Miserable tale among miseries; India is tops



It’s supposed to be the time of year that’s full of glitter and gladness, bells chiming, bulky Santas outside laden shops and bright sparkling days. Glitter may be there in shops and hotels but not in our hearts, not at all. Gladness may come later when the spirit of the Christmas season catches us in its thrall. We will have church bells ringing out soon enough and even now Christmas carols are lustily sung. The hearts of us Ordinaries, however, are mired in misery. The days sparkle in the mornings, thank goodness for that, but towards late evening sharp flashes of lightning streak across the skies and thunder rolls menacingly.

This weather is unusual for December in the western parts of the island. Our emotional wellbeing is nil. Our spirits, expectations and hopes have sunk below the zero line. An increased VAT tax faces us with a rise in the price of everything we need to keep life going. Sad to say it seems to be a season of discontent. One major blot as one listens to people’s opinion is the appointment for three months of the acting IGP; he who was deemed to have neglected his duties prior to the Easter 2019 bombing of churches and hotels, so that it proceeded as planned, and perchance instigated.

Horrendous Tale

Cassandra was told this story by a person who is not given to gossip and falsification. He retailed the details from reading a Sinhala newspaper or from Facebook. Though Cass cannot vouch for its veracity, she personally believes it is true; society now is so depraved.

It was reported that in a school in the most sacred of cities in Sri Lanka, children were taking a capsule of a potent drug in the form of a toffee or candy. Maybe it initially makes the user happy. But, of course, dangers abound like addiction to the drug and irrational behaviour.

Drugs are sold near schools, we have heard. Why these, or any vendor is allowed near schools is a matter to be investigated by each school principal, and stopped forthwith.  Ostensibly, it may be raw mango slices covered with chilli powder and salt that is sold, but on the quiet, drugs could very well be offered temptingly. Cass remembers that parent-vigilantes took turns to be on guard at school entrances during the LTTE war. The menace now is worse than an LTTE intruder or suicide bomber to Cass.

Once into drugs it is a lifetime of misery to the drug taker and his/her family, often resulting in suicide or murder. It is known that dangerous drugs have invaded schools. Why isn’t a concerted cooperative effort made with school authorities, the police and parents being extra vigilant and eliminating or disallowing such a crime to invade schools. Ban wayside peddlers from the vicinity of schools; search school satchels and bags; keep eyes and ears open by both school authorities and parents and investigate every whisper of drug taking. The remedy is as simple and practical as this!

The worst aspect of the tale of narcotic addiction among children in a school in the North Central Province is that the girls, to get required money for the capsule, advertise themselves as available for spooning to their boy schoolmates for Rs 100 each. What has our country come to?

It really is too shocking and depressing to dwell on such issues. So, let’s move on to recognising the heights of glory of our neighbouring country – India. Many readers may have seen the video clip from which Cassandra gets her info, but never mind, she goes ahead.

Indian feats

The information Cass relays here is from a video clip received by her which she believes as India has forged streets ahead of all her neighbours and is even sought as an equal by the so called most powerful nations – US, UK, Russia.

India was always a very rich country full of resources. British colonialism is resented there much more than in Ceylon, for example, because when the British left India in 1947, it left a considerably impoverished country; so great was the drain of its wealth by the colonisers.  One fact concerning riches garnered from the video clip is that India was mining diamonds from 400 BC onwards, and for a thousand years it was the only country that had diamonds. We have heard so much about the Kohinoor and the other gems encrusted in the crowns of the British monarchy.

Another fact is that Indian women hold 11% of the world’s gold. In 2020, this amount of gold was estimated to be 213,733 tons.

The Indian IT business is estimated to be worth 150 bn dollars, and 67% of all outsourcing is to India. 30% of Fortune 500 companies’ CEOs are Indian.  In addition, one third of all engineers in Silicon Valley are Indians. India is the 3rd country with the highest number of billionaires and they number 140. Indians own more property or real estate in London than the British.  40% of all motels in America are owned by Indian hoteliers. In the field of finances, the cost of the Indian Mars space probe cost less than what was spent to produce the film Gravity –  $74 million. (Cass googled and read that Gravity is a 2013 sci-fi film written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Production cost – $ 100 million and the film was one of the highest box office earners.)

Coming over to social and societal matters; The Golden Temple in Amritsar feeds 50,000 people daily with vegetarian meals, irrespective of race, caste, etc.  19,500 languages are spoken in India; maybe including languages spoken by small pockets of people, and even dialects. The Kumbh Mela held every twelfth year sees vast gatherings of around 70 million persons.

It was so large a crowd that in 2011 it was seen from outer space satellites. Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion dating back to 5,500 BC. The oldest city in the world is believed to be Varanasi or Benares (much named in the Buddha Dhamma with the first sermon preached by the Buddha setting the wheel of the Dhamma turning, proclaiming His philosophy on life to the five ascetics in a deer park)

India has the wettest inhabited place on earth and boasts the tallest statue – 182 meters, 597 ft – which is the Statue of Unity. Googling, Cass got more details. The statue is also named the Kevadiya Colony and is in Gujarat on the Narmada River at a place called Kavadiya opposite the Sardar Sarovar Dam. It is of Vallibhbhai Patel who fought alongside Gandhi for independence from British rule.  Planned in 2010, it was completed in 2013. Cass’ two trips to Gujarat were previous to this date, hence her memory-reassured sites are in relation to the Mahatma and the deep, deep many tiered well.

On average the daily number of passengers who travel in India’s trains exceeds the population of Australia, which Cass found on the Internet to be 25.69 million.  An interesting and even surprising fact was that every time a girl is born in the village Piplantri, Rajasthan, 111 tree saplings are planted. Cass’ surprise was that she thought infant girls were not welcome in most parts of poor India. In this Rajasthan village too, boys are preferred but the birth of a girl is marked in a socially acceptable manner with benefit to the environment. White tigers are only born in India and belong to the family of Bengal Tigers.

Cass mentions here most of the 25 wonders listed in the video clip. She feels justified in being a devoted Indophile and having enjoyed more her visits to India, Buddhist pilgrimage included with sightseeing all over the subcontinent, than to any other country she had the good fortune to go to.

Watching and listening to the video clip and further referencing, Cass temporarily was removed from country troubles and world wars.  Cass hopes it is the same with you when reading her.