Daily Musings

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Loss of young lives

It is sad to see the amount of violence in our country and the number of innocent young lives lost.

Two separate incidents in the newspaper showcase the dismal state of law and order in our country,

First was a young woman in Delhi, who was shot dead for resisting the advances of drunk men. Before the moral police start pointing fingers at the victim, no she was not dressed in ‘western’ clothes and was accompanied by her husband.

A random act of violence against a young woman who was minding her own business and not creating trouble for anyone. As a citizen of this country does she not have the right to walk on the roads without fearing her life. The drunkards were caught and held but sadly nothing will bring back the lost life.

In another incident a young man was shot dead in the case of ‘honour killing’ which should be renamed as ‘horror killing’. A Muslim boy and Hindu girl were married and were killed on their way home when they were back after registering their marriage. The perpetrators of violence won over the advocates of love by brute force.

Why is that there is no place for love in our society. Why are the young people who are doing nothing but believing in their love for each other being penalised?

If you read these news snippets you will have sense of déjà vu as there is nothing new about them. They are similar to thousands of cases which occur across our country every week, half of them are not even registered.

I always feel that those left behind suffer the most. Mourning for their loved ones who they lost for lives for something so futile and for no fault of theirs. How do you get over such loss?

I do hope the criminals who committed these dastardly acts are caught by law and suitably punished. Atleast they will not be able to harm another innocent life somewhere. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Not a good idea sir ji

 This article represents how inspite of the popular adage ‘customer is the king’ the customer is actually a sufferer to the whims and fancies and large scale multinational.

I have been a staunch supporter of one popular cell phone service provider, Idea and as soon as number porting became a reality I switched from my old provider.

At first it was hunky dory and the reduced bills were surely a welcome sight. The few glitches in connectivity etc were overlooked. However I rounded a rough bend the day I lost my mobile. My number was registered in all my bank and credit card accounts and hence all transactions and passwords came on that number. Also it being a smart phone had confidential emails and the service was on. Any attempt to change my numbers on the accounts would mean the details would go on this phone.

Hence I called up Idea and requested that they shut off the number. To my shock I was informed that the customer service could only debar outgoing but not shut off the number completely. I was astounded. Shutting of the number in case of an emergency is the first service that any mobile service provider should provide. I was unceremoniously told that I had to go to an Idea shop to shut off my number. Since I had lost my phone at 9 in the night, I asked which shop of theirs will be open at 10.

Also I was flying out early next morning. However I was told that I could not shut off my number in any other city as the number was of this city. When I asked if a relative of mine could shut off the number, I was told yes if he carried a valid photo ID of mine.

The next day however when my relative reached the Idea shop not just with my photo ID but also a FIR report, he was told that the person who lost the mobile had to be present. When he said that the customer service had informed that it was not mandatory, the shop attendant said the customer service was wrong.

Hence I spent one week checking my phone number daily to ensure that no one had activated the number and it continued to come as ‘switched off’. I also refrained from using my account as the details would go on that number. Attempts to change my number from the bank accounts online were also unsuccessful as the passwords to change kept going to my previous number.

When I came back and went to the shop on Saturday, they were closed on account of Republic Day. The next day, though the shop was open a highly rude attendant informed us that their systems were shut on Sundays and they could not help me.

Finally on Monday I had the good fortune of meeting a higher up in Idea who helped me out and had my number shut off within seconds.

What I could not understand that if it was such an easy task why did Idea make me run in circles, why did I have to use contacts to have a simple job done, how could they not shut off the number even when they had a FIR document and what would happen if I did not have this contact?

Idea spends crores on its television ads but sadly they have not spent where it is most required, at the point of contact for customers.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The ability to be shocked

I have lost my ability to be shocked or repulsed by the news I see every day. Horrific crimes have become daily news. Crimes against women, is increasing at an unprecedented rate and sometimes, I wonder if I am reading yesterday’s newspaper as the news remains the same. The only thing that changes are the name of the victims, their age, the extent of hurt caused to them. We are supposed to be a civilised society. We are different from animals because we are sensitized, humane and compassionate. But the news everyday challenges this theory. Even animals do not hurt their own kind unless provoked. But when I read the news of how helpless infants were sexually assaulted, young girls were kidnapped and murdered, senior citizens were attacked, it makes me wonder. The monsters among us are worst than animals. They are a depraved lot whose frustration and resentment leads to such horrific acts. The violence that they inflict on others without any remorse or fear of consequences is scary. What is worse is that our protectors the police and judicial system seems to be ineffective. There is no terror of law in them. Some of the criminals caught and convicted for a certain case and released due to loopholes in the law and are out on street repeating the crime. I wonder what is that make these criminals the way they are. Are they human at all? How do they hurt little children? Doesn’t the cries of their victim make their hand waver, the shriek of victims pierce their souls, their tormented faces haunt their dreams. How do they look at themselves in the mirror after committing such crimes. How do they live with themselves? If the answer to this is that they are not normal, then they belong in a mental institution not a jail. Lets hope that the monsters we heard about in the fairy tales remain in the stories and not become a permanent reality.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Be the change you want to see

‘Be the change you want to see in this world’ are the famous words of Mahatma Gandhi and very applicable today. The anger and resentment over the Delhi gangrape case has been seen and heard. Marches carried out, protests and strong comments made. Now what? Unfortunately the required change in mindset has still not happened. Outraged and angry like every other woman of this country, I have also made provisions to keep myself safe by carrying pocket knife and being aware of my surroundings while walking on the road. I was also under the impression that if I cried for help, the now aware citizens of my city will rush to help, however that was my misconception. Walking down the crowded station one evening, a young boy barely out of his teens passed a lewd comment on me. I turned and screamed at him. He tried to walk away as if it was not him I was screaming at. I did not stop and chased after him asking him to stop and say loudly what he just said. He turned, shook his head at me and walked on. And not one person came to help me. To ask me what was wrong? Not one lady who had probably marched next to me in these protests tried to stop the boy. What’s more when I came back and narrated this incident at home, I was rebuked for having incensed the boy? “What if he comes back and attacks you tomorrow?” I was asked. It is true, if this boy does decide to attack me tomorrow will anyone in the crowded station come forward to help me? If they did not help me stop the boy, will they stop him if he is armed? But the fear of what may happen is not going to stop me. For when I walked in the marches held for Nirbhaya, I pledged to honour her memory, I pledged to stop suffering in silence, I pledged to fight back no matter how small the infraction seemed, I pledged to not see injustice done to another woman in front of my eyes. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. I wonder how many took that pledge with me.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Letter to a braveheart

Dear Nirbhaya,

This is the name I know you by. There are other options too like ‘The daughter of India’ and ‘Amanat’. Names that various channels and publications have come up with. The jury is still out on whether your true identity should be revealed. We would like to know your name for you have managed to bring about a revolution which was last seen in early 1900s when the Indians came together to throw away the yoke of tyranny of the British. Unfortunately you had to go through a terrible ordeal for us to have this awakening. Your suffering was the last straw on the camel’s back. Till then we would awaken to horror stories every morning, shake our heads in disgust and walk on.

But the day we woke up to your story, we could not walk on anymore. To hear that a girl was not just violated but assaulted in such a brutal manner gave vent to the anger and resentment we were holding inside ourselves. And we took to the streets. Castes and class divides were blurred as women from all walks came to ask for justice. Justice for you and what you went through, justice for lakhs of women who over the years have suffered, justice for those whose voices were suppressed for fear of humiliation, Justice for each one of us who face molesters everyday, justice for each and every woman of this country or even this world.

There were platitudes offered by the government, the actions of the culprits condemned, strong actions recommended but nothing could bring back the serene and hopeful life that had been cruelly snatched away from you. You still fought on, just like you had fought your attackers, holding on to life winning against all odds. And everyday thousand of prayers went in your name hoping against hope that you would survive.

But one day your precarious grip on life was lost. And you slipped away from us. You left us with courage, belief and a fight which we will fight till the end. Today every woman walking on the road is a fair play for the predators who live among us. Monsters who have no right to belong to the civilised society, men who are so depraved that their social and moral values are lost. We have been hit by water cannons in the Delhi chill, lathi charged, called dented and painted by some, advised to carry chilli powder in our purse, taken into police custody and harassed.

But we are not giving up. For this is not even a small percentage of what you went through but didn’t give up. Today we walk on the roads looking over our shoulders, worry about going home late in the night, fight molesters and gropers everywhere and when we take our complaints to the authority we face more insensitivity. This has to stop. Not just in metros and cities but in every small town and village were women are violated in the name of religion and tradition.

Too many have suffered for too long and we refuse to suffer anymore. The powers that be are hoping that we will forget this fight of ours, that this agitation will die down, that soon caught up in the daily grind of our lives, we will forget you. But this letter to say just that, you will remembered for you have immortalised the indomitable spirit of women.

Regards, Nirbhaya

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Silence must be heard

For people like me who live in big cities, the value of silence is precious. When you are surrounded by cacophony of honking horns, ringing phones, incessant chattering of people, you forget what silence sounds like. But I heard silence on a recent out of town trip in the mountains. The quiet complemented the scenery of tall mountains with a calm lake nestled in between. With greenery blanketing the surface till horizon. The only sounds breaking this absolute silence where the tweeting of birds of exotic colors and the wind whistling through the woods. Standing below the azure blue sky, with the vista spread out before made me wonder if I had reached heaven. I have always believed that Mother Nature is the best artist in the world. Watching the sun slowly sink behind the majestic mountains reaffirmed my views. The sky turned from a warm orange to blood red, light purple and finally gave in to ink blue. However there was a small blot in my happiness. While going up the mountains we found the trail littered with plastic bottles, plastic bags and discarded food items. It just showed that we have no respect for nature. These items were thrown there by literate people who are well aware of the ill effects of such things on the environment. They are the same people who are disgusted with the fact that our country is dirty. And they will follow all the rules and regulations when they go out of country. It is sad that we do not repect our pown country or the beauty it offers. I hope we understand before its too late.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A life cut too short

A newspaper article caught my eye. A young boy, 16 year sold was crushed to death by a train while crossing tracks yesterday. Due to our regular exposure to violence, I have probably lost all capabilities to be shocked. But this news did jar me a little. A young boy, full of life with dreams and ambitions of a new life dies an unnatural death due to something as inconsequential as following rules. Why is it that after so many deaths, so many warnings, so many horrors we still go ahead and break the rules and put our lives at risk. Is reaching office/ college/ school at time so important that we are ready to risk our lives for it. Will reaching 5 minutes late be life threatening. No, but crossing tracks to reach 5 minutes early might be. What makes this story worse is that the boy did not hear the train’s horn, because he had his earphones on and was immersed in music. The train was in full speed and could not be stopped; the boy was hit and dragged for a while before the train could be halted. I sympathise with the parents. There can be nothing worse than getting the news of the death of your young child. That too because he had chosen not to follow a mandatory rule. The sad truth is that even after this unnecessary death, there will still be cases of people crossing tracks. Pitting themselves against a lumbering metal giant hurling at full speed. And the question is ‘Why?’ Do we think we are invincible, that bad things are something that happens to other people? Or is that we feel it is our duty as citizen of India to break every rule. Do we not realise that it is us who bear the brunt of it. Drinking and driving or not following traffic light kills people or injures them seriously, in some cases paralyses them for life. Littering, spitting on roads creates an unhealthy environment in which we have to live. Honking horns leads to blood pressure and heart issues. Cigarette smoking and tobacco lead to cancer. Everything which is banned or should be avoided is for our own safety. So why are we putting ourselves at risk. Why are we committing suicide daily? Why are we still crossing tracks?