Monday, December 29, 2014

If you are not happy with this one, go make your own pk.

As expected Raju Hirani's recent movie 'pk' created lot of controversy because of the subject it dealt with, bad practices in religion. Some lunatics are claiming that it hurts their religious sentiments (no surprise here). As expected these people are demanding to ban this movie but as their argument has no legal or logical base it is not going to stand in any court so as usual they are trying to attack movie theaters and attack the messenger rather than message. This is not the first time any movie has been attacked or people are demanding to ban something because their so called sentiments are hurt. Surprisingly these are same people who also like to claim that India is very tolerant country and Hinduism is very tolerant religion. Good thing is that this time apart from some right wing Hindu groups some Muslim and Christian groups are also against this movie, so it seems every religious group is feeling offended. May be this is because pk is not against particular religion or section of society but it attacks on commercialization of religion and exposes attempts to scare people in name of god (this all is done to milk money out of this fear). This movie also like other similar movie 'Oh my God' doesn't attack on the concept of God or doesn't question existence of God, I guess in country like India no commercial filmmaker can dare to do that. Movie just raises some uncomfortable questions about the way people practice their faith in today's world. These questions try to expose the way religion is marketed today. I guess this is why many people and organizations who depend on such things to make their living or who are addicted to such marketing are getting angry. They are so angry or mad that they want to stop it at any cost.

I always wonder why don't these people or organizations make some movie which can counter the points raised in 'pk'? Many these organizations are very rich, they collect lot of money by donations from various sources, they even have very strong political backing, so money required to make a movie is definitely not a problem for them. These people also claim to know everything about their religion, I guess that is why they protest so strongly. If this is the case then for them it should not be a big deal to write a full proof script which can prove movie like 'pk' wrong, expose every lie. If they are so sure then they should be able to expose the lies propagated by Raju Hirani and company easily. There is no need to damage the public or private property, no need to create law and order situation. Just one movie or even a documentary exposing 'pk' is enough. If they don't want to make a movie because it is too much of a hassle then they can even challenge people associated with this movie for civilized debate or drag them to court. They have total right to protest or raise their objections but in lawful and civilized way, why don't they do that? Does their religion teach then to use violent ways for such trivial things? If yes, then what type of religion is that which can not tolerate disagreement or questions? If no, then why they are going against teaching of their own religion? One can ask many questions like this but I am sure very few people who are claiming to be hurt will bother to answer them. 

Main purpose of any movie is to entertain people, they sometimes also try to deliver some message using this platform of entertainment. If any such attempt provokes discussion or raises some questions in people's mind then any such attempt should be welcomed, not attacked. There are many mythological movies which show many non scientific things under the name of miracles but scientists or atheists who don't believe in such things don't go and attack cinema halls showing these movies or demand to ban them. In any civilized, progressive and tolerant society everyone has freedom of expression and total freedom to say whatever they want to say. This freedom should be protected and cherished. Total freedom of expression is very important for progress of any society or country. People of every country or community have to decide in which direction they want to take their country; conservative and intolerant or liberal and tolerant, choice is theirs.

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. 'Oh My God'- A courageous attempt in main stream Hindi cinema.
2. My favorite scene from movie OMG.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Yash's encounter with Pune and Varanasi...

During our recent India visit Yash traveled with me to Varanasi and obviously stayed in Pune (my home town). This time he could share his own opinions about life in India with me because this time he traveled along with other family members and because of his improved analytical abilities he was in better position to compare the things. His first encounter with India was with air ports and the staff there, I must say that even I was impressed by very well maintained domestic as well as international airports and very courteous staff.

In first segment of our trip after we landed in Mumbai, stayed in Pune for a day and then went to Varanasi, very colorful and amazing city. He stayed there for a week and during that week visited malls, marketplace, traveled by rickshaw, city bus, cycle rickshaw and also by walk. As much as he loved meeting family members and travelling with them he hated the roads and traffic of Varanasi. He really freaked out when people honked at him aggressively, the sound was really loud. I wonder why people need such a loud horn for their vehicles for in city travels. It creates lot of noise pollution as well as very inconvenient for people specially for kids and seniors but no one seem to care about this in India. Just to make a kid move little bit so that they can move their vehicles they honk so aggressively as if their life depends on how loud they honk. Loud and aggressive honking was most annoying part of Varanasi's traffic for Yash. Roads were narrow and traffic jam was very regular event, other vehicles hitting or dashing cycle rickshaw in crowded traffic jam was regular affair, it seemed exciting for Yash as he never saw anything like this before. People throwing trash on road, throwing wrappers wherever they want also surprised him. He was also amazed to see that kids as well as grownups both were equally contributing towards making city dirty. He tried to tell few times to his cousins and others that it is not a good thing to do but he soon stopped doing that when he found out the futility of offering any such advise. Yash didn't dare to come with me to my village as he was scared of having no electricity and no toilets (I should mention here that this time I was pleased to see that most homes had a toilet in our village). So he preferred to stay in Varanasi and enjoy the traffic chaos rather than visiting the village.

So after experiencing the chaos of Varanasi he came back with me to Pune and landed in another chaos. But he found Pune much less chaotic than Varanasi, honking was there but not that aggressive and loud, more traffic but less jams, somewhat less garbage on streets. People's attitude towards following traffic rules was not much different in both the places. Actually we both counted once during night time (where there was no traffic police) how many people stop at red traffic light and to our surprise more than 90% didn't bother to stop. In spite of all this he liked Pune more in comparison with Varanasi, so be happy Pune people, and stop complaining about all that traffic jams and other problems, our city is much better than the constituency of our PM. Actually I wonder why all PM candidates of India fight their election from one of the most undeveloped states or parts of India? Is it just because they are safer seats and they can win it without putting much effort or is it because they really care about these places and want to develop them? I know that it is the first reason why they fight from such places. The constituencies they represent for years are not considered as most developed cities or villages of India and they remain considerably undeveloped even after being represented by one of the most powerful politician of the country for many years. Lets hope our current PM Mr. Modi manage to change this and when Yash visit Varanasi next time he don't find any difference between these two cities. I know why Yash liked more in Pune compared to Varanasi. But when he compared Pune with New haven he preferred New haven. Let's hope that difference gets reduced in coming years and the gap between Varanasi and Pune and New Haven becomes more narrow.

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 19, 2014

Terrorist do have a religion.

Peshawar school massacre by Taliban shook many people across the world. It was not the worst massacre by terrorists and it was not the first time school or children were attacked by terrorists but even after that the brutality of this attack is really disturbing. Whenever any such attack happens we start hearing the phrases like 'terrorists don't belong to any religion' or 'they don't have any religion or country' 'these people are not humans', etc. I always wonder how much truth is there in these statements? In real sense all these statements are mainly used by people to dissociate the religion (specially their own religion) from such barbaric acts but for me these statements sound too hollow and meaning less. If we look carefully most of these terrorists or people who spread hatred against certain communities do belong to some religion and to some country. All of them do claim to represent true form of some sect or cult or religion. I am not talking about Islam or Hindu or any other particular religion most religions have fanatic elements in their teachings which are misused by some people to create hardcore religious organizations some of which slowly manifest themselves in various forms of terrorism. This all starts with spreading hatred against certain section of society which doesn't subscribe to their ideology or faith. This hatred can be in various form; it can be a hate speech which spreads venom against all who don't belong to their sect or organization, it can be a discriminatory law, it can be in form of biased customs and rituals, or something else but 'hate' is a common element in all these things. Slowly and steadily this hatred breeds more hatred and ultimate result is violence. This is going on for many years, sometime some X religion was aggressive and some time some Y, but always there was some religion or ideology (which starts behaving like religion) which propagates such hatred and then justifies the violence in name of protecting it.

What is there in religion or some of these ideologies (like communism or Maoism) that people are willing to kill hundreds of innocents in name of protecting it? Why these people don't feel the guilt or shame of doing such barbaric acts in name of protecting their religion? Why religion is such a powerful force that it makes people to go blind and makes them hate others just because they belong to some different religion? Can we really dissociate religion from these barbaric acts? Why there is a so much communal violence if all religions preach peace and love? Why lined from some book are quoted to justify violence or discrimination or gender bias? The truth is that all these terrorists (present and past) do belong to some religion or some country. They all derive their logic or ideology from some holy book, they all claim that they are killing to protect the word of their so called God. Many of these terrorist organizations start as some revolutionary group, religious or political outfits or rebels who fight to protect their land or faith. Some country, group or even common people support them with expectation that they will bring the rule of their faith. But slowly as they become more aggressive and powerful, they start implementing each and every line from that so called holy book the conflict starts and people who supported them start suffering. People who support these groups realize their mistake and regret supporting them but very often by that time it is too late. This is happening for last so many years, at so many places but still people are not willing to learn the lesson.

People are not willing to question some objectionable contents which are present in all these holy books. Once it is claimed and accepted that that particular book is a word of God very few dare to question it. Most of these books contain some objectionable material but these things are ignored because it is understood that mostly these books teach love and peace so few minor things don't matter. But some anti-social elements make use of some of these objectionable or out dated messages and propagate hate and violence. As no one dares to condemn these sections of any of the books, these things get taught, people interpret them as per their own convenience and derive their own meanings. That is why I think now time has come to ask some serious question to keepers of all religions. They need to make it clear that there is no place for violence or hatred under name of any religion. If there is some outdated or objectionable material in their own holy book they need to delete it or condemn that part and make it clear that it is no more applicable. They need to be very strong about this message and condemn any group or community which tries to propagate hate in name of religion. Religion might be a need for many but violence or hatred has no place in any civilized society.

Isn't it a time to think whether there is some inherent flaw in philosophy of organized religion? Most of these terrorists do come from some religion, they are also humans like us that is why they do such barbaric acts. I still call them humans because animals normally don't kill without any reason only humans are capable of doing such heinous act. Time has come for all of us to unite and stand against such criminals. Time has come to question religion and holy books, they need to come clear on issues like violence and discrimination. Time has come to reduce the power of religion and religious organizations. Time has come for all civilized humans to speak up and ask questions. We can not just wait for out turn to become victims of such violence, it will be too late by that time, so speak up NOW.

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

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

Links:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bhanwari Devi- a national icon and great inspiration.

Two years ago on 16th December a horrific incident of sexual assault and murder happened in India's capital New Delhi. The brutality of the crime shook the entire nation, people were angry and even frustrated about regular occurrence of such crimes and severe delay in delivering the justice.This anger and nationwide protests forced administration to deliver justice in timely fashion in this particular case but still there are many victims who are still waiting for the justice for the crime which changed their lives. Current heavily loaded and severely crippled system failed to deliver justice to them, after going through the trauma of sexual abuse these victims have to relive that horror every time they go to court and come back without any justice. Our society and this system has to step up to end this trauma of these people. 

This post is not about that incident but about a brave women named Bhanwari Devi who not only survived one such assault but also fought against the culprits, against the system which failed to deliver justice to her and is still bravely fighting her battle and waiting for justice to be delivered. Nandita Das's movie Bawander is based on story of her life, it is worth a watch if anyone wants to know her story. She faced many problems and hurdles during her fight for justice, not only the criminals who committed this act were from upper caste but they were also politically very powerful which helped them to manipulate police as well as judiciary. But this brave lady didn't loose her courage, she didn't even leave the village no matter how much they taunted her or tortured her family by social boycotts. Her argument was, if she didn't do any wrong why should she suffer. It was not she who did anything shameful so why she should leave the village, why she should feel guilty? We all who know the caste system in village and various roles it plays in politics can understand how much courage and conviction is required to fight against these things. In many of these places women are not even allowed to step outside the home or village unless it is for some work or medical treatment, so one can imagine how much resistance Bhanwari Devi must have faced to even register a case against culprits who raped her. People like her don't get much national attention or recognition as their stories carry very limited use for media or politicians. No political party is interested in taking up such issues as caste dynamics is integral part of politics of almost all parties. They don't look at criminals just as criminals but their religion or caste also becomes very important as it can disturb certain sections of society. It can mess up their political equations depending on which religion or caste victim belongs and which religion or caste perpetrator belongs, so they base their reactions based on political calculations. This is so disgusting but it happens all the time and so far no political party tried to separate these things from politics, I hope that at least they do it in future. Unfortunately the victims of such heinous crime have to face the burn of all this mess, they suffer at the hands of criminals who commit the crime and then at the hands of system which fails to deliver justice to them.

I don't know how long Bhanwari Devi and people like her have to wait to get justice from this system. I am glad to see that she still has faith on this system and waiting patiently for it to deliver what it promises to every Indian (speedy and fair justice). But not everyone who goes through this has courage and patience like her, for them she can be a great example of courage and determination. She showed that if you are not at fault no need to feel any guilt or shame or run away avoid taunts or scared of social torture, Story of her fight is a great inspiration for all of us. If sportsperson, cine stars or politicians can be national icons then I think people like Bhanwari Devi definitely deserve to be a national icon and for me personally she is a national icon.  

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

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

Links:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

My memorable visit to Snehalaya.

During my recent India visit one entire day was spent visiting institutes line Maher (a NGO run by Sister Lucy Kurien) and some institutes associated with Dr. Girish Kulkarni's Snehalaya. One of my mentors who is also a very close family friend Mr. Chandrashekhar Vairale made this journey possible for me. Actually I wanted to visit these places during my last India visit but it didn't materialize because of so many reasons but I am glad that I could find some time during this visit. I have no hesitation in accepting that this visit was one of the most revealing experience for me. 

We started our day by visiting a NGO Maher (means mother's home), this organization provides shelter and support to women and their children who face various difficulties in society because of various reasons. The work done by this NGO in this area with limited resources at their disposal is really commendable. I was really impressed by dedication and sincerity of the people involved in this work. The type of cases they handle are not easy, one should listen to type of stories they tell about the victims it is not easy to listen those stories without getting disturbed but these people deal with these things on daily basis. My entire day was spent in visiting various institutes run by dedicated people who believed in helping people in distress. Next we visited a NGO run by very young man Mr. Anant Zende which works towards upliftment of kids from 'pardhi samaj'. This visit was also very memorable. People of this community are facing various problems, they are looked with suspicion and many times forced to engage in acts like robbery because of social conditions. So the work done by this NGO to rescue children of these families from this vicious cycle is very commendable. It was really inspiring to see that Anant is doing this work along with his regular job at school. His story and dedication was proof that if anyone wants to engage in such work it is possible under any circumstances. We all can give some reason not to do any such work but if we really want to do it is really possible and Anant is an example of this.

Snehalaya is doing its work mainly to help women and children in distress. Their work in area of helping HIV positive people was highlighted in Amir Khan's show Satyamev Jayate. One needs to visit this place to watch with their own eyes the amazing work they are doing to help these people. They are not only helping them to survive but also trying to make them independent. They also have their own radio station, farms, cows for milk production and are always looking for new ideas which can help them to become self sufficient. All these organization receive very little or no government support, they mostly rely on people's donations to carry out their day to day activities. It is not easy to take care of so many people with so limited resources but all of them are doing really amazing job. I was really impressed to see their dedication and commitment towards their work. Hats off to Dr. Girish Kulkarni and his dedicated team.

Actually I don't like travelling much. During my India visit I rarely visit so called popular tourist destinations, they don't attract me much. I have long list of places recommended by various friends and relatives which I have not visited yet because of my reluctance to travel. I don't visit temples/churches or mosques to pray as I don't believe in traditional concept of god or prayers but I go to see them for their architecture and history associated with them and I love this part, it fascinates me a lot. But institutes like 'Snehalaya' or 'Maher' are temples of humanity according to me (or one can call them mosques or churches or with any so called holy places). I visit them to pay my tribute and respect to great humans like Dr. Girish Kulkarni or Sister Lucy Kurien who work towards welfare of not so privileged people in our society. My head bows with respect to everyone who works there with so much dedication and love. These type of institutes and people working in them care for people who are abandoned even by their own family members. They not only take care of them but also serve them, try to make them stand on their own feet and begin new life, this all is very incredible stuff, a truly divine experience. One thing which I noticed was that most of these people were inspired by life and work of Mr. Baba Amte. He was a great social worker who dedicated his entire life to work towards rehabilitation of abandoned people from our society. His work for leprosy affected people in the era when they were treated like untouchables is legendary. It is really unfortunate that his work didn't get as much recognition as Mother Teresa's work in the same area but I was glad to see that he inspired so many people to work towards similar cause. His work and legacy is carried forward by many people like his own sons Dr. Vikas and Prakash Amte, Dr. Girish Kulkarni, Anant Zende and many others. One really needs to visit these places and see the work with their own eyes to experience it and then only once can realize the effect of Baba Amte's work and teachings on them.

It is my humble request to all my friends and readers of my blog that whenever you have time please go and visit these places to see their incredible work. Don't believe some hearsay or advertising, visit these places and get informed about their work and then decide whether to help or not. If you are convinced about their sincerely and relevance then please donate whenever possible in whatever way you can. They don't ask for money or anything when you visit them so don't worry about that but always remember that these type of institutes heavily depend on donations from people like you and me for their day to day activities so one should think of donating them something money, your time or clothes, etc. Many people in our society are not fortunate enough to get many things which most of us take granted. If we all all can chip in little bit institutes like Snehalaya can work to make these people's life as normal as possible.

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk4Q3n5rcmQ
2. http://vssanant.blogspot.com/p/about-us_14.html

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Story of my attachment and detachment with BJP.

While I was watching the documentary 'Ram ke naam' by Anand Patwardhan I remembered tension and turmoil of those days. Back then (in between 1989-1992) I was a teenager with very confused and impressionable mind. Along with me Indian politics and society was also going through huge transition phase. Political and economic discourse was changing for the first time after independence. Central government was thinking of opening its economy, radical reservation policy was announced to increase participation of backward sections of society. During same time there was a new emerging star on horizon of Indian politics in the name of BJP. Actual party was formed in 1980 but  it could make its presence felt only after it started Ram janmabhoomi aandolan.

The propaganda and highly charged speeches delivered by some excellent orators of that time (like Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpaye, Bal Thackrey, etc.) attracted many people towards this movement. It was told that as Babur and mughal king destroyed a temple and built the mosque (Babri mosque) now it is our (Hindus) turn to take revenge. We Hindus should destroy that mosque and built a Ram temple as that was the very place where lord Ram was born. I don't know what archaeological evidence they had to claim that the site of mosque was the exact spot where Ram was born but this was what propagated very aggressively. It was also told to us that it is not a legal matter but it is matter of faith and when there is a question of faith then all laws and courts should stay away from this as it is matter of beliefs of 80% population of India, if they all think this is right then it is right and court has no authority to say anything about this. This logic and oratory skills of many speakers who were propagating these ideas very aggressively attracted lot of people towards this movement. Young kids like me also felt that it was very logical to reclaim our heritage and built a temple by destroying a mosque. There was huge polarization in Indian society with lot of tension, this polarization worked in favor of BJP and it slowly became major political force in many states as well as in center.

After listening to all these speeches and watching some videos made by VHP and related organizations about why it is necessary to destroy that mosque I got many questions in my mind. Some of them were, what problems that one more Ram temple would solve? What evidence we have that Ram was born at exactly that place where the mosque stands? India was facing many serious problems back then (many of them still exist) what purpose does this temple was going to serve to solve any of those problems? If Babur broke any temple back then and now we go and break that mosque then what is the difference between him and us? No one from my immediate surroundings was willing or was capable of answering those questions so I decided to get more information and study the issue myself. After much  research and reading I discovered that all this movement and polarization was purely for politics. It was all done to get voted and grab power, no one was actually interested in building a temple there but everyone was interested to use that issue as political tool to fool voters. That was the time when I got detached with political philosophy of BJP, I was attracted to it because of communal feelings in me but when I realized that it was communalism and not electoral politics I moved away from it. Since then I have seen some leader or other belonging to BJP trying to make use of this brand of politics to serve their political purpose. This type of brand spreads divisiveness and hatred among different sections of society. There is no doubt that this polarization helps to consolidate votes for some parties, win few elections but I found that it was really bad for society as it sowed seeds of divisiveness among different sections of society. This is the main reason why I stay away from their brand of politics. This is a very simple story of my attachment and detachment with BJP. I don't oppose BJP blindly but I oppose their brand of politics, I oppose each and every attempt by any party or politician to create communal rift in society. It seems that BJP is trying to improve, they and their supporters claim that it is a secular party and believe in taking all sections of society together but so far it doesn't reflect in their actions. The day they really start practicing what they preach (all inclusive politics) I guess many more people from different communities and religion will join them to take India forward.

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. In the Name of God - Ram ke Naam (1992 Documentary on Babri Masjid Demolition)
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQaV2cWL1D4

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Is use of lethal techniques by police in every case justified?

Within few days after much debated grand jury decision in Michael Brown shooting case, another similar decision in Eric Garner case fueled this debate once more and created widespread protests all over USA. In this case also a person who didn't commit very serious crime died because of show of excessive force by police officer. One can definitely debate whether chokehold used by Daniel Pantaleo was necessary or not but the truth is we lost one life and no one seems to be taking responsibility for that. Apart from the issue that people from certain race normally face more aggressive behavior from police there is another very serious issue about how police deal with arrests. The question which comes to my mind is, is the use of lethal techniques by police to arrest people in each and every case justified? May be in most of the cases no one gets seriously injured but what about cases like Eric Garner where people not only get seriously injured but loose their life? Police have no clue about the medical condition of the person whom they are trying to arrest, there is no way to get that information in advance so wouldn't it be wise to anticipate for the worst and act accordingly.

As I mentioned in my post related with Michael Brown shooting police officer or for that matter any law enforcement agency's job is a tough job. Every day they have to face unpredictable and many times dangerous situations. They are trained to protect themselves as well as innocent people around them but I think they are also trained to act with severity against people who break the law or don't follow their instructions. This severity then crosses the limit on some occasions which result in tragic incidents like Eric Garner's death. I don't think that playing the blame game or debating who is at fault would solve this problem. No doubt that guilty should be tried in court if law but I think in current system it is very difficult to point out who is at fault. major reforms in police training and protocols are needed. This should be followed with public awareness campaign, these things look like only viable options which can help to avoid such instances. When I was discussing this case with my son he told me that in some places authorities are trying to tell officers that try to 'talk them down don't take them down'. This sounds like a good idea where not so serious crimes (like stealing, shoplifting, etc.) are involved. If talking with the concerned person to convince him/her to follow police orders can save some lives then I think it should be considered as a first option. After all police department's job is to eliminate or reduce the crime from society not to eliminate all people who break the law. If crime can be reduced without hurting people then this approach should be tried but at the same time public awareness campaign also should be carried out to educate people on how to behave with police. These reforms or changes have to be a two way process, blaming only one section (police) is not going to help. Many people just panic or get scared and do many things which they may not do normally and this creates problems for them as well as for police. If people understand that police is there to protect them and not to harm them then I think they should follow the orders and cooperate. 

Both these events, Michael Brown's shooting and Eric Garner's death are very sad and tragic. Both these tragedies could have been avoided by use of some patience and restraint on police's part but I think they are not trained to do that. I am not expert in law or police department regulations but in both cases grand jury didn't think that any illegal or wrong act was committed by police officer. But if we look at countrywide protest against both these decisions then it is clear that people don't agree with this. May be as per present law of respective states nothing illegal or criminal activity was performed by concerned police officers but the fact is that two people lost their lives and this needs serious introspection and some corrective measures. I hope these incidents start serious debate to look for ways to eliminate occurrence of such instances rather than violent protests or blame game which will make matter even worse. Every human life irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity or nationality is precious and every possible attempt should be made to save it. Police's job is to protect people and not to harm them. We all should also recognize and appreciate that they are doing a tough job of protecting citizens from bad elements of society. They are required to use lethal techniques while dealing with hard core criminals but these techniques should not be considered as the only option to deal with every law and order situation. At the same time citizens have some responsibilities along with their rights. They need to help police rather than making their job more difficult. I think if both people and police understand each other, try to build a bond of trust then we might be able to avoid such instances. I hope concerned authorities take these incidents seriously and devise some action plan which can help to resolve this issue.

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. We Must Stop Police Abuse of Black Men
2. It Wasn’t Just the Chokehold
3. Protesters Fill the Streets Across the Country Over Decision in Eric Garner Case
4. Deadly Force, in Black and White

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Use of abusive and divisive speeches in Indian politics.

Recent uproar in parliament over derogatory speech made by union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has created lot of debate and discussion in print, electronic and social media. The words she used while campaigning for BJP in Delhi were definitely not acceptable. After such a strong protest and many be on advise of senior leaders of her party Ms. Jyoti apologized "if her comment hurt anyone". I wonder how come she expected that after using such derogatory language it won'r hurt anyone. The words she chose in her speech are definitely used to insult or hurt people who don't subscribe to her faith or political ideology, so I wonder why she phrased her apology like that may be because she didn't think that she said anything wrong and she was only apologizing because senior party leaders told her to do so. She not only used abusive language but also made speech with divisive content where she questioned people's patriotism if they don't believe in Hindu god Ram. She rightfully apologized for her abusive language (there was no option for her in this case) but she and her party defended her divisive comments and they don't even find anything wrong in her comments. Unfortunately she is not the only one and BJP is not the only party who is trying to defend such divisive comments made by their leader there are quite a few political parties who do the same thing.

Any use of abusive language should be avoided on public platforms, but rarely politicians in India show this restraint. They address each other with many derogatory names and adjectives but I can understand their hatred towards each other, so I always ignore when they abuse each other personally by using different derogatory adjectives specially during election campaign speeches. That can be a part of their personal enmity against each other, may be they are OK with addressing each other like this. But one can not ignore when they start painting communities in negative way or stereotyping them or when they use derogatory words to insult people who don't support them, this is not only a abuse but also a hatred and divisive politics. This hatred and divisive politics leads to communal tension, sometimes it even leads to communal riots which are difficult to control once they start and that's is why this is more dangerous. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's speech comes exactly under this category of hate speech. She was not insulting any political leader or party (that is why I didn't include here comments which another minister Mr. Giriraj Singh made about Mr. Kejriwal). She was talking about all who don't agree with her political ideology and questioning patriotism of people who don't respect some god from her religion. She literally abused everyone who doesn't agree with her views, and this is not some ordinary party worker or some insignificant politician (so called fringe elements) this is union minister in Mr. Modi's cabinet. This is same Mr. Modi who declared on Red Fort not to indulge in any communal propaganda at lest for 10 years so that country can focus on important issues like development. But it seems no one from his own party or cabinet heard that part of his speech or they just ignored his request because these leaders think that politics has to be divisive, and without polarizing votes how can you win elections? Not taking any strict action against such people encourages such behavior, it reinforces the idea that as long as you are popular you can get away with anything.

As it happened many times in past with BJP and many other parties this time also most of Sadhvi's comments were defended by her party. She apologized for using that abusive word (the word means 'bastard' and that too only if it hurt anybody's sentiments) but not for rest of her speech. BJP offered various explanations to defend her, their spokes persons even quoted many other instances where people used some derogatory words for Mr. Modi but they all failed miserably to differentiate between a personal attack and attack on entire community or entire opposition. So ultimately it is up to people to decide whether her speech was communal or not. It seems no political party is going to accept that their leaders do any mistakes or try to spread hatred among people. They all have very polite and well behaved leaders so it is up to people now to decide what they think about such speeches and people who make them. If they vote for such people and parties then we don't have right to complain as they will keep on doing these type of things but if we don't want such things to happen then protest and object to such behavior in peaceful manure. Now a days abusive and divisive speeches are used very frequently in politics. Politicians who use them understand their impact very well. They use both type of speeches to their advantage but not it is time for people to understand this dirty game played by politicians and act accordingly.

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. Ruckus in Parliament over minister's abusive remark, opposition demands PM's statement
2. Modi's minister uses derogatory language, defends remark

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Rohtak brave hearts and issue of eve teasing.

Video of two brave sisters thrashing eve teasers in Rohtak city bus has gone viral in Indian news media and social web sites. Everyone needs to stand up for their own rights, against any injustice, torture or harassment. These girls did right thing if these boys were continuously harassing them and were not willing to listen even after repeated warnings or requests. When I heard their interview on NDTV then it was disturbing to know that in a city bus full of men and women no one dared to help these girls when few boys were trying to molest them. This by stander approach is really worrisome, and we see this attitude almost everywhere where people silently witness wrong things happening in front of their eyes. They choose to ignore them or choose to keep silent because they think it is not their business or just because they are not victims so why should they react. It was also disturbing when during the interview one of the sister advised all girls that if they face similar situation then they should beat the guy who dares to tease them as much they want or until they are satisfied before taking him to police. I think this advise is not proper and I am sure no one would appreciate (or rather everyone will criticize) if the same advise would have been offered by some boy (that is beat the girl who dares to tease you as much as you want before taking her to police). There should be proper investigation of this incident before jumping to conclusion by knowing only one side of the story.

The real issue here is of eve teasing and harassment of boys and girls at public places. Problem of eve teasing or taunting in public places is very common in India as well as many other countries (I even see it in US also). This is very serious issue and needs attention from all concerned parties involved in this (people as well as law enforcement agencies). It is also true that females face this problem more often than males.Confronting the wrong doers like eve teasers or molesters is a right thing to do. Every boy or girl has right to stand up for their rights and fight for their safety. Under extreme situations where nothing else works use of force should be exercised as a option and it is justified. There is no doubt that wrong doers should be confronted so that they don't think that they can get away with their behavior easily. But to thrash them every time is not a solution to stop these things from happening. I think this girl might have said this because she was very angry because of this episode, but whenever media telecasts something like this they should also tell that use of violence as a solution to every problem is not right thing to do. This interview should not send the wrong message to youths of India that they can take the law in their own hands and punish people if they think that something wrong is happening. Every effort should be made to handle the situation by peaceful means or by informing the concerned authorities so that they can take proper action. This is why we have rules and laws. If people take their own decisions and try to punish wrong doers on the spot then why we need to have any law or justice system?  We can just let people to punish wrong doers in whatever way they feel appropriate, but we all know that this is not a practical and logical approach to handle any crime. Just imagine scenes on roads or public transport vehicles if we allow such things.

Violence might look like a viable solution to solve any issue temporarily but hardly it works to find a long term solution. Right to use force should be exercised whenever situation demands it, but if possible it should be considered as last option. One can be assertive or aggressive and forceful without use of any physical force. If many boys and girls take inspiration from this incident and stand up or speak up whenever they see any such misbehavior in public place then it is a good thing. But if they start indulging in physical fights to solve each and every issue like this then one can only imagine the mess which we might have to deal with. So let's ignore this particular sentence from the interview and focus of courage to fight misbehavior and stand up against any injustice. Hopefully this incident will inspire people in right way. We all need to do that, and once we all start raising our voice against such things then automatically it will send a strong message to these molesters or wrongdoers.

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. Rohtak sisters thrash men who harassed them on moving bus
2. OTHER SIDE OF ROHTAK BRAVEHEARTS

Friday, November 28, 2014

Shooting of Michael Brown-a murder, a police encounter, or a self defense?

There is no doubt that police (of any country or state) have a very hard job to do. The kind of situations and challenges they face everyday are so unpredictable and dangerous that it is very difficult to apply normal logic under some of these situations. But at the same time many of these situations deal directly with human life and death, even a very small mistake can kill a innocent person or allow a dangerous criminal to get away. So they need to be vigilant, careful and attentive all the time. This all needs lot of training along with lot of physical and mental strength. That is why people from police force or military they are respected and honored for each and every act of bravery because they literally risk their own lives to save others every day. But when you read about the incidents like shooting of Michael Brown then you get a doubt in your mind whether everyone in police department is that honest and dedicated towards their job. Under the circumstances Michael was shot raises many uncomfortable questions for which there are no easy answers.

Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager was shot dead by Darren Wilson on August, 9 2014. I don't think after reading the full story any one can deny that Michael might have made some mistakes on that day (like stealing a pack of cigar from store or getting into argument with police officer or trying to resist the arrest) but the question is, were his mistakes serious enough to fatally shoot him? Did he pose such a serious danger to officer Darren Wilson's life that he shot Michael multiple times with clear intention of killing him? If Michael made some criminal offense then officer Darren should have tried to arrest him using available resources, if at all he required to use weapon he should have tried to use in non fatal way. Actually many teenagers do lot of stupid things, many of these things they do without knowing the legal consequences of their action. There is no doubt that kids who do these type of mistakes should be punished if the mistake is that serious to make sure that they don't repeat same mistakes. But there are non violent ways to deal with such unpleasant situations, one needs to show lot of patience while dealing with them. Brutal force should be used only when it is absolutely required in case of very serious crimes. Every effort should be made by law enforcement officers to handle the matter without causing any serious injury to anyone. This is because one can recover the lost or stolen items, one can chase or hunt criminals but one can not bring back lost lives and that is why this restraint and caution is necessary. 

This issue becomes more serious because of racial angle involved in it, victim Michael Brown was Black and Darren Wilson is white. One can understand why there is so much anger and protest against grand jury's decision, it is not only about the death but about the real intention behind the act of fatal shooting. Unfortunately many protests are turning out to be very violent with lot of destruction of public property. Actually these kind of protests rarely help the cause, but they shift the focus away from the real problem as serious law and order situation is created. So if people wanted to register their protest against the decision of grand jury they should protest in civilized and peaceful manure to convey their point. This shooting incident should be investigated by unbiased and diverse jury so that people also believe that any decision taken is unbiased decision. It is a job of investigating agencies to conduct totally transparent investigation.

Some available statistics indicate that black teens are 21 times more likely to be killed by cops, this data is very worrisome and concerning. If it is true then this problem needs urgent attention. Because of many complexities involved it is often difficult to decide whether such shootings are result of police encounter of a criminal or act of self defence (where officer shoots a person to save his/her own life) or a murder. It is often difficult to control anger or emotions under such situations so I think every effort should be made to avoid such unpleasant encounters between teens and police. Police needs to show some restraint and caution while dealing with this age group, if required they should be given special training to deal with such incidents. At the same time teens also should be made aware about role of police in their society and their own responsibilities as a citizen of society. Spreading awareness among police and teens about their rights as well as responsibilities can be a first step towards this direction. Michael is gone and I hope there is proper investigation in this case to reveal the truth. The main focus should be on how can we avoid these type of incidents in future. Until we focus on main issue we might witness more incidents like this. Let's try to accept first that there is a problem and then only we can find a solution for this. Unless both sides (society and law enforcement) which are part of this problem are actively involved in solving it I don't think there will be any viable solution for this. So let's think about this incident and the reasons which caused this, unless we all get involved this problem won't be solved. We all are part of this problem so we all have to be part of solution also.

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/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown
2. Ferguson’s Grand Jury Bought Darren Wilson’s Story
3. Deadly Force, in Black and White

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mythology is not science.

Birth of Karna (my favorite character from story of Mahabharat) was a marvel of genetic engineering in ancient India, Ganesha's head replacement was example of plastic surgery; these are meanings which students might derive from some of the statements which India's PM Mr. Narendra Modi made recently. There is already class or group of people who believes that whatever great discoveries are made in the area of science are already described in ancient scriptures. It is different issue that they fail to explain that if those discoveries were already mentioned in those books then how some a country which is continuously studying these books failed to report it to the rest of the world. How come only when someone else reports them these people suddenly realize that it was already mentioned in their holy books. Only agenda these people have is to push their own ideology and religion as a superior force, claim credit of others hard work without even acknowledging their efforts. Anyone who really studied science and understand the real meaning of scientific temperament would feel amazed by sheer ignorance of these people. These pople fail to understand difference between mythology (a fiction) and science (which is based on reproducible data and verifiable evidence). 

Mythology is full of very interesting and inspiring stories, Mahabharat is my favorite one. Many stories from this great epic are full of interesting characters and incidents. To make them entertaining authors have included many fictitious incidents exactly like they do in fiction books like Harry Potter or in animated movies. It is to the credit of the authors great imagination that these books are so entertaining and popular. Many of the incidents mentioned in fiction books are also inspired from some real life incidents, they make use of real city names or dates just to make these stories sound real. But at the same time we all know that no one can fly on broom stick, people can not defy gravity without any external help, etc. (at least today these things are not possible, we don't know about future) but we all love to watch these things on the screen or read it in the book. But if we find some invention (for example touch screen or wireless phone) mentioned in some story or movie (like star wars) which scientist discover after lot of hard work and research we don't give credit to that book or movie for inventing it. May be scientists or inventors get some idea from these movies but to make these things reality is altogether different ball game. It requires lot of study, planning, hard work, many experiments (most of which fail) and then one can expect to get some positive outcome. It is not easy to bring fiction into reality but hard work of many scientists make some of these things possible. Flying in air was considered as impossible just few centuries ago but now we have so many devises which one can use to fly in group or solo. This was possible due to hard work of many people who worked tirelessly to develop this amazing technology. These are the people who should get the credit for this invention not some one who might have mentioned in some story that humans can fly without any technical details how can they defy the gravity and fly.

Such statements coming from the person like Mr. Modi who also happens to be prime minister of India is also very surprising if not shocking. He can have his personal opinion about any issue but as a prominent public figure he should know that his statements are going to have huge impact on many people who follow him. Specially if young students with very impressionable mind listen to such statement I wonder what type of image they are going to have about the real inventors who discovered these things (plastic surgery and genetic engineering). Are they supposed to think that these inventors just copied the idea already discovered in ancient India? How we convince them who were the real inventors of these things and who should get the credit? Such statements are definitely not going to help in any way, any politician or public figure should be careful before saying something like this.

Mythology is not science, there are no verifiable pieces evidence or reliable data to prove any of these so called inventions mentioned in any of these ancient books. If there are then they should be presented in proper platform to claim the credit of that invention. Without this such statements don't have any scientific value. These type of statements are only useful to stir some controversy or create some confusion in people's minds and I am sure our prime minister don't want this to happen. So it will be better next time he does some research before saying something like this.  

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. PM Modi takes leaf from Batra book: Mahabharat genetics, Lord Ganesha surgery
2. Indian prime minister claims genetic science existed in ancient times

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Reviving Sanskrit-Forcing it on students is not a solution.

Main purpose of any language is to act as a mode of communication in society. Language also helps in preserving historical records and transmitting knowledge from one generation to other. No one can deny the use and importance of language in our society, need for communication is very essential part of human existence and different languages serve this very important purpose. I don't know exact count of world languages but I am sure there are many, some ancient languages are even spoken today and some are not. The languages which are not spoken in today's world also should be studied as some of them contain vast amount of literature which can be useful even today. Sanskrit is one such language, it is not used as spoken language by any community, sect or tribe but there exists vast amount of literature in that language. Most of that literature is translated in many other languages and available for everyone to read so not knowing Sanskrit is not at all hindrance in today's world to study the literature which was available only in Sanskrit couple of hundred years back.

I am writing this post on this issue because I have first hand experience about being forced to learn Sanskrit because school thought it was good for me. I was forced to study this language in 10th grade because Sanskrit was (and I guess still is) considered as 'scoring subject'. During my school days we had three language system, regional language (Marathi) and English was compulsory and one can choose third language. We had Hindi and Sanskrit as choice  for third language. I chose 50% Hindi and 50% Sanskrit, I always liked Hindi better than Sanskrit and found it much easy to understand and study may be because I was more familiar with that language because of Hindi movies. But in 10th grade I was part of so called scholar batch which was supposed to score better in board exams and that is why everyone in that batch was told to take only Sanskrit as third language as it was supposed to boost our overall score. Our Sanskrit teacher was really nice, she was really calm and polite lady with lot of patience, she tried her best to train everyone by taking extra classes at her own home but I struggled to understand even basics of that language. I was not at all happy that I was forced to study that language, I knew that it is not going to help me to boost my score and that's what happened. I managed to somehow pass that subject by scoring 53 out of 100. I really hated the fact that I was forced to study Sanskrit. I was too weak or scared to register my protest in school. Neither my parents nor me had any clue about this language, they felt bad for my struggle but beyond that they couldn't do much. It took lot of time and efforts from my side to overcome dislike for Sanskrit which I developed at that early age in my life. So the point here is forcing any language on students is not going to make them like that subject or popularize that language. Same story was with English, many of my friends struggled in English because there was no one in our neighborhood who even knew how to read that language forget about speaking it. Many of my friends struggled to pass in that subject, they studied it because it was compulsory and even after studying it for 5 years (from 5th to 10th) most of them don't like or have any clue about it. 

I am not against teaching language (or Sanskrit) in schools as some of my friends got this impression when I was debating with them about this issue. In Indian schools already two languages are compulsory (regional language and English), so they teach languages which are essential for communication in today's world. Third language is for academic purpose, so let students choose which one they want to study. Students should get a choice, let them choose which Indian or foreign language they want to learn as third language. If they opt for Sanskrit then by all means teach it to them. I am sure it is a wonderful language like many others. Even though I studied that language for 3 years I am in no position to comment about that language as my opinion will be very biased. Sanskrit or any other language can not be revived by forcing people to learn it, this is not a correct method. Spread awareness about merits and demerits of learning Sanskrit, create enough job opportunities which will require people to know that language and then people will learn it on their own. Forcing it on students might create more students who might dislike that language (like me). I hope school authorities offer Sanskrit as an option for third language rather than making it a mandatory subject. Unfortunately these experiments are done only in government aided or sponsored schools, students studying in these schools are first victims of any such policy. Private schools where most Indian students study are not supposed to follow these guidelines. So the students studying in government sponsored schools are made guinea pigs to test such policies. No minister or leader bothers to think what can be a consequence of such decision on the mentality of students that too if it is implemented in the middle of school year. Every language deserves to be taught in school but proper platform should be developed and methods should be used so that students don't suffer. I hope interest of all students is taken into consideration before implementing any such decision which few people in sitting in air conditioned room think is right for everyone. 

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. Make Sanskrit compulsory: Singhal
2. German row: parents move court

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Crook Rampal and his goons should be punished.

Recent drama which happened in Haryana during the process of following High court's order to arrest some self styled godman or baba called Rampal has raised some serious questions about some of these so called religious organizations and their work. This fellow Rampal and his supporters dared to stop entire police force from following the court order to arrest Rampal and present him in court as he failed to appear before court even after repeated summons issued on his name. The resistance shown by his supporters to stop his arrest was shocking, this was a blatant show of contempt for law. They clearly believed that their guru Rampal is someone above the law, they also expected state and law enforcement should treat him differently than they treat common people. This type of unreasonable expectation is not uncommon, in India politicians and their supporters expect this type of treatment and many times they get it. So it was not unreasonable that this baba or crook or murder accused (according to police records) who has couple of million followers to expect the same thing. This mentality is created and perpetrated by people in India, they think that politicians whom they support, so called babas or gurus of their sect, cult or religion all are above the law. They think that they all are special people who should be treated them differently no matter what crime or mistake they do.

This fellow Rampal and this incident is just an example of to what extent this human worship mentality can push people. People are willing to die to defend their idol (or god) who they think can do nothing wrong. This is worrisome as well as pathetic, I used to get angry on foolishness of these people but now I only feel pity on such people. Failure of government and administration to stop these type of incidents from happening is another serious issue here. Very often political parties and politicians make use of these babas and imams for their own political benefit. This nexus between politics and religion is beneficial for both, they try to help each other whenever possible. This nexus make both of them powerful and allows them to control people's mind. It is difficult to bring any law to stop such things, only proper education and mass awareness might put an end to such blind following but that is also not guaranteed. Educated people and people who claim to be intellectuals need to raise their voice strongly whenever they see anything like this happening, this will definitely put some pressure on administration to take prompt action. Everyone should be treated as equal in front of law, many common people suffer at the hands of the law just because they don't have proper knowledge or resourced to deal with the mess in which they land. But if it is the case of some celebrity, politician or some influential person (like Rampal) then things become altogether different, they make use of each and every loophole of law  and if required even their muscle power to escape or delay the punishment. If government claims that law is same for all then they really need to implement this policy. "Justice for all" and "every one is equal for law" slogans like this sound very nice and inspiring but there is no use of using them if they just remain slogans and don't become reality. I hope in future such incidents are avoided and no politician or any influential person is given any special treatment in front of law. This whole episode was very disgusting and if such things continue then there will be a serious threat to our institution of democracy and I don't think Indians want this to happen.

News reports say that at least six people died inside ashram during this whole stand off, this is very serious. If people died because they were held hostage and didn't receive proper medical treatment then this should be considered as a murder. This crook Rampal and his goons should be booked for obstructing the justice and murder of these innocents, no one involved in this incident should escape the clutches of law. Even people who made mistake of risking lives of their own children by bringing them to the site of conflict should be tried for negligent parenting. Strict action taken against all of them might stop others from repeating the same in future. If administration for any reason fails to take any strict action against people involved in this episode, including the police man who were involved in beating the journalists who were trying to cover this incident then it will set a bad precedent and encourage others to take the same path.

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We need to stop objectification of human body...

During one of the panel discussion on one of NDTV program noted social scientist Kamla Bhasin raised very interesting point, she called nakedness as a natural phenomena but objected to to nudity which in commercial media tries to objectify the female body. Kamla Bhasin made very interesting argument against the wide spread nudity in advertising as well as movie world which objectifies male and female (specially female) bodies and present it as a some consumer product. She also took a strong objection on derogatory lyrics of some Hindi movie songs which clearly present female body as some object for male enjoyment. Actually she raised similar concerns during the episode related with the domestic violence and gender sensitivity on Amir Khan's show Satyamev Jayate. She insisted that nakedness is natural, there is nothing wrong in it but nudity is purposeful and specially female nudity which directly results in objectification of female body (specially in movies) is also result of age old patriarchal culture and mindset.

One can argue that what type of clothes to wear or how much to expose one's body is entirely personal choice, what they show on screen is also a matter of artistic freedom and no one can deny or object to these points. But I guess she wants to question whether this is done because of individual choice or because of pressure to present oneself in particular form because traditionally it is being done like that. One can clearly see this when men are all dressed up in suits and on same stage one can see women almost half naked (in nicely air conditioned room, which is relatively cold), with high heels (even the taller one). If all this is because of individual choice then no one should object to it but is it really like this? No one can question individual's right to choose what dress they want to wear on any occasion but whenever I talk to people it doesn't seem like that. I see many women and men complaining that they can not wear same dress on two different occasions because people will taunt them or pass some adverse comments about their dress. So I always think whether people dress up out of choice or out of compulsion or pressure to fit in? I myself never used to feel comfortable in suit and many traditional Indian dresses and on many occasions (functions like marriage or festival celebrations) refused to wear them and I faced lot of criticism and weird gestures for doing that. I didn't care what people thought about me when they saw me like that but it seems many do care and they care a lot about what people will say about their appearance. They care so much that many dress to fit in to that image of real man and real woman created by society (or by fashion industry).

According to me to pressurize or force anyone to expose their body is equally bad as to force them to cover it. Surprisingly most people don't believe that today because of heavy advertisement or aggressive propaganda there is tremendous pressure on men and specially on women to dress in particular way. Specially women are considered as modern or liberal or progressive only if they wear certain type of clothes, this stereotype is very common. I see many people talking against burqa or ghoonghat system where women are forced to cover their body, this system is part of some cultures or religion but not many people raise their voice against pressure on women in today's world to expose their body or dress in certain way, I always wonder why? It seems many believe that wearing burqa is more oppressive than bikini walk during many beauty contests. It also seem that people find it hard to believe that women can choose by their own will to wear burqa or sari or ghoonghat but they easily believe that all women expose their body or wear revealing clothes out of their own choice. Actually in both cases if it is done under any direct or indirect pressure it is wrong, human body is treated as an physical object in both the cases. If forcing women to wear burqa is wrong them forcing them to walk on ramp in bikini is also wrong. Now male body is also objectified heavily in movies which is again a very serious issue, I agree that it is a very recent phenomena compared to female body objectification but we can see that it has also started. One can see many products in the market and aggressive ad campaigns which strongly advocate of certain body type and shape for men and women both. Some ads for these products are really sick and racist but sales of these product indicate that many people are buying this idea which is very sad to see.

We need to stop this human body objectification, this has definitely created lot of hurdles in progress of women I hope same thing doesn't happen with men. I don't think it is easy to stop this process because this objectification is so seamlessly done that many times people don't even notice or know that they are being objectified. They follow it as a fashion trend or a way of looking beautiful or just to fit in the image of man and woman created by this objectification process. I hope we all recognize this problem and acknowledge its seriousness, then only we can tackle this issue. With examples from my own family and friends I can see how seriously it affects minds of people. I was so surprised by this phenomena that I started thinking that it a myth that people chose their own dress, my observation says that they are forced to choose particular dress. One can give different names to that force, one can call it a peer pressure, gender stereotype, fashion trend, culture or some other name but I found very few who were willing to go against the popular norm, who dare to think differently. I know it is a tough battle, it is not easy to stand alone from crowd, I know how it feels. I hope I see some more people who are willing to take this path, who are willing to question this objectification, challenge the stereotypes and defy these unjust norms. Unless we dare to challenge this objectification process it is going to grow and become a monster one day.

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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Who owns Jawaharlal Nehru?

Ugly spat between Congress and BJP, tow largest national parties of India over legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru during celebration of his 125th birth anniversary has generated lot of media attention. Issue was really a trivial one, Congress party organized a international symposium to celebrate 125th birth anniversary of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. They invited leaders from various political party (like Mamta Banarjee from Trinamool) to take part in symposium but nor current prime minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi. This has created a political storm and wrestling match between BJP and congress over who owns the legacy of Nehru and who can appropriate Nehu and who can't. This all controversy is totally unnecessary and displays the primitive and shallow nature of politics which both national parties are trying to play just to score some brownie points. One can agree or disagree with Nehru's policies, one can analyze of criticize his tenure as first prime minister of India, but one can not deny his contribution in India's freedom struggle and his role in establishing democratic system in India. One also can not ignore his role in recognizing importance of science and scientific aptitude for young country like India, he took necessary steps to establish some of major scientific institutes which we cherish even today. No one will argue that some of his policies will look out dated today or he didn't make any mistake as a politician. No leader or human is perfect they all have their own strengths and weaknesses, that is why we debate and discuss about them. But it is really unfortunate to see such pathetic tug of war between tow major political parties over legacy of a national icon.

The question people are asking is, who owns Nehru? Is he Congress party's personal property as he belonged and represented Congress for his entire political career? Is he personal property of Nehru-Gandhi family which is still a major player in Indian politics? Does India and its people own him as he was their first prime minister? According to me no one owns any individual or his or her legacy, off course country in which that individual was born and parties or people with whom he/she was directly or indirectly associated might feel more strongly for them but actually any public figure is open for praise or criticism by anyone. Saying that only Congress can appropriate Nehru and no one else should dare to honor him or celebrate his birth anniversary is sign of extreme narrow mindedness. National icons belong to entire country irrespective of any party or group. It is not easy to become a national icon, winning an election is fine, becoming prime minister or chief minister is also OK but not every PM or CM becomes a national icon and Jawaharlal Nehru has a status of national icon so he belongs to everyone. At the same time any constructive criticism about his policies or actions should not be considered as direct attack on his legacy or personality. People who don't believe in Nehru's ideology or his policies are free to disagree with him or criticize him but there is difference between criticism and insult. Off course people will feel odd if the group or party who continuously insult personalities like Nehru or Gandhi suddenly try to claim their legacy, it looks odd. At the same time one also should understand that people or groups have right to change their opinion and if now suddenly they feel that Gandhi or Nehru's policies or ideas were right and they should respect them then this opportunity should be given to them, only time can tell us what is real purpose behind these action by these groups. One should not doubt anyone's intentions without any evidence, give them chance that their feelings and intentions are honest, please don't judge without any evidence.

I feel this drama or controversy was totally avoidable and unnecessary. Unfortunately political parties are making personalities like Mahatma Gandhu, Pandit Nehru or Sardar Patel tools of political tug of war between then (specially Congress and BJP). Both parties are actually insulting these people by engaging in such public spats which is really unfortunate event. Whole India is proud of these people and everyone who is influenced by their work should celebrate their legacy, at the same time constructive criticism should also be welcomed. No particular party should claim ownership on any national icons. I hope this controversy settles down soon and we get to celebrate real legacy of these people, let's hope that people remember them for the work they have don't for India not just because of the party they represented.

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

Friday, November 14, 2014

Chhattisgarh incident-if it is not an eyeopener then we are already a dead society..

Unfortunate tragedy which unfolded in Chhattisgarh has shocked me deeply. It's not the case that I don't know how these government camps are conducted and what is the situation of sanitation in government run clinics but I was still shocked by this incident (I know that there are exceptions to this but I am talking about over all picture). At least 13 women lost their lives and many more are in critical condition after getting sterilization operation performed in one of the government run camps. This is not first time any such mishap happened in government run camps but I think loss of lives on such large scale never happened before. Public health care system is in very very bad shape in India, lot of corruption, lack of accountability plagues this system so much that it is almost dysfunctional. Population control program is part of health ministry of central government as well as state government. Every state sets some targets which it needs to complete to get required funding which is allocated for that specific purpose and pressure to fulfill those targets can result in such horrible incidents where people loose their lives. Lack of transparency, poor follow up and inquiry of such incidents which allows most culprits to roam free has failed to put any check towards happening of such unwanted incidents. Along with people who actually conduct these camps (doctors, medical officers, etc.) government machinery and health ministers are equally responsible for these mishaps. Unless all directly and indirectly concerned people are held accountable and punished appropriately I don't think these type of instances will stop, we all know that system is so broken that they are not going to stop on their own.

This is a cruel joke on people and their lives (specially poor and uneducated) when they are dragged to these camps with lure of money or some holiday from their work and doctors casually play with their health. Any medical procedure like surgery specially something like sterilization operation should not be performed with 'informed' consent. Here word 'informed' is more important than consent, it is very easy to get consent of these uneducated poor people who many times sign any form just in exchange of few bucks or just because some 'educated' person is telling them to do so. They think that if some doctor or some respected politician or educated person from their village is telling them to do this thing then in must be in their interest. We can call it a consent but it is not a informed consent which is must for any medical procedure like this. So government or any agency can not hide behind the technical rules that we sis our job according to rule books and it is peoples fault that they go to such camps and die.

Lack of transparency and accountability at every level (political as well as administrative) is a major reason why such incidents keep on happening. This is the same state where 100 or so people lost their eye sight after cataract operation in government camps, there is no news about what happened to those culprits involved in that incident. Many times these incidents create hoax in media,  hit the headlines for few days, there are attempts to politicize these issues to score some political points but slowly some other issue takes its place and people forget about it, in the end nothing substantial happens which can put end to these tragic events. Politicizing any event like this is a disgusting thing but there needs to be a political accountability for such incidents. After all politicians are important part of administration which plans and executes such events. They are the people who get the credit of any successful implementation of government programs or schemes so they should also get the blame and punishment for such serious failures. Normally poor and uneducated people are the victims of such events. These are the people who are not active on Facebook, twitter or whats app, they are not going to flood the social media with their protest but they are equally important citizens of India and they need same treatment which is offered to any citizen from any metro city.

Unless they establish proper mechanism at every level which makes sure that SOP (standard operating procedures) are followed wherever people's health issues are in question we will keep on witnessing such events. Just a resignation or arrest of one doctor or officer is not a solution for this serious problem, we need systematic and administrative reforms if we want to put an end to such incidents. If this incident is not an eyeopener for people of India and politicians of India then I am afraid that we are like a dead society who doesn't care about lives of particular section of their society. I hope this incident is the last such incident and every step and care will be taken in future to avoid such tragedy.

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

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Kiss of love..protest against attack on individual freedom not against any culture.

Recently protest movement against moral policing which was given the name 'Kiss of love' was in news. This protest was given this name because people decided to kiss each other as a form of protest against moral policing. Interestingly this protest started from state of Kerala (as far as I know) and rapidly spread in other parts of the India. As expected many organizations associated with Hindu or Muslim religion opposed these protests calling them against Indian culture and violation of civic code of conduct. Moral policing is not a new phenomena in any country, some fanatic, self declared culture protectors try to impose moral or cultural values which they think are right. These organizations don't care whether it is legal or illegal to impose these things on other people against their will, they do it under the name of protecting ancient culture or traditions. Very often protests like 'kiss of love' are blamed on influence of western culture. It is ironical that expressing love in public in any form (even holding hands or hugging each other) is considered against Indian culture which has produced works of Khajuraho and texts like Kamasutra. But extreme response of these organizations to these protests is not surprising to me but their violent reactions and justifications offered towards such violent attacks is definitely a serious concern.

Actually protests like kiss of love are not in any way attack on any culture, these protests are not also meant to insult anyone or hurt anyone but this is a way of protesting against unjust moral policing. This protest is simple way of conveying a message that you can't force your values on others. If someone is breaking the law arrest them and punish them legally, torturing them or harassing them in public is not the solution or a way to protect any culture. Moral values differ from person to person, for some eating non-vegetarian food can be a immoral thing to do, but that doesn't mean they go and beat all people who chose to eat non-vegetarian food. They definitely have right to propagate benefits of vegetarian food and drawbacks of non-vegetarian food (if at all it is there) but they don't have any right to force their moral values on others. In same way someone might think females not wearing a burqa is a immoral thing, or drinking alcohol is a sin or eating beef or pork is a sin, these people are entitled to have whatever beliefs they want but they have no right to force it on others. There is a machinery or system in every state and country to take care of things which are against law of that country please let them do their job. In real democracy people even have right to protest peacefully against any law if they feel it is a unjust law. Peaceful protests, debates and discussions are signs of healthy and inclusive society. Moral policing is not a sign of progressive, tolerant or open society rather it is a sign of regressive, intolerant and backward society. India claims itself to be very tolerant and progressive country so people should be ashamed of any attack on personal liberty in their own country.

Indian culture or for that matter any culture is not that weak that it can be threatened by just people kissing in public. It is a same culture which has produced Khajuraho temples and books like Kamasutra, so why such violent or aggressive stand against just a mere protest? And if any culture has some bad elements or repressive traditions against any community or gender then what is wrong in changing those traditions? What it is wrong in protesting against any such practices if they are still practiced in any society? Such protests should be welcomed rather than condemning them, any attack on personal liberty should be opposed. One can definitely debate the style of protest or mode of protest but to protest against anything is a basic right of any individual. Individual freedom is the sign of any progressive and liberal society, this freedom allows every individual to express themselves and live their life as per their own terms without coming under undue pressure of society or community. I hope these type of protests are taken in right spirit rather than considering as attack against any culture. Individual liberty is very important aspect of any society, I hope individual liberty and fundamental rights are respected and protected, if not then as a society we should be ready to witness many more such protests. It will be interesting to see how many attempts are made to crush such protests and what is the ultimate result of such movements.

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

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