Friday, March 29, 2013

My recent encounter with Stockholm syndrome...

Recently there was series of comments on my post "Chanakya and his views about women", there were few commentators from both genders were there to criticize my post and defend Chanakya's views about women on which I commented in my post. Their major objection was how come a trivial person like me can have a audacity to criticize great Chanakya. I was not at all surprised by their language (calling me stupid or dirty or any other name, offering me so many advises) but was little surprised to see some educated women defending Chanakya's description about women in general. I reproduce some of the quotes below which I used in my post, 

One should not place trust in rivers, animals with horns, armed ones, women or in ruling families.

Women are fickle minded. He also says 'Only women could speak falsehood'

Untruthfulness, rashness, guile, stupidity, avarice, uncleanliness and cruelty are women's seven natural flaws.

Fire, water, women, fool, snake and the royal family, beware of all these, they can prove fatal.

Courtesy should be learned from princes, the art of conversation from pundits, lying from gamblers and deceitful ways from women. 

So these people were there trying to tell me that how all these above sentences actually describe qualities of women in general and so called good women who don't have above characteristics are exceptions (as every rule has some exceptions) and so on (read those comments if you have time, they are interesting and clearly show strong prejudice against women all over the world). The whole discussion continued for long time (and still going one) and some people even posted some links about couple of TV serials which were based on Chanakya's life (which I already watched before) but their whole point was Chanakya was a genius, he was greatest teacher India ever produced therefore "nothing" which he said can be wrong and everything should be accepted as it is. Some person even said that there is some logic behind why Vedas (but never bothered to explain what logic) and Chanakya are against women independence, below is the actual comment, reproduced as it is, please gnore the minor typos or English (even my English is not that great)..

""Again you don't understand it. Its not the Women, Its the woman in the position as MOTHER you can trust. Same woman which can be trusted as mother always cannot be trusted as any other role may be( like wife). May be c is untruthful wife but always loving mother.
Man you need a brain to understand what he really wants to say. Vedic Culture not only Chanakys is against Women independence. You know why ? Precious things are not kept independent. When they have it they become cheap. What is happening to women is the Side effect of women liberation. Women are precious to us. Hence respected. But when they Show characteristics of a women not a slut. As its said Nariyal chahe kitna bhi bada ho uski jagah dali ke niche hai." 

(translation of last line which is in Hindi is, "No matter how big coconut is, its place is always below the branch")

One can clearly see what is the mindset of people who are trying to defend these views, look at the sentences which I highlighted, too much emphasis on women's sexual conduct, address them as "precious things" which can not be left independent and finally the conclusion that no matter how big they become they will be always bellow men (that proverb mentioned in comment and many other proverbs like that are still used regularly to convey this disgusting message to women). These people still like to live in medieval period of male superiority and believe me there are millions who think like this, not only in India but all over the world, what we see in comments section of this post is just a small subset of educated people, who even after learning so much (academically), experiencing outside world have such views then just imagine about other people who don't even get this chance (but sometimes they are better than so called educated class). 

The strange but not that surprising was few women who overwhelmingly defended these comments and theories, very ideal example of Stockholm syndrome (defined as a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy, they have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them). My friend Anila explained to me very nicely why some women are defending such statements by comparing it with Stockholm syndrome, I quote her comment from my Facebook wall "in this case the kidnapper is a crippling ideology, and it is so well indoctrinated that the very subjects of abuse (or suppression) become the most powerful voices in favor of it". I totally agree with her, the effect of this ideology is so strong on people that they don't see anything wrong in it, just because some famous personality like Chanakya said these things they think that it has to be right, for centuries this was hammered on people's mind and now it has become a belief system. Chanakya was genius of his time in various fields like politics, governance or economics, so they all think how can he be wrong about women? People just just believe him blindly and many other so called famous people's all statements and propagate such backward views just because they were made by some famous personality. Most of these people's major complaint or objection is who am I to object great genius Chanakya's views? He was great so a common man like me can not even question him, this mindset is very prevalent in Indian society and after reading some of the comments I can see that other countries are also not far behind. They don't like to see some one questioning their idols which they worship and adore. If someone points out a small dark spot on sun then these people accuse that person of calling sun useless, that's the logic they use but I don't agree with these. Questioning and healthy debate are most important pillars of human civilization and many people are dam against them specially when their own faith and belief are questioned.

Women liberation or real feminist movement started very recently (many be in late 19th century in western world) and in such a short time (considering thousands of years they lived under male dominated society) they have achieved tremendous progress in every field where they got opportunity, but it seems this is not enough for some people they want woman Chanakya, Vyas, Newton or something like that to believe that women are equal to men, I want to tell these people that just give them some time this will also come. Some people always read and see what they want to read and see, no matter how successful women are in every field they will always point to women who are still struggling to come out of years of suppression and abuse and try to prove their point that they can't compete with men, it's so sad and pathetic.

I hope these people who are thinking like this open their eyes (or someone helps them in this process) and see the real world outside where women are excelling in each and every field, they are achieving new heights, setting up high standards wherever they get the opportunity. I hope that some of these women who believe in very stereotyped description of women also learn to believe in their own capabilities and they should stop considering themselves as weaker sex and also stop believing that they are inferior to men in any apsect (which was hammered on their minds for centuries). I know that it's very difficult to change peoples opinion but still I tried because we need to confront these people wherever we meet them because these are the people who give shelter to such ideologies, harvest them, propagate them and practice them and we should try our best to stop this.

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

(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

2. When the bird starts loving its cage

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sanjay Dutt: A victim, a criminal or a naive offender?

Supreme court of India finally declared its verdict on 1993 Mumbai bomb blast case, it took almost 20 years after the incident to complete all legal formalities and deliver justice (TADA court, supreme court, I am sure still there will be further delay). Sanjay Dutt was one of the accused in the long list of people accused doing something which was related with occurrence of those blasts. He was not convicted for involvement in the actual terror plot of bomb blasts but was found guilty for possession of illegal arms and for that TADA court sentenced him 6 years in prison. Supreme court upheld that verdict but reduced the sentence to 5 years (minimum in such cases), he already spent 18 months in jail so if the situation remains as it is then he is supposed to to back to jail for three and half years more. Since the verdict about Sanjay is declared there are lot of reactions from film fraternity and other eminent people about this sentence and whether he deserves this harsh (as per their opinion) punishment or not.

Sanjay Dutts entire life has been like a roller coaster ride, there are so many ups and downs in his life that I think there may not be any other celebrity who had experienced so many ups and downs in their life. Starting from his drug addiction, death of his mother (famous actress Nargis), his failed relationships, successful career as a actor, conviction in terror plot, then jail term, back in movies, delivering two most successful and admired movies of Hindi cinema (Munnabhai series), getting married again, getting back family life which he dreamed of his entire life and now possibility of going back to jail, his life itself is like some thriller movie where you never know what might happen next. But this post is not about him or his life but about the reactions generated from various quarters after supreme court delivered this verdict about him.

From those reactions it's very clear that there are two sets of laws in any country or at least same law is interpreted in two different ways, I am not talking only about India but in any country, one for rich and famous and one for poor or common people. I am not saying that rich and famous can get away with anything they do because of their money and fame, NO, its not true and this is not what I mean, rather sometimes they get punished just to set an example and get in trouble because of their celebrity stature which is again wrong and should not happen. But even keeping that in mind if one can take a look at Sanjay's case one can clearly see the sympathy generated for him and large outcry for punishment being too hard and request for his pardon from various quarters of society is clearly because of his image as a rusty but gold hearted man. I am also a fan of his movies, I really loved his role in some movies, specially in Munnabhai series, those are my all time favorite movies, but I am not a blind follower or a crazy fan of anyone, so even though I feel bad for him I can not claim that judiciary has been unfair to him.

Every convicted person has a family, many of them have kids, many terribly regret the crime they committed, in many cases the convicted person is the sole earning member of that family, that means entire family depends on him for their survival, some times their crime is trivial but they lack resources and money to fight for justice and are left with no option but to face the punishment. All these incidents happen daily in country like India and everyone including me, all these celebrities, politicians, stars know about this, specially film industry clearly knows about these type of incidents because they make movies based on some of these stories but even after all this they still feel that only Sanjay should be pardoned, then what about many others like him?. I can understand if they are speaking as his friend, well wisher or relative they have full right to show their support to him, feel sympathy for him even after knowing that he committed a mistake which is punishable according to law. Actually all friends and family members of most of convicted persons feel that way and behave like this so they are not doing anything radically different, everyone likes to defend their closed ones. But they should at least have courage to say that we know that he did a mistake which is punishable by law but still we are going to support him because he is our friend and we love him no matter what, put a clear picture, please don't try to paint him as a 'victim' because he is not a victim. At the same time Sanjay should not get harsher treatment just because he is a big star, he should have right to explore all legal options which are available to any common man to defend himself, but they should not make his case as special case because of his celebrity status this will be like playing cruel joke on people who can not access these facilities just because they are not rich and famous.

I am not writing this to suggest what should be done and what shouldn't, whether Sanjay Dutt is guilty or not or what is proper punishment for his crime or mistake is not my job to decide. I am sure law will take its own course, in fact it did, it was long (20 years) process to deliver justice. We need to do something to make this process faster, 20 years is very long period and many things can change in that time and can add complications to the case. It will be interesting to see in which direction things proceed in his case, I am sure he is strong enough to deal with these setbacks in his life but at the same time we need to think about many people who are not as lucky as him to get so much support but also deserve a second chance in their lives, can we be supportive to them also, if yes then let's do it and let's have a proper mechanism to do that and if not then why not? and why this case is special then? Let this incident be an opportunity to improve some things in our society and not the time just to take sides, show loyalties or play politics.

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

(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Is there anyone with unconditioned mind?

I come across this term in many articles and comments on various forums mainly related with religion or spirituality, people use this term freely to accuse anyone for not agreeing to their views. Many people accuse each other for having conditioned mind, they all say that it's because of conditioned mind many people can not understand true nature of God or can not feel true love or understand true meaning of their religion, etc. and then non-believers also accuse believers for having conditioned mind so we can see that both sides are accusing each other with same charge. So according to many people if some one doesn't agree to their own ideas or views then the other person's mind is conditioned, polluted with some biased ideas which stops him/her from understanding their very logical and rational argument, and many times we all can think like this, it helps us to satisfy our ego and be happy (and who doesn't like this). But really what is conditioned or unconditioned mind? Are these two different types of brain, where one works differently than others? or is it just a very convenient way of categorizing people based on our own assumptions to satisfy our ego, to make ourselves happy?

Human brain or mind is very complex organ, it works in very complex way and we are still in a process to explore many mysteries associated with it. We have achieved many major breakthroughs in understanding its design and function but still it puzzles us sometimes and then we ask the question how and why it functions in certain way for certain people in certain situations? Our brain and its powers make us unique species and differentiates us from other animals of this planet, it's the reason for our dominance and survival on this planet, at the same time many of our problems can be attributed to its destructive power. Most of our actions are controlled by our brain and are result of all the information, data or knowledge we gather over the years, this is what we call conditioning of our mind. So as far as I think technically no functioning mind is unconditioned, perhaps only the mind of new born baby who doesn't know anything about this world can be called as purely unconditioned one but slowly that mind also gets trained to recognize people and  surroundings, so any social animal can't escape conditioning of its mind in some way or another.

Technically we all have conditioned mind the only difference is that all minds are conditioned in very unique way, even minds of people from same family, living in similar environment function in totally different way. I think only conditioned minds are able to think, unconditioned mind even don't know how to think or even if it  does then it doesn't realize that its thinking because most of us get training not only about how to think but also what to think and any training requires conditioning of mind so that we won't mess it up, we can call this process as education, training, upbringing, culture, social influence or can give any other name but basically it's a conditioning of mind so that it can function in particular way in particular situation. According to me conditioning is not always bad, actually it's very necessary for our civilization and society, because of conditioning of mind we are civilized people otherwise their would not have been any difference between humans and other animals. But this conditioning should not be to a extend where it becomes an obstacle to accept anything new, anything which seems coming from outside of those boundaries which are set by that conditioning. That conditioning then forces us to define marriage in certain way, forces us to define certain roles to each gender, forces us to label some races superior and some inferior, makes us think that certain jobs are more respectable than some other, this is all result of excess, forceful and very rigid conditioning. Anything in excess is bad and same is true for this conditioning process, this process is necessary to train our mind but same thing can prove detrimental if it takes over our mind and forces it to reject everything new without even giving it a careful consideration. So let's use our conditioned minds to create something good,  accept new ideas, even if it requires to think beyond limits set by that conditioning and challenge our own beliefs and values, let's all do it because that's how our civilization will progress.

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

(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

औरत और धर्म

महिलाओं के सामाजिक स्थान में हमारे सभी धर्म और रीतियों  कितना योगदान रहा है? क्या किसि धर्म ने उन्हें पुरुषों के सामान दर्जा दिया है? सदियों से चले आ रहे महिलाओं के शोषण में धर्म और उसकी परम्पराओ का कितना योगदान है? सभी धर्मों के संथापक एवं करता-धर्ता केवल पुरुष ही क्यों है? ऐसे कई सवाल है जिनके जवाब अगर हम ढूढने की कोशिश करें तो शायद धर्म का असली मकसद और स्वरुप हमारे सामने आ जाये...किसी विशेष धर्म के ऊपर टिका करना मेरा उद्देश नहीं लेकिन ये सरे सवाल पूछना भी बेहद जरूरी है..

YouTube link:

Monday, March 11, 2013

India and Pakistan...a tale of two siblings

Tension or violence at line of control (LOC) between India and Pakistan is not something unusual, people from both the countries are used to read news about firings or killings at LOC and this is going on since these two countries became independent. Political leaderships from both countries failed to find some mutually agreeable solution for problems which exist between two nations, even after so many attempts, so many meetings still all problems remain as they were. 

The major issue between these two countries can not be looked only as a border dispute, there is lot of emotional, political and international angle to it. Issue of Kashmir is very sensitive for people from both the countries, biggest sufferers in this problem are Kashmiri people who are deprived of any stability in their state, this instability has affected everything in Kashmir, day to day life, economic development, tourism, education. Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits are displaced from their native land and are living like refugees in their own country, sadly this problem very rarely gets reported whenever problem of Kashmir is discussed at any level. Both countries have invested so much on Kashmir issue that it's almost impossible for both of them to back off from their stand, this standoff will continue indefinitely unless both of them acknowledge that there is a problem and they need to take serious efforts to solve it, right now both of them claim Kashmir as their own territory and blame each other for creating this issue, this is going on for decades and I think will continue in future also because many political parties survive because of this issue in both countries. Both these countries refuse to accept that it's their fault that this problem still exists, they just blame each other and do nothing substantial to resolve the issue. This issue is also one of the major reason for arm race between these two countries (which involves interest of many other countries which sell arms).

The hatred between people of these two countries is also something which keeps these issues hot and politically relevant. One very good example of this is India Pakistan cricket match, for many people it's not just a cricket match, but it's a war on cricket field...a chance to show that we are superior than you, we can beat you, and these matches are full of tension and there is always very high expectations from fans of both the teams, the unwritten rule is 'loose against anyone but not against Pakistan/India'. For me it took quite sometime to get over these feelings and realize  that loss against Pakistan is not that such a big deal, now I look at it as just a another cricket match but this was not the case during my childhood days, I still remember that anxiety, agony and anger, now I laugh at it but that time it was really serious and I used to consider all Pakistanis as our enemies.

In spite of these differences and such a bitter rivalry there is so much similarity in these two countries, people from both countries enjoy similar movies and music, they share many cultural and social customs, there are more Muslims living in India than Pakistan. Many Pakistani artist work on Indian television and also in Hindi movie industry but unfortunately reverse doesn't happen, I think Indian artists are not allowed to work or perform in Pakistan that's why I am not in favor of this unilateral cultural exchange. This cultural exchange and bilateral sports tournaments are not proving any useful, the tension prevails, soldiers are dying and still terrorists have safe heaven in many places of Pakistan. Sometimes these cultural and sports exchanges are successful in creating some friendly atmosphere but then something very ugly happens at LOC and things are back to normal. Political instability in Pakistan and very dominant military complicates the issues more, now they are facing fear of terrorism themselves and many tragic incidents are happening regularly there, hopefully at least not Pakistani government will take some serious steps to curb act of terrorism at least to protect their own citizens. I hope that now both countries realize that they have a common enemy and come together to fight against it, but I wonder whether this long history of conflicts will make things any easier or difficult.

If both these countries settle their issues and try to bring peace it will be like blessing for people for both these countries  it will be like dream coming true, but there are many people who don't want this to happen because then their political career will vanish, many countries who sell arms to both these countries will also suffer huge loss and I am sure all these forces will try their best to prevent anything like this happening in near future. This is very sad but it's a bitter truth. People from both countries also have very wrong image of each other, I met some Pakistanis here in USA and they all are not very different than us, I enjoyed talking with them and I am sure many Indians had similar experience and feel same way. I want my fellow Indians to realize that our neighboring country is not full of only Islamic extremists or India haters, it's a very wrong image formed by some of actions by military and some politicians of Pakistan, we need to clear this misconception. One thing is clear that these two countries can not avoid each other they are destined to be neighbors as long as both of them exist, then why not to live  peacefully and stop the blame game which is going on for last six decades or so, I think time has come to stop this hate game, take a pause and think rationally not emotionally and then take one step at a time, firmly, boldly but in make sure that we are going in right direction, this is the only way we can resolve issues between these two nations and bring some peace, I think people from both countries need it more than anything else. 

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

(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

1. To fight India, we fought ourselves-Mohsin Hamid
2. In Britain, the ‘Enemy’ Was Just Like Me- RAHUL JOGLEKAR

Friday, March 8, 2013

Liberal better than conservative extremist.

Recently one very interesting news made headlines in Indian electronic and print media, one of worlds best management schools Wharton was in news for withdrawing its invitation to Gujarat's chief minister Mr. Narendra Modi as a key note speaker to its Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF). The reason of this withdrawal was fierce opposition for Mr. Modi as a keynote speaker by sections of Wharton professors, students and other stakeholders, they opposed him because of his so called communal political background, specially for his alleged involvement in Godhra communal riots of 2002 (charges which are not proven in any court). I was totally surprised by this decision of WIEF, opposition to Mr. Modi was not surprising because there is huge section of so called secularists who love to bash only some political parties or leaders for their so called communal policies or views but conveniently ignore similar acts by so called secular forces.

I agree that religion and politics should not be mixed but in reality this happens very rarely anywhere in world, religion and politics have so many similarities in them that it's really hard for them to remain separate, both these faculties get benefited from each other and survive with help of each other. These so called secular groups have made 'secularism' a separate religion which has its own rules and norms, they also treat some things as untouchables and are extremist in their views on some issues. Most of these people love to call themselves as liberal, they get angry when Mr. Salman Rushdie was not allowed to speak in some literary festival in India, they cried for freedom of speech that time, but same people keep mum when Mr. Narendra Modi was not allowed to speak as a key note speaker at WIEF. There is nothing wrong in protesting against anyone's policies or opposing some political actions, people who are against Mr. Modi should protest or try to ask him questions wherever they face him but I think not allowing him to participate in any function is bit too extreme reaction according to me similar to what some groups did to Mr. Rushdie few months back. One can have serious differences with Mr. Modi's political stance or Mr. Rushdie's books but to stop them from participating in any public function or bar them from sharing their views from any platform is not the way to fight with their ideologies.

I also don't understand what they achieved by stopping him from participating in this function, many controversial political leaders are there is US politics, many of them and others from all over the world visit US and deliver seminars or speeches at so many places. I really admire this quality of American people and institutes, they are very tolerant to a broad spectrum of ideas and beliefs, they encourage open debate about various sensitive issues. But this indecent is really unique and I think a huge mistake, they lost a chance to hear from one of the very successful chief minister of one of very successful Indian state (Gujarat), it's not at all loss for Mr. Modi but huge loss of students of Wharton. This group who opposed his visit must be very happy for their achievement, they must be thinking this success as another feather in their cap to show their secular credentials but in this process they have showed that they are not at all different than other people who don't allow certain people to express their opinion just because it doesn't agree with their own beliefs, just because who they are, they judge based on past, they don't believe in democratic ways but want to deliver justice themselves. Like conservative extremist we also have liberal extremist and both are same with absolutely no difference in their attitude only they identify themselves with different name tag. I think we need to fight against both these groups to have true liberal or free society, where every voice is heard and every topic is debated, where issues are more important not the person who is raising them.

Thank you for reading and please share your views on this topic.

(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

1. Full text of letter protesting Modi invitation to Wharton
2. Modi’s address at Wharton cancelled
3. Wharton backs Modi invite cancellation

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thank you for reading..

Exactly one year ago (5th March 2012) I posted my first post on my blog. It's hard to believe that one year has already passed since I started writing this blog. This journey so far was quite enjoyable and fulfilling experience for me, when I started this blog I didn't know how long I will continue writing, never knew what topics I will discuss, I only knew that I wanted to share my views on various topics with others and was interested to know others views also and wanted to have a healthy dialogue. The blog survived for one year and it is still going strong. Today is the first anniversary of my blog and I want to celebrate it with all my readers, critiques and well wishers because you are the people who helped me to come this far.

First of all I want to thank all my readers for their time and encouragement, readers from all over the world visit my blog and I am really thankful to all of them. I also want to express my gratitude to all my friends and family members who encouraged me to write and instilled that confidence in me which was required to start this adventure, without their support and encouragement this blog would not have came into existence. We all discuss various topics with our friends and family members and express our concerns, opinions on almost all issues but rarely we think that we should share it with wider audience. Previously it was difficult to share as mediums like blogs or social media like Facebook etc. were not available but after their entry it has become really easy to share our thoughts with others and this is the major reason we see so many blogs by so many people who want to share their ideas and opinions. I was also inspired by this phenomena and was thinking of starting my own blog sometime in the beginning of last year but was hesitant to start because of few reasons, first of all English is not my first language and also I was wondering if the topics which interest me or trouble me will also interest or appeal others or not? But my friends specially Vishnu encouraged me to write and this blog was started, I don't worry anymore about my English because I know that there are many people like me who speak and write very simple English which is not that great but it serves the purpose (to convey the message). The main intention here is to share the thoughts with others and language is only a medium and I am sure that my language is pretty simple and clear to understand.

To my great surprise blog was mentioned in one of the very popular Marathi daily news paper Loksatta (लोकसत्ता) in a section "वाचावे नेटके (Wachave Netake)" which can be translated as 'read something good', and the author said very good things about the blog, he said that language is simple to understand, topics are socially relevant and thoughts are presented in very clear and non-provocative manure. I was not aware of this article and came across it very accidentally and it was a pleasant surprise for me. Along with this praise blog received some criticism as well, I found it was mentioned as 'anti-Hindu' blog on some Yahoo group's message board, that message has been deleted from this group for some reason after I wrote a post about this rare honor some time back...:) Some readers also criticized some of my opinions and I tried to answer all their concerns and doubts to best of my abilities, all these discussions and debates are there to read for everybody in comments section of blog, some of them are very interesting, may be more interesting than the post itself and I recommend readers interested in those topics to go through them if they have enough time to spare because some of them are really lengthy.

I share my blog posts on some other platforms like Speaking Tree section of Times of India and on my Facebook page where I get to interact with many other blog writers and readers who don't visit this blog. Blog writing and interacting with my readers at various platforms has been a very rewarding and satisfying experience for me, I enjoyed it a lot and I hope that readers of my blog also enjoyed it. I wish to continue this journey as long as I enjoy it, I learned a lot and hope that people reading my views also got something useful from my blog posts. Many of the issues which I discuss on blog are very serious or complicated, I know that it will take more than just a blog post to deal with them but this is an attempt from my side to initiate a thought process in people's mind and I hope it will generate some interest and awareness about these issues, even if few people get inspired to do something different and good I think the purpose of writing this blog is served.

Thanks for reading and please keep on reading and sharing your thoughts.

(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

1. Loksatta link
2. My blog at Speaking tree
3. Some of my old posts on Speaking Tree
4. Two most popular posts from blog: Chanakya and his views about women;
                                                          Does Religion Divide or Unite People?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Why I named my daughter "Sara"?

Chandrakant uncle asked me this question few days back. I never shared my intention or reasons for given this particular name to my daughter with many people outside my immediate circle, but I think it will be interesting to share it one my blog. Naming your child can be very complicated and sometimes stressful process and in today's world of internet I think it's becoming very elaborated activity, with fertile minds of many people and many resources at disposal to get suggestions. I was not very familiar with the world of internet when my first child was born so I had very limited resources at disposal that time.

I was very happy to know that our first baby was a girl. I really wanted to have a daughter, not that I didn't want to have son or was biased towards particular gender, any child is a child its gender really doesn't matter much, but there was a very personal reason for my wish to have a daughter because I was tired of listening comments or taunts like, 'it's easy to talk about feminism but difficult to practice' 'you don't know how difficult it is to raise a daughter in today's world' 'may be one day you will realize what it means to have a daughter' (said in a tone like its some type of curse or something to have a daughter), 'you talk like this because you don't have a daughter' etc. etc. so it was a big relief for me when I  heard that my wife gave birth to a girl, when I heard that the first thought came to my mind was that may be now I don't have to listen to any of these comments or taunts. No doubt that I was happy, becoming a parent is one of the nicest feeling in the world, it's a pleasure as well as huge responsibility and like any other parents it was one of the happiest day of my life.

The next task was to name our daughter, normally people select names appropriate to their own religion, culture, caste, etc. there are many things which contribute towards selection of name of a child in India (or anywhere in the world). People who suggest names always try to suggest names according to your religion and this practice is very common all over the world. I also got some suggestions on similar lines, me and my wife had some of our own choices and they all were strictly according to all guidelines most parents follow, we were not any different. At that time I was also reading lot about anti-superstition (अन्धश्रधा निर्मूलन) movement in Maharashtra and at the same time I also read about Dr. Shriram Lagoo, very celebrated actor on Marathi stage and popular character artist from Hindi cinema, I read about why he gave his son a Muslim name, he and Deepa Lagoo name their only child 'Tanveer' a Muslim name, they both were born in Hindu family, there are not many examples like this (I know only this one). I read somewhere that they gave their child name from different religion, [that too the one with which their own religion (in which they were born) has a history of bitter rivalry] because they wanted their child to know or to understand that people can judge you as a person based on your religion, they can have totally different perception about your personality just because of your name.

People indeed can have many prejudices just because of your name, because from your name they come to know about your religion, caste (in India), they can guess from which region or country of world you belong  and then based on their own assumptions about these things they can form certain opinion about you, we all do it, it's very common thing. I think that might be the reason why not many parents would want to name their kids Osama or Adolf or Duryodhan (main negative character from Mahabharat) just because some negative image associated with these names and this induces fear in parent's mind that their child might subjected to some trauma or torture just because of his/her name and they want to avoid it.

So when I decided to name my first child my intention was to convey my belief to her that its not your name which gives you a character or meaning to you rather it's you who give some meaning to your name so it doesn't matter what it is, from which religion or region it belongs, name is just a name. But frankly speaking at the same time I was not as brave as Lagoos to give clearly a Muslim or Christian name, I knew that no one in my family would accept it and clearly it will be a matter of great argument and discomfort for many people in my family and I wanted to avoid this scenario as I was already causing enough of trouble myself so I didn't want my daughter to be a reason for this right from her entry into this world. Then I came across this name 'Sara'. I don't remember where I read it for the first time but may be I came across it for the first time while reading about Sachin's family life. I know now that his daughter's name is Sara but I am not that type of crazy fan to name my daughter or son after people I follow. I realized that name 'Sara' perfectly fits my bill, it's not from my own religion, my family had no clue which religion or region it belongs (it was not very common name in India). Honestly I myself didn't have any clue that time what was meaning of this name but I liked it, fortunately my wife also agreed to it and no one else protested (once she agreed any way others protest doesn't matter) so we named her Sara.

It's a very simple story but I thought it's worth sharing, thanks to Chandu uncle for asking me this question which took me back to my memory lane to remember those wonderful days. My daughter is now old enough to understand how people name their kids and what logic normally people follow while naming their kids. She also knows which part of world her name originated and what it means. I told her story behind her own naming process and she is totally cool with it. I am glad that my both kids understand limited importance and significance of people's name and they don't judge people just based on their name, race, religion or nationality. After all name, religion, country of origin doesn't really matter, all what matters is how we behave with others and how well we treat world around us, remember our name doesn't give any meaning to us but we can definitely give some meaning to our name.

Thanks for reading and please share your opinion.

(Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)