Saturday, January 31, 2009

Indian 'talibani' Senas VS Valentine's day! Please stay safe (what not to do on valentine's day) and keep loving.

The festival of Love is coming! And here in India we will again (hopefully not) witness a mass hatred against those involved in the celebrations. The Shiv, Ram, Bajarang, and all other senas and dals will come out on the streets and hit innocent people relentlessly and shamelessly. The numerous such incidents in the past will have no effect on the governing bodies and the festival of love would get tainted yet again.

I sincerely hope that the valentines day realizes its true meaning in India as well this year. I was watching a movie based on the famous novel The Kite Runner today and could not help but notice the similarity of the Talibani elements in Afghanistan and these self proclaimed moral police in India in the modern times. Hate articles have flooded the Internet and the land of Gandhi is being tarnished by lame and shameless acts of violence in the name of religion, culture. Young boys and girls who should be encouraged to spread love are advised not to venture out on Valentine's day.
While a number of people are thinking of ways to express their love for someone special in the most imaginative way on 14th of Feb, there are others who are busy calculating the political mileage they would get by ransacking a gift shop or a flower mart.
When bhagwan Ram said that a time would come when nothing would be right he may have been right. Contrary to what the opening dialogue of the famous movie Love Actually says love is actually missing from this planet now. Everywhere we go we find messages of hate expressed at the expense of other's lives.

It is sad to say this but there are a few precautions that one must take in India this valentine's day:

  • Don't flash your love on the streets.
  • Try to stay at home or at best go to a party hosted at a friend's home.
  • Do not venture into a pub, disco (even in places like Bangalore we have seen pretty sad things in the past)
  • Make sure you leave the celebration, party, date at the first sign of any sort of disturbance, please do not stay back to become a victim.

We need to firm up a political and social will against such acts of cultural terrorism. Signature campaigns, free hugs moments, rallies, blogosphere propaganda and anything else that you can think of and are capable of doing, please do it. We are a free nation we must tell these mentally handicapped culture-less senas this.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

5 girls thrashed by 40 men for consuming alcohol in Mangalore


5 girls having lunch in a pub in Mangalore attacked by 40 hooligans calling themselves part of a self fashioned moral police party named Sri Ram Sena.

They reportedly barged into the pub in the afternoon today and went on a rampage destructing the premises and hitting whoever they could find. Everyone was beaten and the girls were so severely beaten that 2 of them are in a critical condition in a hospital. When I heard this news I logged into orkut to check the kind of reactions the India Community (popularly known as IC) on orkut was reflecting. I was ashamed to find many people either supporting the incident or providing 'reasons' behind the occurrence.
This is not the first time that such a thing has happened in our country. There was the valentine's day terror, the Merut park bashing, the mumbai molestation (the 'reason' given was that the girl was roaming on the streets of mumbai, drunk, at 2:30 in the night; a huge mob molested this poor girl; she is yet to get justice). There are a few things that need to be done right away:

  • Find all the 40 men and punish them in the most severe way possible

  • If there are no strong laws to protect innocent people from such shocking incidents, make them.

  • Make it mandatory for every small party (political or non-political in nature) to register itself and publish all its agendas.

  • Ban the parent parties of all such organisations. (Shiv Sena is believed to be the parent party of Sri Ram Sena).

  • Publish the photos of all the people involved in such incidents in local newspapers and print them in public places like inside buses, etc.

The most shameful aspect of all these episodes is that such things are done in the name of 'The great Indian culture'. Hitting unarmed women black and blue was never part of my Indian culture.

I would not be surprised if the same people who hit these people (and women especially) for consuming alcohol in that particular pub are later found celebrating their 'success' over a mug of beer in the establishment of some doomed leader!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Black Man occupies the White House


At around 10:30 PM last night, there was a sudden rush near the TV sets at my hostel. I wondered what it was for ?? a new episode of MTV Roadies or an Arsenal vs ManU, the telecast of STAR Screen Awards or the worst fears in the minds of every Indian, another Terrorist Attack.
As soon as I entered the room I understood that all my friends how are getting ready to dawn managerial roles in the corporate world assembled to watch Barack Obama's Swearing in Ceremony.

I thought twice but I could not recollect myself having watched Pratibha Patel's Swearing Ceremony. I asked people around and they too had similar things to say. Like me, a few had probably watched ex-President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalaam's entry into the Rastrapati Bhavan . So it boils down to the fact that at times a person or an individual attracts more attention than an event or activity.

This man is stepping into the critical position at one of the worst times in US economy. Most people in the United States and other parts of the globe are eagerly waiting to see the "CHANGE" that this man has promised to bring about. He is entering the White House with the burden of numerous hopes and aspirations for better governance and bringing radical change across sectors for the revival of the US Economy.

But then I don't know who would really serve as the best example in Indian context. If we speak about Dr. Kalaam, then yes; both can been seen as a welcome change in their respective political setup. In case of Pratibha Patil, while Obama is the first Blank Man in White House, she is the first lady to become a Rashtrapati (President). So the idea here is that CHANGES are happening in India since long.

Last General Elections we elected the first Sikh as our Prime Minister. A man who was primarily responsible for the great Indian growth story as the finance minister in 1990s was bestowed greater responsibilities.
Even the President of the Party having the highest stake in the current government is not an Indian by birth. So while America is welcoming a person from a minority Community we Indians have had moved beyond all these. We have had all the ranks in our governance held by people from diverse backgrounds and representing various sections of the society.

We have had a stage where our President was a Muslim, Prime Minister a Sikh, President of the Leading Party a Christian, whose father-in-law was a Parsi, and the leader of Opposition - a Hindu.

But then when it comes to evaluating their performance, we don't have new standards,any benchmarks or regulations. In the coming General elections we expect to vote more prudently and have a more responsible, committed politicians* at power and doing things right. All magazines are predicting that the younger generation of politicians would be the instrument of the real change. Lets wait with optimism and see how things turn out in months from now.

* I guess after the recent protests, they would soon come up with a new word to describe themselves, as "politician" has become quite a negative word these days

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Madame! It happens only in India


Fashion ka Jalwa

Disclaimer: I am not one of those typical orthodox people that you may come across, these are just a few observations of a modern Indian.

I was going through the Times of India, Pune edition, wherein I happened to notice a picture of an array of models with the heading "How the South was won !! " in the Pune Times supplement. It took me 3-4 readings to understand what exactly the article and pics were for. It was about Pantaloons Femina Miss India South 2009. The article read:

"Glamour, fashion, nerves and entertainment - it was all there in a good measure as the search for the face of the South brought us to the finale of the Pantaloons Femina Miss India South 2009……….."

Till now I knew that every year we have girls from all parts of our country aspiring to be big names in the world of fashion competing for the "Miss India" title and the top contestants represent our country in similar contests held at international platform.

But I was a little surprised to notice that we even have further divisions to it in the name of Miss South India and East India and so on..

Further the surprising fact was the names of winners – Faith Pandey, Ragini Dwidevi and Zara Shah. Could not help wondering who amongst these is a "South Indian" because the article was about the victory of South.

Well, looking at it from one perspective, one can actually compliment that these results show us the way the country is getting united and the population diversified.

But then there is a hind side as well.

I am not sure as to how many of you have noticed this ad by CEAT, calling "Change" to be good, refreshing and what not!! But I wonder if we could really generalize it that way.

I am an Indian from the southern part of the country. A place where a majority of people still prefer their tradition food to the modern junk. A Place where a majority of people still prefer classical music to metal. Where Engineering and Medical are treated as synonyms of graduation; where people are still following the good old saying – Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. A place where investing in gold is always treated as the best (if not the only) investment; where rice and curd are a must at meals (lunch), where people are so devoted to the so called God's that they go to the extent of praising actors by building temples ;)

But things are changing here, as as per my observation more drastically than in other parts of the country. The young generation of India does not identify itself with their place of origin. We are all equal, speak with a common slang, eat similar food, have similar good/bad habits and even wear similar attire and the word we use to describe all this is - Fashion.

In this unification drive though we have gained a lot, but we never realize the things we lost. One of the identities of Indian women is a "bindi" a mark on her forehead which (I think) enhances her beauty. But now it is almost an endangered species, and is treated as a fashion item restricted to marriages or few other special occasions. Very similar is the state of bangles and other ethnic ornaments.

How many teenagers do we see endorsing this?? More so if you are following the TV soaps, its always the actors in negative roles who promote this, and I have no clue why is that so..

It's not just the question of bindis, even some of our traditional clothes have lost the race in this fast world. A south Indian traditional dress called "Thaavani" which for common understanding could be termed as half saree has almost become extinct now. Not long back it used to be the most common attire for all women of this region, but these days it's only the kurtas, jeans and western attire that sell.

Khadi is dubbed as a costume meant for social activists and politicians. Similar would have been the fate of many other traditional Indian wears.

But something which struck me the most, is the use of white lungis or dhotis (not sure what exactly they are) by people of all ages here in Chennai. There, I found both young and the old switch to this traditional wear while at home. Actually, this is what is making me write this post. I just came back from a trip to Chennai where I found most guys and uncles in my colony roaming around with these white lungis, and the girls yapping around in different clothes, that I better not describe.

So just the way we are trying to protect the national animal and other species from extinction, we should also try to think of ways of protect even these traditional Indian costumes, so that the next generation atleast get to know about our traditions.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sex and the Indian society


The attitude of Indians towards issues like sex, sexual education, AIDS and public display of affection is distressing. The country which gave ‘kamasutra’ to the world is struggling to find a balance between its culture (as advocated by the fundamentalists) and reason. Just a few months back there was this incident of a 70 year old woman being raped by 4-5 men in some village. This was a sexual punishment to an offence committed by her son.
Sex in India is still not something which can be freely discussed on a dining table within a family. There is a constant rise in the number of young couples choosing to stay in a live-in relationship in big cities which is the reason for our bollywood movies becoming more and more expressive these days but the fact remains that most small town dwellers still find it uncomfortable to talk about the 3 letter word.
Even big cities and metros like Chennai impose rules (mostly just implied) like reserving the left side of the bus for women and the right side for men and any trespass into the other territory is greeted with sullen faces or even an insult at times. In most cases the people of the opposite sex would not occupy vacant seats in the other domain. Walking hand in hand with your girlfriend, boyfriend or even spouse attracts nasty comments or/and abuses.
For a country like India where the population index beats any other index hands down it is imperative that people are made comfortable talking about condoms in public. STDs and the threat of HIV+ can be taught to people only when they are in a comfort zone when you speak of sex. If the TV in the living room get switched off when Amitabh Bachan speaks about safe sex or Shabana Azmi speaks about breast cancer, the millions spent in these awareness campaigns would just go down the drain.
We are a nation which is on the verge of making same sex relationships legal which is funny because over so many years we have not been able to accept a so called ‘normal’ relationship. Any sexual relationship which is outside the wedlock is still a taboo (and sometimes illegal as well). Sex which should be one of the most important factors in any intimate relationship is sill considered a word which may result in a broken relationship. A guy demanding sex in a pre-marital relationship is considered lecherous, the partner demanding a non-conventional sexual desire is considered unholy. Even married couples have to ‘steal’ time from their families to indulge in sexual activities (which may be part of the fun but should not be forced).
The sour fact is that the people who advocate a form of Indian culture where sex is considered evil are the same who commit sexual crimes like the one stated above, the states which have a strict code of conduct for men and women in sexual matters (or even in something as simple as sitting together) are the same that role out the maximum number of pornographic movies each year, the men who insult and ridicule the gay community are the same who indulge in pedophilic activities with young boys.
If India has to fight evils like HIV+, breast cancer, female feticide, rape, pedophilic activities, etc. we would have to stop tagging sex as evil. Embrace sex for a brighter India.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

10 things you need to know before you choose a PG accommodation


If you are looking for accommodation as a Paying Guest in a city like Bangalore, there are many ways to end up in a situation where you are paying more for a less facilitated place. It is fairly difficult to find an ideal PG where you get to stay with a family and the chances are high that the accommodation you rent is more like a hostel.
Here is a list (not comprehensive by any means) of things you should check before you enter a contract with the landlord.

1. It is important to have multiple toilets, bathrooms if you are in a ‘multiple-sharing’ room (two of more people in the same room) as all the inmates may have to leave for work at the same time. If a single facility is available it is a good idea to look for a place which has the toilet, bathroom and washbasin secluded from each other.
2. The room should get ample sunlight and must be airy. In a multiple storey building it is advisable to be placed somewhere in the middle so that you don’t have to climb a lot of stairs and at the same time your windows are not blocked by adjoining buildings.
3. Make sure that the room has multiple plug points, preferably in all corners of the room.
4. The water should be clean and fit for consumption. There may not be any means to check this but inform the landlord if and when you find any sort of rashes or infection in your skin. Warm water facility may be necessary as the morning and evening temperatures may dip very low at times.
5. The room should be in a residential area, even the presence of a cottage industry or a coaching institute can be a source of continuous disturbance and noise pollution.
6. Medical facilities, market, food facilities, etc. should be near.
7. Before entering into a commitment with the landlord, make sure that all electrical, appliances, switch boards, etc. are in perfect condition. All appliances should be properly earthed.
8. Cupboard should have locking facility. Put your own lock as the landlord/caretaker usually has a set of keys to clean your room even in your absence.
9. Make sure that no hidden charges exist. It may be advisable to enter a legal contract with the landlord. In such a case read all the clauses very carefully specially the ones which talk about the ‘minimum contract period’ and ‘notice period’ before vacating the room. The advance paid (if any) should be fully refundable with a shortest notice people possible.
10. Make sure your landlord/landlady is a sane person who understands the language you speak.