The World as I see it

My Life. My Views

Satyamev Jayate – A candid review — May 7, 2012

Satyamev Jayate – A candid review

When I first saw Aamir’s casual look and approach in the ads of Satyamev Jayate, I told my husband “This is going to be a flop. Aamir is trying too hard to be casual. This is going to fall flat on his face” In fact, the ad where he claims that this show will change your life and comparing his show to stalwarts like Mughal-e-azam saying,”If a film like Mughal-e-Azam can beat all norms and barriers, why cant our show!” That ad was too much for me to take. I felt it reeked of desperation – a last resort to make people watch the show!

As you can say, I wasnt too positive about the show. So, when I switched on my TV to watch the first episode, I was ready and willing to confirm my initial prophecy.

I was wrong.

So wrong.

I watched the show last night. And totally loved it. Also, because I feel very strongly about Female Foeticide and Infanticide situation in India. What Aamir said about the issue did not come as a surprise to me since I had already read about Mitu Khurana’s case and even blogged about it, but I am certain it was a definite eye-opener for the whole of India. Female foeticide is a gruesome fact which is a big dark blot on the canvas of modern India. The fact that the educated and well-to-do are so heavily involved in this crime is a testimony to the fact that this is not just an affliction of the less privileged! In fact, Bharati who lives in the slum of Vastrapur area is a shining example of that! I am determined to look her up in my next trip to Ahmedabad and tell her to keep going strong!

Some of my famous lines from the show:

Atyachar karna jitna paap hota hai utna sehna bhi paap hai (It is as much of a crime to put up with torture as it is to commit one) – Parveen Khan

Zindagi hamein bahut kuch sikhati hai, kabhi hasati hai to kabhi rulati hai… par jo har haal me khush rehte hain, zindagi unke saamne sar jhukati hai (Life teaches us a lot, it makes us laugh sometimes, it makes us cry. But those who remain happy in all circumstances, life bows down in front of them) – Parveen Khan

I would like to reach out to all of you and implore you to watch the episode. You will not be disappointed.

You can watch it here:

If you really think needs to stop, do not waste one more second. Go right away and cast your vote here.

Salwar more provocative than a Saree? — January 6, 2012

Salwar more provocative than a Saree?

I enjoy reading award related posts. One of the prime reasons for that is you get a chance to learn about some very good blogs which you may have never come across. I came across one such blog through Smitha – Shail’s Nest, and through her blog I read this article which got me inspired enough to write about the topic that has always bothered me: “What goes on in the psyche of a man who wants to impose himself on a woman unwilling to comply?

I do not know the answer to this question. Who knows why some creeps do the unthinkable! But there is one thing I do know: If all the women in India were to start wearing Sarees instead of salwar (which is the most prominently worn outfit across India), it will definitely not aid in bringing the rapes down as suggested by Seetamma and V Dinesh Reddy (See excerpt below)

Seetamma, in an interview earlier this week, said women needed a dress code “for their own good”. The independence of women, she said, had nothing to do with wearing modern clothes. What, according to Seetamma, might keep women safe from rapists and sundry low-life? “Only a sari,” she declared, “with long-sleeved blouses invokes respect for women, nothing else.”

Seetamma’s remarks represent the nadir of modern Indian thought and are the latest in a series of offensive, unthinking and plain stupid comments by public officials, who in a right-thinking country should have been forced out of office. Instead, many Indians, especially men — probably the majority — likely agree with them.

The latest round of absurd comments began last week when a reporter in Hyderabad asked Andhra Pradesh director general of police V Dinesh Reddy why the police had failed to stem the rising graph of rape (more than three a day in 2011) and murder. This is what the learned Reddy had to say: “When you are taking (sic) food that gives good josh, (my best translation: playful energy), as time goes by you tend to be more naughty… rapes and all cannot be controlled by the police. Even the villagers from coastal Andhra Pradesh, where it used to be more traditional, are wearing salwar kameez. All these things provoke these types of things, which is (sic) not in control of the police. So, rapes per se, increase or decrease, you cannot attribute (this) to the police.”

Are you serious? Do these people really believe wearing a saree is going to command more ‘respect’ for women? On what basis? From a logical, rational standpoint, a saree always gets more attention because it shows a lot more skin than a Salwar, which is covered from top to bottom… I love and respect saree as an outfit but it is irrational to say that a salwar is more provocative than a saree… Despite all the pinnings and caution, all those who have worn sarees at any point of time will agree with me that a saree is essentially a large piece of cloth. The number of mishaps/oops moments possible when wearing a saree far outweigh those when wearing a salwar!

Let us now move out of the realm of which clothing attracts perverts. Because frankly, I whole-heartedly agree with the conclusion of the author in the article – atrocities against women have nothing to do with what she wears. A pervert’s gaze will remain pervert whether you cover her in a burqa or a bikini!

If we go back a little in history… In the land of Ram Rajya, or even in the Mesopotamian era, the description of women’s attires often includes a bikini-top along with an angavastram tied around the waist. And yet, such atrocities against women were unheard of in those times. The whole purdah system came into place when the Mughals invaded India (More on this later).

Alas! Our so-called-leaders fail to fathom this and instead of going to the root of the problem, are busy torturing the victims further! As I prepare to end this piece, the question continues to linger on in my mind…

Demons in white! — December 21, 2011

Demons in white!

I was shocked beyond words when I saw Dr Mitu Khurana‘s story on ABC. You can read the entire story here.

I was shocked not because this is a story of a woman fighting for her rights to save her twin daughters from her husband and her in-laws. I was shocked because the woman is not one of those countless, helpless women that throng rural India and are subject to unmentionable exploitations every day. The victim here is a doctor, a paediatrician!! Whats even more shocking?? Her monster of a husband is a doctor too!!!!

The story made me angry! And along with it, I was engulfed by immense sadness. I was under a huge misconception that we, as a nation, are progressing. Apparently not! As Dr Mitu pointed out correctly,

With advancement in technology, people are coming up with more advanced ways of killing the girl child.

Not only did her husband and inlaws try poisoning her so as to induce abortion, her mother in law actually threw her 4-month old daughter down the stairs!

The only silver lining in the otherwise devastating story is that all is not lost. We have women who are running orphanages for girl child who are discarded by their family.

In Elizabeth Vargas’ words:

Poor women who cannot afford these services will simply kill or abandon their babies.   Some will take their newborn girls to a drop box, usually in the middle of the night, and leave the baby there.  One drop box is at a place called the Unique Orphanage in Punjab.  We went from the village with no women, to the orphanage with no boys.  There are only girls here…60 of them…all cared for by a wonderful woman who will raise each and every one.  It is striking to see all those little faces, some two days old, others teenagers, all unwanted by their biological families.  They are actually the lucky ones.  Their parents didn’t kill them.  They now have someone who loves them.

The orphanage is crowded – I counted three, sometimes four girls in each bed — but also immaculate.  No one knows their real birth date, so once a year they have one giant birthday party for everyone.

 I have always had immense respect for the men in white coats. In a lot of ways, they depict all that is good with our society. They depict technological advancement and man’s victory over the inevitable (or we would like to think). But, when those white coats are put up for sale for a couple of thousand bucks, there is very little nobility left in the ‘noble profession’.

When the city bled… — May 27, 2010

When the city bled…

I belong to the city of Ahmedabad and though I was not born here… I say I “belong” to this place. I know I speak for everyone who has stayed in the city ever that there is something about this place, which makes it your own. And what makes a city special? Its people… warm, loving and caring people who embrace everyone with open arms…

And when the very same loving people turn into vicious blood-thirsty animals, the city bleeds! This is happening to my city right now… at this very moment… And what pains me beyond anything is the fact that this is not the first time it has happened and unfortunately, not the last time as well!!

Back in 2002, I witnessed the massacre and blood-bath myself and to tell it was a ghastly sight would be an understatement. Acid bulbs being dropped, vehicles being set on fire, people being stabbed in broad-daylight, houses/shops being set on fire… do not even begin the describe the horrific sight of a riot.

I am not short of reasons to resent the Britishers for having ruled us for centuries… the biggest being the “seeds of hatred” they sowed inside the hearts of people in this part of the sub-continent. The hatred a Muslim feels for a Hindu and vice-versa. More than 60 years after they left us, we are still paying a huge price for the the “Divide and Rule” policy they adopted. They may have stolen our “Kohinoor” but this was the biggest damage they did to our soul – something that will take much longer for us to come out of… I am not sure if we will ever… But, I hope someday we do…

Here is a snapshot of some statistics regarding riots (Source1, Source2)

I would like to add to this that all these numbers mostly indicate crimes done to minorities in India (Muslims/Sikhs). However, it will be unfair to indicate that numerous innocent Hindus become targets for rioters almost on a daily basis in many Minority dominated areas of the country. And all this happens in the name of God. One small incident catapults to unprecedented porportions because of fragile religious sentiments.

I have only one thing to say to all Rioters: Kill, Burn, do what you want. But, DO NOT commit crimes in the name of God. No religion propogates violence and neither your Bhagwaan, nor your Allah is happy to see you do this. Wake up… before its too late!

Sports and Women — January 25, 2010

Sports and Women

Last weekend, a younger cousin (male) of mine and I were enjoying a game of Lawn Tennis, well he was and I wasnt… Thats because I lost all my stamina in the first game itself and by the second one, I was in no mood to run! My complacency and gaucherie soon got the better of him and he commented

Kya ladkiyon ki tarah khel rahi hai… dhang se khel na!! (Why are you playing like women? Play properly!) 

My first instinct was to go across the lawn and bash him blue with my Tennis racquet. And yet I found myself standing there with an I-know-what-you-mean kinda smile on my face! I knew exactly the meaning behind the supposed sexist statement he had passed.

When I was growing up, I was into all kinds of sports – my preferred choice being outdoorsy types! They rejuvenated me like nothing else could.

Until 8th Standard, almost all the girls at least tried to give their best to whatever we were playing – usually DodgeBall or ThrowBall – {have always loved my school, but I will always grieve the fact that the sole volleyball ground in the school was property of the boys, so we had to content ourselves with games like Dodge-all and Throw-Ball}. Nevertheless, it was fun playing those games!! I used to hate missing schools, specially on the days when we had Games period.

Come 9th Standard, girls were not girls anymore… they were turning into women! That led to a marginal decline in their willingness to indulge in any kind of sports/games. Most of them were more into their looks than even their books! 😛 Moreover, playing sports is so “manly”! D-huh!! The ones still interested were a tiny lot… who did not have a team big enough to play anything.

Come 10th Standard, Women were either into their studies, looks or discussing about guys! No one had the time or even the inclination to play any kind of games. Games period was no fun anymore! This wud very often depress me as I really looked forward to it

Come 11-12th Standard, Games classes in schools were spend solving assignments/studying/sleeping!

Some women themselves have created a mould where-in they themselves are not interested in any kind of sports. They consider it un-feminine for some reason. Bull shit.

And yet again, some want to do well but the stereotype that prevails in the society, prevents them from doing so. The state is quite sad! Movies like Chak De further highlight the kind of responses women in sports get from people around them! No one wants to take them seriously… its almost as if no one is convinced that they will do well!! Who knows India probably lost a promising Tennis player in Ruchika Girhotra, thanks to the lecherous head of the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association, retired Director-General of Haryana, SPS Rathore. He killed not one, but two promising Tennis players of India.

When it comes to sports, women are doing better by the day… but we still have a loooong way to go! Hopefully, we will be given as many opportunities as men to do well.. even in sports!

Amen!

Something is gravely wrong with our law system! — December 22, 2009

Something is gravely wrong with our law system!

Law is supposed to protect us… not strangle!! It was bad enough that politicians all over India are blaming the victims of a rape for having invited it, Supreme Court goes out to say

 A husband and his relatives cannot be prosecuted for “cruelty” towards wife merely because the mother-in-law or other family members had kicked her or for that matter threatened her with divorce!

I believe they can be prosecuted only after the lady gets murdered or divorced…. and even then, her family members may not have enough money to fight the case in the courts for decades!!

I am truly aghast!!! If law enforcers in our country do this, where will the common man go?

This is what a truly successful person sounds like… — November 4, 2009

This is what a truly successful person sounds like…

She is 24. Got married when she was 18. She proudly claims today “Meri to love marriage thi… 18 me hi shadi kar li thi maine“. She works as a beautician today. Earns about Rs. 5000-6000/month. Around Diwali, her earnings sometimes go up to Rs. 10000/month! When probed on her educational qualifications, she shyly admits just having passed 10th std! Her husband is a real estate broker. Doesnt look very well educated either.

She has been married for 6 years now and is as bubbly and as ever! She has a loving husband who takes awesome care of her. Not just her, but her blind father as well.

Lone child of her parents. She frequently goes to her parental house and stays with them. Both her husband and his parents, do not mind this. In fact, her husband takes care of them as well!!

Ab shaadi ho gayi, to iska matlab ye thodi apne parents ko bhul jao! Main to apne papa ka bahut dhyan rakhti hun. Jitni income hai meri, usi me se unke liye jitna ho sakta hai utna karti hun! (Roughly translated: Now that I am married, it doesnt mean that I will not visit my parents, or forget them! I take care of my dad very well and in whatever pay I get, I try doing things for them)

She also told me that she has had 2 miscarriages and is taking medical attention to help conceive a child. But, if God doesnt want her to have a child of her own, she said she need not worry

Main ek anath ashram me se ek bachchi ko utha laungi na… Uska bhi bhala ho jayega and mujhe bhi ek bachcha mil jayega (Roughly translated: I will adopt a girl child from an orphanage. Both she and I will be benefited)

The moment these words got out of her mouth, I sat gaping at her. I could not believe what I was hearing. I wanted to confirm.

Me: Beta ya Beti? (Son or daughter?)
She: Beti baba. Ladkon ko to sabhi pyar karte hain. Main ek ladki god lungi! (A girl. Every one loves guys. I will adopt a girl)

I looked at her again. Here was a girl, barely in her mid-twenties, not that well educated, not that well-to-do and yet, such profound thinking!! I was overwhelmed and convinced… this kind of thinking or attitude or even mindset had nothing to do with our class, caste, education or even wealth! It is imbibed and sometimes even acquired.

Most of it, if you see carefully, is just common sense, anyways!

And just when she was about to leave, she looked at me and said

Agali baar aao to mere liye Rs 500 ke chocolates laana Singapore se… I love chocolates! Main khud pay karungi (Bring me chocolates worth 500 rs when u come the next time around. I will pay for it myself)

Such generosity! Although, this doesnt really count as generosity, since this was spending on ones own self. But, even then.. I was impressed by her carefree attitude and willingness to spend on things she liked 🙂

Another important lesson: You do not need money in your pocket to be able to spend. You need to have the heart 🙂

Seeing her wave me goodbye, I asked myself… if this is not success, what is?

Forgetfulness as a disease.. and a few random things.. — September 23, 2009

Forgetfulness as a disease.. and a few random things..

I opened my laptop today, and pop came the reminder of all the things that needed to be finished today! I let most of the items snooze as I knew they would linger on the back of my mind for a while and I may actually end up doing most of them…

And then, I saw the items of my desktop – I usually get perturbed, if it is very cluttered… I like to keep it clean! And there it was… lying in a dark corner… a notepad… with a name prompting it to be opened immediately! It said “To-Do List”… I scanned through the items and was happy to know most of them had been attended to.. At the same, saddened to see many items lying unattended for months now… I have such a bad habit of procrastinating that if I ignore something once, it is highly unlikely i will get to it until absolutely necessary!

That is what my life has become off late – a sea of reminders!! I have a reminder set for everything! It could be outlook reminders or phone reminders… or ipod reminders… or orkut/fb reminders… reminders of all sorts… they seem to be omnipresent… and are supposed to make my life easier…!! If the intended purpose is achieved is a different case altogether! 😉

Continue reading

The Glass Ceiling: How far have we got and what plans do we have of dealing with it? — September 16, 2009

The Glass Ceiling: How far have we got and what plans do we have of dealing with it?

A friend called up yesterday. She wanted to talk about something important. (Just for the info, she is a fresher and works for a highly reputed IT company with a sprawling campus in Pune). She started talking about how her team of 15 had just two women and how the entire team was biased towards men. So much so that, the team (the men folk) would do all the generally office time pass activities like planning for a lunch out or a tea session without so much as asking the two girls. What was even more surprising was that the Manager of the team was also party to all of this. If this was not enough, one guy in the team abused my friend over some silly issue, asking her to “Get out” of the cubicle. When this matter was taken to the manager, he laughed it off as a joke gone bad! 

This is not a one off incident of the kind of bias women folk have to go through in their companies.  I have worked in IT companies before and I could sense this all the time. Usually, the bias depends on the number of women in your team. If it is equally balanced, then in all probabilities, you will not have to face the brunt directly. But, if it is not, you will face this… either in subtle forms (like not being invited to team gatherings) or in more crude ones (like the one with my friend) or worse, cases of exploitation and sexual harrassment by office colleagues.

Now, I am sure while reading this, a lot of you will be nodding your heads – Gender bias is soo common in companies (I will be talking about companies in India here) that if you have not faced this on your own, you would have definitely known someone who did.

While, the number of women passing out of Engineering colleges is increasing at a good rate, the gender ratio is still around 80:20 in favour of men. Thus, the number of women who get into companies is another 60% of that. The remaining either settle down into marital bliss or go for higher studies. The number is 14% as opposed to 1% in 1970. So, things have obviously improved and with women like Lalita Gupte, Kalpana Morparia, Anu Aga, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Simone Tata paving the way, the future definitely looks brighter!

Despite all this, the sad reality is that… Even though we have come all this way, the road ahead is not easy! We have come a long way, but we have a longer way to go. The time to sit and listen to these stories, as if they were fables, is long gone. We now need to sit back and take charge of the situation in hand. The question we need to ask here is that

What is it that we can do to make things better?

  • Make sure that your company has a policy against “Sexual Harrassment”. If they do not, you should bring it to the notice of the HR and explain to them the importance of having a law abiding policy, which in turn, makes this a criminal offense.
  • Before joining a company, try to understand their take on women in the corporate world. If their thoughts do not match yours, there is no point working for them anyway!
  • If you happen to work in a team dominated by men, make sure your manager knows your take on gender bias. If, however, you get a feeling that he does not appreciate it, you can always take this up with his manager or the HR. Make sure, they know that you cant be messed with. (On a lighter note, the girls in the team can get together and invite themselves to whatever little gathering the guys may be having. They may find it awkward a few times, but then will slowly get used it :))
  • Apart from the things you can do in your office area, you can create awareness amongst the people you meet every day – like friends and family. Try and personally take up the onus of educating a destitute girl child. There is nothing more satisfying than playing a small part in shaping the career of someone.

These are the few things that I could come up with. What is your take on this? Have you faced the glass-ceiling before? If you have, what did you do to overcome it?

To end this on a positive note, I would sincerely urge all my readers to take this up as a personal thing – Please do not let any kind of injustice happen in front of your eyes. If you see someone being victimised or someone being the bully, make sure you make it known to the concerned authorities. If you dont do it, nobody else will. After all, it is only with a small step that we can hope to build a better world!

I would also like you to put down your own ideas on What can be done? At the end of this, I will make a consolidated list of all the points and put them up here for people to read. That ways everyone can benefit out of our collective knowledge.

Some good articles on the topic:

Breaking through the glass ceiling: Women in Management
Breaking the glass ceiling
Breaking the Glass Ceiling – Reaching for the Top with Everyday Tools
Women still struggle to break through the glass ceiling