Scared, Are you?

A very recent incident in my life has made me “right” this one. It is not often that you want to avail the service of a public transport in smaller cities and towns in India, considering that the available space inside the same is utilized so efficiently that where only 2 persons are supposed to be seated, the conductor or the driver of the public transport will make sure that at least double the legitimate number is made to fit in the same space. If that was not enough, a couple of people who happen to be standing next to you, would be found leaning over for want of some space and air, coming through the windows.indian bus

But this is just the tip of an iceberg, when it comes to being scared of a thing or having some apprehensions about the same. A couple of days back, having heard so much about the state of the public transport in my city, I decided to experience it first hand. And there I was, travelling in this bus, which was supposed to take me from a place called Mahanagar to Hazratganj, which resembles the likes of CP in New Delhi, when it comes to the colour combinations that have been used to adorn the place.

Having barely managed to squeeze in the bus, I was lucky to have found a seat next to a gentleman, who looked to be in his twenties. One thing that foreigners find quite funny in case of us, Indians, is that no matter whether we know the person sitting besides us in a journey, we are very good and keen on starting a conversation with the unknown person available at our disposal.

Not only do we happen to talk about the general affairs going on in our country ranging from what Modi might be up to in the coming elections to would Dhoni be implicated in the IPL crisis that has ensued in recent times, but also about our own personal issues ranging from what my boss might have said to me the very day, to what would happen if my child happens to fail this year.

Keeping what I can call the tradition intact, the gentleman (whom I will refer to as G, from here on ), sitting to my left, started the conversation.

Hi, so where are you going?”—G

Hi, to Hazratganj, and you?”—me

I am going to charbagh, to catch this train. You see, my luggage is kept right above me. Actually, my uncle’s son is getting married, so I am going for his ceremony. So, you are originally from Lucknow?”—G

Yes, very much :).”—me

By the way, yesterday I went to this place called Indira Dam. Have you been there?”—G

Ya, I have been there twice. Nice place, I must say.”—me

What nice! You know what happened yesterday. I went there with a couple of friends. It was 6 p.m. in the evening. As we were walking past this barrage, we saw this lady lying unconscious on one side of the road. One of us even thought about calling the police, but we were too scared to get involved.”—G

So, you didn’t inform the police?”—me

We did. But it was only after we had left the place, from a P.C.O. (Public call office) located some 2 kms away. You know how it is with Police. With no fault of yours, they might indict you for something which you cannot even think of in your wildest of dreams and even if you happen to find a good policeman, then also you wouldn’t want to be going to the court as a witness every now and then, for the case might go on and on, considering the state of our judiciary, which takes ages to issue verdicts on cases.”—-GPOLICE-BRUTALITY

Hmm! Then what happened. Did you follow up?”—me

Not really! We just hung up the phone, after informing the police of the whereabouts of the lady. Later on, we came to know that in recent times, a couple of people have been found murdered at the same place and people have even spotted a couple of bodies floating in the running water at times.”—-G

That sounds awful.”—me

Ya, so many things are so awful in our country, if I can refer to it as my country in the first place. You must have already noticed the cap that I am wearing. I am a Muslim and for Muslims, especially the underprivileged ones, life is not so easy. You see, for every other blast or terrorist attack that takes place in this country, we are the first ones to be rounded by the police. We are made to suffer for no fault of ours, at times. That’s why, so much of resentment can be found in the Muslim youths, who find it easier to astray rather than comply with the laws of the country. On top of that, these political parties try to throw freebies at us, thinking that we can be cajoled by their futile efforts, which is nothing but a mockery of the political system in our country.”—G

Hmm!”—me. 

I know, it is a very sensitive matter. Instead of treating us like aliens, the political parties will do good if they can just treat us at par with every other citizen of this country. Anyways, this gets prioritized only for namesake at the time of elections and later on it is found no where on the agenda that the political parties are so proud of presenting during their election campaigns.”—G

That is very true. But then why don’t you try to get rid of all these political leaders who talk as if they are the representatives of the entire Muslim community and take matters in your own hand, by creating awareness and vouching for some political and social work?”—me

If it was so easy, then don’t you think every other person would end up doing the same? These very political leaders create so many hurdles and for a common man like me and you, it comes down to a choice. Whether we want to continue living our lives in the same pseudo-peaceful manner or do we want to disturb the peace of our minds by going against the Hukumat.“—G

Hmm! You know, a day would come and in some ways, it has already, in at least the Naxal affected parts of our country, when people would take up arms and would revolt against the atrocities and crimes that are being committed by our administration.”—me

True! You know what is more moving on an emotional level. When we lose lives just because of maladministration and faulty decision making on part of our government. You see, what’s happening in Uttarakhand. So many lives have been destroyed. So many people have gone missing and no one can predict when their lives will go back to normal.”—GArmy soldiers rescuing pilgrims during their flood relief operation in Chamoli, Uttarakhand

Ya, it is very sad to see that knowingly we opt to sit on a time bomb, waiting for it to explode. Faulty constructions and the approvals for the very same granted by none other than our administrators, coupled with total ignorance of the environment has resulted in a major tragedy which will continue to haunt the lives of those affected for many years to come.”—-me

Yes, and the lack of preparedness on part of our government is a sheer nonsense, which shows that no one is really concerned about what’s happening with this country. Everyone is busy looking for avenues where they can make quick bucks in order to secure the future for themselves and their loved ones. Oh, your stop has come. I guess its time to say bye. How soon time flies by! It was nice meeting you. Allah ne chaha to fir milenge.”—-G

It was a pleasure talking to you. I am sure we will meet sometime in the future :).”—-me

And there I was bidding goodbye to this wonderful gentleman. As I got down, having experienced the journey which began as a test of the public transport in my city, I wondered whether the picture of my country that had been depicted of in the conversation that I just had with G, would ever improve.

Being an optimist that I am, I certainly believe that there is still time to bring our country back on the right track. Lots needs to be done not only on part of our government but also as individuals. It might require some sacrifices and hardships.

The question, though is, are we all prepared to think over and above our selfish ends and rise up to the occasion to eradicate the fear that has for so long kept haunting us for the want of corrective actions in our lives?

Source for Image: http://punjab-tim.blogspot.in/2010/03/no-seat-belts-requiredindian-buses.htmlhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/30/top-5-police-brutality-vi_n_115921.htmlhttp://www.deccanchronicle.com/130701/news-politics/article/congress-bjp-twitter-war-over-uttarakhand

Rioting for Religion

On one hand where Bareilly, my current refuge, was busy partying on Sunday night, on the other hand there was something dreadful that was about to happen in a place called Aavlan, a place not very far from the city.

A group of kanvariyas, known for their devotion towards Lord Shiva, and who become quite visible during the season of Sawan, were totally engrossed in their enchantments when the communal bug hit them.

As the word goes, continuing with their over-the-moon celebrations, the group didn’t realize that they were crossing a mosque where the muslims of the area were all prepared to break their fast, carrying on with their tradition of Ramzaan.

On being requested by the Muslims, the kanvariyas refused to tow down their celebrations and the noise emanating from the same. An argument followed which soon took the shape of a skirmish, and resulted in injuring and probably killing a number of the kanvariyas and the Muslims present there at the very moment.

What followed after was a toned down replica ofthedreadful Mumbai riots and many such riots that our country, of late, has become so used of beholding.

The administration in the district was quick to respond. In this effort a number of policemen and the SP of the city got injured. Surely their effort needs to be applauded for having prevented a major catastrophe from taking place and for imposing a curfew in the whole area.

But one question that has had and is continuing to marr the image of our country as a country with unity in diversity that India is so proud of propagating everywhere around the globe, is why do we become so intolerant when it comes to propagating or practicing our religion?

Is it because of the manifestations of our biases towards the other sections/religions in our country that seem to find its way out on such occassions or is it because of the increase in intolerance and loss in secular character of our citizens that seems to multiply on such critical moments?

Whatever be the reason, one thing that is absolutely essential for a country like India to tread its path of transition from a developing to a developed nation, is to maintain an environment of peace and stability, in order to be able to develop and grow.

The people or the hooligans who tend to be involved in such activities have no regard whatsoever for our nation or her assets. As a result, we end up losing not only the valuable infrastructure but also the precious lives of our youth, who tend to play a major role during such riots, and who have a potential of becoming productive citizens of our country.

Such loss is completely irreparable. It also ends up creating bad feelings on both sides of the community and serves like a ticking bomb ready to explode sometime in the future.

What needs to be done is to increase contact between the two communities and bring them on a platform where they can interact and try to get rid of their stereotypes and prejudices that have developed over time.

Schools and parents need to play a major part in this effort. They themselves might have gone through harsh experiences but they should make sure that they don’t end up imposing their biases on their own children and leave them to suffer in the times to come.

After all, its not the religion that causes all the trouble. Its the people themselves, its us, who are the sole and the only cause of such conflicts.

And what’s more important is to realize that we don’t really need to go far in order to find our answers to the puzzle and to take note of what the father of our nation once said: “be the peace you wish for the world“.

Source for the Image: http://www.thegamerspulse.com/london-constable-blames-gta-for-riots/, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2011/01/2011171242359602.html

 

Understanding the Men Behind the Art

If you have ever been involved with constructing a house or getting done the woodwork or the interiors in a flat, you would know every bits of information that I will be mentioning henceforth.

With the kind of work environment provided to the workmen who are involved in the above e.g. carpenters etc., and with the kind of work prestige that comes along, they are bound to get unprofessional.

They are truly an unorganized work force, who live on a daily basis. They have no option but to work at the mercy of their agent or the contractor, who tends to get the major part of the profits, leaving these artists a very meagre amount in which they have to sustain not only themselves but also their families, residing either in the slums of the city or their native villages.

This coupled with the fact that the skill set they possess is not because of any professional training that they might have got through the various government non-functioning schemes, but because of being involved on site with their brethen, makes them sometimes a target of the ire that the client might have built in him/her because of the quality of the work that might have resulted.

What follows is a series of quarrel between the client, the contractor/agent and the workmen. The client takes it out on the contractor who according to the client is supposed to fulfill his/her part of the deal (by the way, in most situations there is no deal of sorts and the work gets done on a purely verbal understanding).

The contractor, since he/she is bound by his/herwords tends to take it out on the poor workmen who have no option but to listen to the wrath being taken out on them. The workmen are sometimes aware of the lack of skills they have, but they end up not doing anything about it because of the sheer absence of alternatives available to them.

What follows is a total chaos. The client gets upset because his/her work doesn’t get completed to his/her satisfaction and liking. The contractor is upset because of the things that he/she might have to listen to (though they have got pretty much used to the bickering and are only concerned with making money these days). The workmen of course are a disadvantaged lot and have no where to go to.

Seeing the above, the need of the hour is to have a professional organization which can organize things for these craftsmen, who can register themselves in the same and can be assured of an equitable and continuous source of earning.

The perception of the so called well-off in our society needs to be changed and they should be sensitized towards the plight of these workmen, at the same time, a respect for the very work should be made to develop amongst the lot.

The government needs to become responsive to the needs of such labour by introducing well planned schemes which can enable these workmen to develop appropriate skill set required in the profession that they are pursuing, which would in turn help them in developing self-confidence.

This would ensure that the workmen would no longer be considered the dirty lot and would get their due, of which they have been deprived off since centuries now.

Source for Image: http://www.dartblog.com/data/2010/10/009220.php, http://quinn-tasteandsee.blogspot.in/2011/12/i-am-carpenter.html

Such an Inspiration

Aamir Khan is surely an inspiration but I am not referring to him this time around. I am talking about the people whom he invited in his show this morning.

With the kind of adversities and challenges they have faced in their lives, it is extremely hard to maintain the same kind of positive outlook towards the same. I am sure it would have been much easier, if they would have opted for a path that most of us, in the same situation, would have, and that is to bow down in front of our destinies.

Truly and in all senses of the word, they have emerged well over and above what they were destined to be and have indeed defied the very meaning of the term.

It was heartening and really inspirational to see the way in which they chose to lead their lives. With no remorse whatsoever, they chose to lead a life as every other so called normal human being would.

They refuse to be treated any differently and want to vouch for their rights which their country had promised to them since the time of inception of our Constitution.

Now, it is upto us as citizens and our government to give them their due which they have been depreived of since decades and we must make sure that we don’t fail in our duties.

Always remember that our attitudes and our behaviour towards them can do wonders for such people.

Source for Image:http://www.instablogs.com/entry/a-disability-or-a-difability/

Say No to Domestic Violence

The one thing that God certainly wanted for the entire humanity was to give rise to the concept of reproductivity and self-sustenance and growth. That’s why he made sure that a boy was accompanied by a girl when he decided that it’s time to start a new game.

And here we were all set to dance to His tunes. But little would He have wondered that a thing which He had started to ensure propagation of a never ending cycle would be corrupted by the illegitimate and inhuman whims of some amongst us.

No one had ever thought that the institution of marriage, evolved by our society, which was nothing but an advanced conception of the very basic thought, would turn into disrepute because of the vices and greed demonstrated by certain sections of our society.

And one such demonstration was manifested in the form of domestic violence resulting in illtreatment being meted out to women and girls by the people who would still want to be called masculine.

A plethora of reports and cases have been registered in our courts and in fact all around the World for the same cruelty and disrespect shown by the males of our society towards the women folk.

And you will be surprised to know that it’s just the tip of an iceberg with innumerous such cases not being reported and go unnoticed because of the fear of the social consequences and because the women don’t want to be singled out in this male dominated society.

Also, those women who are entirely dependent on their male counterparts for their sustenance and finances find it much more easy to bear the brunt of all the atrocities committed by their so called pati parmeshwar.

But with women becoming financially independent, things are certainly changing for the good and indeed women are raising their voices against this practice.

Women are beginning to play their part, but the question that needs to be asked is:

Are the males of our society ready to play their part and help women in leading a life with respect and dignity, which is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen in our country?

Source for Image: http://www.sierraexpressmedia.com/archives/36281

It’s Caste Time

When I was in college (undergrad), I happened to be an observer of an amusing incident which occured during an academic project in which we as a group of 3 were supposed to inquire about the perceptions of girls about their status in Indian society.

While talking to a group of girls in a University in Kanpur, one of my project mates (whom I will call Mr. X from here on) seemed to become deeply interested in a particular girl. Seeing this actually happening, one of my other project mate and myself couldn’t let our special curiosity fade away, and we ended up standing next to a tree which was pretty close to where the real action was taking place.

After going through the normal conversation Mr. X did something which was beyond our comprehension. He asked the girl about her gotra. 

What the heck he is talking about :)?” My other group mate was bemused at what he had just heard.

Being the gentlemen that we were, we thought of not interferring with the gotra talk that the couple was having and decided to decipher the mystery of the gotra after their conversation would come to an end.

It was not before half an hour that we could get an opportunity to talk to Mr. X, who went on to explain the hooplah surrounding the mystery term gotra. By the way Mr. X hails from a zamindar family residing in a small town in Harayana where he can do nearly everything but to marry a girl from the same gotra, which if he did, could literally have deadly consequences for both him and the girl.

The raison d’etre was pretty clear now to both of us. Mr. X wanted to leave no stone unturned to eliminate all kinds of risks and doubts before getting into any kind of relationship with a girl whom he had just met and had for sure fallen in love with.

It was not that Mr. X believed in the same tradition and norm that have been existant in his part of the World for quite sometime now. In spite of being the most eligible and educated bachelor in his town, he dared not to cross the line for the fear of the barbaric consequences.

Initially, we couldn’t believe what Mr. X had just told us and we thought that he was making a mockery out of us. But, soon we realized that he was dead serious about a fact that has become such an integral part of lives of the so many in our country.

On top of this, there are corporate houses and businesses trying to make money by encouraging such divisions in our society. And there are innumerable examples of such companieswhich make sure that the parent’s wishes of a girl marrying a guy of the same caste are fulfilled to the core.

The question that needs to be asked though is:

Who is to be blamed for such a thought process? Is it the companies that are cashing on this kind of divisional thinking that needs to be blamed? or Should the administration in our country which has not been able to do anything whatsoever in order to get rid of this menace should be held accountable?

OR

Should we rise above the blame game to pause for a moment and take a look at the irrational and illogical tendency and mode of thinking that has gripped our society and has made us all corrupt to the extent of even indulging in actions that the whole humanity would be ashamed of?

Source for Image: http://ratheesh.livejournal.com/322652.html

The Welfare Concept

When I was a kid, I used to wonder why is it that some parents tell their kids: “it’s a scary world out there” and used to deliberate over the thought process that would have gone behind parents telling their children about the same.

As I grew older and stepped out of the safe and protective ambience of my house to come in contact with the real World, I realized the fallacy of the concept of a welfare state that our country takes great pride in projecting herself as such on all international forums.

Some pessimists and non-reformists in the intelligentsia of our country would compare our country to malfunctioning states like Somalia and Afghanistan and would come to the conclusion that India is indeed a welfare state.

But as a common man, when I step out of my house, say, at 11 p.m at night, to take a casual stroll, why do I have to worry about being robbed or caught by the very same people who have been enthrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding our lives? Why do I have to worry about the nexus that has evolved between the politicians, bureaucrats and criminals in our country?

Why is it that girls in our country have started fearing venturing out at night, especially in cities like Gurgaon and Delhi? Are all the above examples indication of the welfare of our citizens which our nation wants to achieve?

If not, then what are we as a society and our administration as caretaker of the citizens of this country, doing in order to reverse this tide of an ever increasing crime rate?

Our government on its part is always lauding the steps taken by it in order to improve the governance in our country. But the question that needs to be asked is:

How effective and efficient are these measures turning out to be?”

Source for Image: http://peterjmunson.blogspot.in/2012/01/welfare-state-thesis.html

Speak Up

Yesterday, I had written about the kind of incidents that are taking place in our society and the insecurity of our parents which is but natural to arise. What is surprising though is that hundreds of such incidents such as eve teasing, go unnoticed and unreported.

Is it because our parents are scared about the social consequences that might follow the very act of reporting? Is it because our parents are well aware of the treatment that their child might have to face in our society? Is it because of the inefficiency of the justice delivery mechanisms in place in our country?

Whatever might be the reason, it is extremely important to understand that if such incidents are not reported and the perpetuaters are not booked, then it is bound to lead to an increase in the occurence of such incidents. Those involved in such acts are bound to gain in confidence and in turn their evil motives are bound to prevail over our justice system.

Such reporting needs to be supported by the investigating agencies and the judiciary in our country by providing an effective environment where in justice can be delivered in an efficient and effective manner.

But the most important question that is haunting and will continue to haunt all of us is:

Do we have the courage to come out of our houses and take a stand against such incidents happening in our society and how many of us are really prepared to support such people who are taking an initiative in this regard?

Source of Image: http://borderbuster.blogspot.in/2009/07/speak-up-on-global-trade.html

Why cant Humans just remain Humans?

Yesterday, while returning home, I noticed quite a few vehicles with titles such as “Press“, “High Court“, mentioned alongside the number plate. I am used to seeing lot of unauthorized “neeli-battis” and “lal-battis“around, but this was a feat par uniqueness.

Somehow, I feel that in today’s World, everyone out there is trying to gain importance in some form or the other, so if they can’t get it via their humanly acts, they try to derive it through their positions or statuses.

A few days back, seeing the multiplication of the neeli-battis around, the government set itself a task of getting rid of the unauthorized battis. Seeing what I saw yesterday, I wonder whether the tags and the battis are here to stay.

Source for Image: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2005/20050707/j&k.htm

UPA government: Digging Deep

The Anna Hooplah doesn’t seem to die down much to the displeasure of the UPA government. The act of putting Anna behind the bars seem to have created more controversy and seems to have established the government’s reputation as a high-handed government which would do whatever it wishes like even distorting laws to their own convenience.

The government seems to be questioning the methodology used by Anna in order to get his own terms and conditions accepted regarding the Lokpal Bill. Well, certainly the methodology is creating a stir in our nation and its hard to predict whether such a stir would remain peaceful. But instead of focusing at the issue at hand, which is to create a Lokpal Bill which is most appropriate, the government seems to be deviating from the crux of the matter.

The government seems to be losing their support amongst the citizens and the day is not so far when whole of India will witness a throwaway of this UPA government, if it doesn’t resort to some emergency face-saving measures.

Source for Image: http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/08/16/idINIndia-58802720110816