Entry and exit..

“Why get into something that’ll be difficult to get out of, and you know it won’t go anywhere?”

It was the end of a long day at a wedding, a friend was standing, looking worn out and tired, while I was slumping in one of the many sofas at the reception garden. I asked her to take a seat, she refused, saying she’ll get too sleepy if she lied on the sofa for once and then it would be difficult to get up.

I gave a puzzled look and she made this statement!

Both of us instantly smiled! Gyan of the world in a sleepy tired state.

I don’t know if I’d refuse to enter something that doesn’t have an easy exit? Would I bother about the exit at the time of the entry? I don’t know. Does it have to get somewhere? Can’t I just wander around?


Of Public Moralities

Thinking of moral police, the first sight coming to mind would probably that be of some bhagwa clad hooligans blackening the faces of young couples on the marine lines or perhaps breaking the glass panes of gift shops on a valentine’s day.

Immediate impulsive response from any modernized Gen Y youth would be sheer revulsion. We instantly revoke our fundamental right to freedom of expression, to do and behave as we please. We remind that we are mature adults and we know what’s good and what’s bad for us. And the self appointed burghers of social morality have no business telling us what to do and what not to do in our public and private life. Ours is a generation that was born free, having internalized our rights to freedom of all possible kinds and there’s no chance we would accept any attempts at curbing these rights.

Much of the blame for having brought the bad name and a rather negative connotation to moral influencing – to the extent of calling it a disciplinarian act of moral policing- lies with the fanatic defenders of the social morals who do not think twice before transcending all limits of decency in their own ways of protesting. Given that they have the right to freedom of expression too, they are very well allowed to voice their concerns with whatever they call as indecent. But well, let have them do it within the ambit of law and social courtesy. Becoming violent in their protests, they only display their own helplessness in saving a virtuous culture and their desperation to gain control with a whip on a free generation. They leave us with no option but to dismiss them as power mongers who’re just seeking a way to establish their identity.

Moral policing of public behavior or commercialization of feelings is not so much about the offended sensibilities than it is about some other kind of grievance at the heart of the moral cops. They can’t stand the overwhelming and allegedly negative influence of the western lifestyle and culture on our youth. This would include the MTV and Coca Cola culture and at a more general level, the consumerism and hedonism that are becoming ingrained in our traditionally austere and satvik culture. However, they forget to draw the distinction between the evolution of a fast moving society and blind copying of western life. As the global media converges, and the access to information from cultures and lifestyles across the world spreads, we have to be open to cross cultural influence that would flow both ways.

There’ll be people in America practicing Yoga and there’ll be people in India kissing on the streets. This is a cultural amalgamation process which is a natural component to the evolution of the human civilization itself. To try and put artificial barriers in this process of evolution is nothing but a folly. Another aspect of it is also the convergence of the world as a marketplace. If Archies wants to sell Valentines’ day greetings in India, and people want to buy it, what’s the problem? Indians have traditionally not objectified feelings and emotions with material gifts but if it makes someone feel good, there’s no reason why someone should object. Or are they finding it difficult to digest that a foreign company is making money out of selling emotions to us? Why don’t these cops try and popularize Karwa Chouth in America. I’m sure it would sell.

A culture has its inherent strengths which sustain it in course of evolution. It’s the voice of the masses, which has consciously or unconsciously transferred it generation by generation and there is no need to be so insecure about Indian culture and tradition suffering a blow due to the juggernauts of western imperial culture. If the culture can’t stand it’s ground in its own right, it will become extinct anyway and it doesn’t need to be protected. The roots of our culture are sufficiently strong for it to take care of itself.

Another recent dimension to moral policing came about with the havoc wreck by the moral cops at an art exhibition, where a student artist, in his own dreamy eyed works had in some ways transcended limits of decency. Now obviously, going all over to destroy the place and manhandle the artist is no way of registering a protest. However, careful handling of such situations would need judgment on the part of neutral parties as to what is reasonable and what’s not. Going too far with the right to freedom of expression, might actually end up offending even some neutral sensibilities and invite trouble. A nude depiction of Bharat Mata, which by all social mores is a motherhood figure is something that ruffled more feathers than just the moral brigade.

As a civil society, we do allow our parents to guide their children when they see us going wrong somewhere and that’s the role these sainiks seem to be usurping. And well, despite the claims about being adults and knowing what’s good for oneself, it’s only us who have indulged in drug addiction, drunken driving, promiscuous lives that have left behind hurts and emotional baggage. On a broader level, a moralizing influence of culture could’ve been a welcome one, but the independence freaks that we are, any impositions and restrictions on what we want to do, is not going to be taken lightly.

It does remain to note however, that it is for us, the young people to decide whether we apply our sensibility while adopting certain western ways of dressing, behavior, music and other things. We are to be responsible for our own behavior so we don’t give a chance to the moral brigades to raise fingers at us, accusing us of irresponsible actions.

So while I would not paint nudes of Indian Godesses, be intentionally blasphemous and disrespect the sentiments of the public, If I have to give someone a rose on valentines’ day, if I have to kiss someone good night when dropping home, I will fight tooth and nail for my right to freedom.


From cattle rearing to IIT; a dream come true

An article, mailed across on the IIT community,

From cattle rearing to IIT; a dream come true

Hyderabad, June 16: The journey from agriculture fields and cattle rearing to IIT and institutions equivalent to it is arduous. But three students coming from remote villages in AP have made it.

During vacation of the college – AP Social Welfare Junior College in Nagole here – T Venkateshwarlu and M Raju Naik used to work as farm labourers to help their parents. Rama Dasu, however, used to take care of cattle.

For them, their college was a temple of learning. They were among the 32 students, who took the examination.

Venkateshwarlu got selected in IIST (Pune) and IISER (Kolkata) and Ramadasu secured 132nd rank and is expecting a seat in any one of the seven IITs and IISTs.

Raju Naik who got 251st rank in IIT is interested in Electronic and Communication Engineering. Apart from this, Raju Naik and Venkateshwarlu secured ranks in the AIEEE (B.Tech) exam, while Rama Dasu got rank in AIEEE (B.Arch ) test.

Venkateshwarlu, the eldest son in his family says: "There is no engineering student in my native village Paluru near Nellore. I wanted to become one. I know IIT would change my life for ever. I studied hard, spending 16 hours a day on studies. The college staff helped me in my studies", he recalls.

Rama Dasu, elder son of Ramakrishna and Chittamma, had to travel by bus and train to reach Nagole institution from remote G Pangidigudem village in West Godavari. He was the first person from his village to enter a engineering course. "Now I want to encourage my younger brother and two sisters to
study", he said.

M Raju Naik, is a wonder boy, according to the college staff. He comes from a remote tribal hamlet Muthyalapadu Tanda in Kurnool. To reach the nearest bus stop, Raju Naik had to walk 3 km. He is the only son to his parents and has three elder sisters, who discontinued studies at an early stage.

"After coming to know about IIT, I decided that it should be my life's goal", he says. Perceiving his zeal, teachers gave all the support he needed. "Raju is without books only when he sleeps. He is a promising kid", a college teacher says.

Hoping it would be the Genesis and not the Nemesis of the dream.. I'd only like to say, All the best.


What about the other little ‘Princes’?

Anyone who is even slightly connected with the world, via any channels of communication would know of the heroic rescue of six year old ‘Prince’ from a pit. An episode which made thousands of people stick to their TV screens.. and praying to their respective gods!
The PMO issued a statement.. regarding the PM’s blessings to ‘prince’
Sonia Gandhi blessed him.
Wishes and prayers flowed from across the world.. (thanks to the outreach of media.. via TV and internet)
TV channels found a full time TRP gainer in this prince..
Zee news, in a sudden spur of philanthrophy, declared that they’d sponsor his entire education
some Sobha foundation chose its moment to rise to fame.. gave the child one lakh rupees
and lots of other things ensued!
I have nothing against this prince.. myself prayed for his safety.. but thinking of all the other ‘princes’ who miss out on this attention from the media.. or from anyone else.. i guess they would all be praying that they fall into a well.. coz otherwise.. their deaths.. due to malaria…. dengue.. malnutrition.. starvation have become too commonplace to draw any media attention or to win them as much as a two time meal.. let alone a life time scholarship!
Who do we expect.. will bring a change?
The Media.. by bringing more serious issues to light.. and growing beyond sensationalism?
The PM… leave him.. he’s too busy listening to the thousand people he needs to obey!
Sonia Gandhi.. ? as if she doesn’t know all of this already..
The kind donors.. asking them to consider donating to larger causes as well?
I hope all of those ghar ke chiraag.. jo bachpan mein hi bujh jaate hain… will find their own ways to draw attention.. and become saleable to the world.. and boost TRPs.. so they’ll be on prime time national television.. and finally get their due!

In Defense of Love !

To an urban reader belonging from the 21st century, the familial opposition to inter-community love marriages might seem anachronistic, but to a vast majority of young eligible bachelors and spinsters, it’s a reality, a rather cruel one in some cases!

As a young man today, I do not have much of an idea about the period when the caste system was created, however, the purpose of its creation seems to have been lost in the changing times! With the societal evolution, call it the influence of the west or the natural evolution process, things have become different from what they were before. The need for individualism and personal satisfaction are on a rise. There’s a tendency of selfish hedonism mixed with a keen sense of social responsibility. We commonly nurse the ambition to achieve all that’s possible in one single life in all dimensions. Moreover, the times are changing must faster than they did before. The previous generation did not see the amount of change in the world in its entire lifetime than our generation has seen in its 20 years of age!

In this situation, how fair is it of parents to stay obsessed with age old systems of in-caste marriages which have mostly lost their relevance and cause anguish in the hearts of love birds who’re too afraid to carry their relationship forward because they fear their parents’ reaction! The debate has two dimensions to itself, one is the love vs. the arranged marriage debate and the other, an interlinked one, is the in-caste vs. the inter-caste marriages. I’d say, the ones who fall in love with people from their own caste, and then have their marriages arranged by their families, are the luckiest beings on earth.

Trying to explore the parental psychology that goes behind the pressure for an arranged marriage, a few things come to mind. First and foremost seems to be the persistent and scary thought about ‘log kya kahenge.’ Second, a more logical one that is most commonly used against love marriages is the apparent immaturity of the young individuals which renders them incapable of taking a good decision about something as important as marriage. Parents fear that their sons/daughters might end up getting infatuated with someone and choosing to marry them, in which case, very soon the things become bitter and they break apart. Every parent, who is for an arranged marriage would be very quick to cite examples of failed love marriages! Oh yes, there are girls who’d elope with a guy they’ve been infatuated with for a while now, and not too much time later, break apart.. only to bring infamy to herself, her family and at large, to love marriages!

However, is that reason enough for someone to abandon his deeply felt love for someone and marry elsewhere because his parents wish that way? They say one can’t think on his feet if he’s madly in love with someone! I wouldn’t know whether to agree to this reasoning or not!

Looking at the rising issues of individual choices and intolerance in natures, it becomes extremely important to ascertain the mutual compatibility of the two people who’re to get married. However, the conventional proponents of arranged marriages would only like to give the chance of a few meetings, which hardly give any chance for a real understanding of each others’ nature and thus the compatibility. The sacred institution of marriage which is beyond a union of two individuals, considered to be a union of two families, will end up losing its sanctity if parents persistently impose their choices and decisions on their capable of thinking next generation.

A psychological dimension to this comparison can be taken as the expectations of the marrying partners in the two cases of love and arranged marriages. An arranged marriage is based on a compromise. The guy and the girl both are mentally prepared to have some possible mismatch in expectations and thus they’re more accommodating to each others weaknesses, which helps mutual acceptance of each other and ensures a long term bond which is formed in the period of changing for each other and accepting the other person for what they are! On the contrary, a love marriage is completely full of expectations of all kinds. The picture seems all rosy and everything about the other person seems so perfect. However, when the girlfriend turns wife, or the boyfriend husband, the things become altogether different. What seemed trivial enough to be overlooked earlier, assumes a high significance and now unmet expectations from the person or their family cause immense distress and subsequently there are clashes which shatter the so called bond that was once established when the boy and girl thought that they were madly in love with each other!

This seems to suggest that the lovers think with their hearts and not minds. The young people seem to have a bad track record with its choices and there are several love marriages which started off as a grand solemnization of a relationship of several births but ended up a few months later in a bitter state which left behind only tears, hurts and scars of anguish!

So, in the light of a large history of love marriages, it’s not entirely illogical of parents to detest the idea of frivolous love marriages. However, this opposition seems to have degraded and lost its sense of reason and is dominated more by the fear of, as I said earlier, ‘log kya kahenge’ than a natural and genuine concern about their son/daughter’s happiness. Somehow, the fear of the social consequences entirely eclipse the cause of the son’s happiness and his reasonability. More so in the case of girls, when they’re made to compromise in the name of family honor and different other forms of emotional blackmail till they finally give up all their dreams and marry an almost stranger whom her parents chose for her. Then gradually, she comes to terms with the situation, somehow manages or forces herself to face the reality, to care for her husband as a ‘pativrata’ and leaves her past behind. Then there are kids, which altogether change her entire perception of what’s happiness and what’s life!

What is required is that the parents don’t give a knee jerk reaction to the possible marital plans of their children and at least lend them a patient hearing, substantiated by logic and reasoning! High time we left behind the issues of ‘log kya kahenge’ and focused on the more important thing that is the genuine happiness of the two people who are to be together!
There’s a lot more to this debate, however, as a start, this would suffice!

The politics of ‘quota’

(developed over the month of may)

I’m now in Udaipur and can see more protests happening round the clock across the entire nation. Different items of shocking news are being floated from different directions. Supposedly, 94 medical students have collapsed after a hunger strike in Delhi. Word is being spread that one AIIMS student has died due to the same reasons. There have been clashes between the pro and anti reservation youth. Violence seems imminent at times but has so far been under control.

Looking for Arjun Singh’s purpose beyond vote banks, the last thing I read gave me new ideas. It’s being said that 300 of the LS MPs are from the OBC and Arjun Singh wants to please them in order to pave his own way to become the prime minister. This does seem somewhat far fetched. But then, whatever it might be, Arjun Singh is not doing it to uplift the backward classes. This man has no idea about how well or ill represented these classes are. Amusingly, in spite of being the HRD minister, he is not sufficiently knowledgeable or informed about any statistics on the status of OBCs in India.

What’s altogether scary about this issue is it’s creating rifts in the society between the reserved and the unreserved categories. Intentionally or otherwise, there’s been apparent ridicule of the reserved categories, repeatedly pointing to the lack of meritorious students among those categories. So, though as a normal student, I have nothing against any caste or class, when I feel injustice is happening, and I end up having hard feelings for the people who’re getting it easy and when I stand up in protest to say anything against reservations, they’d take it to mean that I’m taking a stand against them. So in all misinterpretation and perceptions, a sense of antagonism starts to prevail between the people on the two sides of the reservation line. Now, if this antagonism manifests itself in the form of violent conflicts of the youth with the youth, who stands to lose and who stands to win?

The politicians are not going to do anything better than adding more fuel to the fire and they would very well gain from the situation by appeasing their vote banks. After all, had there been no protests, the OBCs themselves wouldn’t have considered the reservations as such a massive gift. Now that the UPA has had to face such an opposition from all fronts, they can happily claim their adherence to the misconstrued goal of uplifting the weaker sections of the society.

Some people asked me why the IITians didn’t come out so strongly against the reservations as the medicos did. Exploring this answer, I came to know that the medicos suffer at every stage because of the reserved category students having it easy! Be it the entry level or the examinations (when their godfathers in the higher echelons of power bail them out by intimidating their professors) or the post graduate or the specialization courses. An ex professor was hardly sympathetic for these so called weaker sections. They’re known to form gangs of their own and wield power in and outside the classrooms. Now, if they’ve been having it easy all this while, how would they let it slip out of their hands so easily!

It was delighting to see CNBC hosting a special on The Reservation Riddle inviting IIM professors to debate the issue and seek alternative solutions! Obviously, not much can come out when you have six points of view coming out in one single show, but it was at least a spectacle of a democratic process where diverse opinions are possible and respected. Though it was largely an Anti-Reservation group, the JNU and IIM Kolkata people did mark their stand for reservations. The debate however completely excluded the point of view of medical students and the pertinent point that the reservations should be allowed repeatedly to the same person at different stages.

Someone presented the idea that the OBCs already form over 20% in educational institutes, then why this reservation? Amusing, conflicting pieces of information! I’ll probably end up losing my head over it if I continue thinking about it! Guess more will come out if I sit down in discussion with diverse people and then try to work out an opinion of my own!

Anyway, looking at the newspapers and the TV it appears that the mandal redux generated a lot of heat at its peak, but apparently the temperatures are cooling down and the life’s going to get back to normal! People will learn to live with it! The strikes have been called off, the supreme court intervened, the doctors went back to work, the media has been busy with covering Rahul Mahajan’s cocaine escapades! The revolution seems to be getting lost in the middle of several vested interests. Rightly said, public memory is too short to carry forward a revolution of a large scale with sufficient momentum!

Does anyone really care? And even if someone does care, is he capable of doing something?

I hear the supreme court is yet to give its ideas to the bill and it would be tabled again in the parliament in the monsoon session. Lots of people across the country are doing ‘sadbuddhi yajnas’ hoping that some sense would prevail and Arjun Singh would rise beyond his partisan politics and do justice to the merit of the several thousands of capable young people who do deserve to get into the so called prestigious institutes but are left out, in the process of so called advancement of the weaker sections of the society!