QUEST FOR EQUALITY

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You hit me because I did something against your will. You abuse me because for once I did not bother to oblige to your orders. You demean me in front of our children who are a proof of our love which once existed! Or maybe not!

May be that was the “right” thing to do. Because that is how a perfect life should be right? Listen to your parents because they know the best for you, get married to somebody of their choice, have babies and then spend the entire life nurturing the family while nobody looks at my own well being!

My children don’t speak because they are too scared that things will worsen. I am scared too! But somewhere deep inside I hope that they will never be like their father! They will stand up for what is wrong and will fight for it, even if that means hurting themselves in the course.

May be someday, if god forbid, my daughter has to go through the same, she won’t bear it the way I have been doing. I hope she stands up, fights and leaves that living hell. I hope she makes a life of her own; not a life which just revolves around a man!  A man who thinks his wife is his own property, who has no living rights, who cannot even breathe against his permission! A man who thinks he has the right to control the world and who is doing no sin!

I have never told this to my daughter because that is not what an “ideal” mother should do, right? But I hope she understands, she learns and she doesn’t spend her life being “ideal” for everybody. After all, nothing is ever enough!

Lastly, I hope one day there is a world where women are treated as equals, as individuals and not as a thing to be protected by men. And I really hope my son unlearns what he has seen all his life! I hope he makes this world a better place to live, at least for the females in his life!

May be I won’t be alive to see that kind of a world; sounds too utopian right now! Amidst all the hopelessness and grief, I yet hope my children or grandchildren see a better world, AN EQUAL WORLD!

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PUBLIC PERCEPTION SURVEY ON BEGGARY

As a part of my M.A. Thesis, I am conducting a ‘Public Perception Survey’ to know about the views and/or opinions of the general public with respect to beggars and beggary. I request each one of you to remove a few minutes from your schedule to fill the short survey, the link for which is as given below:
Your responses will be extremely helpful as they will form a crucial part of my findings in the thesis. Your contribution will be highly appreciated.
I further request you to kindly share this with your networks, which will help me in getting a wider perspective.

SAFE, ARE WE?

I am glad that finally the national media is covering such a crucial matter. Unfortuantely, it happened only when the matter got sensationalised. The social audit report prepared by Koshish-TISS was out since almost a month but it wasn’t considered important enough to be brought forward.

I feel ashamed and disgusted when I read such kinds of news. Rapes in various parts of the country have been like a daily affair now. Each day the newspaper carries the news of rape with varied levels of brutality. But we have now crossed all limits! CWC, a NGO, local politicians, institutional staff were all a part of this henious crime.

The girls who were brought to the shelter homes and care institutions for their “safety” were raped, assaulted and may be beaten to death! We aren’t safe in public places and roads and many of them end up reaching these institutions with the hope that life will be better there. But I now feel they would have been happier roaming on the streets than being a prey to these human animals.

Where are we heading? What is the point of being the fastest growing economy in the world? What is the point of our “honourable” Prime Minister roaming the entire world to get foreign investments when his own citizens are unsafe in shelter homes out of all places!!

Our elected representatives who are representing us in the parliament and state assemblies are playing blame-games and politics even on such a sensitive matter. None of them are bothered about those young victims and the trauma they have gone through. Nobody is acknowledging their courage to give those statements which will give each one of us goosebumps.

What kind of a nation are we building? What is our political class doing except for vote-bank politics? Why don’t we have mandatory social audits for every institution because I am sure this isn’t the case just in Bihar.

Had the principal secretary not approached Koshish this matter wouldn’t have ever come to light and those innocent lives would have continued to suffer. Also, we shouldn’t forget that this report pertains to the year 2017-18 alone. Can we even imagine what all has happened in the previous years!?

Growing GDP figures, fantastic trade deals with world powers is all in vain if we cannot ensure the safety of our own citizens, be it any gender or any age!

SAFE, ARE WE?

I am glad that finally the national media is covering such a crucial matter. Unfortuantely, it happened only when the matter got sensationalised. The social audit report prepared by Koshish-TISS was out since almost a month but it wasn’t considered important enough to be brought forward.

I feel ashamed and disgusted when I read such kinds of news. Rapes in various parts of the country have been like a daily affair now. Each day the newspaper carries the news of rape with varied levels of brutality. But we have now crossed all limits! CWC, a NGO, local politicians, institutional staff were all a part of this henious crime.

The girls who were brought to the shelter homes and care institutions for their “safety” were raped, assaulted and may be beaten to death! We aren’t safe in public places and roads and many of them end up reaching these institutions with the hope that life will be better there. But I now feel they would have been happier roaming on the streets than being a prey to these human animals.

Where are we heading? What is the point of being the fastest growing economy in the world? What is the point of our “honourable” Prime Minister roaming the entire world to get foreign investments when his own citizens are unsafe in shelter homes out of all places!!

Our elected representatives who are representing us in the parliament and state assemblies are playing blame-games and politics even on such a sensitive matter. None of them are bothered about those young victims and the trauma they have gone through. Nobody is acknowledging their courage to give those statements which will give each one of us goosebumps.

What kind of a nation are we building? What is our political class doing except for vote-bank politics? Why don’t we have mandatory social audits for every institution because I am sure this isn’t the case just in Bihar.

Had the principal secretary not approached Koshish this matter wouldn’t have ever come to light and those innocent lives would have continued to suffer. Also, we shouldn’t forget that this report pertains to the year 2017-18 alone. Can we even imagine what all has happened in the previous years!?

Growing GDP figures, fantastic trade deals with world powers is all in vain if we cannot ensure the safety of our own citizens, be it any gender or any age!

THE OLD AND ABLED

The title sounds a little paradoxical, right? But that is what I learnt and realized after visiting the S.S. Old-Age Home in Thane. There were about 20 old people, each one of them being above 65 years, who were living happily in a home away from their home! Some had paralysis, some had a weak vision, some were mentally-challenged, yet each one of them was much more able than we are!

An old lady who was almost 90 years was much more active than a young person could be! She kept on saying that she was illiterate but her experience in life overshadowed the really low years of schooling! I asked whether she had a son and her immediate reply was ‘why to think of the things you don’t have!’ That one simple answer taught me so much in a matter of seconds. She hugged each one of us and told us about how everything is destined and no matter what, life isn’t unfair. She proudly claimed that she was old just by age but her heart was as young as it could be! However, she didn’t fear death; in fact, she was ready to be taken when called! She didn’t even fear loneliness but she did crave humans around; she kept on mentioning that all of us were her grandsons and granddaughters and how she wants that there are always people around her to talk and chat. She even recited a few poems in Marathi which weren’t coherent enough but clear enough to make you realize that life is beautiful; you just need to accept your destiny positively.

Another man, who was paralyzed from one side, was another lesson for life! He was a teacher and kept on working until the day his body gave up on him. Since he was a bachelor and partially-disabled, he had no choice but to stay in an old-age home. He gave us lessons on how to live a healthy life and how important it is to always take care of yourself. He didn’t have any regrets about staying alone but he regretted not walking and not working; he regretted being dependent on others especially when he had dealt with his life all alone for so many years. The paralysis attack had scared him so much that when I was standing he told me to sit since the fact that he couldn’t do the same pained him. One stroke changed his life forever! I cannot imagine how he accepted such a harsh phase of his life; it would have certainly been really difficult but his hopes hadn’t shattered yet. Even at 65, he had hopes that his new physiotherapy sessions would make him better soon and he could again live a life he always did.

Contrary to what I had expected, none of them cribbed about their spoilt children who didn’t keep them or about how unfair life is and how difficult it is to survive alone at such a place with so many illnesses. The only thing everybody spoke about was how happy they were at their young age and how good life had been to them. They had no regrets, no envy and no bitter feelings for anybody. All they had was a pure heart!

Yes, there is immense inequality in this world. Everybody is struggling with some or the other issues in life. Some don’t have parents and some are orphans in spite of their parents being alive! Some are sleeping on beds full of money and for some the open sky is their bed. Some are throwing tons of food in the garbage and some are struggling to search even a small morsel from that same garbage! However, at the end everybody reaches the same destination- the coffin. Thus, what matters is how happily you live and how accepting you are.

It’s not that those old people hadn’t faced any hardships or they weren’t unhappy. But they knew how to live and more importantly, how to die. They accepted their destiny with open arms. The smile on their face was so pleasant and soothing that it could make anybody forget their personal issues. They had nothing to give but only love- a love so pure, a love so unconditional! I can never forget the lessons I learnt and the knowledge I gained in those 2-3 hours of interaction with the people I never saw or knew.

One quote that can describe them is-

“Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.”

And they certainly loved much deeply!

TO EQUALITY, TO PARENTHOOD!

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The Indian Parliament recently passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill and made it a law. This law is widely being celebrated and boasted by the government as well as the citizens. However, every coin has two sides and so does this law and it’s up to each one of us to decide which side is heavier. I will first begin with the positive aspect.

The changes proposed in the new law are certainly beneficial for all the mothers expecting a child or adopting one. The major amendment is the extension of the paid maternity leave to 26 weeks from the existing 12 weeks. This will give more time to the mothers to rejuvenate themselves as well as spend some quality time with their newborn. Also, the compulsion of crèche facilities in the organisations is a step in the right direction. All these changes will encourage more and more women to enter the workforce either through the organised or unorganised sector. This is not only beneficial for women empowerment but will also help in boosting our economy. Another positive side is that through this act, India has entered the list of 42 countries which provides more than 18 weeks of maternity leave to the mothers, certainly something to be proud about. These are few of the reasons which make this law a blessing for the goddesses without which human life couldn’t have existed. They have compromised and sacrificed a lot all their life majorly for doing justice to their role as a mother. Indeed, they deserve this gift in return. However, what is not being debated is the other side of the coin.

The first thing which makes me sceptical about this law is the name itself i.e. “MATERNITY” Benefit Act. Once again the responsibility of nourishing and upbringing the child has been put on the weak strong shoulders of mothers. Although the act has made the changes in favour of the females but unfortunately it ends there. There isn’t a single mention about the other parent’s duty – the privileged one (father). There is no provision for the father to visit the crèche at least once in a day if not four times. Also, there isn’t a single clause which encourages the father to take a leave in order to take care of the mother or their own child. Once again the male is allowed to continue with his daily routine while his better half takes a backseat. Yes, the mother has to stop her work for a while since nature has designed the evolution process in that manner. But that shouldn’t free the fathers from their duties towards their wives or child. And mind you earning isn’t the only duty a father has to perform. Although this act may encourage the females to enter the workforce but the employers won’t be eager to employ them since they will be considered a liability rather than an asset. So it would have been better if there was a shared responsibility, thus sharing the inequality equally.

I was really keen to know the nitty-gritty of this much-awaited law but I was quite disappointed. I would have been happier if the name would be “PATERNITY” Benefit Act. At least there would have been a ray of hope in the much needed revolutionary process in the field of motherhood PARENTHOOD. Another good thing would have been to provide at least a few paid leaves to the father as well. This would have motivated a few males who realize their duties as a father. After all, a huge revolution begins from a few individuals only. There could have been provisions which talk about the shared responsibility of both the parents instead of just the mother.

All-in-all, this is certainly a progressive law but there is a lot more to achieve if we really desire to give equal rights to each individual irrespective of the gender. Working and being independent is a basic human right and nobody should be deprived of it just because of nature’s design.

No law would be required if we didn’t belong to a patriarchal society so I would like to sum up all my points in one sentence-

“It’s not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.”

WHY FEAR THE INEVITABLE?

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‘FEAR’- I don’t think there is any person on this planet who might have not come across this feeling in their life time. This is one of the basic traits of being a human. Each one of us has some kind of fear. The fear can be of heights, water, some insect or the biggest fear- the fear of DEATH (yours’ own or your loved ones’). I personally fear from a lot of things but my biggest fear, like many other humans, is of death.

We humans are very weird and have the habit of taking things for granted and in that course we even take our lives for granted! We have the belief that we are immortal and there is a long, long journey ahead of us but we fail to accept the fact that we have entered this world with a limited time frame. Our countdown begins from the day we enter this universe. We all might have encountered the death of someone in our lives but we ourselves are going to die just can’t be accepted by us.

We make so many plans for our ‘secured’ future; we are always in that hustle-bustle to finish the targets, to have a family, to have financial stability, etc. While making our lives stable, we shatter other people’s lives in some way or the other. That’s how humans have now become- more of robots and less of a civilized person. What have we done to ourselves? Where are we leading? Why are people fighting and killing and destroying each other’s lives? What is the purpose of all this? What is the difference between animals and humans today? Each day we hear about wars, terrorist attacks, rapes, murders, political fights and what not. But how many of us actually are moved by it? We may feel bad for a few moments after hearing about such news but not more than that. Why is that the case? What has made us so self-centric that even such barbaric acts fail to move us?

All this is because we fear death and we want to delay it as much as we can. As long as we are safe and secured, we are happy, then it doesn’t matter who is getting murdered or why wars are going on. This is what the definition of ‘happy’ has become today. So much of ruckus just to secure the limited time span we have come with! Isn’t that funny? We kill others to save our life but we forget that nature is going to kill us someday! Such short-sightedness of humans will destroy the world much more than any war would!

The first step towards eliminating the evil going on is to accept the fact that we are perishable and we will leave this world sooner or later. I, myself, was a thanatophobic and the thought of death made me sweat and anxious. But now after reading a few good books and talking with certain people I have realized that death is inevitable. No matter what I do or no matter the extent of healthy life I live, I am still going to die and my countdown has already begun nineteen years back. Then why fear a thing which you just can’t avoid? Why destroy other’s lives to secure your own? Why be in a hurry when you hardly have some fixed number of years to live? Why ignore the inevitable?

Life is a beautiful gift and we should learn to enjoy its beauty. Every human has certain basic necessities and in order to survive, it is crucial to fulfill those, but not at the cost of snatching other people’s needs. I feel it doesn’t even make sense to fight for anything because everything is temporary. We slog and suffer so much today in the hopes of a better tomorrow but we don’t even know whether we will have a tomorrow. That doesn’t mean we should just sit and wait for our time to go. In fact, we should make the most out of this nature’s gift. If we have a tomorrow, we should be prepared for it today. In short, there should be a balance between the two.

Living your life happily and allowing others to do the same should be our main motto. At the end I will quote a famous poet’s beautiful words which sums up everything-

“LOVE EACH OTHER OR PERISH.”