"Independence Day" -- Just another Holiday?

I had intended to publish this earlier but suffered from a severe bout of laziness. So posting it now..

We celebrated 69th year or our freedom on 15th August this year.

On the day itself I woke up to the speech from our PM. Though I wonder how many people do watch the speech, I myself accept that it was boring speech for an average listener like me. It sounded more like a speech from a party spokesperson rather than from a PM.

For the whole week the most prominent question amongst the people around me and Indians in general was "Are you leaving for your home?" with the Independence Day holiday making it 3 holidays in a row. Even during the Independence Day speech on the Rajpath I did'nt see any significant number of people other than those who just have to be there, the children and the dignitaries and them also being least interested in the speech.

The mood spilled over to the the tv channels as well with most prominant sign being national flag around their logo. And rest of the things were the usual ones including the movie channels telecasting the same old patriotic themed movies for a millionth time. I switched expecting the news channels to satiate my patriotic thirst but was sadly mistaken to find that there were more visible signs of the new movie being released on the same day with some borrowed snippets of official celebrations in various places.

Thus again left to meditate, the thought just shook me again.. Is Independence Day like any other national occasion is just a Holiday for us? Do we really do justice to the occasion? Or more importantly have we simply erased the importance of these days from our conscious memory? Is it just another day for us to put off from work. Have we just forgotten the hardships our country men went through to give us our present. I have watched Americans celebrate their Independence Day with such enthusiasm and fervor with most of the people coming out on the streets and expressing their national feelings. Sadly in our country I don't see any personal or private celebrations.

So is our Independence Day fast becoming just another day off from work or does it hold importance?

Well the answer lies with us.

Review/Critique-(An Introduction)

Have you ever got confused about the terms review and critique? Well I was a bit unsure about the two terms and their usage in literary terms and also wanted to get some more information on these aspects. So I did my bit of research through Google. Here is a concise form of what I came across while surfing and what i understood.

A book review describes, analyzes and evaluates. Review can be positive or negative; it basically conveys your opinion, supporting it with evidence from the book. It requires you to question the information and opinions in a text and present your evaluation or judgment of the text.

The Dictionary defines Critique as an article or essay criticizing a literary or other work; detailed evaluation; review; and critiquing as reviewing or analyzing critically.
The critique should be a balanced discussion and evaluation of the strengths, weakness and notable features of the text. Good critiques also include other sources to support your evaluation. When you are critiquing someone else’s work, you are writing objectively, as a writer. Remember "Critique the writing, not the writer"

Lets have a look at different terms involved here:

Simply refers to giving an account of the text under study so as to convey the basic idea behind it.

Evaluation or judgement
Here you decide the strengths and weaknesses of a text. This is usually based on specific criteria. Evaluating requires an understanding of not just the content of the text, but also an understanding of a text’s purpose, the intended audience and why it is structured the way it is.

Analyzing requires separating the content and concepts of a text into their main components and then understanding how these interrelate, connect and possibly influence each other.

Coming back to Review & Critique, What is the difference between the two?
There is slight difference between critiquing and reviewing any text. Reviewing involves getting overall information, question that information ,making opinions of that information and at end making judgment about a information, Mentioning purpose, all good points or bad points and why that piece is written that way by a particular author. Critiquing is rather subjective and critique r not only sees the article as being reader of that article by that author only but also sees it if he or another author could have written it what might he have included or excluded from that article. It involves an experienced reader who can compare that text with the stuff he has already gone through and is often supported by references to other similar resources.

Structure of Writing Reviews:
With so many related pages available I could not help my self from going through the proposed structure for writing a review. Though there is no specific rule for writing a review but still there are some things that should be kept in mind:

Reviews, both short (one page) and long (four pages), usually have a similar structure.
a) Introduction: The length of an introduction is usually one paragraph for a journal article review and two or three paragraphs for a longer book review. Include a few opening sentences that announce the author(s) and the title, and briefly explain the topic of the text. Present the aim of the text and summarize the main finding or key argument. Conclude the introduction with a brief statement of your evaluation of the text. This can be a positive or negative evaluation or, as is usually the case, a mixed response.
b) Summary: Present a summary of the key points along with a limited number of examples. You can also briefly explain the author’s purpose/intentions throughout the text and you may briefly describe how the text is organized. The summary should only make up about a third of the critical review.
c) Critique: The critique should be a balanced discussion and evaluation of the strengths, weakness and notable features of the text. Remember to base your discussion on specific criteria. You can choose how to sequence your critique.
* Most important to least important conclusions you make about the text.
* If your critique is more positive than negative, then present the negative points first and the positive last.
* If your critique is more negative than positive, then present the positive points first and the negative last.
* If there are both strengths and weakness for each criterion you use, you need to decide overall what your judgment is. For example, you may want to comment on a key idea in the text and have both positive and negative comments. You could begin by stating what is good about the idea and then concede and explain how it is limited in some way.
* In long reviews, you can address each criterion you choose in a paragraph, including both negative and positive points.
* You can also include recommendations for how the text can be improved in terms of ideas, research approach; theories or frameworks used can also be included in the critique section.
d) Conclusion: This is usually a very short paragraph.
* Restate your overall opinion of the text.
* Briefly present recommendations.
* If necessary some further qualification or explanation of your judgment can be included. This can help your critique sound fair and reasonable.
e) References: If you have used other sources in you review you should also include a list of references at the end of the review.

Yes it may seem like filling out a form but still its better to stick to the basics, atleast initially.

Waiting for your reviews and comments..

More Readings:
1 WritingWorld
2 Zachary M. Schrag
3 Review's structure
4 Critique Guidelines

Quotes - Swami Vivekananda

Posting some quotes, from Swami Vivekananda, received as a part of daily subscription from a site dedicated to spreading the word of Swami Vivekananda ji. Will keep posting more quotes from time to time.

"Work, but let not the action or the thought produce a deep impression on the mind."

"If you want to do anything evil, do it before the eyes of your superiors."

"By the grace of the Guru, a disciple becomes a pandit even without reading books."

"Each work has to pass through three stages--ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance.Every one who thinks ahead of their time is sure to be misunderstood. So opposition and persecution are welcome, only I have to be steady and pure and must have immense faith in God, and all these will vanish."
Letter to Ajit Singh, the Maharaja of Khetri. From USA: July 9, 1895.

"A true Christian is a true Hindu, and a true Hindu is a true Christian."

"There is neither sin nor virtue: there is only ignorance. By realization of non-duality, this ignorance is dispelled."

"The downfall of a religious sect begins from the day the worship of the rich enters into it."

"Truth is my God, the universe my country. I do not believe in duty. ... Duty is humbug. I am free, my bonds are cut; what care I where this body goes or does not go? You have helped me well right along. The Lord will reward you. I sought praise neither from India nor from America, nor do I seek such bubbles. I have a truth to teach, I, the child of God. And He that gave me the truth will send me fellow workers from the earth's bravest and best."
Letter to Alasinga Perumal. From USA: August 1895.

"I am not an exponent of any occult society, nor do I believe that good can come of such bodies. Truth stands on its own authority, and truth can bear the light of day."
Interview, October 23, 1895.

"Matter gets its existence from the presence of mind behind it. What we see is God percolating through nature."
Retreat given at the Thousand Island Park, USA. June 19, 1895.

"In the domain of true religion, book-learning has no right to enter."

Lest We Forget

The most relevant email I received today informed me about the importance of the date 26th July in every Indians life.

Its the Anniversary of the Kargil War.

And like me, many of us fellow Indians would have forgotten this day amid the daily routine of our lives, those Flashing Breaking News being telecast on all the News channels and our dose of "reality" shows. Yes this is a Truth but another truth was what happened 9 years back when many of our fellow brethren fought ferociously to drive away the intruders who came and sat on our Mountains and thought that they could just stay there..

Ya.. this is the day to remember the real Heroes of our Nation.

A Tribute


Over a 400 of them at last count. Median age 19 to 35. The grim-faced army officers receiving the coffins, draped in the tricolour, the carriage to the army parade ground, the set-jawed shok shastra farewell salute by steely soldiers. The silent sorrow of upraised guns, slowly brought, barrel downward, to the ground, left arm tautly extended to the right before retracking, the holding of palm to chest, the sudden dropping of head, the 30-second hushed silence, then the regulation rajnigandha and marigold wreaths from the army and air chiefs, the general officer commanding, fellow officers, the battalion, before the body escorted by a comrade begins its last journey home. Wreathed in white, the colour of the pure; kesariya, the colour and insignia of the brave. Now across mountains, now across rivers, plains.

Some lines from the Brave:

"Maa, Tum Dekhna Ek Din Aisa Kaam Kar Jaunga Ki Saari Dunia Mein Mera Naam Hoga" -- mother, you will see one day I will do such a deed that the whole world will acknowledge that.
Saurabh Kalia to his mother
"I am proud that I have joined 4 JAT and one day 4 JAT would be proud that Saurabh Kalia joined this regiment."
Lt. Saurabh Kalia, At Bareilly (JAT Regiment Centre)

"Didi, it was meant for me and I lost my man"
Captain Vikram Batra, to his elder sister over the phone when terrorist's bullet meant for him had struck his man behind him during his first posting in the terrorist-prone region of Sopore in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Yeh Dil Maangey More"
Vikram Batra to his commander at base camp after winning back Peak 5140, the highest point on the Tololing Ridge

<-- Sometime before the final assault Capt. Vijyant Thapar (Robin) left this letter at the from the attack area, to be handed over to his family in case he failed to return. His father's reply sums all our feelings as well " Son, The brave way you left this world, at the age of 22 is a measure of how you lived your short life and what you valued. In meeting the stark challenges of capturing Knoll against all odds, during the battle of Three Pimples with heroic coolness and single minded devotion to duty, you have achieved immortal honour. In death you have epitomised the spirit of national pride - an honour which makes every sacrifice worthwhile. Your actions will forever inspire generations of Indians to come. You have left us with pride for being the parents of a worthy son and a lifetime of pain for having lost a child we loved. -- Col. V.N. Thapar "

A Heartrending farewell --

Captain (Dr.) Rajshree Gupta, Army Medical Corps (AMC), salutes the tricolour-draped coffin of her husband, Major Vivek Gupta of the 2nd Rajputana Rifles, who died fighting the enemies.

Yes they have gone but they have left behind the memoirs which will continue to motivate us and the generations to come. The only thing is that we don't let the legacy die. So come on show to the world that we can be the Best Friends while there are our Jawans to show that we are the Bravest enemies

eBooks for Free

Yes there are many books, novels, fables, short & long stories available on internet for free. You can download them on pdf or word formats. I have downloaded and read some of them.
Obviously it is not as easy or enjoyable to read them on your computer screen but still its better than not reading them at all.

Here are links for some of those sites that I bookmarked:

The Burgomeister's Books ( Novels; short stories; fiction and non-fiction; sci-fi, thrillers, romance, horror, literature. No search available, just a list of Titles)

Classic Short Stories (Dedicated to short story and light prose)

Aesop's Fables (Online collection of Fables along with the Moral of the Story)

221 Baker Street
(All of the Sherlock Holmes Novels)

Free Classic Audio Books
(The title is suggestive enough but I have some reservations about the quality of transcription)

Read Print ( An online library offering free books, poems, short stories. You can search by author or by title)

Full Books ( Not very well cataloged but thousands of books available)

Hope its of help. By the way the list is not according to any preference but just according to the list in my bookmarks.

Not to mention if any of you have some quality links please reply.