Let’s face it

What have all of us turned into? Robots? No. Something worse than that

When was the last time you genuinely heard someone even after knowing that it doesn’t concern you at all?
When was the last time that you asked someone to stop sharing things with you because “DUDE. I’m out of this.”

We have taken the concept of I, me and myself in a totally wrong way! We are so much about ourselves and our work that someone might just call up to tell that they are about to die and we might reply with “acha thoda busy tha bad main bat krta hu!” Someone right in front of our eyes might be living the life of a “living corpse” and we might just have no idea about it.

Now we have turned into people who are totally ignorant about each other…. What is the plan? Where do we plan to go by pulling others down? Where do we plan to go by being self centred? How much high do we plan to rise by making others our stairs? Tell me.
Where are we heading by giving no damn to others around us? How far do you think you can go if you keep walking alone like this.

We don’t exist in each other’s world anymore! Only those who serve our purpose are a part of our world. Nobody beyond that. Just nobody. “You are not even a part of my world” and that’s the end of the conversation.

Keeping the phone down after having said your point. Blocking someone who continuously pings. We all have down this atleast once. Let’s clap for ourselves for not knowing the art of “patient listening”? We distance ourselves from people who want to be close to us. Because “jinhe hum chahiye vo hume thodi chahiye” is the new cool. If you nodded your head with a yes, you are a fool.

Let me just slam an oath on your face.  “I, the self proclaimed busy shall only listen to reply and not for anything else. I shall always take great pleasure in shutting people up. I shall believe in the shit saying that all of us are fighting our own battles but I shall never help someone with their battle. I am the 21st century retard!”

This is one oath all of us have unintentionally taken. This is what we live by.

Next time when you ask someone how are they doing… Just wait for a reply. They might just have been looking for the question to pour their heart out. Have the courtesy to listen. Have the courtesy to be a human.

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यादें बात करती हैं

बातों-बातों में उस रात ये बात निकली,
यारों की बारात में यादों की बारात निकली।
वो बोला,”गुस्ताखी खास करती हैं।
फिर दिल-ए-फरियाद करती हैं।
यादों से पूछो यादें क्यों बात करती हैं?”

यादें शरमाई, बातों – बातों में​ यादों का पैगाम आया।
शाम-ए-शराब थी वो,
फिर भी बीच में हुस्न-ए-शबाब आया। ।
यादों का वो पैगाम था,
जसबातों का बवंडर उसका दूसरा नाम था।

पैगाम दिल तक पहुंचा​ तो पहले दिल थोड़ा शरमाया,
फिर दिल बहुत घबराया,
पर प्यार का वो मारा,
चिट्ठी खोले बिना रह नहीं पाया।

यादों ने लिखा था,”याद कर वो कुछ दिन,
हाथ तूने उसके प्यार का थामा था ।
साथ रहने का वादा करा था,
सात जनमों तक निभाना था।
उस प्यार से मुंह मोड़, सारे रिशते पीछे छोड़,
क्यों चला आया परदेस उसका दिल तोड़? ”

यादें फिर बोली,”जिन रिश्तों को पीछे छोड़ आया है,
उन्हें मुझ में बुनने का आज तुझे हक नहीं।
दिल में तू उसके आज भी है,
बस ज़बान पर तेरा अक्स नहीं।
उसके आज के आयने में हर सवाल का जवाब तू था,
पर आज उसके हर जवाब पर सवाल तू है।”

“कल उससे मुंह मोड़ आया था,
आज मुझसे मुंह मोड़ ले।
कल उसका हाथ छोड़ आया था,
आज मुझसे भी तू नाता तोड़ ले।
जा अब जीले, परदेस में नई यादों से दिल तू जोड़ ले।”

-Paranjaya Mehra

Lost and found

I remember I could feel my short breath and some chattering outside the room. I was admitted in ICU.  I felt like I was dying and apparently that is what I wanted. I knew my parents were in pain, but I not able to let go the feeling that  u I was a living corpse. Eventually I decided to shut my body off to overcome the possibility of worse scenarios. ‘Improvement’ wasn’t a word in my dictionary back then.

One relief I had before attempting to kill myself was that i was sure my parents will never get to know about it. They won’t know I was in depression. They won’t know I took Desipramine in excess. The idea of ending a life is directly proportional to the loneliness one might suffer in the times of extreme despair. Nobody could figure out what was wrong. Neither could I. There were times when I started crying for absolutely no reason. My self confidence lay shattered like glass. My self esteem and motivation were lost. I knew my mind can do better, but the state of it compelled me to to create a web of never ending problems and sorrow.

The moment I let the syringe inside my vein, I knew that little pain. I would wond if I could survive the emotional agony changed to a wound with the same degree of pain in my body. Although, I would always prefer the latter. My craving for some positivity in life had ended just like that. The idea of “It’s just a phase” never seemed true because phases did change, but my depression wouldn’t go. I would not really call it depression as I had not identified it till then. I was not able to decipher what was the complication with my brain. My mind had the power to alter my reactions and make me shift from one emotional zone to the other within seconds.

The bed was clumsy yet comfortable. The only thing I was not satisfied about was my own existence in the hospital. I couldn’t just go. The doctors their had saved me. The moment I opened my eyes I could see everything returning. I could see my failure and the never ending sadness coming to my life again. I realised my effort to kill myself went in vain. I couldn’t even cry. Tears wouldn’t roll down my eyes.

My ears could apprehend the grief in my parents’ voices outside the room. My elder brother didn’t say much. Although I could see he was devastated to see me in such a state.

I returned home with my happy parents(happy that I was alive). Only I knew what I was feeling like – a living corpse. I realised what they would have faced had I not been alive. My parents were already shattered by the fact that I was admitted to ICU for an unknown reason. They couldn’t figure out what had happened to me. Doctors recommended some tests but nothing was came out. I don’t think machines till date can track human emotions. Can they?  I could see some rush and stress in my parents’ eyes. They wanted to find out the reason.

This incident smashed my heart into pieces. I could feel their suffering. I never wanted to hurt. My misery was not just mine to keep. I should have known that. They did not deserve to suffer.

Killing yourself is NOT the easy way out to end a misery. We are unaware of the fact that it doesn’t get over. It just gets transferred – from us to our family.

That day I had a dream. In it my mother asked , “What if one day you wake up and I don’t?” I was traumatized just by the thought of it. I could never imagine that happening and can now ascertain how fortunate I was to come out alive that hospital.

The next day was a usual one except the fact that I came to realise that losing me meant a lifetime of suffering for my family. If not for myself, I decided to live for them and their smiles.

The above incident is a real story. It is a long journey when most people don’t even recognize that suffering from depression isn’t just a “state of mind”. 70% people find it inappropriate to talk to their doctors about them feeling depressed. 42% people decide to not discuss their depression with friends or family members. These statistics are disappointing in a place where depression and anxiety are making people silently succumb to depression and not come out. One in every 20 people in India suffer from depression (according a recent survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in 12 states.) Depression is higher among women in the 40 to 49 age group and among those residing in metros. Evidently, depression is more common in women than men.

Dr. Harry Barry, a General practitioner (GP) says,”Mental health difficulties can be very distressing, not just for the person experiencing it, but for their loved ones too. Approaching a healthcare professional for assistance is one of the most important steps a person can make in taking responsibility for their mental health.” 

Mental health matters. People matter. YOU MATTER. None of us have to face our battle alone! Reach out. It matters.

– By Nikita Katwalia ( Journalism and Mass Communication student, IP University)

Feminism V/s Pseudo Feminism

I ask you, Is Feminism blindly accepting whatever a woman says as the sole truth without applying any logic or judgement?

I am an honest citizen of this nation . I always hold the utmost regard for all women , anyone who happens to know me bears a testimony to this fact . However I am deeply hurt and confounded by a kind of a “pseudo feminsim ” which certain media is propagating , where whatever a woman says is believed to be the 11th commandment without even considering all the possible facts and applying reason .

Such a psuedo feminism interferes with the actual feminism project , which strives to bring a better tomorrow not only for women but also for the men affected by patriarchy .
I myself am a feminist . But I refuse to fall in this trap of blindly believing whatever a woman says as the truth without any application of logic .

I ask you , what about men accused in false rape cases , the man not only loses his familial support or job but is rendered ineffective by the very society we live , and on the top of it all , the man was innocent . This is how this virus of “pseudo feminism “destroys the entire actual feminism ideal .

I was recently faced by a situation where a woman started shouting and hurling insults without any purpose . Thus despite me being a man of peace and my initial efforts of peace being spat upon , I was thus forced to shout back , for one I was true , my conscience was clear and second that silence is wrongly judged as being guilty .
Perhaps life is a lion fight indeed where it is important to roar and stand for yourself . As Abraham Lincoln says “Be not afraid to scoff at cynics” for cynics are dementers of self harmony .

I do not promote fighting but the truth of life I realised today is that there is no wrong in standing and fighting when you know your cause is for the truth . My fight is against this pseudo feminsim that is engulfing the ideal of feminism .

While pseudo feminism argues for male hate without any actual reasons and breeds such stereotypes of doubt in the minds of all the uninitiated , feminism is what actually brings a better tomorrow, the one based on equality .
Stand tall for feminism and be not afraid to scoff at cynics and impostors who destroy our inner peace , confidence and who defeat the larger ideology they claim they stand for .

I am not against women , it is infact women who understood readily my cause and helped me in the fight , Women I believe are the most powerful for they are capable of bringing life but the feminine identity isnt just limited to the fact that she can give birth . There is much more to it than just that . My fight is against cynics who bring their personal irrational prejudices into play .

Peace , sportsmanship and friendship I believe and practice too , are the ideals of celestial felicity . Love is an essential ingredient too , but it is very important to fight , for peace does not teach submissiveness , it teaches to fight for one’s right when one is wronged .

As put in an ancient African fable , the lion must always remember to roar for it keeps the wolves at bay , the wolves who feed upon us and our inner selves . Life is but a lion fight . Walk proud , lick your wounds , celebrate yourself and the good in others around you . there is nothing greater than peace and friendship but never hesitate to fight for your rights . Stand for yourself , see the wolves running away and feel the happiness .

I still argue that I stand for the real feminism for it is one of those rare things that have actually changed the world for the better , and women are the almighty’s greatest creation but yes people have to understand that for every ‘indivisual’ what goes around comes around , instead of petty politics celebrate the good in others and show respect and they will love you back in a thousand ways . This is the only way to make this world a happier place . Peace . Period 🙂

Article and photograph by Arijit Roy (English Hons student, DU)

The cries of the education sector

“Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding line, and no way of knowing how near the harbour was. “Light! Give me light!” was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.”
 – Helen Keller

Nothing describes education and its need better than the above quote. Without education, you don’t know how near or far away your destination/your goal is. You are just moving without a compass waiting for light to shine upon you so that you are able to see where your life’s harbor is. Education is that bright white light. Education is the compass.

The policy effect  

Countries around the globe have laid emphasis on the need and importance of education through various ways. Completing secondary school is required by law in some countries like Portugal, Germany etc. In our country dropping out of high school is perfectly legal. Yes, this fact can’t be denied that we face different conditions than the citizens of the above mentioned countries and thus for majority of rural India education takes a backseat because of lack of money, resources , social thought processes etc. Although we have to agree to this also that a country’s choices about education policies shape their children’s future. In India we do have a law about the same but there is a big question mark on it’s implementation and the ground reality. Ground work needs to be done before the paper work and only then will the paper work reap better benefits. I strongly support the point that we need to make dropping out illegal but for this to work, we as a country need to deal first with other issues like poverty, child labour, population, teacher-student ratio etc. When talking about India’s take on education, you cannot keep RTE aside.

Right to Education Act

The Right to Education Act was enacted on 4th August 2009. We became one among the 135 countries to make education every child’s fundamental right when the act came into force on 1st April 2010. ‘Free Education’ in the act means that no child, other than a child who has been admitted by his or her parents to a school which is not supported by the appropriate Government, shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or charges or expenses which may prevent him or her from pursuing and completing elementary education. ‘Compulsory education’ casts an obligation on the appropriate Government and local authorities to provide and ensure admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by all children in the 6-14 age group. The RTE Act is the first legislation in the world that puts the responsibility of ensuring enrolment, attendance and completion on the Government. It is the parents’ responsibility to send the children to schools in the US and other countries. According to me, in India you cannot put it on the parents to send their children to school until and unless the problems being faced by the parents are solved be it that of poverty, family size, social stigma etc. Once this is sorted out, only then in a country like ours can strict laws be made. Presently, we do have provisions like mid day meal, scholarships for girls etc but just these schemes cannot pull a majority towards education. If they are living in a society that still supports early marriage for girls, scholarships will not help pull those girls to school. The thinking needs to be tackled first. Mid day meal is not enough of an incentive to pull children towards schools if they belong to families which give birth to more and more children so that more the hands, more the money they earn to make the ends meet. Also, is our education sector  as white as milk?

The education sector – white as milk?

RTE mandated all private unaided schools to reserve a minimum of 25% of their seats at entry level classes for children belonging to economically weaker section (EWS). Recently cases were reported where it was seen that some highly reputed private schools like Bal Bharti School, Pitampura were selling the EWS seats. It shows that this provision of allocating EWS seats in private schools has failed mainly because there is no regular check on it and thus some private schools have turned it into a way of earning more money. Regarding the selling of nursery seats in private schools, a statement came from Delhi’s Education Minister Mr. Manish Sisodia saying “Don’t sell nursery seats. Sell jalebis instead.” The system for applying for applying for nursery seat under EWS category is not foolproof. Talking about mid day meal schemes, over the years there have been reports of lizards, rats, worms etc in the meals and of children suffering food poisoning.

I am sure you have not forgotten the 150 crore teacher recruitment scam unearthed back in 2013. Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala were sentenced to 10 years in jail for illegally recruiting 3,206 junior basic teachers. Officer in charge of teacher recruitment was transferred. Original list of teachers selected in 1999 was scrapped.  New list was published in 2000 with names of those who paid upto 4 lakhs for selection.

A reality check

According to a report released by UNESCO named “Education for People and Planet” India is expected to achieve universal primary education in 2050. India is 50 years late in achieving its global education commitments. If we as a nation want fundamental changes in the education system, we need to meet the 2030 sustainable development goals.

A report published in Times Of India on 9th August 2016 stated that a solitary teacher is running the show in as many as 1,05,630 government elementary and secondary schools in the country with MP emerging as the worst state 17,874 institutions have just one teacher each. Delhi has 13 such schools. No state can boast of having no single teacher schools. Interestingly, according to RTE guidelines there has to be one teacher for every 30 to 35 students in government and private schools.

Can you hear the sector constituting the most noble profession crying for help? This sector is thought to be one of the major factors behind the rise of any country. Yet, can you see that this very sector is turning out to be a black spot on our country’s name? Millions of children with a beating heart are waiting for something to happen. They want to know where there harbour is. They are searching for the compass. They are searching for light. They are searching for education.

“Light, give us light.” Can you hear the cry? I can.

– By Paranjaya Mehra

The hypocritical Indian mentality

Say the word Indian mentality and I will say the word hypocritical. Hypocrisy sadly is inbuilt in the Indian mentality. (Yes I am an Indian and I am calling Indian mentality hypocritic.) We aren’t turning our back to the ancient cultures and are also not following the west completely and thus we land face-first in the puddle of hypocrisy. In a common man’s language, hypocrisy is double standards.

The comfort level of Indians while talking about “the S word” (I am a true Indian. I don’t say the word SEX) is inversely proportional to the size of India’s population. We will soon be the youngest country in the world. We face a population boom and yet somewhere in one corner our nation a father just changed a channel because a condom ad was coming on the channel, a mother just answered bhagwan ji se laye on being asked how are children born. Why do we even claim to be the land of Kamasutra?  I think no economic or foreign policy but proper sex-ed is the answer to how to not outnumber China in terms of population in the coming years. Don’t you think we will successfully go past the issue of depleting availability of basic resources for all if we educate our population about sex?

We had put up rainbow display pictures when America legalized gay marriages but we still kill our youth in the name of honour killing if they dare marry in a different caste. As many news reports say – Honour killing in India increased by almost 800% from 2015-16 to 2016-17. Let’s solve our own issues first? Our politicians are caught watching porn on the internet during Parliament sessions and interestingly, that is what they end up banning for the population.  Practice what you preach – Heard of it? In India, if counted, the cases in which the police arrested people kissing in public will surely be more than those in which people were arrested for peeing in public. If you show your affection in public, or kiss in public, you will most probably land in jail. Peeing in public might not land you in prison. Welcome to India.  What do we say to a man being beaten by a lady –  “आदमी होकर औरत से मार खाता है।” What do we say to a man beating a lady? “आदमी होकर औरत पर हाथ उठाता है।” Poor guys!  On one hand we proudly take part in protests against women harassment and on the other what do some of us do there? We inappropriately touch the women present there. (case in point – protests against December 16 rape case accused). Our society and law doesn’t even give due consideration to male rape cases because “MEN CAN’T GET RAPED.” We refuse to accept that women can inflict sexual violence on men. When was the last time you read about a male rape survivor’s case being reported in an Indian daily? When was the last time we made a rape accused feel ashamed of the act and not the victim? Our society looks down so much upon a rape victim that this factor at times prevents cases from being reported because ladki ki izzat ka sawal hai. We are anti-dowry but pro-alimony why? We are anti dowry because “why should a woman pay a man for marrying her?” I support that but then let’s be anti-alimony too. Why can’t a woman earn on her own after a divorce? If you are not together anymore why do you expect money? Stand up, use your educational qualification and earn for yourself. Amir Khan says ye karykram samaj ke prati mera kartavy hai but charges in crores per episode. Pehle lakshmi pooja fir kam dooja? #SamajSeva

I am not asking you to change your notions about things or your societal beliefs. All I am asking is that whatever you believe in, make sure that belief doesn’t change from time to time and from person to person. Your belief should be the same no matter your girlfriend is standing in front of you or your colleague. Let’s practice what we preach. Let’s support inter caste marriage first and then think of supporting gay marriages. Let a crime be a crime no matter the gender of the victim. As Tennessee Williams quotes, “The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that’s also a hypocrite.” Let’s not be liars. Let’s accept that somewhere in all of us is a hypocrite. With acceptance will begin the change.

 

 

Defining jobs – The gender way

What image comes to your mind when I say the following words – a school teacher, an army officer, an app developer, an entrepreneur? Aren’t you guilty of imagining a female school teacher, a male army officer and also a male app developer? I am sure majority of you are! Ms. Indu Jain (Chairman Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd), Ms. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (founder Chairman and MD, Biocon Limited), Ms Indra Nooyi (CFO and President of PepsiCo), Ms. Punita Arora ( first female Vice Admiral of Indian Navy), Ms. Divya Ajith Kumar (first female to be selected for the ‘Sword of Honour’), Ms. Gunjan Saxena (first female Indian Air Force officer to fly in a combat zone.) – This list has many names ranging from varied professions which break the society’s notion of categorizing a job for a certain gender and hence are a tight slap on our faces.

Nursing – like teaching – is among the occupation that economists call “pink-collared job,” or profession long dominated by women. While more and more men are donning the pink-collar and facing the social stigma associated with “women’s work,” numbers tell us that we have a long way to go when it comes to evening out representation in certain fields. One of these occupations is nursing. Nine out of 10 registered nurses are female. Other occupations where women are highly concentrated include human resources manager, social worker etc.
 Men in characteristically female-dominated occupations tend to value the social aspects of their career over financial rewards, says a study. “Men who work in typically female-dominated occupations value success in ways that goes beyond salary and promotion,” said one of the researchers Kazia Solowiej from University of Worcester in Britain. For the study, the researchers interviewed a total of 34 men including 15 primary school teachers and 19 university administrators.The interviews revealed that their definitions of career success included features other than pay and promotion such as building friendships with colleagues and flexible working that enabled time for family and social commitments.The study was presented at a conference of the British Psychological Society in Nottingham.

Nobody knows the scenario better than those who are a part of it or those who aspire to be in that scenario someday. Although there are a lot of professions which today are being gender defined, from here on in this post I put forth the views of an army aspirant, an app developer and a school teacher about the skewed gender ratio in these professions. Read on.

Army Officer

I asked a male final year student (armed forces aspirant belonging to an army background) about their gender being the dominant one in armed forces. On the condition of anonymity, he came forward with the following reply. On being asked about his view regarding male domination, he said that the society has always perceived men as the stronger ones and that is why they are in majority in the forces. He says that women themselves believe in this. It’s not that males stop women from coming up and being a part of the forces. Women themselves don’t consider this as a job suitable for them.  He adds that the job is being done by those for whom it is meant.  He says no to the question that is there an imbalance in functioning due to the gender domination. He adds, “There is no imbalance but I surely do believe that if more women are given core duties then it will have a positive impact on the efficiency of work being carried out in the forces.”

School teacher

Mrs. Mamta Sharma has been working as a TGT in Apeejay School Pitampura for the past 17 years now. She has an overall experience of 23 years as a school teacher. On being asked the reason for the highly skewed ratio of males and females in school teaching, she says societal perception of school teaching as a job is responsible for this to a very large extent. According to her, there is a mindset that the job of a school teacher is a good option for girls because of proper timings. Girls can look after their families too with this job. When asked that how can this ratio be brought to a balance in future, she says that there should be a fixed number of males and females that are employed as teaching staff members. Say if you have 20 members in the teaching staff, schools should make sure that they at least employ 10 males as staff members. This will help balance the ratio. A balanced ratio according to her will also lead to a better ratio tomorrow in the profession. She explains that seeing almost equal number of males and females in the teaching staff will help break the perception of students that only girls can turn to teaching. If students will find male teachers in schools only then will they believe that even males can take up this profession. Only then will the male students consider it seriously as a profession.

App Developer

Ask him the name of the app which he developed and proudly comes the reply, “College Assistant. It’s available on Play Store.” He says he has three more apps “currently under construction”. Interestingly, he is still a final year computer science student of Jamia Hamdard University. He started with app developing so as to practice Java for future job purposes. When asked about the male dominated app development industry, he replies on the condition of anonymity that yes, the industry is totally male dominated. He further added, “In my batch in college there are a very limited number of girls since it’s a technical course and those which are there prefer going for masters and then getting into teaching.” According to him, this industry is male dominated only in our country and not overseas. He supports his point by saying that “when you search for projects online or post questions online regarding the problems you are facing while at work, you will find that there are a good number of females replying to your questions. Google has female tutors giving tech tutorials.” When asked that what according to him is the reason for such low numbers of females in this field, he lists quite a few. Firstly he says that the job of a software developer is extremely challenging. IT sector throws constant challenges which majority of the girls don’t prefer facing because we bind them with the notion that their career isn’t the only thing they have to concentrate on. Software development requires 24*7 dedication and as you move up the ladder in the organization, more and more is expected from you. Another reason can be that if you decide to stay in India and work in this sector then you have to settle for comparatively lesser pay because there are only a handful companies which pay the deserved salary at lower posts in the ladder. It’s going to take ample number of years before you finally reach the 45k-50k pay bracket. On the other hand, this is the bracket you will begin with if you take up teaching at the university level. He concludes by saying that a lot needs to be done before we finally see a balanced gender ratio in this industry.

There can be nothing worse for a profession  than to be associated with a gender tag like a “pink collar profession” or any such gender related tag.Neither is a penis your ticket to a successful career be it any profession nor is a vagina a determining yardstick of your professional interests. I would conclude by saying that if he wants to teach in a school, let him. If she wants to join the army, let her! If she wants to rule the business world, let her! If he wants to be in the nursing job, let him! Let interest and passion be the yardsticks. Not gender.

– Paranjaya Mehra

Fairness creams: An unfair obsession?

“Want a tall, handsome and a well placed groom for a fair and well educated girl.” Turn to the matrimonial page of any Indian newspaper and the line I began with summarises what you are expected to come across on that page. Yes, the obsession for fair skin is that deep rooted in our society that we mention fair skin as an attribute in a matrimonial ad along with our educational qualification. We long for partners with fair skin tones as if we don’t want a life partner but a trophy to show to the world.

I believe that our obsession with fair skin began when the British invaded India and slowly they made us believe what they themselves believed in. They established their superiority and hence the fact in our mind that fair skin is superior and dark skin is not.

Today we are crying about the fact that brands selling fairness creams are being racist. We blame them for narrowing our understanding of beauty to just “White Beauty”. Campaigns like NDTV’S campaign #FairnessCreamsRacist, Banjara Herbal’s campaign #ProudOfMyColour, Women Worth’s campaign #DarkIsBeautiful against the brands are all over social media. Yes, I agree that fairness creams are propagating a very racist idea of beauty. At the same time we can’t deny the fact that the problem lies in us.We as a society have been obsessed with fair skin since time immemorial. Ask your mother’s mother and she probably will tell you tales about how for a major part of her childhood she was suggested to not go out in the Sun and rather stay indoors, use desi beauty treatments regularly and so on. This hasn’t died down even today in some cases.

Remember the song dhoop main nikla na karo roop ki rani, gora rang kala na pad jaye… Yes, that’s a song probably propagating the fact that you aren’t worthy enough to be wooed by a man if you don’t have fair skin.  I hope you haven’t forgotten the lines aja piya tohe pyar du, gori baiyya tope var du…Isn’t the saiya interested in dark skinned baiyya? Let’s turn to the recent past. White white face dekhe dilwa beating fast sasura dance maare re… This song was there in the movie Tashan released in 2011. Yes, only a  white face can make a heart beat fast as per our beloved Bollywood. Hum kaale hain to kya hua dil waale hain… Isn’t this line shouting that only people with fair skin have a good heart and hence if you are dark skinned and have a good heart   then please shout about it because that is something we don’t categorise as normal. Remember the scene in the movie Vivah where the lady is annoyed and tells her husband that she has been trying to get good rishtas for their Choti but she has not been successful because of choti’s dark skin tone. Cut to the small screen and we can easily find people of dark skinned girl of marriageable age worried for their marriage because of their colour.

The above paragraph is a mirror to the fact that bias towards fair skin has been celebrated in our society since the very beginning. When we didn’t object to racism that was served to us in the name of entertainment, we can’t solely today blame fairness creams for propagating it in our society. Yes this can’t be denied that these brands used our mentality in their favour and created a 2000 crore market out of it. In 2010, India’s whitening-cream market was worth $432m, according to a report by market researchers ACNielsen, and was growing at 18% per year. In 2012, Indians reportedly consumed 233 tonnes of skin-whitening products, spending more money on them than on Coca-Cola.

I am not saying that these creams have not aggravated the problem , they surely have but the boycotting and objection should have begun long back. We woke up when we realised the unfair obsession with fair skin is going out of our hands. Had we kept our minds open long back, situation would not have been what it currently is.

I conducted an online survey about the notion of beauty created by fairness creams. I received 61 responses for the same from people both employed and unemployed as well as from children studying in schools and colleges. From hereon in this post, I would state responses from the survey to support my views from time to time.

Now, let’s flip the coin.

Today these brands don’t just associate fair skin with getting a good partner in life but  also with a successful career, societal acceptance and so on. They play with our desire to succeed, our desperate need to fit it. One reason for this can be that the youth of today, which is a major part of these brand’s consumer base is a victim of low confidence, self doubts etc. We aren’t confident enough of our capabilities. There are so many factors around us which make us believe that we won’t make it big in life. These brands just use our skin colour as one more factor on that list. Which means that yes, we surely need to stand against them but more than that we need to turn into a mindful consumer base. We need to develop the sense in one and all that we don’t have to fall prey to every single advertisement we see on any media platform. We need to understand that rather than acting as a cool and open minded individual who admits that he/she desires a fair skin, we need to be open minded enough to be comfortable with our natural skin tone. I had asked the same as a question in the survey that on a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the advertisements of these brands on the basis of the mental impact their content has on their viewers. The reply was –

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This shows that they are able to leave a huge impact through their content. We should not be this hard hit but rather hardly hit. Don’t accepted everything that is being fed to you. If we are able to feel comfortable with our skin tone then I believe that this industry will collapse.

Long back I came across a clip on YouTube where a debate was being carried out on Barkha Dutt’s show We The People about India’s skin deep prejudice. In that clip, Prahlad Kakkar, a leading ad film director says that there is a very deep rooted bias. He further explains it that if there are two equally attractive girls standing together,  one with fair and one with dark skin tone then  the one with fair skin is the one you would take to your mother and the one with the dark skin is who you would take to a hotel room because  she would provoke a sense of eroticism in you. The video also gave birth to this thought in my mind that we prefer to bring foreign models to walk on our ramps for shows. I believe we should favour Indian models  because these shows can act as an influential medium to convey within our society and to the world too that let’s be proud of who we are and be comfortable in our own skin.

Legal Take  

Another strong way to bring an end to this industry is the legal way. According to the recent regulations by Advertising Standards Council Of India(ASCI), ads should not show dark skinned people as unhappy, depressed, disadvantaged in any way by skin tone and should not associate skin colour with any particular socio-economic class, ethnicity or community. The catch here is that I think  there needs to be an  immediate action against the brands which don’t abide by the regulations so that an example can be set that offence won’t be dealt with lightly.

Bollywood to the rescue

It was recently brought to light that Kangana Ranaut denied a deal worth crores because she does not believe in endorsing these brands. I think that those in the entertainment industry should take in on them too because they stand in a position to bring a change. They too should join the bandwagon because they have the power to influence millions. I had asked the same as a question in the survey that do you think public figures and particularly those in Bollywood should stand against these brands?  The reply was –

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I had asked a question in the survey that what do you think is the reason behind these brands being able to do a good business in our country?  The reply was –

fair

The pictorial representation above brings me to the last and the most important thing – we need to change our definition of beauty. We need to change how we view beauty for I believe there is as much beauty in a black rose as in a white one.

Let not beauty become a concept. Let it vary from person to person because beauty has a “u” in it. You are beautiful only till the time you value the “u” in beautiful. Be you! Be beautiful!

The age old issue – old age homes

It’s rightly said that old age is one’s second childhood. Look back upon your  childhood as I ask you…Back then , what did you want the most? Your family and your parent’s time or their money? I am sure  majority would say their time. Isn’t that exactly what our parents demand from us when they reach their second childhood? Is it too much of a demand? Read on.

A few decades back it was our country’s joint family structure which we considered to be the driving force behind families and relationships making it through thick and thin . With time, mindsets changed, the so called age of independence and freedom set in, majority families shifted from joint to the nuclear family structure.The major thing that was being looked upon with glorious  eyes turned to now being looked down upon for it started becoming the reason for gen x’s caged independence and many other clashes. This turns out to be one of the major reasons for the split in families.

When parents split from their children or vice versa, the question arises- what are the reasons behind people deciding to live in old age homes (OAH) and not with their families in their own homes? A research paper titled Reasons for living of elderly in old age homes –  An exploratory study was published in The International Journal of Indian Psychology (Vol 2, Issue 1, October-December 2014). The location for the research was OAH of district Bareilly, Lucknow and Varanasi. 174 eledrly residing in the OAH were included based on the criteria:

  • 60+ age
  • Minimum 6 months spent in OAH
  • Can comprehend questions and answer them
  • Given written informed consent

It brought out the following factors as a result of – what compels elderly to reside in OAH?

  • Misbehaviour of son and daughter in law – 52 out of 174 elderly i.e 29.8% stated this as the reason.
  • Poverty/no financial support – 51 out of 174 elderly i.e 29.3% stated this as the reason.
  • To serve God – 16 out of 174 elderly i.e 9.1% stated  this as the reason.
  • Loneliness-  14 out of 174 elderly i.e 8% stated  this as the reason.
  • Adjustment problem- 10 out of 174 elderly i.e 5.7% stated  this as the reason.
  •  Nuclear family system-  9 out of 174 elderly i.e 5.1% stated  this as the reason.
  • Having no son- 9 out of 174 elderly i.e 5.1% stated  this as the reason.

The above stated came out as the top 7 reasons for the same. From them, it can be derived that with old age come up certain needs  – to be taken care of, financial support, adjustment and so on. It can also be seen that there is a prevailing mindset that spending your last years in an OAH leads to attainment of what we call moksha. The reason behind this can be the thought that so as to attain freedom from the process of life and birth one must live away from the worldly materialistic desires. Living in OAH can be one way for elderly to do this as they will not be able to travel to other places due to age. Some think that being a burden on married daughters is not what God consents to and hence spend all they have in marrying their daughter off and then turn to an OAH to spend the rest of their lives.

The Hindu, dated 20th September 2015, Thiruvananthapuram edition carried a news story which stated that among all other states Kerala has the maximum number of old age homes. Rate of increase of aged population is higher in Kerala than in other states. Another story by The Hindu dated  May 31st 2016 titled “No Country for the Old” stated that India is expected to have 300 million elderly people by 2050. Given this fact, don’t you think that our alarm bells should be ringing? Since in future significant population will be elderly, there is a need that social steps are taken to try and restore the lost values of our culture in today’s youth. We can’t just let them be and leave them to die. As much as this is socially and morally wrong, it will also affect our country in various ways. Both physical and mental health issues might increase among the elderly population thereby increasing the mortality rate. More than anything, no matter what, we can’t substitute their experience with anything. This way we would lose out on their experience related to various things. There is also a need to bring up better managed, much more facilitated and if possible, free of cost OAH. Today both paid for and free of cost OAH are running. The number of free of cost OAH should be increased. This needs to be done soon because bringing a change in the youth’s mindset is a long process hence structure (more OAH) needs to be ready to support the elderly in need.

The same news story in The Hindu also mentioned that although the elderly can take action  under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007, majority chooses to not wash their family’s dirty linen in public and hence don’t drag their kids to courts.

Gen x’s take

I conducted an online survey so as to attain a brief idea of the viewpoint which my peer hold about the issue. I received 36 responses in all of people starting from the age group of 15 years and going to that of 25+ years. 20 respondents were female and 16 were male.

The questions were –

Has the issue of sending aged parents to old age homes increased or decreased in the last 10 years?

increase-decrese

What has led to the increase/decrease? (Subjective and not objective question)

Reply – Lack of desire to adjust, monetary issues, busy schedule, medical expenses were some of the most common replies.

What leads to children sending their parents away? (Multiple responses could be selected by the respondents) 

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Is it the moral responsibility of children (be it a male or a female child) to take care of their aged parents?

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Do you think there is a lot of societal burden on the male child to take care of the aged parents when time comes?

(Those who answered with a yes includes both men and women. Same is the case with no. All the respondents above the age of 25 years responded with a yes to this question.)burden

Would you send your parents to old age home in future if circumstances arise?

Reply – 35 out of 36 said no further stating their reasons for the same. Only 1 replied with a yes without stating any reason.

It cannot be denied that out of those 35 people who said no as the answer, some might have the fear of being judged and hence decided to play good. Fear of judgment cannot be ignored as a factor here.

MY TAKE

I conclude this by putting forward my view that one after the other generation will keep on coming. Today, where we are standing, what we are doing, what we are thinking, tomorrow some other generation will be at exactly the same place with probably much more so called forward thoughts than us. If today we say that we have certain reasons for doing what we are, then we must also keep in mind the fact that that tomorrow some other generation will serve the same reasons to us on a platter. If we wish our reasons to be accepted today, we must be ready to accept our children’s reason for the same in future. If that is not possible, let’s pledge to not bring in our kids in this world for they will learn the most through our actions and the deeds we did in our life. I would not say that parents should be treated in a particular way. I would say they should be treated the way we want our children to treat us tomorrow.

Abandon them today if you wish,

but tomorrow when the same fate knocks on your door,

 I hope fate won’t be accompanied by regret. 

– Paranjaya Mehra

Knock down fear

All of you must have made plans at some or the other time about the itsy-bitsy details of your lives. I am sure, life at some or the other point popped your bubble of planning because, heyo, who says life will follow your plans? It always does planning for you even before you plan for yourself. I am sure that your planning process at some or the other point made us feel like perfectionists who just found a plan to fulfill all our dreams and touch the stars.

Wait! I have one unread message!

“Hello there, champ! Congratulations! I see, you finally planned something for yourself. Just popped up to remind you that you totally forgot that to make those plans work and to achieve your dreams you need to take some steps. Just a reminder- this won’t be as easy as it seems. In front of you will stand your biggest barrier, your fear.”

With love,

Life”

Wouldn’t all this be a cakewalk if life could just send a message to us about everything? All of us have the line dark ke aage jeet hai on our tips. Did you ever try to apply it to your life? EVER? Rare are those who face their fears and come out with flying colours. They are those who know that success lies just outside our comfort zones. They have the courage to face the fear for their thirst for success is greater than any fear they have. Yes, you heard it right, it takes courage. Have it?

We fear because we are human, otherwise we would have been God! There are as many fears as the number of people on Earth. There are as many fears as the number of opinions those billions of people have. We all are surrounded by some or the other kind of those countless fear. Be it that of rejection, acceptance, societal burden, parental or peer pressure. The list goes on. I would say fear is our mind’s favorite game and tackling it is nothing less than a mind game.

(F)orget (E)verything (A)nd (R)un or (F)orget (E)verything (A)nd (R)ejoice – the choice is yours!

Most of us will decide to run away from it than face it but before you choose to run away, let me just remind you that our life is a result of our choices so make the right ones. Choose to face fear and success will be yours, chose to run away from it and success will run away from you. What doesn’t break you makes you stronger. Rest assured that your facing your fear wont break you, running away from it will. You are one decision away from a different life, from a successful life. Have the courage and make that decision today. If not now, it will be never,

Choose to be a kickass and let fear fear that you don’t fear fear. Kudos to courage! Knock your fear down before it knocks your door.

The night I questioned

It was dark, both inside and outside. Outside lay the horror of the night. Inside, within me were hiding my demons.

“Why don’t you just go to sleep?” asked mom at 4am in the morning. I couldn’t dare enough to tell the most beautiful angel in my life that I was fighting my demons. I blamed it on insomnia. Hearing my reply, mom went away, a little frustrated. I broke down the moment she left.

Why is it so difficult for someone to see that I have been doing so much for them. Why do they fail to reciprocate? Why am I expected to change and not accepted for being who I am? Why someone’s absence or presence in my life depends on me a little more in shape, a lot more sexier, a lot more beautiful, little less talkative, little more as per societal norms. Ever cared to judge my heart before my body? I doubt. Why today a beautiful face has all the acceptance and a beautiful heart struggles for the same? Why do we want people to stay even when it’s so difficult for us to constantly remind them that they matter? Why do we want somebody to believe on what we never speak or express?

There they were. My heart was shouting these questions loudly. Loud enough to leave my world shaken yet mute enough to be heard by anybody.  Why do my questions not deserve an answer? Was anybody even interested in hearing? Why do my questions not deserve an answer? 

Today, it’s a game of tactics. You make people want to love you by not loving them too much. You make people want to know you by not telling them too much. You make people want to care for you by not caring for them too much. You make people realise that you exist by totally over shadowing their existence. To rise in your own eyes, you make people fall on the ground. To be a somebody, you make people a nobody. That’s a wicked game all of us knowingly or unknowingly play.

May be at the end of this game, the day I will see the bright shining light, I’ll figure my answers.

कल तक मेरे हर सवाल का जवाब तू था,

आज हर जवाब पर सवाल तू है।

 

 

कुछ खाली सा हूँ मैं

_20160812_115033हाँ , आज साथ मेरे एक हाथ है।
सपनों को पाना है,
आज दिल में ये जस्बात है।
शायद किस्मत भी मेरे साथ है।
फिर भी, कुछ खाली सा हूँ मैं…

हाँ, आज इन आखों में चमक है,
आज इन होठों पर मुस्कान है।
हाँ आज इस दिल में बजती हर धुन है।
ना जाने क्यों फिर भी ये दिल परेशान है…

हाँ,हाथ वो तेरा नहीं,
साथ वो तेरा नहीं।
ना सपनों में तेरा नाम,
ना किस्मत के दरवाज़े पर तेरा पेगाम।
शायद इसलिए कुछ खाली सा हूँ मैं…

ना इन आँखों में चहरा तेरा,
ना होठों पर तेरे नाम की मुस्कान।
हाँ दिल में धुन तो है,
पर गीत तेरे नहीं ।
शायद इसलिए ये दिल परेशान है।

किसी रोज़ तुम किस्मत के दरवाज़े पर फिर आना,
सपनों में दसतक दे जाना,
फिर एक नई धुन गुनगुनाना।

सुनो, तुम इतना कर जाना,
जो दिल हमेशा से महसूस करना चाहता था,
वो चंद शब्द बोल जाना।

 

Misery of an overly attached soul

‘OVER-ATTACHMENT’ – I’m waiting for the day when a doctor will diagnose me with this.  This might not be a regular disease but life with this is nothing less than a suffering.  You, the overly detached or the cautiously attached may kick us away or stab us a hundred times but we will be there for you the moment you need us.  This isn’t what one should be doing or how one should be living but we do it, ALL THE TIME. The result?  Pieces of heart lying all around which we have to pick up and place together as one.

I am one of the overly attached to the severely detached or the cautiously attached.  We are a special breed. Some of us might never say to you that hey there, you mean to us. This is because we ourselves at times don’t realise this.  Realisation hits us the moment a gap hits our bonds. During the days when we don’t get to talk to you, see you, our symptoms of over attachment surface. Your absence hits us hard and that makes us realise the value (it’s overrated) of your presence.

Trust us that nobody, and by nobody I mean NOBODY understands you better or notices you more than us. We know exactly what kind of face you love to make while taking your selfies, we know the glitter in your eyes when you talk about your passion, we know that one dress which you absolutely love, we know when you start walking away from us, we know when you begin to replace us, WE KNOW IT ALL. Chances are that you might never have shared these details with us in person but we know it because we notice you THIS CLOSE.

We give away a part of us to all those whom we love and there can be nothing worse than this because some of us do expect to get a little back and when we don’t, it hurts.

 When we are lying there at the floor at 3:00 a.m and are crying so hard,  that we can’t even properly breathe, we expect to be cared for, we expect to be loved atleast by those for whom we care. Yes, we have our set of expectations but yeah who says expectations are meant to be fulfilled? We need constant reminders that this world isn’t that shitty and we are doing fine and it will all be good.   Nothing hurts more than crying your heart out and realising nobody gives a damn. You might not but we will do it for you, be it any time of the day or any time of the night, if you need us, if you need to be told you are loved, cared for, trust us, we will do it ANYTIME. Does a little bit of reciprocation kill? 

A bit of attachment is fine but not over attachment. Self attachment and worldly detachment is a lesson for all to learn. Feel blessed if you aren’t one overly attached soul.  Feel blessed for we know what you have and we don’t. When it comes to this, your grass is much more green than ours.  No doubts in that.

I am my own poetic misery.

I am an overly attached soul.

 

 

Silence

I speak,
I speak louder than words ever will.

I am the surreal silence,
I belong to nature.

I am the deathly silence,
I belong to the dead.

I am the romantic silence,
I belong to lovers.

I am the poetic silence,
I belong to poets.

I am the painful silence,
I belong to the silenced.

I am the humanly silence.
Loud enough to be felt,
Mute enough to be heard.

A fight to be accepted as who I am – a girl

It wasn’t long ago when I was safe inside of what every youth calls his/her second home – my school. I wish I could say it was yesterday. Sadly, it was long before that.  When I now look back at the memories of school, one of it which has sticked with me is that I had to deal with a lot of name calling – one related to my physical features.  Yes, it began long back in school.  At that point I never realized that all of it was somewhere leaving a deep impact on me. I accepted it in the name of friendship, for the sake of friends. I don’t have any of those friends with me today, but those impressions which  those episodes left on me fail to leave my side.

Yes, I never wore mini skirts to school. Yes I never touched an eye liner all my school life. Never felt like. Yes, I wore and still wear specks 24*7. Yes, I purchased my first one piece dress during my fresher party in college. Out of my own will, I owned none before it.  Yes, I have no idea about the best brands of lipstick, nail paint and so on. All I use is Kajal. Yes, I prefer to buy clothes from the nearby market than step inside Forever 21 or such stores. I still regret the first (that was the last too) time I stepped inside Forever 21 because the amount I spent on one outfit, I could afford four in the same had it been my ‘pados ki market vali dukan’. Yes, you won’t find a single backless dress in my wardrobe. All you’ll find are lots and lots of Kurtis. Yes, I still prefer a T-shirt and pyjamas than a T-shirt over shorts.  I’m not against short clothes, I don’t judge the people who wear them because it’s all our choice, and I choose not to. Lastly, something most of you reading this will judge me for, I have two failed relationships behind me because I didn’t fit into their definition of a girl.

Does all this make me any less of a girl? Marjority of you might say no but I’ll say yes, because that’s what I have been made to feel over the years. In school it used to be direct name calling. Later, it took a worst shape. Nobody now says anything to me on my face but trust me, I know what you say about me the moment I turn around. That is what hurts the most. College crushed the last bit of self confidence I had inside me. For there I realised that I will be judged on every step of my path. Judged, not for being who I am but for not being who I can’t be – a girly girl. Lessons from college life demand another post, they are that many.

To you out there,

You aren’t there to pacify me when I see strands of broken hair stuck in my comb and feel sad about it. My mom is there.  You weren’t there to hug me tight when the doc asked me to get tested for Cancer and other such diseases. My parents were there. You aren’t there to calm me down when baldness scares the shit out of me. My parents do that. You don’t stand proudly with me  when I’m looking my shabbiest best. My father does that. He stands tall with me, proudly, irrespective of anything. You don’t care to cheer me up when I’m sitting alone in a room. My sister does that. You don’t accept me for being me without any demands. My family does that.  

What do you do? You tell me to change if I want to stand amongst you. You teach me to lock the real me inside and fight this world, daily. You judge me, daily. All I’m fighting for is to prove to myself that I have within me the strength to carry on, just like I have been doing. Sometimes, that is all you have as an option. 

शीशे में देखती हूँ तो दिखता है कि मैं जो हूँ वो हूँ,

फिर कैसे तुम्हारी आखों के शीशों में मैं कुछ नहीं?