(Also published in Northern India Patrika, December 22, 2013)
Once upon a time Hindi movie songs acted as anti-depressants. Now Hindi film music gives rise to depression! Modern songs devoid of meaning and set upon incoherent beats in the name of music give rise to headache instead of removing it! Earlier songs depicted certain philosophy, which added a new dimension in the script of the movie. The movies made by Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor effectively used songs to introduce new twist in the story. It’s altogether a different story in modern cinema. There are item numbers or poorly inserted hopelessly romantic numbers.
First, there is dearth of talented lyricists and, second, there is lack of good music directors. The bunch of music directors that we see are primarily technocrats, relying heavily on technology. Some will argue that we have talented lyricists but the ability to write one or two catchy one-liners doesn’t make anyone a lyricist! Listen the lyrics and it would be hard for you to decide whether it’s an English song, or a Punjabi song, or a Hindi song. Look at the music compositions. It’s either for the hip-hop generation or it’s for the night clubs. It’s not merely that times have changed and we need to adjust to new trends. There is something terribly wrong with the creativity involved in making of songs! Should we not assume that capitalistic traits have murdered real creativity? Overseas rights of distribution, heavy fees extracted from rights of satellite channels and numerous other equations enjoy greater concern than ensuring bliss!
I do not wish to appear stupidly nostalgic caught in the time warp. As an evidence of the creativity, which prevailed in 50s and 60s, I am presenting four songs of lyricists who have really inspired me a lot. Every time I come to hear a song written by them, it leaves me in state of intoxication. I am referring to trio comprised of Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakeel Badauini and Shailendra. These “Triple S” always stirred my emotions to no extent.
Bimal Roy’s Madhumati (1958) is very close to my heart. Not only it strengthens our belief in re-birth, a prominent concept in Indian philosophy, but also it makes us believe in the power of true love. As per this movie the impact of true love transcend many generations. This movie is really a classic in world cinema. Right from the first scene till the last frame of this movie, it keeps the viewer in state of trance with its gripping presentation of the story and its enchanting music. I remember when I went to see this movie in a theater couple of months ago in a film festival, the theater was jam-packed. Not a single seat was available. And I saw many of the viewers sitting on the floor of the balcony and many others still having argument with the gate-keeper to move inside even as the movie had started. Shailendra and Salil Chaudhary made each song a masterpiece. Well, this time I wish to introduce first song of this movie “Suhana Safar Aur Ye Mausam Haseen”. Every time I move on a beautiful passage passing through the valleys, I always come to remember this song. Shailendra has borrowed the appeal present in poems of Wordsworth. Nature has come alive in this song where one can actually feel that clouds are kissing the earth! – “Ye Aasman Jhuk Raha Hai Jameen Par”. Notice the wonderful prelude of this song. It’s so impressive that it has virtually become part of my consciousness! Immediately you come to realize that this song features mountains! That’s the magic of these songs. One of my favourite past-time in school and college days was to identify the song after listening clip of prelude. Anyway, it’s time to listen the whole song! Also notice the way how great maestro Bimal Da has picturized this song!
That’s a song which speaks volume about the singing ability of Mohammed Rafi. It’s been so deeply and soulfully sung by Rafi that it leaves you speechless. Aadmi was released in 1968 which had music under direction of Naushad and songs were penned by Shakeel Badayuni. Naushad had a special place for Shakeel in his heart and he went out of the way to help Shakeel in his last days troubled both by financial crisis and bad health. The movie highlighted love triangle and fascinating performances on part of Dilip Kumar, Waheeda Rahman and Manoj Kumar made it an unforgettable movie. The song makes it clear that one can be strong willed even if one’s heart and mind have been shattered by the cruel twists and turns of the fate. The song has tragic melody which not only depicts personal loss but also highlights that pain ultimately leads to realization of highest type- perfect union with the Lord! The camera work is wonderful in this song as it captures the roaring sea waves hitting the rocks! The song makes an appeal that someone who has begun a new journey should not be haunted by the past episodes of life!
कही न कही तेरे मेरे बीच
में एक पुल है
जिस पर से गुज़र कर मै
अक्सर पहुच जाता हूँ तुम तक
हां वो पुल दिखता नहीं है
इस यथार्थ से भरी दुनियाँ में
ठीक ही तो है कि दिखता नहीं
या फिर मैंने ठीक ही तो किया
जब मैंने इसे सच्ची दुनिया में
दोष बाधा से बंधी नज़रो से उलझती
हर इस तरह के तिकड़मो से ऊपर रखा
और नहीं बनाया सबको दिखने वाला पुल
वो एक पुल
जिस पर से गुज़र कर मै
अक्सर पहुच जाता हूँ तुम तक
बनता या बनाता इसे दुनियाँ में
तो निश्चित था कि वो ढह जाता
छल कपट से भरी हर निगाहो से
निकलती हर एक उतरन सें
और मिट जाता वो एक सहारा भी
जो अभी मेरे जीने की एक वजह है
वो एक पुल
जिस पर से गुज़र कर मै
यथार्थ के बीच से होता हुआ
अक्सर पहुच जाता हूँ तुम तक
हर रोज, हर एक गुजरते लम्हे में!
उस दुनियाँ में जहा कोई नही होता
सिवाय तेरे और मेरे अस्तित्व के.
For Non-Hindi Readers:
There exists a bridge between
You and I
And I travel across it
To reach to you each day.
This bridge remains invisible
In the world governed by reality
Glad that it is non-existent!
In a world marred by evil eyes
It remains invisible to naked eyes
In love with concrete images
And I did the right
By not giving it a shape
To a bridge I travel across
Each day to reach to you.
Had it been built by me
Surely it would have collapsed
Facing every passing moment
The rays of eyes dipped in
Evil and falsehood, treachery and crime,
And I would have lost something
Which sustains my earthly existence
There exists a bridge between
You and I
And I travel across it
Through the realities of visible world
To reach to you each day
In every passing moment
To arrive at a world
Where no one exists
Other than you and I.
I have noticed few very discouraging trend patterns in our times. Firstly, the moment we notice rise of some good human being in any arena, one dares not to appreciate and honour that person. On the contrary, many negative forces come into operation to tarnish his/ her image. It appears being bad is honourable and glorious in our times! The same society raises hue and cry that we don’t have right people to deal with pertinent issues. But the moment someone makes a valiant attempt to change the corrupt scenario all types of negative forces gather on one platform to paint that individual in wrong colours. This tendency is not only baffling but also discouraging for development of better prospects.
Secondly, the great attempt is made to make such daring individual realize that you are no different than us: corrupt and rotten from inside. That way a greater lot in the society feels that it did a fine job by coercing that individual to have such great realization! If we look back into past we realize that good souls never got true recognition in their lifetime. It’s only after their death, they got elevated to sainthood sort of status. Instead of paving the path of such conscious individual with glorious possibilities, the path gets filled with chosen obstacles. Amazingly, this all happens in a society which always complains about lack of positive changes in society. Meet young or old, man or woman, all will complain about disorder and lawlessness in the society. However, the same lot is not interested in promoting right developments the right way.
That’s the reason I hate taming of good people. Taming is crime in my eyes, and so I am not at all fascinated by taming business. Why should those man/woman be tamed who dare to think differently, who dare to introduce new ways of thinking in a society? Why should these exceptional souls be made on par with same level of distorted thinking which dominates the common masses? However, we do expect values like sincerity, real love, honesty and etc. from each other. I will surely allow my friends a desired freedom but shall not tolerate that they make mockery of it by indulging in atrocious and absurd behaviour. Liberty should not be mistaken as license to behave in contemptuous way. Sadly, for a modern man/woman freedom/liberty means mental corruptness and unaccountability. Anyway, I hope that modern society learns to honour exceptional souls instead of entering in regressive attitude to tame such souls so as to reduce their impact! A society interested in better changes should have something better to offer such agents of change instead of subjecting them to coercive attempts to make them feel ordinary.
( The article first appeared in The Speaking Tree Column, Jammu Plus, The Times Of India)
The world is not the right place for people endorsing out-of the-box thoughts. The world recognizes only stereotyped emotions. It’s not a pessimistic assertion but it’s a result of head on encounter with realism. It’s the essence which keeps natural earthly phenomenon in organized state. It’s the way which has happened in the past. Socrates told truth, and was offered poison! Galileo’s ideas which supported heliocentric world system were considered violation of Catholic Church teachings that the Earth was the center of the universe. That ensured a house arrest for Galileo for rest part of his life. India has also seen episodes wherein the exceptional souls faced the same disastrous consequences.
Meera challenged the monarchy by loving Krishna. She was put on trial by the near and dear ones. The ever-present God’s hand came to her rescue. Prahlad refused to gave way to his father’s belief that he was Supreme, and instead placed his faith in the Vishnu’s mystical power. That brought him against the powerful administration run by his father but as we all know Lord’s Vishnu incarnation as Narasimha came to establish as to who exactly controlled the universe.
It would not be wrong to suggest that “the way of this world is, to praise dead saints, and persecute living ones.” The moment one tries to rope in better ideas, a rush of mass of negativism tries to annihilate it. There may be some fortunate souls whom lady luck allowed to have fertile ground for execution of their dreams but for a greater lot the story has been to move from one conventional norm to another. For average souls, the world is okay. For them it had been an easy task to imbibe all contradictions and evils in name of “practical adjustment” but that’s not the case with people having heightened sensitiveness. Their own ethics prevents them from picking up anything and treating as its own. The so-called practical souls since they stand for nothing other than having deep faith in loose irrational principles are often hailed as pragmatist. “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” So they emerge as successful. They are the champions of pragmatism. They are the ones who are the real heroes for people trapped in livelihood struggles.
However, life is deadly ash. That’s why Lord Shiva’s whole body is smeared with deadly ash. Once you have a real interaction, absolute deadly realization, the ability to make fraudulent dealings gets wiped out totally. Your spirit refuses to participate in worldly affairs, not imbibing everything in name of changes of time. It becomes selective in conscious way. It’s like attaining the “Sthitpragya” state – the state of absolute equanimity attained as result of identification with highest consciousness in a perfect way. Lord Krishna has referred to it in Srimad Bhagvad Geeta:
Prajahati yada kaman sarvan partha mano-gatan
atmany evatmana tustah sthita-prajnas tadocyate
-Lord Krishna said, O Arjuna when gives up all desires for sense gratification produced within the mind and becoming satisfied by the realization of the self in the pure state of the soul; then it is said one is properly situated in perfect knowledge.
True, once that state is attained, the person with such a state of mind refuses to sway with happenings of the world. Nothing seems to change externally but the inner being of such a person undergoes revolutionary transformation. That might make him a failure from worldly materialistic evaluation but in kingdom of souls he is the king of souls like the God principle. He refuses to endorse the worldly orientations and instead walks all alone on path built of out-of-the-box thoughts.
Like always, the worldly temptations manifest for such a soul to distract him. No wonder, Swami Vivekananda treats the path of realization akin to walking on the razor’s edge. The seeker until realization dawns upon him should need to remain highly vigilant, maintaining high level of “viveka shakti”- the sense of making wise choices. In Bhagavad Geeta, Lord Krishna warns the seekers that they should not give way to superficial attainments by worshiping lesser Gods, and thus should not pay much attention to Vedic verses aimed at appeasing him.
Yavan artha udapane sarvatah samplutodake
tavan sarvesu vedesu brahmansya vijanatah (Chapt.2; Verse 46)
- All that is served in well of water is better served by a vast lake; similarly, all the purpose in all Vedic scriptures are realized to he who knows the ultimate truth.
So let’s learn to travel alone even as the route passes through worldly happenings, under the shadow of out-of-the-box thoughts with a conscious and alert mind.
The world of writing is marred by strange twists and turns. It’s never easy for a writer, whether established or novice, to keep pace with time in an easy-going manner in world dominated by materialistic principles, which treats nurturing aesthetic pleasures as some sort of waste of time. When selling rose becomes more worthwhile task than to appreciate its scent, it’s quite certain that one would not gain much by falling in love with creative pursuits. I faced extremely tough conditions with humiliating episodes taking place quite frequently, but I always tried not to take them to heart, remembering that great writers of previous eras also received similar treatment. Pain and humiliation do not break a writer ( unless destiny has predestined such a fate) but make him gain more insights, not available to ordinary mortals. The other thing that really kept me going ahead with ease despite huge setbacks was constant support of extremely talented souls, who appeared at various stages of my life as friends and colleagues. Apart from them, I feel really privileged that I also got an opportunity to spent some precious moments with towering figures in world of literature. These very special moments still keep me spirited and cheerful in depressing times even as memories related with those meetings have been clouded by the affairs of time.
I met Ruskin Bond and Gulzar at a time when my bonhomie with the writing world was gaining depth. However, after meeting them, I became certain that being a writer was no crime! I always met people who stupidly asked me( and thereby revealing the actual worth of their grey cells) about my work sphere even as I told them that I write! ” It’s okay that you write but what work you do?” That’s the sort of queries which always chased me. Thank God such queries today neither appear nor they have any relevance left in my life. The sight of Gulzar and Ruskin had left me spellbound, although I had met them separately, but exhibition of feelings remained the same.
I became the fan of Ruskin Bond at the very moment when in one of the boring literature classes of my school, I first came to read his story “The Eyes Have It”. The intensity of emotions expressed in this story fascinated my young heart to great extent. Though my class teacher, the other school mates and the old-fashioned academic standards, compelled me to anticipate the story in a given way, I came to visualize many other things as I read this story. And that’s why I met Ruskin Bond not only as reader but also as a writer! It’s the writings of Ruskin which taught me that how you say is equally important as what you come to say! However, the greatest lesson Ruskin taught me was that great writing is simple writing! Never use bundle of complicated expressions, which make a reader be involved more in picking up a dictionary than being lost in the content of the post! It’s one of the reasons why I avoid reading Arundhati Roy unless I have to sleep early!
Ruskin Bond, the Sahitya Akademi and Padma Shri awards winner, visited Allahabad, circa 2003. He had come here to attend promotional event organised by a leading publisher Rupa & Co. I wasn’t prepared for this meeting, but the moment I heard news of his arrival, I got prepared my manuscript related with my first unpublished anthology- The Petals Of Life. When I met him, I saw him surrounded by his well-wishers. I waited for my turn, and fortunately when my turn came he had some spare moments. He gave a fabulous smile when I introduced myself as a writer and informed him about my literary pursuits. When I handed him my poems, he seemed to be very pleased by this gesture. He patted my back and asked me to keep writing. Though he was tired but he still obliged me by giving me his autograph at number of places. Our conversations lasted for few minutes but the undercurrents still remain alive. And so I refuse to leave the company of pen!
Gulzar- the Oscar Award winner lyricist-also visited Allahabad, at the invitation of same publisher, during the same period. My meeting with him was once again a hurried affair than a pre-planned affair. When I reached the place where he was about to arrive after couple of hours, I was apprehensive about the meeting. However, call it my luck, despite presence of huge crowd, I created space for my meeting with this amazing man. It was hard for my eyes to acknowledge the fact that maker of landmark movies like Aandhi, Ijaazat, Kitaab, Parichay and Achanak, to name a few, was sitting right before my eyes. Like always, this time, too, he was clad in white kurta-pajama. And like always donned his lips a typical smile, which any Gulzar fan would easily recognize had he/she been noticing photographs of him quite sincerely. To be honest, I had not read enough literature penned by him but I had watched his movies and heard his songs with exceptional zeal and abnormal seriousness. And that’s why his “surrealism” permeated in my writings as well. Anyway, he remained seated in relaxed way. When I informed him about my credentials, his faced remained expressionless yet I noticed that he was pretty conscious! And as I finished saying what I had to say, he gave a very deep look at me. A stare that refused to leave me and became part of my being. I left the space after spending couple of minutes with him but as I came out of that place and headed towards my home these particular lines from this immortal song “Aknhon Mein Humne Aapke” kept appearing and disappearing within mind’s chamber-
“नज़रे उठाई आपने तो वक्त रुक गया
ठहरे हुए पलो में जमाने बिताये है “
- When you looked at me, the time stopped
And in those moments I came to live many lives.
Many thanks to these gentlemen who appeared at a very important juncture in my life. I needed some genuine encouragement and their generosity in display of emotions proved to be a tonic for my spirit chased by uncertainties. The uncertainties remain the same but my spirit attained the required evolution and so my writings. And so I am still writing! Pervert critics remain the same and situation remains hopeless like always and yet I am above all these negative concerns. A proof that meeting such enlightened gentlemen did not go in vain.
“I wondered if I would be able to prevent her from discovering that I was blind. Provided I keep to my seat, I thought, it shouldn’t be too difficult.”
“The man who had entered the compartment broke into my reverie.
‘You must be dissapointed,’ he said. ‘I’m not nearly as attractive a traveling companion as the one who just left.’
‘She was an interesting girl,’ I said. ‘Can you tell me – did she keep her hair long or short?’
‘I don’t remember,’ he said, sounding puzzled. ‘It was her eyes I noticed, not her hair. She had beautiful eyes – but they were of no use to her. She was completely blind. Didn’t you notice?’”
Song: Ankhon Mein Humne Aapke..
Movie: Thodi Si Bewafai
Singers: Lata and Kishore
In Conversation With A Well-Known Author: Revealing The Flaws Of Sourav Ganguly In Company Of Ramachandra Guha!
Sourav Ganguly’s contributions for the Indian Cricket Team cannot be ignored. He introduced the concept of aggressive captaincy.However, having said that, the fact that he systematically destroyed the harmonious unity which held the players together in previous eras is too bitter to be digested easily.The Indian Team, during his regime, also gave way to factionalism, wherein team spirit gave way to individualism of most worst type. That’s why it’s hard to acknowledge him as a good captain. He might have been a successful captain but, in the same breath, it cannot be argued in his favour that he was a good captain.
That became clear as I discussed the same controversial aspect in conversation with Ramachandra Guha- the eminent historian whose passion for cricket makes us smile. He and Prabhash Joshi make it clear that even intellectuals dealing with grim issues can fall in love with charm of cricket! Anyway, this conversation took place some eight years back but that in no way undermines its relevance. After all, the game of cricket has shifted to lesser values in recent days.
This has reference to Ramachandra Guha’s article “Two cheers for Ganguly” published in The Telegraph on January 08, 2005. The naked truth about Ganguly is that he has failed to maintain a safe distance from narcissistic tendencies. Something that has always caused the downfall of the Emperors ( read Maharajas), who, however, were endowed with refined qualities. This fatal flaw in his personality has been behind the numerous judgmental blunders made by him in recent times- apparently a period that blemishes his stupendous achievements. The observation might sound cynical but the fact confirm this suspicion.
What could be the reason behind his strange absence from the crucial encounter with the Australians in the recent Border-Gavaskar Trophy? Well, cover-ups such as ‘mysterious injury’ aren’t enough to hide the glaring shortcomings in his mannerism, or, for that matter, satiate the curiosity, of his admirers, who unfortunately expect too much from him. Again he does not believe in the rule that match is open till the last bowl. His usual and the first line of defense at tense moments is either thrust himself or rope in one of his favourites. Instead of appearing composed, he looks more like wrecked ship in deciding hours.
Steve Waugh, Naseer Hussain and even Hansie Cronje depicted a much better attitude than him to safely rise above the critical situations. Without overshadowing his contributions, it would not be wrong to state that he does not qualify to share the platform with above mentioned gentlemen. They played solely for their teams and individual considerations never prevented them from framing innovative methods to take their team to glorious heights. Hasn’t Ganguly missed the bus?
Ramachandra Guha’s Viewpoint:
Thanks for your mail, which very nicely elaborates which I had merely hinted at but not explicitly expressed.
About Ramachandra Guha:
Ramachandra Guha (born 29 April 1958) is an Indian historian and writer whose research interests include environmental, social, political and cricket history. He is a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where he currently holds the position of Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs. He is also a columnistfor the newspapers The Telegraph (syndicated in several Indian languages) and Hindustan Times. A regular contributor to various academic journals, Guha has written extensively for the magazines The Caravan and Outlook.
His recent book “India after Gandhi” has managed to stir hornet’s nest.
Ramachandra Guha: Two Cheers For Ganguly, The Telegraph, January 08, 2005.
In the long writing career, spanning over nearly two decades, I got many chances to interact with enlightened minds and share with them a piece of my mind in matters pertaining to critical issues. A long back ago when I was regular contributor for The Statesman’s Viewpoint Column ( Calcutta Edition), I came in touch with Jeremy Seabrook who was then writing for one of its popular columns.
This conversation related with falling standards of education system took place after I came to read his article” Learning Revisited” published in The Statesman on March 14, 2005.
Your write-up is an eye-opener, allowing one to reckon with the hidden facets of education. I am appalled at the manner in which institutions offering so-called gems of knowledge, which in reality are antithetical to creative tendencies lying latent within the recipients, have solidified their base. One reason for it could be that parents are now no longer interested in “value-oriented” teaching methods, simply because it stands in the way of attaining ‘name and fame’. No wonder this could be the reason behind the mind-boggling network of coaching factories, which are making huge profit in the name of offering conductive atmosphere for cracking the entrance tests.
This attitude of parents has brought a sea change in the attitude of present day students, who weigh everything in materialistic yardsticks or, in other words, in rupee:dollar ratio. After all, who has time for values in the fast-paced life of ours! The real quest for supreme knowledge would always remain a distant dream in absence of change of mindset, especially the parents. Well, it’s never too easy to change mindset without giving way to measures mired in transparent means. What has guaranteed failure of projects in this regard has been wide gap between theory and practice besides infrastructural bottlenecks. Let’s realize that mere propaganda is not going to solve this issue.
Unfortunately, this is what both Left and Right wings are used to. Their stances, diametrically opposite to each other, have wiped out the vigour of those wishing to make worthwhile contributions, so much so that if one does not yield to their outdated notions one is bound to invite troubles of all sorts. The message is clear: Rise above ideological fanaticism to stop the degradation of education system, something so imperative to prevent the innocent minds turning into robot.
Vivekananda rightly remarked that ” education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and run riot there, undigested, all life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas”. Will anyone please translate this into reality?
Jeremy Seabrook’s Viewpoint:
Many thanks for your helpful and kind e-mail. Indeed, education has become not an end in itself, noble and worthwhile, but an instrument for material gain and industrial conformism. In this sense, of course, the educational system is only an emanation of the society that produces it, and an expression of the social values and mores of which it is a symptom. Intervention for change involves a complete change in the social and moral structures of globalism-no small thing, but a project we should not abandon simply because of its apparent attainability.
About Jeremy Seabrook:
My first book was The Unprivileged, 1967, the story of my own family, a path breaking oral history from the late 18th century to the 1960s. This was followed by City Close-Up, a portrait, through the words of the people, of Blackburn in Lancashire.
In the 1970s, I wrote What Went Wrong? Working People and the Ideals of the Labour Movement; a book which, when published in the USA, was sub-titled Why hasn’t Having More Made People Happier?
Mother and Son, a memoir, appeared in 1980, and an indictment of Thatcher’s Britain,Unemployment, in 1982.
Work on India and Bangladesh followed, notably, Notes from another India and Children of Other Worlds, a comparison of child labour in nineteenth century London and present-day Dhaka in Bangladesh. My book, Love in a Different Climate, described how male same-sex relationships in India differ from those in the West.
I have contributed to most major newspapers in Britain over the years, and have written for Granta. I am a regular contributor to New Internationalist – which has published three of my books in the last decade, most recently Consuming Cultures: Globalization and Local Lives. I write for Race and Class and Third World Resurgence, based in Penang, Malaysia.
More About Jeremy Seabrook:
“He became an associate honorary fellow at the University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies 1995 to 1998 and an associate at the Institute of Race Relations, UK, from 2004 onwards.
He has made several documentaries for BBC radio and TV on social, environmental and developmental issues.
Since 1963, Seabrook has written for publications including: New Society, the Guardian, the Times, the Independent, New Statesman, New Internationalist, Race and Class, Third World Resurgence, Third World Network and others.
He has also written over 40 books, including;
Travels in the Skin Trade – looking at the psychology of western men who travel to southeast Asia for sexual adventures (Pluto Press).
A World Growing Old – the implications of an ageing population, north and south (Pluto Press).”
Courtesy: The Guardian
The Statesman ( Kolkata Edition)
I am neither misogynist nor anti-feminist, and not even a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA). Many of my friends working for these organisations feel I should be one like them in a formal way, but being on a different route, I prefer not to identify with any organization, be they ones from spiritual or political background. So it would be useless to measure the worth of author’s views as someone acting as mouthpiece of any organization. Let’s not forget that to come up with entirely different set of facts, a different version of reality not in tune with set patterns, is not bizarre. On the contrary, it’s the result of having viewed the world from close angles! An open mind would certainly realize it. To follow a different route does not make anyone regressive, biased, much less a Talibani with a capacity to issue a fatwa! Ridiculous assertion!
Why should every analyst of our times present a syrupy version of happenings taking place in world of present times women, wherein “every bad thing any man has ever committed highlighted and exaggerated; every bit of good systematically undermined, vilified or ignored”? It’s only that I feel inclined to represent the cause of men, not out sense of any “same gender” feeling but only from justice point of view, which demands that other side should also be heard well. It’s the other side of the fence that I am presenting with total sincerity, different perspective and neutral stance !
कुछ नहीं दिखता था अंधेरे में मगर, आंखें तो थीं,
ये कैसी रोशनी आई कि सब अंधे हो गए।।
(Though we cannot see in dark with our eyes,
It’s strange that we cannot see even as there is light around us)….
Feminism, as a movement, was started in late nineteenth century to demand female rights in society. “At the end of the nineteenth century was that women began to realize that it is unfair for them to be constantly under the power of men simply because the social system has traditionally favored males.” At this point, it’s inappropriate to discuss the impact of this movement in West, but this movement seems to have lost its impact there in modern times. May be because women have gained enough rights there but, in my eyes, it’s because both have realized well that battle of the sexes serves no purpose other than breeding animosity. “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back”.
The Indian women, who have misplaced beliefs that having all the rights ensures better days should, at least, have the guts to critically analyze the impact of such divisive and lethal movement in Western societies. Anyway, it’s better that I confine myself to Indian landscape. It’s better to understand the essential elements of Indian society, viewing it not through the myopic terms coined by the so-called progressive elements, but in a conscious way to tear apart the great game of gender equality. It’s interesting that many arguments have been forwarded to show the worth of female mind. Many love to cite the growing academic excellence of Indian women as one of the parameters to upheld the intellectual superiority of women. However, wisdom and real understanding have nothing to do with academic excellence. Many of the great contributors, in fact, nearly all creative geniuses, were very poor in academic terms plus they were never part of institutionalized structures. I say that not to lessen the importance of academic excellence but to highlight the worth of education offered in Indian schools and universities, which are killing all the good elements which a child possesses.
The Indian society might have so-called patriarchal model but it’s a sheer diabolical myth that it was framed to suppress the position of women, much less, exploit the women. The Indian society has always been women-centered society. The concept like “”Ardhanareeswara”, aimed at equality of women, which ensured that Shiva without female principle “Shakti” means nothing, always made Indian women enjoy dignified position in Indian society. Even in modern Indian Hindu families, having a balanced and sensible approach, the women always gain upper hand in all issues. All important issues have her consent, wherein her views gain as much importance than any male member. Have a look at the marriage vows. They in clear terms ensure that women come to enjoy an equal ground.
Gribhnami te saubhagatvaya hastam mayapatya jardastirayathasah|
Bhagoaryyamma savita purandhiramahyam tvadurgaharpatya devah||
That is – “Oh dear! On this auspicious occasion of our life, I take your hand in mine in the presence of invoked deities. Oh blessed woman! You be with me as a fortunate partner for a very long time. I hand over the control of my family in your hands, discharge your duties joyously.”
It’s a fallacious assertion that men enjoyed privileges in past while the women remained an oppressed lot. “Society is largely constructed for the benefit of women and children and always has been, otherwise it doesn’t survive. …It takes a gigantic lack of imagination (usually the sole province of baby feminists) to believe that women wanted the economic and political involvement they claim now when the demands and risks of these endeavours were as they were then (ancient times)”. The Indian society is also no exception. It’s always portrayed as if women in the past were some sort of domestic slaves, devoid of any sort of right to decide by themselves. Well, such a claim can only be made by people who have not bothered to know Indian society in its entirety. Even the most ancient ladies in Indian history had the right to chose their husbands via a ceremony called Swyamvara. The women were well versed in scriptural knowledge and many among them were qualified scholars.
True, with advent of time many of the glorious traditions (the great spirit which led to their origin) faded away to give way to their corrupt versions. It would not be out of place to mention that practice like dowry was basically the Streedhan to ensure that a woman is “not left wanting anything after the wedding”. The impression of men being unconcerned about the rights of women is quite powerfully projected but lesser known aspect is that men have played an instrumental role in any movement aimed at improvement of women. The greatest example in this category is abolition of Sati Pratha and banning of child marriages. Anyway, the division in labour in Indian society was done by the sages, who played an impartial role while framing laws related with basic structure of Indian society. It favoured none.
Had Indian society been truly patriarchal in nature, as suggested by new age scholars, it would have never led to emergence of bold Indian women who always played equal role in Indian society. Be they queens of ancient era, or the women freedom fighters of pre-Independence era, the Indian women played a significant role. It would not have been possible had women been denied the right to make choices. The modern Indian society is facing new set of complexities but the solution is not devaluation of ancient practices. The empowerment of Indian women does not mean women be entitled to make arbitrary choices on the grounds that men also did the same! In fact, it presupposes that men enjoyed unlimited freedom of all sorts. It’s totally false and erroneous notion. Their choices were also determined by the prescribed rules, keeping in mind the interests of women and children. Let’s be clear that the empowerment of women does not mean to give way to propaganda that “women alone have sufferings and women alone have problems in life”.
At present, the situation has become pretty confusing and dangerous for the growth of Indian society. The men are being repeatedly portrayed as abusers, leading to anti-family and anti-marriage laws. Indeed, there are problems related with Indian women but then effective measures in form of stringent laws are already there to take note of them. There are many institutions to take care of plight of women, whose recommendations have led to new rules, fresh amendments and etc. in form of Domestic Violence Act, Dowry Act and Maintenance Act, to name a few. In Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court of India in 1997 laid down the guidelines to ensure that sexual harassment at the workplace does not take place, which resulted in framing of the “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012″. The problems pertaining to women are being systematically dealt with, and much of the problems have not arisen out of lack of concern for the cause of women in Indian society, but because of lack of effective implementation. So it’s really shrewd to suggest that patriarchal society favours men!
Let’s understand that in name of personal freedom and personal choices one cannot give way to lifestyle which ensures conflicts and dilemmas of disturbing nature. A choice has to be in league with prevalent norms and customs. Or else, women need to effectively satisfy that their choices would not lead to turbulent state of affairs. There is nothing like absolute freedom. She has to convince what would be the state of affairs in such a society, which allows women unrestricted freedom in name of personal choices? That’s because, if there comes no plausible explanation, and still we went in for such a society, it would be hard to wipe out the new set of complexities. That’s the case in other parts of the hemisphere. To see the resistance offered by men, or by the people belonging to old order of living patterns as an attempt to hold back the privileges enjoyed in the patriarchal set-up is not the right interpretation. It’s also not fear to lose the power or monopoly. On the contrary, it’s an attempt to prevent the citadels of society from crumbling down.
It’s simply not issue of having choices/making choices in free manner; it’s more about long term consequences of having choices, which indicate the high probability of single women, pills, abortions, extra-marital relations, same-sex relations, stress-related burdens, broken families, deviant kids and etc.? What about the dangerous interference in the evolutionary process, wherein for ages men played the role of protector and women the role of nurturing the kids? With this kind of perverted “role reversal”, are’t we on the wrong track? One of my friends, during gender related conversation, referring to Sunita Williams ( as if only after that Indian women learnt the art to make exceptional choices) stated that she did not have kids for the sake of work! It would be suffice to say that if all women made such a choice, it would not be hard to imagine the fate of evolution of human species! However, this is classic example of selective approach, wherein a woman seeks benefits of traditional society when she feels trapped by her weaknesses but she is absolutely modern when it comes to making choices and rights. That’s paradox at its best since.
After all, it involves taming of the men species to ensure that inequality gets reduced! That has begun in a cruel fashion. Men are now supposed to do something which is never their strength, and a retaliatory gesture on their part is enough to get them the tag of being an abuser and an oppressor! Who will bear the consequences of ”placing men and women in a conflicting role and creating confusion in values”? But that’s still not as ominous as an attempt to create a society which denies even the right to protest on part of men. ”Under cover of the notion of chivalry, as understood by Modern Feminism, Political and Sentimental Feminists alike would deprive men of the most elementary rights of self-defence against women and would exonerate the latter practically from all punishment for the most dastardly crimes against men. They know they can rely upon the support of the sentimental section of public opinion with some such parrot cry of: “Treat a woman in this way!”/ “What! Hit a woman!”.
It’s interesting that women learnt to move out of their houses, refusing to remain confined to prison like state of affairs within the home, and began to notice that world outside is a different affair altogether. It missed the “having all the pleasure factor” which they had assumed prevailed in men’s life as they began to venture outside. The world would remain a hell’s replica and it would not going to change whether women remains inside the home or moves outside, fulfilling their aspirations and dreams in fullest manner. However, having said that, let’s make the world safer and better for the women community. Nobody said that problems pertaining to women’s life, be they of any type, sexual assault, low wages, discrimination, should be ignored.
What I wish to suggest is that while dealing with women’s issues, the gender politics should not get mixed with the reforms. An attempt to distort the intimate relationship with men and women should not become the prime motive in guise of welfare. Sadly, that’s how one feels while analyzing the current state of affairs, wherein right from biological facts, psychological facts and legal truths, all are being selectively quoted, or quoted in perverted manner to suit the vested interests acting as agents of change in world of women.
That’s why all conscious souls, interested in right developments, should become alert when “there is no distinction between potential and probability. An allegation suffices for proof. Hearsay is taken for gospel.” (Charles E. Corry). Rohan, Men’s Rights activist, Bangalore, conveys the same sentiments in a different way: ” Women have the right to be seated when in a bus or in a train. They have the right to 50% reservation in govt. jobs and academics. They have the right to claim alimony and maintenance, even in a live-in relationship. They have only rights and men only have duties. This is called equality, according to feminazis.”
Precisely, it’s for the very same reason it has become need of the hour to present the happenings taking place in world of men in an aggressive and conscious manner. The happier side of the movements aimed to improve the life of women has been “demolition of the idea that women are inherently nice”. The thing that’s now taking place is that discrimination and abuse stories related with women are being presented both in right and wrong way, with help of paid media. Facts, right and wrong, are flowing thick and past to show that how women have been underprivileged and suppressed lot. No one is bothered to check either the authenticity of facts nor the source, forget about probing them from wide angles.
Anyway, since all this is happening in the name of ensuring a better world for women, I am but compelled to endorse them. But with a condition and appeal: Let’s also reveal the true picture of the sufferings, pains, humiliation, torture faced by men side-by-side the stories which talk about sufferings of women, with the same honesty and intensity! That alone will bring the true story, true picture. At present, we are witnessing with abuse stories related with women only. That’s unfair to hear/see only one side in any story and jump to flawed conclusions applicable to totality.
Why such a wish irks those concerned with rights of women? Will society be a better place only if you enable the women to have all the rights? Why shouldn’t the rights of men be discussed in the same breath? Why should not adequate attention be paid to silent sufferings of men? It leaves me aghast that tragedies, stories of discrimination associated with men, their precarious state of affairs being involved in hazardous and tough activities and regular interaction with dilemmas and ironies of peculiar type are being talked about in matter-of-fact tones. Worse, any attempt to bring the truth get checkmated by giving the impression that since men are about to lose the power, lose the privileges, these are reactionary backlash. That’s an absurd and fleeting observation. The right interpretation is that men have now begun to get organized to make “gender equality” attain a right shape, a right balance, a right proportion. And this would never stop.
P.S.: Many thanks to my friend, Rohan, whose views I have borrowed from the conversation we had on Instablogs on one of my posts having the same theme. He is Men’s Rights Activist hailing from Bangalore.
Society Always Tilted Towards Women