Hyderabad, City of Nizams – Chowmohalla Palace

Hyderabad, is one among the cosmopolitan cities in India, and its booming day by day. I lived in this city for 3 years and my experience was very pleasant and would like to share certain things about in a series of articles. Hyderabad is known for its palaces, forts, food (Biryani, haleem, etc are the most famous delicacies), pearls, cultural blend etc.

In this series, I will actually take you through the places, where people usually don’t visit, if they did they would just do it for the sake of it. Some of my friends are from Hyderabad, they haven’t visited these places.

First in the list is Chowmahalla Palace, its situated in the center of the city, quite near-by to Charminar. Built over 200 years ago, Chowmahalla is renowned for its unique style and elegance. Its collage of cultures and styles, you can find British, Indian, French, Arabic, etc styles. Chowmahalla, means four palaces and they are Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal.

I have visited Chowmahalla palace twice, first in the month of March and second in the month of August, this time I took my family for a trip around Hyderabad. It was almost 6 days travel around Hyderabad, some people would tell I am crazy to allot 6 days to Hyderabad, trust me guys you have definitely have to allot six days or more than that to see how good the surrounding places are.

Chowmahalla palace opens to public around 10:00 AM in the morning and closes by 5:00 PM in the evening. Entry fees is very nominal and don’t be stingy please shell out another Rs.100 for your Camera, because memories are worth more than that.

Here are some of the pictures I have taken:

A brief introduction about Chowmahalla Palace

Below are the pictures from council hall and some of the finest artistic works can be seen in this hall

We had spent close to 6 hrs in the palace and my Nephews Keerthan (11) and Goutam (7) were excited the most, might be their excitement had rubbed into my mom and she would usually get tired very soon, but on this day she was observing things and appreciating the hard work of the people maintaining these pieces of art and heritage.

During our visit many people came by and left before we had even finished the single mahal, many usually hire a travel agent to go around Hyderabad, and its finished in a day.  They come here only for the purpose of showing off to their friends and relatives by taking few pictures, its not worth it, if you are doing so. I believe, one has to visit a place to know, to learn and to enjoy.

As we were in the palace for nearly 6 hours and were interacting with the custodians of the mahal, we were allowed to stay beyond the closing hours of 5:00 PM. And here are some of the pictures we took during the night.

Palace looks really amazing the in the night and beauty and splendor of the hall increases a lot, the lights and reflections from the marble are just outstanding.

Chowmahalla palace holds many antiques and one of the maintenance staff showed us the place where the re-instate the old or broken antique items. And he promised us, if we visit the palace again after a gap of four or five months, then most of the display items would be replaced with other items stocked outside the palace premises and they usually follow a rotation policy to ensure all the pieces are in good condition.

At last, when you visit a place of historical significance, it might be a museum, palace, fort or anything, please allocate enough time to see around, you might not re-visit this place again and allocating a little extra time will always give you wonderful experience.

One Life, Live it.

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Age limits for Active Politics in India

Humans are always bound by rules and regulations, some are personal, family, demo-graphical, constitutional etc. Constitutional rules are the one which helps in smooth governance of a nation. Constitutional rules are various and one of the major, but confusing rule is Age Limits. We have various minimum age limits, they vary from voting, driving, alcohol consumption, marriage, sexual, etc. Similarly we have some maximum limits for joining government jobs, armed forces, retirement age etc.

Retirement age limit in all government offices is specified as 60 – 65 years (It varies based on departments), Reason for retirement limit is simple, a person becomes uncompetitive to hold office due to his age related ailments and need for nurturing the younger generation.

This is good, but this retirement limit is missing in one area. That is in Politics, we have a minimum age for a contestant to fight election as 25 years, but don’t have any maximum limits. and

Lets take into account age factor of MP’s (Member of Parliament)

1. Average age of MP’s is 54.8 years.
2. 16% are above 65 (87 members out of 545) and only 6% are below 35 (33 members)
3. Less than 5 are below 30. (3 candidates from congress)
4. MP’s more than 80 are 10+ and oldest is 90 years old.

Why is this disparity, most of the old politicians find it difficult to walk by themselves and need support to do their daily chores, how could these guys guide India to a better future. All these old (Budda) politicians might argue, “They are young at Heart”, my foot. We have seen many instances that old people have contested elections from their death beds due to long term ailments can we guarantee a better future from these corpses. Can’t these people guide the youth, I actually mean not their family members (Sons, Daughters, Sil’s, Dil’s, nephew’s, etc) but a capable young leader.

Majority of Indians are in the age group of 30 – 18 and we have only 5 candidates to represent this category of citizens. And whenever a young citizen contests for elections most of the people don’t support them, they consider him as kid in politics. Why this attitude towards youth? Don’t we have any ideologies? Can’t these people guide the youth rather than discouraging them? Are we fit only to study for exams and score good marks and go to college?

Development is the need of the hour, what we require is strength of the youth, mind of the youth and guidance from the old. All the development should be for youths and by youths.

Old are the past and Youths are future of the nation.

Why should Indian Politics need Change?

Indian politics is deteriorated a lot and the most essential term that should be used is Change or Reform.

Indian politics need great reforms in certain matters:

1.Retirement age from Active politics (Contesting elections, positions in parties, offices, etc)
2. Only 1 from a family can contest an Election or no hierarchical sharing of a constituency.
3. Minimum education qualification of graduation or post graduation. (In all the major organizations MBA or management degree is a must to qualify for higher positions, why not in politics).
4. Quarterly audits and appraisal cycle, this to be conducted by President, CAG, Election Commission, Lokpal (If Lokpal bill gets passed in parliament)
5. No Dummy President/ Quizzy President, give them some work, they are not poster boys or models. They should have certain responsibility and control. (Abdul Kalam was the only President who looked to have authority over the government and he was visionary, but others are Dummy, my nephew doesn’t even know who is Prathiba Patil. Most of these presidents are useful only during quizzes)
6. If a person has spent or convicted for 2 or more years in jail, either for criminal or  civil offence than ineligible for contesting elections.
7. Removal of caste reservation in elections, only governance should be the major factor for contesting elections.
8. Project allotment should be based on the performance and needs. (Ex: Kerala contributes to budget Rs. 80 and Assam contributes Rs.20 and government has to ensure that Kerala receives a minimum of 60% of the spending, as it is contributing to a greater extent).
9. Projects shouldn’t be named after any person who was associated with any political party, in present or in past. (Reason: Innumerable projects are named in Gandhi & Nehru who were belonging to Congress and their names are used in the political campaigns, development requires neutrality and should be dedicated to people not an individual).

10. Last but most important is abolition to Multi party system and we should have only a maximum of 5 parties and debate should be conducted to select the candidates from each party for each constituency.

Development is the need of the hour, what we require is strength of the youth, mind of the youth and guidance from the old. All the development should be for youths and by youths. Because youths are future of the nation and Old are history of the nation.

Caste based Reservation System or Indirect Racism in India

Ramesh, 18 year old is overwhelmed by his result and has scored 85% and his Friend, Suresh has scored 84%, both hope for admission in a good college. Both join same college and subject, Fee paid by Ramesh is Rs.15,000 and by Suresh is Rs.60,000. One question arises in my mind why this difference in Fees?

Because Ramesh is from a “Reserved Category” and as per government rules a student always pays less fee when compared to “General Category”. Now let us take few scenarios and judge whether Caste based Reservation policy is good or not. Before we do that lets look at Reservation and its needs.

Reservation was introduced in Independent India for the purpose of improving the standard of living of Backward classes (Schedule Castes & Tribes – SC & ST) by reserving a certain mandatory portion in educational institutions and government jobs. This was necessary keeping in mind these classes were abused on the basis of their caste and race for thousand’s of years and upliftment was necessary. This was a temporary measure only for a period of 20 years.

I have a simple question in my mind: Were Indian Government’s successful in Implementing the original Reservation Idea, its a Big NO. Why, why, why, such a good policy was not successful. Answer is simple, this was brought in only for the purpose of Caste Politics and without any intention to implement.

As per original policy Reservation should have ended by 1971. An amendment in Constitution ensured this would continue without any deadline. As years passed by, reserved caste’s increased and numerous categories were added. Now reservation categories are based on Caste [SC, ST, Other Backward Classes (OBC)], Minorities (Muslims, Christians, etc), Women, demography,etc. Each year a new community agitates to include them into the reserved categories.and this will not end, as each time one or the other would like to get few benefits.

Lets look into the scenario we discussed earlier and justify the reservation:

Average Annual family Income(AFI) of all Students family is Rs.500,000.

1. AFI of Ramesh is Rs.800,000 and Suresh is Rs.1000,000.

2. AFI of Ramesh is Rs.800,000 and Suresh is Rs200,000.

3. AFI of Ramesh is Rs100,000 and Suresh is Rs.1000,000.

4. AFI of both Ramesh & Suresh is Rs.200,000

If we look into above scenario, its clear that Ramesh would be eligible for this reservation only in 3rd and 4th scenarios. But what is the mistake of Suresh in scenario’s 2nd and 4th he is financially weaker or equal to Ramesh and still he has to pay more fee.

Does Suresh not have right to study, is caste the main basis of livelihood. Is he more in need of reservation benefit than Ramesh.

Hence caste based reservation system is not the way forward, but reservation is necessary only in certain aspects if a person is Poor, Orphan, Differently able (Physically Challenged) and situation based.

I know, we have caste reservation supporters who would argue on the lines of ,

1. If 60 years of reservation could be so difficult to withstand and could make life miserable for the so-called forward classes, imagine what 1000 years of subversion with absolutely no choice and absolutely no voice, would have done to a human race.

Well, well, my answer to them would be simple change the living standards and attitude of current and future generation. Stop thinking of people who are already dead and gone.

2. Reservations are legal and binding. As shown by Gujjar agitations (Rajasthan, 2007–2008), increasing reservations is also essential for peacekeeping in India. (Gujjar is a community)

In 2007-2008, it was Gujjar’s who agitated, tomorrow someone else will rise. Do we create a separate category for them and keep on adding.

Hence, Caste based reservation is not the solution. Why do we need such kind of policy, when we call India as a Secular Nation and still we bias citizens based on caste. What a shame, India should be re-branded from a Secular Nation to Reservation Nation. Doesn’t it look like Caste and Religion based Reservation Systems are equivalent to Racism.

We should create a true Secular and Equal to All policy in basic needs (education, living, health care, etc). We have to create a system to enable the weaker sections (could be economical, physical, mental, supportive, etc) and make them competitive.

A great nation could be created only when we are Truly Secular Nation.