The Youth, The Reservations and Super power India!!

Past couple of weeks have been very exciting for the country. We managed getting the Women reservation Bill through, Save the Earth by switching off the lights has become a huge campaign, virtual world becoming a factor for social cause has become huge and many more such events. I have been following these trends closely and reading comments, blogs about this stuff. Whats struck me has been the underlying current of focus on the youth, the school children, college students, young working people etc.
I can probably write about a lot of things here and link them but i somehow drew a connection between a few things i read. A post on what IIM-B has shown , the women reservation bill and the discussions surrounding them and what it means to me and this small initiative on facebook by kids of defence personnels.
The Reservation law has been discussed in detail all over with all its aspects being dissected and the whole topic of equality coming back to hound us. Honestly whether or not “Protective and Positive discrimination” is good or not is very contextual. India with all its myriad of cultural, traditional, religious dichotomies and adding to that its experiments with all kinds of reservations, does have what i can call a very skewed under standing of development. How and what of it is something i am sure can be a whole range of discussion all over again, but here i am drawing a link between this “ground breaking law” and the IIM-B news. The reservation law has been hailed as something that will bring in women to the political juncture and we will have the new age woman striding ahead in policy discussion process. The men all around have been talking about how getting more youth participating in this process is also needed. The Congress drew upon it young and vibrant band of leaders to get mileage in elections and still does actually. So reservation coming should actually be a reason for the youth and young women to get out and be there- becoming a part of the policy deciding structure right. despite what ever is being said and spoken about it shouldn’t it be something that positively encourages me to stand in the elections and try and become a part of that system? So for that comes the whole range of debate of this law helping only the “women from strong and powerful families” and what it will become. I am wondering then that are we such skeptics and actually have no faith in the “not so powerful family women” doing well. And secondly we have a lot of young people discussing this aspect too and therefore this kind of skepticism should have probably been followed by discussion on what this can mean as a future for young women who should get into politics. Maybe i have missed those kind of discussions but why is it that its not been so resounding! here i bring in the IIM-B post which is an indicator to me of what the youth is thinking actually. The organisation had absolutely no takers for social development sector despite the fact that the fee was being waived! two things disturb me- 1. the institution has to bring a “fee return” clause to make the social development field become lucrative! 2. A student saying that if “the trend catches up probably students will take it up”. Now when i read this i am able to draw a link between why a step like reservation which can be made a new step ahead has become a skeptical topic! If we have the Generation next not looking at social development as “lucrative” or “enterprising” or anything at all actually! So then how do we leverage this whole segment called “that-women-in-a-simple-life”? Why then do we complain that only the powerful will leverage this opportunity at all? The SC/ST reservation had a whole history that was not only started out wrong but also became a skewed reality when implemented. But why can’t we look at having more seats in the parliament etc as that one step at getting into the change mechanism! Are realities only meant to be dealt by “jhandaadhaari group”, only for speeches and not for the youth to get into at all! I look back at my under graduation days of law and the fact that out of a batch of 100 students in the college and many more in the university i was the only student who pursued human rights! There is nothing to boast about it but i do remember what my colleagues had to say. There were things like “i would rather have a safe career option” “i am not cut out for this” “you are passionate about causes”! So really are we to blame for this whole process of condemning the reservation law too soon without even realizing its worth!
I will say yes to this. The women today have this as an opportunity to utilize. maybe it is unfair on the men, i am no feminist, but then why not make social development a career choice? I look at this as a dismal portrayal of what we are becoming. Just like many other things we will dissect, post mortem everything and talk and discuss. But it isn’t “lucrative” so well why try it. Am i disheartened completely? Not really actually. I see discussions like these and i know there is a segment of youth which is talking. They are people who have seen what giving is all about. Coming from the defence the discussions there are what i call passionate and thought provoking. Am i biased? I come from the forces myself so yes i probably am but then i see that at least this can be taken forward. The youth is creating a dialogue of prospective roles in the politics of this country. Maybe that is the way forward which needs nurturing and guidance. Even if it is a group somewhere on a virtual world it’s at least something that makes me optimist and a believer that i will see some young guns break it out in the world of policy making soon.

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Census to Become Disabled Friendly!

2011 will now be a more interesting year in terms of the Census happening and the population getting to be enumerated in the database. What is being discussed now is who all will be included in the census and what parameters will enumeration include. The disability sector has taken it as the next step to ensuring that the disabled in the country are no more invisible and have a more resounding voice in the matters concerning them. The news rooms have been constantly writing about what NCPEDP the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People an NGO has been doing for the same. As a first step it has got the government to include question related to disability and train the people who will be volunteering for the census process. Very effectively the organisation has been able to bring out how the enumeration process was a regular exercise in the British era and then was lost out! The census in 2001 had only one question and was hugely ineffective in getting the numbers right.
The disability sector has had to fight many a battles to ensure that they are given access to their rights and also at some level given protective discrimination for their growth. What came about with that is guarantees in form of laws and policies which were aimed at providing a growth stimulus for the disabled of the country. It becomes pertinent to note that though the law has been place for the longest time now whether or not it has been effectively implemented has been debated, discussed and brought to the government’s notice repeatedly. The laws though clearly indicate about how children with disabilities should be given inclusive eduaction, workplaces should become more disabled friendly, health facilities should become more readily available for the disabled and plethora of reports and findings by organisations etc stressing on the need to make the spaces around us more disabled friendly , the truth remained that the disabled did not get their due. Umpteen reports and investigations and studies indicated how the diabled were being condemned to a life which was dependent on others help, charity and whims of the abled.
With the enumeration demanded in the up coming census there are people discussing if this will help at all? With the implementing machinery in India always being at its worst its worth asking if it will really help to know how many disabled actually live in the country?
I believe that the numbers being accounted for will have a certain impact on how we look at disability as an issue in the country. Look at how the situation stands now- An access audit done by NCPEDP in colleges in Delhi gave a dismal state of affairs of the accessibility of the colleges. The reason that was glaring in the face is lack of awareness amongst the community. The same stands true for almost all the other sectors like employment etc. Lack of awareness, insensitivity by the abled community, poorly guided schemes are in some sense out comes of a collective voice being easily ignored. The disabled have been un accounted for in the counting of the people and therefore their statistics stand at whatever someone reads or hears from organisations etc. This does have an impact on how the “majority abled community” perceives disability. Enumeration in the census is expected to increase the numbers from the present 2.7% to about 5-6% which in terms of “inclusive” policy formulation and amendment of present laws becomes a big number. Service providance for the diabled and inclusive practices at educational institutes, work places, public places etc is a big problematic issue that has been the topic of discussion for a lot of decades and yet nothing seems to be done . The numbers being changed with the enumeration could mean that there will be acknowledgment of the fact that things have to be changed for the disabled.
Larger numbers always have an impact on the social psyche too. The society that has also been a hurdle in acceptance and mainstreaming of the disabled could become more sensitive by the numbers being brought about and told to the public. The public at large has always been affected when numbers have been portrayed to them in complete ways and the concept of charity and pity can give way to inclusive living and mainstreaming. Advocacy of disabled rights will also get a big leap when the numbers come out right and the community can seek increased grants, funds etc for the realization of rights of the disabled community. It is essential to keep in mind that the allocation of grants, funds, schemes are based upon the official numbers that a community has and therefore for the disabled section to be able to assert for more medical services, more grants for assisted mechanisms the increased correct numbers will hold a real value. Medical research and further technological advancement will also depend on the increased numbers becoming official and a part of notifications and government papers.
The disabled have been fighting for the realisation of their rights for a long time now and the up coming census will be a test for coming through of the campaign. The state’s real effectiveness will be show cased when the people doing the census are sensitised on the question to be asked during the census relating to disability. The state has been on the back foot for too long on the rights of the disabled and the census is that first step forward for this community to move ahead.

Internal Terrorism and How to Deal with it?

This blog has been preempted by BBC’s WHYS topic on internal terrorism.
Internal terrorism has been an ugly scene in India probably for as long as we have known. The independence war saw the nation split into two parts which led to not only blood shed but left a scar across the hearts of many. People who were living together were made to separate and more importantly ideologies were imposed and the immediate next generation exposed to hatred of the worst kinds. India then got involved in the problems of the eastern part of pakistan and freed bangladesh. What it brought about was another wave of resentment and more people added to the list of intolerants. The eastern states were not stranger to the problem of maosits, cry for gorkhaland and more!
Jammu and Kashmir with time became the symbol of “war for independence” and with time internal disturbances else where became self determination symbols. The Punjab terrorism of the mid 80’s is a stark example of fundamentalism rearing to give it a go. Probably the only example where it was “contained” (am not proud of the way it was handled and what it became) yet the fundamentalism was throttled. There is something interesting i have observed, living in punjab for close to 5 years, that the present generation living there does not have scars etched in them badly. No denying that since the terrorism has stopped now the present generation has a peaceful life, but also its pertinent to note that the horrors of the past are not being made a part of the present understanding.
The wars being fought everyday on the borders of India are no trivial matters. They are a total mis understanding of what “identity” is and what India stands as one nation. What has constantly fueled the wars is fundamentalist attitudes and the politically correct stands India has taken. Internal terrorists are people whose ideologies aren’t really their own but invariably based upon brain washed facts, stories, beliefs which they probably don’t even adhere to. What happened next was AFSPA, army batallions deployed to kill their own people, political decisions not being made and more broth making. There is no under standing of the term “self determination” of identity and extremists ideas that are fed, imposed, taught to the populace there become the bane for future generations. With terror spreading in the country at a critical level and day to day life being threatened by fundamentalists
and the ever convenient use of “ideological standards” by sections whose strings are pulled by people who don’t have an idea on what “self identity” is!
How can we deal with it?
1. Can we allow fundamentalism to rule the roost? That can answer a lot of this debate. When people show courage on a movie like MNIK it is a sign that the populace is ready to have its own opinion. We need to allow propagation of such opinions. Maybe the hype got to it but then again people showed that they had a mind of their own.
2. You cannot allow anything in segregation. Even when you have the leaders of such terrorist groups to deal with we have to remind ourselves that the population living there is not alien. They are people who are coerced,brain washed, threatened into believing and living an ideology which isn’t there’s. Constant dialogue sharing, confidence building, trust building has to happen with the populace living in these terror prone areas. We cannot fragment these people from the totality of being a part of one nation state.
3. Allow national interest to stay above personal conflicts and therefore hard steps have to be taken. If its the army which can sort it out then politics has to give way to stringent steps. Whatever Gill did in Punjab was a curse on human rights and the reality remains he finished fundamentalism. Yes the question “at what cost” is important but at times you have to wipe out the extremists and army should not be stopped from taking crucial decisions. (I agree there can be a lot of debate here.)
4. Fundamentalism grows when you do not take action against it. When we allow incidents like what is happening in maharashtra, andhra Pradesh (India) we are paving the path for further internal terrorism. The policy makers and more importantly the implementing machinery has to move beyond trivial interests and nip this from the bud.
5. We cannot allow a collective history of brutal memories to develop. When the mother in MNIK says “there is only a good boy and a bad boy” i cringe at that. Maybe it is our collective duty to ensure that the generation growing up now and preparing for the future is not fed with hatred and vengeance. Exchange of ideas, opinions, perspectives in the youth has to be ensured. Allowing more and more students from these terror prone areas to assimilate in the mainstream cities and ensure that the youth is not brought up with a tormented history in their system. One essential thriving point of fundamentalism is the target audience that it holds and its essential that we break that cycle. Its our collective responsibility that a muslim boy does not grow up resentful or that he is not brought up with a museum of collected horror stories. The generation bringing up its children has to move ahead with a resolve that the children grow up loving and caring. When we allow a shared history of hatred being passed into generations we are creating more terrorists.

Internal terrorism can be anything from what is happening in african nations to what India has been facing for a long time now to what australia is waking up to. Though stringent actions are the call of the hour to wipe the menace the grim truth is somehow political conveniences will always hamper it. So whats needed is a futuristic step to prevent further segregation, marginalisation and ensuring that a further brand of terrorists aren’t created.

The Discourses and social mores that stiffle me!

I just got introduced to wordpress and well since social media is such a re invented world i decided to give blogging a shot too.

The past few weeks have got me introduced to a whole lot of views, ideas, perspectives from different angles on issues that are daily life topics. Somewhere they linked to my professional issues too and therefore all the thinking is probably the reason why it becomes important for me to start out my blog with issues that matter.

I had a friend discuss with me about why “khaap panchayats” are the best working solutions in haryana and how the whole dictate of not allowing a girl and a boy living in the same village marrying each other saves the women there from any harm. For the uninitiated ” khaap panchayats” are a group of elderly men in the village who pass dictates on anything and everything in the village which they consider in the interest of the people. In haryana, india, this has come to mean that a boy and a girl in the same village have been banned to marry by this body of people on the premise that they are “almost siblings”. The recent times has shown the passing of “orders” by this council for murdering young people who do this and carried out effectively by the community! While discussing this my friend , who belongs to haryana and more importantly is a judge, i was shocked when he justified this by stating that , ” we don’t allow this because as long as all the boys and girls in the village boundaries consider themselves siblings the women will be safe.” He further says,” this is a system of protection brought about in the times when your latest legal dictum’s didn’t exist, when the elderly knew what they were doing.” I didn’t consider any further arguments with him because it was clear that he had his mind set on the fact that “protection of the weaker sex needed regulation of what relationships people in the village can get into.”

A couple of days after this i was in mumbai and out for a team dinner and travelling by an auto rickshaw, wearing a dress which i felt like, and in between changing autos on the street, i had a few stares, a few top to bottom look overs and heads turned! Inspite of being the impulsive i dont care person i felt uncomfortable, maybe for a second made me think about maybe i should have worn a jeans and a tee!

The BlankNosie movement and the BBC World Have Your Say, have brought up discussions like ” Its a man who commits rape and not about the woman being raped” and  “Is a rape victim to be blamed for being raped”, which somehow linked the whole thread for me.

What are the social mores that decide whether or not i can assert my right as an individual and who decides them? Maybe this discussion has been happening for like decades but it assumes important focus with legal implications and also large scale changes that are the need of the hour. What happens when we curtail the basic inherent rights of any individual? What repercussions will it have on the future law making trends? What bearing it has on our collective thinking about our own rights?

I have been a student of human rights law for almost a better part of my professional studies and been  closely associated with human rights issues right through my childhood. So, yes at some level i have  a very strong sense of assertion and realization of rights and it may show in what i say here. But at a very basic level, at a very primal level- dont each one of us think about what we should have because we are humans and therefore is our right. When we become okay with the fact that a drunk woman shouldn’t really fight too much against her rapist or when a community becomes okay with the fact that the only way of protecting its women is by forcing sibling relationships on everyone- are we not circumventing the basic social contract theory?

When a community says that no boy or girl in the village should marry each other because they are like siblings and this protects the women what have we done? We have made ourselves believe two things:

1. That man isn’t capable of keeping his primal instincts in check and therefore this forced rule is the only way of keeping protection. This takes the community almost to the cavemen era where in man had no control over his primal needs and lived like he wanted.

2. Everyone’s individual rights assertion will be dependent on what a few people consider a convenient solution to a particular problem.

Culture, mores,norms are a pattern of practices that a large number of people have followed for a certain duration of time and therefore becomes a discourse. But should a persons right be violated because she/he is different from the discourse! And more importantly why should a discourse or a set of beliefs become the yard stick to regulate rights. When a community isnt able to instill amongst its people that respecting a woman’s space is important then how can its impose all are siblings rule!

Similarly why should a woman walking on a busy road think twice before wearing a skirt,a jeans and not walk free? Yes eve teasing happens to even burqa clad women, but generally women dressed in what is termed “provoking” clothes are easy targets. Should a discourse hold women down? Society has to move forward and ensure that every individuals liberty is guaranteed and has a free expression. How a man behaves should not be determined by what a woman wears, and how come the mores and the norms don’t establish respecting a woman in all her form!

When a man rapes a woman, even if shes completely out of her senses, he is violating the fundamental right of an individual to her body, her being.
Another pertinent thing to notice and for everyone to keep in mind is that the law is punishing the offender. Reparations though form a big part of victim rehabilitation, but the primary aim of rape laws is to punish the man who has done it. Therefore the important fact to bear in mind is “THE MAN COMMITTED THE RAPE” and not “SHE HAS BEEN RAPED”. This is an essential difference to keep in mind, sadly something not many judges in India understand this, but the law is evolving, our sensitivity levels are evolving too. Law has evolved enough to take into account various developments and understanding of victims perspectives and judgments are an indication that slowly but steadily the law is evolving.Law recognizes that even sex workers have the right to consensual sex and no client can violate her right to her own self and this goes on to show that every woman has the right o decide what she wants. A woman who is raped carries the mark with her all her life, hell i know what it means to have the ghosts of childhood sexual harassment torture you, and therefore no woman can be out there having a nice time wanting to have her self molested!
I am no psychologist or a doctor or a sociologist but maybe people in this field have some kind of statistics about male sexual reactions and their tendency to objectify women. But a woman having a drink with men in a bar is not looking for herself to be forcefully assaulted. The very word rape is intended to ensure that every individual has the RIGHT to decide what they want and who they want it with and nobody has the freedom to violate that basic right. This whole societal cacophony, about a woman asking for it because of her dress,her values,her principles, her lifestyle,her mores,her way of talking, way of walking etc , only reflects how evolution is not moving ahead but degenerating into a very appalling state of affairs. Individuality is the basic fundamental of evolution and the human race can get better on the survival of individuality! So lets not get into “she should follow the dictate of the societal norms” because a woman, wearing a jeans and a cleavage showing top or having tattoos or drinking, was not born to follow those norms. She has the individuality and the inherent right to decide what she does and nobody around her has the freedom to ambush her when she has been violated.
Nobody who has ever faced a direct violation of their physical space can ever agree with “certain things are self inflicted”, so from my personal experience i can say that those who talk about societal mores are the people who dont know what sexual harassment is! Having worked with rape victims i know a victim (man or a woman) goes through her/his life traumatized and loses faith in any kind of human relationships, therefore saying that she/he should have known better is not only appalling but more importantly demeaning ourselves and the concept of human evolution moving forward and not degenerating.

Yet there will be discourses built and mores that will curtail individuality and maybe take lot more lives. And when i see such criminals and hear victim stories i actually wonder that did darwin really have an idea about evolution at all!!


Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.

Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.

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