Friday, December 27, 2013

Do we still need feminism?

Feminism is the term used a lot now a days, in many talks, articles, we can find it at many places and like many other terms this term is also slowly getting stereotyped. Somehow feminists are considered as men haters, anti-fashion, people who like to blame all miseries of women on men, who want to make this world female dominant (to take revenge for years of male dominance), etc, etc. Once can find many groups supporting feminism at the same time opposing it, some even hate feminist because of their demand of equality in society. I consider myself feminist and I don't fit into any of these stereotyped definitions, for me feminism is very simple thing, it's advocacy for equal rights for women, treat them equal no more, no less, give them equal opportunities in all fields, encourage their participation at all levels in society, that's all, very simple and anyone who believes in this or in male female equality is feminist according to me.

Actually basic question is why we need feminism? Isn't our society already progressive, technically advanced and civilized? isn't situation of women in most cultures and societies is much better than it was 100s of year ago? then why we still need this thing called feminism? Yes, it's true that we have made tremendous progress in science and technology in last few decades, we have also improved our social settings in most parts of the world compared to what it was just a century ago, but still there are groups which want women to play only certain role in society and family (mostly wife and mother). They are against her total freedom to make her own choices in her life, these groups even want to dictate choices about very personal things like her sexuality, health, fertility, etc. they take shelter of some religious book or some age old beliefs to justify these things, these groups are still very powerful and active and to deal with them we need feminism and we need it very badly even today. So there is no question that we need feminism.

Anyone who thinks that women should get equal rights and opportunities in our society is feminist, anyone who thinks women are no less or more than men is feminist according to me, they don't have to work with some NGO or part of some movement or member of some society, this belief itself is enough to make them feminist. Feminist are not men haters I don't know from where and why this misconception originated, they don't want to bring women dominated culture or society, they just want equal rights for women. Most societies are man dominated that's why sometimes during fight for equal rights of women it seems that this fight is against men, but that's not true, it's not fight against men but it's fight against everyone (including women, religion, traditions, etc.) who think that women are inferior to men and should not be given equal status in society or think that they should only do particular type of jobs. The real fight is against this mentality and backward culture, then doesn't matter who is representing it, mostly they are men that's why I think this impression is created but it's totally wrong impression. Wherever we see gender discrimination we should voice our concern, actually discrimination of any type should be challenged, there should not be place for any kind of discrimination in any progressive, tolerant and inclusive society.

I am proud to be a feminist and I hope more and more people will understand real meaning of this term and will feel proud to call them feminist and work towards getting equal rights for women because we still need feminism.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Monday, December 23, 2013

Khurshid Anwar- Guilty or victim of media trial...

I read news about suicide of Mr. Khurshid Anwar, a social worker and director of NGO called Institute for Social Democracy on my Facebook wall, I didn't know about him before reading news about his death. The reason why this news caught my attention was cause of his suicide, which was the depression caused because of sexual assault charges leveled against him by some 23 year old girl who worked for some other NGO. Another reason was, there were many women who knew Mr. Anwar personally and were really surprised and shocked by this allegation and believe that there might be something fishy going on in this case, they think these charges might be false and someone was trying to implicate him in a crime he did not commit, so this is not a suicide but sort of murder. May be after detailed investigation real truth will come out, but a life is lost, which is terrible and sad thing. The role played by some news channels who accused Mr. Anwar for rape is also questioned, can media pass on the verdict of guilty or non guilty without any trial? Such media trial can put lot of stress on concerned people and results can be devastating as in this case. They definitely have right to report the news but do they have right to take sides so openly without any substantial evidence?

There is no doubt that any victim of sexual assault should get all the possible support and help, guilty should not be spared in such cases no matter who they are but at the same time we should also need to make sure that such laws are not misused for personal or professional gains. Now a days many cases of misuse of anti-dowry law, anti-casteism law (so called Harijan act) are reported, some also level false sexual harassment or rape charges, because of nature of these crimes victim immediately gets all the sympathy and and accused is immediately painted as evil or demon. No doubt that victim should get all the required support but at the same time accused should also get the chance to defend and prove his/her innocence, it should be fair trial for both of them, rights of both accused and victim should be respected and honored. Media, social networks and other electronic mediums also should deal with these type of cases sensibly and responsibly. Media plays very important role in any civilized and progressive society, they are responsible for communicating correct and non biased information to people but now a days we hardly see them doing this, most of them are becoming like any other entertainment channels who cater whatever their audience likes to watch, this is really sad.

Social and news media also played very important role in some cases like Jessica Lal murder case to get justice for the victim but very tough competition to grab the sensational news and report it before others has created situation where there is hardly any time to authenticate the information, many times they broadcast the things before even checking the source or truth behind it and this sometimes creates lot of damage to concerned parties. Recent sting operation tapes against AAP which was broadcasted on many news channels is another example. I am against censoring of media by any government organization, they should be independent and unbiased as much as possible, then only they can do their job honestly, but at the same time they need to be responsible, with complete freedom also comes lot of responsibility. They need to be really careful when large section of society depends on them as a source of authentic information, I hope this sense of responsibility prevails in current media houses who are controlled by some of big corporates, I hope this doesn't become just another business but remains an independent and sincere pillar of democracy, if not then we might see more victims like Khurshid Anwar who were declared guilty before any fair trial.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. What Khurshid Anwar's suicide should tell the media
2. NGO director jumps to death as rape charges are levelled against him by 23-year-old woman

Friday, December 20, 2013

Verdict 377: Progressive or regressive step?

Recent judgement by Supreme Court of India related with section 377 of IPC (Indian Penal Code) has created lot of controversy as well as very emotional response from LGBT community across the world. Supreme court actually set aside the lower court ruling (historic 2009 judgement by Delhi High Court about the same issue) and ruled that Section 377 (which criminalises sexual activities "against the order of nature", including homosexual acts) is indeed constitutional and also said that it's not the job of court to repeal or amend this section but only parliament can do this. According to me this is such a regressive step, a step in reverse direction, after 2009 historic judgement (which was hailed by most of the world) slowly people were becoming more open about their sexuality (especially people from LGBT community) in India, they were coming out of closets and feeling more comfortable to share views about their sexual orientation, they were slowly getting over the social stigma and fear of law attached with these things (the said law can be used to torture or trouble them but it rarely happens, it seems less than 10 cases are reported so far under this section), but this judgement has capacity to derail all that development and do more harm than good.

Homosexuality is not new to India, there are sculptures in Khajuraho temple who display homosexual acts, many people call it unnatural, I think only nature has capacity to decide whether it's a natural or unnatural act, unnatural things normally don't survive for long, they get perished over the time just because they are unnatural, so we should not discuss on this point. One can debate whether it's ethical or moral or legal or not because all these are man made concepts and change from time to time, generally in any progressive society these concepts evolve with time, they get modified as society evolves, so according to me it was bold and giant step by judiciary when Delhi high court in 2009 decided to recognize existence of such community (homosexuals) and took first step to welcome them in our society. Before that judgement these people were cornered group, always tried to hide their identity, who chose to disclose it lived almost like second class citizens just because of their sexual orientation. Still even today many people in our society look down on transgenders, eunuchs, impotents as well as homosexuals, these all don't feel welcomed in most social settings once their identity is disclosed. These people are also citizens of country or society they live like any of us, just because they have few things which don't match with our line of thinking doesn't mean they are abnormal or evil. Many societies who claim to be tolerant and inclusive (which India also claims) discriminate people based on their sexual orientation or race or caste, I wonder on what basis they call themselves tolerant or inclusive when they can not accommodate people with sexual orientation which is different than so called normal sexual orientation? Can't we modify this 150 year old law which can eliminate this type of discrimination, or we are going to play the game of passing the buck (from judiciary to parliament and from parliament to judiciary)? How long these people have to wait for their rights as citizens of their country which they love and respect, why not their countries rise to occasion and acknowledge their existence and honor their presence? There are many questions like this which this judgment and attitude of our society towards these people poses in front of us, but the main question is, do these people are going to get right to live in our country as equal citizens or not? If yes, then what steps are we going to take to make sure that they get their right? If not then do we deserve to be called as tolerant, inclusive and progressive society with rich culture?

Every society and culture needs to evolve with time, things which evolve survive long and which don't perish over the time no matter how strong they seem now, we have many examples from history to prove this hypothesis. Also as a society we need to be considerate and sensitive to the needs of all sections of our society, not all the time we should think about majority groups, minority sections also need equal consideration and respect and this is true in regard with any religion, race, caste, sexual orientation or anything else. Giving equal status and opportunity to all sections of society is sign of civilized and evolving culture and I believe everyone wants to stay in such atmosphere. This particular judgement is not going to help to create this environment in India and that's why I feel as a society we need to protest against this and should ask for equal rights for all citizens. Whether I am homo or heterosexual doesn't matter when I am fighting for anyone's rights, I may belong to different faith, race or gender but when I see injustice done to people I feel it's my duty to stand for them irrespective of their gender, race, beliefs and orientations and with this spirit I feel this judgement is regressive step and sooner we correct it better it is for our society.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_377_of_the_Indian_Penal_Code
2. Verdict 377: Betrayed by my own country!
3. समलैंगिकता अपराध है?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How logical is the concept of hell?

Almost in every religion and many scriptures one can find description of place called Hell, in some scriptures this imaginary place is described in very graphic details, many people literally believe these descriptions and really think that some place like this exists somewhere. They also describe what may or may not happen if someone lands in this imaginary place (or real place according to some). I call it imaginary because there is no direct or indirect evidence of existence of this place, every religion or scriptures describe it somewhat differently but they all agree on one thing that it is really really bad place to be there and no one should land there even by mistake. Some religions or scriptures go beyond just describing the place, they also list number of punishments one might get if one lands there, actually as per their logic no one just lands there, they are forced to go there as a punishment after death for their bad deeds during their stay on earth, this punishment which sounds so inhuman and cruel is awarded after judgement by highest authority (God) of that particular religion, at least scriptures say so (I hope they give the guilty a chance to explain his/her side also). Some of the punishments described are very cruel and inhuman, like frying in oil or burning in fire, etc. this all just for not following some rules written in those scriptures, and that too these rules are so different from on scripture to other that whatever is considered as sacred in one can be totally blasphemous in other. I think if any government or any authority try to award some of these punishments they can be tried in court for human rights violation, only some radical extremist organizations like Al-Queda can justify such barbaric acts, for this they get criticism from all quarters of the world, but no one seems to mind when these are mentioned in scriptures, people's attitude suddenly changes when there is involvement of their supreme commander in these type of issues, one reason might be because these punishments are awarded to already dead people so they don't care much about dead as there are enough issues to deal with which are related with living people.

I often wonder if people at all think how logical is all this description of hell and those punishments described in any book? The descriptions about these things are so cruel and inhuman that no one with normal sense and logic can agree to such punishments even for hardcore criminals forget about something as trivial as not following path prescribed by any organized religion or cult movement. They all look like something straight from fiction book where people kill each other for small small reasons, in that case there is no limit how far one can go but many people don't take them as fiction, they literally believe in these things. I agree that these books are really really old but I feel that today's authors do somewhat better job in writing fiction stories (just see the popularity of some of their books to check this) but I must also say that today's authors also have the advantage of time and better technique. Many people fear about this imaginary hell, they all have strong desire to go into similarly imaginary heaven (because of rewards and prices promised to people entering there) but they don't care about their cowardice acts (like terrorism) or heinous crimes (like rape or murder)  or many other mistakes in their day to day lives (like corruption, domestic violence, sex abuse, etc.) so clearly these threats (about hell) and lures (about heaven) are not working in a way they were supposed to work in reality, rather they create an illusion in many people's minds that no matter what they do in their personal lives if they ask for forgiveness with their God almighty and surrender to him or her everything will be fine and they will be pardoned, this very generous offer is advertised heavily by almost all religions and sects. This fear and attraction of illusionary world of heaven and hell has created unique mindset among peoples minds, many care and worry about these things rather than their own conduct in day to day life, many times they don't even care about land of law but care whether they will land in heaven or hell. Many religions and sects make use of these theories and fears to attract followers towards them, they make tall claims which are difficult to prove or disprove and lure people in their trap, people who need some solace fall for this trick.

Do we really need promise of heaven to do good deeds or fear of hell to deter from doing bad things in our lives? Why our own conscious mind can not guide us to follow righteous path in our lives? Why fear of law of land is not enough to deter people from committing crime? We all need to ask these questions to ourselves and try to find honest answers, may be this will help each of us to introspect and realign our beliefs, may be this will help us to follow righteous path without worrying whether it will land us in imaginary place like heaven or hell. Kindness, love, compassion, truthfulness are all wonderful qualities to have, everyone should try to have them, I don't think anyone should require lure of heaven or fear of hell to lead life full of love and kindness so let's concentrate on all the good work we all can do without worrying about these imaginary things.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Friday, December 13, 2013

AAP should not remain just a political party but should become a phenomena.

Recent success of AAP (Aam Aadami Party) in Delhi elections has created lot of buzz all over India, many political parties poked fun when this party was created almost one year back and even dismissed their presence, they termed it as a temporary phenomena, a bubble which will disappear without creating any significant impact. But destiny had something else in its mind, spectacular performance by AAP in Delhi elections left everyone shocked and surprised (they won 28 out of 70 seats), no one expected this to happen, they not only fought but fought really hard. During India against Corruption (IAC) movement current political brigade challenged few common people not to just protest on street and create nuisance but to enter political system and try to clean it if they are not happy with current system. They never imagined that some people will really take this challenge seriously and will take plunge in this muddy water of politics and come out clean. They tried everything from sting operation to government investigation about their funding, but nothing worked against AAP, so far they came out of all troubles successfully and managed to maintain their clean image.

I am not excited about AAP only as a new political entity, there are so many political parties in India, local as well as national, they all were launched with lot of good intentions and huge fan following but they all became part of the same system and played the game with same set of rules which includes use of money power, corruption and many other illegal ways about which most people are aware. Skepticism about AAP was quite understandable because people saw many new parties emerging and becoming part of same sytem many times before, leaders like Laloo Yadav, Mulayam Singh, Mayavati, etc. came from very humble background, entered politics with lot of good intentions but today some of them are icons of corruption or big players in the same system, they couldn't change anything but the system changed them completely. But so far AAP seems to be different, they have totally different approach and transparency is the most important aspect of their approach which impressed me a lot, whatever they do including collection of money to run the party is in public domain, no other political party did this before. Everyone thought that no one can survive in Indian politics with honesty and complete transparency but AAP did, and that's what scared other parties, they are scared to disclose their sources of funding, they are worried to loose election if they don't field so called popular or winnable candidates, they all used to field such candidates and never used to care even if some of these candidates have criminal background, but now they may not be able to do it anymore, they were forced to field honest candidates with clean image during Delhi elections just because of presence of AAP. This is what makes me excited about AAP not only they are playing the game honestly but they are also forcing their opponents to follow the same path, this is what I want to happen, reformation of all parties and entire system. One candidate or leader with good intention is not a big deal, they are there in every party but when every party and candidate is forced to stay clean and work honestly then only desired reform will come, first there has to be some external pressure (which AAP has created) and then slowly it will become a norm and then we may not even need to mention specifically AAP's name because all parties will be like them, this sounds like a crazy dream today but I am optimistic.

AAP has still long way to go, they just started and hit home run in their first attempt, but that doesn't mean they will remain like this or will taste same success on every turf they play but it seems they are not worried about that and I like this attitude. They seem to be more interested in overall political reform rather than short term gains, that's why I think it's not just another political party but a phenomena which made common people believe that they also can enter politics and survive, they also can dream to challenge this corrupt system if they want and this is what excites me, makes me optimistic. There are many who say that nothing can be done with our current political and bureaucratic machinery, it's damaged beyond any repair, but these people gave ray of hope when most people chose to resign and surrender, they showed us not everything is lost and it's us who can repair it and change it, it's out responsibility to do it not one from existing system will do it for us, so now the ball is in our (common people) court, we need to make sure that AAP just doesn't remain another political party but becomes a phenomena, a experiment which can be repeated every where and at every level, if not then we will be stuck with current rotten system for many more years to come and I don't think any of us want this to happen. I am happy for AAP's success, more than that I am happy for myself, I am happy for common people of India who desperately needed some ray of hope and they provided it.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why always look in the past, we should also sing glories of our own generation..

I often see many people glorifying distant past achievements of their ancestors, singing their praise, telling everyone how in past their culture or civilization was rich, dominant or superior to rest of the world, nothing wrong to feel proud of our ancestors and take inspiration from their achievements but sometimes this becomes an excuse for not giving credit to some recent achievements and breakthroughs. I hear in India all the time people singing glories from past but not willing to appreciate the present situation, I personally feel proud of many achievements of my ancestors in India, no doubt it was indeed remarkable that they achieved so much with such limited resources and techniques, but at the same time I am equally proud of achievements of present generation, scientific community (which includes scientists all over the world), tremendous achievement in the field of science and technology, revolution in the area of communication and medical care, progress in area of gender equality, anti-racism movement, abolishment of slavery, etc. all are recent phenomena. Most of these things happened within last 100 years or so and I am really proud of all these achievements, they are equally important and great in every respect compared to any past achievements.

Actually our generation has achieved tremendous progress in many areas, revolution in the area of communication technology is just phenomenal, world was never better connected than now, amazing phenomena called internet which completely changed our lives is a recent invention, many path breaking discoveries in the area of drug discovery are not less than any miracle (if you at all believe in miracles), they helped to save millions of lives all over the world. Recent progress in the area of gender equality is also impressive, our ancestors didn't think about many of these problems for so many different reasons but we not only diagnosed these problem but are working hard towards resolving it. Let me also say that I am not trying here to claim that recent generations have solved all existing problems, NO, that's not the case, still there are many problems which need solution, work is always in progress. I am also not trying here to compare our ancestors with us, it will be very unfair to do this but whenever some one says that our ancestors were much better than us or they were much more developed, superior etc. I feel surprised by their this attitude and ignorance, I fail to understand the logic or rational behind this statement, I wonder on what basis people say this? If people base these statements on moral degradation of society then also I don't find that word 100s of years ago was better as far as morality is concerned, then also there used to be wars, then also people used to discriminate, slavery was very common, people used to kill each other just because they belong to different tribes or faiths, polygamy and polyandry was common in many societies, situation of women was not better than what it is today, there used to be barbaric punishment for trivial crimes like stealing or lying or adultery, etc. So I don't know on what basis people claim that our society was much better in past compared to today? Rather, I find it is much better today, at least there is democracy in most of the countries where people have right to choose their government rather than monarchy, I think this itself is a huge improvement.

The point which I am trying to make that there is no point in comparing two different eras against each other, both have their own success stories and failures, we can draw inspiration from whenever we want, there is no better or worst for me. Discovery of gravity is as important as discovery of zero, traditional medicine was as important for our ancestors as modern medicine is to us,  there is no point in comparison, it's useless and waste of time. We also don't have to always look back at our ancestors to draw inspiration we have enough examples from our own generation which can inspire us to do good work and achieve new heights in every field.  

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. Were Our Ancient Ancestors Scientifically Advanced?
2. Signs in the Sky: The Irrationality of Astrology
3. Fraudulent Use of Obsolete Vaastushastra

Monday, December 9, 2013

This is complete misinterpretation of Live-in relationship

Recent news about a judgement by Madhya Pradesh Lok Adalat (some local court) left me surprised and shocked, as per courts order the wife and live-in partner should live together under the same roof, sharing the space and time with their man, this arrangement was made after mutual agreement between them. I am trying to understand how come court concluded that extramarital affair of this man qualifies as live-in relationship, this is case of adultery where already married man without giving divorce to his first wife engages in sexual relationship with other women, I also wonder what would have been court's reaction if this would have been totally opposite scenario, that is a married women engaging in sexual activity with other man outside her marriage, would this court have given similar verdict? Would people have accepted such verdict as easily they accepted this one? This decision might have been taken after considering fate of that other women who is dependent of this man, even if he cheated both these women they don't have any other option but to compromise, this is very sad state of affairs. Fight of equal rights for women is going on all over the world but I don't think they want any system where they have to share their man with other women, after this verdict one of my cousins told me that now in India even Hindus can marry twice legally?? such is the effect of such judgments.

Topic of live-in relationship is very intensely debated on many discussion forums in India, this is very controversial and sensitive subject, many people and institutions are against it because they think it is against their traditions and culture, they also feel that this also might put institution of marriage in danger. There are many misconceptions about live-in relationship in India, one night stand or extramarital affair is not live-in relationship, it's almost like a marriage but without any legal obligations before separation (like filing for divorce) but it also comes with all other requirements like commitment (as long as relationship is in place), offering financial support to spouse and children etc. but often people who misinterpret it as easy way to have sexual relations without marriage ignore all these things and it seems even courts started doing this mistake. Protecting rights of spouse in any relationship is very important, institution of marriage allows that protection but there should be alternative way for people who don't believe in this institution and live-in relationship has emerged as closest possible alternative but it needs to be discussed and debated before being accepted or rejected. Accepting or rejecting anything without serious consideration would be a huge mistake, this judgement is very good example of it, I also agree that court didn't have much options in this particular case but this case should not make people believe that now polygamy is legal or there is some way to practice polygamy legally.

I am questioning this particular judgement because there is common impression among people that in this case man got rewarded instead of getting punished for illegal act he committed and this perception is dangerous according to me, such judgement should come with proper explanations, warning and even proper disclaimer (something like, this practice is dangerous/illegal and court doesn't support it, etc.). According to me this judgement is total misinterpretation of concept of live-in relationship (if at all they considered it as a case of live-in relationship), I have not read the actual copy of the judgement but going by media reports. I hope they clarify on this before many more commit this mistake again or start thinking that this is not at all a mistake. I am also not saying that because of this judgement these things will now start happening, they are already happening but this judgement should not confuse people more about already confusing concept of live-in relationship. These issues require some understanding and mature response from society as a whole, these things should not be used to exploit people and create unnecessary disturbance in society. I hope people understand this and react accordingly.

Thanks for reading and please share your opinion about this topic.

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. Lok Adalat orders man to spend equal time with wife and live-in partner
2. Court Asks Man, Live-in Partner to Stay with Wife in Same House

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why people need all these fake Gurus?

Recently when I shared the news about one incident which happened in India where some people wanted to spread flowers in path of rape convict Narayan Sai when police planned to take him to some hospital for medical check up and to a court for demand of legal custody (a routine procedure after arrest of any criminal or convict) on my Facebook wall, one of my friend asked why people need these dhongi (which means fake, pretentious or cheat) gurus, babas or so called godmans? The question is very relevant and valid, but the answer is not that easy and straightforward. Anyone reading this news or any similar news would ask this question, why the heck these people want to glorify a rape convict or a criminal? (there is no dearth of such incidents all over the world but I want to focus specially in India because this is very common here). This guy was arrested after proper man hunt after almost two months, he was trying his best to escape law like any other criminal and he should be treated like that but I know that his fans and devotees won't accept it, we need to understand why they do this?

I think everyone needs some sort of counselling at different stages of their lives for various issues or problems they face, many people like our parents, teachers, other close relatives play this role in early part of our lives, slowly when we grow up then our education empowers us to deal with these things on our own and if we can't then various books (for people who love reading), movies, friends, motivational figures, etc. perform the role of counselor whenever needed, all these people or other resources help us to deal with various issues and problems in our life, they motivate us directly or indirectly. But not every one is passionate about reading, not everyone likes to watch or read about great people and their lives, not everyone is fortunate to have good friends, many even don't have resources available to them to do some of these things (like reading), and even if they have it's quite possible that sometimes even all these things combined can not answer all their questions, then they need someone to comfort them, someone to say them that everything will be OK, some thing which many professional counselors do, people get attracted to all these babas or bapus or gurus because they try to do somewhat similar thing on mass scale, the only difference is trained counselors are professionally trained to do these therapy sessions and these babas are not. These so called self proclaimed gurus entirely depend on their personal charm, charisma and fan following, no doubt many of them have good oratory skills, good knowledge about many scriptures, great memory, charming personality, etc. but they are not professionally trained to offer any medical advise or offer consultation about any personal issues, but most of them do this and that's the main reason of their popularity, hardly people go to them just to listen the speech, many visit them for consultation. Once they are popular they become powerful, their devotees become their strength, many of them have so strong influence locally that it's very difficult even for law enforcement agencies to take any action against them for any charges against them. The influence and clout of some of these people is so much that even people who suffer abuses from their hands don't dare to register any complaint against them, many cases of financial irregularities, sexual abuse or exploitation don't even get reported. All these benefits and immunity which come with this profession of babagiri has attracted many people with good memory and oratory skills into this profession, these are only two requirements to become such baba and they easily create some fan base in some part of India. Case of Nirmal baba who offers very absurd and stupid solutions to peoples problem is well known and still he is very popular among many people.

Seeking help of counselor for any persisting personal, professional problem in life is not a culture in India rather it's a taboo, many people still hesitate to visit a psychiatrist or any counselor, they always worry that what other people will think if they come to know that there is some psychological or personal issues in their lkives, but visiting any baba or anyone like him is not at all considered as something unusual, rather it's something which everyone loves to talk about, they like to discuss about greatness about their guru, various powers he/she possess and also about miracles they can do. Even people visit these fake gurus to seek advise related with many medical issues which can be very dangerous sometimes. Presence of such culture for centuries has created very fertile environment for many such people who declare themselves head of some cult movement, godman or incarnation of some deity and exploit peoples weakness and emotions. Actually these fake counselors in name of various babas and gurus fill the vacuum created by absence of professional counselors in people's lives. This all needs to stop, but all these babas or gurus are not going to close their shops on their own, as long as there are customers and favorable market conditions they are going to sell their product, at the same time we can not put entire blame on these cheaters, customers who buy their products and people who don't oppose these practices are equally responsible for this, actually we need to make their product out of date if we want remove their influence, we need to expose their fraud and wrongdoings systematically to stop their business growing any further. Some of these self styled gurus are still worshiped by many even if they are facing serious charges like rape or sexual misconduct, many of them fool people by making unverified claims and selling non tested treatments for many diseases, poor people (not economically poor but people without any proper logical thinking) blinded by their faith and problems follow these people without any logic or thinking.

A tireless campaign against all these fake gurus is required, all people with rational mind and capacity to think logically need to come together and work towards this goal, this fight is not easy but very difficult and long, many devotees of all these gurus are like suicide squads they are willing to do anything for their guru or God, they are ready to go any extend to defend them, so very determined and systematic effort is required to fight this very important battle to free our society from clutches of these evil minded people who take advantage of ignorance and weakness of people. People should take help of some professional counselors rather than these type of babas for their medical, personal and family problems, professional help is always better in any case, it's more reliable. I think some NGOs also can play crucial role in solving this need of professional counseling for people and with help of everyone we can eradicate need of these type of fake gurus from our society.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why daughters hesitate to claim their share in ancestral property in India?

I know that this issue is somewhat sensitive in many families and many people don't want to discuss it because the possibility of tension it might create in their families and also possibly spoil relations but I was always curious about this issue, I am discussing this subject exclusively in Indian context because I have seen this problem present there on large scale, may be this issue is present in many other cultures also but I am personally aware of this problem in India. Fight for equal rights for women is going on all over the world and India is no exception for this, like everywhere else property rights of Indian women are unequal and unfair, lot of improvements have been done on paper, some laws are also introduced to protect their rights but they are hardly followed, so even at least on paper situation looks better but in reality nothing has changed much. In India now at least by law daughters are legally eligible for equal share in ancestral property, but as far as I see many of them don't want to exercise this right given to them by constitution, they worry about their family's reaction, society's reaction and also about spoiling relationships, all these things make them very reluctant even to think about this fundamental right given to them by law, implementation of this law on large scale is still very far fetched dream.

Why they don't want their share? Why they hesitate to claim it? What is stopping them? As far as son's are concerned thy all think that it's their birth right to inherit ancestral property and they fight for it if they feel any injustice has been done to them but daughters hardly react if their share is not offered to them. They don't bother to ask for it even if they are in financial difficulty and really need that share, they just think it's not their right or even if this right is offered to them by law of land it's not appropriate to exercise it, this is effect of years of female suppression and brain washing, no matter what right law of land is offering to them they are still hesitant to use most of those rights. Actually there is lot of confusion about this law and many people don't even know about this law in detail. As Shruti Pandey (see the link 3) said in her article there is no single body of property rights of Indian women, they get determined by which religion she follows, is she is married or unmarried, which part of country she comes from, whether she is tribal or non-tribal, etc. All these factors along with lack of awareness and desire results in many daughters not getting their share in ancestral property. This issue may sound very trivial but as far as women independence and equality is concerned I think this is very important matter.

I think dowry system must have started to tackle this problem of offering share to daughters in their parent's ancestral property to some extend, but this system itself became a big problem rather than solving the problem of daughter's share in ancestral property. The problem of dowry became so big that government has to introduce a separate law to stop it, it's another issue that it's still practiced in some form or other. Any girl asking for her share in ancestral property is considered as greedy and often face wrath of other family members (like brother and sister-in-law) who feel that she is unfairly trying to grab their share of property. The feeling of guilt is also very strong in many girls minds, most of them feel that as their father paid enough dowry during their marriage so now it's not fair to ask for more share in ancestral property. But as I said dowry system is not an answer to this problem, this system itself has created many evils in society. Current system of dowry many times creates lot of troubles for brides whenever her in-laws feel that they didn't get enough dowry and then demand for more and torture that girl for that. Offering legal and proportional share to daughters in ancestral property might be better solution as this practice might help to remove greed factor, because often dowry is demanded out of greed, so there is no limit how much other party (groom's side) can demand, where as share in property is calculated as per law so there is no scope for unreasonable demands and greed. It will be highly unreasonable to expect that practice of this law will stop all atrocities against brides but at least it will help slowly to remove evil of demand of dowry from their lives. But this needs lot of courage and determination from all daughters who normally hesitate to ask for their right, they need to prepare themselves for all the criticism and badmouthing, they need to make sure that they exerciser this right without breaking their relationships or families, this will be test of their patience, diplomatic skills and courage, but at the end this is their choice, after all this is question of their rights and no one can force them to do this they have to take initiative on their own, choice is entirely theirs. 

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic. 

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing] 

Links:
1. Daughter's rights in new amendment
2. Daughter’s rights in ancestral property in India
3. Property rights of Indian women By Shruti Pandey

Friday, November 29, 2013

Did Mahabharat really happen?

Many times I see people arguing about whether some events from some epic books really happened or not, specially from scriptures like Mahabharat, Ramayan, Bible, etc. Normally these arguments are really passionate and heated (because many people really emotional about these things) with both sides trying to make their points furiously very often without any reliable and unbiased evidence. Many times I find this as a totally unnecessary ordeal, total waste of time unless it's whole purpose is to do a time pass. I often wonder why people waste their time in arguing about stories or incidents mentioned in these books really happened or not? Why does it matter to them? What will they gain or achieve if they prove or disprove that these incidents really happened? I myself read many of the stories mentioned in these books but I read them like any other book, for me its not at all important whether these stories or incidents are real or not, if they teach me something useful they are relevant to me, I am totally fine even if it's a work of total fiction, if they don't teach me anything useful or relevant then they are like many stories which I don't even bother to read or just read for the sake of entertainment and then forget them over the time, whether they really happened or not is not at all relevant for me. 

History is documented for many reasons, one of them is to have it stored for future generations so that they can get some clue from past incidents and learn relevant lessons which will help them not to repeat the same mistakes again. But many of these scriptures are not studies under the branch of history but they are classified under mythology or theology and that's why I think it's waste of time to discuss whether they are fiction or non-fiction, whether they really happened or not. I like many characters from these epics, I relate to many of them, for me it's really insignificant whether they really lived in flesh and blood on this planet or not, even if they didn't then also it doesn't reduce my attachment or affection for them even a little bit. The message what authors of these books wanted to deliver is the most important thing for me, I take whatever I want and whatever is relevant for me (depending on time and need) and leave the rest, I don't get into unnecessary technical details like how did humans flew without airplane, how the bird or snake spoke, how a person became alive again after being killed...etc. for me these all are semi fiction stories written long back by one or set of authors over the long period of time, the main purpose of them was to educate people and entertain them at the same time (so that they remain interested). Some of them are so old that it's very difficult even to find out who wrote them, but they all have something useful in them that's why people still read them. But when people try to enforce them on entire society as a rule book, there is a problem, there is a conflict and unnecessary tension. I am against this practice, many these books not matter how good, educating are written thousands of years ago (or at least 100s of years) and many things mentioned in them are no more relevant, rather some of the things are outdated, even many scientific discoveries or papers published in journals many years back are no more relevant anymore, some of them are even proven to be wrong. These books are good educating tools but they are not rule books or science journals which are updated periodically so to follow them or to expect others to follow them blindly is absurd, wrong and totally unreasonable.

So let's not worry or argue about technical details about these books, there might be many technical glitches in them but that should not be the deterrent for anyone to read them. These books are treasures from past, they actually don't belong to any particular religion or sects but belong to all humanity. Linking them to any particular religion or sect limits their use and is gross injustice to their potential. Story of Mahabharat is one of my all time favorite stories, all characters in this are so human that anyone can relate with them that's the reason I like it more than any other epic. Many stories and characters from them have inspired me during various stages of my life and they still continue to do so, this is why this epi is relevant to me not because it happened in India or because I was born in Hindu family, I equally love some biblical stories or some concepts from Quran. Let's not worry about technical details of these stories, let's try to catch the real essence of them, this will be a great tribute to all those authors and real use of all these books.

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. 5000 year old Viamana craft was found in Afghanistan
2. Were Our Ancient Ancestors Scientifically Advanced?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Casteism and ME..

I have expressed many times my dislike or antipathy for casteism, I started hating this system when I saw some people were discriminated or treated as inferiors just because either they were born in particular caste or were performing certain jobs (like cleaning, leather works or some other so called inferior tasks). I couldn't understand the fact how can a family in which person is born, on which person has no control can decide the social status of person for the rest of his/her life? None of us can not choose our biological parents or family, we are born randomly in some family by the act of reproduction and based on that our caste and religion is decided, one can change that but for the most they are branded as A or B based on which family or parents they are born to, this tag sticks to them for rest of their life as per current nature of this system. I was trying to remember the day when I came to know about my own caste (or sometimes called Jati) and what effect it had on me and what was my reaction to it.

I have to travel deep down in my memory lane to recollect that instance, as far as I can trace my memory I think I was in 3rd or 4th grade and one day I don't know why or for what reason some teacher in my school decided to ask everyone in our class their caste, most kids knew what caste they belong but I was among few who didn't and I was really embarrassed by this. So I came home and asked my parents what is our caste, they told me it was Thakur, which is also my last name, but then I had doubt that why other people have different last names than their caste name, then my dad explained that this particular last name is also used as caste name in northern parts of India (from where my family originally belongs) and this comes under warrior section of varna system (Kshatriya). I was relieved to know that our caste is not at the bottom of that hierarchical system, it was big relief for me at that time!! Over the time I was also told (by various sources) that I should be really proud of my caste as we have long history of brave warriors and great rulers etc. etc. Actually all this information had some effect on me, suddenly I stated looking at people around me from the angle which caste they belong, whether they were from Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya or Shudra varna? This might sound very disgusting and racist but that's how it was when I became aware of my own caste and believed in that system. I started making fun of some friends who belonged to some other castes and were physically weaker than me (so I knew they cannot beat me for teasing them), I even laughed at some because they can not fight war and there ancestors were not brave enough just because they belonged to some other caste, when I look back to these incidents I feel really embarrassed and disgusting even to share them, even though I did all these things as ignorant and naive kid I was not the only one doing this, insulting people by mentioning their caste or abusing them using their caste name in derogatory manure was very common around me, so I didn't feel I was doing anything seriously wrong. I think one day I took it too far and one of my friends started crying because of my taunting and he complained to his mom, after knowing why was he crying his mom gave me a big lecture. I don't remember what she said to me but that effectively ended my disgusting stint in casteism, I do not claim that her reprimand enlightened me about evil of casteism but it had some positive effect. I think it took few more years, few more visits to my ancestral village where I saw more open practice of casteism which slowly infused utter dislike and disgust about this system in my mind. Then there was also a issue of reservations when I was in college (kind of affirmative action for socially backward sections of society in India) which brought this issue back in my life where people from so called upper caste were at recieivng end and I thought I was discriminated because of my caste in secular country like India (where everybody is supposed to be equal irrespective of their caste, religion or gender) and believe me whenever someone discriminates you based on your caste or race it really hurts, just listen to complains about reservation or affirmative action from people who think they are affected negatively because of these policies.

The post is not about history of casteism (see links section of this post for more information about this), but it's about my own personal experience with it and reason why I dislike it and chose not to follow this system. There are many who are ardent follower and defender of this system, I am sure they must have their own very good and convincing reasons for doing this but I couldn't find any reason to either believe or follow this system, for me this is no less than racism and I am totally against it. The system which gives some individuals feeling of superiority just because they are born in particular family or clan is just not acceptable to me, it doesn't matter what was the original intention and how it got corrupted, current system which is practiced even today is highly flawed and outrageous, I think it's damaged beyond any repair and should be discarded totally. Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India 
2. Casteism: Essay on Casteism in India
3. Vedic Friends Association Position on Casteism

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tarun Tejpal, Tehelka and sting operation against AAP...

Two breaking news headlines grabbed my attention yesterday, one was sting operation against newly formed political party AAP by some website called Media Sarkar, and other was sexual misconduct or rape charges against Tehlka's editor in chief Mr. Tarun Tejpal. In both the cases integrity and actions of entire organization or party was questioned because of misconduct of few individuals, no doubt the questions raised in both the cases are serious and they need to be addressed but that should not be the reason to target the entire organization and try to bring it down to which these people belong. 

No doubt that Tarun was integral part of Tehelka (I understand that he resigned from his position so he is no more with Tehelka) but Tarun is not Tehelka and Tehelka is not Tarun, people should learn to differentiate the organization from the individual, the magazine has done lot of good work in past and all that work is result of many creative and courageous journalist, whatever Tarun did is wrong and disgusting, it's his own responsibility and he should face the law and whatever punishment comes his way, it is also true that in a way this whole issue was handled by Shoma Choudhary, managing editor of Tehelka raised eyebrows, people expected somewhat better and strict action from them rather than something which looked like an attempt to downplay the incident or a coverup, I hope they don't intend to do this otherwise it will be sad to see one entire organization going down because of action of few people. Sexual harassment at workplace is very serious issue, Indian government as well as private organizations need to do lot of work in this area so that these type of crimes are promptly reported and investigated to punish the culprits, no matter who they are, victims of these crimes (male or female) need all the support and encouragement they need. Tarun Tejpal's case looks pretty black and white as per media reports, it seems he himself accepted his mistake, now law enforcement agencies need to take proper action and deliver the justice. As per reports he showed his willingness to cooperate with investigating agencies, this is also kind of positive reaction (only silver lining in this whole shameful episode) because in past many celebrities or politicians didn't even accept any such incident when similar charges were leveled against them, but this doesn't reduce seriousness and shameful nature of his crime, such behaviour should be condemned and punished. Many times such crimes go unreported because of several reasons, there has to be a proper system and mechanism to detect and monitor such crimes.

Another news was about sting operation against AAP, a newly formed party which is creating big waves in Delhi assembly elections, both Congress and BJP (two biggest national political parties in India, with huge backing and money power) are facing tough competition from them, actually no one (including me) expected AAP to get so much popularity and to create such a impact in their first election. Sting operations are integral part of investigative journalism, this technique is used to expose crimes which are difficult to prove otherwise, by definition sting operation is a deceptive operation used to catch a person committing a crime. This method has been used successfully to expose many bribery scandals, corrupt practices in politics and bureaucracy. At the same time edited versions of video footage of these operations can be used to project certain image  of a person or party (positive or negative) by using technique of selective editing or cut-paste technique, therefore any inquiry paned investigating allegations based on these type of operations likes to see raw (or unedited) footage of any such sting operations, this is very common practice. AAP is demanding the same and I think they are within their rights with this demand, they also promised strict action against anyone who is found guilty after examination by their own panel or any independent constitutional agency (like election commission). Timing of this sting operation is also questionable and looks very motivated to malign image of AAP just before the election. I think their response was fairly positive and they are willing to accept that there might be something which needs immediate attention, but they are in this dirty game of politics where it seems anything is fair as long as it helps you to win power, this is how political games are played in India. This party entered the political arena not only with an intention to win but with intention to change the rules of the game, to make it more transparent and fair for everyone. Today in India politics is considered as dirty game, politicians are assumed to be corrupt and greedy by common people, may be if more good people enter this profession they can change its image and this is what I want AAP to do, they should force other parties to field good, honest candidates with clean records, at least make them not to give tickets to people with serious criminal record, or people who are facing serious cases against them in court, if they can do this, this itself will be a huge improvement according to me.

Time will tell what will be the result of both the investigations (hopefully very soon), but in both cases entire organization should not be blamed for misconduct of few people involved with that organization. I still don't think that it's correct to label all leaders from BJP or Congress as corrupt because many of them seem to be like that, there are many sincere and honest people in all these parties also but as these parties are huge percentage of corrupt people are also more, so I am against gross generalization. But at the same time I am not happy in general with double standards used by these parties and also with their very complacent attitude towards corruption, they are directly or indirectly responsible for institutionalizing the corruption. I hope this situation will change in near future and people of India will get more accountable and clean government which they desperately need and deserve, I hope parties like AAP act as a catalyst to initiate this reaction of cleaning the system on larger scale, the question is not only about AAP or dreams of Arvind Kejriwal, the question is about expectations and hopes of millions of Indians who are waiting for the day when they get really clean and accountable government and I think their hopes deserve chance, their dreams deserve consideration.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. Mission Lokpal by Media Sarkar
2. Tehelka's Tarun Tejpal: Sex scandal batters India's top investigative title
3. http://www.tehelka.com/statement/
4. Tehelka case: Tarun Tejpal had totally different version, says Shoma Chaudhury
5. Why Sting Operation on AAP came just before Assembly Elections?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sachin Tendulkar and Bharat Ratna..

Last week Sachin Tendulkar retired from all forms of cricket, this put an end to his amazing journey of 24 years on cricket field which included making and breaking of many records and achieving many milestones for India as team member of one of the most successful Indian cricket team, he played his last test match against West Indies and received grand and emotional farewell. I am big fan of his batting and sportsmanship, I witnessed his career since beginning, he is one of the most celebrated and admired cricketer till date and according to me he deserved all admiration and adulation. On the day after his retirement Indian government announced him Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, this announcement was bound to create some controversy and some uproar, undoubtedly cricket is the most popular sports in India and because of this cricketers receive more admiration, media coverage, fame and money but that doesn't mean they are the only achievers in the area of sports who make India proud, therefore many people will ask the question why Sachin, why not Dhyanchand or Abhinav Bindra or Anand? Is it just because he is famous or because he played cricket? There will be many questions like this. Government did try to play balancing game to award celebrated scientist Prof. C. N. R. Rao along with Sachin but Sachin's award is going to create some controversy and people are going to push their candidate and ask why not him or her?

I believe the decision was emotional one, entire country (at least who follow cricket) was feeling sad that Sachin is retiring from cricket, the game which he dominated for last 20 years or so, they all wanted to give him memorable farewell and may be our government thought this award will be like valuable cherry on his farewell cake, but did they get their act right? definitely not, there are many more deserving sports person who deserve this award before Sachin or at least along with him. By selecting Sachin's name government itself showed the inherent bias which exists in India against other sports compared to cricket. Field hockey is India's national game and achievements of major Chyan Chand in that sports are unparalleled and I wonder how come his name didn't pop up when government decided to give this award to a sportsperson, according to me he was the most deserving person to get this award in the area of sports, but unfortunately this didn't happen.

Actually if any one take a look at the list of Bharat Ratna awardees one often wonders why some people even got that award and why it took so many years (even after their death) for some very deserving people to get this award. The award looks very politicized, depending on which government is ruling people get it. Almost every prime minister who ruled for more than couple of years got this award, the list is heavily populated with politicians, mainly this is a political award, awarded sometimes to eminent artists, sports is recently included category in the list, Sachin is the first sportsperson to receive this award and he is also youngest to receive this award. I am happy for his success but at the same time feel that other more deserving people also should get the recognition and admiration which they deserve. I know that there is bound to be some controversy related with these type of awards, there are more than one deserving people at any given time but there is no restriction of number to this award at least, I hope our government will realize their mistake soon and take some corrective measures, if they don't then we have to satisfy our self by saying that some people are greater than this award, so they don't need it. I also noticed that even Mahatma Gandhi didn't receive this award, I am glad that he didn't get this award (like Nobel peace prize) because there are some undeserving names in both the lists (Bharat Ratna and Nobel peace) so it's good that his name is not there along with them, actually he doesn't need any award or recognition (and I really mean in his case) but others might need it for the sake of that sport (like field Hockey) or honor, so at least those names should be considered before it's too late.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. Bahrat and Ratna (article from Marathi news paper Loksatta)
2. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/
3. तेंदुलकर, ध्यान चंद, राजनीति और भारत रत्न

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Asaram Bapu devotee syndrome.

The title of today's blog proposes a new syndrome, I named this syndrome like this to explain people's reactions during my discussions related one recent incident in India, the arrest of self-styled Godman Asaram Bapu for rape and sexual harassment charges (he is one of many who is in this business of selling spirituality, religion, and God). Some (or many) of his  devotees/followers protested against his arrest and demanded his immediate release, I think they did this because they all sincerely believe that their guru or God (most of them consider him God or incarnation of some God they worship) is wrongly framed for this crime, they also believe he is actually innocent and that is why he should be released immediately. Some of them might even believe that as a God or incarnation of God he is entitled to do whatever he wants and laws framed for common people doesn't apply to him. They also expect police and others should show some respect to their guru because of his godly (??) nature. Many of my friends and family members criticized this attitude of these devotees, they were particularly surprised that even after knowing what type of crime Asaram did all these people are still supporting him, they also asked the question that how come these people are following him so blindly that they cannot see his obvious mistakes or crimes. Actually, I must say that this is a very valid question to ask in many such cases.

I agree with them that whatever Asaram did was disgusting and criminal and he should be punished by law for his crimes, I also agree with them that many Asaram's devotees are behaving like blind followers and because of that they are not willing to listen anything against their guru or even not willing to accept the reality which is right there in front of their eyes. In spite of all the evidence and proof, they all chose to turn a blind eye to everything and continue their devotion and worship of their guru, this is why I gave the name Asaram Bapu devotee syndrome (ABDS). Actually, one can put any famous controversial name with a huge fan following, I just use this name because of I thought about it after Asaram's arrest. But, when I discuss with many people that this quality or syndrome is more or less present in everyone who calls her/himself a devotee of any sect, religion, God or cult movement, or person; as usual, they disagreed with me. They all think that their devotion has a logic, it is rational and reasonable, but Asaram's devotees are fools and morons. Now, we can call this as an anti-ABDS, in this condition, people feel whatever they do is legitimate, thoughtful and rational but if similar things are done by others then they are foolish, irrational, or thoughtless.

This type of behavior is very common everywhere in the world, many people on one hand think that their beliefs, their God, their scriptures, their gurus, their leaders are all great, pious, legitimate, authentic and above any criticism, no one should criticize them or even question them. Whatever their God did (as per their scriptures) was all need of that time and legitimate (very much like ABDS) but at the same time they don't hesitate to question others scriptures, criticize other's beliefs, make fun of them, object to similar actions of other's gods, gurus or leaders (symptoms of anti-ABDS). Many times both symptoms are displayed by the same person or group, and for me, this is an amazing scenario to watch. Actually, we all become victims of these syndromes sometime in our lives. I try hard to not to become a victim of both these syndromes, but you never know, it is not easy, so we need to be careful. When I offer criticism about anything (even if it's constructive criticism), I have to be ready to receive criticism directed towards me and my views, this is what I try to follow on my blog, any counter view or other side of story is always welcomed as long as it's related to the topic. Blind faith in anything is dangerous, and we need to challenge it, question it, but we should also remember that when we question others, they have right to questions us, and we should be prepared to answer those questions if they are related to the subject of discussion. Only such healthy debates, discussions, and confrontations will induce any desirable change, there is no better option than this.

Blind supporters of Asaram are wrong in supporting him even after knowing about his crime, no doubt their demand to release him is irrational and illegal, but these devotees are the product of the same system which has created millions of other devotees which behave in a similar manner. Devotees who are ready to kill their fellow citizens in communal riots to protect their religion, followers who are ready to justify any action or statement of their beloved leader. The only difference is that some believe in something which happened thousands of years ago and some place their faith in something which is current, but both don't see anything wrong with their god, leader, or guru because they all think their idol is divine. Asaram's followers also think that he is divine and can not do anything wrong or may be even worst they might be thinking whatever he did was not wrong at all, as a divine person he is entitled to behave in whatever way he want, after all, he is a god. This attitude is a result of the same system which makes people believe that our idols or leaders are above everything and can not be questioned. This system is equally at fault along with the devotees who follow anything blindly, let's fight with this system and then these type of devotees with irrational demands and attitude will automatically disappear, as long as this system is there it will give birth to some Asaram and his devotees, who will follow him blindly and unconditionally. This type of behavior is similar to crazy fans of some celebrity which are a result of similar attitude, I also like many artists or writers, but none of them I worship or follow blindly. ABDS and anti-ABDS are not different they are different sides of the same coin, let's get rid of that coin itself. Praise or criticize someone or something based on the merit, not based on who they are or what is their status in society. Be aware of both of these syndromes, because many who are suffering from these don't even know that they are affected by these.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pu La and Sunita Deshpande...people who transformed me..

Purushottam Lakshman Deshpande (fondly known as PuLa, पु in Maharashtra) and Sunita Deshpande, was a couple who had huge influence on my thinking and many other aspects of my life. I don't have to introduce these two personalities to people who come from state of Maharashtra in India, these two or at least PuLa is a household name in Maharashtra, especially in a city of Pune where I was born and raised.

My parents never used to speak Marathi in our home during my childhood, they immigrated to Pune from small village in UP (Uttar Pradesh) where I was born and spent my entire life before moving to US, I studied in Marathi medium school and lived in Marathi speaking neighborhood and this is why Marathi became my mother tongue, I used to think and talk mostly in Marathi for first 30 years of my life. My school and our neighbors introduced me to rich cultural side of Maharashtra and that's how I came to know these two amazing personalities. PuLa's books and his 'katha kathan' (which simply means story telling, in his case he used to read some chapters from his books) are very popular among Marathi speaking people and are full of humor and at the same time comment about various aspects of life in very subtle way. Characters which he portrayed in his stories, books and plays are very real and leave strong impact on readers. He was also a great actor, narrator and musician, I think very few people have such a diverse talent. I still enjoy his books, listen to his audio and video clips and enjoy them as much I enjoyed them before, I think they are timeless and have capacity to entertain and educate number of coming generations of Marathi speaking people. He didn't believe in conventional definition of religion or god but his personal beliefs never ever reflected directly in any of his writings, anyone can easily relate with characters from his books, they are so human and real that people feel he is talking about them and their life when they listen to him or read his books, I guess this is the main reason for his huge popularity.

I read Sunita Deshpande's book "Aahe Manohar Tari" (आहे मनोहर तरी..) much later, after reading many books by PuLa, initially I read it because it was written by PuLa's wife, but when I read it I was totally surprised, it left me stunned, actually I was completely blown away, till now I must have read it multiple times. I don't think anyone expected such book from PuLa's wife. It was totally different, something which I never read before, PuLa is known for humor, he had knack of finding humorous side of any situation in life, but this book was very serious and up to the point and brutally honest, actually the book is about her memoirs, she is very clear and straightforward about her opinions not only about herself but also about other people in her life. She didn't try to hide that she is an atheist and really proud of that, which many people hesitate to do just not to hurt people or in fear of losing fans. She also made very honest comments about her own personality and her behavior under different circumstances, she also discussed about her own strengths and weaknesses, I never read such a honest self assessment before in my life, she also wrote some critical comments about her much celebrated and adored husband. As expected this book created some controversy and also received some criticism from readers including many PuLa's fans, they all thought she was wrong in criticizing him for being lazy or for being a typical husband who expects his wife to take care of him and his home, after all he was such a popular and beloved author of Maharashtra and as a gifted artist, as a husband, a talented person he deserved some special treatment. PuLa was her biggest supporter against all this criticism when this book came out and defended her right to express her views, not that she needed his support but it was nice to see such mutual understanding between the couple. I was amazed to read about such a brave and bold women who was much ahead of her time in thinking. Her approach towards life was also very unique and impressed me a lot. She managed to live her own life, pursue her own interests and hobbies without getting affected by success and popularity of her celebrity husband. She narrated almost every major incident of her life with so much honesty without worrying about reactions of her husband, his fans or other readers, whether it was about her thoughts about euthanasia when her mother was suffering in hospital, her pregnancy and abortion, her thoughts about God, about some qualities of her husband which she didn't like, the book also contains many other interesting incidents in her life, it will be very difficult for me to summarize entire book in this post, I would like my readers to read the book if possible. When I finished the book I was not the same person which I was before reading that book, such was the impact of that book on me. I don't claim that it will have same impact on everyone who reads it, may be there will be some who may not like that book, but it transformed me, helped me in many ways. I hope everyone finds at least one such book in their life.

Actually these two people helped me in many ways indirectly, these were only people who were not related with me or my field of study and I didn't meet personally but I still acknowledged them in my PhD thesis, such was their influence on me. They still remain huge source for inspiration for me but I don't worship them or don't follow them blindly, I totally understand that there might be many people who don't care about them or may be even dislike or hate them for whatever reason they have and I totally understand this, I have my own opinions about them and others can have their own and it's not necessary that everyone's opinion should always match with mine, this what I believe. I am thankful for both of them for transforming me, because in a kind of situation or neighborhood I was living it was highly impossible for me to meet with people like them but I was lucky to know them through their books, that's also one of the reason why I believe that books or blogs are such a powerful medium which have power of transforming people. I get lot of inspiration and strength from many books and articles which I read almost every day, they teach me and transform me in many ways, this is such a powerful medium and these two people played very pivotal role in starting this amazing journey for me. Thank you sir, thanks mam, love you both.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing] 

(image: from Google images)

Links:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunita_Deshpande
2. http://www.indiainternational.com/pulabahurupi80/index1.html
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pu_La_Deshpande

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Is AAP anti-national?

Recently Bharatiya Janata Party leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy (Dr. SS) called Aam Aadami Party (AAP) as anti-national party. Dr. SS is very well known for making controversial statements as well as sensational accusations, he is doing this for long time but most of the time media used to ignore his statements. Now a days he is again popular figure in Indian politics because role played by him in 2G spectrum scam case which resulted in arrest of Mr. A. Raja (minister of communications and IT, 2007-2009) and few others, the case created lot of controversy and media hype, because of all this now a days his statements are getting lot of media coverage and attention. This man always amazes me with his statements and articles, he is such a talented and intelligent person, with lot of good intention and nice ideas to make India better country, but because of his sectarian views and personal hatred for some people (like Gandhis) and groups he sometimes makes such horrendous statements that one is forced to wonder about his mental state. I think his recent statement related with AAP came because of somewhat different views of some AAP leaders on Kashmir issue and recent meeting of Mr. Arawind Kejriwal (AK) with controversial cleric Tauqueer Raza Khan, who allegedly issued fatwa against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

Dr. SS didn't like that one of the members of AAP Mr. Prashant Bhushan said that plebiscite can be one of the solutions which can help to reduce alienation of people of Kashmir. AAP had distanced itself from Mr. Bhushan's views calling it as his personal opinion and not the party's stand, but in India it's very rare to see a politician who can have totally opposite or different view on any sensitive topic than his/her party's view. Actually I like this aspect of AAP where a person is not forced to accept party's stand if he/she is not agreeing with it, he is not penalized for expressing what he believes, this should be allowed and welcomed in true democracy, people with different opinions can also team up and work together for betterment of society and country, I don't think there is anything wrong in it. It is like a joke that Dr. SS who now belongs to BJP, a party which had its own share or controversy regarding, Ayodhya issue or corruption charges, etc. is calling party like AAP as anti-national.

AAP has tried to maintain complete transparency in their financial dealings as well as candidate selection for election. No other party including Dr. SS's own party operates in such a transparent way, many antisocial elements, people who are facing serious criminal charges get tickets to contest elections from these national parties in the name of political compulsion (if we don't give the ticket some one else will give it to them), at least AAP is not playing this dirty game and should be applauded for that. As far as Mr. AK's meeting with Tauqueer Raza Khan is concerned, if AK did it only to gather Muslim votes then he and AAP will pay the price for it, but if he did this just to reach every section of society then there is nothing wrong in it, after all he is an Indian citizen, he and whatever community he represents is part of our country, treating any person like untouchable is not a solution. This is same BJP who is trying hard to make their prime ministerial candidate Mr. Narendra Modi acceptable to whole India (specially to Muslims), they claim he should not be branded as a communal just because one riot which happened during his tenure in Gujarat, but Dr. SS is not willing to apply the same criteria when it comes to leaders of other communities, how hippocratic one can become? And if Dr. SS is doing all this just to create some controversy and media attention then this is really pathetic and not expected from him, may be recent media exposure and popularity has created some sort of pressure or desire in him to remain in constant limelight, if this is the case then it's a sad end of an intellectual who had much more potential and  capability in him than just to make some controversial and sensational statements.

I hope people like Dr. SS concentrate on future of their own party and work towards building strong India. If people like him are going to judge parties based on personal opinions of some of its members then I hope they apply same criteria to their own party also and they accept if someone calls them party of criminals or rapists or porn watchers (just because some members in their party are accused of such acts or were caught on camera performing some of them), if not, then they should just stop using such double standards and if they want they can offer some constructive criticism. AAP with all its problems and drawbacks is at least trying to do something different, something which never happened in Indian politics before, I can understand discomfort of all national parties, I see that they don't appreciate this and like rise and popularity of AAP but trying to malign them in such a way is not what people expect, at least from person like Dr. SS, I am sure such accusations will ultimately help AAP and expose double standards of other political parties. We all know that even AAP is not perfect but at least please don't stoop to such a low level in an effort to malign them, it looks pathetic.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

controversial cleric Tauqeer Raza Khan, who had issued a fatwa against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

Read more at: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/bjp-accuses-aap-of-attracting-antinational-elements-to-the-party/432473-80-258.html?utm_source=ref_article
controversial cleric Tauqeer Raza Khan, who had issued a fatwa against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

Read more at: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/bjp-accuses-aap-of-attracting-antinational-elements-to-the-party/432473-80-258.html?utm_source=ref_article
controversial cleric Tauqeer Raza Khan, who had issued a fatwa against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

Read more at: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/bjp-accuses-aap-of-attracting-antinational-elements-to-the-party/432473-80-258.html?utm_source=ref_article
controversial cleric Tauqeer Raza Khan, who had issued a fatwa against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

Read more at: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/bjp-accuses-aap-of-attracting-antinational-elements-to-the-party/432473-80-258.html?utm_source=ref_article
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