Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Multitasking or distracted living?

Multitasking is the mantra of success in today's life. Dealing with single task at a time is almost considered as waste of time and a very inefficient strategy now a days. We have so many devices or gadgets which are designed specifically to help us to do multitasking. Many mono functional devises are on the verge of becoming extinct now (e.g. wrist watch, tape recorder, paper maps, etc.). There have been invention of new methods for social networking and hi-tech devises for communication. We live in the world where everything is shared in virtual world every minute. Unfortunately may times people overdo this multitasking business, that too very carelessly. They even indulge in some dangerous habits which are not only dangerous to them but to others also; they talk on phone while driving, even try to text while driving (I still wonder how can they do this without getting distracted). Some other non life threatening common habits include surf internet while watching TV, check emails or SMS on phone while talking, etc. As I mentioned earlier, some of these acts are quite dangerous and against the law but still people do them. The justification offered is that they do this to save the time or just because they can't stop due to addiction.

Being able to handle or manage more than one tasks at the same time that is multitasking can be really advantageous skill if used properly. Quite often this skill is required in today's competitive environment as it can help lot of professionals. Sometimes this habit of juggling too many things at the same time can lead to distraction or 'loss of focus' on the main task, which we are supposed execute at that particular movement. This distraction can be in many forms; some times we get so busy that we don't have time for one to one discussion even with our family members. Checking Facebook status or emails or SMS becomes such a regular habit that we don't even realize that we do it even while talking with others, in meetings or in theater while watching a movie or a play. Yes, multitasking is good and it can save us some time, make us more efficient but sometimes it's better to focus a 100% attention on one task specially where our personal attention is required. When we are talking with some one, it's better to focus on the talk rather than surfing on phone (unless we are not at all interested in talking with that person). One should spend quality time with their family and friends rather than being always busy on phone or tablet. This has become very important in today's world as everyone in family is busy with their own things. It's important to interact when family members are around and discuss issues person to person. I make some of these mistakes myself but I try really hard not to repeat them and I know for many it's really hard to stay away from these gadgets yet it is worth trying. People around us do deserve more attention and our quality time; every relationship does need investment of quality time to nurture it and sometimes by doing these things in the name of multitasking we mess up our relationships. Please don't get an impression that multitasking is always bad, as I said multitasking is a nice ability to have, if one can strike balance between the things then it can be really useful and efficient tool. The most important thing here is to strike the balance. Anything in excess is bad, so let's hope that in desire to achieve more we don't loose whatever little we already have with us. I am sharing nice talk by Jennifer Meer on this subject; please listen to it as she nicely explains the phenomena of distracted living with examples from her own life. Sometimes it's better to relax and do one thing at a time and enjoy the process of doing that one task, may be it is a inefficient way but surely it has its own advantages, give it a try once in a while, I am sure you will enjoy it.

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. Distracted Living- Jennifer Meer

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The war from within...struggle of women to break internal barriers.

I wrote quite a few posts about gender discrimination against women happening in various societies and cultures. This discrimination can be in many forms; it can be in form of some rituals or customs, it can be in form of some religious beliefs which put some restrictions on them just because their gender or it can be in form of some laws which prohibits women from doing something just because they are women (like driving in Saudi Arabia). All these examples are just a few among many which I want to mention here if readers are interested they can find more information about these things on web. Women all over world are trying to fight against many of these discriminatory practices. They along with all feminist movements managed to achieve lot of progress in this area but still a lot of work need to be done. When I wrote few posts related with this subject I came across few comments where women commented in favor of some of very common prejudices against them (like women are inferior to men or less capable than men). All these women were educated, working women. I was little surprised by this but not shocked because I have seen in my personal life many women who somehow believe that they are not as capable as men just because they are woman. Years of male dominated society and patriarchal culture has made them believe this. Many of them also believe that they need support of some man in their life in order to be safe and survive in this world. Many also think that "when you live in the society, whether you like it or not you need to follow all these social norms". One of the norm of patriarchal society is that women are inferior to men and this thought is propagated directly or indirectly. 'Women are born to serve men' this thought is propagated in various ways in different cultures. There are many discriminative traditions or rituals. Even some stories which are part of great epics or holy books try to propagate these type of views either directly or indirectly. Social norms which encourage any form of discrimination either directly or indirectly should be challenged and questioned no matter from where they come and how old they are.

These views are propagated since centuries and slowly they have become the part of our society's mindset. Many people think that this is our culture and tradition. They think this needs to be preserved at any cost because after all all these things were designed by our ancestors for betterment of our society so why should we change them? The strong influence of this type of patriarchal culture has resulted in many internal barriers and self doubts in women's minds. I would like to quote from book Lean In where author Sheryl Sandberg writes very nicely about the barriers women face from within "In addition to the external barriers erected by society, women are hindered by barriers that exist within ourselves. We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in. We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives—the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve."

Years of brainwashing and suppression has created element of self doubt not only in minds of large number of women but also in minds of many people from certain races, castes or communities. This internal barriers created by self doubt are not that easy to break as they have strong support of years of traditions which reinforce them from generation to generation. May be there was need for some of these traditions back then, may be that society required certain type of different policies to protect women, but we live in totally different world today and many of these barriers need to go. In today's world every gender and section of society should be given equal opportunity to explore their potential. Why it's always a woman who has to choose between family and career? Why this unfair dilemma is only forced on them? As a society what are we doing so that women don't have to face this dilemma (most men don't face it)? Even though all these questions are relevant it is also true that first women need to overcome their internal barriers. Already attitude is so hostile towards them, with these internal barriers in place they should not expect any special favors from society. If they fail to break these barriers then it will be very difficult for them to break the external barriers set by society or culture. I think they need to win war from within to win this was against gender discriminationOnce they overcome internal barrier then it will be just a matter of time that they break external barriers also.

I would like to end this post with another quote from the book Lean In, "Internal obstacles are rarely discussed and often underplayed. Throughout my life, I was told over and over about inequalities in the workplace and how hard it would be to have a career and a family. I rarely heard anything, however, about the ways I might hold myself back. These internal obstacles deserve a lot more attention, in part because they are under our own control. We can dismantle the hurdles in ourselves today. We can start this very moment."

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

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Overhead costs and NPOs...

Recently I heard TED talk by Dan Pallotta, about how the way we look at our charity is totally wrong and how we use double standards while looking at profit organizations (PO) and non-profit ones (NPO). This talk was very informative and sort of eyeopener for me, I am guilty of doing one of the things which he mentioned in his talk, I also used to judge any charitable organization based on how little they spend on overheads, I used to think overhead spending are total waste of donated money, every donated penny should be used for the cause which it was donated.Many people donate their hard earned money towards causes they like, they want to see that change in society as many of them themselves can't devote enough time towards that cause they donate money to some organizations to work towards those causes. This all requires lot of infrastructure and people to make things work, and this is where this talk is very helpful, Dan does a really great job in explaining us how we need to look at spending of these NPOs.

I loved this talk not only because it demonstrated how flawed my attitude was but also he made a very strong case about problems of non-profit organizations because of some unreasonable expectations from donors. Every donor has full right to know how their money is spent and how it helped for the cause for which they donated it but at the same time they all also need to understand that these organizations also need to hire talented and motivated people to work for them, they need to compete with all these profit making organizations to attract this talent and if we all who donate money to them expect them to work well then we need to accept that they are bound to have some overhead costs, we need to judge them based on their performance and not how much they spend. If they are working very well towards achieving their goals and spending reasonable money  as overhead cost then we should not complain. In today's world social work can be a profession and like all professions it also requires lot of hard work, dedication and commitment to become successful. People working this this areas with lot of NGO's also need to have normal life, they also need to have their own family and look after their needs and whether we like it or not this all requires some amount of money and if they are engaged in social work full time this work needs to generate that money for them and this is what we should see in overhead costs.

This talk has changed my outlook towards NGOs and all other socially active organizations. I do care about how much they pay to their employees and if it's reasonable amount I don't feel cheated or feel that they are wasting my money, I do understand that they need good, talented people to do this job and it's not easy to attract good talent without having good or at least reasonable package, but still these organizations need to be careful on how they spend their money as people like to see most of their money is being used for the cause for which they donate it, this can be a tricky exercise but these organizations need to do it to keep all donors interested in their work. I hope this talk will help many people to understand better how these NPOs use or can use their money in somewhat better or efficient way by hiring good people and engaging them in work of their organization.

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

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

Links:
1. TED talk of Dan Pallotta 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

How dare you Arvind to do this??

Delhi's chief minister for last two months (49 days to be specific) Mr. Arvind Kejriwal finally resigned, actually he said before that if he can not pass the Jan Lokpal bill in Delhi assembly he will resign, this is the similar bill for which few of them back then started India against corruption (IAC) movement and later formed the party (AAP) and fought the election in Delhi. Actually this was the first promise in their manifesto, the basic foundation on which their party was formed, they said initially that they will pass withing the first month if their government comes into power in Delhi but it got delayed for some reason. Now some people and two major parties of India (BJP and Congress) are calling AK as a traitor, a coward who ran away from the responsibility, actually one of them (BJP) called him opportunistic and power hungry when he accepted the unconditional support offered by the Congress to form the government and now they are blaming him for creating crises in Delhi by resigning from CM post, but it is not uncommon for these parties to criticize no matter what their opponent does, so it's not a surprise, this tamasha (drama) is going on in India for last 65 years or so and everybody is enjoying it sitting in their living rooms.

I think AK should be arrested and tried in court for crimes he committed during last few months,  it will at least prevent something like this happening again in near future. How he dared to challenge such robust establishment? How he dared to challenge the norms and rules set by central government? How he dared to protest in Delhi when he was chief minister of that state? Do chief ministers even behave like this? How he dared to challenge the power of central govt., Delhi police and Lt. Governor of Delhi at the same time? How he dared to name most powerful business man of India and a cabinet minister both in one FIR? these are the few serious mistakes he did during last few months (including his tenure as Delhi's CM). Wasn't he scared? Wasn't he worried about his CM post? What was he even thinking when he challenged this mighty political establishment who is running this country for last 65 years or so? How he dared to think that a common person like him can form a political party and challenge our grand old political parties who all know how to govern India inside out, politics and governance flows in their blood, they all know how to win the elections and govern this great country and this maniac thought he can govern better than them? Anarchist, what else one can call him?

Didn't he know that many people are not yet ready for complete freedom (he calls it Swaraj), they are against power decentralization, they want some messiah or dynast to rule them not some common person, because all these people coming from establishment know how to rule, how to govern, these all want some hero to whom they can worship, adore and believe him/her blindly without questioning any of their actions, what can a common man like him do? Clearly he was complete misfit in our patriarchal system and therefore he needed to go, it was just matter of time. Here I am not talking here about AK as a person but AK as a philosophy or thought, as a person he is not that important, he has all other drawbacks or strengths which we all have, but this thought needs to be crushed so that there can not be another AK, if common people realize that anyone of them can become AK then it will be dangerous for current establishment, one AK is so difficult to deal with then imagine if everyone becomes like him. No, this should not happen at any cost, if this happens it will be like death sentence for current system, that's why AK's actions should be treated like blasphemy or treason, they should put him under trial like Socrates but this time they will not try to kill the person but his thoughts, after all everyone learns from their mistakes, few days back they did this mistake with Dr. Narendra Dabholkar and now I don;t think anyone will take that risk with AK, because they could kill Socrates but not his thoughts, they could kill Dr. Dabholkar but not his movement, once this anti corruption movement is on its own path, AK's presence is necessary but it's not mandatory. Actually I am little surprised to see that he dared to stand by his promise (to resign if Lokpal is not passed), very few political leaders in India showed courage to renounce power like this, his government was short lived but it tried its best as long as it existed, no doubt they did some mistakes but I am sure every one from our grand establishment  and their supporters have only one question in their mind, how Arvind dares to resign from CM's post like this? How he dared first to accept the power and then renounce it so easily? How he dared to cross his limits as a common citizen of India? How he dared to dream so big? I am still wondering, please let me know if anyone knows the answer.

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

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

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What's use of freedom of speech without freedom to offend?

Recently I read very disturbing news related with Penguin withdrawing a book on Hinduism (The Hindus: An Alternative History) written by American Indologist Wendy Doniger from India, this action was result of an out-of-court settlement with some Delhi-based complainants who blamed the book for insulting Hindu traditions and culture, they took this matter to court and I think to avoid all legal hassles and controversies Penguin decided to take this action. Actually banning any book, movie, play or even a person for some offensive remarks against some community, religion or God is not a new thing in India, it happened many times in past and sadly it's happening again, some books like Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses are still banned in India. In any free, progressive and truly tolerant society freedom of speech is very important, and as Salman Rushdie once said freedom of speech has no any meaning without right to offend, people who understand real meaning behind this statement will also find some sense in this wonderful article written on this subject Kenan Malik, from that article I want to quote one paragraph, 
"The notion of giving offence suggests that certain beliefs are so important or valuable to certain people that they should be put beyond the possibility of being insulted, or caricatured or even questioned. The importance of the principle of free speech is precisely that it provides a permanent challenge to the idea that some questions are beyond contention, and hence acts as a permanent challenge to authority. Once we give up on the right to offend in the name of “tolerance” or “respect,” we constrain our ability to challenge those in power, and therefore to challenge injustice. The right to “subject each others’ fundamental beliefs to criticism” is, in other words, the bedrock of an open, diverse, just society."

In the same article he also says that it's impossible to bring any major social change or reform without offending someone's sentiments and I always believed in this. Many people whom I talk do desire some social reforms but they don't want to start it from their own home just because they don't want to hurt or offend their loved ones. I am sure someone's sentiments must have got hurt when child marriage was opposed, when girl's right to get educated was advocated by Savitribai Phule, when widow marriage was performed, when sati tradition was banned, but all these things were necessary to bring desired and much needed social reforms, all those people who participated in this social change experienced fierce opposition from our society, they hurt many people's sentiments but fortunately their resistance survived and they could bring the desired reforms in reality. All these things happened many many years ago, but it seems even now our society's mindset in India has not yet changed, we are not yet tolerant towards any criticism towards our leaders, Gods, religion, community, traditions, country or even a political party. Any movie or book or article criticizing anything related with these subjects immediately gets banned or if not banned by government then it generates adverse reaction from some section of society which claims that their feelings are hurt. Authors or movie makers face problems and sometimes these protests are very violent, this is not a sign of tolerant or progressive society. The most important part is that this matter can be related with any religion or caste they all behave in same way, it seems this is the problem of entire society any particular religion or community can not be singled out for this, as a society India needs to widen it's tolerance level towards criticism. I don't say that it doesn't happen in other countries, there are more conservative and sectarian societies than India where there is absolutely no freedom of expression at all, but I am not comparing India with them and when we Indians claim to have very open minded and inclusive culture and history this type of behavior definitely contradicts this claim, rather it makes all these claims sound superficial and to some extend false.

I believe better common sense will prevail in all these matters and as a society we Indians will understand the true meaning of freedom of expression, this thing comes with certain amount of risk but with lot of benefits also and according to me benefits of it over weigh all the risks. In the name of tolerance or respect we can not curb freedom of expression, people will understand that with rights also comes the responsibility and for every book that offends someone they have total freedom to publish a rebuttal which disproves theory or logic presented in that offensive material, this is the real way to deal with such things, banning anything only makes it more popular, I was not even aware of Wendy Doniger's name and her work before reading this news, now I am going to read her book to see what it says about Hinduism and I am sure there are many who came to know about this book only because of this controversy, so I don't think even this attempt of banning these type of things serve any purpose. In the era of internet it's not possible from banning anything from getting distributed once it's available online, now this controversy will be biggest advertisement for this book. To all people who get offended by some book or movie, my simple advise is just don't read them or watch them, banning them or bullying people associated with those creations only displays timid conservative mindset. So let's learn to care and respect each others views, this is the only way to move forward.

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

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

Links:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Violence and silence...

I listened to this TED talk by Jackson Katz shared on Facebook (FB) by one of my FB friend, actually she shares many interesting stuff on FB and for me its very difficult to keep track of all of postings but I try to read as many of them because many of them are very interesting and educating to me. This talk was a total revelation for me, by far the best TED talk I heard till date, this guy told almost every thing  which I think but struggle to express them in words (actually he told much more than what I think) about this problem of domestic violence and sexual abuse in such a effective way. Jack said all this with such a clarity and simplicity that I could not have done it in 100 blog posts, a very big thanks to him for doing this. I am really impressed by the way he could communicate his ideas and emotions so effectively that I became his instant fan.

I liked the way as he proved that domestic violence or sexual abuse is not only women's issue but mainly it's men's problem as many perpetrators in all the cases are men, he raises very valid points like how dominant majority always gets the privilege to remain unexamined, how entire blame is put on victim in most of these cases. Because of exclusion of dominant majority most of these issues get stereotyped like people think gender issues means women issues, racism means things related with african americans, south asians, Latinos, etc. I am also impressed by the way he objected to our silence to many of these racist jokes or rape jokes or all other stories or jokes who are in some way demeaning to particular gender or to people with particular sexual orientation. We all hear there type of jokes or posts somewhere, many times we protest or many times we ignore them considering it as some harmless incident or comment but every time we ignore any such incident we silently give our approval for that incident to get repeated (he calls this a bystander approach). Many people offer this type of silent approval and slowly these things spread, communities or people get stereotyped, some of them suffer, get discriminated, actually we can stop or minimize all these things if we stop silently encouraging such incidents. By keeping quiet if something wrong is happening in front of us we give our silent approval to that thing, apart from this normally people who raise this issue are termed as man haters or any other insulting term (he rightly calls it as shoot the messenger attitude). Actually victims of sexual abuse or violence are both men and women and in most cases perpetrators are men, to stop this we need more courageous adult men and women who break their silence and become vocal about these issues. He also reminds us that this is not easy to challenge these things in powerful male dominated culture, it's not easy to question this type of behaviour when most people choose to ignore to keep mum about it, it really requires courage. We need to create a environment where such abusive behaviour is unacceptable in peer culture, where remaining silent is not a good option. Actually most these perpetrators are normal people they are not all twisted or sick people but this type of environment where people keep silent encourages them to commit these type of crimes or acts. He also calls this problem is not a sensitivity issue but a leadership issue, and nicely explains that in his talk. I also like when he says that only caring deeply about these issues is not enough anymore, I also want to stress his point that we need more gutsy people (more importantly men) to break this complacent silence.

I think Jack mentioned many thought provoking points in his talk and we all should think very seriously about them, next time any of us hear any racist joke or insensitive remark about any gender or community we should register our protest or at least express our disagreement, I think this will at least make people around us aware that these things are not funny or it's not OK to say these things, our job is to tell them that these things are not only poor in taste but also are disgusting and insulting. If we can take away just this one message from his talk and work on it I think it will serve purpose of his talk, I encourage everyone to listen this talk, also please watch this brilliant video and let me know your opinion about this topic.

Thanks for reading.

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

Links:
1. http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Violence-Silence-Jackson-Katz-P
2. This Powerful Video Shows Men What It Feels Like To Be Subjected To Sexism And Sexual Violence

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Arranged marriage: can it be called a legalized rape?


During one of discussions one of my friend called arranged marriage a 'legalized rape', his statement didn't surprise me as I heard it on some occasions before also, I did not agree with this statement completely because I know many successful and happy arranged marriages (including my own) and many couples who love each other like any other couple married or living together either according to any socially accepted system or even otherwise. System of arranged marriage is not perfect, it has many serious drawbacks but even after all this according to me it's exaggerated statement to call all arranged marriages as legalized rapes but this statement is not totally wrong, this statement is not 100% right but it's not also 100% wrong, it can make sense to person only if he/she tries to understand logic behind this argument. Some people might find this topic itself disgusting or offensive or against their tradition or culture, so for them my advice is it's not anything like that but still if they at all feel offended by this subject then please don't proceed and go and read some other post there are many other posts on this blog itself.

Arranged marriage is a system designed to find a companion or mate for both genders in society, this was designed during times when in society for variety of reasons free interaction between young boys and girls was socially not allowed. In many societies this was the only way to get marry. There was very heavy dominance of parents in this system as they used to decide everything, starting from selecting the bride or groom to date and time of marriage, the real bride and groom slowly became just instruments or technical requirement to run this show. All decision and execution power used to rest in hands of parents and slowly they twisted or redesigned this system to the extent that it also resulted in system of child marriage. In many cases elders don't even feel need to obtain consent of boy and girl who are getting marry, there can be many reasons for this specially the young age of prospective bride and groom (elders feel that they are too immature to take their own decisions). Once couple gets married next step is consummation of marriage. According to Wikipedia, consummation or consummation of a marriage, in many traditions and statutes of civil or religious law, is the first (or first officially credited) act of sexual intercourse between two people, either following their marriage to each other or after a prolonged sexual attraction. In any sexual act if there is no consent involved or if force is used against will of any individual involved in it, it can be considered as a rape or sexual assault and this I think happens during consummation of many arranged marriages (one of the reason is bride and groom don't know each other very well) and I think this is what my learned friend meant when he made this comment.

I agree that no system is perfect, there are some pros and cons associated with every system, people often cite high divorce rates in developed societies to prove uselessness of so called love marriages, but whenever we see some obvious problems in any system and see some better alternatives or solutions we should think of implementing those solutions rather than trying to protect that old outdated system in name of tradition or culture. No doubt that good traditions and rituals should be preserved and continued but not all traditions are worth preserving, some need major reforms and as a society we should be willing to accept these things. Obtaining consent of prospective bride and groom before marriage is not wrong, rather it's beneficial for both of them and can avoid many problems after marriage, if they are not ready then allowing them to take their own time to take a decision is also a good idea, why not to follow these simple things during process of arranged marriage, definitely parents can help whenever needed, offer suggestions whenever asked but they should leave it to individuals (bride and groom) to make decisions about their own lives, after all they are the ones who are getting married. I think everyone should learn to respect others choice, respect our partner's right to say 'no' in any relationship, this will reduce many complications and would reduce incidences of sexual abuse, if this happens may be very soon a day will come where we don't have to argue against such statements or will see fewer cases of sexual abuse in our society.

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

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

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mr. Modi's marriage and the issue of women empowerment.

Recently, there was an interview of Jashodaben published in popular The Indian Express, now who is this lady and why I am even talking about her interview? This is the lady who claims to be a wife of Mr. Narendra Modi, I don't think I need to give any introduction for this name, and I am sure anyone following Indian parliament election knows who is Mr. Modi. So this lady still claims to be his wife, wife of a potential future PM (prime minister) of India, she got married at the age of 17 (still a minor age according to the law as 18 is the consent age for marriage for females in India), Mr. Modi was 18 (again a minor as 21 is consent age for boys), so technically it can be considered as a child marriage. But in those days most marriages were like this and it was socially accepted phenomena to marry a child before attaining legal marriage age, I am glad that this not the case in most of the parts of India today, but this is not an issue here, even though child marriage is a very serious issue I won't be discussing that in this post.

So, I shared link of her interview on my Facebook, Google+ wall and with some of my friends during political discussion (as Mr. Modi is a politician and one of the top contenders for the PM post), I thought abandoning a wife for no fault of hers is an injustice to her (sort of mental abuse) and serious matter. As a public figure, Mr. Modi must offer some explanation for this, or if he thinks he did something wrong he should accept his mistake, apologize to that woman who suffered because of him, applaud her courage and move on. According to me, no one becomes small or weak for apologizing for their mistakes, rather they display strongness of their character. I also know that this is his personal issue, but when you are a public figure and an icon, then very few things remain personal. Mr. Modi's actions inspire many people and his followers can misinterpret them, that's why any public figure, especially a political figure needs to be careful about their behavior.

In some discussions I was tutored, taunted and even accused for trying to defame Modi, to drag his name into some unnecessary controversy, for being unfair to him, for raising irrelevant issues, but this is all trivial, personal insults on such forums don't really matter to me. Some even called that women as happiest women on earth just because she is a wife of their great leader! Actually I am used to these things, actually I get these types of comments from most people who support traditional conservative systems. Whenever I raise some uncomfortable questions related to religion, God, politics, racism, casteism or issues related to women. Most who try to justify these things by calling them traditions, culture, or something else, accuse me of insulting traditions or blowing trivial issue out of proportion. In this case Jashodaben is not even blaming her husband for any injustice or wrongdoing, so what is my problem? That lady survived, no one abused her physically, her parents and brothers helped her, they are still taking care of her, so what's the problem? She blames her destiny for whatever happened, she even feels bad that her husband sometimes have to lie about her and wish all good for him, so is this is the case heading for a happy ending? Shall Jashodaben be happy that her husband has a chance of becoming next PM of India?

So what is the real problem here? Why this case is bothering me? Why the rest of the India or other political parties are not raising this issue? I have seen a couple of cases like this around me, where a husband abandoned his wife for various strange reasons: like to pursue larger goals in their life (like social service, religious studies), for studying abroad, or some other trivial reasons. They didn't even bother to tell their partners why are they leaving. Normally, all these cases are of arranged marriages where there was no consent taken from a boy or a girl before the marriage, parents arrange everything in these cases and marriage is performed. There is a basic flaw in this system as a consent of a boy and a girl doesn't matter much (especially in those days), but we can talk about this system some other time. Even though I knew about this case, I never discussed it as I wanted to hear her own account before making any conclusions.  In her interview, she says, "When he told me he would be moving around the country as he wished, I told him I would like to join him. However, on many occasions when I went to my in-laws’ place, he would not be present and he stopped coming there. He used to spend a lot of time in RSS shakhas. So I too stopped going there after a point and I went back to my father’s house". She also says, "We have never been in touch and we parted on good terms as there were never any fights between us. I will not make up things that are not true. In three years, we may have been together for all of three months. There has been no communication from his end to this day.".

I have also seen that in most of these cases women blame their own destiny, misfortune or situation for whatever happened, rarely they blame their husband or parents for the problems in their relationship. In most cases, they also wait for their husbands until the end of their lives, they live like married women (in India, widows, especially in rural parts don't wear makeup or colored clothes). Normally, there is not fight or argument between two of them before separation, husband in most cases just leaves the home without any explanation, that's why they think they parted in good ways and their husband will return one day and accept them. They live in this false hope, normally this never happens and there is no easy way out for these women to come out of this situation. In some cases even she or her family knows the whereabouts of the husband, their efforts to convince that man to come back are futile in many cases. In most of the cases these women also don't remarry, because legally they are not divorced and their husband is still alive (not a widow yet), so socially they are not considered as marriageable. Literally, they exist like an abandoned property, and society is OK with this situation of a human being? People sympathize, feel sorry, but nothing else happens; the problem remains as it is. Many of these women live secluded lives (without any partner) and emotionally traumatized life, the situation is little better if their family supports them at least they don't get abused or sexually exploited, but I feel they deserve better and as a society, we need to be sensitive to their situation. A similar thing rarely happens in case of a male in Indian society, this is a discrimination and we need to put an end to this misery and people like Mr. Modi can definitely help to initiate this change, if they show some courage. I also know that this cannot be an election issue in India, this is not a big deal according to many. Anyone who raises this issue will be called anti-BJP, anti-Modi or pro-Congress. But for me, this is not a political issue, but a social issue and a very important one. I hope this case highlights the plight of these women, and people realize sufferings they go through because of some unfair traditions and customs. I hope people are interested in minimizing these types of incidents in the future. Women need to become independent, society need to empower them so that they don't depend on anyone for their survival, and Mr. Modi can use his own case to highlight this issue. I hope he shows this courage and doesn't miss this unique opportunity.

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

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

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