Friday, June 27, 2014

Which culture Dr. Harsh Vardhan is talking about?

India's union health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan during his recent interview made a statement where he has said that the thrust of the AIDS campaign should not be only on the use of condoms as according to him it sends the wrong message that "you can have any kind of illicit sexual relationship, but as long as you're using a condom, it's fine." It seems he also said that citizens' moral fiber will have to strengthened if the disease has to be brought under control, he also stressed on promoting integrity of sexual relationship between husband and wife — "a part of Indian culture". Now what does he mean by Indian culture? In such a diverse country like India terms like morality and culture have different meaning and are attached with different set of values in different parts of country. Even most of scriptures (like Ramayan, Mahabharat) openly propagate polygamy and polyandry. Most kings we studied in history books had multiple wives, in most stories which I heard as a child kings used to have at least two wives one favorite one and another not so favorite one. In India we have Khajuraho temples where there are sculptures of people engaged in sexual acts, Kamasutra was written in India thousands of years back, so which culture is he talking about? I also wonder how come he is trying to link encouragement of use of condoms with encouragement to have illicit sexual relationship, I am still trying to figure out logic of this connection, I will be glad if anyone can explain it for me. Encouragement to use seat belt while driving is not a encouragement to drive but it is an encouragement to be safe whenever you drive. It just means use that seat belt whenever you drive a car, it's safe and it saves lives, it is good for you and your family, how hard it is to understand? It is a different issue that still many people don't follow it (even though it is a law to use seat belt in most countries) and no culture or morality is going to force them to do it, only awareness about benefits associated with using seat belt and dangers of not using it will encourage them to use this highly recommended and safe practice.

In a pluralistic country like India different regions subscribe to different cultural values and traditions. Even in today's world people's religion, caste, state (and hence language), etc. play a very important role in constituting their cultural values. In some parts or tribes still polygamy or polyandry is practiced even though there are laws against it. Dr. Harsh Vardhan is union health minister, his main job is to spread awareness about issues related with health. Spread of HIV (which leads to AIDS) is one of the major concerns for health ministry. Sex education is one of the important tool to spread awareness about AIDS and HIV. The main reasons attributed to spread of HIV in India are extensive labor migration (where people migrate to cities without their families), low literacy levels in some areas and lack of awareness about issues related with sexual health. Use of intravenous drugs and prostitution are also considered as other major factors which contribute towards spreading HIV. Now if we look at all these factors there is very little which culture can do to stop spread of HIV, even prostitution is considered of part of every culture as this profession is considered as one of the oldest and was a part of human history since ages. As cultural values are so diverse and drastically vary from region to region or even from family to family it is not a good idea for health ministry to depend on them for spreading awareness about important and serious issue like AIDS. Sexual relationships are entirely personal matter of any adult. Each adult person has right to choose their sexual partner, government or culture cannot dictate these things, there are already good laws which try to control minimum age for having consensual sex. But yes, they can definitely spread awareness about these issues without going into too much into cultural aspect of it. Government can definitely try to spread awareness about benefits of having single sexual partner, honesty in relationship, advantages of using condoms and other contraceptives, etc. They run this campaign purely based on grounds of personal health, it will make a very strong case. Please don't complicate it or make it controversial by bringing unnecessary cultural aspect in it. After all personal health is a important aspect of everyone's life, who wants to put their life in danger by doing some silly mistake?

I am sure Dr. Harsh Vardhan's intentions were good behind making this statement, may be his training in RSS or BJP has created an impression in his mind that all Indians follow same culture and that culture is related with Hinduism but this is not true and as a health minister of India he needs to understand this. I hope he will be more careful when he talks about health related issues in future and will use his medical knowledge more rather than using his teaching from RSS or recommending something from his own culture. Bringing unrelated issues like culture in health department can only dilute its impact on society. There is enough scientific data available about many of these recommendations just use that to spread awareness, run very aggressive campaign and try to develop infrastructure so that public health department is better equipped to deal with these issues. If he can do this India will definitely see improvement in sector of public health irrespective of its culture.  

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. Don't wear a condom, wear values to fight AIDS: Harsh Vardhan
2. Harsh Vardhan clarifies on ban on sex education in schools

Monday, June 23, 2014

Climate change...a real problem or false propaganda?

Recently I attended the talk at local ACS (American Chemical Society) section meeting about Global warming. The talk was not usual one where they tell you about harmful effects of global warming and climate change on our planet earth. Rather this talk was about how this whole theory of global warming and climate change is flawed and how this is over hyped by some group of scientists and organizations (including UN) to misguide people. It was a interesting talk and it was more interesting to attend it in local ACS section, because as far as I know officially ACS supports theory of global warming and comments about its harmful effects in all its editorials and publications. It was interesting to see that they invited a speaker who not only questioned this entire theory but also called it a total hoax. Actually this is what I like about science, every view is welcomed, every voice is encouraged, doesn't matter which theory they propose or oppose, they just need to bring the relevant data to prov their hypothesis and scientific community will listen to it debate about it. It  really doesn't matter whose theory or hypothesis you are challenging, the name or the status or age of scientist doesn't matter only the data matters.

Climate change is a very popular subject nowadays for debates and discussions. I guess it has become as controversial and sensitive as religion or existence of god, people argue very passionately for or against this issue. Climate change covers many aspects related with effect of human actions on climate of our planet earth. Global warming is just a part of it, no doubt it has received most attention and this particular theory is widely debated and questioned. People who try to object or oppose theory of effect of human behavior on climate of earth mainly target issue of global warming. They claim that data presented in support of global warming is wrong or not reliable and global worming is a completely natural phenomena which we don't have to worry about. By questioning data for global warming its opponents try to question the phenomena of climate change. Many try to claim that both climate change and global worming are not a real issues or problems but a false propaganda by some elite group of scientists. Both sides who support or oppose global warming produce lots of data to support their claims and both claim that their data is reliable and other side's data is totally wrong.  

All these issues or for that matter any issue can be debated and discussed, actually debates and discussions are best way to solve any disputes. But I don't think there can be any dispute about impact of human behavior on our planet and its climate. We can clearly see it and even feel it in many places. We are producing enormous amount of waste by our uncontrolled consumerism, this waste bound to have some effect on our environment. We can clearly see the effect of deforestation, water and air pollution, poor management of waste in many pats of the world also created many health problems for people. In many cities of the world where they allowed uncontrolled and unplanned development to happen one can see high level of water and air pollution, this is clearly because of human behavior. Climate change doesn't mean only global warming, it means effect of our actions on in general health of this planet. Continuous abuse of earth and its resources under the name of development is clearly having a huge impact on its health. We can definitely debate or discuss the severity of climate change and steps required to tackle this problem but I think it will be very wrong to assume that human behavior is not having any detrimental effect on climate of this planet. I hope supporters and opponents of climate change engage in some meaningful discussion, just playing a blame game is not going to help anyone, after all we are not talking about any individual or any country here, we are discussing about entire human race and our dear planet, the only place in our galaxy where we know that life exists. Let's get serious about this issue and try our best to maintain this planet in good shape, this will be a greatest gift we can give to our future generations.

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

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

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Marriage....really amazing journey..

This year (2014) there was 16th anniversary of my marriage, I can't believe that sixteen years have passed since I and Reena got married. When I look back I can't stop wondering how quickly time passes, it has been amazing, beautiful and quite rewarding journey so far for me. I am sure same is true for Reena. Like many couples in India ours was also a arranged marriage. This system is still very popular in India and even today most people get marry via this method. Arranged marriage system has its own pros and cons associated with it, one can have lengthy debate or discussion on this but this post is not about that, it is about my amazing journey with my wife who now also happens to be my very good friend. We first began our journey as husband and wife and now we are like best friends of each other, actually I believe that friendship can become integral part of any relationship.

Our journey together started when I was still doing my PhD, anyone familiar with life of a PhD student in science field knows how tough is that life, with lengthy days in lab, very tiring work schedule and life full of frustrations and uncertainties of research it was not easy for Reena to adjust with this new life after marriage. I must say that she adjusted really well with all this and managed very well on her own. There was a learning curve for both if us, we took some time to adjust to this new life, we took some time to understand each other. As it is for every marriage there were ups and downs in our married life also, we learned something from each of these phases. I am sure initially she must have felt little unusual to find a person like me as her husband, a person who doesn't believe in going on honeymoon or on exotic holidays, who was so introvert that he would prefer to read a book rather than having a chat, a person so busy with his research work who worked even on weekends, who doesn't like to go out for dinner or watching movies, etc. these are some of the traits which I used to have back then (I still have some of them). I also offered very minimum help to her in fighting her battle to establish herself in new city and new family. She did manage well without my help and I am really proud to say that she never even asked for my help after I made her clear that she should not expect any special treatment just because she is a woman and should fight her own battles. I am sure initially it was a big struggle for her as she was in a city where she didn't understand the local language because in Pune Marathi is major spoken language and back then it was impossible to communicate without knowing at least basic Marathi. She learned that language quickly and learned so well that within few months she could communicate with my neighbors in Marathi. She also learned to do all official work related with banks and other things without my help. People might think that what a big deal if some woman can manage these things on her own. They are right, women should be doing this on their own but in my family they were not even allowed to go out of home alone this can be considered as a great achievement. In India ours is a joint family, so many people with different habits and behavior patterns live together in same house, I am sure it was not easy for her to adjust with this environment but she never complained, displayed her difficulties or displeasure towards anything and I really thank her for that.

When we moved to US almost decade back, then it was beginning of another new chapter in life for us. It was not only a new place but a totally new country, new culture and there was no one even from our extended family to support us here. Fortunately we met very kind and helpful people here with whom we now have relationship like family and I must say that Reena was instrumental in nurturing all these relationships. Actually I have no hesitation to say that she is the person who makes me socially relevant, she is the main reason all guests feel welcomed in our home. I don't care much about all these things, somehow I am not that social person from the beginning. But Reena tries to remember what are likes and dislikes of my  friends and then cooks that particular dish whenever they visit, she even remembers most people's birthdays and other important days (like marriage anniversary, etc.) and reminds me to wish them. This quality of her has played very pivotal role in our survival in this new country which we now can call our second home. We successfully completed almost a decade here and I credit her a lot for this. Apart from her there are other women like my mom, my grandmas who played very crucial role in my life. It is said that behind very successful man there is a woman but I totally disagree with this, why behind? they are always with them, so there is no women behind me to support me but rather they are very much with me, so we should say "with every successful man there is a woman" (and vice versa). They didn't play any secondary role in my life but their role was and still is very primary role, as crucial as my own role so they all share my success equally (or even failures) and are as much responsible for it as I am.

Actually one blog post is not enough to write about this amazing journey and I am not even trying to do this. I just want to express my thanks and gratitude towards her for being such an amazing partner. I also understand that very supportive and understanding partner is needed for successful marriage. This is specially true when we have so many uncommon things between both of us, like; we both belong to different states in India (each state has different language, culture, food habits, etc.), we both have very different views about religion and God (Reena considers herself as religious who believes in Hinduism's concepts of God and its powers and I don't subscribe to any such values), our mother tongue's are also different, in spite of all these differences where some of them have capacity to create big rift between any two people I think our family is a bunch of very happy people. I consider it as a big success. We both don't try to force our views on our kids but try to encourage them to explore on their own and choose what they feel is good for them. Because of our unique backgrounds and exposure to different cultures our kids have variety of things which they can choose from. These all responsibilities and challenges in life make it very interesting. We both are trying to figure out our way through all this while enjoying our journey together. I don't think there is any single formula for successful marriage or successful parenting, for every couple or family different things might work, one needs to find what works for them and I guess we have figured out what works for us. So far this journey was amazing and I am sure it will continue like this. Thank you Reena and thanks to all who were part of this amazing journey so far.

Thanks for reading.

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

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Significance of Pankaja's bold step..

Few months back I wrote a blog post questioning why women are not allowed to lit pyre during funeral in Hindu religion? That time I never imagined that I will see some revolutionary steps taken in this direction so soon. When I saw daughter of Late Mr. Gopinath Mundhe, Pankaja lighting pyre during his cremation. I was really impressed by her courage and conviction. She stood firm on her convictions and defied all traditions and superstitions that too during such a tragic and emotional event when most of us might surrender to pressure just because delicate nature of that situation. Her actions deserve praise and applause from all sections of society, it is very bold and courageous step. This might sound blowing this news out of proportion from my side, but seriously, when was the last time anyone heard or saw a woman lighting a pyre at cremation in India? At lest I never saw it happening so far, even for people who don't have a son some other male family member performs these rights just because it is believed that this particular ritual has to be performed by some male relative (for reasons no one really knows).

I always believed that not allowing females to participate during cremation proceedings is a socially accepted form of gender discrimination in India. It is unfair that they are barred from these proceedings just because of their gender. Historically there might have been some reasons to do this but as those reasons don't apply anymore this practice should have been abandoned but it still exists. It is protected and practiced under the name of tradition and culture, most people practice it without even questioning its relevance and validity. Still people are hesitant to challenge such traditions, I don't know what stops them from doing it, but Pankaja did it so effortlessly that's why she deserves all the praise. Image of her performing last rights of her father should be a lesson for everyone who thinks that women should not be allowed to perform such rituals. Actually I don't think any such ritual is needed but many religious people perform it because of social obligation or thinking it will give peace to dead person's soul. So if at all people want to follow these things why not to do it in a gender unbiased way, why to select only males to perform this task? This is why Pankaja's action is very significant as it challenged this age old belief, rather it shattered this age old belief that only males are supposed to perform last rights of any person. I hope this incident gets highlighted in news and media well enough so that many people can witness it and learn something from it. No doubt there will be some who are against any change (positive or negative) and they will criticize her action, they will blame her for breaking tradition and insulting so called culture but these individuals shout no matter what you do, so it's better to ignore them. I hope this will give courage to many other women and families who were hesitant to take this step because of social pressure or because of burden of culture and traditions. This should give them required courage to break that barrier. According to me this was very crucial incident and I hope this sets a new precedence 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]

Links:
1. Why women are not allowed to lit pyre during cremation?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mr. Babulal Gaur, RAPE IS ALWAYS WRONG, no exceptions..

Madhya Pradesh (MP) minister Mr. Babulal Gaur said that rape is social crime and its sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Whereas it is not surprising to hear such stupid statements from politicians of any country, it is definitely surprising to see that how frequently such statements are made by some of these law makers. It's not that long ago when some politicians from Samajwadi party (who is ruling party in another Indian state Uttar Pradesh) made some derogatory remarks displaying their sheer ignorance about such issue and male chauvinistic attitude. One can not avoid feeling dismayed after hearing such statements that too from elected lawmakers, this clearly displays deep male chauvinistic attitude prevalent in our society.

These type of disgusting statements make us wonder whether we are really living in 21st century or not, are we moving forward or backward? These statements are largely criticized by educated class of society at least in social media which is somewhat comforting and a sign of encouragement. But in India no politician has ever lost his ministership or resigned accepting their mistake after making such remark. They always try to offer some type of explanation to justify their statements and their respective governments or parties seem to be perfectly fine with those justifications. This clearly shows trivial attitude of India's political class towards such issues, they don't consider issue of sexual violence serious enough to sack some minister or at least to warn or reprimand them. Incidents of rape, sexual violence happen all over India, it is not a problem of some particular state as some people might think. This problem is heavily rooted in male dominant nature of society and patriarchal culture where women are largely viewed as objects not as a person. Women are treated with respect and dignity as long as they behave like woman, and this definition of 'behave like woman' changes from region to region. They are supposed to remain withing their limits.Time they cross that so called limit they are targeted, victimized and abused in whatever way these bigotes can do, rape and murder are result of that. To stop or at least to minimize such crimes from happening frequently any such statements should be condemned with strongest possible words and perpetrators should be dealt with sternness. Any sympathetic statements especially from people who are in government or hold some political position sends very wrong message. It derails all efforts of by many organizations and individuals to create awareness about such crimes. As such it is not easy to curb these type of crimes in any patriarchal or heavily male dominated society where women are considered as second class citizens, that is why such statements are more serious, they make struggle of victims and their families more difficult. This is the reason I don't take any such statement lightly, these are not harmless or ignorable statements but are very serious and detrimental statements. They are like verbal rapes and should be condemned no matter who does it. Collective silence of entire political class or their selective reactions are very worrisome. Most political parties are trying to seek some political gains even from such incidents, they only criticize when it happens in state not ruled by them, this is so disgusting and sickening.

People like Mr. Babulal Gaur need to be reminded that rape is wrong, there are no exceptions. Rape is a sexual violence, it is an attempt not only to injure person physically but also psychologically. Age, clothing, gender, desire to have sex, etc. play very limited or no part in it, rape is always wrong, period. Any logical person with rational mind won't try to justify any rape, so any such attempt should be challenged and defeated. All people like Mr. Gaur and others need to learn and memorize this lesson, they need to be reminded about this again and again so that they don't forget. This is important and we all need to play our part in it, if we don't fight this battle who else will? Definitely politicians like Mr. Gaur won't fight it for us. So let's send this message loud and clear, rape is always wrong, no exceptions, it's a heinous crime and now get this straight Mr. Gaur (and everyone who is supporting his statement).

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

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

Links:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sorry Mohsin, my city failed to protect you...

My last post was related with increasing incidents of Hooliganism in India where people or groups are targeted just because of something they wrote or something they believe. I have expressed my concern about low tolerance level in India so many times during discussions on my blog and elsewhere and was always worried about violent consequences of this. Any society or country who wants to make itself a developed nation and attract world class talent towards it needs to have total freedom of expression. Such society needs to have atmosphere where different opinions are encouraged, disagreements are welcomed and discussed. Only in such conditions real progress happens and real talent flourishes. Brutal murders of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar and Mr. Mohsin Shaikh don't indicate that India is moving in that direction, rather these two incidents that too happening in one of the  most progressive cities of India (Pune) indicate that country is moving in reverse direction. There is a atmosphere in country where people are scared to speak their opinions because they feel that they will be targeted just for expressing it. This is such a sad state for a country who claims to be tolerant, inclusive and open to all cultures and beliefs, this claim now really sounds questionable.

Actually what was Mohsin's fault that he deserved to get killed like this? He followed Islam was his fault? He dressed or looked different than many others in that neighborhood was his fault? Are these things enough to kill a person? What was Dr. Dabholkar's fault? He was not a Muslim or dressed anything differently, why did they kill him? Both incidents are somewhat related as both these people were targeted because someone expressed something. In Dr. Dabholkar's case he himself was targeted for opposing ridiculous religious superstitions. These are some inhuman superstitions which some people want to protect in name of tradition and culture, he was killed for fighting against such inhuman practices. In case of Mohsin he was targeted without even any mistake from his side. Someone distributed some objectionable content on Facebook and Whatsapp related with Shivaji Maharaj. This created lot of controversy and communal tension, it seems these so called defenders of Shivaji's name think that such a grand and towering personality can be insulted or maligned by some trivial Facebook pictures. Even if we assume that Mohsin was in any way related with generating those images which created so much controversy, is this the way to deal with such issues? Can any one with rational mind even remotely justify such type of behavior? Taking law into own hands to disrupt society, destroying public property in name of protest or attacking certain groups can not be justified under any circumstances. These acts only deserve condemnation in strongest possible words and very strict action should be taken against all culprits involved in any such incidents. But all this starts sounding meaningless when Member of parliaments like Mr. Anil Shirole justify some of these acts by calling them 'natural reaction' of people whose feelings were hurt because of these images. Same excuse was offered by Mr. Modi after Godhra violence and we all know how many people lost their lives because of that so called 'natural reaction' which was nothing but cold blooded murders, a genocide. None of these reactions are 'natural' they are purposeful, planned murders and daylight robbery of public property, nothing else.

It is not important how many people died or who died to judge seriousness of such type of crimes, numbers and names also don't matter, if this mentality prevails in any society then these things will happen regularly only names of people and places will change. If more and more people go unpunished for these type of crimes, if they find any sympathizers among our politicians then they will get more aggressive and brutal in their attacks. That is why any statement which even remotely tries to justify such brutal attack on innocent people or destruction of public property should be questioned and condemned heavily from all sections of society. There should not be any compromise on freedom of expression and any violent anti-social activity should not be encouraged. Politicians have greater responsibility in all this as any sympathetic statement from their side acts as a encouragement for these goons. We cannot afford to have another Godhra in India, enough is enough now, already many people have lost their lives because of this religious fanaticism. We need to fight these anti-social goons no matter which party or organization they belong, absolutely nothing can justify such violence and destruction. 

Death of Mohsin is really shocking and disgusting for anyone belonging to city like Pune. I belong to that city and we Punekars (people living in that city) take pride in calling our city one of the most progressive city in India. I am also surprised that there was no any candle march or any huge protest against Mr. Mohsin's murder like it was in case of Nirbhaya who was gang raped and killed in Delhi. Mr. Mohsin's death is not any less shocking to me than Nirbhaya's death, both crimes are equally brutal and heinous according to me, so I wonder why people's reaction is so different to both. Mohsin please forgive my beloved hometown for its inability to protect you. Punekar like me is deeply shocked as well as ashamed because of this incident, I have no words to express my feelings. I never imagined that within so short time after Dr. Dabholkar's death we will witness another such heinous crime in Pune. I hope that now our politicians and administration take lesson from it and take all measures to avoid any such instances in future. I know this is too much to ask for but I just hope that at least people step up themselves and try to stop any such things happening in future. If this doesn't happen then I don't know how many more Mohsins or Nirbhayas will have to die like this before our society wakes up and takes any action. Culture of hooliganism must go, there is no option to continue with 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. In Pune, ‘Hindu zealots’ kill man over ‘offensive’ Facebook post
2. Pune techie murder: BJP MP says some repercussions to derogatory FB post 'natural'

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Culture of hooliganism...

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read news that situation in my hometown Pune is critical because of some objectionable material about Shivaji Maharaj was circulated in social media. I was not surprised by circulation of such material but was totally surprised by extreme reaction to this in Pune by some party members belonging to Shiv Sena, etc. I would not have surprised by such incidents happening elsewhere in Maharashtra or India, but I was really surprised that this happened in a city like Pune which remained calm even during Babri mosque demolition or many other sensitive incidents. I guess finally spread of social media caught up with Pune, now rumors or any anti-social messages travel very fast to generate acute and sharp response from people. People use social media for so many reasons, some people use to spread good messages, discuss valid and relevant issues; at the same time some people use to circulate some junk material like morphed photos of people they do this with very specific purpose. Their only intention by circulating anything like this is to create social disturbance and these parties and their members who protest in violent way exactly behave as per their expectations. Actually these party members who think that they are protecting honor and name of these people whose photos are being circulated are actually playing in the hands of those antisocial elements. These people help each other to serve their purposes, first some anti-social elements release something which is derogatory in nature and then some people act exactly according to the script to make a big deal out of it and create a havoc. Instead of condemning the actions or opposing it rationally they take it to the streets, destroy pubic property, disrupt public life. What they achieve by doing all this? According to me nothing, they just waste public money and time. But these people fail to understand this simple thing and keep on doing same mistakes again and again. This has become so regular pattern for some political parties, so regular that it has become their USP, they don't miss any single opportunity to exploit any such incident. In all this nonsense most of the time real culprits who circulate such material or do these type of things and real perpetrators of violent protests hardly get any punishment but common people suffer as they can not go on with their normal day to day life.

This culture of hooliganism is not good for any society, specially for a country or society which is aspiring to become a superpower or a developed nation. Freedom of expression is very important thing for any developed society. I agree that freedom of expression also comes with some responsibility but it also comes with right to offend, and if people are getting offended by such small things then that displays low tolerance level of that society which is not very good sign. After getting offended if they react in violent way then that is even worst. Actually feeling offended or angry about something is not that bad but that feeling should be used to constructively oppose the things which bothers us, it should not result in any violence. Silencing the messenger is not the proper way to fight the message, we have to tackle the message if we don't like it not the messenger.

I don't understand how disturbing public life by violent acts or destroying public property serves any purpose. How does it help in nursing hurt feelings? How hatred can be answer to hatred, won't it spread more hatred? Won't such violent reactions serve the purpose of people who intend to create social disturbance by spreading rumors or objectionable material?  Why to help them? I think now it is time for everyone to think how to tackle these type of situations in peaceful manure. For every objectionable material release 100s of messages which portrays positive things about that person, rather than getting offended spread message about good work of that person and try to highlight positive things. This will automatically negate the efforts of people who are trying to spread negative message. If those antisocial elements see that their tactics to create social disturbance are not working they will automatically stop. By reacting to such incidents in violent way people are making these posts or materials more popular. These incidents help to get publicize such acts and encourage these antisocial elements to use them regularly, after all all they have to do it to release something which is considered as offensive. We need to realize that no one can insult or hurt our feeling until we allow them to do so. No post, photo or anything has capacity to insult person like Shivaji Maharaj, people like him are inspiration for many by trying to insult such people some people show their own level of understanding it doesn't reflect anything about these towering personalities. Everyone has right to study, analyze and even criticize anything, criticism is not a insult and should not hurt or offend anyone. I think as a person or as a society we should be mature enough to handle criticism in peaceful way. Once we learn these simple things then I feel we will stop getting offended by some stupid acts of some people and such violent incidents (or reactions) will slowly stop. It will be great achievement to get rid of this culture of hooliganism, and I believe it will be a good riddance, we definitely don't need this culture of hooliganism.

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

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

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Why is this collective silence?

Very disturbing news of gang rape and murder of two sisters after almost one and half year of Damini incident has made me realize that nothing has changed so far. I wrote a post after Damini's (Nirbhaya's, both are not her real names to protect her identity) case and I am writing another post after this incident. I am as disturbed as I was after reading news about brutal rape and murder of Nirbhaya. Yes, first incident was in Delhi this is in some small village of UP, chief ministers of both the states are different, they belong to different political parties; in center also that time there was government of UPA now it is NDA but apart from that nothing has changed. Then also few fanatic men brutally raped and killed on girl this time also two innocent girls were brutally raped and killed, WHY? What was their mistake? Why our administration consistently fails to protect their citizens and act swiftly when any such crime happens? There was huge uproar and wide spread protests to support Nirbhaya and her fight for justice, why there is collective silence about this case?

Now as this news is reported somewhere in media, few arrests will be made, few policemen will be suspended for lack of swift action, blame game will start, center will blame state government, state will blame police, political parties will criticize each other to take political mileage from this heinous incident. This all will go on for few days like a ritual which they do after every such incident and then everything will stop; people, government and political parties will forget about this incident. Administration and government will become complacent until next incident when all this ritual will be followed once again. During Nirbhaya's case there was widespread protest all over the country, anger among public forced administration to take some steps not only to solve that case but also to reduce suffering and humiliation of rape victims. Amir Khan's TV show Satyamev Jayate even telecasted one episode related with this issue and raised many valid points and offered many good suggestions to deal with this issue. How many of those suggestions were implemented or even discussed? Why are we so silent after this incident? What is the reason for this collective silence? Is frequent occurrence of such incidents have numbed our sensitivities so much that now any such news doesn't surprise or shock us any more? Have we become immune to such incidents? There are many questions like this which come to my mind when I see insensitivity of current (and past) administrations towards such incidents. I really feel helpless to see very complacent attitude of these people towards such issues.

I can understand that there is new government at the center and for past few days there was celebration time for BJP and its allies for their impressive victory in general elections. Because of all this media has many more things to report. They are trying to report each and every step the new government is taking, which is good, people should be informed about actions and plans of their government but was this news not important enough? Doesn't such incidents indicate ugly reality of our society towards which we need to pay urgent attention? How many more boys and girls need to die like this until this issue becomes as important as article 370 or reservations or educational qualification of some minister? I don't know what will it take to make it a major national issue? Does place of incident matter in such cases? Whether it's Delhi or Badaun the seriousness and cruelty of crime is same, so they should get same response and same treatment from administration and people. If people stop reacting to such incidents then in current setup government will definitely try to wash its hands from taking any responsibility.

Incidents like this are not only about rape or murder, they are about caste, attitude of administration towards their citizens, efficiency and accountability of administration and respective governments, society's views towards such crimes. These issues involve many such aspects and at each level we have some serious problem, that is the reason these incidents happen so frequently. But major problem is society's (and this includes government also) attitude towards women (and minorities in other atrocities committed towards them). They are victimized by certain sections of society and neglected by government because currently they have no (or very little) say in power equation. As in casteism upper castes maltreat lower castes just because they think they are superior than lower castes, in same way many times men try to ill treat women. This whole concept of superiority and inferiority needs to be challenged at every level. Men who feel they are superior than women as well as women who think they are inferior to men need to realize basic fault in their thinking, they both need to understand the concept of gender equality. Both genders and all sections of society (in case of casteism and racism) need to understand that equality and freedom of expression are two basic needs of any developing and civilized society. I hope talk of equality and women empowerment doesn't only remain on paper or in discussion forums, political parties and ruling governments show will and courage to implement policies which can make this happen in reality. Current governments (in center as well as in most states) have clear majority to make these things happen if they are really serious about these things. People need to push them to act in this direction, because history shows that nothing substantial has been done in this direction without pressure from general public. So let's raise our voices from whatever forum we can, use blogs, FB, twitter, protests or whatever to make government realize that people are damn serious about such crimes and need very swift and appropriate action from government. Criminals need to get punishment at least to show that no one can get away from crimes like these, this will be the first step towards this direction and then we will need many social and political reforms to remove gender bias which still exists in our society. I hope that I don't have to write another post on any such incident in future. It's not easy to read about these things, I can't even imagine the torture and humiliation faced by these victims, no one should face such things and it's our responsibility as a society to create that atmosphere. It won't be easy but keeping mum is not an option, that is why this collective silence or nothing can be done, things won't change type of attitude is disturbing. Let's not wait for another Nirbhaya to die or another Badaun to happen, let's raise our voices against any such incident no matter where it happens and who is the victim.

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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