem to have issues with what religion you belong to, rather they all represent the village, and they all are OK with who they are and they all live together and live well together.

In the evolution of humans and then the evolution of religions and further evolution of religious sub sects, caste, creed and whatever which we have embraced over centuries of life on earth, we still are Humans, and we made the religion as a part of our life well after beginning the human life.

Charlie – Good Bye and god speed.  While we can’t bring you back to life, here is a NAMASTE my friend and may you and all your associates have a great place with the man upstairs and may you be the team of cartoonists for the safe place above us.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Starting Early

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

Everyone must have some sort of a resolution for the New Year.  The typical practice is to procrastinate until the last day of the year and the make a resolution at the end of the old year to do something which is quite simple day to day routine, and then right after the new day (of the new year) forget about it.  I am going to lose weight. I am going to work harder, I am going to make more money. I am going to finish the project I started, I am going to finish school, I am going to get a better job, I am going to call my family and friends, and so on and on are many of the normal New Year resolutions that we make, and hardly follow through on them.

We are optimistic in nature as human beings and hopeful of something better every day in life, and constantly want to do better, bigger and greater and whatever if the next best thing in life, and new year is the time to keep reminding one’s self that the next 365 days will hold a better something for self and everyone around.  It is certainly a great way to at least resolve one’s self that something that is as simple as weight loss is something we must resolve ourselves to make an effort to remember and make an attempt to follow through.

Politicians must have a great time during New Year in making resolutions.  Almost certain that they can’t keep them, but still balancing the budget, reducing the employment, fighting crime, and on and on, along with keeping their job for one more term are great resolutions. Although practically impossible the resolutions or pronouncements are good to hear and make great sound bites, but simply fall through the cracks by the end of the first quarter of the year.  As most things that gets side tracked or ignored, political promises are as good as resolutions and seldom get any mention after they are made.  To have the resolve to keep up to the resolutions is no longer a political strategy, rather simply making the pronouncements to the audience is the name of the political game.

Personal resolutions are not as simple to keep as the practice to do something requires regular attention, and just by making a resolution on the 31st of December will not make it any easier or more difficult to all of a sudden start a new routine.  We perhaps think of the long holidays between before Christmas and after the New Year and start to believe that we can establish a new behavior pattern, and it rather becomes a more difficult new practice as we become lethargic due to the long holiday. Adults and kids get used to doing nothing during the long break and will seldom want to get back to normal routine, leaving along a brand new routine, which will be more demanding than the regular routine.

It is great to benchmark what to do (what new to do) for the next 365 days, but why wait until the first day of the New Year, and why not just get started the day when you thought of the new task or renewing an old task?

It is for all practical purposes a day to think of the New Year in the calendar and also a typical time for celebration for all people.  We just think of the beginning of a calendar year as a time to just hang out and also start to think of one more year to live and look forward to, and the New Year resolutions are a simple way to rethink what was done in the past year and also what was left undone.

Happy New Year Everyone, wishing everyone a great 2015. 

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