The Ganga-Jamuni way of life is precious for most people in this part of the country. For centuries people have largely concentrated on appreciating, and not quarrelling over differences amongst each other.

According to history it was the rulers who had taught people to build a society where shared values like respect for all human beings and for the other's way of life were first recognised. Later everyone in society had followed in the footsteps of the community leaders who gave birth to an existence that believed in strength blooming in a society that stays united in all its diversity.

The name of this way of life is inspired by the sangam of the gorgeous Ganga and the Jamuna rivers that confluence into a mighty third force in Prayagraj, a city 200 km south east of Lucknow. Civil society today believes that their unique way of life is threatened as communal forces attempt to make citizens battle with each other over everything under the sun, including gender and religious differences.

Former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University, professor Roop Rekha Verma feels that the situation in the country is alarming. The country attained freedom from colonial rule after countless sacrifices and now that freedom is being destroyed by its own people.

Professor Ramesh Dixit senses an urgent need to fight for the common heritage shared by citizens and to safeguard the democratic rights of every citizen in the country. He said so in so many more words at a Brotherhood Convention or bhaichara sammelan hosted early this week in Lucknow.

All members of the social, cultural and women organisations who met at the convention pledged to put up a front against divisive forces and to strengthen society by remaining united. Civil society in Lucknow has come together at a time when the core principles of the Constitution are threatened.

Today crass capitalism, and the corporate world, are taking advantage of the spread of communalism for personal gains. Most of the media, the fourth pillar of a democratic society prefers to sit irresponsibly in the lap of the ruling party.

Few dare to question why the rupee is on its knees before the American dollar, why unemployment and the price of essential commodities has skyrocketed, and why those in power seem to be doing little to help the poor people get even one meal a day.

Even 75 years after India won freedom from colonial rule, casteism and religious antagonism is practised to fracture unity amongst citizens. Hatred against members of minority communities is at its peak, violence against women is on the rise and goons, rapists and murderers are felicitated by a section of society.

This is a setback to the Ganga-Jamuni way of life and it is time that all well-meaning citizens get together to rekindle communal camaraderie amongst citizens is the belief of the participants of the Brotherhood Convention.

Meet Roop Rekha Verma

At the forefront of the civil society movement is professor Roop Rekha Verma, 79. The former Vice Chancellor Lucknow University is perhaps one of the most inspiring citizens of the city today. Her frail physique is no hindrance to her repeated calls to the people of Lucknow to speak up against communalism.

It is not rare to see Verma distributing pamphlets on busy streets to inform people of the consequences of practising hate against one another. "The deteriorating economic, social and constitutional condition of the country shakes her soul," she said.

In the pamphlet that she distributes it is written that at a time of mutual suspicion, hatred, violence and distrust, it is important to remember the year 1857, when Hindu and Muslim religious chants had reverberated in Lucknow. During those days, Hindu, Muslim, farmers, laborers, women and common people belonging to all communities, through their unity and brotherhood had defeated the mighty British army.

Today, Prof. Verma hopes that some of the work that she does today will help to strengthen unity amongst citizens and against those attacking the diversity of the country. She reminds citizens how the colonial power had tried to divide society in the name of religion in the past.

The British have long left the country but the policy of polarising people in the name of religion continues to poison the unity and progress of the nation. Professor Verma wants Lucknow to learn from its own past and to choose what path it wants to tread upon in the present.

Shashi Tharoor as Congress president?

Ever since Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Shashi Tharoor wrote in the Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi, seeking fair and free elections within the Congress Party, supporters in Uttar Pradesh have been worried.

Suppose Tharoor contests the election that will be held after 21 years on October 17, and wins? Then the voter in eastern UP wonders how he will confabulate with the Rodomontade loving Congress leader so fluent in English?

Not to worry, assured senior journalist Ashutosh who interviewed Tharoor recently on the latter's Hindi translation of his book Why I Am a Hindu. Ashutsoh said that the interview was conducted in Hindi. While he and his co-anchor Alok Joshi allowed a few words of English to make their way into their spoken Hindi, Tharoor had answered all the questions asked of him in fluent Hindi throughout the over 40 minute interview.

Ulta Pradesh!

This can only happen in Uttar Pradesh, often called ulta pradesh in jest. Recently Ram Pravesh from the Barasathpur village of Mau district got fed up of quarreling with his wife. He complained that his wife beat him up every day.

Unable to escape his wife in the home, Ram Pravesh climbed up the tallest tree in the neighbourhood and lived there for nearly a month. Although a little closer to heaven, peace continued to elude Ram. All the women of the village were annoyed with him for depriving them of their privacy.

The women complained that from a height of nearly 100 feet, Ram Pravesh could see them bathe in the local pond. They added that he also keeps an eye on all the daily chores performed by the women of the village. The police were informed but it is still not sure if Ram Pravesh has decided to descend back to terra viva, or not!