Archive for March, 2010

Gender discrimination

On the vast lawn of the Boat House in Ooty, some newly married couples were sitting. Maybe they were waiting for their turn. At that time the lake was full of boats and none was available at the “stand”. But, the couples were not in a hurry because they were engaged in a heated debate. I could hear one of the girls telling her companions in a loud voice, “There is gender discrimination even now. I can give you a hundred instances right now”. The men were equally vociferous. They, except a quiet-looking gentleman, shouted in a chorus, “No, No… You girls won’t admit this because you are all suffering from self-pity.”

Instead of calling it a debate, I must have termed it “Yes or No shouts”. “Shit”, I said and was about to leave the place when the quiet -looking man said in a loud voice, “Yes, there is gender discrimination”. The girls were surprised. I too was a bit surprised and waited for his explanation, “I am telling from my own bitter experience. If you are a girl, you get a royal treatment right from your childhood days. You get plenty of ornaments and what more, every time you get an ornament there is a mini festival at home and when it is your marriage you get a bagful of gold ornaments worth lakhs, no matter how poor or rich you are. If you are a boy, your dad will stare at you if you ask for a rubber ball or some such thing. All the expensive clothes are meant for girls and we get some less expensive school uniforms once in a year… By the time he finished his speech, their turn had come. Two or three boats were available at the stand. As for me, I moved towards the nearby coffee stall!

Flag Business

Young entrepreneurs in India are exploring various fields or rather, new avenues to start a business of their own and some of them succeed in their mission. But, they have to be alert always because when a person succeeds in his new venture, it gets wide publicity and soon, new comers would be vying with one another to establish similar businesses.

Of course these people make money but they are of great help to all of us, especially on occasions like weddings or similar functions. All you have to do is to release the amounts quoted by them for various works entrusted by you. Frankly speaking, the business people are making your life tension-free! All you need is some money and the rest will be taken care of by these ‘experts’.

The business world, as you know is highly competitive and the chances of new ventures are shrinking. The new comers have to weigh the pros and cons of the business they have in their minds.

Business is not my cup of tea but still I have some tips for those who are looking for new avenues. You can call it ‘Flag Business’… I am not joking. Here is a wonderful opportunity. There is no dearth of political parties in India and demonstrations as well. Each party has its own flag and symbol and there are hundreds of political parties and trade unions. Protests and demonstrations take place almost everyday. Apart from slogan shouting people, what catches your attention is thousands of flags of all hues and colours, planted in every nook and corner. Rest, I leave it you.

If you are bold enough to embark on this business, you can mint money. All you have to do is to make a list of these parties spread all over India and also the colour and symbol of their flags. And, you have to make bundles of ready-made flags. So that you can sell them at short notice. Like a pucca business man you should be free from any politics.
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Hat trick!

Day one: I was waiting for the glorious moment. “Days are longer”, my mind dictated. “This is a hill station; you can’t witness it from every nook and corner”, I whispered. “There is ample time. Now get going”, ordered the mind. I was off to the next viewpoint. “Wow” I exclaimed, as the evening sun was getting ready to disappear. Every second was important and just when I was beginning to experience the thrill, I heard a voice; “Can’t help sir. These dirty beggars put up their huts everywhere”. I just smiled, even as he kept on criticizing the slum dwellers; and by the time he stopped and moved on, the sun had disappeared.

Day two: The repeat of what happened the previous evening. The only difference was, the person who robbed me of the glorious moment was one of my friends who was in the habit of talking about the good old days. He left the scene minutes after the sunset.

Day three: The usual evening walk. “Once bitten, twice shy”; I said to myself, when my mind repeated those monotonous words “Days are longer”. I decided to take a short cut to success…. Along the narrow road where I won’t come across any of those guys. I returned to my house and went to the back yard from where I would get a perfect view of the sunset. I was there right on time. It was a glorious moment indeed. The western sky was getting ready for the send off. So was I. But some one was knocking on the door. It was the watchman. “Oh, You are here…..the water tank is overflowing…. I just wanted to inform you”. I pretended to be very serious when I went to stop the tap. I missed the glorious moment yet again!

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From Pillar to Post

It was 10.30Am. In ten minutes or so, I must be at the Post office to send an important letter by Registered post. I was moving fast along a crowded street but suddenly my attention got diverted by a rhythmic sound, coming from the other end of the road, a few steps away from a restaurant and in front of a petty shop. A lean, hungry-looking girl was hitting an iron rod on its head, without missing a single shot. “Practice makes perfect”, some one said. Yes, otherwise how can a small lean girl hit so hard and perfectly? Piercing the hard surface of the road, the iron rod was going down inch by inch. Her Parents too were busy. They were erecting a tent on the road and it seemed that they were sellers of some rare country medicines. May be they were refugees of nomads.

Whatever it may be, I moved on. I reached the Post office on time and finished my job quickly, eager to know what that family was up to. The girl had just finished her work. The father of the girl was giving some finishing touches to the tent. The mother was spreading those country medicines on the mat and the girl seemed to be tired and craving for a cup of tea. They were all smiles when the work was over and the girl’s mother opened an old aluminium box and picked up some eatables from it. When they were getting ready to eat their breakfast, a police jeep arrived and one of the cops got out of the jeep and asked the man to dismantle the tent and pack off. The cop seemed to be sorry but he said, “can’t help…. We received a complaint”. Of course, they have violated the rule but it was a pathetic sight.

What was even more touching was the reaction of the family of three. Without any resistance, they pulled out the rods and removed the clothes and packed off. They could not even finish their breakfast. May be they will find some other safer place to put up their tent!.

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I get e-mails once in a while, mostly from my own kith and kin and invariably in the form of greetings on New year’s day or other festivals or on my birthday. But, the one I got this morning was different. Her highness (the sender) has touched upon a topic which is connected with the present day Politics in India. What the madam is worried about is that most of the ministers in the states and at the centre are not educated and it reflects on their performances. And, to make up this short coming, they pay a couple of visits to some foreign countries at the expense of the government to create an impression on the people. The madam strongly feels that a minimum qualification – not less than a post graduate degree – must be made mandatory for the ministers.

Well, that is a good idea but more than anything else, a minister or any politician for that matter, must be sincere and dedicated even if he/she is not that much educated, his private secretary will take care of the rest.

As far as India is concerned, we want Politicians (preferable well educated) who are not madly attached to their own regions, languages, castes or religions. Instead, Indianness should out shine all other qualities. If this attitude is developed, India can look forward to a much convenient two-party system (or a few party system!)

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Empowerment of Women

Gender discrimination will soon become a thing of the past in India, for the Women are fully utilizing the opportunities available to them on all fronts. They have proved their mettle in Education by doing better than boys, not necessarily because the boys are less intelligent but because it is not all-studies and No-plays for the boys. They play games and watch the big events on Television and are left with less time to update their lessons.

In those days, job opportunities were very limited for Women. The rural Women worked in the farms and the urban Women worked as School teachers or as nurses in hospitals. But now, you go anywhere; half of them would be Women. Even in politics they are making their presence felt. The President of India, the speaker of the LokSabha, Leader of the opposition, the Chair person of the ruling front are all women. Then there are a few Chief ministers and Cabinet ministers and so on.

On top of all these things, comes the Women’s reservation bill which has already been passed by the upper house and is awaiting the nod from Loksabha and State assemblies. This, if accepted will ensure one-third of seats in Parliament and State Assemblies. All the Major political parties are in favor of this bill, and those who oppose it want caste-based quota within the seats reserved for women. So far so good. But all the reservations based on castes or religions or gender must come to an end. It cannot go on indefinitely merely because the vested interests would not budge. But who will bell the cat?

VOTE-BANK POLITICS – CURSE OF INDIA

Demonstrations, strikes etc may be the prerogative of the people in a democratic country but, when they turn violent and destructive, it makes a mockery of democracy. In a two-party set up there may be heated debates but they never spill over to the streets. But, in a country like India where there are umpteen political parties, formed on the basis of castes, religions, languages or regions, differences or problems crop up, every now and then and, invariably, lead to violent protests and destruction of public properties. Of late, the influence of these narrow-minded and aggressive politicians is creeping into universities and colleges. Students resort to violence, endangering their own future and their parents’ hopes. Newspaper offices and Television stations have become the targets of some of these elements and an over cautious government takes its own time to take any action against the perpetrators.

If democracy is to survive in India, the politicians have to abandon the vote-bank politics which forces the major parties to appease communal and regional interests at the expense of national interests. Above all, there must be absolute discipline which calls for Zero tolerance against violence and destructive tendencies

India’s Budget 2010 – 11

Of late, I don’t go into the details of the annual budget. The prices of certain items will increase and all that I want to know is whether the prices of certain items I am addicted to, will increase or not. Of course, I must have a rough idea of the pros and cons of the budget so that I won’t be found wanting when some of my friends broach this subject when I come across them. One of them would say, “The centre has increased the prices of petrol and diesel. “Yeah, Yeah; that means the prices of essential commodities will automatically go up”, I would reply. Fortunately, my friends won’t talk about ‘Anticipated growth’, ‘fiscal deficit’, etc.

So I began to read the headlines: They were so annoying and there were indications that there will be agitation all over India. Newspapers seem to derive some pleasure from annoying the readers by giving larger-than-life importance to opposition remarks.

When I was about to close the day’s newspaper, saying “enough is enough” I saw a report under the headline, “Exceedingly good budget: Manmohan”. Thank god. I heaved a sigh of relief. Had they published this particular news on the front page I would have faced the opposition criticism with some mental strength!