Dr. Genady Shlomper came to Allahabad both as a tourist and as a person with purpose! He was here to attend a function organized to mark Hindi Divas on September 14. I could not be part of this function since I had to attend another event organized in a different city. As a result of that I could not meet the professor at this event, but next day I got an opportunity to meet him. It was a hurried affair since he was about to leave for Ayodhya. Anyway, it did not deter me from asking some interesting questions. Interestingly, it was a memorable experience to seek an appointment with a foreigner in my own language. The few minutes of talk over telephone in Hindi to fix time for the meeting was an unique experience.
This time too when I met someone from foreign land I noticed remarkable simplicity. Right in the beginning he confessed that he is no big guy! True, he might not be a celebrity but you need not to be a celebrity to enjoy a dignified stature! Speaking about his love for Hindi he stated that there was no emotional reason to learn Hindi. He embraced this language because he found it to be useful in scheme of things about to unfold in future. The market is growing and more and more job opportunities get concentrated in Asian countries. Therefore, it’s always going to be beneficial to learn Asian language instead of learning European language! It appears “Capitalism” has proved to be lifeline for Asian languages languishing under weight of English!
Speaking about the influence of Hindi in Israel he said that it’s not very commonplace to notice Hindi speaking person there. However, in modern times there is always a greater space for assimilation of newer ideas from other nations and people in Israel are not hesitant to fall in love with Hindi! On a different note, speaking about the specialties of Allahabad, he said that he found nothing fascinating about it! The only striking thing about this city was confluence of three rivers at Sangam area! Hearing this I was but compelled to ponder about one of the ills of globalization: That it’s fast making cities across the globe to lose their uniqueness! All cities are simply becoming clone of each other!
This brief meeting ended in few minutes but it gave rise to so many ideas as food for thought. That’s the plus point of being in company of academicians!
P.S. :- Dr. Genady Shlomper is a Hindi Instructor at Tel Aviv University, Israel.
I have always been a great fan of writings of Khushwant Singh. That’s because his style of writing made reading an interesting affair, an engrossing episode. In fact, I did not subscribe to his ideological leanings but, nevertheless, I always found enough time to have a look at his write-ups. In literary circles, he was known for bringing forth history of Sikhs. It was a voluminous affair and he did that with perfection. Besides that novels like Train to Pakistan substantiated his fame as a writer.
I remember well that I had habit of reading novels in college days but slow reading never allowed me to finish the novels in one go. Being student of English Literature my bond with English novels deepened with each passing moment in those years. One of my classmates, who loved to buy novels in his limited pocket money, bought this novel but kept it a secret, knowing well that if by chance I came to know about the whole thing, the novel would soon become a history for him. Unfortunately, all things hidden secretly are spotted easily by me. I carried this novel to my home, much against his desire, but I returned this novel to him just after few days. It came as a huge surprise for him since I was infamous for keeping novels for months at my home. I told him that this novel was written in such a lucid way that it made reading a pleasant affair.
Train to Pakistan records tragic events related with Partition of India. It was a complex theme of which I had become aware of through TV serials like Tamas. And so I was not interested in reading again anything related with same theme but once I started reading this novel not for a moment I found reading becoming a dull task. It was written in such a soul-stirring manner that you were left with no other alternative other than to read from start to finish, devoid of long breaks! That explains as to why he emerged as such a popular writer among all the class of people. His writings were devoid of flamboyant and bombastic expressions. He wrote in simple English- something that you also notice when you are reading works of R K Narayan- which attracted even those readers having aversion for anything written in English!
Nowadays I meet many readers who complain that reading has become such a difficult task because modern day writers, especially award-winners, have given way to complex phrases, weird expressions, and meandering sentence constructions which more often than not leave them confused and irritated. However, this was not the case with Khushwant Singh. His column “With Malice towards One and All” which featured in English dailies and “Na Kahu Se Dosti Na Kahu Se Bair” which found space in Hindi newspapers broke all records of popularity. The anecdotes, and daily dose of humour which marked these columns served as life-line for many readers besides ensuring a respectable circulation.
Now having turned writer myself, I feel grateful to writers like Khushwant Singh, R K Narayan and Ruskin Bond, who taught me the art of writing simple English. I mean they taught me how to narrate serious episodes in easy language without compromising with seriousness inherent in them! I would not remember Khushwant Singh as a writer who dealt with women, wine, kisses and sex in his writings, but I would always remember him as a writer who made it easy for me to write simple English in an age when writing has got wedded to complexities!
The complex issue of Devyani Khobragade has come as a boon for ruling party in India on the verge of facing one of the worse defeats in upcoming Parliamentary Elections in 2014. It has allowed its leaders, who have lost their sheen, to talk big about saving the pride of nation, forgetting that most of them enjoy a chequered past! Its most of the leaders, who have been relegated to the background, have now emerged on the surface, speaking aloud about attributes which they rarely displayed both in public and personal lives. Consider the manner in which the Lokpal Bill got passed after the government was left with no other option but to take cognizance of growing unrest over this issue in nation!
The Indian leaders, especially from the ruling party, definitely lack the moral right to make shrill cry about violation of standard provisions in case of Devyani Khobragade. It’s quite evident from a deeper analysis of issue at hand that facts have been blown out of proportion. Like always the issue has been given a larger-than-life colouring, making it look like some shrewd diversionary tactics on the part of hidden players behind the curtain.
Devyani Khobragade is no child that she could not apprehend the consequences of misrepresentation of facts on visa application of the domestic help Sangeeta Richard. How come she is so much aware of “Vienna conventions” but pretty unaware about the violation of domestic laws of U.S. even as there were reported incidents of atrocities committed upon domestic help in the past by other Indian diplomats in the same country? Being an Indian diplomat she should have set high precedents instead of giving impression of being a “victim” in the aftermath of strict actions on part of U.S. authorities.
Let’s be very clear that it’s not the case of making mockery of sovereignty of India but it’s more the case of playing with the fire. Devyani conveniently forgot that she was living in United States and not in India where even a petty “Sarkari Babu” (government official) can use his power to thwart the investigation on being caught.
The urgency exhibited and absurd statements on part of Congress Ministers make them laughing stock in the eyes of all conscious people, who believe in the rule of law. The paid mainstream media might give the impression that knee jerk reactions on part of Indian counterparts back in India are “bold measures” and fitting response to United States, but it would never diminish the ugly truth that she is guilty. The moves on part of U.S. sound more appropriate when Preet Bharara makes it clear that “This office’s sole motivation in this case, as in all cases, is to uphold the rule of law, protect victims, and hold accountable anyone who breaks the law — no matter what their societal status and no matter how powerful, rich or connected they are.”
All those who are talking aloud about diplomatic immunity granted to Indian officials posted at consular office surely needs to answer questions posed by this U.S. prosecutor: “One wonders whether any government would not take action regarding false documents being submitted to it in order to bring immigrants into the country. One wonders even more pointedly whether any government would not take action regarding that alleged conduct where the purpose of the scheme was to unfairly treat a domestic worker in ways that violate the law. And one wonders why there is so much outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian national accused of perpetrating these acts, but precious little outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian victim and her spouse?”
Yes, it’s disturbing that mainstream media pressure and chaotic voices within the government have made it a “diplomatic row” when it’s nothing more than criminal action committed by a responsible Indian officer. However, let’s view critically the actions taken on part of U.S. The WikiLeaks have proven beyond doubt that American leaders are no saints. The U.S. might give the impression that dealing fairly with violation of human rights is always their topmost priority but when their own men get trapped it takes recourse to most shrewd measures to save them.
Or, for that matter, it can go to any extent to get its job done, even if it means sabotaging the sovereignty of other nations. It’s no secret that documents and evidences were forged to justify their attack on Iraq. The drone attacks in various parts of Pakistan make it clear that borders become meaningless in face of its interests, and so death of innocent civilians means nothing! The controversial release of Ramyond Davis, C.I.A contractor guilty of double murder in Pakistan, speaks volume about subtle pressure employed by American leaders.
The U.S. claims it’s very much in pain over episodes of violation of human rights but see the treatment meted out to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay! So it’s evident that rich and powerful nations have dual standards and the U.S. is no exception. It’s not at all wrong to presume that it used its domestic laws to enter in barbaric behaviour which many in India see it as an assault on the pride of India and modesty of a woman.
India needs to learn few lessons from this episode instead of entering in retaliatory actions. Before I come to that point let me state that introduction of gender-neutral laws in India or need of tough measures to punish abusive women always lead to raised eyebrows.The so-called messiahs of women’s rights start making noise in India. The U.S. has perfectly demonstrated that laws are equal for men and women and, therefore, women cannot claim special privileges or concession.
In India despite the leap of so many centuries woman is still inherently seen as a weak specie, a saintly figure, who can first commit no crime and even if she commits crimes she needs to be given special treatment! It’s an impression that’s even supported by foreign based agencies, working for the rights of women in India but the same agencies would remain silent about inhuman behaviour done with Devyani just because it happened in U.S.!
Anyway, India needs to demonstrate its own strength not in reactionary way but in a more mature way. It needs to take away all the special privileges and concessions it offers to U.S. citizen in extraordinary way. Very recently a Visa Officer in India was transferred because she had refused to grant visa to a gay American diplomat on the ground that such marriages are not legal in India. The Indian government instead of supporting her argument, transferred her to a lesser department.
In the light of recent Supreme Court judgement, which has upheld the validity of section 377, one needs to follow the words of former Finance Minister of India, Yashwant Sinha, to let United States become aware of consequences if other nations also become strict in implementing their domestic laws.”My suggestion to the Government of India is, the media has reported that we have issued visas to a number of US diplomats’ companions. ‘Companions’ means that they are of the same sex. Now, after the Supreme Court ruling, it is completely illegal in our country. Just as paying less wages was illegal in the US. So, why doesn’t the government of India go ahead and arrest all of them? Put them behind bars, prosecute them in this country and punish them.” (Yashwant Sinha).
Sometimes back there was controversy about alleged permission granted to American sniffer dogs to enter Rajghat as a part of the security drill before the visit of U.S. President George Bush. In future this sort of “desecration” could be avoided since it’s not permissible as per our own rules. It’s time for India to exhibit that it has a backbone, instead of entering in knee-jerk reactions. That can be perfectly demonstrated by pursuing its own interests in a rigid way without granting extraordinary privileges to outsiders, being least influenced by their nationality and position.
Pic Two Is From Internet
The terrific response which the part one of the travelogue generated really overwhelmed me. It confirmed the sentiment that travelogues, loaded with good photos, leave an everlasting impression on all the sections of people, no matter to which nation they belong.
Photographs are like time machine since the flight of imagination, after viewing them, transcends the normal course of time to move either backward or even forward in an unusual way. They record the present moment for the posterity. That’s why the same photograph viewed at a later stage tells a different story to each viewer. That’s one of the reason why I am pretty conscious when I am dealing with camera. I was sad that I did not use a good camera, but in the aftermath, I felt happy that somehow I managed to get real good pictures.
The part two of this travelogue has awesome views of Siddhnath Ki Dari, a place one kilometer away from Shakteshgarh Fort; glimpses of landscape around that place; images of ancient Goddess Durga temple and images of Ganges flowing by the side of Chunar Fort. Although Part II of the travelogue unleashes some personal sentiments, it nevertheless never misses to create an universal appeal.
Like to inform the readers that Siddhanath Ki Dari is a place known for its huge waterfall, which comes alive in rainy season. However, it belonged to a Yogi (saint) named Siddhanath who in ancient times used to meditate here. I shall not forget a hilarious incident which occurred at this place, when my friend and I were held hostage by lots of monkeys. They did no harm to us but left us only when their gang leader came to us, searched our pockets and got in possession of few mangoes which we had kept inside our pockets! The gang leader did that in a very smart fashion without harming us!
I had no time left to have the photographs of Chunar fort, which as per legends was built by the king of Ujjain Maharaja Vikramaditya in 56 B.C. for his brother Bhartihariji- a great yogi who took samadhi inside the fort! The fort later came to be associated with Babar, Humayun, Shershah Suri, Akbar, and finally it came under the rule of Britishers. Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of Bengal, came to take refuge here for quite some time. It’s a matter of pride for me that my mother’s residence is adjacent to this fort situated on the banks of Ganges.
The Place Intimately Associated With Me During My Childhood…Now It Lies In Tatters….I Remember In My Childhood The Place Was Full Of Lively People! The Owners Left This Place And Now It’s An Abandoned Place!
My Tryst With Vindhya Mountains: An Interaction With Breathtaking Beauty Of Deep Jungles! ( A Photo Story)
Writing is a hugely taxing affair, especially if you are doing it in unfavourable conditions. I always meet tough resistance from so many forces during penning of important posts. That makes it imperative for creative souls to venture into isolated corners away from the maddening world. That not only refreshes them but also tunes their mind to receive new insights. No wonder when writing affair starts turning into a routine affair, instead of being a source of joy, I take a short break and get lost in unheard corners of mother earth. Usually, I visit my village and mother’s original residence since both these places being set against great scenic backdrop offer solace needed by my soul.
However, this time I decided to move into valleys formed by Vindhya Mountains. “The Vindhya Range (Sanskrit: विन्ध्य) is a range of older rounded mountains and hills in the west-central Indian subcontinent, which geographically separates the Indian subcontinent into northern India (the Indo-Gangetic plain) and Southern India.”
I came to visit Shakteshgarh, located in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, nineteen kilometers away from Chunar, which is mainly known for Swami Adgadanandji’s Aashrama. He is a well known saint in this area, who has penned a commentary on Srimad Bhagvad Geeta known as “Yathartha Geeta”. The localites informed me that a visit during the monsoon period is more appropriate since gorgeous waterfalls falling in these region come alive at that point of time. Anyway, I found that even during the odd period, the places like Siddhanath Ki Dari, one kilometer away from Shakteshgarh, which encaptures the the charm and the seduction of a huge waterfall, appear so breathtaking.
During the end of this very beautiful and memorable journey into awesome valleys, full of mystic appeal, I came to capture beautiful images of Ganges flowing by the side of Chunar fort, adjacent to my mother’s residence in Chunar. Over all, the visit really uplifted my sagging spirit. For my readers, I have captured this beautiful images from not so good camera, yet I feel they would come to realize photographic sense is not dependent on a costly camera! You need mind’s eye and not a very costly camera to click a good image! I hope they also come to realize that India is really so beautiful that we need not to venture outside the nation to trace real beauty. The area I visited was haunted by Naxal terror, yet in the end only divine beauty prevailed in form of ancient temples like Durga Temple and etc.
Globalization Is A Great Leveller: Patterns Of Exploitation And Corruption Now Become Same In India And Peru!
Globalization has reduced differences in geographical terms. But, at the same time, it has also changed the geography in a crude way by mindless destruction of flora and fauna. The sad thing about whole affair is that the stories depicting better aspects of globalization do reach us regularly but the negative sides either get censored or, for that matter, fail to get extensive coverage. Just to take an example, the commercials promote McDonald’s pizzas and burgers but are there enough advertisements which highlight the negative effect of consuming them? Globalization believes in the fact that “all that glitters is gold”. It has nothing to do with pains of exploited workers who work in MNCs like a caged parrot, having no power to execute their discretion other than one serving the interests of global masters.
Sometimes back S Ambika, a 22 year old woman factory-worker, permanently employed at Nokia Telecom Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Sriperumbadur in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, got killed in a tragic way when she tried to repair the jam inside the loader machine. It proved to be fatal exercise for her since she was not a technician, but she still came to do that to meet the production targets. A wait for the technicians meant slowing the pace of production! That’s one of the stories, which reveal in sad way the plight of people working in MNCs.
Vaibhav Mani Tripathi, a by-product of Jawahar Lal University (JNU), in his research paper titled, “Democracy and globalization: Are they really compatible”, highlights the ways and means employed by the MNCs to ensure growth in democracies across the globe. ” In democracies of third world, which are new and have lesser degree of accountable governments; methods of bribery, and loot system were adopted by MNCs, in order to get established. By dealing in such ways MNCs get some illegal relaxations and manage to cut cost by getting cheapest labour and denying rules of pollution control etc. In democracies, which are most established and transparent, MNCs change their techniques. By promising high taxes and employment to countrymen, they demand for special industrial estates or special economic zones. This is the biggest irony of Globalization. They demand tax relaxations in order to get established and they promise government to pay huge aid for fighting poverty, pollution and social evils like AIDS!”
One having a close look at the progress stories of various countries, especially the nations trying to emerge as economic giants, one would find that exploitation of workers along with rapid destruction of ecological balance are the integral part of every such story! Before I contrast the happenings in two different countries, India and Peru, to highlight the woes of globalization, I wish to highlight grave tale of negligence which suggests that so-called progress is not only destroying cherished values but also destroying cultural artifacts. One of Belize’s largest Mayan pyramids, which remained in existence for more than 2,300 years, got destroyed by a construction crew involved in a road project.The company used the structure’s limestone walls as road fill! In fact, Time Magazine reports that “much of the monumental architecture at Belize’s San Estevan site, which dates back to 800 B.C., was bulldozed during the late 1990s to provide material for roads.”
From Belize in Central America, now, let’s move to Peru in South America to notice the impact of gold rush in amazon! The lust for gold in other nations keeps increasing but the heavy price other nations pays to satiate the lust never becomes subject of discussion in mainstream media. True, there is lack of jobs and illegal gold mining ensures survival of large number of families but then how can one ignore the dangerous consequences of deforestation in Amazon? A report issued by NASA says that ‘with the price of gold skyrocketing (360 percent in 10 years from 2001 to 2011), unlicensed miners began pouring into Peru’s Madre de Dios. They cleared 12,500 acres from the forest between 2003–2009. Landsat images showed local deforestation increasing at a rate of 26 percent per year.”
The report also highlights the fatal consequences of mercury used in the mining process. The extracts of mercury which after vaporization turn airborne contaminate the water resources, which later enter into the bodies of residents. A very recent study suggests “unsafe levels of the toxic metal in almost 80% of adults and 60% of fish sold at local markets” in Peru. The Peru’s mining department taking stern steps against illegal mining began raiding Madre de Dios. That has led to tense formation between miners, environmental activists and the authorities. However, it appears that such strict steps are now a necessity to reduce the loss of forest area in amazon, which has already lost 18,000 hectares. Needless to state, that Peruvian amazon is remarkable for its large degree of biodiversity.
India is also facing severe consequences caused by deforestation. One of the major causes of deforestation has been depletion of forests to extract minerals of various types. Expansion of agriculture, timber harvesting and shifting cultivation are some of the prime reasons for loss of forest area in India. However, another grim consequence has been displacement of tribal people, leading to militant movement like Naxalism. It establishes something quite well that pattern of exploitation in India and Peru is one and the same and in both the places original inhabitants are in direct conflict with the authorities. If Peru is tormented by illegal gold mining, India is haunted by illegal coal mining and diamond mining! The “Coalgate scam” has clearly revealed that how sensitive rulers of this nation have been while dealing with mineral resources of this nation. In other words, globalization has ensured huge profits for government and private bodies but the same profit never got distributed to tribal people-ones who were responsible for protecting these resources. On the contrary, they got displaced and faced bullets instead of receiving rewards for their indigenous efforts. Now if we see such developments in light of environmental issues, like erratic weather pattern in Indian subcontinent, the situation is pretty grim.
It’s good that people, the ones affected by government’s poorly planned projects, have learnt to come in conflict with the authorities. Nandigram bears testimony to the fact that the Special Economic Zones, not taking care of interests of people in judicious way, shall always meet fierce opposition from people. The farmers in Uttar Pradesh also entered in violent protests in year 2011 over land acquisition policy framed by the state government. The trend pattern involved is that big corporate houses either forcibly acquire the land or they come to acquire it in fraudulent means by keeping in dark the actual content of the deal. The Allahabad High Court staying Ganga Expressway project, expressed deep anguish the way it got initiated without having environmental clearance! This project involving JP Group required acquisition of huge lands situated in the alluvial belt and still no homework was done on part of state government.
One can notice that how rules get manipulated to benefit big corporations, caring a damn for the interests of people. In fact, the concerns related with environment also get neglected. It’s not hard to decipher that two nations even if they are situated in different continents could still exhibit similar pattern of exploitation and corruption. Globalization has not only roped in similar lifestyle patterns across the globe but also introduced identical methods of corruption. And who is the victim? The underprivileged, who never gets a chance to visit McDonald, who never gets a chance to buy gold ornaments, and who also never gets a chance to drive SUV on Expressways! Noam Chomsky sounds quite right when he says that ‘ Market discipline is perfect for poor people in El Salvador, or working mothers in the slums. They have to learn responsibility, but not the rich and the powerful. They have to be protected.”
“Democracy and globalization: Are they really compatible”- An article by Vaibhav Mani Tripathi in Aavartan.
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)
Reflections on Hyderabad Twin Blasts: How Long Will Muslims Take To Feel That They Truly Belong To India?
How will you define the separatist feelings in Indian Muslims? How long will they take to feel that they truly belong to India? Have you ever visited Muslim locality during India-Pakistan Match? They celebrate Pakistan’s victory as if Pakistan has gained something incredible. They never celebrate it in sportsmanship style. In fact, I also, being a cricket lover, feel happy if Pakistan wins after displaying good strategies. However, that’s not the way Muslim celebrate it. It’s a different celebration altogether. It speaks volume about their mindset. They are Muslims first and nationalists later.
Before I proceed further, it would be interesting to read what a conscious Indian thinks about blasts which hit Hyderabad on Febuary 21, 2013:
“Arvindji, Pakistan keenly wants Hindu-Muslim riots in India to destabilize India and malign our image in front of international community. They want Hindus and Muslims to fight with each other. If a riot happens, Pakistan will blame India for torturing Muslims. If a riot happens then Indians will suffer and Pakistan will be very happy. If India wages a war against Pakistan, then also India has much to lose. A war will destroy our economic growth. Pakistan, whose economy is in shatters, has not much to loose.India needs a powerful and independent agency, formed jointly by state and centre, which must work to build a strong internal security and intelligence gathering system. India has to prepare itself to fight against foes who are hidden among us.” ( Prasanjit Saha, Hyderabad)
Very well said, my dear conscious Indian! We have always suffered because we always dared to read the intentions of enemy lightly. That’s why traitors like Mir Zafar, hand-in-glove, with foreign powers ensured that India became battle ground for dubious foreign powers in past! The right strategy is that we should crush the enemy to an extent that it dares not make an attempt to give force to divisive forces. Our decency is seen as weakness even as it win friends in International circles. Safety of our individuals is first than ensuring that we have friends in foreign lands. That should be our top priority. If our people are dying like street dogs, then to have happy face is cowardice and sin.
You can control an enemy- a simple enemy. But how will you control an enemy with a dubious mindset. The problem with Muslims is not that they are Muslims. It’s more about their mindset. How would you change that? That too when government at Centre, is lame duck, which refuses to see problems pertaining to Muslims as threat to national integrity. Obviously, it’s all about politics to retain power. However, in this great game the victims are ordinary citizens, who have no other desire than to live dignified life, peaceful life.
How will you ensure who is friend and who is foe when foes appear in form of friends? In Hindi you have better term to express it: “Genhu ke Sath Ghun Bhi Pis Jaate Hai” ( Few good people also die in an attempt to eliminate the enemy).This situation would not have arisen unless the members of Muslim community had given clear indication of their intentions that they in no way identify with negative forces operating within their community.So it’s a catch 22 situation. Isn’t it? The intelligence reports, which government dares not to make it public, or rather citizens are not conscious enough to read it, or else it would have given insights how the home grown terrorists are operating from one corner of the nation to another remote part of the nation.
“According to IB reports, the ISI has set up strong modules of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba in the Gulf. The Oman module is also very strong and directly connected to the modules in Kerala. ..The annual remittance through hawala channels into Kerala is a whopping Rs 20,000 crore. This figure tells the story of a state, which has today become a hub for extremists….The National Investigating Agency, which has its eyes on this state, has also found that large sums of money, which has been pumped in from the Gulf, had been used to execute the blasts at Delhi, Bengaluru and also at Ahmedabad.”
Worse, how can you ignore the fact that there are many who see a strong intelligence as a threat for secular fabric of this nation? They are the ones who will immediately give way to propaganda via International media that it’s a move to terrorize minorities. See it in light of human rights violation allegations heaped upon security forces operating in Kashmir!! It’s anybody’s guess that with this sort of political will and dismal scenario, the war against terror is not on the right track. It’s time to tackle divisive forces with iron hand, to ensure a safe future for India, better future for India.
कल तथाकथित प्यार करने वालो का परम पुनीत दिवस है। कुछ कहने की जरूरत नहीं है कि फर्जी इमोशंस के साथ बहुत सारे गुलाबो का आदान प्रदान होगा। गुलाब का तो पता नहीं पर वो अगर समझदार लड़की होगी तो उसका काम तो लह गया क्योकि गुलाब तो मुरझा जायेंगे, चाकलेट उदर में समा जायेंगे लेकिन गिफ्ट हो सकता है अगले साल भी किसी और को देने में काम आ सकते है। क्योकि एक साल में बहुत से इस साल वैलेंटाइन डे मनाने वालो लड़कियों के बॉयफ्रेंड इनके द्वारा ऐक्स्ड (axed ) कर देने के कारण एक्स-बॉयफ्रेंड हो जाते है। एक्स- गर्लफ्रेंड भी अस्तित्व में आ जाती है। खैर ये सब पुराने प्रेमी नहीं कि जाके किसी सॉलिड रॉक के ऊपर कोई दुखांत सा गीत गाये। इतने संवेदनशील नहीं कि शोक मनाये। कुछ एक जो थोड़े दुखी होंगे वो जरूर सॉलिड रॉक कुक्कुर धुन में रचे गीत जैसे” जो भी मै कहना चाहू बर्बाद करे अल्फाज़ मेरे“ को गाने या सुनने के बाद “तू नहीं सही कोई और सही” को चरितार्थ करते हुएँ किसी नए के दामन से लिपट जायेंगें। अब कितने सारे आप्शन माने विकल्प “जोड़ी ब्रेकर” के रूप में भटक रह होते है। वो तो पुराने प्रेमी थे जो बेचारे कितने साल महीने आंसू टपकाते थें “प्यार की आग में तन बदन जल गया” गाते थें। अब तो आप इतने व्यापक विकल्पों वाले है कि मौका मिले तो “मेरे ब्रदर की दुल्हन” भी आपकी हो सकती है।
बाज़ार में देख रहा हूँ कि भोजपुरी गीतों के रोमांटिक एल्बम भी बहुत सारे आ गए है जिसके ऊपर “लभ” वाले चिन्ह बने हुएं है। मतलब प्यार का व्यापार ग्रामीण संस्कृति में गहनता से व्याप्त हो गया है। अहसास तो यही होता है। वर्ना ये अजंता-एलोरा की आधुनिक संस्करण तो भोजपुरी वाले “लभ” में इंटरेस्ट दिखाने से रही। जितनी तेज़ी से भारत ग्लोबल हुआ उतनी तेज़ी से लव का ग्राफ भी बढ़ा ये तय है। दोनों में समानुपाती रिश्ता सा लगता है। खैर एक चीज़ ये है कि इंडिया ने अब इतनी फ्रीडम जरूर दी है कि अगर इतने सारे आप्शनस लॉन्ग टर्म, शार्ट टर्म, लिव-इन के बावजूद भी आप अगर अकेले रह गए तो आप अपने सेक्स के साथ भी लव कर सकते है। इससे आप का कॉन्फिडेंस लेवल तो बढेगा ही और साथ में आप सब पे धौंस जमा सकते है प्रोग्रेसिव बन कर। कम से कम लोगो को अपने अनुभव से उत्पन्न प्रोग्रेसिव लेक्चर तो झाड़ ही सकते है। थोडा अच्छा लिख लेते हो तो क्या पता आप एक दो नोवेल भी लिख दे और पुरस्कार वगैरह मिल गया, जो ऐसे थीम पे अन्तराष्ट्रीय या राष्ट्रीय जगत में कुछ न कुछ मिलना तय ही है, तो युवा वर्ग की नब्ज़ पकड़ने वाले तमगो सहित आप की लेखक के रूप में उभार तय है।
वैलेंटाइन डे के ठीक एक दिन के बाद भट्ट कैम्प की मर्डर थ्री रिलीज़ हो रही है। ये सीरिज मैंने नहीं देखी है और ना मै चाहता हूँ कि इस सीरिज की कोई फ़िल्म देखने का सौभाग्य कभी भविष्य में बने लेकिन इस नयी फ़िल्म के पोस्टर में लिखी पंच लाइन आज के लव की हकीकत बयान कर देती है। लिखा है कि आप अपने प्रेमी को कितना जानते है? मतलब साफ़ है कि अगर आप सचेत नहीं है तो लव के बाद धोखा अवश्य है। वैसे अच्छा है वैलेंटाइन डे के ठीक एक दिन के बाद ही बहुत सारे नए नए प्रेमी भूतपूर्व प्रेमी हो जायेंगे। एक्सपीरियंस बढेगा युवाओं का। कैसी संस्कृति है कि वफ़ा की सोच भी रखना जुर्म से कम नहीं। सब में मिलावट, सब में खोट है चाइनीज़ माल की तरह। कब फुस्स हो जाए पता नहीं। एक युग था कि सरल और सीधा होना सम्मानजनक था। आज आप के नाकाबिलियत का परिचायक है। आप के विरुद्ध निकम्मेपन का तमगा है। शातिर दिमाग होना ही बुद्धिमानी बन गया है। खैर ये लव करने वाले प्रेमी उगते रहे, पनपते रहे। लेकिन चूँकि गाँव में “लभ” पाँव पसार चूका है इसलिए सरकार को जैसे शहर में लव के डाक्टर माने साइकोलोजिस्टस है जो प्यार के साइड इफेक्ट्स डिप्रेशन या टीनेज प्रेगनेंसी के केसेस को देखते है ऐसे कुछ डाक्टरों को ग्रामीण क्षेत्रो में नियुक्त किये जाए। ताकि कम से कम प्रेम के बाद जो शॉक्स झेंले पड़े उनका निदान वैज्ञानिक तरीके से हो। खैर मेरी तरफ से सब प्रेमी जनों को शुभकामनायें।
मेरे अन्दर तो साहिर की यही पंक्तियाँ उभर रही है:
हर चीज़ ज़माने की जहाँ पर थी वहीं है,
एक तू ही नहीं है
नज़रें भी वही और नज़ारे भी वही हैं
ख़ामोश फ़ज़ाओं के इशारे भी वही हैं
कहने को तो सब कुछ है, मगर कुछ भी नहीं है
हर अश्क में खोई हुई ख़ुशियों की झलक है
हर साँस में बीती हुई घड़ियों की कसक है
तू चाहे कहीं भी हो, तेरा दर्द यहीं है
हसरत नहीं, अरमान नहीं, आस नहीं है
यादों के सिवा कुछ भी मेरे पास नहीं है
यादें भी रहें या न रहें किसको यक़ीं है
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