The Prince Effect

In July 2006 an infant named Prince fell into a 55-foot deep hole and 24×7 media attention ensued. I don’t remember if it was the first ever of its kind but it was at least in my memory. We all prayed while being shown every moment from the rescue site. You can imagine the scale of importance when even DD News was covering it live. He was rescued after spending 48 hours in the claustrophobic hole.In the coming months we saw multiple reports of kids falling in borewells and holes. Some rescues successful like Prince’s while some weren’t.

Recently, we witnessed some appalling imagery. An Odisha man, Dana Manjhi was forced to carry his deceased wife’s body on shoulders for 10 kilometers because an ambulance couldn’t be arranged. It’s shameful as much as it is shocking. In the days that have followed there has been multiplicity of reports of people in backward areas being deprived of basic amenities. People carrying a dead body for her last rites in MP were not allowed to pass through fields as they belonged to the dalit social strata. Eventually the body had to be taken through a pond instead. Another deplorable incident from Madhya Pradesh came to light when a man was forced off a bus and left stranded after his sick wife died during the journey to a hospital.

Today, there are 3-4 new stories. Familiar ones, a father carrying his dying son on his shoulders, begging for help and ending up with just his cadaver when it’s too late. More and more stories of lack of basic medical care and ambulances are being brought up every day.

It makes one think. A lot about administrative apathy in the 7th richest country in the world but more so about how these stories would never be known if not for Dana Manjhi’s dead wife. Media attention to this issue is tremendous at this point and that’s the reason this heart wrenching stream of incidences is becoming staple. Just like no one cared about children falling into borewells before Prince fell into one, so many people have died undignified deaths and many will in future.

What concerns me more is that few months or even an year after Prince’s rescue the reports of kids falling into ditches and their rescue stopped. Similarly, we are going to milk the issue of a dead body being carried on a man’s shoulder for weeks, or maybe months and then go on with our usual uninformed lives because the topic died out or isn’t ‘hot’ anymore. The number of kids falling or the people dying were, and are, the same. It’s just that our collective conscience is woken up from its sweet slumber momentarily by what I call ‘The prince effect’. And then it goes back to sleep.

एक चाँद सी सड़क

जब भी उस पर से मोटर गाडी चलती,

गड्ढों में बारिश का पानी आंसू सा लगता,

कभी इस ओर कभी उस ओर छलकता

भूली बिसरी, यूँ ही रोती  बिलखती,

वो टूटी सड़क जो मुझे चाँद सी लगती |

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धड़-धड़ करती, टेढ़ी-मेढ़ी गिरती-पड़ती ,

वहां से गाड़ियाँ तोह खूब गुज़रती,

पर एक आम से शहर कि आम सी सड़क,

अब उसकी भी क्या गलती ?

वो टूटी सड़क जो मुझे चाँद सी लगती |

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खबर कुछ यूँ चली, बात यूँ फैली,

होने वाली थी एक वी-आई-पी  रैली,

मंत्री जी वहीं से गुजरने वाले थे ,

अब सड़क के अच्छे दिन आने थे,

वो टूटी सड़क जो मुझे चाँद सी लगती |

.

सीधी सपाट सड़क पर ड्राईवर ने गाडी को भगाया

जनता ने सालों तक जिन धक्कों को खाया

मंत्री जी को लेकिन एक झटका न लगने पाया,

यह सोच कर मुस्कुराई,

वो टूटी सड़क जो मुझे चाँद सी लगती |

Marriages – The largest business deals in India

Let me trace a typical marriage in India-

Two people have to stay with each other. For whole life. What we do? Find a person for them through some contact, check their CV like it’s a job offer and finalise the deal with their parents in some weeks like a business dealing. Oh, wait we had two people supposed to live with each other, right? Who cares when two families are happy with the said business transaction!

Marriage finalised? Let’s decide the transaction fees. Obviously I know we are growing up in an idealist society where no one asks for dowry, aren’t we? Whatever the bride’s family gives are ‘gifts’ given with their own happiness. Now that’s a cute way to address dowry. Gifts start from household items like TV, Fridge, Washing Machines and go up to luxury cars and if you got the moolah for that then private jets and choppers too are included. Anything below these is not even a gift, it’s a shame. Rates are different, a well qualified, highly paid groom deserves larger gifts, bigger gifts. But even if the groom is not well qualified or well paid he wishes for a gift, why? Don’t you dare ask why, he was born with a holy penis! isn’t that enough?

You know why a man earns in this country? So on one day, called the day of his daughters marriage, he spends his lifetime’s earnings. That’s the level of intelligence we grow up with. Calling hundreds of guests, booking the most lavish of marriage halls, hosting those guests with the most exquisite of menus, and buying shitloads of gold ‘cos “shagun’, even when your pocket can’t afford it. Why? because your respect in society is directly proportional to how regal your daughter’s marriage was.

I don’t overlook the love for your daughter here, nor I am underestimating the value of gold in hard times. But there is always a limit which most families have to cross thanks to the societal pressure.

You ask me why we as a country are infamous for killing females in the womb? Why are they reminded in every second of their existence that they are a liability? Why are daughter undesirable to many?

I have one answer to you, and that is marriage, in its current form. The shameless splurge of cash, for one day of merry-making, that leaves crores of people stripped of their life-time earnings and many others in huge loans.

How I nearly got defrauded!!

Few days back I got a call from this number, 7708525849 (Now, this number doesn’t exist ). This dude tells me that he is calling from the head-office of my bank to let me know that my credit card will be deactivated in a while since it’s past the expiry date. I am here wondering which credit card? I got many but he never told which bank he was calling from. He repeatedly tells me that he needs to verify some details to make sure my card gets reactivated or I will have to visit the bank, so in a hurry I lined up all the cards in my house and wonder which one is getting expired, the constant thought that most accounts belong to my parents and the only card I have applied for hasn’t even been collected from the bank is confusing me.

Now this dude tell me that I need to share my card number and stuff. I am ashamed it took me so much time to catch the fraud, I was being very polite till now thinking he was some actual guy from my bank, but when I realised things I verbally lashed at him and asked him his name, “Ravi Verma” his made-up response, I asked about his post, no reply. He then proceeded to tell me he was calling Reserve Bank of India. I contained my chuckle, Reserve Bank is responsible for printing money and regulating the economy and not for calling up random people to remind them of their credit cards getting expired. Then I proceeded to tell him that he just called the wrong person and I am going to dial cyber-crime cells’ number. Suddenly our dude started experiencing network disturbance and told me that he can’t make out what am I saying and I will have to visit the branch now. I hung up and called cyber police guys, and as with any sarkari telephone in India no one picked it up. I planned on calling later.

Discussed this with dad and told him the whole modus operandi as I understood that evening. Yesterday, 5-6 days after I told him that he comes home and tells me how one of his employees got duped on thousands on rupees the same way, one person calling and asking your details. Interesting part is, that employee never told his pin or password to the fraudsters, just his card number and CVV. Now this, is really scary. No need for passwords? The transactions from his account were from Noida and New Zealand, all online transactions.

Just want to remind everyone that never ever share any details on any calls, even if you genuinely feel like the other person is from the bank, because no genuine person from your bank will ask your details on phone or email and every bank has a written advisory in this regard that warns every customer that their bank will never ask for personal details, not even the account number, over phone or the Internet. If you get any suspicious calls or emails like these please inform the police, this can save a man’s lifetime earnings.

Epic Quote

My Father taught me how to be a man―and not by instilling in me a sense of machismo or an agenda of dominance. He taught me that a real man doesn’t take, he gives; he doesn’t use force, he uses logic; doesn’t play the role of trouble-maker, but rather, trouble-shooter; and most importantly, a real man is defined by what’s in his heart, not his pants.

Kevin Smith

Marriage: The Biggest Trading In India

This post is testimony to my believe in the fact that dowry remains the cause of all evils that prevail in the Indian society against women. It takes you through the story of a typical Indian female

This is part of the “Human and Women’s Rights” series on my blog. For the very first time, I am writing something that isn’t borne out of personal experiences, doesn’t tell you about my own worries, isn’t based on facts, but, what matters to the society, what I would like to work for, what I have seen in the 19 years I have been on this planet….

Marriage, the union of two parties who wow to fulfill desires, promises and care for each other and to children born out of the wedlock.

Marriage remains one of the most important tasks for an Indian, like a societal aim. A person without marriage might be tagged as sterile, impotent, lunatic or anything you can think off, unmarried folks are seen as undesirable neighbors.

The thing that really enrages me, is the cost of marriage in Indian context. This cost, is what I feel is the root of all evils and cruelty faced by women in India.

A girl child is born (just suppose, it might be killed as a foetus), the common Indian family doesn’t rejoice at all, some might say “Lakshmi ji has arrived in our house” sporting a wry smile but from inside they are worried about a lot of things. Other things, like how much dowry they will need?? How much money will be spent on marriage?? Will she remain happy in her marital home??? These questions and worries form the basis of our anti-female mentality.

She grows up, she is sent to study (maybe), she gives up her studies in middle school (most probably), due to lack of sanitation in her school, or maybe her parents don’t see her education doing any good to the family, instead she could start working and earn some bread for the family, her parents are worried that if she studies more, then it’ll be tough for her to find a groom for her, because a woman cannot be more educated than a man in a marital bond (in common India).

She reaches the final stages of her teenage years, her parents get worried, that their daughter is getting old, the typical Indian male might not prefer a matured women, who understands the world, who might answer back, who might teach a lesson or two…

A marriage is arranged, between two people who don’t know each other, who have never seen each other. But they will be married, they will stay together, maybe for the lifetime, why?? Because they are bound by a contract, the contract that takes place between the bride’s and groom’s family, we lovingly call it dowry….

The bride’s family gives a lot of money, jewellery, vehicles, televisions etc as if trying to sell a faulty product (the bride) by giving free stuff with it which is apparently more valuable than the original product. Yes, this is a sale of grooms, where bride’s family bids for them, the higher you pay, the more affluent family your daughter gets.

This young soul, is married off, the family typically loses most of its savings in the most costly affair in the life of an Indian, called marriage. Marriage, has become more of a show-off, a useless show-off under society’s pressure. A lot of band-baaja-baraat thing happens in a marriage, a huge lot of relatives are fed fancy stuff, care is taken that not even a remote relative is left off or they might feel insulted, ear-deafening crackers and fireworks are burned so that half of the city knows how they feel, “yes, we have sold our product” . Not a single penny is saved, or people might tag them is ‘misers’ or ‘poors’…. The story doesn’t end, it’s just the start…

Now she becomes the newly-wed housewife, before marriage she was not allowed to go out and see the world or the world might have raised questions over her character. She was consoled by her mother, ” Don’t go out now, wait till your marriage”

Now, in her new home too she is bound by the four walls of it, her new mother-in-law states in an authoritative tone, “Now you can’t have the freedom you had in your parents’s home, no you are married, we don’t want our daughter in law to roam around”

This soul remains trapped, physically in the walls of her homes, mentally in the hypocrisy of Indian thinking.

After giving away all their savings, the bridal family expects some peace…. No you can’t get it, you have sold a faulty product na… demands for more dowry arise, the mother-in-law starts taunting, “I don’t know how you ended up in our house, cheap. Are your parents bankrupts, couldn’t they give my son a car?? Misers”. She answers back, (sometimes), her husband shows his manliness,as he beats her for answering back.

The bride’s family, disturbed by the constant threats of delivery of their faulty product back, from the constant torture of their daughter, decides to give away all the meager capital that is still left after the extravagant marriage. And if they don’t have, they take loans at high interest. Failing to meet these demands can also result in bringing bad name to the family in the society. So the demands are met, these demands always keep coming up after some years and their frequencies dipping after some years of marriage.

If the demands are not met, the girl is harassed, it’s like a kidnapping scenario, but instead of asking for ransom for releasing someone, the in-laws ask for ransom for not-releasing someone. (this is legally recognized form of kidnapping in India, we call it marriage), the harassment continues, if the bride is legally conscious she might approach police, courts, etc, but she cannot, remember?? our heroine wasn’t allowed to study… in some case she approaches police, who refuse to register an FIR (because beating your wife is such a trivial matter), even if luckily the FIR gets registered, the in-laws pay a hefty sum to the policewalas (remember??? They got a lot of money in the contract of marriage…) and are left off, the harassment continues. She has two options now, either accept the beatings and insults as they come and expect that her future will be better or she takes her own life…

The one who accepts the insults and punishments, she is proved right (Indian context), after many years, she has become old, she has a son, the son gets married, she gets a lot of money, and she becomes the same greedy mother-in-law she was harassed by many years back, this goes on and on, like ragging, where the mentality remains “If we were ragged as juniors, you’ll also be ragged by us”

The other one takes her life, becomes a news-item for one day (only if she lives in a media-centric area). All the in-laws are in-bars now. Section 304, 498A are applied, cases registered, court proceedings go on and on, the cases are typically fought by state as the bridal family hasn’t got money left to pay to a capable lawyer to fight for justice, and that too for someone who is dead??

The cases go on and on, date after date, years after years no decision just appeals and denials, the dead soul waits for justice, and if it ever comes, it’s too late…. a life could be saved.
The soul wishes that no female is ever born in India…. She curses the institution of marriage, the association of money with it. She cries over the helplessness of her parents, the condition of her sister souls, of the small souls that are just born, who don’t know what future holds for them…

She feels good that a lot of them have been killed in womb; at least they were saved from the contract of marriage, their sale, and the freebies that come with them, the harassment that is entitled to them…. She smiles…. finally….

Women’s safety, an incident…

This post was written on 10th January, but just couldn’t publish it. Never felt like publishing it, it was rough, it signifies the conflicts in my mind, it has stayed in my drafts for a long time. Just as an impulsive action I am publishing it, maybe because human rights issues that I am dealing with in my internship have forced me to pull the publish button… but the real reason is below… In the end

I was traveling by a public bus, on my daily journey, back from college. Usually I try to plunge for a seat to pass the hour it takes to reach my home, but not on that day. It was clear, I had to stand for the rest of my journey, holding those supporting hooks and pipes meant for giving a better grip to passengers. An old man boarded the bus, looked very confused to me. He came close and asked me, “Will this bus go to Shivaji Nagar?” in a very exhausted tone, I nodded in approval, usually I don’t just nod when I communicate with someone, as I find it rude to just nod like a retard, but not this time, I was trying to be sure while answering as I felt he was smelling of alcohol, but I wasn’t sure. He moved away.

Two girls boarded the bus maybe 16-17 years old, in their own world. In the evening the buses are so crowded that luck and skill are the two things that need to be on your side. The girls seemed to lack both of them, and they had to stand, holding those hooks and pipes.

Seeing those girls, that old man shifted base, he was standing at right side of the bus, he shifted to left, near the girls. I could smell something foul, the world knows what alcohol can do. He stood close to girls, giving constant stares and then looking back as if minding his own business, I was closely watching. He made his first advance held the same pole one of the girls was holding, just above her hold. His hand was touching her, the girl felt uncomfortable and removed her hand, seeing her that man also raised his holding height, just to make her hold back that pole, she had to come back as holding something was necessary to counter the jolts that the bus delivers. She placed her grip at the same place, but that man slided his grip down slowly, as if forced by bus’s constant ups and downs, it touched her again. She removed her hand again, stood a little more far away from that pervert. That didn’t stop him from giving a constant and lusty stare to her, she was just trying to look away, not giving any sign of notice to him. This carried on, no one bothered, the stares continued, the advances continued.

While all this was happening, I was looking very meticulously, as if some spy would do. I wanted to bash that man up, to ask him what’s the need of doing whatever he was doing. I might sound like a coward, but I didn’t do anything, not because I was afraid of that pervert buddha, but I was feeling lost and confused as to why that girl wasn’t showing any reaction, not making any noise, not asking for help??? I could have thrown that person from that bus, but had no genuine reason. A question kept circling in my mind, “Why you didn’t say anything miss, what makes you silent?”. This confusion just kept me from taking an action, I was in a state of total confusion, deep thought. By the time, i regained my senses, that man might have reached his destination, the duo of girls had found a place to sit finally.

As the bus neared its destination most passengers got down, seats became empty. Every standing person rushed to get his or her seat, trying to get some relief from stiff legs after standing for nearly an hour…

I published it, because a colleague made me realise, that I have great prejudices against gender, races etc, while I always considered myself as a secular, rationalist person with a neutral outlook towards this world…Maybe I have strong prejudices, maybe that is why I kept mum… But finally I published it… Great