Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Good Sunday Morning!

A great morning. A happy and a proud Sunday morning.

As usual, I woke up, rubbed my eyes and stretched to my heart's content, as if my hands would touch the ceiling. Being the only exercise for months now, the stiffness is getting scary. Made a mental note that I will play squash today and reached for my Hindustan Times.

The daily morning newspaper has been my diet bed tea to get me fully awake (and angry, and frustrated). Today was a bit different. As usual I started reading the newspaper from the last page, but the happy thing was that I didn't reach the front page at all. Thank you to whoever had started the trend of having Sports in the last pages.

This is why I never got to the front pages. I instead wrote a long Facebook update and started writing this blog post. You see, FB does not have a search feature and your updates just get lost to time. A blog was thus necessary.

Back to the papers, the last page was about Shiva Keshavan - the lone Winter games medallist. I have been following him for years and he has been surprising Govt apathy almost every year. In spite of active Govt. support, he has been winning medals consistently for the country. 

Then I read about Parthiv Patel getting a century and becoming the highest run-getter of the current Ranji season. I have always thought that he keeps behind the wicket better than Dhoni and bats immaculately like a test player. Dhoni being the captain killed his career. Then I read about one of my favourite footballer Robin Van Persie, who has surprised even himself after coming to ManU this season. He has scored 17 goals already in this season.


HT dedicated almost half a page for sports talent from Kokrajhar, Assam. I used to get a bit annoyed whenever media highlighted Manipur as the only NE success story in Sports. Today, I am happy. Boxers like Pwilao Basumatary, Minu Basumatary, Bhagyabati Kachari, Anjali Machahary were mentioned. It was great to know that India youth team of 2011 had 6 of the 8 boxers from Kokrajhar.

In other sports, footballer Holicharan Narzary, archers Hemanta Basumatary and Sanjay Boro were given a positive mention.

This was one of the very few times that Assam was covered in a National newspapers for a GOOD reason. It was neither a terrorist attack, a bomb blast, nor a kidnapping of a tea garden manager. It was about a positive facet of Assam. 

A slight dampener was the title that Indians won't get it right ever. It said, "A revolution of hope in STRIFE-TORN Kokrajhar". The journalist  Indraneel Das could have avoided the reference to the Strife. There were many other ways to title the piece. But we are designed to write sensationalism.

Its alright. At least there is a positive coverage about Assam in a national newspaper.

Click here for the online version of the news article.

Photo Gallery of the Athletes from Kokrajhar, Assam.

Pwilao Basumatary
Anjali Machahary
Bhagyawati Kachari

Minu Basumatary in red

Forward Holicharan Narzary
Sanjay Boro winning the Bronze

Archer Hemanta Basumatary

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Delhi Rape Incident - Danger Sign of a Dual Society

My time with Twitter severely increased, for the hashtag #delhirape kept me angry, frustrated, curious and sarcastic; all at the same time.

Most of the tweets said what Napoleon Bonaparte had said over 200 years ago, "The act of policing is, in order to punish less often, to punish more severely."

Indeed the rapist should be publicly punished severely.

The other majority of tweets were a bit of a concern. They were of women shouting their words of anger and wisdom about how females are being taken for granted, coerced and exploited. Any tweet condescending to femininity were thrashed and castrated. 

There were tweets by a few men of reckoning, expressing that girls should be accompanied by elders at night for safety. They didn't know what hit them before they could even read their own tweet.

Although, it is sad that it took a heinous crime like rape for the citizens to come out in protest, yet it is a delight because Democracy works best when people claim it as their own, and participate. We should hope that this protest ultimately concludes into the reasons behind such a heinous social phenomenon of raping a women.

This is not the first rape and we have seen that rapes were rampant even during the protests across the country. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the incidents of rape went up by 873 percent between 1953 and 2011. This is three times faster than all cognizable crimes put together and three-and-a-half times faster than murder. Between 2007 and 2011 alone, rape incidents have increased by 9.7 percent. This is reported figure and we can fairly add a multiplier to these statistics.

I am not a social scientist, but I am a keen observer who have spent 37 years in this country. I have experienced this country before social media, before economic liberalization, and during Doordarshan. I have seen the times when two flowers connoted kissing in movies. I have been in the cusp of time when joint families were dis-integrating into nuclear families.  I have seen tennis transform from knee length skirts to bum-length skirts, while the shorts of the men tennis players perhaps increased in length.

The most critical change that I have seen is what media, satellite television and Internet  have brought in. The information about the glamour and lifestyles of people living in Mumbai (or any metro) became known to people living in villages. Sadly, it was the content that got broadcasted across the country without the accompanying context. 

India was always disparate in terms of income, culture and lifestyle, but it was not known and seen. Now, with technology, the perceived disparity is much more than actual disparity... and it is growing between the have's and have-not's. It is not about the economic disparity alone. It is not  about the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. Socio-cultural disparity in terms of identity is the concern that I would like to bring forth here. This is an alarmingly increasing disparity and a dichotomy is being created in terms of social attitude, expectations and perceptions about life. It is this polarization in terms of thoughts and world-view of things that concerns me.

With the Internet revolution and media, the world is changing too drastically. More drastically for a country like India, where education and economy could not and is unable to keep pace because of the sheer population, diversity and vastness of the country. And of course, lack of a visionary governance.

If I compare how I used to perceive a short skirt when I was 15 years old, with a 15 year old of today, I feel like I was a pervert. Fortunately, I was part of the drastic change. I was not a mere spectator to the change. I am afraid that the majority of the Indian population are mere spectators. There are a whole lot of 15 year olds who are stuck in time and have not graduated to this new age.

We have created an atmosphere of dual societies. A dual society contains two worlds in one: the Third World and the First World coexist within the same nation, under the same authorities and the same flag. Both are disparate in terms of access to benefits of education, of employment, standard of living, media and proximity to globalization of thought processes. These societies don't understand or relate to each other.

A simple case of dual society creation is the housing development that is happening in Mumbai through the 'Slum Rehabilitation Schemes'. The builder clears the slum, makes a sub-standard multi-storeyed building with tiny rooms to accommodate the slum population, and then makes a plush building with all club amenities for selling to the rich. The plush building brings in people with no history and similarity to the local population, people whose attitudes and lifestyle is different, and mostly un-acceptable to the local population.

The above example, although dangerous, is very mild. The disparity that non-egalitarian policies regarding education, employment and media can bring, is much more swift and over-powering.

Dual societies are ticking bombs waiting for explosion. Today it is an increasing trend on rape incidents, tomorrow it would be incidents of robbery and terrorism. This is where the policy makers of India has to act. Duality in society acts as a break for change and progress. It often leads to dangerous social phenomena like we have seen in the hashtag #delhirape.

The other conclusion to draw here is that lets not make this an episode of fight between genders. In a dual society, women are not safe. Period. Even man are not safe. I have heard of a female housemaid boiling a baby in a pressure cooker. I have heard of a housemaid poisoning the entire family during dinner. I have heard of a college kid stabbed and murdered by slum neighbours when he was trying to save one girl from eve-teasing.

So believe me that it is not about gender. It is about the unequal society and wider generation gaps. Let us all be responsible citizens and do whatever we can to have an equal society in terms of thinking, attitudes, and lifestyle. The haves should control their urges and be more sensitive towards the have-nots. Similarly, have-nots need to be given opportunities to cross the barrier.

It is quite a difficult task considering that we, as a nation, are a selfish lot. We consider the Ganga as a sacred river for a holy dip, but hardly bother for the next person who is coming to take a dip. We have to start thinking as a nation, as a team.

Till then, there would be only arguments, protests and tweets.