Even a blocked nose is going to be tough for me !!

( By Ms Swarnagauri Tonse)

Even though most of us take our senses for granted we do appreciate them to a great extent, but perhaps the least appreciated sense is our sense of smell.

None of us would want to lose any of our five senses (of course), but imagine that you are forced to say good bye to any sense of your choice. There’s a high probability that you would forsake your sense of smell, considering that it isn’t as important as your other senses. Kind of justified, really.

So the other day, while I was struggling with a vicious nose block resulting in a malfunctioned olfactory system, I thought to myself “What if I lose my sense of smell forever?”

I started thinking about the consequences and I realised that there would be a hell of a lot that I would miss like crazy. The top 5 things I would miss (not in any order) are:

1. The smell of freshly prepared coffee – Don’t you just agree that coffee is one of the best things to happen to mankind yet, with a heavenly aroma like that? Nothing can better awaken your sleepy little soul than coffee, even the smell of it. And for unfortunate sloggers of engineering students like myself, coffee also smells like hope the night before an exam. I love you coffee, and I HATE the idea of not being able to smell you again.

2. The smell of first rains - I remember my 5th grade teacher telling us, “No perfume company can ever create a fragrance as enticing as the scent of the earth when it rains for the first time.” Truer words have never been spoken. First rains brings with it a feeling of peace and nostalgia, and the smell of first rains is nothing short of blissful. I would totally miss this feeling of serenity if I lost my sense smell.

3. The smell of petrol - It used be embarrassing to admit that I loved the smell of petrol, but not anymore. I know many people who also love the smell of petrol, and if you think that’s weird then pardon me sir/madam, but YOU’RE the weird one here. I like petrol stations for that reason alone. Okay, yes, I agree it can be repulsive sometimes, but the whiff of petrol is pleasant. Maybe even mildly intoxicating for a microsecond. Whatever it is, I would miss the smell of petrol.

4. The smell of grass - The sight of a vast green carpet of grass is beautiful. That’s probably why I have associated the smell of the grass with beauty. The smell of grass in itself is also splendid, especially freshly mown grass and grass with dew on it. Take an early morning walk on grass. You’ll love it. It’ll be a pity if you can’t smell it though. It’ll be just sad.

5. The smell of Mummy’s food - This is something every hosteller like myself can relate to. There is something very different and indescribably awesome about Mum’s food that forces you to miss it every minute of your life away from mum. I guess that is enough said. I wouldn’t want to miss this smell for anything in the world! So no way is my sense of smell going anywhere!

Now just the thought of losing my sense of smell is horrifying. Heck, even a blocked nose is going to be tough for me. I can go on about how grateful we must be to have our senses intact and how all senses are equal, but you get my point so I consider it redundant. Just be happy, okay?

A battle which we should not lose

(From a mail received from my friend)

Forget Anna Hazare. The Jan Lokpal movement can go to hell for all I care. Let us just look at the issues over which the battle between the Government and us citizens is being fought. And then let’s decide where we want to stand, each one of us, on the issue of corruption.

The first question is: Do corruption and bribery hurt you? If they do, do you want a solution? If your answer is yes to both, do you think such a solution lies with an independent authority? Or do you think a corrupt Government can fight corruption on its own, and within its own ranks? If your answer is no to that, then we need to create an independent institution to fight corruption. Right? Well, that’s precisely what Anna is asking for. He is asking for a Lokpal that the Government cannot influence nor manipulate. This is the first battle.

The second battle is over four things. One: Should the Prime Minister come under the purview of the Lokpal? Almost everyone I know thinks he should. A honest Prime Minister wouldn’t care. A dishonest one must be supervised. Or else, we will have cases like Bofors that will never ever be resolved. Two: Should Members of Parliament come under the Lokpal? I have not met a single person till date who thinks that our MPs are so honest that they need not be supervised. My guess is if a referendum is ever taken, Anna will get a 100% yes to this question, given what people think of our politicians and the standards of probity in public life. The third question is even more obvious: Do all public servants need to come under the Lokpal? My guess is India’s answer will be yes, yes, yes. Every day, in every area of our life and work, we are constantly harassed, intimidated and extorted by corrupt Government officers. The poorer you are, the worse is the torture. So yes, every public servant, every Government officer must come under the Lokpal. Question four: Who should give permission to file an FIR against a corrupt judge? If the Lokpal can look into corruption charges against the PM, the MPs and Government servants, isn’t it only logical to expect it to do the same against judges?

The third and final battle is over an even simpler thing: The Citizen’s Charter. Should every Government office have such a Charter which will clearly state which officer will do what work and in how much time? And should an officer who refuses to do his work in time or asks for a bribe to move a file be punished? The Government says a charter a fine but Government servants must not be penalised if they don’t do their work! Anna believes that officers not doing their work in time amounts to corruption and must face the same treatment. Isn’t it rather obvious what India thinks about this?

Do we really need a referendum on these simple, basic issues? I seriously doubt it. Every Indian will endorse the idea of a Lokpal as Anna and his team have envisioned it, with the help of thousands of Indians who have contributed online to the process of drafting the bill.

Yes, there are genuine fears that we should not create yet another monster out there, who will make life more difficult for us than it already is. But even that has been addressed rather adroitly by Anna’s team. It is a complex process, true but it also ensures that the choice is wisely made. And what if there are charges against the Lokpal? Well, there’s a provision there too. You can go straight to the Supreme Court and seek justice out there.

So why are we arguing so much over this Bill? Why is the Government digging its heels in and refusing to listen to us citizens? Why must Anna go on a hunger strike all over again to press home the point that corruption must be fought back? I guess it’s a question of both ego and fear. No one likes to give up the power they have, and certainly not the Government. In fact, it’s always trying to interfere more and more in our lives, grab more and more authority, more and more space. And fear? Well, I guess we all know the answer to that. This is possibly the most corrupt Government we have ever had. It has good reason to be scared.