A 90’s Summer and My Random Thoughts!

 

Summer always used to be full of excitement for us. In the Early 90’s, Indian Economy was just saved from getting imbalanced and LPG Reforms were about to take its root in the Indian Socio – Economic sphere. And here we were, unaware of any of it, in our own world. I’m sure most of the late 80’s and early 90’s people will relate to this article about how exciting the Summers of 90’s were and how it is now!

How excited we used to be to get up at 6.00 am in the morning. Not to study for the exam or to complete the remaining homework, but to play Football or Cricket with the friends. Ten minutes late and we used to get pissed off with the latecomer. And if he was the one who had kept the football or Bat/Ball the previous day and did not turn up at the right time, then the treatment used to be worse. It was a time of innumerable informal and controversial Inter-School or Inter-College Football or Cricket Matches. And trust me, our Interest used to be much more in playing Cricket or Football back then,  than watching the contemporary IPL and EPL matches.

How excited we used to be by looking inside the store room for the old and dusty video games inside the cupboard and the cover less Cassettes. This used to be the major part of our afternoons except from 3.00 pm to 4.00 pm when Pokemon and Bey-blade was the priority. Playing Video games was sort of a get together in the 90s because we were allowed to go out in restaurant very rarely. The venue for the 90’s kind of get together used to be somebody’s house. The kids from the Neighborhood and School used to plan a day each at a Friend’s house staying together for most of the day. Contra was the Counter Strike, the DOTA, The Age of Empires, The Assassins Creed of 90’s and winning it would be nothing less than an achievement. Playing the same Contra today in my Laptop using simulators doesn’t bring back the joy of playing it on the Video game in a double player mode with my brother or a friend. Although it brings back many memories. Summer was a time when the frequency of playing games used to be on its peak. Playing hide and seek, “Nadi ya Pahad – River or Mountains”, Sankhli (Chains), Marbles ( Kanchey) was an integral part among the children of neighborhood. Playing hide and seek inside the home or outside was always fun. It was awesome during the load shedding hours at night. Though gradually, the frequency of outdoor games were replaced by Playstation and Computer gaming.

How excited we used to be while filling the Ice trays in the Freezer. It was definitely not for pouring it into the glasses of wine or beers. The reason was as simple as applying it on the face to get a relief from the scorching heat or putting it in the clothes of your sibling just for fun. And it was followed by a period of terror where you had a hinge that your sibling is planning a revenge for it but you don’t know when and where. I’m glad there was no “Gangs of Wasseypur” influence at that time. And how can we forget our numerous attempts to make a home-made milk-maid Ice-cream which only few people were successful in. Utilizing the number of attempts has been a legacy for me since then it seems. 😛

How excited we used to be, quite paradoxical as it may seem, to write every last paper of every exam that we’ve given in our student life. Be it 10th, 12th or Graduation, we always yearned for the exams to get over only to find out that we miss the school / college more in that period. And we definitely cannot forget the numerous recreational hobby classes – Dance, Guitar, Tabla, etc. which wouldn’t let us feel the void. It would give us an opportunity of making new friends there. Though, very few of the children continued the same classes throughout the year.

Summer trips were always fun. Visiting cousins, grandparents, relatives, friends always used to be exciting. In school life, the trips were mostly of 2 kinds – 1) Visiting the Grandparents, Cousins, Uncle and Aunts and 2) Visiting a destination with parents and relatives. Playing cards with the cousins, lots of gossips, introducing them to our regular friends and making sure they had a great time used to be a priority. Summer trips with the family will always be the best thing ever. If you are a 90’s kid, just go back and see the old photo albums. You’ll see that more than half of the albums belong to all the trips combined. In the gradual years, most of the proportions of the first and second kind were reduced to the newly added type of the vacation – Vacation with friends. This doesn’t mean that the significance for the first two decreased but that the time had to be divided equally in proportion to all three of them.

This used to be the Summers for most of us. Unlike now!

Now that we’ve grown old and become responsible! Now that we’re in 20’s and are supposed to make the best decisions for our lives, get settled and marry! We live as if our life depends on 3 days – 1) Weekend and 2) Salary Day. We don’t want to get up early and we even don’t want to be late in the office. We want to get credited for the work we do, but we also curse about how boring our job is. We want to go on vacations, but we reluctantly resume the job on the joining day. We want to pursue our dreams for Higher Education or getting a switch in another company but we don’t want to squeeze time to study for it! We tend to procrastinate. We complain and forward messages about how we’ve lost contact of some of the friends but we don’t like their picture or status on facebook, texting comes later. The visits to our relatives or cousins have decreased and been replaced by excuses.

When I introspect my summers of 90s and compare it with the summer of 2016, I can see a huge difference between my perspectives about life back then and now. Back then, I wasn’t mature enough even to understand what the word “perspective” means. At least now, when life has so many challenges for me, I’m mature enough to understand that I can draw the qualities that I had back then to improve who I am Now.

Metaphorically, if I did not like a game while playing a videogame, I could change the Cassette and play another game anytime. If I did not like to play videogame altogether, I could always get out and play Football or Cricket. Similarly, if I am unsatisfied of my job or if I want to pursue Post Graduation, I can always study hard to get an Post-grad seat or switch to another job. If I want to call my friends to play card or videogames without any ego (because we never understood what was ego), I can also call them now even after years and remember all the good times I had with them. Or we can pay a surprise visit to our relatives, just to let them know that priorities have changed but we still have got time for them. If my parents can plan trips during vacation, even I can plan a trip for us all and create more memories for them. Yes I’ll have to cut my trip with friends but even they realize the significance of a trip with family. I can call my grandparents, my relatives, my cousins, my friends and ask them if they’re doing well. I can text them and make groups on Whatsapp though not frequently but regularly. I can plan to hangout with them and take as many pictures whenever I meet them. These are some very fundamental things which even we can teach ourselves. It motivates us from within in our life and we do not require an outside inspiration or motivation for us. We can learn many things from ourselves. The question is – Do We? Having said this, the most important lesson that I’ve learnt from my little self is that

If I can enjoy my life being stress free back then, I can enjoy my life even now, even with stress.

Ganesh Chaturthi.

After a hiatus of around 1.5 months which included my exams and lot of other stuff, finally I got a topic to write on. India is a Land of festivals and everybody knows that, I know. But I always wanted to write about the Festivals of India, because it is really interesting to observe Indian society at the time of such festivals. These festivals are a medium to connect the people across the boundaries with common feeling of celebration and Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most loved festivals of India. Personally, I am very fond of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi more than any other festivals. I never really understood then, why I loved this festival so much. It was just a feeling which I never cared to understand. I had some other important commitments like Chatting, Watching Tv, Hanging out with friends, Playing games, (It does not include studies though) etc. And it is an obvious inference that I had my own “justified” reasons. 😉

I never really thought that I would get the answer of that question, in my early 20s, while writing a blog, away from the heart of the region where this festival is celebrated. May be because “We never care to understand these dynamics of life when we are busy being a part of it. We only get to think about them in a distant land, when we are not a part of it and we have a little time to introspect.” If any of my NRI friends are reading this, they’ll definitely relate to what I just said. Well, moving on.

The basic, most important and also interesting reason behind this being one of the loved festivals of India irrespective of caste, religion, race, class etc. is its genesis. In order to understand the spirit of the festival and its pan-Indian appeal it is really important to understand how and why it was started. This festival has its genesis during the reign of Shivaji. It was confined to only some parts of Maharashtra and it gradually declined during Marathas. However, in the real sense, the festival was revived and got a pan-Indian appeal only during the Indian Freedom Struggle by Lokmanya Tilak. The motivation behind starting this festival, may seem religious in appeal, it was very much secular in character and spirit. The main aim was not to start a Hindu festival but as a Gathering to increase the cohesion in the Indian Society and the feeling of Nationalism among masses to direct the Freedom struggle against British. So, basically, Ganesh Chaturthi is by its nature a Modern and a Secular more than a Religious festival. Thus, every person celebrating it can relate to this festival irrespective of religion, class, race and ethnicity. Needless to say, we can definitely see the success of his vision. However, it had some long term consequences too but we won’t get into that in this Article.

Apart from the above reasons, there are some more reasons which I’m sure every person around the country would relate to.

During school days, Ganesh Chaturthi mostly used to come before or during the mid-term exams. Well, naturally, one of the reasons why It was my personal favorite was that Mom always used to say that Lord Ganesha is the Sukhakarta and Dukhaharta (harbinger of happiness and dispeller of distress), so i would immediately relate it with the most important life problem at that time which was my Exam or some of the favors that I yearned for :-D. So naturally, I used to put my heart and soul in the preparations of Ganesh Chaturthi. (The result of my Exams would be the same though, irrespective of my prayers. If I got low marks, I used to think that Lord Ganesha has punished me because I studied less.)

This initial excitement was followed by another one. I loved to observe my Grandmother decorating the place with all excitement where the Idol was supposed to be installed. I and my brother would help her out with the rearrangement of the visiting hall, installing the fancy lights. We had an electronic wheel made of thermocol, which we used to place behind the head of the Idol (sort of a symbol of wisdom) and it used to run 24×7. The idol looked beautiful with all this arrangement. Then, I loved assisting my Grandparents or Dad to finalize the Ganesh idol. While purchasing the idol, a child is entrusted with the responsibility of finalizing and carrying the mouse on the first day and immersing it in the River on the last day. So, while visiting the shops my responsibility was to find the most attractive mouse among the lot and I always used to get disappointed because, the mouse used to be the same for all the idols, unless we purchase a Large idol. Things changed when I grew up, but the feelings did not. One of the things that changed was that now I entrusted my responsibility to my younger sibling and I got promoted with my dad’s responsibility. :-D. Legacy, you see!

So, the first time when we get to hear the loud, unabashed, proud cheering of “Ganpati Bappa Moriya” was at this time, when people bring the idol in their homes, as a symbol of excitement to welcome Lord Ganesha. And my voice would be the loudest, for obvious reasons, most important reason being “Exams”! This used to mark the 1st day of Ganesh Chaturthi. The following days used to be a simultaneous mixture of excitement and tension. Tension obviously because of exam but excitement because in these 8-9 days, we had to visit all the installed idols of the town. While in school, I used to get the opportunity of watching all those idols only in the weekends when my Dad got some free time. I loved visiting the idols with my Family and Friends. My favorite ones were the one which included some cave feature including the dark, running water inside the caves or some idols which had some electronic movements with them.  Well, for the rest of the days, I used to study and pray to God.

On the 10th i.e. the last day we are supposed to immerse the idol (and the mouse ;-)) in the water as a symbol of seeing off Lord Ganesha, with the cheering “Pudhcya Varshi Lavkar Ya (Come soon next year)”. During school days, on the last day, we used to invite all the friends, teachers and relatives for the feast and it was also sort of a reunion. We used to have a blast the whole day and by the evening, we used to immerse idol in the water. Back in the school days, I did not personally like this day, because nobody likes to see-off a guest. But I was told that when Lord Ganesha goes he takes away all the distress of people. Some of the distress used to return though, in the form of my results! 😀 Anyway, gradually, when I went to college the last day became one of the most memorable days of the year. :-D. During my college days, when I was in Nagpur, on the last day, we used to participate in the most happening and the most crowded rally with the loudest DJ and dance like anything in the midst of thousands. I can still vividly remember everything. However, among all the last days, the most memorable last day dance was that of 2014 in Pune. If you are in a city, and sitting at home on the last day, then you are definitely missing on something really awesome which you are going to regret. I loved it in Pune partly because of the huge scale of crowd and celebration in Pune being the city of origin. It is really worth participating. But the more important reason was that I participated it with my school friends, it was more of a reunion again. We all met on that day and danced our asses off in the celebration, participating in every group until 12 pm. Adding to our excitement, it rained that day, so it was the best thing that could have happened that day. :-D.

Guys, whatever you do, it’s not legendary, unless your friends are not there to enjoy it with you.

I may not be enjoying all these dynamics of a festival today but I can definitely relive the memories that I have savored in all these years. And according to me, the most effective method of channeling and reliving my nostalgia is Writing!

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi, everyone. Have a blast. And Dance on the last day.

I am Kalam!

It was just in the morning that I was reading about the Office of Profit Bill which the then President Dr. Kalam had refused to give approval. And just out of curiosity, I clicked on his Wikipedia page which said “Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was an Indian scientist and politician ………etc….. ” and now, before writing this Article when I saw it again, It said the same (though in different context)! I did not realize the significance of what an irony a word “was” could create in my life until this evening! Indeed it is one of those sad moments of the country’s history when most of the citizens of this country are sharing a common feeling of losing someone very important. It is the moment when the people belonging to the spectrum of different ideologies, castes, race, religion, class are sharing the same feeling. It is the moment when a person who knows even the slightest or no information about Dr. Kalam would share the same feeling. Like you all, I too shared the same feeling, so I went again on his Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._P._J._Abdul_Kalam and read the whole excerpt. And though I had already read all his books, and may have been his fanboy since college, I was really happy and motivated by the life he has lived. All those important instances in his life went by in just few minutes and I wondered if this 12-15 mins of reading could give so much of strength and motivation to a person like me, how much exciting would have been for him to live that life.

No wonder we love to call him “People’s President”!

He may have been one of the greatest scientists of India worthy enough to be called the Missile man of India. He received innumerable accolades and civilian honors of highest decree not just within India but also globally. Why would UN celebrate 15th October as “World’s Students Day”. Why would a country celebrate the day of his visit to their country as the “Science Day”. However, he was indifferent to such material belongings. Starting with selling the newspaper at the age of 8 as a boy struggling his way for an upward mobility in the class struggle, to his unilateral victory in the Presidential elections of 2002, he had one of the most unifying and motivating appeal among his contemporaries too!

2002 could have been one of those rarest moments in history of Indian Politics when UPA and NDA would have been on the same side looking forward to his leadership as the “First Citizen of India”!

When he was serving India in the Presidential capacity, he redefined the role of President as being the Nominal Head of India. He outlined his vision for our country in his book “India -2020” which is an insightful book to read. And how can we forget his autobiography “Wings of Fire”! After he completed the term of President, he did not stop there, he made sure he meets 100000 students in his 2 years inspiring and igniting every bit of their scientific temper and rationalism as he could. He loved the company of young people, especially the High School students. He was a terrific writer, a poet and how can we forget his inspirational quotes!

No wonder why he was nominated twice as the youth icon of the year and that too in his 70s!

And the most motivating and inspiring moment of his life was today evening!

He was 83. Still, he chose not to sit at home, watching Comedy Nights or counting the remaining days of his life. He was still doing what he loved! Inspiring people! His last tweet was “Going to Shillong… to take course on Livable Planet Earth at IIM”. I mean while we are sitting here, complaining about our little problems and crying over it, regretting our mistakes, this bachelor overrode all these boundaries and lived a life of such stature with such humility and grounded virtues.

If I was Kalam, I would have been satisfied that the last moments of my life, the last things that I would remember would not be a wheelchair or a disease which I would be helpless to cure, but a lecture, a lecture which was one of the passions of my life! As a fan, I am glad that he lived such an honorable life that even his last moments were as honourable and as inspirational to a person as anonymous as me!

We are going to celebrate your life all my life Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam! You will be missed!

P.S = The title is dedicated to one of my most favourite films “I am Kalam”. This is one of the perfect portrayal of what influences, personalities like Mr. Kalam have on the people of this country. The following part of the screenplay is one of my favourite scenes of the movie. “The letter” – It was written by a child working at a dhaba to President at the end of the movie about how Mr. Kalam  changed his life. It goes as follows

“Respected Mr. President. The fewer my words the more I mean. Consider this letter a telegram and give me a quick reply. I am a boy who work in a road side hotel, the one whose life, you have changed. I have understood that every child can become Lal Bahadur Shastri and President Kalam too. That is all I want to say. And yes, I want to Thank You too. Your most obedient student, Kalam”

P.P.S = People who have not watched the movie, you are missing something really imp. Go and watch the movie and before that, for those of you who want to pay a tribute, reading his wikipedia page would be the least you could do. It is definitely more interesting than this Article. :-)! Link is given below

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._P._J._Abdul_Kalam

Nepal Disaster vis-a-vis Controversy over the role of media

There has been a lot of ado over the role of Indian media in the Nepal Earthquake few weeks ago. Earthquakes are one of the most horrendous National (rather Global) Disasters considering the fact that – in our present state of knowledge, earthquakes can neither be prevented nor predicted in terms of their magnitude, or place and time of occurrence. Also, unlike other disasters, the damages caused by it are more devastating.

There has been much of Twitterati outrage with the hashtag #IndianMediaGoHome because of the perceived insensitivity, boisterousness and jingoism that attracted the ire of some sections of the society. So, let us first chalk out what exactly is the role of Media during the disaster situation.

  1. Before a catastrophe, they can warn the population about the upcoming disaster + prepare them for the worst by Disaster Literacy Campaigns, Disaster preparedness and improve the response mechanism @ the local level.
  2. During the Disasters, they give live feed of the grass root level happenings which is definitely helpful to the victims to get the relief measures from the aiding agencies, information exchange etc.
  3. They spread the noble word of mobilizing aid monetary and non-monetary aid efforts not only from the mother country but from other countries as well.
  4. They act as a check and balance for the potential leakages that may compound the already distressed victims leading to transparency and accountability and increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of relief efforts.
  5. After the Disaster, they can help in mobilizing the funds for the rehabilitation and can act as a sustainable supplement to the Organs of a country.
  6. One can add as much positives to the role of media in such sensitive situations. The above points are representative and not exhaustive.

But, what concerns me as an unbiased citizen of India is the perceived negativity over Indian Media as a whole. The hashtag #IndianMediaGoHome not only compounds an issue as grave as Earthquake, but also disrespects the appreciation of genuine efforts of even a few. This generalization of few and its perceived negativity is definitely the last thing that I would defend. I have been following most of the news coverage regarding Nepal disaster covered by most of the channels and I would present some of my disappointments and clarifications about the negative perception that is prevailing in some sections of the society about the jingoism, insensitivity and boisterousness of Indian Media in its endeavour in Nepal.

Insensitivity of few!

  1. Yes, I agree that there has been some incidents where the insensitivity displays at the forefront among some of the journalists. But more than the insensitivity, what I perceive is A Serious Lacking of Common sense and maturity among them in such a situation. I’ll demonstrate it with an Example.
  2.  If you are one of the victims who has been stuck under the rubble for 2 days, without having a drop of water or a bite of food, and has been rescued; brought to the relief camps and while you are heading to the camp, a journalist walks besides you and asks you about your close call with the disaster + some insensitive questions; obviously you are supposed to be annoyed. It can be inferred that the journalist clearly lacks some common sense = instead of helping the victim emotionally or physically, he is craving on his vulnerability in the lieu of getting some sensationalized news. There was a story in ‘The Hindu’ yesterday that when a man in the same situation refused to answer the questions of a journalist and when he called his home who had not received his whereabouts, the journalist recorded his conversation secretly and aired on TV!
  3. Now one can argue that he did the right thing by airing it on TV and that the family can heave a sigh of relief. Yes, agreed. But my concern is that it was a matter of common sense that First let the person take rest for sometime, help him in getting some healthcare and food, let him come out of his heightened emotional distress which would have been greatly reduced when he called his family and then with his consent ask for the interview. It is a clear common sense that a person who has just been rescued from the rubble will definitely seek some healthcare and dietary aid instead of giving an interview.
  4. If such protocols were adopted then the demeaning acts of a few could not have become a generalized attribute to the Indian Media.

Some insensitivity was also found among a comedy collective called “Nepali Pranksters” as they were about to pull a prank over someone just before the Earthquake happened. Initially, they were insensitive but later their efforts in helping the people was commendable and I will appreciate it because they were among the first responders to the situation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfRpGGdQ4pQ. Now, surely this video can be a matter of debate.

About Going Back Home!

  1. As much as I deny my appreciation to such journalists, I do not welcome the Twitterati hashtags as well. Internet is such an Egalitarian platform that there are some fallouts of the Internet as a secular medium and the anonymity it provides. One does not give the authority to any anonymous immature hashtag creator to spread such messages which would demean the Media of any country which is the fourth pillar of a democracy.
  2. I do not say that one should not report the irregularities in some organs of the State, creating a hashtag while sitting at home, idle, and universalizing actions of a few is not a mature action as well.
  3. It is not going to drive Indian Media Home, definitely not until the last survivor is rehabilitated and recompensated for the unbearable loss that he has faced.
  4. So, my fellow netizen, if at all you want to bring change in the system, there are grievance redressal mechanisms which are opportunities for you to get into n administrative role despite being a layman.
  5. I would request you that as much as you utilize every last minute of the battery of your Android or Laptop to create such hashtags, you should also support it with some concrete evidence, mere hurling stones at someone won’t work.
  6. Yes, I agree with you that some moral standards and common sense and rationale must be there in such people, but it is the universalization of Indian Media that I condemn.

Solutions

“It is imperative that television revisits the basic rules of journalistic ethics during disaster reporting. Regardless of how important they imagine it is to wring an emotional response from audiences, they must refrain from sticking microphones in the faces of survivors who may have just lost everything. ‘People’s right to know’ just does not apply here. Nobody has a right to know how much anyone else is grieving. Instead, it is the survivor who has an absolute right to privacy. The only right way to get a human angle to the reporting is to ask for consent, make a full disclosure of how and where it will be aired, keep the questions brief, and not push for emotional outbursts. Also, when rescue choppers landed, survivors were dismayed to find TV crews taking up space they believed should have been left for relief material. In a disaster, relief must take primacy over media privilege. Indeed, it must be seen to take precedence. A disaster of this magnitude leaves in its wake traumatised families that have lost everything in one fell swoop. Ethical journalism must place humanity above professional urgency” (Copy pasted from today’s article of ‘The Hindu’ – Mikes in the Time of Disaster).

Discuss among yourself and your peer groups some solutions in the times of disaster, how you can you respond  and submit it to the government – you are supposed to contribute to your country by providing constructive solutions instead of creating a sensation because of some of the miscreants.

Some solutions before, during or after Earthquake = Spread the word

  1. The most effective measures of risk reduction are pre-disaster mitigation, preparedness & preventive measures. Since Earthquakes also destroys transport and communication links, providing timely relief to the victims becomes difficult. Hence the above methods should be combined w expeditious & effective rescue and relief actions immediately after the occurrence of the earthquake.
  2. Establishing earthquake monitoring centers for regular monitoring and fast dissemination of information among the people (Role of Media) in the vulnerable areas. Use of GPS can be of great help in monitoring the movement of tectonic plates.
  3. Preparing a vulnerability map of the country and dissemination of vulnerability risk information among the people.
  4. Educating the people about the ways and means minimizing the adverse impacts of disasters.
  5. Modifying the house types and building designs in the vulnerable areas and discouraging construction of high-rise buildings, large industrial establishments and big urban centers in such areas.
  6. Finally, making it mandatory to adopt earthquake-resistant designs and use light materials in major construction activities in the vulnerable areas.t

And then they say “Marriages are sacrosanct”!

First things first, I would like to give credit where its due. The trends in the Indian society are definitely heartwarming. Due to increasing penetration of Internet and reducing gap of digital divide in the society, added to the Demographic Dividend, I can proudly say that there is an increasing trend in the participation of Indian society, as a whole + pro-actively. Be it Nirbhaya, IAC protest, Net Neutrality, National Disasters, there is a rise in the participation rate of people as a whole. So, I would also like you all to discuss / start discussing the issue among yourselves of “Marital Rape” – if it is to be criminalized or not.

In this session of Parliament, government (even Parliamentary committee) rejected the recommendation of Verma Committee that Marital Rape should be criminalized. Presently, it is exempted. I would like to enquote the justification cited by them “Entire Family system would be brought under great stress if the marital rape is brought under law. It cannot be suitable to Indian context due to various factors. One of them is that Indian society considers marriage as sacrosanct”.

Let us see first, why such mindset is persisting chronically in the Indian society

For this we have to navigate back to the Ancient India, because it is very important to analyse why such a mindset is deeply penetrated in the Indian society. For this please give a bit of time to conceptually understand why the importance of women declined in Ancient India. Only then, you will be able to understand the subsequent write-up.  https://engineeringmescopehain.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/this-will-enrich-your-knowledge-and-thought-process-about-the-status-of-women-in-the-society-things-that-we-dont-know/ . Thus, gradually, the importance of women nosedived in the Mauryan age, where Women were subordinated to Men. And the culmination of this subordination was that, Women were treated as the property of Menfolks. And this destructive attribute became so consolidated that it began to be considered that women should travel with the Men in the next world too, perpetuating the tradition of “Sati”. Such destructive attributes gradually got penetrated in the Indian society and got deeply entrenched as what we see today as the Patriarchal Indian society. And, though remotely related, non consensual sex (or its worse form – Marital Rape) is a corollary of this Patriarchal mindset.

Definition of Rape

“Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration perpetrated against a person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent.”

So, when such a definition is globally accepted, India is not an exception to this definition. Rape within marriage is a social reality. A Rape is a Rape in any possible situation, even within the marriage. We need to understand and recognize this. Women’s bodily integrity, dignity and autonomy cannot be violated according to any law of a modern society. It should be an obvious inference that in the veil of marriage or even intimate relationship, you cannot coerce a women into sexual intercourse without their consent by a man, in any aggression, exploitation, brutalization is uncalled for. If she protests or calmly refuses the desire of a man, then she is subjected to physical violence by some men in the fate of drunken, aggressive or frustrated mood. It also violates the Equality of consent in a marriage.

And then they say “Marriages are sacrosanct”.

In this era, when the situation of the patriarchy in the society is getting eroded albeit at a snail’s pace, but it is definitely being eroded and the increasing voices of women about their endeavors in such situations testifies the assertion. In such a scenario, one needs to understand that to transform a mindset of the society is a juggernaut of task but such moves by the government somewhere contradicts the efforts in What we call it as a “Women Empowerment”.

Marriages are sacrosanct in India

  1. Now, this is a question of debate. Yes, it is sacrosanct up to a certain extent. But, the real concern is, there are many countries which have criminalized Marital Rape. Are they not sacrosanct in such countries where Marital Rape is criminalized?
  2. Secondly, Family is already subjected to a lot of stress, especially the family of a girl, when such issues are part of their lives which compounds the already ongoing issues of safety, security, dowry, child marriage, divorce etc. The gravity of the situation is so much that, because of this fear, a woman is not able to discuss such issues even with the family members. Plus, we have a convention that if anything goes wrong in a marriage, then it is mostly the woman who is to be blamed, who is to get infamous, who is to suffer all moral policing.

And then they say “Marriages are sacrosanct”!

Solution / Conclusion

  1. Now, I would say that one should recognize first of all that, Marital Rape is a crime. Yes, marriages are sacrosanct, subject to dignity, equality, consensus, mutual understanding, respect, autonomy of decisions. It is beyond anyone’s comprehensive capability (and stuff like that!) to prove how sacrosanct it is.  Agreed. But, can we make it a justification for not to criminalize Marital Rape considering all the deeply entrenched issues we, as a society are facing? No.
  2. Secondly, we need to understand the role of the citizens of India to educate the masses about the sensitivity and conceptual understanding of such issues at all the levels of society – rural as well as urban. Government alone cannot transform the mindset of the society without the participation of its stakeholders. Issues need to be discussed at all levels, within the peer groups and sphere of influence. Solution should come from bottom to top and not top to bottom.
  3. If Marital Rape is criminalized, separate safeguards may be provided subject to misuse of such laws.

It will definitely go in the long way to preserve and improve the moral fabric of the society.

Role of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar in Contemporary India..

Every individual know some thing or the other about Dr. BabaSaheb Ambedkar.

  1. Some of us know of him as a man on the highest level of constitutional intellectual spectrum.
  2. Some of us know him as an ardent defender of Dalit voice in India.
  3. Some of us know him as a social reformer striving hard to bring some inherent changes in the Hindu society, his efforts to eradicate the deeply entrenched caste system in Indian society.
  4. Some of us know him as a man of sheer courage, a persuasive orator.
  5. Some of us know him as the Chairman of Drafting Committee.
  6. Some of us know him as a jurist, a law minister of post independent India.
  7. Some of us know him as an Economist so respected that Amartya Sen called him the ‘Father of his economics’.
  8. Some of us know him for his ideological debates on Caste system with Gandhiji.

Yet, I feel he has been very much influential in uniting all the Citizens of India irrespective of Race, Religion, Caste, Sex or Place of Birth. He is one of the many influential personalities whose presence can be felt unconsciously in every sphere. In the contemporary India, let me present you some facts of how he, along with many other Constitutionalists consolidated the post-independent situation, prevented chaos and displayed sheer foresightedness which was very significant in uniting India as a Nation.

His contribution as the Chairman of Drafting Committee led to one of the most effective Constitutions of the World.

Constitution vis-a-vis Polity, Religion, Culture etc.:

  1. Given the fact that India has so much of cultural diversity, even after around 68 years of India, our Constitution has been effective in maintaining the psychological and territorial unity and integrity of India.
  2. At the time of Independence when our leaders had to teach the illiterate and ignorant people of India about the significance of voting, we have come a long way to get the highest voting percentage of 66.4% last year. We have seen many established parties shake to the rock bottom in this Lok Sabha and other State Elections.
  3. We have seen the spectrum of movements in post independent era – from terrorism – secessionism – linguism – regionalism – communalism and all the other ‘isms’ to progressive movements like Environmental movements, Anti corruption movements, demanding more transparency and accountability in the structural mechanisms of the polity, enactment of Right to Information Act.
  4. We have seen India’s growing awareness and participation in the political realm which transcend the conventional scenario where earlier it was a top down legislation process but by the revolutionary reforms like 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 which embodied Panchayati Raj to the recent Lokpal agitation and other such progressive acts.

And all these things could definitely not have been achieved without the foresightedness and intellectual capacity of Indian leaders of the Freedom Struggle of which Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was an integral and inseparable part. His presence can be strongly felt in the enactment of Constitution as a whole and some of the provisions of the Constitution given below.

Constitution (Fundamental Rights) vis-a-vis Society, Religion, Culture, Customs:

  1. Though it was borrowed from USA’s Magna Carta of Fundamental Rights, it was because of him and his colleagues that the Fundamental Rights were thoroughly Indianized in letter and spirit. Each and every Right is important but the relevance for contemporary India can be essentially seen in the following 3 points.
  2. He realized the significance of dignity of an individual and taught us that it is the most important base without which a person cannot strive towards excellence in all spheres in his individual capacity and thereby towards the National interest. He included Article 17 ‘Abolition of Untouchability’ and thereby addressed the inherent flaws in the Indian Culture.
  3. He realized some other forms of discrimination against Women, Backward Castes, Tribals so much that he turned it into an “Affirmative Action” (A policy designed to redress past discrimination against women and minority groups through measures to improve their economic and educational opportunities) by which we could achieve the goals and aspirations of people of India for an Egalitarian society in the Articles 15, 16 which is ‘Right to Equality’. It safeguards the Secular fabric of Indian society.
  4. He gave us the most important aspect of an individual more than anything else i.e. Article 25 – Freedom of Conscience, Right to profess, practice and propogate religion. More than the religion aspect, the matter of conscience is a primary factor because it is the attribute which deals with the inner freedom of an individual to mould his relation with God or creatures in whatever way he desires. It consolidates and safeguards the Ethical and Moral fabric of Indian society.

I get overwhelmed with pride and motivation when I read about the society of pre-independent India and when I witness the Indian society of 2015. We have come a long way since then and we as a society has just improved. The relevance of Constitution just keep on increasing every day. All this definitely could not be possible had there been no Ambedkar and of course others, but today is his birthday, so my focus is him.

Mr. Ambedkar, you are an inspiration for many and your ideas and legacy transcends all the religion, caste, sex, place of birth and race barriers and is way beyond it. Constitution of India is also one of the many things common to each and every Indian and I take opportunity on behalf of all my Indian Citizens.

“We Thank You for keeping us united amidst all the divisions (though a Thank you isn’t enough)”.

And at last, Happy Birthday.

Tirupati Red Sandalwood cutters encounter.

Story: 100 Woodcutters illegally cutting the IUCN – Endangered category trees ‘Red Sandalwood’ in Seshachalam forest in Eastern Ghats. Red sanders Anti-Smuggling task force (RSASTF) asked them to surrender which the people refused and they started an “attack by sickles, stone pelting etc.”. For the so called “self defense”, they opened fire which led to the killing of 20.

Report of 3rd April in The Hindu, Dr. Suresh said that DIG of STF Kanta Rao had sought permission from the State govt to open fire on red sanders smugglers as an “effective move(!)” to curb wood smuggling. If the permission is given or not is a matter not known, but the incident definitely calls for an action.

Issues Involved:

Impact of Illegal Logging:

  • Illegal logging contributes to deforestation and by extension global warming, causes loss of biodiversity and undermines the rule of law.
  • These illegal activities undermine responsible forest management, encourage corruption and tax evasion and reduce the income of the producer countries, further limiting the resources producer countries can invest in sustainable development.
  • Illegal logging has serious economic and social implications for the poor and disadvantaged as the mobilization of resources is accompanied with the losses.
  • Furthermore, the illegal trade of forest resources undermines international security, and is frequently associated with corruption, money laundering, organized crime, human rights abuses and, in this case, violent conflict. Such acts destabilize international markets.
  • This unfair competition affects those European companies, especially the small and medium sized companies that are behaving responsibly and ready to play by fair rules.t3. Indian Constitution + Human Rights: Article 21 confers the inalienable Right to Life to the woodcutters. Plus, it forms an integral part of the Natural Human Rights which are universal. NHRC has taken a suo motu action seeking report from the Tamil Nadu police for this unacceptable act.
  1. Woodcutters vis-a-vis Anti Smuggling Task Force: It was definitely an illegal act what the woodcutters did, but opening fire against them was not a good option either. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Supreme Court said that ‘We are aware of the fact that Indian police have to perform a difficult and delicate task, particularly when many hardcore criminal, extremists, terrorists, mafia, smugglers have taken strong roots in the society. But the extra-judicial killings , if not justified amounts to culpable homicide. They amount to State sponsored Terrorism.’
  2. Schemes – Livelihood: These people have taken recourse to illegal acts as their livelihood somewhere reflects the repudiation of the downward filtration theory of our schemes which have not been able to penetrate, enlighten and convince such tribals of the illegality of the acts. The prevailing illiteracy, unemployment and poverty may be partially responsible.
  3. Use of Violence in Law Enforcement: Citing an attack of stones and sickles as a reason to open random fire against them was definitely uncalled for. This situation could have been dealt in a better way thinking of some alternatives. They could have called some additional staff for their aid. Or could have informed the nearby stations to seize all the checkposts and then they could have arrested them and the case could have been legible.
  4. Lack of Awareness: Some of them do not even know that what they are doing is illegal, some negative  elements lure them and drag them in this act and to earn some extra bucks, they do not refuse.
  5. The real issue is still unresolved: Woodcutters are only a small part of the well-networked tree-felling mafia, which enjoys the support of rich smugglers and powerful politicians. Not surprisingly, political parties in Tamil Nadu, the home-State of the woodcutters, and civil rights organisations suspect a deeper conspiracy and have sought a probe into the whole episode.

Impacts on:

  1. Society: Such incidents definitely create some infamous examples of handling a situation. The life of the local population gets disrupted with such acts. It erodes the public trust in bureaucracy, police and is not in favour of the national interest.
  2. Administration: It raises disturbing questions about police accountability and disproportionate use of force.Instead of consolidating the law and order situation, such acts further aggravate the issues and send a negative impression of the department as a whole.
  3. International: This hampers the International opinion about the safeguarding of the human rights in India.

Solutions:

  1. The red sanders smuggling operations are controlled by powerful elements and the best way to control them is for the Andhra police to have an intensive intelligence programme. In this they can seek the help of the Tamil Nadu police.
  2. In order to prevent such incidents, greater coordination between the States that share borders with Andhra Pradesh, proper checks using even drone surveillance technology and electronic barriers may be needed.