Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Memento Memories - We too keep notes!

OK. So what am I doing?
Oh, I'm chasing this guy.
No. He's chasing me.
Ah! Fuck!
I have this condition.
A condition?!
It's my memory.
No, no, it's different from that. I have no short-term memory.
I know all about myself, I just...
Since my injury I can't make new memories. Everything fades.
If we talk for too long I'll forget how we started...

For any movie maniac, this would ring a bell. Memento for many, Ghajini for few.

Just for the un-initiated, Memento is a 'must watch' psychological thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, adapted from his younger brother Jonathan Nolan's short story "Memento Mori". The movie later inspired one of the greatest bollywood blockbuster - Ghajini (the Ghajini hair cut, though was original bollywood creation).

This is not a movie review, but a reflection of the movie that fell on me.

The movie is about Leonard Shelby who believes in his life through notes, Polaroid photographs with caption and permanent tattoos on his body. Since he has short term memory or practically doesn't remember anything and anybody, he trusts his instincts, handwriting and tattoos.

'You really need a system if you're gonna make it work. You kinda learn to trust your handwriting... ...where you put them is really important. You need a jacket that's got, like, six pockets... You just kinda learn to know where things go and how the system works...'

Don't we all write notes? In the corollary, don't we find people who doesn't write notes inefficient and often forgetful workers. Don't we consider 'Post-it Notes' as one of the world's most innovative products? Don't we find ourselves a bit lost if the minutes of the meeting are not circulated or noted?

The only difference being that Leonard Shelby had too short a memory. We all have short memories and some reference memories.

The movie makes a great statement on belief systems, instincts and intuition. Its all about self belief about what you perceive in life.

...I have to believe in a world outside my own mind.
I have to believe that my actions still have meaning.
Even if I can't remember them...
I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still here...

We too know so little about the world in spite of being scientifically so advanced to send men to space. The only option is to have faith and belief.
Its believed that medical science only knows only 20% about the human body. There are innumerable diseases that the medical fraternity calls 'Auto-immune Diseases', which in simple words imply that we don't know the cause and cure. We know so little about what's going to happen in the next instant.

We have created technology to fill ourselves with documented knowledge - wikipedia, google, blogs, libraries et al. But can we read, understand and assimilate all of that in one life-time to understand life,... to understand ourselves.

Am I really sure that the laptop with its lithium battery wont burst on my lap while I write this blog? Its all about my belief that's making me continue to keep the laptop on my lap

So what we do is we believe in our instincts and strengthen them through daily conditioning. Its about habits that we pick up from our childhood and the culture that we come from. We have to accept them and be happy with ourselves. One life time is too short to keep thinking of changing for the better, especially when it is difficult to understand 'what is better'

Conditioning didn't work for Sammy, so he became helpless.
But it works for me.
I live the way Sammy couldn't.
Habit and routine make my life possible.
Conditioning. Acting on instinct.

The movie beautifully portrays that this system of belief, instinct and intuition can be strengthened by conditioning and has to be complimented by past memories (references). Otherwise the system will shake and dis-integrate. We have to remind ourselves about who we are.

Today, in our busy lives, we tend to forget who we are, where did we come from and why we are wherever we are. Its about an un-ending desire for progress and material success accumulating stress, anxiety and confusion in the process. We forget our objectives, about why we started the journey and instead create newer objectives.

We all need memories to remind ourselves who we are.
I'm no different.

Leonard Shelby could keep his single mindedness because of his systemic notes that he either tattooed or written on Polaroid photographs. Everyday the first thing that he reads is 'Remember Sammy Jenkins' which is tattooed to his left upper arm just by the side of his thumb. That statement starts his process of understanding his life, his condition, his purpose and therefore deciding on his next move.

We are not so fortunate. We don't have a trigger to start the process of understanding life everyday. And we end up our days scampering like rats.

The best part of Memento is that Leonard Shelby can choose to not remember a few details in his life. He starts every day with a clean slate with no hatred, biases and pre-conditions. Morever, he can choose to not write notes about something that he may repent in the future. He can choose to forget. Today, most of our sadness and depression is about the memories of our past.

We may not remember the minutes of an important meeting, but we would surely remember our sad moments, failures, humiliations and bad relationships. Some memories are best forgotten but we cant help it.

We have to let go of some of our past. Even if it means 'no learning from that past', it's worth it.

To cut long story short, Memento is an amazing insight and perspective on memory, instincts and conditioning behaviour. A must watch for an healthier outlook towards life.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

This time it is Muslim Reservation.. Frowning!!

Just had a frown reading a news item on twitter that the Andhra Pradesh government has received a major boost with the Supreme Court upholding the validity of four percent reservation provided to backward members of Muslim community in the state.

Still frowning but just a bit relaxed that it is just an interim order. Thank you Allah!

Earlier last month the Andhra Pradesh High Court had termed a separate quota for Muslims as 'unsustainable and unconstitutional' and ruled against a Congress Government act - Reservation in favour of Socially and Educational Backward Classes of Muslims, which was passed on 23 July 2007. According to the act, 15 socially and educationally backward Muslim classes (students and employees) were to get 4% reservation.

It seems to be the season of ripe reservation. MIM (Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen)- one of the political parties opposing the women reservation is campaigning for this reservation. Cool! (More frown)

One of the points pro this act says that reservation actually began on the basis of religion. It says, an individual enjoys schedule caste (SC) status if he is a Hindu or Buddhist making his religion the deciding factor. Muslims and Christians SC people do not fall under SC reservation. (smiling & frowning)

Although plausible in the present day context, just imagine the blunder we have made in the name of SC reservation. How ridiculous it seems today that someone thought an SC cannot be a Muslim. Likewise, this Muslim reservation will also be ridiculed in the future for some silly mis-assumptions and mis-conceptions of the present.

It is interesting to look at why the High Court had opined that the Act is unsustainable and unconstitutional.

Unconstitutional simply because it is violative of Article 14 (equality before law) and other provisions pertaining to prohibition of discrimination by State on grounds of religion, race, caste, SEX or place of birth. Wonder how the Rajya Sabha approved the Women's Reservation Bill!!

Unsustainable because it failed to evolve and spell out proper and relevant criteria for identification of social and educational backwardness and inadequate representation in public employment among classes or persons belonging to Muslim community. The data which was relied on was actually collected and observed made by Anthropological Survey of India to make an anthropological profile of Indian population.

Cant fathom why the Supreme Court ignored these bases... Sometimes I think that I am just increasing my chances of static wrinkles on my forehead by frowning and getting angry on these news items. Who cares about me and my wrinkles?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What's wrong with live-in relationships, asks Supreme Court

Marriage as a forceful essential convention has got a kick in the butt.

The Supreme Court yesterday opined that a man and woman living together without marriage cannot be construed as an offence. This, along with the January 2008 Supreme Court ruling stating that 'if a man and woman are involved in a live-in relationship for a long period, they will be treated as a married couple and their child would be called legitimate', makes for a great change in the Indian social fabric.

With respect to physical security, the female of live in relationship is already given protection under the Domestic Violence Act 2005. In terms of the fear that the male partner may leave the girl with kids is also no longer true. In the court of law, it will be very easy for her to prove legitimacy.

With respect to children, the SC judgement has dispelled all doubts and apprehensions crucial for the children’s future, their prestige and treatment among the society. They will be treated at equal footing in the court of law.

I have always questioned marriage as being the ultimate weapon for eternal togetherness. You may want to read this. These changing societal landscape only proves that nature ultimately will raise its head out of human-created shackles like marriage. Although it may not reduce the significance of marriage as a safe institution, but it will surely encourage and support the rebels to follow their instincts and conscience.

Like the Indian economy grew after the 1991 liberalisation, the social economy will also get enhanced by this liberty given to choose the way we want to spend our life with our partners.

This will also bring women into equal economic footing, as they don't have to face the pressures of convention inside a marriage.

Divorce and break-ups will be a lesser taboo and emotionally less draining. It will ultimately be considered natural.

Relationships will be stronger, as the likelihood of each partner taking the other for granted will be lesser. We all know that marriage as a social bind changes the dynamics of a relationship. 'Shaadi ke baad change ho gaya hain' will be a lesser heard phrase.

This judgements and developments may finally make 'marriage' a lesser inspiration for jokes. It may lead to lessening of the significance of one of the oldest proverb - 'Shaadi ke laddoo jo khaye woh pashtaye, Jo nehi khaye woh bhi (nehi) pashtaye!'

Jay Ho!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Husband, Wife, Marriage, In-laws.. an unending discussion!

Bringing you a very interesting dialogue that IHM and I are having. This is in continuation to my previous post - What I understand about 'Paraya Dhan' - A response to one of IHM's blog. I am putting her responses and my replies.

You may read her blog - Paraya Dhan and her limited rights - first to get the discussion entirely.

My 1st response: By the end, I stay confused. Somehow I cant relate to so much brouhaha about so many things. I feel there is too much superficiality, complications and double standards in your writing and in the messages. I think the perspectives are too narrow and urban-ish.

IHM: Urbanish perspective? Not entirely.I think basic problems women face are the same all over India. Divorce is still a dirty word – we force girls to ‘adjust’ and live with their in laws even if they don’t want to; a large number of widows still stay unmarried; girl- children are still unwelcome, getting married and staying married (and staying a suhagan ) is still very important for a girl…

My 2nd response: Marriage as an institution is man-made and is a fault-ridden convention. The other name of marriage is adjustment, compromise and adapting to a new family. Both the boy and the girl goes through new requirements in life. If you want to be in the convention, you better be conventional. Divorce will ALWAYS be a dirty word, adjustments will ALWAYS be required, staying married will always be important for both THE MAN and the woman. Widow re-marriage is surely an issue that my dad once fought for. I didn't understand why he was not letting my masi stay close to us. I was a kid. I wondered why he got her married to someone so far away. Now I understand and I respect my ‘Deuta’.}

My 1st response: Or perhaps my perspective is narrow and Assamese.
I am born and brought up in Assam, where there is no caste system, no class consciousness, no religious sentiments (changing drastically with ISI being active and Bangladeshi immigrants). I have not seen domestic violence, dowry and dowry death, divorces and ‘nuclear families’ (the few ones I saw were unhappy). I loved my joint family upbringing. I was fed (with hands) by the aunts more than my mom ever got a chance. Games like hide & seek, community swimming in the pond, getting honey from beehives wouldn't have been possible without a joint family.

IHM: A fun filled childhood no doubt. I know male children are preferred there too. Shouldn’t all children be loved equally? Let me ask you this – why do parents all over India prefer male children?

My 2nd response: I agree with you here but I have always seen parents being happy with a boy and a girl. A pair is considered a blessing. So, I have seen parents wanting a child depending on the first child. Yes they may be a bit skewed towards a boy for their first child. But this is going to change. This thought and preference had a genesis / reason which is past due date and the fundamentals have changed now. I understand you being pissed with this status-quo, being a woman, but at the same time please agree that things are changing. No point stressing or rebelling too much about it. Its like the Indian motorist honking the daylights out of the sound ecology, even when he knows that traffic can only move that fast, or worse when he knows that the red light has just turned green. So although it is a valid point you are making, you cannot get too prejudiced and jingoist about it. And talk only of girl issues in marriage. Our (educated bloggers) discussions should be gender-neutral or gender balanced. You know we Indians are actually much better off. Have you seen movies like ‘North Country’ and ‘Mississippi Burning’? You will realise the rural US of A. We have had woman presidents and prime-ministers. How many countries can boast of that?

My 1st response: I really don't understand so much fuss. I would just want to say, why cant we just let nature take its turn.

IHM: Is it unnatural for adults to marry the ones they love and to make a house of their own?

My 2nd response: Of course it is natural. It is also natural that her elders would want her to convince them of his worthiness. They can get difficult at times, but they are your elders, your family and I am sure they will understand. However, ‘making a house of their own’ is a bit dicey and implication laden proposition, because the corollary implies that they are BREAKING AN EXISTING HOUSE of their own. It is natural that they will face a harder test from the elders. Why is this bothering you? Isn't the fallout of their want for a house of their own, natural too?

IHM: Is it unnatural for a girl to want to be wanted and loved by her biological parents as much as any other child? Or is it unnatural for a society to let all children love their parents, not just the male children or just female children?

My 2nd response: Of course it is natural for a girl to feel wanted by her biological parents. Its a crime not to let the female child not love their own parents? But the duty of the girl is also to give love and get love from her new parents. It may sound harsh but she has herself got into an existing convention called marriage. The boy is also in the same boat. He is the son to her parents. Ya it is worse for the woman because she has to stay with the husband’s parents. But that's a patrilineal tradition. And has not happened by fluke. You should understand that it is worse for the khashi and Garo MEN to stay with the girls’ parents; theirs is a matrilineal tradition. On a lighter note, the son also has a lot to go through in a joint family. Just imagine how difficult it gets to the man to have two women in his life – Mom and wife? Ha! If you are interested, let me tell you about an interesting Assamese custom. The mother of the groom does not attend the actual marriage puja. She cries and bid farewell to her son till the front door of her house. You may be thinking, what crap!!? But its true. She acknowledges and willfully bids farewell to her son to another woman – his wife. From the day of the marriage, her son is the responsibility and property of his wife. So woman favouring tradition does exist and society has acknowledged the position of the wife.

IHM: And is it unnatural that all women want to be valued even if they only have daughters/ or no children/ or no husband or no brothers? Do think about it.

My 2nd response: I thought. Like all woman want to be valued irrespective of her marital / reproductive status, all man also wants to be valued the same way. Have you noticed the way society looks at a divorced man, child-less man or an unmarried man. I know you may have noticed that about a woman. Men are also in the same boat. Society is crazy and helpful at the same time. It will eat you up if you are not among one of them. Importantly (and relevant to this discussion), there is no gender bias.

My 1st response: There are woman who do not think that household work is mundane. They love to be nurturers. They love to be provided for, to be submissive and feel sexy. And there are women who would always crib about a supposedly generated status-quo of women’s deplorable plight & jump up and down for women’s independence in terms of financial security.

IHM: There are also women who want a little more than household work. Won’t it be better if each did what they are inclined towards?

My 2nd response: I am a big support of free will. Women should be allowed to whatever they are inclined. And I don't believe that they are not allowed. There is resistance but things are changing. But the point I am repeating is that marriage requires certain adjustments from both the boy and the girl. And convention says that the girl is the nurturer. But woman do have a choice. In my hometown Duliajan, 99.9% woman are, as you call them, ‘Provided for’. But
interestingly the only MLA winning 3 consecutive assembly elections in my home constituency was a woman. See, there are choices to be made everywhere. But every choice has resistance applying both to THE MAN and the woman.

IHM: Do you really believe that the problems that are discussed on this blog are not genuine? I understand that it may not directly concern you, maybe it has never touched your life directly, but does that mean the problems do not exist?

My 2nd response: The problems that are discussed are not representative and are skewed towards woman. Problems may actually exist, that's not the point. My point is that I always rebel against skewed discussions, scenarios and logic. Skewed discussions never veer towards root causes of a problem phenomenon. Skewed discussions are more of crib sessions and finger pointing sessions. Of course culture plays an important role for a skewed scenario. For instance, a girl slapping a man on the streets would everyone have assuming that the man must have done something wrong. Similarly when I am in your blog and your forum, I feel I am in a skewed scenario with remarks and cribs without any clear analysis. I don't want to escape, and instead want to provide my two bits. So I am responding even after losing 2000 words to smoke. (My first try at this response got deleted). Consider another imaginary analogy of a 'man-blog' saying “Monogamy sucks, Polygamy is the way”. Going by my opinion that Men are intrinsically seeders (do you agree?) and there is a good chance of a rush of man-supporters to that blog. But that blog or the discussion that will ensue may not keep the general female population in mind. It would be definitely man-skewed. That's not productive for the overall society. Remember blog (pen) is mightier than the sword!

My 1st response: Today in Mumbai with increasing number of blogs (aka awareness) about women independence, I see more confused woman, more confused about their role in the society. More divorces. More under-eye circles.

IHM: The dark circles were always there, and the confusions were NOT permitted to women, so our folk lore and folk songs are full of women ( and their parents) fearing or complaining about a girl’s in laws.

My 2nd response: Folklore are also filled with remarks ridiculing marriage, ridiculing a wife’s tantrums, cracking jokes on Joru Ka Gulam etc etc. Also don't forget jokes. When I was engaged and was wearing my engagement ring, one of my seniors told me “that's not a wedding ring, that's suffe-ring. Ha! Again repeating, boys are in the same boat, IHM.

IHM: Today women are in a position to be able to do something about the confusions. And I agree it may disturb those who were comfortable with the old system, but should that mean we do not look for alternatives?

My 2nd response: I don't believe that anybody stopped women from getting confused. Marriage is also about giving shoulders to each other to get confused (and cry!). And we are successfully getting confused all the time. Why do you say, confusions were not permitted to women? Also I don't know if your blog or the comments are doing anything about solving the confusions. Its not analysing the issue keeping the husband in the picture. If you read one of the comments in my blog when I published my 1st response in my blog, shubhra says very aptly “Confusion arises when people/women confuse traditional views for being 'sexist'. Women being the nurturers of the family should not be considered/termed as 'Dependants'. No one would like to be associated with this word. Traditionally women have been perceived as biological production plants in certain societies and have been inhumanly treated..Probably that is the reason for such angst in the modern woman... They have been taught how their breed has been tortured for years and the only way to change this is to become financially dependant. I would plead all the women to treat this as a phenomenon practiced in few societies and not generalise this as a traditional norm. Domestic violence should not be acceptable to anyone, including women..But at the same time every woman should have an insight into who she is and what she wants from the society and from herself..Only then will she realise whether she wants to be a nurturer or a provider...or both(if she can balance the act) Once she accepts who she is, she will not feel the need to prove herself by going out of the way to fit into the modern society." Very well said, Shubhra. Thanks.

IHM: No divorces may or may not mean happy marriages. A lot of couples stay together even when they are unhappy – and that does not mean the marriage is successful, it simply means they are afraid of society’s reaction to a separation. Living together only because they have no choice is always a good idea?

My 2nd response: You are absolutely right. ‘No divorce’ is a farce. However, I again repeat, the man is also afraid of society’s reaction. Why do you forget that? Marriage is difficult and people do stay married for fear, for kids etc. It is a gender neutral phenomenon.

My 1st response: The reason is we are not letting each one be. Our support systems are breaking. We don't know our neighbours. We don't play hide and seek anymore!!

IHM: About Support Systems. Widows were often returned to their parents’ home and their children were discriminated against by whoever supported them – brothers or in laws. Today we realise that even if one needs support, one need not be dependent – today a widow can earn and ensure that her children and she, both have respect. Isn’t this a better system? Here I feel even the brothers can’t really be blamed – it was a forced responsibility. I feel a society where all adults can take basic care of themselves is a healthier society.

My 2nd response: I believe in re-marrying the widow and supporting her from all sides. But ya there are cases of her being sent away and blamed for the husband's death. I have not seen it myself though. With education, woman will start getting independent financially and you are right all adults taking care of themselves is a healthier society. Sau taka! But again, its more like social in-consistencies created by the strong and mighty. The similar analogy is the Brahmin-Non Brahmin issue. For centuries, Brahmins never allowed the non-brahmins to go to pathsaala. They always wanted the non-brahmins to be illiterate so that they don't understand their mantras that they recite (one of the reasons). Let me tell another interesting thing about ‘Brahmin mantra’. Did you know that on the marriage fire (don't know what it is called) the pandit actually marries the girl to himself and then hands her over to the husband. If you
decipher the sanskrit mantra you would see that he is the one who is marrying the girl first. He is a Brahmin and has a first right (of refusal!) over all of us. Another thing about Mantra that I read was, when one gives pind by the funeral pyre to his parents, the panditji through mantra says that the son actually is the cause of his father’s death and he has to wash his sins by giving dakshinas – a cow, a goat etc etc… Today things have changed and will continue changing.

My 1st response: I have seen both worlds. I have seen my joint family. And I have seen khashi and Garo families where the youngest daughter gets the property of the mother and the boys go to the girls’ house. I see how they beautifully manage.

IHM: They should be treated like all other adult family members- like equal members, taking part in all decision making, and their opinion should have the same value as other members.

My 2nd response: I completely agree. It will change with education and awareness. It will also change the way a mother in law (also a woman!) is overpowering and has an uneven say.

My 1st response: In Mumbai (perhaps in all metros), I have seen woman going to their parent’s home when she is about 6-7 months pregnant. That completely leaves me NUMB. My parents and the parents that I have grown up with would have taken that to insult. If the daughter in law feels more comfortable in her parent’s house after marriage, and not in the husband’s house, it is a curse for the in-laws. Believe you me, I have always met wives who are happier delivering in their husband’s home, therefore.

IHM: I think a woman should be able to choose who she feels more comfortable with – a girl who can go to her parents house whenever she likes is definitely happier than a girl who will fear that her show of love or trust for her parents might be taken as an insult by her in laws. Such things should not become a matter of honor or insult, this is the reason why women feel oppressed in Joint families.

My 2nd response: I agree. I don't debate free will. But I have observed that in-laws do take extra care so that she actually feel comfortable, esp. when there is a social obligation. See in the cases that I have seen, both the son’s mom and the daughter’s parents have given farewell to them and they have themselves for everything and the boy’s parents in most case. So the girl never thinks that she has the option that she can go to her parents. so she does not feel oppressed at all. A person in the desert may not feel the need for an AC, when he does not know about the existence of AC. Its like only when we buy an AC, that we cant sleep without an AC. See I am not referring to giving support back to parents, financial or otherwise. Both parents should be taken care of. They are our elders. Period.

My 1st response: Last week, one incident shook me up. One of my team members came to me and requested me for a leave of 1/2 days. She said her sister has got chicken pox and so her mother has to go and take care of her. And obviously since she had a baby, she cant come to office. Now the question that puzzled me was ‘where is her sister’s husband, parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts…’
I (we) take ‘paraya dhan’ very seriously. If somebody can trust their dhan to us and call their own blood as our dhan, we will better take care of her and make her the cynosure of our eyes.

IHM: An adult citizen’s welfare cannot be left to her family’s good intentions. When adults live together, there can be disagreements and there can be ego clashes, an adult should be able – if she so chooses, to live in her own house with her spouse, without being made to feel guilty.

My 2nd response: Good intentions are all that we have to trust and make our future. If we cant leave anything to good intentions, then most of the concepts in this world will collapse. As I said, living in her own house implies NOT LIVING in her husband's house. So it is natural to face resistence. Please note that her husband's house is her house now. She may not feel it in the first few years of her marriage, but she will be the overpowering SasuMa one day thumping her rights in every little detail. So its perhaps a bit of a trade off for the woman in the first few years. On a lighter note, I hate wearing ties but who is forcing me to work in a bank. Me myself. Fact is I forced myself hard to get into a bank because it pays. I never dreamt of the salary that I get in reality today. But the fallout is that in a bank, you have to be in a bloody formal dress. So I believe that for any problem or discomfort, we should first think why we got into the problem situation. Are we making a trade off? Then suddenly you may find relief.

IHM: The biggest problem with ‘paraya dhan’ is the girl belongs nowhere, the parents raise her to fit into another family, and the other family makes her their honor, pride and responsibility. Take a look at what girls all over India go through as kids because they are ‘paraya dhan’. What about their childhood?

My 2nd response: I dont agree that the girl belongs nowhere. In fact it is the dream & destiny of girls to marry INTO a good, wealthy, generous, loving family all over India. Also, today’s bahu is the SasuMa tomorrow. She is the bloody owner of the house and has all the keys for a good 20 years of her mature life. A man can never become as powerful as the SasuMa. Even otherwise, as a wife, you tell me who decides the colour of the house, the sofa set, the window curtains, the drawing room, the drawing room table where the husband cant put his leg, the colour of the shirts that the husband wears, the ganjees and underwears of the husband, … today, tell me who decides the nursery school, who decides the auto rickshaw taking the kids to school…and so much more that the wife does.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What I understand about 'Paraya Dhan' - A response

This is a response to a blog - 'Paraya Dhan and her limited rights'

Did you read the blog? You may read it first. I read it along with the comments. All of it. But by the end, I become confused. Messed up in the head.

I cant relate to so much brouhaha about so many things relating to Paraya Dhan. I feel that there lies underneath - superficiality, immaturity, complicated thinking, hidden sour feelings, modern life confusion and a zingoist attitude. Its about questioning culture for narrow ends and means. I even didnt like the comments. I think the perspectives are too narrow and urban-ish.

Or perhaps my perspective is utterly narrow and Assamese.

I am born and brought up in a neighbourhood in Assam, where there was no caste system, no class consciousness, no religious sentiments (changing drastically with ISI being active and Bangladeshi immigrants). I had not seen domestic violence, dowry and dowry death, divorces and ‘nuclear families’ (the few ones I saw were unhappy).

I loved my joint family upbringing. I was fed (with hands) by the aunts more than my mom ever got a chance. Games like hide & seek, family swimming in the pond, getting honey from beehives, sitting and chatting in the winter sun and all the fun wouldnt have been possible without a joint family.

So, I really dont want to understand so much fuss.

There are woman who do not think that household work is mundane. They love to be nurturers. They love to be provided for, to be submissive and feel sexy. And there are women who would always crib about a supposedly generated status quo of women’s deplorable plight & jump up and down for women’s independence in terms of financial security.

I have seen both worlds when it comes to Paraya Dhan. I have seen paraya male and paraya female. I have seen my joint family. And I have seen khashi and Garo families where the youngest daughter gets the property of the mother and the boys go to the girls’ house. I see how they beautifully manage.

I have seen how daughter in laws are treated with pride and responsibility. I agree things are a bit funny this side of the country. In Mumbai (perhaps in all metros) - my city for the last 10 years, I have seen woman going to their parent’s home when she is about 6-7 months pregnant. Now that completely leaves me NUMB.

Last week, another such incident left me with utter remorse. One of my team members came to me and requested me for a leave of 1/2 days. She said her sister has got chicken pox and so her mother has to go and take care of her. And since she had a baby, obviously she has to take care of the baby. Now the question that puzzled the hell out of me was ‘where is her sister’s husband, parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts…’

My parents and the parents that I have grown up with would have taken that to insult. If the daughter in law feels more comfortable in her parent’s house after marriage, and not in the husband’s house, it is a curse for the in-laws. Believe you me, I have always met wives who are happier delivering in their husband’s home.

Today in Mumbai with increasing number of blogs (aka awareness) about women independence, I see more confused woman, more confused about their role in the society. More divorces. More under-eye circles.

The reason is we are not letting each one be. Our aspirations are crazy. Our expectations are many directional. We are influenced by the frenzy of multi-media. On top of that, our support systems are breaking. We dont know our uncles, aunts and first cousins. We dont know our neighbours. We dont play hide and seek anymore!!

I (we) used to take ‘paraya dhan’ very seriously. If somebody can trust their dhan to us and call their own blood as our dhan, we better take care of her and make her the cynosure of our eyes.

So I find these discussion so muddled with post modern thoughts that solution and clarity is long far invisible. Wish I could time travel to my past and bring that past to all of you...

However the fact is that today 'I am in the same boat, brother' (sisters and friends).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Response to Random Thoughts: About Parmanent Commission for Women...

Thought of copying my response to a blog - "Delhi HC Orders Permanent Commission For Women In the Armed Forces".

I wanted to emphasize that 'opening up of career options and avenues towards financial independence for women is not regressive but reservation for women on the pretext of development is myopic, stupidity and pure politics (in its negative connotation)

My comment: ... "Sorry, I have been out of the web world for some days now… could not respond to you earlier. I understand where you are coming from. However this is unlike reservation where there is an unfair discern in selection and nomination.

If what you say about women from the biological and cultural perspective is true, then natural selection will take place and only the women who are fit and dedicated enough will rise to the top. We have to understand that there are women who do not fall into the stereotype that we know and they can very well serve the nation and the armed forces like any men would.

On a lighter note, like there are men (B. Darling and the likes) who are definitely unfit for any permanent commission...

Recently I had the chance to meet Krishna Patil who is the youngest Indian to climb Mount Everest and she is summit ting 7 mountains in 7 continents which will be a world record. When I interacted with her, it was evident that she was positively different from the stereotypical women. She for instance can surely deserve a permanent commission in the Army, if she wishes to opt for it.

Also, the HC order says that “women can certainly be considered for PC in wings like engineering, ordnance, intelligence, signals, logistics, air traffic control and the like, which will not take them directly to the battlefront…”

Also, we have to understand that it’s tough to get a second career at 35-40 years…

Many countries have already instituted this practice. Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh deploy women on sea-faring warships. The US has even allowed them on submarines. Even Pakistan has seven women fighter pilots.

So let natural selection take over. I personally am fine till there is no reservation and unfair politics handing the natural selection process to the powerful and mighty.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Another Reservation Politics Stinks !!

So many posts on women reservation on 8th of March that I feel a bit pukish and dizzy. Another reservation. Another license raj. Another era of political discrimination by gender after caste, creed, religion and whatever else.
As usual I read IHM too. She questions in the context of women reservation bill, "Do we need to create an environment where equal opportunities are made available?" And she answers, 'I think we do."

I am completely for Women Independence. But with this bill, we are taking it too far.

Quoting another fellow blogger, Ipsita Shome, "....next we will see cat-fights of the merit-less fairer sex." L.F.A.O. Mindblasting, I say.

Add the dogs to the cats and see the fun! In fact, I heard cat fights are worse if one listens to the stories about the ladies' coaches in our revered Mumbai local trains.

People, the requirement is to create a system to bring in intelligent, efficient people to govern the country. There is no time to play on another political factor. We need governments to take India into becoming a developed nation.

Today we have much bigger concerns. The biggest concern is 'Inbreeding in Politics' leading to stagnation of political ideas. You may like to read how inbreeding is killing politics and political thought. Another big concern is our feverish voter turn-out. Mumbai had a voter turn-out of 44.21 percent. Yes, 44.21.

We have no time for another reservation and any senseless thing like that. Let good sense prevail. Let the satan of reservation die in the Mithi river stink. Ha!

For God's sake, we dont need another term to the likes of Nepotism - sounding a slightly different - femotism or some crap-tism like that.

Pritish Nandy had something very interesting and 'sweet' to say in his twitter account today -

@PritishNandy Now that Women's Day is almost over, let's cut the hype & get back to the simple task of loving them for what they are.

Let nature prevail.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Political Inbreeding - Genetic Disorder in Political Thinking

I was reading one blog by Niharika Mishra questioning the role of education and its inefficiency to create well-rounded conscience. I found the thought quite interesting. It made me think about the role of education in something else that's been acting crazy on my mind lately - Indian Politics.

What is the role of education in creating able politicians to run our country towards growth? Or quite simply put, how do we create politicians today?

This takes me back to my college days where we used to join the political campaigning for college elections to get a entry to the girls' hostel ! We had our ideologies and all but we had our educational ambitions of getting good marks as well. So serious participation in the college elections were not in the agenda for me. Having said that, there were a few friends who were actively into college politics. Surely college, especially graduation/master degree is one of the breeding ground of future politicians.

The concern is how they breed? The concern is what do they learn & assimilate when they are becoming future politicians. I have observed that independent candidates hardly won elections. If they are too popular, they are beaten to withdraw their nomination. Effectively, if you have political ambition, first you have to adapt to sycophancy and become part of a close group.

You need to build a rapport with the existing political pillars. There is nothing wrong in becoming part of a team but the problem in this particular context is that the formative years of becoming a politician is guided by senior politicians. So you tend to think how your seniors thought, you tend to behave how your seniors behaved. So vote bank politics is imbibed into the young politicians.

The strategies to garner votes therefore get no paradigm shift in thinking and orientation. And naturally you are taught to think petty, straight-jacketed and obvious.

Second most potent ground breeding politicians are the existing political families. Sons, daughters, cousins of existing political bigwig becomes the next generation of the political class. Like Rahul Gandhi once said, "I am example of Rishtedari Politics". Interestingly, I see a similarity between a political family and a business family. Like the TATAs, the Gandhis try their best to continue their family legacy. It is serious business of intense thinking for the whole party to ensure a successful Gandhi heir. It re-affirms that politics is a business that needs heirs to continue family income, fame, power and privilege.
There is nothing too bad about a potent political family of politicians like we have families of doctors. But again the question comes to education and formation of a political mind and a strategist. The question comes to the development of the mind that will become the future leaders of political parties following the footsteps of their fathers and uncles.

The leadership therefore is handicapped to think differently in terms of the future strategy of a political party. Its always the same means and same ways to achieve the same goals.

I consider this as a critical problem that a political class or a party faces. Analogy can be drawn to concepts of genetic diversity and problems of inbreeding. A varied gene pool indicates extensive genetic diversity associated with robust populations that can survive bouts of intense selection. Meanwhile, low genetic diversity or inbreeding can cause reduced biological fitness and an increased chance of myopia and therefore possible extinction.

The political class needs to stop inbreeding of thought processes for their survival.

India today needs development and better standard of living. In developmental politics, garnering votes is a means to an end. Not the END. Religious sentiments to gather votes does not fall under the objective of developmental thinking. It only figures when the objective is to gather votes.

When the end becomes the passion to improve standard of living. Votes will flow on its own.

Developmental strategies to improve standard of living is not as easy as raising religious sentiments. It needs a lot of sharp acumen, economic understanding and social consciousness.

Just being a good orator, or a goon, or a heir wont do.

There is a need for a paradigm shift where:
  1. educated, experienced manpower willingly joins the political class leaving a well-paid corporate job or any stable life to run political strategies.
  2. students with political ambition gets proper training and skills to practice positive developmental politics.
  3. heirs of political families would go against the tide of conventional political thinking of their fathers and uncles
Currently I am forming my thoughts on how to bring this paradigm shift. Surely I shall write a model to reform political thinking and to create developmental strategies to win elections.