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]

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]

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]

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.

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

[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.

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

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


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]

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

City on this a real development??

During my recent visit to India I saw big enthusiasm among people about the issue of development. One reason for this can be the theme of recent general election for parliament, after many years some election was fought on the issue of development. This also had a backdrop of some phenomenal economic development in last decade or so, people in India are experiencing phenomenal economic growth in last few decades and this all has created lot of enthusiasm among common people about more economic development. I don't think any one will disagree to the fact the economic development is necessary for any country to become independent and self sufficient, and like others India also needs this. This is the reason many cities in India are growing very fast, but the main question is are they growing in right direction? 

My home town Pune was previously (just couple of decades back) a small city with beautiful climate and was surrounded by beautiful hills. Since last decade or so it has grown very fast, so fast that if someone who visited this city 8-9 years back visits it now he/she may not recognize that it is the same Pune. It hosts large number of software and other companies, industrial and economic growth of this city in last decade or so was phenomenal. This growth has also resulted in real estate boom in this city, prices of properties and lands are skyrocketing, there is some type of construction work going on on each available free land. This has resulted in lot of unplanned growth of Pune, people and builders didn't even spare the hills. Many hills are now occupied by some sort of construction (legal or illegal) almost up to the top. It is really hard to imagine that the place on which these buildings or homes are standing was a beautiful hill just few years back. Development as such comes with some side effects which are manageable if handled properly but unplanned and uncontrolled development comes with many serious side effects. These side effects can have very serious consequences in long term, they can harm not only the environment of that city but also lives of the people who live in it. As expected pollution levels are going up in each and every city of India, neither there is no proper mechanism to monitor this nor any serious efforts are made to put any check on this really serious problem. Unplanned growth of cities is putting lot of stress on already overburdened infrastructure of those cities. Traffic conditions are horrible in many places which cause a lot of inconvenience to travelers, people's habit of not following any traffic rules is also contributing heavily towards making this mess more chaotic. 

Current Pune looks like city on steroids, growing uncontrollably in direction wherever it can find empty space. Definitely growth is happening and people are getting richer, one can see economic prosperity coming in families but at the same time quality of life in terms of proper infrastructure, school system, government services, etc. are not improving. Government offices are still very crowded with rampant corruption, economic development has not been able to check corruption in any way. Public school system in still in horrible condition and it is really tough task to get your kid admitted in any good private school without any political influence or paying heavy donation. There is a upper middle class who can afford to do all these things as they earn enough money to support this type of lifestyle. But at the same time there is no change in lives of many lower middle class people who are some how stuck in same vicious cycle of poverty and lack of proper education. Stress on city's infrastructure is immense, Pune really needs a metro, mono rail or something like that which can reduce the number of vehicles on its roads. Current public transport system is not able to satisfy the requirement of growing population which needs reliable alternative to commute in the city. I think this is the story of more or less all growing cities in India. Some cities like Delhi and Mumbai managed to modernize their public transport system but even there also still there is huge gap between demand and supply.

I wish that concerned authorities think consequences of this unplanned growth very seriously and take appropriate steps. Once the city grows with many illegal and unorganized constructions it is really difficult to get rid of them just because so many people occupy these places and it is impossible to take any action against them. This has happened in past and it seems administration has not learned any lesson from these incidents. I only hope that economic or real estate growth happens with proper planning and according to available resources in that city. This will allow people to enjoy comfortable life without being worried about if they can reach hospital in time during any medical emergency because of heavy and undisciplined traffic on roads of the city. People of Pune also should play very important role in this, they need to follow traffic rules and try to keep their city clean. If Pune can show that a growing city can be disciplined and well organized may be it can become a ideal example for all other cities to follow. City on steroids will grow for sure but that growth is not healthy and natural and I think people of Pune (or any other city) want their beloved city to grow naturally retaining its beauty and natural climate. Let's see if people choose a planned and organized growth or they are fine with this unorganized rampant growth which might create more problems than solutions.

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

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