The MeToo hashtags can become the pivots of women empowerment & societal change

In certain jokes floating through the social media I have seen the phrase “That escalated quickly”. Given the situations it gets used, I find it hilarious. The same happened with the MeToo and MeTooIndia hashtags on Twitter but in extremely serious way. They started trending slowly but then hit the high notes so loud that mere hashtags are on the brink of creating a social movement.

It all started with the details of one powerful man floating around. But no one was ready to take out his name. Then someone did. Women journalists pounced on it and his name became a raging wildfire. M J Akbar, a lion in journalism and now a cabinet minister in the central government. Turns out he was a predatory lion, using his mammoth stature in the journalism industry to sexually abuse young women journalists and use his cape of fear of power and influence to devour their self respect and dignity. Then came Alok Nath’s name out. The epitome of culture, decency and manhood. Turns out he is a good old rapist. The burning embers had caught fire. Names of corporate honchos and familiar names from the movie industries followed. Social media has lit up. Journalists and common people alike are baying for the blood of sexual predators.

I got into a row with popular South Indian singer Chinmayi on Twitter. She had called out the name of Vairamuthu, a song writer of almost legendary status who has collaborated on many of the Tamil songs of A R Rehman. Many aspiring singers and artists who had been abused by him were reaching out to her and taking her help in disclosing their experiences anonymously. My problem was two fold. How did the situation deteriorate to the level where so many women in the case of M J Akbar are reporting their abuse sagas and some of them happened 2 decades back? They kept quiet. So I wrote to Chinmayi requesting her to reveal the names of the victims as keeping quiet for so long and hiding behind anonymity are the reasons why sexual abuse has become a daily affair and common practice in the corporate world. She replied saying they have their career to worry about which is why they cannot call out their abusers. Exactly. Abusers are feeding on this fear to continue abusing. If Chinmayi had spoken out about her experiences long back, many younger singers may have escaped being preyed on by Vairamuthu. This is just one aspect of the situation. Victims are compromising on their self respect and dignity by choosing to suffer the indignity in silence. What is more, all men have become potential predators in the eyes of women. It is scary how women see men trying to engage with them in lighthearted conversations as flirting.

Women are also complicit in helping create such a toxic work environment. They have waded into a male bastion demanding equality in work and social status. This is not a Utopian world where men would step aside and let women take over the reins of power from them. What would men seek from women in return other than sexual favours? The ones who agreed laid the foundation stones of the system. From then on, everyone who went on to enter the system were conditioned to live in the system. From bedrooms sex became an accepted practice inside boardrooms. Women who couldn’t digest and come around to accepting all of this were scarred mentally with abuse. The heritage of the system has been handed down to the next generations of men who have only grown on to become more brazen in their actions.

What is astounding now is, other than a few murmurs in the movie industry and corporate offices, there is almost a deathly silence. It is improbable that the world of glitz, glamour, fashion and wealth could be a perfect world. Rather, it almost seems like everyone has taken shelter for the storm to pass. Shobhaa De the acclaimed writer and journalist was on TV to talk about sexual abuse in Bollywood and she said the ones who have been caught in the net are the expendables and small flies. The big and the mighty ones are hiding in plain sight. She was right on the money. Women have had to go through hell and back especially in the movie, aviation (airline) and healthcare (nursing) industries to even hold on to their jobs. But not a single mouth is opening to complain. Goes to show the heights of male dominance which in turn shows how low women have allowed themselves to be buried in the mire of sex, abuse and oppression.

Every individual’s responsibility in the society is to make it better for the next generations. It is not enough that we only try to make our children’s lives better. A life with self respect and dignity should get priority over everything else in society. All urban men who become influencers in the society are raised up in similar environments. Then how do some go on to become such wily predators? It is upon every individual to introspect and ask do we want to continue living inside such a slimy system where we have to keep worrying about our women’s safety and well being all the time. MeToo and MeTooIndia is a desperate call for change. They are the atomic bombs of the urban society. Their explosions have been triggered. What the abusers and predators fear is the mushroom cloud that emanates from it and envelops one and all. This may be the only chance for women to go up in arms against their tormentors. This has to become a movement, cleanse the urban world and it’s fire should then spread into rural heartlands. Women have always called out for equality and empowerment. Their time to take centerstage seems to have finally arrived.

Advertisements

Sexual harassment thrives only on the fear and complacency of women

Bollywood actor Tanushree Dutta seems to have opened up a massive cupboard of skeletons of sexual harassment. So many women in the corporate world are taking to Twitter to narrate their tales of similar sordid experiences at the hands of men and vent their anger. The hashtag Metoo is trending like fire on Twitter. Though I am glad that this discussion is finally happening, sadly, women are opening up with their stories years after their ordeal. Why? Because they were forced to hush up for the sake of their careers and lives. Why again? They were more fearful of the backlash and repercussions from the society. They simply had nowhere to go so they had to gulp down the venom and stay quiet.

Before getting into sexual harassment we need to understand what sex is. The answers are in the very foundations of our existence. We share many common traits with animals and one of them is procreation. Why do male species of animals exist? Essentially to reproduce. Their purpose is to pass on their sperms to the females. Male butterflies and males of some species of animals engage in a frantic race without even having food to deposit their sperms inside the ovaries of as many females as they could before they die. There are many more bizarre cases of reproduction process in nature. In many species including ours, males have evolved into taking care of their families. Human males have never been monogamous which is why society was created and marriage as a concept was enforced upon us. Marriage to me was actually a desperate measure to control the reproductive urge of men. When this was not enough, prostitution was created. This is why the Devdasi concept was introduced in ancient Indian society. Upper caste males were allowed to prey on girls and women from the lower castes and satisfy their sexual needs so that they would stay away from girls and women of their own castes. The term sex in itself exist only in our world and is not part of the animal world. Intercourse is just one aspect of the entire process of procreation among animals. But we have made it complex and convoluted. From discovering and understanding foreplay to creating contraceptives to writing an entire book on sex positions, we have actually wasted a humongous amount of our time and energy on something that was actually meant to be a clear and simple process.

Now where does sexual harassment come from? Males of all species in nature are supposed to woo females before mating with them. They engage in fierce battles to win over the right to mate with females. Male birds dance before the females, bring food, build nests and do an array of other things as part of the wooing process. This is why males of all animal species are beautiful and brightly colored. Only among us are women required to color themselves up and look good which for me is one more example to illustrate how male chauvinism dominates human society. What we call as flirting is actually the wooing process in nature. Thousands of years of societal rules have ensured that men don’t ask for sex the moment they like women. But there are men who do it nevertheless. One category consists of the ones with prominence in the society who misuse the value bestowed upon them by people and who knows how to use their influence to clamp down mouths and keep their dirty secrets in the dark. The other category consists of people from the lower strata of people without enough education and without proper nurturing who grew up seeing women getting treated with contempt and without value. The raging debate currently is about the first category. But there is only a thin line that separates the two categories. In both cases, men begin with flirting and move towards seeking sex. When both doesn’t work, men of first category resort to sexual harassment and men of second category indulge in rape. Why? The only difference is, men of the first category have too much at stake to lose if they resort to rape.

But why does all of this happen? Because women blame fellow women for their ordeals. Why? Because there is a huge gap in the mental makeup of women from older and current generations. Women from older generations used to suffer immensely and surrender to the whim and fancies of men to keep the relationships from breaking apart. But this goes a lot deeper. Men with power and influence in the past used to try and hook up with women they fancied. Some women in turn used men’s lust for sex to satisfy their own societal needs. This is very much in relevance and vogue even now. This is the origin for the need of complicity. This is why men expect all women to comply and give in to their needs which is why men often say when another man’s wife doesn’t have a problem doing something why are their wives complaining about it. So the burden of blame falls squarely on the shoulders of women who do not want to comply. This is why women cannot go to other women and open up about their ordeals because of the fear and apprehension that older generations could put the blame on them and use it as an opportunity to make them give up their careers for a domesticated life and their more naive friends and peers could possibly advise them to give into the wishes of men and keep quiet about it to save their careers.

Women of modern times have hardly reasons to complain though. Here is the amazing and heart wrenching saga of Nangeli (https://www.speakingtree.in/allslides/did-you-know-19th-centurys-breast-tax-in-kerala-is-the-darkest-spot-on-humanity-ever/401758). In the erstwhile Travancore kingdom in Kerala about 300 years back, women from the lower castes were forced to walk around without covering their breasts and had to pay taxes based on the size of their breasts. Nangeli chose to defy the demented rule and all the ensuing odds by covering her breasts. When authorities came to collect taxes, she chopped off her breasts, gave them as tax and bled to death. Her act of unimaginable courage was enough to stop this horrendous practice forever. When the entire society was complacent, all it took was one woman’s sacrifice to bring about the change.

Its a pity that educated women still fear backlashes from men and society, suffer the ignominy of sexual harassment and choose to speak about it much later. They need to look for inspiration from history, from the lives of heroic women like Nangeli who chose to not bow and lay down their self respect and integrity at the feet of men and societal diktats. Sexual harassment and sexual predation continues to exist because women in the past have shied away from opening up their torturous lives to the world. Speak up and force the society to change now. That is the only way to make the lives of the future generations of girls and women better and safer. Nangeli, Joan of Arc, Rani Laxmi bhai and countless more brave heart women must be looking down and smirking at the pathetic state women have put themselves in.

I write because the world desperately needs enlightenment, problem solvers & rediscover critical thinking & commonsense

I started my life with the biggest mistake I could ever make. My grandfather was an excellent oil and canvas painter and my earliest memories are of him creating his exquisite paintings. I picked up the painting brush when I was a year and a half old. Grandpa lost both his eyes to cataract when I was three and I decided not to learn painting from anyone else and hold the brush again. As years rolled by, I became the most misunderstood person anyone could ever become, in family and in school. I was raised up by my grandmother who was very strict even with me going out and talking to people. Being good in studies and not talkative was a deadly concoction which I realised only a few years back. Schoolmates used to think I wanted to keep myself as unapproachable and distance myself from everyone else. Grandpa was my only friend and companion during those years and when he left the world suddenly, what followed were years of loneliness and emotional upheavels. What I missed through those times and the first 30 odd years of my life was a way to express myself. That’s when the enormity of giving up on painting dawned on me.

Fortunately, I realized that I could write decently after a spell as Business Correspondent and Caption Writer with an advertising company. A busy career kept me pinned down and gave me no time to pursue anything else. Finally, I was in the middle of a one year MBA program when I got the news of the passing of a teacher who was a true inspiration to thousands and whom I will revere forever. The grief was too much to bear and out tumbled all my emotions in the form of my first blog. After that, I used to write about whatever I wanted to for some time. Simply put, writing was my way to think aloud and empty my mind. In between, I started reading a lot as well and it must be the combination of reading and expressing my thoughts through writing that has opened my mind.

I write now because of 3 reasons. 1) The darkness of ignorance in the world is growing and rather than maturing, we are slipping further into it’s depths with time 2) We are not using our logic and commonsense to ask questions and by not doing so we are dumbing ourselves down and becoming less intelligent with time 3) We are all following our natural instinct of getting stuck in and talking on about problems without thinking ahead and talking about solving problems. Let me illustrate with a couple of examples.

Both Ramayan and Mahabharata talk about catastrophic wars and the use of highly destructive weapons such as Brahmastra and Vajrayuda which could supposedly annihilate thousands and even a million people every time it was used. And all these weapons are illustrated as bows and arrows. I have seen people glued to their TV sets watching serialized versions of these epics and these weapons were shown as arrows with dazzling colours. I have never come across anyone till now who has questioned the logic of mere arrows being such catastrophic weapons. It could be possible that the original authors of the epics did not understand the technology behind these weapons. But a reason of far greater significance could also be possible. The objective was to illustrate weapons that caused massive destruction and no one could have understood if they had been explained with technology. These stories were meant to endure and live on through time, so the best way was to do a simple illustration with bows and arrows and write a brief description. But what we need to consider here is, what has been written are about nuclear or even more powerful weapons that were used with hand held devices. Whats more, of all the destructive weapons, only Brahmastra could not be stopped by the user from causing destruction once it was used. This means other weapons could be stopped by the user after they were used. We still have no understanding or knowledge of such advanced technologies. What cannot be explained either rationally or with technology we attribute it to the Gods. As we learn and understand more about technology, our understanding of the Almighty will also become simpler.

India has been rocked by the brutal rape and murder of an 8 year old girl. 8 years old, mind you. Suddenly there is a religious angle to it. The girl was from one community and the crime was executed by people of another community in one of their places of worship. It has become confusing as to what is significant now, the crime or the religions of everyone involved in the incident. If 99% people cannot fathom or digest such horror and if religion has taken center stage here, then clearly the objective of the 1% is to incite violence in the name of religions and tear the fabric of the society. But see how it is getting reported, how news channels are projecting it for boosting their TRP and how people are reacting. No commonsense, no rationale, simply following what they are reading and hearing like robots. What happened to our critical thinking ability? Why can’t we just treat every such incident as what it is and not allow anyone or any perspectives to sway and influence our thoughts? Why is no one talking about stopping such incidents once and for all?

There is a fundamental problem with the law and justice in our society. Law punishes criminals to deter them from committing crimes again. Punishment should rather be given to ensure that those crimes are not committed again by anyone. Question to ask here is, for law and order to prevail, what is more important, the criminals or the crime itself? Punish the criminals and the demon of crime will continue to live among us. Punish the crime and no one will want to become a criminal.

What we need is a cold hard deterrent for rapes especially of children, like either burning rapists alive on stakes the way the Church did to non-believers and free thinkers during the Dark Ages or do it the native American Indian style of burying criminals up to their necks in anthills, pouring molasses over their heads and making the entire country watch what unfolds. Now people will be aghast and say we are a maturing society with police and judiciary and an eye for an eye will have only make everyone blind. Well, I cannot see any maturity in the actions of rapists and murderers. Moreover, criminals are no longer afraid of police, courts and punishment. We no longer need courts to put criminals in jail. We need courts to determine the heinousness of each crime and pronounce the punishment accordingly. So more heinous the crime is more severe the punishment should be.So more heinous the crime more severe the punishment should be.

I am hoping that everything I am writing will help people understand about the superficial lives they are living now and start looking beyond it. We were given intelligence and the ability to speak so that we could be better than the beings in the animal world. Yet we have descended into destruction and cruelty to our own kind and to this world that will put the animals to shame. We have been raping and killing our own kind for thousands of years and as time passes by, we are finding new reasons to continue the atrocities. What we need are not laws, regulations, police and courts but knowledge, enlightenment and a better and higher purpose for our existence. What we need is a world devoid of money, religion, race, caste and skin colour and the collective resolve to agree to disagree and live together. What we need is to feel blessed for getting the privilege for this life as humans in this beautiful world and not try to own anything here because we know we are all going to die and leave some day and we take nothing with us except memories and experiences.

Indian society – the world’s punching bag

So, I came across this article on a friend’s wall on Facebook.
I was startled and saddened by the rather callous approach of doing the analysis of the culture and society of a country. I wrote the below response, not as a rebuttal, but I wanted to clear the air about the world’s presumptions about India.
1. Everybody is doing yoga in India
  “Everybody” would be a wrong word though a lot of people do Yoga in India. It would be more apt if you wrote “Everybody is
   doing Tai-chi in China”.
2. There are cows walking everywhere
We do not see cows as any different from us, so now is giving respect to an animal that has nurtured our society through the ages also a problem?
3. India is a country of dirt and poverty
India is a civilization that is thousands of years old and when our civilization was at it’s shining glory, nothing existed in the US and Europe except nomadic tribes. Yes, there is dirt and there is poverty in India. But we also have the largest amount of gold in the world. We do not question life and customs of other countries, we rather adapt to them wherever we go. So why is it that people of other countries have to pick on our flaws and trumpet them?
4. India is a country of saint people. Indians are very religious
Yes we are religious because our civilization stretches back to the dawn of humanity, when we worshipped even thunder and rain as Gods. All ancient civilizations have Gods like we have, but yes, perception of Gods is different in India. There is no other country that is as religiously tolerant as we are. We have accepted people from all countries and all religions into our society and thanks to that, there is no white supremacy mania that exists in the US and Europe even today.
5. The Indians are uneducated
What is the yardstick by which education was measured before this conclusion was made? Education as in going to schools and colleges and getting degrees? In that case, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are uneducated because they don’t have degrees. Microsoft has 38% “educated” Indians as employees in it’s fold. The Indian system of doing farming and traditional business does not require western style education. These people have more knowledge about their lands, weather, calculations and doing business than graduates from top universities. Anyone who assumes that getting educated is more important than having knowledge and wisdom is the biggest illiterate.
Now that the whole world is talking about India because of a documentary made on a woman who was raped and murdered brutally and the British woman documentary maker has gone on record to say that Indian society is sick, I felt I was obliged to let the world know about some pertinent facts and make them do some introspection before they try to ram their perception down our throat.
People around the world have always been fascinated by India. For a long time, people were interested in the riches of India, her gold and her spices. That is why foreign countries kept invading her for centuries, to plunder her wealth. By the time the British left India, her wealth had been stripped to the bones but they did much more than that. In Lord Macaulay’s own words  “I accept catholic beyond the across and across of India and I accept not apparent one getting who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such abundance I accept apparent in this country, such top moral values, humans of such caliber, that I do not anticipate we would anytime beat this country, unless we breach the actual courage of this nation, which is her airy and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I adduce that we alter her old and age-old apprenticeship system, her culture, for if the Indians anticipate that all that is adopted and English is acceptable and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their built-in self-culture and they will become what we ambition them, a absolutely bedeviled nation.” They stripped our minds of our age old culture and smashed it into pieces. We had to start all over again and in our desperation to have a culture, we retained some of our own and copied some from other societies without first understanding whether what we are apeing will blend in our society. The problems in Indian society stem from all of this.
The truth is, the world stands ready to mock India at the first opportunity. Everything that happens in a society has logical reasons, be it geographical, climate based and many such reasons. The toilet habits of Indians which is a subject of ridicule around the world is a classic example. People do not stop to think for a minute why. Most of the western world has weather that is moderate to extreme cold the entire year. There was a time centuries before when water at normal temperature was hard to get there especially during bitter winter. The food they used to eat was specifically to withstand the cold and also easy to make such as bread, dry meat, etc. So what they used to excrete was also dry and because of which it was easier to clean up even with paper. So the society evolved into using tissue paper because of a combination of different factors. India has a predominantly tropical weather and we had a advanced civilizations for many centuries. We were extremely efficient in building and managing water systems and that was essential because the tropical weather required us to wash ourselves every day atleast once. Moreover our food habits are completely different. We eat a lot of spicy food and so what we excrete is also different which requires thorough cleaning which can be done only with water. Now the question is, in the western world warm and hot water is always available now. People there are happily consuming Indian spicy food. So who should have evolved? And who actually evolved? Indians evolved into using tissue paper when it should have been the other way around. This is what is wrong with Indian mindset now. We are apeing western habits and considering them superior to our own without any logic.
The same logic applies for women attire. Fashion in urban India comes directly from Paris, London and New York now. For the moderate climate in western countries, wearing short dresses is perfectly fine. Indian way of dressing has evolved for a reason. For tropical weather, the clothes need to be airy but should be able to protect women’s body properly. That is how saree and churidhar came into vogue.  Observing rural women in sarees especially in places like Gujarat and Rajasthan gives us interesting insights. Their colourful sarees and the way they wear them protect them from the harmful rays of the sun but at the same time enable proper absorption of essential minerals and vitamins. The irony is, most urban people suffer from insufficient Vitamin D and that is being attributed to the sudden change from an active life outside to a sedentary life inside office buildings. When saree has been voted as the most sexiest attire in the world, Indian girls are experimenting on how to make their western attire smaller and shorter. Indian society is not prepared to accept such a change so fast and that is causing the tremors with increasing women abuse now. As I was telling a friend, we can be like Romans when we are in Rome but we cannot take Rome back with us when we go home.

But I admit, Indian society is a cauldron of paradoxes now. We dress up like western people, we try to imitate their behavior and even their accent, yet our work culture remains the typical Indian government employee style. That is fine when we are self-sufficient as a country. When we are dependent on work from foreign countries, we cannot impose our style of working on our clients. We clean our houses and dump the litter on the streets and our only interest is in keeping our houses clean. We complain about corruption all the time and also elect corrupt people into government and civic bodies each time knowing that they are corrupt with the hope that they will reduce or end corruption. We have a judiciary system which has a massive backlog of pending cases and which keeps criminals in prison without trials for years whose expenses are paid by the tax payer’s money. We have policing machinery that is corrupt and inefficient to the point that they do not even care to file a report when a woman complains of rape.

But my message to the world is, please do not judge, deride or ridicule us. History of Europe other than the Viking civilization, starts from the time Romans invaded and occupied Britain. History of the U.S. starts from the time Columbus started his search for India and accidentally found a new continent. Note, even Columbus was looking for India. So when Indian civilization and society was at it’s zenith during the rule of king Vikramaditya and king Ashoka thousands of years back, U.S. and Europe did not even exist. We do not ridicule Americans and Europeans by saying this. When you say our society is sick because a woman was raped and brutally murdered, you should also tell us about the thousands of women the Church burned on the stakes during the Dark Ages just because those women were free thinkers and were strong enough to stand up and challenge the ridiculous diktats of the Church. We do have a caste system that has discriminated people, but compared to what white people did to the people of Africa just because of their skin colour, our society and conscience is in a much better place.
The history of our world is replete with the highs and lows of a vast number of civilizations. Everything waxes and wanes, just like a sinusoidal wave. Just because western society is on a high now and Indian society has waned, it gives them no moral right or authority to ridicule us. Indian society has always accepted people from all over the world into it’s fold, regardless of religion, race and skin colour. In time, our society will also evolve into a new high. We need good leadership, good governance, equal education and empowerment for all people and most importantly, the right mindset to believe in ourselves to be indigenous and the understanding of what to imbibe from other societies rather than blind imitation. Respect and honour, that’s all we ask.

Addressing women’s security in India

Much has been debated and discussed about women security in India, particularly from 2012 when a girl was raped and tortured mercilessly in a moving bus in Delhi. Her death sparked off waves of outrage all over the country and brought people out on to the streets in a sea of protest. The problem was, there was no fall guy or a scapegoat to pin this incident on. We have a natural tendency to look for someone else to lay the blame on when something goes wrong. Delhi, being the capital of the country, has a complex mesh of administration and the powers of many of the administrative machineries including police are vested with the central government. The local government in Delhi at that time pointed to this reason and exonerated themselves conveniently. The problem has been politicized to such an extent that women security is on the top of the list of election manifestos of parties. Yet, as I was watching on a news channel, even women do not truly know how they can be provided security effectively.

Women have never been safe in India even from a very young age for thousands of years. From the time the Aryans entered the northern plains of India and spread their caste based divide in the society, the relevance of devadasis were in existence. Young girls from lower caste communities were made to serve the sexual needs of men from higher caste communities so that girls from higher caste communities do not become their prey. Unfortunately, this is the inglorious past of our women who have been perceived as an object of pleasure, used, humiliated and discarded. Higher caste men were and are still sexual predators, treating lower caste women as untouchables in daylight while lusting for them in their minds and satisfying their sexual needs with these same women at night by rape and coercion. All of this continues across the country in her rural heartland. This is why women were not allowed to go out of their homes at night. Women returning home by evening have become a custom in our society and it has continued into the modern times. When women started going out for jobs, only two categories of jobs required them to travel and work at odd hours: Nurses and air hostesses. Even after Indian markets opened out to the world in 1991, no radical change came in women’s lives until the advent of the IT and BPO industries. The requirement that customers abroad had to be dealt with in their day time and considerably higher salaries created mainly by the large differences in the value of the Indian Rupee and the US and European currencies was enticing enough for women to take up these jobs. The spurt in the number of women working at night can be clearly observed from the year 2000. Essentially, women have been trying in the past 15 years to entirely change the culture of them not stepping out at night through thousands of years.

Women in India have been completely dependent on men for their financial needs and security and the morality of women who stepped out of this societal boundary has always been questioned. This is why nurses and air hostesses, who are really the pioneers in the service industry, are still looked down upon morally, both inside and outside their professions. An open market has only made life more luxurious and at the same time, more difficult for the people. Women have to work equally as men to share the burden of responsibilities at home. The lure of earning as much as men, becoming financially independent from men and sharing the responsibilities at home has given women a very false sense of empowerment. They cannot simply hope to throw out the evolution of their biological structure through centuries of domestication. Lack of enough nutrition in food and eating food on time has made almost all urban women anemic. Their periodic cycles have gone haywire, causing severe physical stress and mental anguish. Lack of sleep and the lifestyle they are leading have made women vulnerable to heart attacks and different forms of cancer. Miscarriages during pregnancy have become a common occurrence. They are paying a very high price for seeking social equality with men.

Men have always guarded over their women at home, be it by the fathers, brothers or husbands. So a woman seen outside all alone is perceived as a vulnerable prey by men. This deep rooted attitude among men is the primary reason why women are abused and maligned from the time they travel by public buses to their schools to their lives in corporate offices. But the blame of this mindset among men does not lie solely on their shoulders. All men are born from the womb of women and are brought up and nurtured by women. So what makes a man abusive towards women? In their growing up years, by either seeing meek women in the house getting abused by men or being brought up by a very domineering woman. What we see and experience in our childhood days is essentially what shapes our character and personality. The probability of a man with a decent enough upbringing at home and basic education becoming abusive towards women is very low. I have observed from experiences that abuse of women by men increase at both ends of the spectrum of wealth. If incest is common in wealthy families women and girls of poor households are extremely vulnerable to men’s lust from all strata of society. Urban middle class families all have a value system where boy and girl children are raised up without disparity and this is spreading to villages as well now.

So how do we ensure adequate protection for our women? Exclusive buses for women, armed guards in buses and trains, GPS enabled taxis, CCTV cameras everywhere, all are good options. But just like burglaries, rapes are not random events. Women and girls are specifically targeted by men. I have noticed numerous women going around on the streets oblivious of their surroundings and who are observing them. Everyone follows specific patterns in one or more of their daily activities, like going for jogging every day on a particular route early morning, returning home late from office every day through the same streets, etc. Women and girls have to be keenly aware of all this, keep their senses alert and figure out quickly if there is danger lurking for them. Girls and women in rural areas do not have toilets in their houses and have to go out to paddy fields to relieve themselves. Going out alone at night and early morning are like presenting themselves on a platter to the opportunistic men.

Let us accept the facts. A culture of thousands of years cannot be scrapped away in 15 years. Earning wealth and living like men do not make women equal to men. Women’s equality is not the same as women empowerment. Women are endowed with the divine ability to create and nurture life. A house becomes a home only at the touch of a woman. There is no comparison between a man and a woman. Both are equally responsible for the continuity and evolution of our species. All it takes to build a better society for women is to respect them and the onus for it rests on themselves. It is up to them to raise and nurture their boy children by teaching them to respect women. No government machinery can create an environment completely free of woman abuse. As they say, laws and rules are meant to be broken. Hundreds of rapists have been prosecuted, but rapes haven’t gone down a bit, in fact, it is only increasing. A rapist can be incarcerated for life or even hanged, but the agony the woman endures during the act and the scars that are left behind on her psyche can never be removed. Prevention is the need of the hour and not a cure and only women can protect themselves. What is particularly pathetic is, every one of us comes into the world through the vagina, it is the vagina men lust for, assault violently during rape and everyone baulks about talking in public. It is this stigma that makes women suffer sexual assaults in silence and 90% of such incidents go unreported. Men, high time to start respecting the womb of women. All life starts from there.

Child slaughter and the business end of violence

It is hard for me to imagine any kind of violence, be it even killing chicken for meat. That is one of the primary reasons I stopped eating meat. I believe that violence begets violence and not only does it not solve any problems, it only accentuate the problems. So when news started trickling in that terrorists had entered a military school in Pakistan and were killing children in their classrooms, I did not feel anything for some time because I could not simply fathom it. When I started seeing the visuals from the location on TV news, the scale of horror struck me. So many children were shot in the head. The world is in shock but I am not, because the truth behind the veil of this dastardly act is in some simple logic.

Taliban claimed that this mindless violence was in response to all their children who are getting killed by the drones of the US and by the Pakistan security forces. So retaliation by slaughtering the children in the military school makes sense. That is what jungle law is all about. Targetting the young ones is the most effective way to hurt the enemy. This is also one way of controlling the population of all species in the ecosystem. So what we are doing by killing children is also one way of controlling our population as mandated by nature. We have also coined a word that can be used in this situation. Collateral damage. So when the world is in shock over the loss of lives of so many children, why is the killing of Taliban children not a headline grabbing news? Media never reports how many children were killed in drone attack or a military operation. Aren’t we all the same when we are kids? So how our perception has been created is, Taliban is evil so their kids can die and it is shocking when children who are part of the government system are killed.

So we all know that Taliban is what got created from all the churn that happened from the time Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the US stepped in to restore parity in the Cold War by arming the warring tribal factions in Afghanistan. The question is, when Soviet Union gave up their conquest and retreated from Afghanistan, why were these tribal factions allowed to keep so much weapons with them? We need to do a little analysis to see through this.

The whole world of business runs on the concepts of supply and demand. Now, there are two ways in which demand can be created. One is naturally created, an example of which is, there were massive traffic blocks on the highways in China last year and vehicles were stuck in the queue for 2 to 3 days. Local people, sensing the business opportunity, quickly set up eateries on road sides for those harried travelers. The other one is artificially created, like the ones that keep happening in India, for example with onions. Onions are very much in demand in India all year long, so suddenly the supply of onions in the market dries up. The wholesale dealers hold back onions in their godowns and there is a sudden surge in onion prices. It is this artificially created demand that is fuelling all the troubles we see in the world.

The question we need to ask is, who supplies weapons to terrorist organizations and who funds their activities? Who benefits from all of this? The Iron Man movie series which we all enjoyed has subtly left a dark and powerful message for all of us to fathom and comprehend. Tony Stark’s company, Stark Industries produces weapons for the use of the US military. But his company is also selling large quantities of weapons to front organizations that work for terrorist organizations, a fact he understands only when he gets kidnapped by terrorists. What puts him at odds with the US military and the character of Jeff Daniels is that he refuses to share the design of his Iron Man suit with them and decides to become Iron Man to make the world a better place. So who benefits from distributing weapons around the world? The weapons manufacturers. If there are no conflicts happening in the world, they would go out of business and there is some serious money involved here. There is another subtle fact here. Conflicts are the only way for them to test the latest weapons they keep manufacturing in a live environment and analyze their impact in war like situations. Why else did the US use the atom bombs in Japan during the fag end of World War II when Japan was on the verge of surrendering?

How did a motley crew like bunch of terrorists become a powerful organization like ISIS in such a short period of time? What attracts people to join them is the simple fact that they look well funded. Terrorist organizations exist to fulfill three objectives of those who fund them. To keep us separated through violence, to create and maintain fear and to keep the world in a state of flux and uncertainty. Then there will be countries that will be posturing aggressively to fight terrorism. This good cop bad cop tactic is only to keep the people fooled and the world in fear. This is the matrix we are living in now. We cannot blame the forces behind this completely though. We have been living in a world divided by religion, race, caste and skin colour for thousands of years. Terrorism is just another layer on top of all this.

What is most likely to happen after this massacre in Pakistan? Pakistan security forces would hit back at Taliban, more of their children would die and Pakistan would ask the US for more funding to deal with terrorism. The kids who died in Pakistan were the lucky ones. The ones who survived will live with this ordeal and scarred minds for the rest of their lives. Will Pakistan ask for funds to rehabilitate these children? No. The world will hold candlelight vigils for the souls of the slain children every year and then go and kill some more children. Collateral damage indeed.

There was a time eons ago in this world when we used to live for hundreds and thousands of years as explained in the ancient Indian texts. It was called Satya Yuga (Age of Truth). It is not hard to believe that we could live so long if certain conditions are met. It may have been a time when we were in harmony with Mother Nature, there was no money, no precious metals, no seven sins, no desires and most importantly, the knowledge that only our physical being goes through the cycles of life and death. Then there would be no need to have religions, politics and wars. I believe that the stress of living in our society and meeting it’s expectations, fear of bombs and hassle of mortgages and loans, the desires we harbour, the seven sins and most importantly, the fear of death are some of the things on which the energy of our body gets expended and thats how we end up dying. Freeing ourselves from all of these would be our elixir for a long life.

No money, no religion, no politics, no wars, wouldn’t that be such a boring world to live in? There wouldn’t be any media blaring out trumped up news about celebrities and politics, there would be no gory visuals of the every day carnage of humans and massacre of animals and birds and there would be no spicy news items about rape, molestations and sexcapades. All of this was foretold to come as part of the Age of Kali. The Age of Truth did not last forever and this Age of Kali will not last forever as well. There isn’t much we can do as individuals to break the matrix we are in or the new world order we are going into. Being able to see the truth and a collective awakening of our minds are the only things that can free ourselves. Till we understand this, let us gear up for more child slaughter, rapes and carnages from exploding bombs. My mom was saying, did all the mothers of the children in Pakistan know they were never going to see their children alive again? Loss of lives and grief over it. Who cares?

Introspection for a better India

The world has been in a state of flux from the time it all went down in 2008. Most of the countries have been pulled into it’s throes and India has been no exception, though some of the policies India followed made sure that India’s economy did not tank. Along with the political and economic uncertainty India is going through, there has been rumblings at the social level as well. Incidents that are plain outrageous have been rocking our society and even though there has been plenty of emotional outpouring and venting of anger taking place on the streets and on social networks, all of it seems absurd to me at times. Every time we are bogged down by a problem, our propensity is to always look elsewhere for the reason. The simple logic we always fail to grasp is, within the problem lies the reason for the problem and it’s solution. This is my small analysis of some of the pertinent issues that are stoking the ire of people, but the roots of which lie at the core of Indian society. Many of these are age old issues and many attempts were made to rectify them before but we have failed every time because we do not understand the root causes of the issues.

Rape

Every time people take out to the streets to protest a woman’s rape, I feel a little miffed. Even as I write this blog, at least one woman may be getting raped somewhere in India. Less than 5% of rape gets reported because women fear of the shame from the society. Where does all this come from? There was a time when girls from lower caste families were made devdasis and had to satisfy the desires of upper caste men so that they would spare the girls and women from their own castes. What this signifies is, abuse of girls and women by men were accepted as a norm of the society from a very long time. What more reason is required for men to take women for granted? Men are no alien species. All men are born from the womb of women. Then why this zero respect for women? Because that is what they see as kids at home and in the environment they are growing up. They see men having scant respect for women, be at home or anywhere else, abusing them in any way they want and women silently putting up with all of this. Most of them choose silence over speaking out their miseries and this is enough incentive for men to continue in the same vein. Many voices have been crying hoarse that it’s the way women dress up and what they wear that is inciting men. So, all men are not rapists and all women do not dress up so fashionably. Women in rural areas do not dress up in short skirts. They wear different versions of the saree and they are the ones who are the most affected by rape. Unless women learn to command respect and raise their kids in environments where kids see women treated equally as men, this situation will not change. A guy from village going to a city in search of his pot of gold and ending up raping a woman there might look like a very random incident, but it is not. It is woven into our fabric of society. No government body should be held responsible for such extremely random behaviour in people. Educating people and empowering women are the two factors governments should be focusing on along with spreading the awareness of how wrong environments at home and surroundings nurture the mindset of a rapist in kids.

Child abuse

I have no explanation to how anyone can abuse a child in any way. I was shocked when a good friend of mine told me that she was sexually abused as a child. What I have observed is, child abuse happens mostly at the two ends of the spectrum of society, the households with the most money and the least money. Families endowed with riches are busy finding ways to spend what they have and to make more and families living on the edge are grappling to make ends meet. Either ways, children end up paying the price. Its one thing to grow up in a neglected environment and it becomes a nightmare when children are abused at their homes and when they are sent out to work and make a living for their families. I have always asked this question to myself whenever I have seen homeless kids on streets or kids being carried around by nannies. Why have babies when parents cannot take care of them? Defies my logic. What type of people do these kids become when they grow up? No matter what they become, they will have fragile personalities and insecurity written all over them. Incest in families is always hushed up because of shame and so that is on the rise along with sexual abuse of children in school. I have never heard of a student being sexually abused in my school, so those incidents are extremely random for which schools should not held responsible. I do not know how a father can rape his own daughter or an uncle can rape his own niece. This problem has to be tackled in two simultaneous ways. There has to be extremely harsh rules for perpetrators of such crimes, like life in prison till death or any law that can act as a strong deterrent. Though government cannot take responsibility for such random incidents, they should shoulder the responsibility of rehabilitating the abused children, through meditation, yoga and every possible means.

Female infanticide

The fact that female infanticide is still actively pursued in India is a huge surprise and debunks the claims that the percentage of educated people is rising rapidly. It is either a case of education not giving enlightenment or people not having commonsense. It is simple logic that only women have the ability to give life, so for men to be born, women have to first exist. There should also be stringent laws against female infanticide because less women will fuel more rape and sexual abuse.

Religious conversion

When the Supreme power out there has never come down and told us what religion to follow, why follow a religion at all? When all the religious books talk of the Almighty in the same tone, how does it matter what religion someone practices? In India, the atrocious laws of the caste system in Hinduism led to the creation of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Even then, Christianity and Islam found their roots in India. Christians and Muslims in India were Hindus who converted to bypass the draconian rules of the Hindu caste system. If certain Hindus feel bitter about it, then they should introspect and rebuild Hinduism by abolishing the caste system rather than cry hoarse about conversions. The most pressing need of the time is to unite and work together to build a stronger country rather than alienate ourselves from each other based on religion and caste.

Honour killing

It is true that wrong mutation of genes can cause degradation of our DNA affecting future generations of human beings in drastic ways. This is why people are not allowed to marry from within the same family and from the same or different communities. But this is science and people have to be enlightened with this knowledge. But what Indian society has been practising through the ages is alienation through caste barriers. Well, love is an emotion felt more and understood less. When in love, the only objective is to cross all barriers on the way. In the name of preventing degradation of human DNA, our society has suppressed love too hard for too long. The answer to this is definitely not killing our own kids to keep the much hyped family values and DNA intact. True love is all about giving oneself up to love and people in love will willingly give up their lives. Not only does this not solve the problem but will only inspire more people to travel this road. There is simply no honour in taking anyone’s life. All of us would like to know the reason when we are stopped from doing something. Let’s wield the weapon of education to bring enlightenment rather than the sword to bring death.

Education

The system of education that is followed around the world makes people proficient in reading and writing and creates a very efficient working class but robs us of our creativity. Each one of us has unique signatures about us and we are all born with innate creative abilities. Our education system destroys it ruthlessly in a very systematic way. Education as we get today is just the skills to read and write without knowledge and enlightenment. That is why even though we are educated, we differentiate our own based on religion, caste and colour and why we are so callous to nature that harbours our lives. Home schooling is gaining significance rapidly in the developed world. If the business world is looking for innovations, this is where it all starts. Let us tap into the inborn skills of our children and let it flourish. Everyone of us will have a new idea to give something to each other and to the world.

Hygiene

When we think that it took all the courage of one woman who refused to stay in her husband’s home after marriage to bring to light the fact that mobile phones are more important than toilets at homes and it is alright to relieve ourselves in open fields, we are not even eligible to hang ourselves in shame. Add to it, men lurking in the shadows to molest and rape the hapless women who have to go out to relieve themselves. Is this nightmarish or hilarious? What happened to the saying Cleanliness is Godliness? Guess it went out of the window a long time back. Anyone wants to create a mobile phone that doubles as a toilet?

Corruption

When we hear the word corruption, the first thing that comes to mind is huge sums of money involved in shady under the table deals. Not really. Most of the huge sums of money are being transferred right under our noses and there are many such deals happening as I write and as you read this blog. Corruption in India is based on one need. Beat the government machinery. Apply for a passport through dubious agents and get it in two days without any verification of our credentials. Get a driving license without driving at all. If the objective is to beat the system, why have the system at all? And what fuels corruption? Lack of prosperity. Most people in India are struggling to make their ends meet, so earning a handful more will help ease that pressure. Corruption is not limited to this one factor. Adulteration is also another form of corruption. Why are apples painted with red colour to make them look brighter? The examples are too many to illustrate here. No man or system can change any of this unless we allow our mindset to become mature enough to understand the benefits of living in the system and being true to ourselves.

Pollution

If we need proof that we do not truly belong to this planet, we just need to look at the fact that nature has it’s own ways of dealing with pollution caused by every other living being except us. Ancient knowledge predominantly teaches us to find harmony with nature for our own survival but somewhere somehow we seem to have become arrogant enough to challenge what harbours our lives itself. If river Ganga is revered as mother and is supposed to flow from the head of Lord Shiva, how come she is one of the most polluted rivers in the world? All the toxic waste from industries are allowed to flow into water bodies that provides us water to drink, just because industries create business and money. I read somewhere that when all the water is gone and all the trees are lost, all we will have to eat is the bundles of currency notes in our bank accounts. India is diverse not because of her people but because of her ecology and environment.

We wrongly believe that education empowers people. The formula is knowledge + enlightenment = empowerment. We need to first have a system in place that does not stop at educating people, but gives knowledge and makes sure people understand and use what they have learnt for their own benefit and for the benefit of the world. Maturity in people’s mindset will come only with sustained empowerment. Only with a mature mindset can we understand democracy, find harmony with nature and create a society devoid of corruption and without the boundaries of caste and religion.