Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Depression is real and it hurts, let's talk about it.

Recently I watched this very interesting discussion on NDTV where famous Hindi movie actress Deepika Padukone and her mom are discussing about problem of depression which Deepika faced very recently. In this discussion they touch on various topics associated with mental health problems including huge stigma or taboo associated with discussing such issues openly in many societies. The stigma associated with any type of mental issues is so huge that not only society but the families and many times people themselves who suffer from such problems refuse to accept that there is any such problem and as a result of this refusal no proper discussion takes place which in turn makes these issues extremely complex to deal with. Depression is very common problem, we all have to deal with it at some stage of our lives. I think depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health issues which almost each one of us goes through only difference is to what extent they affect our day to day life. Many of us live our entire lives trying to battle with these type of problems, we are so scared about what people might think about us that we don't even mention about these issues to anyone, not even our closed ones.

I think we need to accept one thing first that mental issues like depression and anxiety are real, whenever we go through them they affect us and hurt us, so it is better that we acknowledge this and talk about this without any reservations. Today's high pressure, fast and somewhat isolated lifestyle has made all of us more prone to face these issues and I guess we all know that. It is not that people from previous generations never faced any such problems but may be they never had proper platforms to discuss and debate about any such issues but fortunately we have such platform and we should make good use of it. When I was in India I always thought that having a mental health issue means something very shameful and one should try as much as possible that people around us don't come to know about these things. I have seen many families (including my own) trying to hide any such issues with anyone within that family because they think that if people know about this thing their family will get a bad reputation and society might look differently to all members of their family. This fear and concern is often reaffirmed by very negative attitude of society towards mental health related issues. As there is severe lack of awareness and knowledge, people react to these issues even without knowing anything about it. 

Without proper knowledge of any issue it is very dangerous to react just based on some common perceptions, this is what happens all the time in this case. Mental health issues are like any other health issues, people facing such issues need same type of attention, respect and medical care which others facing any non mental health problem receive. We don't consider people having flu or cold or cancer or diabetes or high blood pressure as weird or socially boycott them. We don't treat them with contempt or act like something is wrong with them, then why most of us react differently when we see someone who is going through depression or panic attack or some other mental health issue? First of all we need to remove this stigma, this is the biggest hurdle in dealing with this issue. Let's accept that we all (or most of us) face some degree of mental restlessness or mental health issues, therefore we all need to work towards getting rid of this stigma which has done more harm than good for our society. Sooner we learn to talk about mental health related issues without any bias or prejudice better for all of us. Mental health issues are real and people suffering from it don't need prejudice or stigmatization or quarantinization but they need everyone's support and unbiased treatment (medical as well as social). Let's hope that we as a society or country come out of our own mental weakness and learn to accept that these things are real and need our immediate attention and acceptance.

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. 'I Felt Empty And Directionless': Deepika Padukone on Her Battle With Depression
2. Read The Heart-Wrenching Open Letter To Deepika Padukone

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hashimpura Massacre case- Justice delayed as well as denied.

I read about this gruesome incident very recently when the court verdict on this case was delivered that too after long agonizing 27 years of wait. Hashimpura massacre happened on 22nd May 1987, when 42 Muslims were brutally massacred by police during communal riots. It was Congress party government in power back then, that government and all the subsequent governments did nothing to pursue this case seriously so that all culprits are punished. Rather they tried each and every method to protect the culprits and the ultimate result of all this was that court acquitted all sixteen Uttar Pradesh police officers who were accused in this case. So even after long agonizing and painful wait for justice relatives of victims and survivors received a tight slap on their face by our judiciary, investigating agencies and all political parties who claim day and night to care about them. It seems no one killed those 42 people, that massacre never happened. If this is not sad and pathetic state of affairs then I wonder what it is? And please make no mistake of assuming that there is some particular political party which is to blame for this shameful episode, all of them are equally involved in sabotaging this investigation and protecting the culprits.

The scariest part of any riot (communal or otherwise) is when police personally get involved in them and start taking sides. Police are supposed to be impartial and perform their duties of protecting citizens of their state. It is always dangerous for any state when their police force or investigating agencies become communal or racial. When they start taking sides then depending on which side they choose other side is bound to face some dire consequences and this is what we see in this case. Police turned their guns on those innocent people whom they were supposed to protect. This is not the only case which failed to deliver justice to victims, there are quite few cases like this some of them were not even reached to court, they were not even reported in media. This is such a horrible record of human rights violation and I hope that at least now all state governments in India take serious steps to improve this record. When political parties (in power as well as in opposition) and investigating agencies form illegitimate alliance then no court can punish culprits as it won't have enough evidence to punish the culprits. In this particular case no political party whether in power or in opposition bothered to pursue this matter aggressively. Many people (including me) were not even aware that any such massacre happened, it was ignored to that extent.

There is no point in paying blame game here, it is a useless exercise, it only benefits political parties. They just love to play the blame game, it even happened in 1984 riots case, 2002 Godhra riots case which were covered widely by national and international media. Most culprits, specially state employees (policeman and politicians) accused in most of these cases are walking scot free after spending few months or years in jail. This is terribly sad and shameful but this is the bitter reality. Even after so many people get killed for no fault of theirs no one gets punished for these heinous acts. Where is the justice and where is the law? I don't think there will be huge public outrage like it was in case of Jessica Lal murder case, such massacres fail to generate widespread public sympathy as people react based on who got killed by whom. They chose their sides based on their own religion and that really makes me feel sick, there are many who justify such killings directly or indirectly just because people who got killed didn't belong to their own religion. I hope some day we all learn to respect every human life irrespective of their age, gender, race or religion. Until that day I think I have to bear pain and frustrations of reading about such incidents and failure of our entire political class to do something to control such incidents. I hope families of victims and all survives of this and all other massacres where there was failure to deliver justice in timely manure get some type of closure so that they can forget these horrific incidents and move on with their lives.

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

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Importance of simplicity in my life...

It is usually said that 'simplicity' is a virtue, many of us also believe that it is a beautiful thing to have. People loved simplicity of Mahatma Gandhi, the way he dressed, the way he lived and the way he presented himself. He is perceived as one of the icons of simplicity in real life. I am personally not a big fan of lavish or exuberant lifestyle, I prefer simplicity but I don't do it just for the sake of showing it off but I really like it as a way of life. Let me say in the beginning itself that this is going to be somewhat very personal post, so I will be talking a lot about myself so anyone who is not interested in it should feel free not to read it. Simplicity can be defined by different people differently and here I am discussing my interpretation of it.

I remember reading a comment of some Gandhi's follower when he wrote, 'it costs great deal of money to keep Gandhi living in poverty', this statement may or may not have some real meaning associated with it so I am not very sure about intention of the person who made it. But it is also a fact that simplicity is more appreciated or noticed more when it is practiced by people who can afford to live lavish or exuberant life. So simple life style of celebrities or business tycoons or any famous person is appreciated more than simple life of some common person who is not well known. Simplicity of life which poor people are forced to practice is not something we talk about as we know that they don't have any other choice. I do recognize that Gandhi really believed in simplicity and his life is a great example of that, I am also one of the people who are greatly influenced by some of his thoughts. But in today's world it is not easy to live that type of life unless you really believe in it. I am telling this from my personal experience. In today's world of consumerism, aggressive advertisement, where markets and corporates dictate almost everything in your life, it is not easy to escape force of consumerism. Today we live in a world where everything is judged by perception created by many alternate realities, there are many perceptions created around us and among all this it is not easy to be simple. Heavy advertising creates many different perceptions about many things in people's mind, they are told what it means to be happy, how to live a perfect life, what is meant to be beautiful, etc. etc. People all over the world are literally bombarded with messages where others tell you how to live a perfect and happy life. This is how we get attached to particular brand or we crave only particular model of phone or car or clothing. It is not easy to escape from this, the design and delivery of these advertisements is very effective. They are prepared after thorough market research and based on study of human psychology. Slowly but steadily people start believing in these ideas. They really start thinking what these institutions want them to think, having your own car becomes a need but not  luxury, going on a family vacation is considered as basic element of happy family life, owning your own home becomes a social necessity it is not enough just to have a reasonable comfortable accommodation. These are just a few examples I am citing to give a idea about this point which I want to stress here. Many perceptions like these become integral part of our lives and we start judging world around us based on these standards prescribed to us by markets all around us. 

I come from very humble background, my parents really struggled to keep us afloat in really competitive and brutal world. They immigrated from their home state to totally new state with respect to culture and language in search of better life. They tried their best to provide us with everything and I believe they did a great job within their own limitations. They really wanted their kids not to face same struggled and problems which they faced in their lives. For us there was no other option than living a very simple life as we couldn't afford anything more than it, so for us back then simplicity didn't seem like a virtue but it felt like a bad joke by destiny on us. But slowly as I read more, as I matured as an adult I realized that it can be a virtue and even can be a chosen way of life, since then I decided to live as simple life as possible. Simple in terms of thinking and simple in terms of living within my own limits. It was a very conscious decision which was influenced by some great people about whom I read that time. I also understand that everyone can make their own definition of simplicity, so simplicity can defer from person to person. So let me make it clear once again clear that whatever I am talking here is my interpretation of simplicity, my own definition of what I think is simple. At the same time I must also clarify that I don't judge people by their choice of lifestyle, according to me everyone has right to choose how to live their own life. It is a matter of personal choice and there is nothing right or wrong in it. I totally understand that everyone's needs are different and we all have right to pursue what we think is best for us in our lives. So my advocacy of simple life should not be taken as criticism or condemnation for any other type of lifestyle. 

As I said it is easy to live simple live when you don't have any choice. Back in days when I used to tell people that I like this simple way of living life and would try to live like this even if my financial situation changes, very few people believed me then. Most of them thought that I am advocating simplicity just because I am forced to live that type of life because of our financial situation. It was same when people didn't believe me when I talked about gender equality. They all said to me that I was talking about this just because I didn't have a daughter and my thinking will change once I will have daughter of my own and face realities of this real world. Fortunately our first child is a daughter and I still believe in gender unbiased upbringing of kids. So the truth is so far I managed to hold on my core beliefs but the truth is things can change any time. I am writing this based on where I stand today and what I believe in today so one can very much argue that there is no guarantee that things will remain same in future also and I totally acknowledge this concern. But things like equality, simplicity, freedom of expression, kindness and compassion are very important for me and I value them immensely. People around me also help me by giving their continuous feedback which keeps me on track. I am loving my choice and I hope everyone gets to live the type of life they want, after all happiness ultimate goal of everyone's life and I will everyone to achieve it without harming others.

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

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

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Nagaland mob lynching: totally unacceptable act of public violence.

A very disturbing even happened few days back in Nagaland. Angry mob of around 7 or 8 thousand people attacked Dimapur Central Jail, they dragged a rape accused out of jail, paraded that person naked and then beat him to death. Many people participated and witnessed this mob lynching incident. Many were also seen recording this ugly event or taking photo of dead person may be to post it on social media. The mob didn't stop after killing that accused they also displayed his body at the local clock tower supposedly to teach a lesson for all people who commit such type of crimes. Many people shared this incident with the gruesome photos to justify the punishment offered to this accused and demanded that only if this type of punishments are offered to people committing crimes like rape such type of crimes will reduce. I have seen many people advocating punishments like public hanging or public torture to death as a way of teaching a lesson to criminals, they all feel that such punishments will serve as deterrent and stop such crimes. 

Frustrated and misguided people taking law into their own hands is always a dangerous sign for any society. Lawless society is a dangerous prospectus and there are so many reasons why any society might choose to use such desperate means. In India ridiculously lengthy and slow process of delivering justice in each and every case is one of the major reasons why such type of incidents happen. I guess everyone will agree that heinous crimes like rape, murder, etc. need speedy trials and strict punishments so that it can create a fear in minds of perpetrators of such crimes. Slow and tedious process of justice with many loopholes which allows criminals to escape the law or delay the process indefinitely puts victim at very disadvantageous position. Victims of rape specially suffer long and agonizing journey to get justice from such severely impaired judiciary system of India and I want to include investigating agencies also in this. We all know that justice delayed means justice denied and when it becomes chronic problem people start loosing their faith on the system. Unfortunately none of the state or national governments tried to do anything substantial to correct this problem. Judicial or police reforms are not even a discussion topic during any state or national elections. Sexual violence is such a serious issue but it hardly gets any attention it deserves in any political or social forum in India. Everyone knows that rapes happen very frequently and many rapist from every strata of society escape the law using muscle, power, money or influence. This problem is not going to disappear on its own, there is no point in pushing the issue under carpet. It is also wrong to assume that this is only a women's issue. Sexual violence is as much a men's issue as it is women's

Any incident like this is a result of serious failure of government machinery at various levels. I don't think that any such violent act can be justified by using any logic or reasoning, it is totally unacceptable behaviour. There are dedicated departments and well designed systems to deliver justice and execute punishments. I hope this acts as an eye opener for all concerned agencies dealing with law and order of country and states in India. They need to create sense of belief in people's mind that justice and investigating machinery is fair and efficient. They need to provide proof by their actions that these systems are working for people to solve their issues and problems not to exploit their helplessness. If victims of any crime get all required support from all these departments they won't be at the mercy of mob to protest or demand justice for them. Why these departments only get active after huge protests or nationwide outrage after any rape or murder? Why some case gets really shoddy handling which results in acquittal of all accused just because they belong to some powerful or influential families? Such incidents create serious dent in credibility of all these departments and create fertile ground for violent and desperate reactions from people. Let's hope that this incident doesn't inspire people from other places to use similar methods to deliver their own justice, it this happens it will be catastrophic situation at every level.

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. Mob drags alleged rapist out of jail in Nagaland, thrashes him to death

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

We should also practice emotional hygiene.

Few days back I came across this amazing talk by Dr. Guy Winch on TED based on practicing emotional hygiene like we practice physical hygiene. I loved the way he presented this great idea of need to practice emotional hygiene. We all pay a lot of attention to follow physical hygiene, we try to keep our body and surroundings as clean as possible because we know that if we don't then it might result in some kind of illness. But rarely we pay that much attention towards our emotional hygiene. We all go through different type of emotions every day of our life, some of them are good some of them are bad. Some of them make us happy and encourage to do better but some of them make us sad and might affect our behavior in negative way. We all also consciously or unconsciously develop our own methods to deal with all these emotions which affect us both in positive and negative way. We all know that happiness and sadness are part of our lives, no feeling or situation is permanent but still we sometimes struggle to deal with some negative thoughts and feel overwhelmed by some situations. Cluttered mind can always cause some problems and that is why I think suggestions offered in Dr. Winch's talk are so important and relevant.

No matter what we do most of us can't avoid getting affected by different emotions, even while watching a movie or reading some book we get affected by situations presented in them or get emotionally attached to characters of the story. Human being is a very emotional animal, actually all animals are emotional to some extent but we humans know how to display it in much better way and that's why we get affected by it more than any other species around us. This why it becomes extremely important to practice emotional hygiene. Lingering on with any emotion doesn't help any of us, the only thing which is constant in life is change and we all know it theoretically but most of us struggle to understand this in real life. I myself have very bad habit of thinking too much about small small things and I am constantly working towards getting rid of it. I know it is not easy to get rid of some habits easily but we need to give it a real try if we see that it is affecting our behavior. I personally understand the importance of practicing emotional hygiene and that is why this talk impressed me so much. In this talk Dr. Winch explains us the importance of it by citing some examples from his own life that's is why I encourage readers to listen to this talk. We all should understand that emotions are not going to go anywhere, they are going to be integral parts of our lives so we need to get better in dealing with all types of emotions. Many times we have no control over the situations in life which we face (like loss of some near and dear ones) but we can control the way we react to these situations and this is where our capacity to practice emotional hygiene comes in to play. I know that it is not easy but it is necessary. Wrong way of dealing with emotions can land us in serious psychological issues and not all these issues are serious enough to clinically label them as mental illness but they can affect our lives considerably. So it is better to be aware of these things rather than being ignorant and suffer without even knowing why are we suffering. I feel this talk will give people some insight into their own emotional health and according to me being aware of emotional hygiene is better than not knowing about it. So please listen to this talk and get benefited.

 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.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene

Thursday, March 5, 2015

'India's Daughter' is not a insult to India but an eye opener.

I managed to watch BBC's documentary film 'India's Daughter' as it might be soon withdrawn from YouTube as Indian government has raised objections over this film and want to ban its telecast all over the world. They are trying their best to pull this film from internet so that no one can watch it because they think it is conspiracy by some foreigners to defame India all over the world. Some how current central government of India thinks that this documentary shows India and Indians in bad light. Amazingly they drew this conclusions without even watching the documentary. Actually this documentary doesn't reveal anything which is not already known to many people around the world. It will be also wrong to assume that this documentary is only representative of mindset which only prevails in Indian society, some things might be India specific but in general it should be seen as a harsh reality of gender bias prevalent in most parts of the world. This bias might manifest in different ways, methods and techniques might differ but I don't think that anyone can deny that gender bias still exists in many parts of the world and it is a serious global problem even today. 

It seems that many ministers from current central government of India are unhappy after watching only some parts of this documentary. They are specially upset to know that there is a interview of convicted rapists where he expresses some of his sick views about rape and is seen blaming the victims for whatever happens to them. No doubt that these things are disgusting to watch but the ugly truth that there are many who think like this, I myself have heard similar statements made by many people I know and each time I feel disgusted but the bitter reality is that still people think like this even in today's world. Views similar to that rapist are echoed by some so called respected politicians of India and also in other parts of the world. Gender bias is a stark reality, it is a burden which most societies are still willingly carrying because of years of male dominant culture. The documentary tries to show a mirror to our society but it seems when some people don't like what they see in mirror they want to break the mirror rather then trying to change the image. This is escapist mindset which likes to live in continuous denial mode. Such people like to push controversial or sensitive issues under the carpet, they want to ignore it purposely and expect that problem might disappear on its own if they don't mention it but sadly this never happens. Unless we courageously admit that problem exists and we all are responsible for it we are not going to move an inch in a direction to solve it. One can have difference of opinion about contents of documentary, one can question why rapist interview is there and why not protests are covered widely. One can definitely ask such questions or even disagree with the message which this film wants to propagate.

As far as banning the documentary is concerned it is another pathetic decision to ban something without even watching it or having any reasonable discussion over it. According to me only people who even remotely think like the rapist in the documentary will demand to ban it. Only people who sympathize with that rapist's mindset will feel threatened that they will get exposed and that's why might demand a ban on it. Only people who don't want to know and acknowledge how disgusting some people think about women would like to ban it. Only who want to live in denial mode as if these things don't happen around us will worry more about tourism of India rather than worrying about such incidents which happen on daily basis. There is nothing anti-India in this documentary, actually the documentary is not at all about India it is about a very serious issue of sexual harassment and attitude of some men towards women in our society. People are free to like or or dislike it, it is their choice. Rape or sexual harassment is a global problem, if any incident in India or any protest in India is helping to highlight this issue or helping to create awareness about this problem why would anyone have objection to that? Anyone who cares about this issue should watch this film and think very seriously where they stand. If anyhow you find that you sympathize with any of the thoughts expressed by some misogynist men in this documentary then it's time to ban those thoughts from your mind not this documentary.

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

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

Links:
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUvlwmIfyx0

Wow blog is now three years old...

Wow, I can't believe that it is already three years since I started this amazing journey of sharing my thoughts with all of you around the world. In the beginning I didn't know what will be the path and how will I manage this as I had no prior experience of writing. But there is no doubt this journey is very rewarding and fulfilling experience for me. During this journey encouragement and feedback from my readers helped me a lot to grow as a person. I wrote on many social, political and even personal issues. I tired to cover almost each and every subject which bothered me or which I found relevant of any discussion. Few old posts still keep on getting more comments and discussion is still going on some of those topics, specially topics related with Chanakya's controversial views about women and issue of taboo associated with menstruation generate lot of attention. I am glad that more and more people are becoming interested in these important topics and they are feeling confident in sharing their opinion about these issues. Most of the issues which we debate or discuss on this blog are quite complicated, many of them are very old and are persistent in our societies for ages. We all know that there is no easy and quick solution for these things. But that doesn't mean at all that we shouldn't try, it is not a task of any one individual or a group to solve these problems or create awareness about these things, we all need to do this work collectively then only we can expect to see any change or see any success. Expressing our opinion or raising our objections whenever we see some unjustified bias or any injustice is very important job of any responsible citizen of this world. Technological revolution of 21st century has provided us with many easily available platforms to raise our voice and share our opinions, we all need to make good use of this opportunity to tackle major social, personal or political issues.

This year may be the frequency of posts might reduce a little bit, because of many other important things which need my personal attention I have decided to reduce number of posts little bit. I know that blog anniversary is not that of a big deal, it is like any other day and I agree with this. I am not a person who believes in celebrating birthdays or anniversaries. Throwing lavish parties to celebrate anything is not my way of expressing happiness but this journey is very unique and rewarding for me and that is why I want to acknowledge the support of all my readers on this occasion. I am sure that we all will continue to work towards solving may of these social problems to best of our capacity. I am extremely thankful to all your comments, whether positive or negative all comments encouraged me to continue my blogging journey and I thank you all for that from the bottom of my heart. Please keep on sharing your opinion whenever you get time, remember that speaking up and raising questions is very important, we all should not forget this. Happy reading and keep asking questions.

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

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