Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Education System be damned!!!

Today we had a guest lecture, and somehow we wandered to the issue of Compulsory Education. In fact, it is only today that I realised that Compulsory Education should mean that one need not have to apply. And really how true it is! But look at the situation prevalent especially in urban India. If you had to take admission in school, you would have gone mad!I mean it really scares me! My heart really goes to those children who are growing up in this scenario.
I remember, 2 years back, when I was in Bangalore, I happened to stay at one of my distant uncle's place for a couple of days, and I came to know that they were to planning for their daughter's admission but the city's supposedly best girls' school, needed a donation of 20-25,000 rupees. And they planned to settle for the next best because my uncle was expecting a transfer. Imagine paying such a bomb and then shifting to another city, and pay again a similar exhorbitant sum. The child had to get admitted in Class 1. In fact, all of us very well know the plight of urban families, who have to pay huge sum of money in the name of education. Capitalism in Education, as they say!!!
But I really liked the idea of Universal Education in US. There you have to pay extra taxes in order to study beyond your district limits. One child is supposed to get her education in her own community. Yeah, it definitely instils a feeling of community because everyone comes there--the brightest as well as the dumbest!
I definitely do not believe that institutes like Bansal tutorials in Kota or institutes and schools of the ilk are doing wonder. Their cut off is 80% and then they take a written test. After you qualify that you are assigned groups like A,B,C,...according to your excellence and brilliance. So when you already filter out the cream, what can you expect other than the best from them. For example, if IITs or IIMs do well, do you wonder why??!!
The idea of private schools should be banned because on one side it instills a sense of disparity among children at a very young age, and secondly they never get to see the complete community. Remember schools were supposed to be a mini-world, where you experienced the diversity of the world outside in a small scale. But in this case, you end up meeting people of your ilk only, and sometimes you don't even realise that there is life beyond fashion, latest music video, Kareena's latest hair colour, and the glamour world. In fact, there is tremendous amount of harsh realities waiting for you out there, but you are not prepared; with that kind of education system!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bachpan ki Baatein

When I think about the weirdest thing I have done as a kid, I instinctively start smiling. Because there have been quite a few! Now how this cropped up? Well, just now one of my friends said something, which made those old memories alive; and since I was just thinking about what to write about--I got my answer, bang on time!

I remember it was afternoon, and I had to go to my friend's house. So I had to iron my clothes. My mum was sleeping, and somehow I had to put on the press there.So I thought if I would switch on the light, my mum would wake up, and she would give me a lamba chauda lecture on not go out in the afternoon, its too hot, go later, study, blah...blah....blah!Guess what I did? I thought I would just finger the holes to find out where the socket is, and then put in the the plug. Yeah you got it right! I actually tried to find out the holes of that socket by fingering inside the hole. And as expected (or unexpected, at that time), I got shock of my life!!!Thank god, I did not get stuck there!

There's this another story of my school days. You would not believe how silly one could get! I used to forget my bag at home, and walk to school. I would feel that something is missing but would not be able to locate, what!!! Then some friend, who would meet along the road, would ask where's the bag? Then it would struck me as a lightening, and I would be embarrased like hell. But managed to make some story!

There's this story, which my brother used and over-used to fool me, whenever he wanted any favours.For example, he wants to eat my share of chocolate or cake or anything else; he would tell me that I know a cat,and she has a family and they have all gadgets in her home which are very high-tech. She has everything, and when he goes there, he gets whatever he wants. So if I give him my stuff to him rightaway, he would get me several later. Somehow I was convinced by him, not to mention this to anyone.And with this laalach I would give up my sweets, etc. Someone has rightly said that one bird in hand is better than two in bush; but I had not heard this then!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Book Review: People Unlike Us

I wrote this almost an year back:

A book is an experience-good or bad! And if it is well written, it is more than just an experience, it’s like spending some time with someone, exploring a new world, wide-eyed, surprised, shocked, touched and moved! Reading a book is living a pseudo-life.

People Unlike Us was a chance discovery in our library and the topics it covered were known but not felt. So there was a desire to explore this horizon, to spare some time to know life beyond personal boundaries, assignment deadlines, hanging out, gossips, etc., because life is mind-boggling beyond our secured limitations.


This book is the third in the Contemporary Essays series by HarperCollins India. The media is flooded with issues (we can assume that from the fact that earlier we had only DD1 but now we have a host of 24-hour news channels). But the problem with our so-called competent and omnipresent media is that it chooses only those issues that the mighty, English-speaking middle-class finds interesting. If Lakme Fashion Week or marriage of Karishma Kapoor finds more time and space in the media than the plight and injustice to the poor and, and if we stay glued to our TVs so that we do not miss even one of the leggy ladies in the beauty pageants, then there is something seriously wrong with us.
Sometime back there was a Gender Workshop in the campus and surprisingly, I came across many guys in the group who were unable to buy the fact that girls are actually the less privileged in Indian society because in their immediate vicinity this did not happen. This beat the entire logic of conducting the workshop that was to inspire sensitivity towards each other and visualize things in a macro perspective. If I’m not dead does not mean that death is not a reality! While reading the book, I could relate this insensitivity with our own insensitivity towards several issues like encounters in Kashmir, sati, caste system, etc.
This book is an attempt to go beyond media approach of covering stories. Everyday there’s at least one news about murder, encounter or rape but how much does it affects us? This book lends faces to issues and brings them closer to reality, to our understanding. All the essays have been penned by competent journalists who took time off from their usual jobs to draw a picture of our country that has been highly marginalized.

Invisible Grief
by Muzamil Jaleel

It dates back to the time when militancy had just taken birth in the Valley, around 1988. The essay is about two remote villages along the LOC in Kashmir—the army massacred people in one, the militants in the other. You realize what has happened to the Paradise on Earth when you read the line-“the stadiums where we had played cricket and soccer, the beautiful green parks where we had gone on school excursions as small kids in white and grey uniforms, were turned into martyrs’ graveyards. One after another, those who used to play there were buried there with huge marble epitaphs detailing their sacrifice.”
The stories of two forgotten villages, both situated in the frontier district of Kupwara stir sentiments when you come to know how silent tragedy and invisible sufferings mar their life. In Warsun, the people had resisted the tide of militancy and were punished for garlanding a Union minister, while Pazipora witnessed one of the first, and biggest massacres by the army in 1990. There’s a woman who curse her for making her son stay back for one extra day for vacation, there’s a man who lost 22 of his family and friends, another woman who had to marry her late husband’s nephew, half her age and whom she had even cradled and there are numerous such living stories fresh on the minds of survivors of fate.
The army protects us from outsiders all right but the atrocities done by them on the natives of the Valley due to their own incapacity to deal with militancy, bring them to a human level, a human who errs and scars of which remain forever! It’s not about blaming the army but it’s about understanding the plight of those innocent people who happen to be there where politics and militancy is at its best.

The Economics of Sati by Sagarika Ghosh

The essay is about an economically backward village in UP, where Sati is viewed in terms of the benefits it would attract, nobody bothers whether it was really a Sati or a suicide framed a Sati. Actually, people live under this assumption that when in Rajasthan anyone commits Sati, it leads to a Sati temple and it attracts donations for the temple and thus, development work is initiated.
When you read about a son who’s not bothered to discuss whether his mother really committed Sati or just jumped into her husband’s pyre on impulse, you are amazed by the insensitivity of the people. But when you actually go through the plight of people living in that area, and the level of development across decades and through several election promises, you realize that it’s not people who should be blamed but it is poverty that is to be blamed.
This has been put out very clearly in the following lines-“ Poverty, as Amartya Sen has written, is not simply the lack of income. It is also the lack of a voice, of a responsive local administration that can redress local needs, the lack of a system of governance that is transparent and accountable to the people it supposedly exists to serve.”

Still There by Sankarshan Thakur

In our caste and religion obsessed society, this essay is a leaf from the level to which people fall in enforcing that perhaps caste is supreme to humanity. This particular essay talks about how two teenagers were hanged for daring to fall in love with each other, in a village in Uttar Pradesh-Rajasthan border. The girl was from the upper Jat community and the girl from the lower Chamar community. This was done to re-enforce the fact that in future nobody dares to attempt the same crime otherwise the fate of those two teenagers were exemplary. The fact that this story was narrated to the writer by a little boy, states how deeply this has been engraved in their psyche.
In fact, even after 10 years of this incident, that village has a Chamar sarpanch but things have not changed. The authority is still in the hands of the upper caste Jats, and this fact is not stated but meekly accepted.
In discussion, this matter came up that the so-called lower castes are actually taking advantage of the laws in their favour, for example, now nobody can call them Harijan or any such lower-caste name, because they can file case against anyone on the basis of discrimination. But the thing is when someone is victimized for long, he learns to take advantage of the situation in the way he can. We cannot expect a victim to remain suppressed forever.

Fragments from a Folder by Siddhartha Deb

This essay deals with the mainstream India’s lack of interest in Northeast. As is quoted in the essay-“ secession for the North-eastern States is simply a ratification of their alien status, an attempt on their part to make the contract bilateral so that they may be as free of India as India is free of them.” This essay brings forth the general Indian psyche about our view of people from Northeast.
I remember, I read once in the Times of India, a journalist accounted that wherever she went in India, she was always mistaken for a Chinese or Nepali or Burmese or anything else but not Indian. She had to actually make people believe that she was as much an Indian as anyone else. In fact, this is a general psyche because people from Northeast look a little different but then so does people from South India or North India. There is certain degree of ignorance and indifference in us towards them. This is reflected in the following line-“Ten years after I began explaining to people that Shillong was in Meghalaya and not the capital of Assam, there is still an imaginary Indian border that stretches as far as Bengal-sometimes up to Assam-and stops there.”
The essay talks about Government’s and general people’s indifference towards Northeast; in the wake of flattening out of differences and imposition of a structure that does not considers small anomalous groups.


I recommend this book to everyone as it mirrors that part of society, which we do not think about. Speaking about my own experience, after reading this, I felt blessed for having the life I have, and pained for the real people who suffer this, day in and day out.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Highly Opinionated!

There is an issue going on in my class these days. It is about why the opt-outs should not be part of Farewell Party in our honour. The opt-outs are those people who did not participate in the customary Induction (read ragging)process done by the seniors. They were told at that time if they opt-out of the Induction they would be out of all parties among seniors and juniors, and they accepted that. After that there were Freshers' party, Picnic and the Mentor-Mentee movie, which they were not part of! At this point, with the initiative of these opt-outs, we were supposed to get Farewell Party, but suddenly some of us came to know about this, and it was time to call for a meeting among Seniors. The majority of seniors decided that they do not want opt-outs in the party. There would be two parties--the Farewell (by Junees)and the Farewell Returns (by seniors). So that's the story.
Now my story is that I want the entire juniors to be part of this Farewell and ot a section of them, because I think that we are parting as IMDRites. It should not be related to the Induction. In fact, those opt outs are ready to let go the party, and even I don't have any particular sympathy with this group but it just not seem right to me to exclude them. If it has been the so-called tradition, I want to go against the tradition because to my justification it is unjustified. I am not going to be part of this Farewell which is going to be without opt-outs because I think its high times I let things be. I mean, it is time I had some opinions of my own. And it may not necessarily be with the majority. It is really OK with me!
But yeah, I really felt bad about how my friends have come down to calling each other names, stupid, idiot, childish, insensible, and what not! I mean, all these things were not required. There could have been just a discussion of opinions but I don't know why people have turned sore on differences. It is anyways going to happen in life later also. We cannot always have a unanimous decision. Can we? After all, Life is all about differences. So why not celebrate it!

Casting "Ouch"

After the Shakti Kapoor episode, there has already been lots of arguments on does casting couch exists in the Indian film industry? Well, what I think is it certainly does! More than a film industry thing, it is definitely a dynamics between who is powerful and who is without power! Power Play! It could be called Casting Couch, sexual exploitation at work place or anything, but it definitely is the uneven power distribution in society. And if you ask me, I definitely believe that it does not limits to the arena of film industry. It exists wherever there is such unequal power in question. Just wait and watch, it would be in Politics, it would be in Fashion Industry and it would also be in the big bad Corporate world!
If people say that the big established names in any field are beyond this syndrome, then I surely differ because that cannot happen! It is just that once you become a big shot, nobody can point finger at you! But who knows the truth?
As far as India TV's take on casting couch is concerned, it is definitely in bad taste. Had it followed up a genuine case, it would have been an investigative journalism, but look what they are doing in the name of journalism!
It makes me think what has become of us as a society? Where are we heading towards? Everyone knows about such things but we like to ignore things which could lead us to trouble or any kind of uncomfortable situation.
It really makes me afraid, it makes me wonder, what life is going to be? And at the end of the day who is victimised pre-dominantly?The women! And as a "mature" society we like to believe that we have given women equal opportunities and consider them at par with men. There is a wonderful article "Stop Blaming Indian Women" in today's Indian Express by Nandita Patel.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


I read Mr Advani's interview in Indian Express, dated 16.03.05. He seemed to be vouching too much for the democracy in India that it has given the country its reselience. But, as Mr K. Subrahmanyam rightly points out that Indian political system, barring the polling and declaration of results, is largely undemocratic (Call this a Democracy?Don't, Indian Express,14.03.05). I don't know which democracy is Mr Advani talking about?Is it that where the entire constituency is oblivious to their representative? How justified is this representation?The irony is that our government is formed on this presumption that these people represent their constituencies, and would stand for their needs and objectives! In fact, in the 'democracy' like India, you could also see those people getting elected whom you voted out, with the brilliance of coalition. After all, what matters is Power, everything else is negotiable!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Sunday is a Holiday!

Yeah, I know, everyone knows that, still there was no other better title to give.Anyways, I am doing time pass at a cyber cafe.Because Sunday is a Holiday! I washed a lotta clothes today, because Sunday is a Holiday! I finally started reading Arthur Hailey's The Evening News because, yeah, Sunday is a Holiday! The greatest of all deeds, I got 3 newspapers for myself--TOI, Indian Express, Mid Day.Because Sunday is a Holiday! So you see, this justifies the title for my Blog!And I can assure you that I have not become a gone case, and also that Sunday is a Hoilday, but not for my brains!ENJOY

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Marriage Blues!

Since some time my family is really bothering me with its intention of getting me married! They don’t say this overtly but there are explicit undercurrents. In fact, even my brother told me jokingly about the plans-in-process! I guess, they think that my disinterest in marriage is as much as everyone else has at some point of time! Well, to that I would say, they still consider things same as they used to be; but for me things have changed! I mean, talking about girls, earlier it was considered that girls should be married off as soon as possible. But now priorities have changed. And the most frustrating issue is you have a tough time explaining this to the women community itself! I know, to some extent women are responsible for their own plight, but anyways, my issue is to enjoy my job and not to spend rest of my life, starting from here, to carry on responsibilities and fulfill expectations. Take a Break!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

A Peace of Mind

Have you ever wondered, how much we talk! Think about the dialogue that goes on and on inside your head! It never stops. You saw a handsome guy/beautiful girl (whichever applies) and your mind goes "WoW"!The moment your spotted at the wrong place, you go "Shit!". Besides, the obviously looooooong monologues about how you were justified in giving tit for tat to that girl who thinks, don't know what she thinks of herself!. Or you take a break from the fast pace of life and say "just chill out"!The point is we never stop. I remember when I saw "What Women Want", I realised what a blessing our inner voice is! You can go on bitching about anybody right infront of her, and just make an innocent face, nobody ever knows. You can fool your boss by saying hoe brilliant his ideas are, and go on mocking his foolishness. It is fun, isn't it?
eople say, life has become so busy or we pretend to be busy so that we do not think and thus do not come face to face with our conscience. We are afraid of ourselves, are we? I can speak for myself. I am definitely not afraid of myself because I am not a hypocrite. I do what I say and stick to my words. I do not double time anybody, so why should I have pangs of guilt! In fact, the time when I go for walk and have my inner voice as my companion, is the best part of my day. I think the most important thing in life is loving oneself or should I call it ACCEPTANCE!Another thing which is very important, which I have come to realise is defining one's priorities. For example, if everyone is running after good jobs (read big pay packages), should I also make head way there? It depends, on what I want in life.I have come to accept that those like us who are not confident of our abilities want to cling to safe jobs and salaries, as soon as possible. But those who are passionate about certain things, do not behave in this way. They do not need anchors, for they are anchors themselves! They do not hunt for secured lives, they hunt for fulfilling lives.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Blogging is great, and since I missed it for a couple of days so here I am! So what have I been doing? It began with catching Socha Na Tha on Sunday, then we (I and my roommates) saw Love Actually and Never been Kissed! Did not like any of them. They were both Average movies! I also read a book The One Straw Revolution, and started the Interpreter of Maladies, which would be finished by today. Another on the pipeline is a book called Fast Food Nation. I have lots of books to read—fiction as well as Non Fiction. I am also simultaneously reading India in Transition by Jagdish Bhagwati. I mean I don’t HAVE to read, it is just that I get so overwhelmed by books that when I get my hands on them, I do not like to leave them until I am through! You know what, more than reading; I love company of books; and my secret desire to start something in the lines of Crossword. Then I would have the latest books in my hands, all the time! That reminds me of something! When I was a kid, I used to wonder, why the shopkeepers did not eat their chocolates!!??
Hey, I went completely off-track! Where was I? OK, I was telling about the movies. Well, I love Drew Barrymore but in Never Been Kissed, she was looking absolutely Bekaar! And guess what, today I saw Mitr—my friend; and it was really nice. Shobhana deserved the national award. I hope you remember she shared it with Tabu (for Chandni Bar)! At the cost of repeating, I would say that among Page 3, Satta and Chandni Bar, Satta still is the best one by Madhur Bhandarkar!
Now I think I should rush home because since these days I cook at home, so I gotta get my dinner ready! But I would be back soon. Watch this space!

Socha Na Tha!!!

Yeah, I saw that too! I went to catch this movie on Sunday with a friend. Actually I got bored with the course of my days, all of them have started to seem identical, so that day I suddenly planned to go for a movie. I checked the review and found it decent, so there I was! It is clean--no love scene, no action--movie. You could say it is a light movie, you never get tensed up!This was my first one of Ayesha Takia, and though she does not really act well, but she is different, and I guess she would learn fast. She is this normal girl-next-door kind. No Aishwarya or angelic face here.Talking about Abhay Deol, he badly needed a haircut. But he looked decent in the last few scenes where the story ends in a couple of photographs.
Socha Na Tha is refreshing!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

An ideal Morning

Today I got up at 6 am, finally!!!I exercised for a while and went for jogging. But I was extremely bad at it. I got tired in 2 minutes and I was unable to push my leg forward. I felt that my legs were not moving, as if they were locked!Then I started walking, and while coming back home, I found that the paperwallahs weren't still there. So I thought I would have to make another trip of the streets. But then I spotted my old paperboy and got my morning 'food for thought' from him and engaged him for delivering newspaper daily at my place. Earlier I used to get Indian Express because undisputedly it is one of the best as regards the editorial page is concerned. But Times of India scores on its coverage of news, thus I decided that I would get TOI at home and read the edits of Indian Express in college.
Anyways, that done, I reached home, took bucket, etc, and went downstairs and finished with my long pending work of cleaning my scooty. I had a tough time putting it on Main stand!Then I washed some clothes and watched Babe; and then I realised that I had an assignment to do. So I picked up my stuff and did my assignment. (I slept in between for almost half an hour). In the evening, I came to my institute for assignment submission and read some parts of SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL. Then here I am!
I hope I would go for the movies to be screened by Open Space, made by Iranian directors, tommorrow!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Fat Is Not a Fairy Tale

By Jane Yolen

I am thinking of a fairy tale,
Cinder Elephant,
Sleeping Tubby,
Snow Weight,
where the princess is not
anorexic, wasp-waisted,
flinging herself down the stairs.

I am thinking of a fairy tale,
Hansel and Great,
Bounty and the Beast,
where the beauty
has a pillowed breast,
and fingers plump as sausage.

I am thinking of a fairy tale
that is not yet written,
for a teller not yet born,
for a listener not yet conceived,
for a world not yet won,
where everything round is good:
the sun, wheels, cookies, and the princess.

from Such a Pretty Face May 2000
Meisha-Merlin Publishing, Inc

Partners in Crime!

I felt a little uncomfortable when I came to know how much deep I am into the cruelty done to animals. It is all pervasive, where do I go?
For example, look at Milk & Milk Products companies like Nestle. I gathered from my class in Science, Technology and Ecology, that it actually makes cows stand in rows, which looks like an assembly line. There are udders are attached to machines, which take out milk, and it is processed for later use! Technology at its best, I suppose! Besides, as we know that cow gives milk for her cattle; so these companies stretch the time when cows give milk to extremely long periods with the help of artificial methods, which include painful hormonal injections also. And top it all, the poor cattle hardly gets the milk. Commercialisation is thy name!
Second case, did you imagine or think about the state of poultry or other animals destined to be part of our meals? They are given hormonal injections at a very young age so as to make them grow fast. Their legs are tied so that they could not move, and thus they put on a lot of weight. Some birds like hens and cocks, sometimes become so obese that they are unable to carry their weight on their legs and results could be broken bones! Ll this to increase the quantity of meat as much as possible to get maximum profits out of the investment. Think about the pain of those animals and birds; and then think about your own fate when you eat such things!
Third case, following are some of the companies which use animals for painful testing:
Proctor & Gamble
British Petroleum
Christian Dior
Colgate Palmolive
Glaxo Smithkline
Johnson & Johnson
Nestle (L'Oreal, Helena Rubinstein, Lancome, Laboratoires Garnier)
Novartis (Ovaltine)
Reckitt Benkiser
SC Johnson
Unilever (Calvin Klein, Cheesboro' Ponds, Elida Gibbs, Helene Curtis)
And this, I can assure you, is not an exhaustive list of companies. You know how you use their products every single day of your life!
Now think about this—where do you go? Isn’t it stifling to be in here, amid such companies which get down to any standards to achieve their ends—MAXIMUM PROFIT—the objective of any business!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


I finally decided to take the initiative to go and watch Black.It was a good movie, I would say, but I would not say--mind blowing!My decision is based on a simple thing. If I look at my watch more than twice in order to see how much more time I have to be inside, I know the movie is not in the category of EXCEPTIONAL.It was heavy, as I expected. And that was one of the reasons I postponed watching it!But I missed 'Little Terorrist'.
I also read at several places that the movie was predominantly in English. Well, I did not think so. Yeah, Mr. Bachchan did teach her student in English but it had not been shown in detail.
Anyways, my day started with a little bit of exercise but I have not yet been able to fight my lethargy and resume jogging.Atmost I manage to get up at 7.15 am, not earlier. Then I decided I would go for the movie, since Monday is a holiday. I had to complete my INDIVIDUAL AND INDIAN SOCIETY assignment but I had zeroed down to what I was going to write, thus it was not going to be a problem. And anyways, I had finished half of it.
Yesterday I was thinking about things I read in SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL. It really made me think that growing GDP does not ensure growth or development in our lives and people around us.It is just an economic parameter to gauge the over all health of the industries.It is too macro to affect us at the grassroots. Even if Indian economic is growing at a rate of 6.9% this year, does that make any difference to the poor people. There problem has not been dealt with. Not this year, not the year before and not likely even in the year after.So why do we put forth an argument based on growing GDP? This takes me to another problem of ours--the jobless growth.It means that the economy would grow but it would not create new jobs, as anticipated. Do we really think about all these? I mean there is another thing bothering me after my SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ECOLOGY class, I never realised how inhuman conditions are in Poultry and dairy farms. I mean think about the injections they are given to make them fatter and thus more meat. It is so disgusting to even think about it.It really relieved me a bit that there are cooperatives like AMUL which do not stress on more productivity (as in more meat produced or milk obtained by whatever methods) rather empowerment of people at the grassroots.I am glad that such institutions exist. I am seriously thinking about turning vegetarian after acquiring knowledge about what is done to poultry and other animals for meat.I would really like to know more about various companies which sell there products to us, to know what kind of products I am consuming. Awareness is really blissful, and extremely important too. If IMDR stresses on anything, then it is AWARENESS more than anything else!