Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My chawl and its people...

I spent most of my life living in a 'chawl' (चाळ in Marathi), still we have our home in our chawl and I visit it on my every India trip. For people who don't kn ow what does word 'chawl' means, let me explain it little bit to best of my ability, this is a all together different type of set up where many houses are aligned side by side (it can be one two or maximum three story building), they are not like row houses, or condos but they have unique floor plan normally it contains two or three rooms, straight, connected with each other with no doors in between, only main door, common toilet for each floor, only 'mori' or bathing/washing space inside house. By description it doesn't look like very comfortable or attractive place to live with family, its with minimum privacy but with maximum fun (at least we had lot of fun as kids, I don't know about adults). Culture in chawl also used to be very unique, all members know each other very well, there were no secrets, it was very easy to know what is going on in each home, so whether you want it or not all your friends used to know if you had a bad day in your home (and I am sure kids of that generation know very well what I mean by bad day, punishments offered to us that time can easily come under physical abuse category by today's standards. Houses were crowded but lot of open space around to play.

I can't capture essence of that life in words but life was filled with lot of fun and unpredictable, interesting things. I still remember our cricket matches where both teams used play as if it is a world cup final to win 25 paise (Indian quarter, which is less than a US penny). Every chawl used to have their own cricket team and some were really bitter rivals of each other, matches between those teams used to be full with high tension and lot of drama and many times used to end without any result because of dispute over some run out decision. Having your own cricket bat was a big luxury which very few kids can afford and whoever used to have it used to feel like a king and really used to get a royal treatment as everyone needed that bat to play. We never had lot of toys or video games that time but there were many games we used to play which never required any sophisticated equipment but were very enjoyable, most of them are almost extinct now but I still remember all of them. Most of kids from our chawl used to go to same school, we used to either go to school with our bikes or company (Vanaz' where most men from our Chawl used to work, that's why it is called as Vanaz chawl) used to provide a school bus. That school bus was not like one which you see now a days, it was regular bus, really over crowded, totally occupied (sitting, standing), to get a seat in that bus one really has to fight a war and some kids used to ride on running bust just to get the seat and this resulted in one tragedy where one student got crushed under the bus. That bus was called school bus only because it used to carry school children but there was no other feature of school bus associated with it. I am glad that I survived those years without facing any major accident. So our life there was full of lot of good stuff at the same time so many risks, which were very serious by today's safety standards.

For long time we never had individual water connections for each house, there used to be common taps from where everyone (including kids) used to carry water with buckets or different vessels to their home and store for daily use. We used to receive water for few hours each day so there used to be tough competition to fill all your vessels before they shut down water supply for the day and this used to create lot of fights, some really ugly but bitterness never use to last long, next day again fresh challenge, new war and new fights. These fights or arguments were so common that other people hardly used to interfere or get bothered by these, except for people who are involved in these arguments all others used to continue with their routine as if nothing strange is happening around them, no one used to freak out over some argument going around them, rather many used to watch it as some sort of entertainment and even enjoy them, sounds so strange when I look back to those incidents now.

Eating dinner together with friends was also a common practice, kids used to take their plates outside and sit together to eat dinner, all used to share the dishes with each other and one used to get taste of different type of food. Slowly as people got more money they built more rooms and we lost our veranda so this practice slowly stopped, but it was fun as long it lasted. Keeping an eye on kids used to be a job of any elder from neighborhood not only parents of that kid, if some one else caught us doing some wrong thing they had full right to punish us and normally no parent used to object this. I think this practice of collaborative parenting made our neighborhoods safe and allowed many parents to carry out their day yo day activities without being bothered about safety of their child, our parents were not careless, they cared about us as much as we (or present day parents) care about their kids but this system worked very efficiently back then and made their job easy.

The life back then was filled with many incidents and situations which one can not even imagine today, the world has moved on and many of those things vanished with time, I don't regret that they are gone, change is important and required but I do remember most of those incidents fondly. I still visit my chawl and know each and every individual personally, my chawl has also changed a lot, it's not the same which it was 20 years back but so am I and this change is natural no one can avoid it. May be in future there won't be any chawls, may be they don't fit in image of modern city, all people might prefer to live in nice apartments or beautiful single family homes, but my chawl, its people and days which I spent there will always remain in my memory.

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

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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why the heck Modi needs US visa?

Recent news about 65 MP's (member of parliament) who wrote a letter to US president Mr. Barack Obama requesting him not to grant US visa to Gujarat chief minister (CM) Mr. Narendra Modi caught my attention. I was interested in the logic (if there was any) behind these people's request and why they think is US visa is so important for Modi or for any person of his stature. The copy of letter which is circulating in media with signatures on it looks very genuine, so if we believe the contents of this letter then their major emphasis is on 2002 Godhra riots and because these MP's believe that Modi was responsible for those riots (I wonder on what basis they are claiming this) so US government should not allow him to enter their own country. 

The letter paints picture of Gujarat as most horrible place in India where minorities are butchered and raped daily, these people don't even realize that they are talking about one of the state in their own country. They consider Modi as anti-social and dangerous person, based on his shoddy human rights record they want US to prevent his entry, but they are fine with his presence in their own country (that too as CM). If they believe and have solid proofs about Modi's so called crimes then why is he free even in India? If his crimes are so serious and there in enough evidence about it, then he should be in jail, right? Why a person who these 65 lawmakers think is dangerous and antisocial roaming free in their own country? If they want US to ban his entry, then why they don't kick him out from India also? Do they think that in India criminals can stay, they can even rule, it's all fine, but not in US? There are many questions like these which should be asked to these 65 people and they should provide satisfactory answers to them or resign from their posts.

Having political or ideological difference is one thing, those differences can be debated, discussed in civilized manure but to play revenge politics like this and expose our internal disagreements on international level is pathetic display of immaturity. I didn't expect this from these people. Another question is, why the hell Modi needs a US visa? He is a chief minister of one of the most developing states of India, he is democratically elected leader and holding that office for more than a decade. He can talk with anyone anywhere in the world without physically visiting that place, recent development in communication technology has given everyone of us that power and capability. So even if he want to talk with Indian community in US he don't need to visit US physically, he can do it right from his office in Gujarat, so why the hell he needs that visa? If US companies want to invest in Gujarat they will automatically invite him and arrange visa for him, I am sure then there will be no question about human right violation and other things.

According to me no government in this world have absolutely clean record about human rights, every one is involved somewhere directly or indirectly where human rights are violated (either in their own country or on foreign soil), so who can claim high moral ground here? And on what basis? These people should fight against Modi (if at all they want) based on valid and rational points, challenge him, question him but please don't play dirty game like this, apply same yardsticks and rules to everyone and see what happens. I have only one request to all these people, please stop this circus and talk about more serious issues, I am sure India have many of them, whether Modi or anyone else gets any visa or not is not a big deal, we have much bigger issues to address and I expect these intelligent MP's to think about that rather than thinking about how they get some cheap media publicity.

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

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

1. 64 MPs urged Obama to keep visa ban for Modi
2. BJP wants US visa for Modi
2. Massive controversy breaks out over MPs' letter to Obama on Modi visa
3. Controversy breaks out over MPs letter on Modi visa

Sunday, July 21, 2013 careful while reading it..

History was not one of my favorite subjects in school, I didn't like it the way it was taught and tested in schools, that method put too much emphasis on remembering the names, dates and other insignificant details of the incidents rather than understanding the analyzing the significance of those events. But eventually I met people in y life who reintroduced this subject to me in much more interesting way and then I started reading books to understand more about some past events, now I love to read history and like to read accounts from both the sides. One can find many historical accounts (reports about any incident happened in past), either written by experts (after thorough research) or by witnesses (who were involved in some way in real incident). Many of these reports are sometimes contradictory to each other, some glorifying the incident while others criticizing it, so which one to believe? Which one is true? This is very important and valid question and there is no easy answer to this, my approach is read as much as you can from both sides and then decide yourself. 

The major problem which I face while reading most of these books or articles (many of them are very popular) is that many times they are very biased, the views and opinions clearly take sides. There are neutral accounts also but very often they are not popular because people like to see clear heroes and villains in every story and often neutral accounts don't project clear heroes and villains so they fail to impress common readers. I see this contrast when I compare what I learned in school about Indian freedom struggle, all those lessons glorified all actions of Indians, armed struggle of 1857 was presented in such a way that as a kid I was under impression that all autocracies were only committed by British troops and all rebels were very honest and fair in dealing with their enemies. But when I read some books (for example a recent book which I read, Gandhi Churchill by Arthur Herman) which talk about same mutiny but in totally different way, I learned about each and every massacre committed by British troops but I never knew about Bibighar massacre, I was surprised when I read about it, I guess it was neglected purposely. I am sure one can find totally different views about Pearl Harbor attack, or atomic bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki if we read Japanese and American opinions, totally different views about same incident, now how to decide who is right and who is wrong here? Is it easy to decide? Is it necessary to crate heroes and villains from every story.

I think rulers (kings in past or governments now) always feel the need to present history in biased way to infuse patriotism in people, they want more heroes from our past, our lineage so that we feel proud about it and I think this strategy worked very well so far. But some how I always wanted to know both the sides, Mahabharat taught me that there is no absolute right or wrong in this world, everything is relative, depends on which side you are standing. I have no shame or hesitation in accepting or talking about some dark spots in Indian history, according to me they are also part of our history. They belong to us as much as many other glorious things which we mention proudly, I don't deny them, don't feel uncomfortable but like to discuss and know people's views about these things, it helps me to learn and grow intellectually. I always tell my kids that before forming any opinion about any incident, person or any other things try to know as much as possible, try to know both sides (positive and negative) and then only form any opinion, and be prepared to change that opinion if you receive any additional information which contradicts it, because nothing is permanent.

Read, reading is good, it improves our knowledge, sharpens our minds, but I always try to read diverse opinions, try to get neutral opinions or at least views from both the sides, it helps in balancing my own views. If we look at history only through eyes of winners, losers will be always villains, if we read only losers perspective we will always feel winners didn't play a fair game, so our vision will be clouded depending on which side we are looking at, our job is to make it as much less clouded or blurry as possible. It's easy to point fingers at others but it's also a good habit to pause and take a look at our own backyard may be after that we will stop accusing others.

History is very engaging and mesmerizing subject, it has potential to teach us a lot, at the same time if we are not careful then it can also fill us with lot of negative emotions and hatred against each other, we need to be very careful about how we interpret the historical events. We need to make sure that we have all the required information before forming any opinion about any country or community or religion. There are already enough conflicts around us we definitely don't need any more of them, and always remember history is past so don't allow it to ruin our present and destroy our future, if we are careful about all these things then history is amazing subject.

Thanks for reading and please share your opinion on this subject.

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

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Racial profiling...a very common mistake.

Recently I read about George Zimmerman's trial and reactions to his acquittal from murder charges for killing Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American high school student. This incident of fatal shooting took place on February 26 2012, in Sanford, Florida, USA. The trial attracted lot of media attention and verdict to acquit Zimmerman resulted in lot of protests and controversy, all this happened because many believe there is a racial aspect involved in this case. Many people think that Zimmerman got suspicious about Martin because of his skin color which subsequently resulted in unfortunate incident of fatal shooting, I won't feel surprised if this is true (but I am sure it will be impossible to prove it).

Racial profiling (I am using this as a general term where we try to label certain group with certain characteristics) is very common mistake many of us do consciously or unconsciously, I see that happening around me all the time. Actually issue of racial profiling is more complicated and deep than it looks. I am not going to go into any historical accounts or going to produce any actual data (sometimes numbers don't give the actual picture) but want to say something based on my own personal experience in US as well as in India. In India even though there is no issue of race but there it is about caste, in both cases the mindset is same, one race or caste feels superior to other.

When I was in India I heard many things like how Muslims are not as patriotic as Hindus or how particular caste doesn't deserve to be doing some white collar job or how people from some particular caste are not as intelligent (or brave or clean or honest one can use any criteria here) compared to people from so called upper caste (or their own caste)...and many things like this, the list can become very long if I try to mention each and every thing, people still say these things very casually without any regret or guilt. I also didn't feel any strange when I heard these things as a kid as this was discussed very openly and without any reservations, and very often as a kid when you here these things again and again many times you start thinking that may be they are true. Some times there are few incidents which makes you to think that may be whatever people around you are saying about others is true (mostly people in these groups belong to same caste, religion and race). So we don't even understand when this habit of racial profiling, that is judging people based on their religion, race, caste, etc. is incorporated in our mindset. Even when I came in US I found that there are very subtle currents of prejudice against some races. It's not very open here but one can feel that it's there. There are some areas in every city or town which are considered as good neighborhood and some are bad, one can easily look at ethnic groups living in those areas and understand that there is strong racial connection to this labeling. Actually crime rate and other things which make some areas less safer than others is because of economical condition of people living in those areas not because of their race or skin color, but people don't want to analyze the real problem they just see the symptoms and form their opinion.

Many times because of some historical social aspects (like years of suppression and negligence) people from certain caste (in India) or race (in US and other countries) are deprived of good education and equal opportunities therefore they struggle economically which can sometimes lead to high crime rate, but to blame it on their caste or race is totally unfair and wrong. Criminals are found in every society and ethnic groups, there is no logic behind labeling particular race or caste more criminal than other. But in reality no one wants to think about these problems so seriously, most take easier path of racial profiling, they label certain races or castes as good, intelligent and some as criminals, not so intelligent or incompetent (many people do the same thing about gender also). Most of these people pass this flawed thinking to their kids, so even before kids know world outside their home they are prejudiced with which people are good and which are bad, who are their own people (same caste, religion, race or nationality) and who are others, so this cycle continues.

I guess we all do some kind of racial profiling at some stage, some accept and some don't, worst things is that some don't even see anything wrong in doing this. I will be lying if I say that I have not done it myself and I am not at all proud of those instances where I might have done this intentionally or unintentionally. Society and our inner circle (friends and relatives) play a very big role in this, many times we tend to follow their thinking, but when I saw world with my own eyes without any prejudice then I realized how wrong I was in judging people based on their caste, religion or race, that was one of the most important movements of my life when I lets that habit for good. We have progressed so much in science and technology, we know many things about which our ancestors had no clue, but even today I see that racial profiling is very common, people judge others based on their nationality, religion or race. Many stand up comedians love to make fun of people from particular race or nationality and they are very popular, I know that one should not take these things seriously, they are only for entertainment purpose but still I don't like these shows when they concentrate too much on negative aspect of any person or community.

We all know that racial profiling is wrong, we don't like it when some one does it to us, but somehow many of us don't see anything wrong in doing it knowingly or unknowingly to others. Most of the time people do this without having proper knowledge about that race, religion or country. Every culture is different, they all have some good and may be some bad aspects, no one is perfect, we all are humans with good and bad qualities. Our skin color, nationality or race is just one part of our personality, we are much more than that so we should stop judging each other based on color, religion or anything else, we all are humans and let's treat each other as humans.

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

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

1. After Zimmerman verdict, can nation heal racial rift?
2. Shooting of Trayvon Martin
3. A Perspective On George Zimmerman That Every Person Should Hear

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Autobiography of a Yogi"...a huge disappointment.

This book is supposed to be a autobiography of very celebrated Guru Paramahansa Yogananda. He is supposed to be one of the first Indian Gurus who traveled to west to spread awareness about Hinduism and Yoga, it seems he introduced many westerners to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his lectures and books. I read lot of good things about this book and this book was mentioned even in biography of Steve Jobs (as the one of the reasons he visited India). I was very interested in reading  this book and finally got a chance to read it when it was available from Kindle store on Amazon. I was really excited to get this book and it started really well but after few chapters I started seeing where this book is going, and my doubt became reality when slowly Yogananda started mentioning all miracles and crazy things which he claims that he personally witnessed in his life, specially the book is full of description of supernatural powers of his Gurus and some other people.

I have no problem in he believing that his Gurus were phenomenal human beings and had some exceptional qualities, many people are exceptionally talented and naturally gifted, but to claim that they were with some supernatural powers and attribute so many illogical miracles to them doesn't make any sense to me, rather all these things look like very cheap publicity stunt. Some of the miracles mentioned in book are, predicting consistently exact future events, curing sick or even dead (that too instantly or in very short time, no matter what disease they were suffering from), making people sick just to make them realize power of their god, producing babies by blessings, being present at two places at same time, claiming that some of them never age and are 100s or even 1000s of years old, etc (the list is too long). I don't think there is any need for these type of stories (that too so many of them) in any book which claims it self to be a autobiography, I can understand these things if they are mentioned in fiction book or as dream sequences but we all (or most of us who are capable of thinking logically) know that these things are not possible in reality, sometimes somethings might click by chance (like future prediction) but most other supernatural claims are impossible to prove because they really don't happen. I think Yogananda was not aware that in future science will do so much progress that many things written in his book will sound like fictional stories. I was still looking for some interesting stuff among this huge desert of miracles, but there are very few oasis in this desert. 

Specially one should read his conversation with his Guru Yukteshwar, his guru comes and visits him after his (Guru's) death. It seems Yogananda had unique ability to visit dead people in person, I wonder why he felt sad when they died, if he knew that he can meet these people whenever both of them (the dead person and Yogananda) want then why to worry whether the person is dead or alive? So in this conversation they talk about some 'astral world' or 'Hiranya loka' and what all they describe is like scene from some fictional movie, it's somewhat funny but mostly like some child telling about candy land, trying his best to put all his imagination at work but honestly I was not expecting to read such things in the autobiography. He tells us in his book why his guru was so fond of him, it seems his guru wanted to have a son (and not daughter, these so called spiritual masters also failed to lift themselves above social norms of that time) so that he can teach his son all vedik and other spiritual knowledge so he wanted a son not daughter (because she can not carry his lineage), but he couldn't get it which is again a big surprise as in book it is mentioned that he gave blessings to others which resulted in children of whatever gender he desired to give them. It seems when Yogananda came to him, his desire (to have a son) was fulfilled.

There is no doubt that Yogananda must have been very popular spiritual leader of that time, in this book he recounts his meetings with famous personalities like Ravindranath Thakur (Tagore) and Mahatma Gandhi. Another interesting aspect is he never talks anything about independence movement of India or any problems faced by Indians because of foreign rule, his entire life in India was spent during British raj and I wonder how come he didn't find any problem with foreign rule in his own country. Freedom movement of India was at its peak during that time but he didn't bothered to mention anything about it in this book. I don't expect to read about freedom movement in any spiritual book but definitely  expect in a autobiography of a person who was there when this was happening. I think autobiography of any person no matter how self centered he or she is should say something about his mother land and its people.

Only chapter which was interesting to read (compared to others) and was without any miracles mentioned in it was related with his stay at Gandi's aashram in Wardha. The chapter is nice break from heavy dose of supernatural things happening in book. There is nothing like person with bleeding eyes, or person surviving without any food or water for 40 years, etc. so this chapter is nice relief and I enjoyed reading this part of book, but apart from this this book was huge disappointment for me.

Yogananda's main aim was to attract western population (specially people from North America) to his philosophy that's why I think he strategically praised Jesus so many times in his book, but he conveniently ignored similar personalities from other religions (like Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc.). This book, also like many other books belonging to many cult movements, is a self praising story written by Yogananda for specially for his devotees, I am sure they all love it and worship it as a holy book or scripture but for me it was very disappointing and very boring, there are few good lines or good paragraphs here and there but in general there is so much junk that you even forget when was the last you read any meaningful line which can teach you something new. May be this is a sacred book for some people but a huge disappointment for me, may be I expected too much.

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

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


Friday, July 12, 2013

Today's kids inspire me a lot...

Normally it's parents job to inspire their kids, motivate them and help them to remain focused to perform their tasks successfully. I try my best to fulfill this responsibility but many times it happens that my kids give me lot of inspiration and courage to improve my own performance as a parent or their mentor. I know that every parent love their kids and like to do their best to make them a better person in their own way and I am no different. The only difference is I am equally involved in this journey along with them, I am learning along with them. No one gave me any set rules or guidelines of parenting, actually I didn't want to use the same rules and regulations which were imposed by society (and in turn by my family) on me (when I was kid). I thought those rules and regulations were to authoritarian, where parents (or elders) have full control over child's life and respective kid is the last person to decide about what he or she wants to do in his/her life, I did not want to do this with my kids and this country (USA) gave me that opportunity, I don't have any social or family pressure here, I don't think it matters that much but I think it definitely helped me to floow my own way of parenting.

I am enjoying my journey of parenthood along with my kids, I think most parents will agree that parenting is not a easy job, there is no written manual which can guide us to become a good parent. There are so many books and online articles who can help people in figuring out how to take care of infants and how to deal with certain issues of kids but they are are helpful only to certain extend, after all every child is unique and specially gifted so parents need to figure out what works best for their kids, no book can tell that. At times it can be very stressful and frustrating but at the same time it can be a lot of fun, it depends how we want to look at it. Once we become parent we tend to look at things differently, most of us forget everything which we did as kids (all those mistakes, pranks, confusions, etc.) and expect that our kids won't to same things, expect them to be ideal human beings, nothing wrong to have such expectations but some of us go too far to engineer their kid the way they want but don't care what that kid want. I know that many times kids are not mature enough to decide what they should to or want to do in their life but that doesn't mean their opinion should not be considered at all, after all it's their life. As far as I am concerned I never forgot what I went through when I was of their age, I always try to look in that perspective, because of this I understand their frustrations, failures, pressures, confusions and problems. I very often remember my own childhood days, I agree that times have changed and today it's a totally different world out there for kids but still the problems are more or less same. This journey is like a roller coaster ride very rewarding many times and little frustrating sometimes but this is true for any journey and that's what make it interesting and enjoyable.

Today's kids live in much more technological advanced era than their parents, this gives them lot of advantage as well as pose many new challenges in front of them. Not only kids but their parents also face so many new challenges in this new technology controlled era, definitely both need each others help and support to face these challenges. So according to me it needs a team work to face this challenge and that's what I try to do in my home, my kids learn something from me (at least that's what I think) and I also learn many things from them, I don't know how much I inspire them but I get inspired by them a lot. Actually I see many kids around me who do so many inspiring things, they all amaze me by their talent, knowledge and enthusiasm. I am talking here about my kids in particular just because I spend more time with them compared to any other kid. No doubt that experience matters a lot and younger generation should get benefited from elders around them, at the same time elders can learn a lot from young people around them, learning and sharing is more fun when it's two way process because one way process often gets boring and sometimes dictatorial. Thanks to all kids around me, please keep up the good work. 

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

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

We need gender unbiased harassment laws...

Recent case of suicide of actress Jiah Khan and then subsequent happenings created lot of stir in media and social network. There were few posts criticizing the way case is handled and also some people believe that there is an attempt to accuse a man (in this case someone named Suraj Pancholi, her boyfriend) for her suicide. Many also feel that some of the laws like dowry law or sexual harassment laws are heavily biased towards women and they often misuse them to blackmail men and their families (definitely there are some real cases to prove this point), so some of these posts take the familiar route to accuse victim for her actions (in this case Jiah, no doubt she is responsible for what she did but it's also necessary to investigate what made her to take this step) and feeling sympathy with accused (still nothing is proven against him and I doubt anything will come out of this case, it's not right to blame this guy without knowing the real truth). This case is an ideal example of our attitude towards these type of problems, some people want to blame men for whatever wrong happens with women and some people always want to blame women's behavior for whatever wrong happens to them, these tow are very polarized groups always fight with each other. We see somewhat similar attitude when people try to accuse poor victims in most of rape cases and blame their dress or behavior for crime committed against them, by doing this both parties are not helping to solve this problem but they are making things more complicated.

In last few years there are some laws introduced in many countries to curb number number of cases related to physical and sexual harassment, mainly these laws are designed to protect women rights and deliver justice if there is crime committed against them. Some laws are purposely made very strict to make sure that perpetrators of these crimes don't make use of loopholes to escape the punishment, at the same time we also see that some of  these laws can be misused, so there seems be be a two fold problem here. We need very strict laws to control crime against women but at the same time we need to make sure that they can not be misused. Another important point is that it will be a big mistake to assume that only women are sexually harassed or physically assaulted, these crimes are also committed against males, so it is very important that we should have gender unbiased harassment laws. This will provide protection to both the genders from any harassment crimes against them and also reduce the feeling that some laws are very biased towards particular gender or community (there are some laws in India specific to some community harassment). There is no doubt that we need these laws but also they need to be unbiased, crime committed against women is as bad as crime committed against men, both need justice and proper support to deal with these situations, our social structure is such that currently women are more prone or vulnerable towards these incidents that's why we see most of these laws designed particularly to protect them. It is responsibility of law makers and their think tank to make sure that law related with sexual harassment and torture (like dowry) are gender unbiased so that all people feel that they are not unfairly targeted or neglected purposely. Path to seek justice and protection should be offered to all and its availability should not be based on person's gender, religion, caste or any other thing.

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

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kedarnath calamity, warning from God?

Recent tragedy in Uttarakhand has resulted in loss of many lives as well as severe property damages, it resulted in lot of physical as well as emotional damage to many people and their families. I read some articles on Facebook where some so called Swamis or Yogis are posting some ridiculous comments about this tragedy. Now a days these type of articles show up after almost any tragedy like this one, they all have similar tone, they all blame deterioration of human values and humans drifting away from God (that too God of their own religion) as main reasons for such disaster, they claim that this tragedy is a warning from God to all those who don't believe in him or are drifting away from him or are not too sincere in following his directions. Apart from insensitive nature of these comments, they surprise me by their poor logic and fanatic tone, I also wonder how these people can be so senseless to grab such a tragic incidents to advertise their product.

Most of these disasters are either man made (mass shootings, accidents) or natural calamities (like hurricanes, flash floods, earth quakes, etc.), all these result in heavy loss of human life and property, whenever anything like this happens it's sad and shocking. Most of us feel sympathy towards victims of these incidents no matter where they happen, but few people manage to look at these events in totally ridiculous way and use it to propagate their religion or sect. For them any tragic incident is an golden opportunity to remind about authority of their God, and they do this in spite of knowing that many people who suffer in these incidents are very religious (some of these incidents happen at so called holy places), or are kids (who don't even know properly what is the concept of God), but still they go ahead with their argument shamelessly with all the knowledge and awareness that they are insulting victims and hurting survives of these tragedies. I have no objection on their attempts to advertise their God, religion or sect, they have full right to sell their product and do marketing for it (which they do very efficiently) but to use such incidents for this purpose is very pathetic and insensitive. I also know that not all religious organizations do these things but most of the time they fail to criticize these type of comments in strong words.

I feel very bad after reading these type of posts, recently it happened after tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting incident and now after this Uttarakhand tragedy. Some of these natural disasters do want to give some warning to us about our abuse of nature and its resources but they are not from any God or superpower. In many cases it's human error or lack of proper planning which results in massive loss of human life and property damage, we need to analyze the incident and figure our where things went wrong and make sure that those mistakes never happen again, if all of us think that it was God's will to destroy property and kill people and nothing can be done to prevent this (rather than praying) then we are inviting many more disasters like this and after every disaster we will be looking at sky for possible answers. We need to make use of all technology which is available to us and make reliable system of disaster prevention and management, if we miss this then we are missing a very important lesson and opportunity which can help us  to prevent anything like this from happening in near future. I hope rather than blaming destiny we rectify our mistakes and be better prepared next time because every human life is important. So please think over it, are these tragedies warning from God or nature or result of our own mismanagement, poor policies?

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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