Friday, August 29, 2014

What is the main purpose of education?

I read this interesting article which raises some very interesting questions about current academic environment in USA, but I guess same is true for any country's education system today. Today's education system is heavily oriented towards acquiring skills required to get a good job, they are becoming like vocational courses. The cost of education is very high today so it seems a very obvious to think that after going through this process of attending schools and college one should be able to secure a job which can pay off all the investment. I am exclusively taking here about school and college education, not about any other form of education. Actually one can ask, what is the real purpose of education? The question is very general and different people might answer it differently. For someone education might mean acquiring a new skill, for some it might mean acquiring knowledge, for some it might mean getting a degree so that they can get a good job and social status. There can not be any doubt that one of the major purpose of education is to acquire the skills which can make us capable to secure some job to survive in this world. But I guess the real crux of the question is, is this becoming the sole purpose of today's education? Are we trying to produce good workers, managers, CEOs but somehow ignoring that we also need good humans?

In a true sense education is a continuous process, we start learning new things since we come into this world and keep on discovering something new, learning something new until we depart from here, that is why let's focus only on school and college education. There is not doubt that today's education system is much better than what we had in past, concerned people should be given credit for their efforts to improve the system. I personally believe that my kids are exposed to much better education system than I was. The system is very student friendly, it tries to protest interests of students. Curriculum is heavily biased towards job market, actually this is not a problem one needs to acquire vocational skills, but at the same time we need to train students to deal with many other important issues. Today the world is facing many problems like religious fundamentalism, stress, depression, lack of compassion and kindness towards other human beings, unequal distribution of wealth, political polarization, etc. These all issues are very important and affect our society in many ways but unfortunately current education system doesn't take any strong steps to educate its students about many of these topics. I also agree that there are many other resources where any person can get educated about these topics, but because of presence of internet and its easy accessibility it has become very easy to target today's youth and misguide them. At the same time many parents also have become so busy that they can't devote enough time to educate their kids about these topics. So in this changed scenario there is much more responsibility on our education system not only to produce trained and skilled workers but also sensible humans who are good citizens of this world. If our education system can instill compassion and tolerance in its students, if it can stress importance of equality, if it can educate them about their rights and responsibilities then we will have very good and sensible citizens of world coming out of it.

According to me there is no easy solution for this problem, as I said current education system is much better than what we had in past but changed scenario of our society has made its job much more difficult and complicated. What I feel today is that parents or guardians of any student, who are very important and critical component of this education system are not doing their part. Today's parents have many reasons starting from their business due to work, day to day stress of modern day life, pressure to fit into society's definition of successful life, etc. One can definitely argue if all these reasons are valid or not but definitely they are limiting their involvement in their child's education.This is why I am saying that we can't depend on all parents any more to educate their child in unbiased way. First they don't have enough time and normally they try to instill the same set of beliefs in their children, I agree that this is not wrong in every case but this is also not how we should be educating our kids. Kids need to know all sides of any problem or issue so that they can think of solutions to the problems independently which they face in their life. We lack free and independent thinkers in new generation, it is not that we had too many of them in previous generations but with so much easy availability of information I expect more of them but somehow that is not happening. I hope that current education also focuses more on overall general development of students along with technical skill development. We need leaders as well as free thinkers, we need entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, artists who are also rational and balanced people. This is very challenging task and here is no set formula to achieve all this but I believe that experts from education field will come up with some design which will allow us to build a very strong and independent student community which will contribute to make this world much more beautiful and peaceful place to live. I hope parents start realizing their responsibility and playing their part seriously in this whole process. I believe that the main purpose of education is to produce intelligent, compassionate, skillful and peace loving citizens of this world and I really hope that we will be able to achieve that one day.

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 Send Your Kid to the Ivy League

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Why a movie with central woman character is titled "Mardaani"?

First time when I saw some news related with this movie called 'Mardani' I thought this was some B or C grade typical massala film. The news was about first 'A' rated film from Yashraj production and I was little surprised that how come such a big production house like Yashraj is  prodicing such a movie. I was wondering why some movie getting an 'A' certificate (means for adults only in India or R rated in US) is such a big deal. But then I came to know that this is a Rani Mukharjee starer film, that too produced by Yashraj so definitely it is going to create some news for one reason or other. After reading some reviews I also came to know that the Rani's character which is also a central character of this film is based on a real life police officer from Mumbai crime branch who was instrumental in solving various child trafficking cases in the city. The title 'Mardaani' means 'manly or mannish', so one can ask why a movie with central character of woman police cop is titled 'Mardaani'? Why the makers of the movie felt the need to use a male specific adjective to describe a brave lady? Why can't be they use a female specific word to describe a brave female cop or a brave woman? Actually there is a dearth of female adjectives which describe qualities like bravery, even I can't think of any but I am not expert in Hindi or English language, I will be interested in knowing if there are any such adjectives.

The issue here is not what should be the title of the movie, makers of this movie have complete freedom to give their movie whatever name they want, it is their right to name their product. I am sure the reason they labeled this product like this is because they know that in popular culture there is no parallel world which can project the bravery of a woman, even the famous poem to praise great queen of Jhansi Rani Lakshmi Bai goes something like this, 'Khoob ladi mardani, woh to Jhansi wali rani thi (खूब लड़ी मर्दानी, वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी). They know that our society associates bravery with adjectives which mostly project masculinity. Somehow our society never bothered to invent the words who can project brave side of females. We have many words which can describe their beauty, love, compassion, dedication, tolerance, obedience, but not bravery. I am sure no one can imagine that the movie with title 'Janani' (opposite of mardani, meaning feminine) can tell a story of a bravery of a male character, they just cannot associate these two things together (the word feminine and bravery). This is the problem of stereotyping both the genders and exclusively associating certain attributes to particular gender. Because of years of brain washing our minds have become so conditioned that we don't see anything wrong in associating particular characteristics only with particular gender. The tile of this movie specifically projects and nurtures this mindset. This movie is a commercial project so off course they will follow the trend which allows them to market it well. But I am glad that at least a story of a brave woman police officer is shared in this movie. We need to have more female super heroes, we need to have more stories where princess also rescues the prince so that this concept of bravery associated exclusively with male characters goes away and it becomes a gender neutral. Until this happens enjoy the movies which show the tale of brave women, doesn't matter what is their title, just enjoy the show.

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. Mardaani: Packs a punch

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What is so obscene or vulgar in this PK poster?

Recently poster of Raju Hirani and Amir Khan's upcoming movie PK was released. I am sharing the poster below for readers to see it so that they understand about what I am taking in this post.

Now I don't understand what is there is this poster to term as obscene or vulgar or against Indian culture? How this poster is any different than many undergarment ads which we all see posted on big hoardings or displayed in many magazines or even played on TV? I am sure people who are attacking this poster or objecting to it in name of obscenity, vulgarity or attack on their culture are doing just for the sake of getting some media coverage or are really confused. I also wonder if there could have been similar reaction if this would not have been Amir's movie? If they really think that this poster harms their culture in any way, then why no one objected to many advertisements which are going on for decades. They all (specially political parties) know that as Amir is a big star and any news related with his movie is bound to catch a media attention, so they want to encash on this opportunity and grab media headlines. Actually male or female nudity is not new to any culture, there are nude statues in Khajuraho and also in many other parts of the world. Many people visit to all these places, so I am sure as Indians we are not strangers to these type of images. In the era of internet and smart phones where one can browse any website on their mobile phones what are these people trying to achieve by objecting to these type of posters? This poster is purely for promotion of a movie, it is a product which they want to sell and this is an advertisement for that, it is as simple as that. There is also a question of artistic freedom in this, as a artists these movie makers are allowed to display their art within allowed legal framework. If they are not breaking any law then I wonder why these people are objecting to it, and if they want to object they should take the matter to the court. Sadly it will be the waste of court's valuable time as there are already many important matter pending for years in Indian courts but that will be more logical route rather than protesting on the road.

There another issue of objectification of male body involved in this and this is somewhat concerning issue, already objectification of women is very common in main stream media and advertising world. So this question needs some attention but no one seem to be asking this, everyone is focused on obscenity or vulgarity or how this is against Indian culture. Except the point of objectification of male body nothing else sounds reasonable to me. Any culture which survived for thousands of years is not that weak that it can be dented or even scratched by some movie poster. In today's world of internet kids have easy access to much dangerous stuff than this poster, we need to worry about those things not about this trivial poster. If you travel to any village during very hot summer you can find many men roaming in just half pant or lungi just covering some part below their waist and this poster doesn't show anything more than that so how is this obscene? I guess we should be talking more about objectification of human body for commercial purpose than anything else, this would at least serve some purpose.

I was also surprised to see that some leaders from political parties also joined this movement against this poster. I guess they did this to get some publicity and attention to their political party or to get some prominence in their party by catching some media headlines. I am sure there are many more very important issues in India which need urgent attention of these political parties and their leaders and this is definitely not one of them.  This poster is just for the promotion of movie, many people are just going to laugh at it or ignore it. People who don't like this poster or have some objection to it are free not to watch the movie. I don't think there is need to create any controversy over this. We have many other serious issues which need our attention and time so let's focus on that.

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

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hindu is a religion and all Indians are not Hindus.

In one of his recent speech RSS chief Mr. Mohan Bhagwat asked that why all inhabitants of Hindustan (another name for India or Bharat) are not known as Hindus?? This question is not asked for the first time specially from anyone associated with RSS or other organizations directly or indirectly associated with it. The logic he puts to support his argument is, if resident of America are called Americans, residents of Germany are called Germans, France-French so why not Hindustan's residents are called Hindus? So what is wrong asking this question? Why all Indians cannot be called as Hindus? After all they all share some common cultural heritage, Indian Muslims are culturally different than Arab Muslims, so are Christians and Jews. Sikhism and Buddhism originated in India, so why cant we call all of them as Hindus if Hinduism is not a religion but a lifestyle? Amazingly there are many who even today claim that Hinduism is not a religion but is a way of life. To substantiate this claim they even cite the judgement of Justice Verma bench in which the bench tried to define meanings of the terms Hinduism or Hindutwa ( delivered in 1995). For some reason this judgement is known as Hindutwa judgement and supreme court panel is going to review it again. Superficially nothing appears to be wrong or mal-intentioned in this statement, but ween to dig little deeper to understand the real intention behind this question and mindset.

The problem is not with the terms or the question itself but the intention behind it. Today Hinduism is considered as third largest (after Christianity and Islam) and oldest practiced religion in the world. Its followers are spread all over the world, majority of them live in India. Term "Hindu" refers to particular group of people who follow a particular faith, this is not just a lifestyle any more. A Hindu can be from anywhere in the world, there are American, German, French or even Pakistani and Bangladeshi Hindus. As far as argument of 'Hinduism not a religion but lifestyle is concerned', aren't all religions fit into this definition? In fact which religion is not a lifestyle? Just look at the people who practice any religion, it dominates heavily their lifestyle. It controls the way they think, they behave, they treat their family and other people, even some religions have really strong rules about what food to eat, what clothes to wear, etc. So technically every religion can be considered as lifestyle, rather it can be said that they were designed to be a lifestyle and that is why they are so popular. This argument of lifestyle and not a religion is conveniently used whenever it suites these people. When they want to label entire community or country using a single term (Hindu) then it's not a religion but it is a cultural term or a lifestyle but when a cow is slaughtered or temple is demolished then religious sentiments of Hindus get hurt. Now there must be a difference between these two Hindus, right? If not, then why communal riots are termed as Hindu-Muslim riots, why not Hindu-Hindu riots? So it is very easy to understand that some people are trying to play a game of words here. The truth is that there is very different and unique meaning of the term 'Hindu' in today's world. This term is not synonymous to the terms like 'Hindustani', 'Hindavi', Bharatiya' or 'Indian' anymore. These terms only indicate regional or cultural identity of a person but term 'Hindu' or 'Hinduism' is now associated with one particular religion which has millions of followers all over the world. It will be highly inappropriate for anyone to try to force this label on citizens of secular country like India. No matter how inclusive or tolerant Hinduism is as claimed by all of its followers there might be some people who may not like to be associated with this label. Like every other religion Hinduism also has many dark chapters in its long history. Once it was a dominant religion or faith in south east Asia but this is not the case any more. Today there are many religions and cultures which exist side by side in this region, one just cannot label all of them as 'Hindu cultures' any more. It will not be only wrong to do this but also quite insulting to all other cultures because they all deserve separate existence and identity.

If intention of Mr. Bhagwat was to propose some term which can unify or define all citizens of India then what is wrong with terms like "Bharatiya" or "Indian" or "Hindustani"? Why didn't he use any of these terms which may not have created any confusion among people from other faiths or even in minds of his detractors. This is why his intention behind this statement is questioned. I am sure he was very well aware of what he was saying and what impact it will have because he is too intelligent not to understand the impact of this statement. I am sure he also knew that being BJP in power his statement will create more impact and more controversy. Actually in a way this is unnecessary controversy, it is better that such statements go unnoticed without creating much controversy but unfortunately this never happens. There is a debate or discussion going on in Indian parliament about communal violence, it is a very sensitive subject in India. The situation is so volatile in some parts of country that even statement like this can be used to create communal tension. I am sure RSS and all other parties are aware of this situation but unfortunately still such statements don't stop coming. I hope that Mr. Bhagwat and RSS now accept the reality that term Hindu represents a particular religion in today's world and it can not be used to label cultural heritage of a diverse country like India. We have many other terms which represent cultural heritage of India in much better way, let's use them wherever required. I hope leaders of India won't try not to create unnecessary controversy and communal tension in a country which is already struggling to deal with this problem.

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

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Purpose of language is to unite people please don't use it to divide them.

Our ancestors invented language to use it as a useful tool for communication. Like every animal on our planet we also need to communicate with each other for various reasons, efficient communication is also key to the survival of every species on our planet. Spoken languages were invented to satisfy our need to communicate with each other. Humans are social animals and we like to communicate with each other more compared to other animals. Our body language might be universal but there are thousands of spoken languages and different dialects. Spoken languages differ from country to country and region to region. We all know by experience that same spoken language is a very good medium to form bonds between two people  or communities. India is such a diverse country and pluralism in every sense whether it is language, religion, food, clothing, culture is unique feature of India. In this part of the world for many years many different cultures lived side by side in reasonable harmony. Even now in India most states speak different languages and have very unique cultural features, even withing the state there are different dialects of same language. Diversity and pluralism are unique features of India but these things also pose very unique challenges and create very complicated problems. India don't have any national language, it is very difficult to create any consensus on which language should be its national language. Hindi is spoken by more than 40% people in India, and it has status of unofficial national language of India. But there are many states (specially in south) where they don't understand and speak Hindi. I don't think India needs any national language because of its unique diverse nature, status of official language is good enough for Hindi. It is already one of the most popular languages in India and its use can be encouraged without making it a national language.

English is also very popular language in India, specially among the educated class, this is mainly because of its demand in job market and its status as international language. Dominance of English in higher education (specially in the area of science and commerce) has created unique challenges for students who get their primary education in regional language. They face mammoth task of getting familiarized with English version for various concepts and terms when they enter into college. I faced similar problem when I started my higher education and believe me it was not a easy task at all, for first few months I had no clue what my teachers were teaching in class. Current protests of UPSC aspirants against aptitude test in English language is another example of complicated language problem in academia. Students coming from regional language medium schools feel being discriminated when they see unfair advantage offered to students from English or Hindi medium schools. This issue is very complicated but is also a very important one and I hope our government can come up with some viable solution where students from regional language schools don't feel discriminated.

Belgaum border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is also because of language problem, in spite of Marathi being a spoken language among majority of its residents Belgaum was included in Karnataka rather than Maharashtra. This has created a border dispute between these two state which is still going on. The matter is pending in supreme court, no one knows when this issue will be resolved but lot of politics is already being played using this topic. Recent lathi-charge by Karnataka police on protesting mob just confirmed once again urgent need to attend this issue. Purpose of any language is to connect people, not to divide. Language was invented to communicate with each other not to fight with each other, this politics using language as a criteria to divide people should stop. I always wonder why two states belonging to same country fight over a piece of land, after all that part is a part of India why does it matter to Karnataka if Belgaun goes to Maharashtra if it has majority of population which speaks Marathi? If the situation has changed now and it has majority of Kannada speaking people then Maharashtra should not stake its claim on that land. This is very trivial dispute which is stuck in a political deadlock. Even though the state governments from both the states belong to same political party there is no progress in resolving this conflict. Ultimate sufferers in all these type of issues are common people, they suffer as their daily lives get disturbed by all these protests and actions taken by government to curb the agitation movements. Various political parties try to reap benefit by instigating people's emotions and sensationalizing the issue, this all need to stop. Some concrete steps to resolve this issue should be taken rather than just sensationalizing it.

Any border dispute related with language or exam issue (UPSC entrance exam problem), these all are avoidable or easily resolvable issues but wasted interest of some political parties or organizations don't allow to reach any consensus to resolve them. People who are suffering because of these issues need to realize this and act accordingly. Respective governments also should stop their attempts to crush any peaceful demonstrations by using brutal force. People have right to express their grievances in peaceful manure and as a government they have to listen to their problems and try to find some reasonable solutions. Ignoring any problem only aggravates it, no authority (government or private) should use language to discriminate people, it should not be used as a political tool to divide people. Role of language is to unite people, please let it do its job of uniting people.

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

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

Friday, August 8, 2014

Stop gender policing.

Recently I saw this excellent video advocating a very good message "STOP GENDER POLICING". The video is very well made which illustrates their point by using very relevant example from a blockbuster Hindi Movie "Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai", where a girl is taunted initially for not being girly enough because of her dress and behavior. Slowly she realizes her mistake and starts behaving according to her gender (??), then hero of movie falls in love with her and the fairy tale begins. These type of movies cater what audience love to watch. Audience loved this movie also and it became a blockbuster, this is just one example and there are many movies which portray similar scenarios. Actually I don't expect these main stream (or even off stream) movies to bring any social change in society but these movies and their popularity also shows the current mindset of our society. They reflect the values and culture which we practice as a society, criticizing girls for not being girly enough or rewarding them when they change their not so girly mannerisms to so called girly ones was and still is very normal practice. It seems there are very rigid rules in people's (and hence in society's) mind about how people from particular gender should behave, what they should like and dislike. People still comment about what type of jobs girls should do or shouldn't do, how a man should behave in manly manure. These things are still going on in our society that is why such videos, blog posts and seminars are necessary to spread awareness about gender policing.

Stereotyping anything is bad, and stereotype genders is worst. There can be various reasons for stereotyping anything but they cannot justify it. There is urgent need to change or modify definitions of masculinity of femininity. It is very wrong to associate these qualities only with particular gender. People associate these characteristics so much with one particular gender that it is considered as abnormal, bad or weird for other gender to possess that quality. Girls not wearing so called feminine dresses or boys who don't like sports or who like to play with dolls are considered as abnormal just because their likes and dislikes don't match with the likes and dislikes which society normally associated with their gender. This is wrong and totally unfair to these kids who are perfectly normal but are forced to change their ways just because it doesn't fit into stereotype of their gender. We see this happening around us all the time where girls are told not be be bossy, boys are told not to play with dolls but play soccer or play with action figures. People do it without even knowing that they are forcing gender stereotype on their kids. They insist on gender specific behavior because they think this the right way, they are trained to believe that specific gender should only behave in specific way.

Gender policing is so widespread and common that even many parents do it by thinking that they are doing great favor. They believe that it is their duty to make their kids realize how they should behave according to their gender. They try to educate their kids about what should be their likes and dislikes based on their gender. This stereotyped mindset is passed from generations to generations, any person who doesn't fit into these patterns is forced to mend his or her ways to fit into it or is labeled as weird or abnormal. Many people's life gets ruined by such environment because they start thinking that something is wrong with them. People around make them feel guilty for being the way they are, this is not a good situation for any healthy and progressive society. People should feel comfortable to express themselves without feeling fear of being ridiculed, any society or culture which doesn't encourage it needs to evolve. This evolution is required for almost every culture and society, it is good to see that many people are working towards spreading awareness about these things and this video is very good example of this attempt. I hope that people realize that knowingly or unknowingly they are doing 'gender policing' in the name of culture, religion or traditions and they should stop this. Likes, dislikes or hobbies don't depend on gender they differ from person to person. Forcing kids to mend their ways just because they don't fit into our definition of normal can have disastrous effect of their personalities. It can shatter their self confidence and self esteem. Let's pledge to fight against any type of gender policing, this will be one positive step towards making our society more inclusive, tolerant and progressive. Let's not associate any gender with hobbies or personality traits, the day we understand this gender policing will automatically disappear. 

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

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

Links:
1. http://www.storypick.com/rape-always-sex-video-will-change-way-look-rapes-forever/

Monday, August 4, 2014

Please don't mess up with education.

Recent news about introduction of some of Dinanath Batra's books in recommended reading list for primary and secondary schools in state of Gujarat created lot of controversy. Name of Mr. Batra is very well known in the circles of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and BJP, he was General Secretary Vidya Bharati, the school network run by RSS. He is a retired school teacher and now claims to be educational activist. It seems the purpose of introducing his books for recommended reading is to instill national pride, self esteem and cultural identity among students. There is nothing wrong in teaching students about their ancient culture, there is nothing wrong in presenting them with facts and figures from glorious past but do these recommended books do this in unbiased manure? Mr. Batra's links with RSS or BJP should not be the issue here, the points which he is making should be discussed without any bias or prejudice. Whenever we look at the things with some bias then we try to do selective appropriation. I feel that authors of some of these books (including Mr. Batra) try to do selective appropriation and their views present only one side of story. They try to present Indian culture in very narrow way, only selected era from past is defined as Indian tradition. These authors try to pick up very selective points and try to paint things either in positive or negative way rather than giving a comprehensive view. Selective appropriation of facts often projects one sided image of any incident, person or culture. This type of material is not appropriate for kids of so young age, and if they are presented with such things then it obviously creates doubts about the real intention behind this plan.

Only exposing to one person's (or one sided) view to highly impressionable minds present's its won dangers. Every society's history has some positive and some negative points, we need to present both of them objectively. Religion, culture or traditions everything has been used by many governments to propagate their won ideology. After all politics and religion is the game of controlling people's minds and education is a very good resource to achieve this task. This approach poses a danger of producing conditioned thinkers rather than free thinkers. Decolonization of Indian education is necessary but that should not be equal to de-westernization. There is a need of open debate on this issue where all view points should be considered. People like Mr. Batra definitely have right to express their views and concerns, their points should be take into account, their merits and demerits should be discussed without any bias and after that only things should be accepted or rejected. Educational institutes are very important aspect of any society, government should not mess up with them. These institutes should not be used to push one particular agenda, they should not be a tool in government's hands. Imposing any language (like Sanskrit) or any culture (Hinduism) is not the way to Indianize the education system, there must be a better way of doing all these things without imposing anything on students which might affect their confidence.  Students should be made aware about good part of their culture as well as bad part of it, so that they learn vales from good part of it and learn not to repeat same mistakes from the bad part of culture. Pluralism and diversity in India is part of its glorious culture, one can not ignore this aspect of India's culture and any attempt to do this should be challenged. I guess this is one of the reason why there are some strong voices against introduction of such books in school education.

India has very rich cultural heritage and most Indians are very proud of it. Some things mentioned in these books like cars were invented in Vedik period or Ram traveled in pushpak aeroplane (so aeroplane was first invented in ancient India), etc. under the name of encouraging pride for India's ancient culture are factually wrong and can create very wrong impression in student's minds. One should not mix mythology with history or science, it can prove very dangerous and can harm scientific aptitude of students. I am sure Gujarat government don't want to raise generation of some misinformed students who have very false sense of cultural pride and confused scientific facts. This issue has attracted so much attention because current prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi has written foreword to some of his books recommending them to current students. He did this when he was chief minister of Gujarat but now he is PM of India and people think that now this might be implemented on national scale. I am sure think tank in BJP would not do this considering the resistance they might face nationally but they have absolute majority in parliament so I think fears of people who are concerned are valid. My only hope is that some better sense prevails in all concerned authorities and they stop messing with education system just to please some individual or organization. If at all they want to do reform they can do it in very democratic way with fair and open discussion. I hope they remember about glorious tradition of ancient India where fair and open debates on each and every topic was a norm and act accordingly.

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

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

Friday, August 1, 2014

Was Manjunath stupid to sacrifice his life?

Few days back I watched movie "Manjunath" which is based on events in life of Shanmughan Manjunath, who was a marketing manager of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). He was murdered in November 2005 for sealing one petrol station in UP which was selling adulterated fuel. The movie specifically deals with this particular incident of Manjunath's life. Two years before (in November 2003) this incident there was another shocking murder of Satyendra Dubey which shocked the nation. Both these young professionals were murdered for opposing the corrupt practices which are very rampant all over the India (specially in public sector). They paid with their life for their desire to do their job with honesty and sincerity. The movie is very well made, it is not like other regular entertaining movies as it is not supposed to entertain you and fortunately it doesn't. Many times the real message gets lost in the name of business or entertainment. The movie is supposed to disturb, shock and force its audience to think and I think movie makers are reasonably successful in this task. I specially liked the conversations between dead Manjunath and his killer Monu Mittal. The dialogue between both of them when Monu is locked in jail is highlight of the movie according to me. During these conversations Monu tries to make fun of Manjunath's values and his courage to stand for them by teasing him for his stupidity to risk his life for his principals. He also tells him that everyone wants a Gandhi to change this rotten system but not in their own house but in neighbor's house (so that they don't have to deal with many problems associated with it). People want the change but not at the cost of their own comfort. Many of us don't want to sacrifice their own life or risk their own job to eradicate corruption from the system. We want the system to be fixed but don't want to make our own hands dirty. Because of this attitude the corrupt system has become so strong and robust that it ruthlessly crushes anyone who even by mistake tries to challenge it. People who dare to challenge this are so less in numbers compared to people who meekly surrender to it that it is easy to crush these challengers without even getting into much trouble. It is not easy to be a parent of a rebel or a martyr, it takes lot of emotional toll on family. Manjunath's family must have faced lot of pain and trauma after his death. They must have felt the disgusting feeling that killers of their son might get away with their crime because of corrupt system in India. They must have questioned why their son risked his life to stand for the principles he believed in? Fortunately some better sense prevailed in this case, may be because of tremendous pressure created by people and justice was delivered. But not every case is resolved in this manure, at the end of movie just watch the entire screen getting filled with various names of people who were murdered or tortured just for trying to do their job honestly.

Actually many of us see wrong things happening around us, but many of us choose to ignore them or tolerate these things for various reasons. Forget about risking our life to stop them we even refuse to say a word against these things just because many others don't. Social evils like discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying, etc. keep on happening right in front of people's eyes and many choose to ignore it rather than at least protest against it. Slowly these things become a norm and these people who engage in such acts start thinking that this is the new norm now and anyone who opposes it is considered as a crazy, stupid person who is out of their mind to fight against it. Manjunath exactly faced the same dilemma, whatever he learned in the class or whatever values he believed in were totally different than the ground reality which he saw after starting his job. He was shocked to see such blatant and shameless act of corruption, he was shocked that even after several warnings there is no fear of law among these people. Many people surrender after seeing all this, they accept the current norm and think that one person cannot change the things but Manjunath didn't and that's why we are talking about him. During one of their conversations Monu calls him 'stupid' for risking his life for such a small thing. Was Manjunath stupid? or was he the only same person in really insane environment around him? Are we as a society taking any steps towards creating a environment where Manjunath's don't feel suffocated or don't get murdered? What does murders of people like Dr. Dabholkar tell us? The movie raises many questions like this. Recent support to movements like India against corruption (IAC) or Aam Adami Party (AAP) showed us how serious is the problem of corruption in India. But the progress in the direction of eradicating this social menace or even controlling it is very slow, there is lack of political will from all political parties and it seems for voters corruption is not a election issue. So it seems our society is only interested in candle marches or protests after each incidents like this but they are not yet ready to force political parties to reform the entire system. I really don't know how many Manjunath's or Satyendra's have to sacrifice their lives to open our society's eyes to see the monster of corruption which is rotting out political and public sector. Political parties are not going to do anything one their own until people force them to do it, I hope this movie and story of people like Manjunath inspires many young people who can at least dare to ask some tough questions to current establishment. Initiating some change towards controlling widespread corruption will be the biggest tribute to these people who sacrificed their lives to clean this system.

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

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