Sunday, 13 November 2011

Shamed and Scarred... The story of Rape cases in India

The Times of India last Sunday came up with a Special Report harping on a dangerous statistic. There has been an increase of 792% of rape cases in the last two decades. I,as usual, did my bit of research on the subject and the results were horrifying. According to the official statistics,in every 22 minutes, one woman in India suffers sexual harassment, either in the form of rape or molestation.

The definition of Rape is given in The Indian Penal Code, 1860. As per Section 375 of IPC, a man is said to have committed the offence of rape with a woman, under the following circumstances:

1) Sexual intercourse without the victims' will or consent

2) With her consent, when her consent has been achieved by putting her under dire threat of life or any other person's life at threat, whom the victim deems as important.

3) With her consent, when the man knows he is not her husband.

4) With her consent, when she, at the time of giving her consent was suffering from intoxication, induced or otherwise, was suffering from the unsoundness of mind and was not in a position to understand the implications or consequences of her consent.

5) With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.

For a sexual act done in the above circumstances, penetration is taken as sufficient enough to constitute an act of rape.

In most of the rape cases in India, the alleged culprits have been known to the victim as someone from the family or as distant relatives. Additional DCP and Delhi Police spokesperson, Rajan Bhagat is inclined to blame social factors more for the rise in sexual violence such as the culture of anonymity in Delhi, women being raped on the pretext of marriage and the fact that a high percentage (97% approx.) of rapists being known to the victims.

Also there has been a shift in the socio-economic status of both the rapists and their victims. Earlier, where, most of the cases would be from rural heartlands of India, where illiteracy, patriarchal families, dis empowerment of women etc played a major role, victims and culprits, in the past two decades have been hailing from urban middle class, literate backgrounds. This is an even greater cause for concern, as these men know and are fully aware of rape as an offence and its legal as well social consequences.

Experts in the field of women studies point out a glaring fact. Even countries which are way down compared to the GDP growth rates from India, treat their women better than India. Female literacy in India is at 74% compared to 96% of Iran 99% in Sri Lanka, 100% in Libya, 93% in Tunisia and 93% in Kenya. 33% of women are economically active in India as compared to 59% in Bangladesh and 61% in Sub Saharan Africa.

So what does it say about a nation that's well on the path of being an "economic Superpower", a nation which is trying for a permanent seat at the UN, a nation that could well take over China as the next military "Super power"...does India's development elude its women? Many countries which may be economically more depressed than India, may also be less aggressive towards their women. Within the nation itself, more developed regions such as Punjab are also more violent towards women.Data on women and girls released by Washington based Population Reference Bureau, earlier this year, shows that 47% of Indian women between the ages 20-24 were married by the time they were 18 years of age, a figure far higher than the average for Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Vibhuti Patel, Prof. at Mumbai's SNDT Women's University, in Africa, starvation levels are same for both men and women, while in India there tends to be a hierarchy of food distribution within families, with men and boys being fed more nutritious food, and women being fed the last and the least.

Most of the experts believe that India doesn't lack in policy or legislation for women but in implementation. For instance, despite having an inheritance law, women are often forced not to exert their rights.. in a startling revelation, the National Family Health Survey III, found that over 40% of the 1.25 lakh women surveyed in 28 state and the capital said, they had experienced domestic violence. More shockingly, 54% of the women - and 51% of the men felt it was justified.

Unfortunately the problem with India, is these reports gets written and published, with a few like me, taking to probe a little further. But again tomorrow comes, and they stop being on our consciousness, they just become stats, millions keep suffering day in and day out. Wish more women and men share and read this. Unless this keeps banging on our consciousness, we are equally guilty as the rapists. We keep raping our consciousness.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Single Girl's Diary !!!!!

No, this isn't about me being single!!!!!!... I would rather prefer writing my diary in a real one than on a public platform... this is about a column which comes in Times Life every Sunday.... I am a regular follower of the column, not because I really love it but because the writing style is really nice !!!!...

The Single Girls' Diary is rather a symbolization of all 20 something women, who are independent, earns a decent living, makes choices which "she" likes, career oriented, snazzy, and loves life, basically, its all of "US"...

But for the past few weeks, I have become a strong critic of this particular column. With all due regards to the columnist, the "diary" has increasingly become more about the guys in the protagonists' life rather than being "her life"... if you have followed the column regularly, I am sure some of you have, you'll find fashion, passion, books, interests,shopping, the things that most of us live life for, completely missing.....

OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH MEN DO NOT DEFINE US !!!!!!!.... just writing about the various men in "our" lives makes it for a terrible read. The protagonist in this particular column is a Model.. earlier there used to be more about her friends, her likes and dislikes, awesome anecdotes about men and their habits, I loved reading that, gossipy bitching with her female pals, bitching about her female pals!!!!!!!.... but nowadays..."she" is just falling in and out of relationships and is even inconsistent of her choices!!!!!...

Women,all over the world, who earn their own living,have many recreations, one of them being guys.... they aren't in any way a major part of our lives!!!!.. the columnist is definitely going through a rough patch in her own life regarding this particular sphere, why else would she keep emphasizing on only the "relationship" aspect of her protagonist????

People.... I mean,all my fair ladies!!!!! I hope all of you share this particular post, The Single Girl, is much much more than the men in her life, she's "single" because she wants to. Besides men,she also loves her morning cup of tea, her warm blanket, her female pals, her little black dress,her kitschy bag, her silver danglers, her "Friday night outs", her regular Pizza, her hair spas and her mani-pedi.....and most importantly her beauty sleep..... she's all that and much more, SHE'S ALL WOMAN!!!!!!!!..... and we love her...don't we!!!!!! :)

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Immortals of Meluha: A Critical Review

Recently I finished reading one of the recent bestsellers, The Immortals of Meluha, by Amish.First of all kudos to the author for trying to deal with Hindu mythology and giving it the shape that would be interesting to the modern reader. Hindu mythology is a subject that very few Indian authors have tried to use in their story telling,much less to base their story on it. The fact that Amish has,goes a long way to say how our rich heritage could be used in the modern day and age. It is a very noble beginning, and I really hope we have many authors who would use this historical background to base their stories upon. We could recreate thousands of Da Vinci Codes, if we delved into our history and mythology deep enough.

Honestly, I felt I needed to write about the book, because, though it has captured the imaginations of many a readers, it would be grossly incorrect, if we were to believe that the author has tried to focus on the ancient and rich history of India. Sure, as a work of pure fiction, it is indeed good, but there are certain facts misrepresented as history of our land. It would be very unfair on my part as a reader, if I do not put out an unbiased view of the book, because even I really enjoyed how the story unfolds.

Let me first start by giving a brief synopsis of the story. The story, unfolds in the ancient land of India, known as Meluha, where reigns Emperor Daksha of the Suryavanshi clan. They are a highly civilized society where rules, guidelines and regulations are to an extent just. Their science, culture, tradition all are taken from the venerable Lord Ram, the proginetor of the Suryavanshi clan. These Suryavanshis are in constant fear of terrorist attacks from another clan, the Chandravanshis, who are exactly the opposite of them as in they adhere to no rules, regulations or guidelines. Their society isn't as civilized as the Suryanvanshis and they have now formed an ally with the "Nagas", the most heinous of all the tribes of India and together they want to steal the secret formula of "Somrasa", which Suryavanshis value as their holy drink.
Now there is a prophecy that a blue throated man from the lands of the "Sapt-Sindhu" would come and rescue the Suryavanshis. Enters Shiva, a tribal chieftain from the mountains of Kailasha, whose throat has turned blue upon consuming Somrasa, is he the prophetic one? Will he be able to deliver Suryavanshis from their problems and are Chandravanshis really the problem? Who are these Nagas? Are the Suryavanshis really as good as portrayed? For finding the answers to these questions, one has to read The Immortals of Meluha.

Now coming to the narrative style, Amish's style can never be called gripping, and cannot hold the attention of the reader. Another thing I quite disagreed with,is the occasional usage of swear words. They have been employed far too many times. The story has been weaved exceptionally well and the climax is really good though the end is kept wide open. Amish cleverly uses this book as a prequel to his next book, "The Secret of the Nagas". Kudos to Amish for knowing his historical facts well and cleverly using them to his advantage. The book can in no way be taken as a narrative of the rich ancient history of our land, but as a work of pure fiction. People reading this should bear it in mind that the author has grossly played with the historical facts and jumbled them up to present a very juvenile land of India.
Lastly it is a book, one should read as purely a work of fiction. Please do note that there are grossly misrepresented facts but yes, the storyline is good, some of the concepts given in it are extremely interesting and overall a good read, though I would not rate it as a "must read". Read it at our own leisure, for the simple pleasure of reading.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Why One Should Marry a Gemini Woman?????

This isn't fanciful thinking, I was reading Linda Goodman, and I was surprised to read about the Gemini woman. She sounded terrifically awesome!!!!!!.... So I am giving you certain excerpts from her book, explore and know why one should marry a Gemini woman...
proud to be a Gemini Woman...

Do you inwardly envy the Eastern Potentates with their harems? You needn't resign yourself to romantic Walter Mitty daydreams. Just marry a Gemini girl. That way, you'll be guaranteed at least two wives, and on occasional weekends, as many as three or four.

Naturally, there's a small catch. The difference between a girl born under the sign of the Twins and a harem is her apparent lack of interest in earthy passion.

It's hard to get her to settle down long enough to take take passion or anything else very seriously. Her mind is always traveling, and she keeps up a pretty good running commentary simultaneously. But look a little deeper. Somewhere, hidden among the several women who make up one Gemini woman, is a romantic one- one who is capable of intense passion, if you can manage to make the mental, spiritual and physical blending complete. How to develope her and still enjoy all the other women bottled up inside the Geminian personality may create a problem. I can tell you, one Gemini girl equals several women. But I am afraid it's up to you to delve into the advanced algebra of sorting the Gemini woman out.

She's a lively and gay companion. Most of the time (when the mood is on up swing), she'll sparkle with a vivacious personality, amuse you with her clever witty remarks and converse intelligently about almost any subject under the sun. She enjoys all sentimental gestures of romance and has no trouble making conquests. No woman you've ever met will delight you with more imaginative ways of loving you and with such appealing charm.

She can flutter her eyelashes with delicate femininity, but she's not at all helpless when it comes to earning her own living. A Gemini woman can play the giddy party girl to perfection, flattering a helpless, trapped male right out his mind and his bank book. But she can smoothly change into a demure and adoring housewife, from which she can swiftly switch into a serious intellectual who studies the great philosophers and talks about politics or poetry brilliantly, and then suddenly turn into a bundle of raw emotions, full of nerves, tears and fears.

You'll find her a great pal. The Mercury girl will go along with you on anything from scuba diving to speed racing- bicycle or badminton. She'll show an interest in all outdoor sports, and still manage to look as soft and feminine as a powder puff, with a mind as fast as a whip. The Geminian sharp mentality will show clearly when her curiosity is excited by any new subject. Her mercurial mind will let her see all the intricacies of your creative ideas, and she'll probably throw in a few promotional schemes of her own. As long as you don't demand consistency from her, she'll be completely fascinating.

It's only fair to warn you that this girl can sincerely believe she's in love, and find other men attractive at the same time. Unless she's near you all the time, she can forget you quicker than any other woman born under any other sun sign. It's in her nature, to accept change, even seek it.

Once you have proposed to her and she's accepted, you can pity all those men who are doomed to a life of monogamy with just one woman.

Your Gemini woman will never take a train when she can fly. She'll never be silent when she can speak. She'll never turn away when she can help. And she will never walk when she can run. Her mind is full of so many thoughts and her heart is so full of hopes, she may need a computer to sort it all out. Or does she need someone who can run beside her and toss dreams with her- from here to tomorrow? If you are that man, she doesn't dare look over her shoulder to see if you are near. Some deep, unexplained fear within her keeps her from ever looking back. When you finally match her speed, get her to slow down to your pace. You can do it, if you hold her hand tightly and never let it go. Though Mercurial north wind drives her on, secretly she may long to rest awhile more than you know...

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Forever United

"Last night I dreamt I was back in the cemetery again… there he was, his back turned to me, he looked like a marble sculpture, bathed in the silver moonlight… oh how I longed to see him, if this is dream, I want to keep having this dream forever.”

Joseph Gomez hated this abysmally low paid job. Being a night guard in a cemetery is not anyone’s dream job, but in today’s world, what other option does an illiterate orphan have. He wasn’t superstitious, the cemetery didn’t scare him, though nobody from his village wanted the job. He took it in a purely professional manner, yet sometimes he felt he was being watched, followed, though of course, he knew it couldn’t be true. He guarded dead people, probably the safest people to guard.

“I want to have the dream again, and again… and again… I want to see his face, I want to touch him, I need to know he’s real.”

Gomez trudged through the rows of graves, it had rained in the morning, the ground was slippery, and it would be a rough night tonight. There were no moon, no stars, just a dark and brooding night. He lifted up his gas light higher, and fastened his pace. He again felt, somebody, somewhere was watching him. He didn’t like tonight, it was eerily quiet, he wanted the rains, the howling winds, the striking lightening, at least he would know, there is life… this utter stillness, was like enveloping death. If only he could finish his inspection and just return to his one roomed post...

He heard a distant rumble of thunder, he felt relieved, there was a gust of wind, chilling him to bones, and his light flickered. He hurried, he had to get to his post, something about tonight was not right… he started to sprint.

“He is so near, if I could just look at him, one look, that is all I need. He’s near the bend, I must reach out, what if he falls and hurts himself, take my hand, please, please do take my hand…."

Gomez was running now, the darkness overpowered the feeble light of his gas lamp, making it difficult to see where he was heading; he started losing his grip on the light. His foot slipped the light flying out of his hand, he hit something hard, the last thing he saw before his eye lids closed, was the lone flame of his light, flickering, as if gasping for the last breadth.

“This is where you rest, near me, I’ll keep you with me forever, keep you safe… oh how beautiful you are, I never, never want to wake up and see you gone, I want this dream to last forever…."

A new marble tombstone read:

Here lies Joseph Mellissa Gomez, caretaker and protector of the St. Augustine graveyard. The only child of Andrews and Maria Gomez, born on 29 June 1972. He faithfully served the Church and expired on duty due to a fatal fall. May his soul rest in peace.

Beside that, an old broken tombstone lay with the words:

Here lies Maria Mellissa Gomez, who died in bringing little, Joseph in the world on June 29, 1972. May the Lord grant her a place amongst his beloved.

“Now at last, I have you by my side, I’ll keep you safe, here, with me, forever…”

Sunday, 11 September 2011

A Most Memorable Tour

Today I had a chance to visit the famous "Town Hall" of Kolkata... my brother who is an history aficionado like me had praised the place a lot. In fact, it is India's first interactive museum where the audience is treated to a series of Light and Sound shows, chronicling the our nation's history as well as the history of Bengal. We were taken through the period, when Job Charnock first stepped off the boat onto a sleepy little village on the banks of the mighty Ganges, which went on to become one of the most populous cities of the world. It was indeed amazing to learn that at the site of the present Kolkata, there stood a lonely village which primarily served as a pilgrimage place for visitors near and far. There was a Kali Temple in the vicinity of Prinsep Ghat or as some historians opine, this old temple of the goddess is the Kalighat Temple itself. However, there was only one muddy road that led to this temple and most of the populace of this village were bangle makers. "Pola" and "Shankha", a red and white colored bangle,worn by married ladies in Bengal, used to be the main type of Bangles made. There was a room chronicling the Battle of Plassey, the game changer in the History of Bengal, as well as of India. It was wonderfully presented, all the facts being cent percent correct. The mannequins looked pretty life like and the light and shadow effect was brilliant. There was also a show on the music of Bengal. It was indeed hearty to note that there were street singers in those early days who used to be composers, lyricists, singers all together. There was a street singer named "Rupchand Pakkhi" who actually dressed up like a white eagle, and sat on a palanquin carried by four men and he actually wrote songs on contemporary events. Some of his songs are still now sung in the villages of Bengal. There's also show on the Bengal Renaissance which took place in the late 16th century AD. This Bengal Rennaissance show has been divided into two parts, one dealt with just the literature and the arts, because this period was accompanied by a storm of literary writings and a host of new writers with a different world views emerged, the second part of the show was dedicated wholly to the Social Reforms that this period ushered. As is pretty well known, almost all the social reforms that we now take pride in, started from Bengal. From the abolition of Sati, to the legalization of Widow Remarriage and the education of girls, and even the women's right to her paternal property were all started in Bengal by stalwarts such as Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Raja Rammohan Roy, Kesub Chandra Sen, Vivekannada etc. There are various facts have been illuminated on them. One of the meost important events of our history, the partition of Bengal or Bongo Bhongo, has been shown in a really enlightened fashion. The show has been very well conceived and it starts with Lord Curzon's tirade on how dangerous united Bengal copuld be. An ordinary Imdian's blood would actually boil listening to this speech. The only snag in this near perfect museum, was that the show dedicated to the Indian Freedom struggle, tries to pack in as much info as can be there in too short span of time which results in somewhat confusion. The pictures and videos are also of poor quality and some of the facts overlap with each other making it difficult for the ordinary audience to understand. Other than that, The Town Hall of Kolkata is a most memorable place to visit and on any given weekend, it would be a great leisurely educative trip.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Lover's words.....

If you want a boxer,
I'll step in the ring for you,
And if you want a doctor,
I'll examine every inch of you...

If you want a driver,
Climb inside,
Or if you wanna take me for a ride,
You know you can...
Cuz' I am your man...

Ah, the moon's too bright,
The chain's too tight
The beast won't go to sleep,
I have been runnin' through,these promises to you,
That I made and I could not keep...

Ah, but a man never got a woman back,
By beggin' on his knees
Or I'd crawl to you baby
and would howl at your beauty,
Like a dog in the heat,
Ans I'd claw at your heart
And tear at your sheet
I'm your man...

And if you've got to sleep
A moment on the road,
I'll steer for you,
And if you want to walk the street alone,
I'll disappear for you.

If you want a father for your child
Or only walk with me for a while
Across the sand
I'm your man...

If you want a lover,
I'll do anything you ask me to...
And if you want another kind of love...

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Just hear them out...

The Kolkatans witnessed yet another suicide on the Metro Railways tracks today, and as usual the trains were delayed, the stations closed down, the harassed commuters cursed the Kolkata Metro for not having enough “anti metro suicide policies” and of course sent the poor soul into hell and back again. Me and my brother who were among the unfortunate thousands who had been affected, by the sad demise, did all the above, and then as a consequent went off shopping for our parent’s anniversary gifts.

But in the midst of all these we easily forgot to spare even one kind thought to the person who had died to the extent that when we were returning from our shopping three hours later, both of us, were relieved that the body had been cleared, that the Metro had resumed their normal schedule.

It was only when we both were crossing the Rabindra Sadan Metro station that our thoughts went back to the poor soul, who had ended his or her life on the very same tracks just hours ago. We didn’t even know whether he was a man or a woman, a girl or a boy, old or young, just that someone had committed suicide and thrown all our schedules to disarray. I marvel upon the fact that how mechanical have we all become. Here is a person like you and me, who probably had a lot of dreams, hopes, likes and dislikes, and he ends all of them on one fine day in front of hundreds of commuters, and the majority of us are angry just because we would be running behind schedule for a few hours.

It was then the thought stuck me, that how badly we need one of those counseling centers here in Kolkata. The rising suicide rate shows that people are becoming more and more prone to depression, to the extent that suicide in today’s Kolkata has become a thing of regular occurrence. Have we become that insecure, that depressed, that lonely, that death becomes our only escape route from the world?

I believe what we most need in today’s world is just a voice to hear us out. If only some of us could talk to someone, maybe then, a whole lot of our problems could be sorted out. But unfortunately most of us are too busy to sort out our own problems that we seldom spare thought for others. Yes it is indeed true that some of us, do take out time to listen to other’s woes, but the majority of us, believe that our problems are the most grievous of all and therefore why would we need to listen to others. This reminds me of that saying, “when they came for the Jews, I did not protest, for I wasn’t a Jew, when they came for the Christians, I did not protest, for I wasn’t a Christian, when they came for the Hindus, I did not protest for I wasn't not a Hindu, when they came for the Muslims, I didn’t raise my voice, for I wasn’t a Muslim, and soon one day they came for me, and no one raised their voice, for none was left to do so”, it is indeed scary the way, we are becoming uncaring and selfish.

The other day, I was left extremely depressed due to certain work pressures, and I couldn’t think of anyone in my vicinity to tell the problem to. So I went to this Reverend I knew, and simply poured my heart out. We talked for nearly three hours, and when we had finished, I felt much less depressed and far less worried. My worries still remained the same, but I felt so light hearted and happy, the difference was that only someone had listened to my worries. If some of us, were as fortunate as me, the suicides would have been much lesser. Probably today, if that person only had someone who would have just listened to him, maybe one life wouldn’t have ended.

So my friends and foes, if you are out there, and if you feel that you can today reach out to someone close, and just hear that person out, trust me, when you are in a similar situation you would have someone to reach out to...