Thursday, 23 May 2013

Clashes of Mind - A bird's eye view of the Modern Indian Society

INDIA-The most gracefully diversified, acclaimed,welcoming country, the country that celebrates the essence of life, known for its immense knowledge down the ages; the world’s largest democracy, a growing Asian Superpower, the country having world’s youngest population, so many accolades, and yet just one country!

Yes! This is what makes me proud of being an “Indian”. It makes one wonder what wrong might happen in a country so spiritual, so divine, pure and true in its very own sense?

Wonder as you may, living in the country opens the dusty yet crucially placed doors of gruesome mindsets since long. So long and deeply rooted that we simply accepted it as a way of life. Now don't get me wrong I am not trying to be cynical but one cannot refute the fact that though our country may have advanced in many ways a part of us is still downright orthodox and stereotype! 

The Indian society may have progressed by leaps and bounds but our “MENTALITY” seems stuck there and then.

Let me clarify, I am not harbinger of animosity. I am not anti-nationalist even. This is just the reflection of the society in which we live by a concerned citizen.

So here we go:

A National Shame:
Every day we wake up and open our national daily to get glimpse of nation whereabouts. What catches our eye then? What makes us feel ashamed?
It’s the traumatic story of one of our female counterpart being exploited, abducted, and assaulted.

What can be worse than this, one might think! But thanks to our “Indian Men” and their never-ending thirst towards getting sexually satisfied, even our Children: Little young girls who are merely 3-4 years are victims of such paedophiles.
What is more disturbing in this scenario is the aftermath of these tragic incidents is now predictable:

  • ·        The blame game between the Cops and State Government starts almost immediately.
  • ·        Media selectively covers the cases, which helps them to gain more TRP’s.
  • ·        Youth wings of Political Parties would demonstrate in the state governed by their rivals, but won’t do any “TAMASHA” in their own party ruled state.
  • ·        Citizens out of the blue will get up from their slumbers and protest.
  • ·        Opposition will get obsessed again with word “Resignation”.


      A nation, the honour and wealth which was looted for thousands of years by aliens is now slowly being looted by its natives in different ways. And yet there is silence. The very essence of India unlike any other country on the planet is its “Unity in Diversity.” But look again without the idealist’s spectacles and you will notice there are so many barriers erected now. We are now Bihari, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayali, UPites, Sikkimites first. If that is not, then you have Forward and backward class. What’s more you have Rajputs, Brahmins, Vaishyas, Shoodras, Shiyas, Sunnis. Of course this is apart from the already existing Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Hence the very basis, on which the premise of the India story was based, is today reduced to shallowness. Colour, language, gender makes an appearance too.My heart definitely weeps but unfortunately, this is the India I was born into.

Education Taboo:   
 I do not want to compare India’s Education to the rest in the world. I want to highlight the medieval mindset that exists still, related to two of noted streams that one opts in class XI:
·        SCIENCE  and

Whether it’s the parents, relatives, neighbours, teachers; majority of them are of the notion that science is the prime stream and that is what one should opt for as “it opens all directions and will give an upper hand over others”.Humanities on the other hand, is treated somewhat like “Shudras” were treated in our Indian Society long back.People are of the view that this stream is meant for the low graders.
Yes! I am writing about this as I went through the same and so does many of my batchmatesWhy does life’s crucial decisions be based on someone else’s view and opinion? Why do I have to select a conventional subject to make it big in life? Why societies influence most of our decisions? Strangely every time I asked or sought for the answer the people I was always rebuked.

Social Networking Sites: The two of the famous sites are Facebook and Twitter: To which we the netizens are glued.What is wrong with this? Facebook- The site catering to large number of Fake profiles and the latest trend of “CONFESSION” page was seen as a space to speak out what one couldnot say in open.Then as it works, sensibility is rare to find.Soon it got polluted with abusing/threatening each other and acted as pseudo-dating site
Twitter- As the moderator of this blog wrote in one of her piece the way tweeples are behaving, it’s sickening to see goons of communal political parties-tweet/Reply in most disgusting manner. Its simple, If your ideology doesn’t match with the person, don’t follow him, but then they prove what Confucius once said “Life is really simple,but we insist on making it complicated.”


A word that we come across us a thousand times in a single day and which touches each and every sphere of our lives.
So as notion goes, we judge everything by it’s acceptance in society. So is Politics good or bad?
Yes! That’s what I am always asked when people get to know I am political aficionado.

And to my luck, before letting me answer, the answer too that comes from their side only saying: “It’s not at all good”, leave your intrest and work towards something of importance and value.I always believed that it’s not the Idea of politics that is evil; it’s the people within it which make it dirty.
If we talk about the present scenario: The society is divided amidst two prominent ideologies currently the Congress and the other the BJP.

Without a doubt, I too am an ardent supporter and follower of one of the ideologies, which one is clearly unimportant. The youth icons of India as they have been tagged seemingly have a promising career ahead. For any citizen the parameters of good governance must be leadership qualities, humility, vivacity, benevolence, charity, strong-will set him apart. It is the leader who promotes the youth participation in politics and wishes to see a new phase and face of Indian politics coming.

As citizens,we all want to bring change,but none of us go out and do our bit towards bringing that change. Can we all vote for starters? May be that is why I am view of that our society as a whole has to be re-developed in accordance with new trends and carrying traditional values along with us.

If we will be able to achieve this, nothing in world can stop us.

And after going through this write up If you feel ashamed to be part of nation called India, my advice to you is: “It’s not Bharat that has lost its values, it is the bharatiya who has fallen from grace.”

- Aakash Chandran

 @ChandranAakash on Twitter

The writer has just finished his twelfth board exams and aspires to be a Lawyer.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Generation of Items...

The legendary film director Martin Scorsese wrote “Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out.” Starting from the first feature film Raja Harishchandra (1913), Indian Cinema has gone through numerous transformations.  Now that Indian Cinema has touched its centenary year, we can analyse each and every period starting from pre – independence. But my article won’t be focusing on the cinema as a whole but on its one of the important aspect – Film Music. The journey of Hindi film music started with its feature in first sound film Alam Ara(1931) by Ardesh Irani which featured seven songs.

Music, be it the title track or the songs or even the background score forms the most important part of the cinema. No movie can be completed without having music or at least a background score of its own. It gives life to the movie and makes it livelier in front of the audience.  The songs in the movies are intelligently crafted with proper lyrics which would suit the script of the film.  The impact of Bollywood music in a global scale has been immense. It has created a separate genre for the music lovers all over the world.

As per the film historian Partha Chatterjee, “the Hindi film song cut through all the language barriers in India, to engage in lively communication with the nation where more than twenty languages are spoken and ….. scores of dialects.” There was a Golden era of music in movies. Starting from the music director S. D Burman to his son R.D Burman was considered the time where the Hindi Film music touched its successful peak. Every song was considered to be a hit back then, and still it is considered to be the age where the Hindi Film Music couldn’t have been better.

Indian Film Music saw its first Pop Music Revolution in 20th Century following the already established pop culture in the west. It gave birth to Indi-Pop music starting with its popularity in the 90s by many eminent singers like Alisha Chinai, Remo Fernandes, Usha Uthup, Shaan, Baba Sehgal, Lucky Ali, KK, Palash Sen and many more. Being a huge Music fanatic, Indi- Pop had its own effects in me and I considered it to be the turning point of Indian Film Music in India. With the influence of International bands and singers, Indians created a perfectly different Genre in Hindi Film Music itself with would gather huge popular demand and eventually it did. If 60s and 70s was the Golden Age, then 90s was completely dedicated to the Youth.

Eventually, Indian Pop culture was succeeded by the Rock culture which came in 2000 and stayed with us for a long time. Old Hindi Movie classics were remixed to attract the younger minds. But more recently that also became a part of Indian film Music history with the advent of “Item Song” numbers in the Hindi films.

Mostly the film industry has gone through the transformation and now it is considered to be the “Entertainment Industry” with the rising events, endorsements, award shows etc. It is the huge commercialization which affects the structure of the film. Even if the film not doing so well in Indian Box office, but has a popular Item number , can relieve the producers from suffering huge loss. The actresses doing an ‘item’ number gets paid more than the actress in the lead role of the movie. It is a new concept which has not only effected music industry but also psyche of all groups. They prefer ‘item’ music to any other form of music which is a shame because they refuse to listen to good music.
The negative aspect of these ‘item’ songs is the vulgar portrayal of women in the music. Although it doesn’t promote rape and humiliation but it does corroborate the view. The film makers doesn’t realize the long term effect of such ‘item’ songs which corroborates a patriarchial view of the Indian society and tarnish the already degrading position of women in our Society. Critics call it a bold move but that doesn’t stop the film makers from producing them.

Laila, Chikni Chameli, Munni, Sheila- they now dominate our national consciousness. A girl wearing raunchy clothes and dancing in front of number of men and being their entertainment now may be a normal sight to see in television these days, but I feel it degrades the efforts of those musicians which create good music or those musicians whose efforts brought music revolution in India in 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

We should always welcome the new but not at the cost of losing the old. As the course of History goes, nothing lasts forever. So may be the “Generation of Items” will come to an end and will give birth to something different and positive than showing the obscene portrayal of women in the television. But then such revolution is yet to come and we have to live through the “Generation of Items”.

Sharanya Kundu

@sharankundu on Twitter

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Issue of the outsider

From the advent of Sumerians in 2200 BC to the Portuguese conquest in the 16th century and thereafter, Goa has been home to an influx of migrants since times immemorial. Some of the earliest were the Indo-Aryan migrations to Goa and as empires changed, new installments of migrants set foot in Goa. Presently, Goa is home to numerous migrants hailing from different parts of India.
As per the census results declared on 1st march 2011, Goa's population comprises of 14,57,723 individuals. Out of these, a considerable chunk is migrant population.  Though they contribute to the state’s demand for labour work and odd jobs, they are seen as nothing more than a ghatee (Goan term for country bumpkins) and bhaile (outsiders). I spoke to some of these migrants, who have now made Goa their home, to listen to their side of the story. 

Gous Muddin Siddhapura a man in his sixties narrates his tale. He came to Goa in 1967 from Karnataka and initially used to live in Altinho in a ghetto near the TV tower. “Life was difficult then,” he says, “but we sailed through. When I first came here, I was a carpenter and a construction worker. At that time, my daily wage was Rs. 10 per day. The bus fare from Altinho to the construction site was Rs. 3. With Rs. 6 invested in travel, I would be left with only a meager four rupees to provide for my family. It was of course not easy but I worked hard to make ends meet.

“The then government which was MGP led told us to leave from Altinho. We had a Jhopadpatti Sangh whose leader was Ashraf Aga. We demonstrated five times and then got arrested five times. The Delhi government also intervened. Finally, after a lot of hullabaloo, under the Twenty Points Programme, we got plots in Chimbel to build our own houses and stay. We got property here, water supply and electricity was eventually provided. A government primary school was also constructed for our children to study in.
“Education is important for prosperity and to let the future generation stand on their feet to lead a respectable life. Thus we built the Jadeed High School here of which I was the founding chairman in 1993-1994. We built the Chimbel Masjid and initially started Jadeed primary school there. Then we got a permit to have higher classes, then introduced computer studies and later founded the Jadeed Higher Secondary School.
“When this area was given to us to reside, Ashraf Aga named it Indranagar as that time Indira Gandhi was the PM. When we first arrived here, we were altogether 360 people. Today, over a thousand Muslim families and hundreds of non-Muslim families reside in Indranagar. I have been living in Chimbel for 38 years and have faced no problem at all. We have the Panchayat’s permission to stay here. We pay our taxes right. As long as you work sincerely and earn your daily bread, there shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Not more than ten authentic Muslim Goans live here in Indranagar. But other communities like Kunbi etc are many.” adds another source “The inhabitants of Indranagar consist of people who come from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madras, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh etc. There are about 3000 houses with a population of 35000 people. The literacy level is 61%. People here work as vegetable vendors; government and private service, drivers, mechanics, coolies, masons, construction workers and the ladies mainly are employed as domestic servants in neighbouring villages.

“The houses in this area are government allotted under the Twenty Points Programme. The new settlers set up in their ghettos in Gaffurbasti near the water tank uphill. The people of the older generation are using their own powers since they have become landlords now. This older generation has now become aggressive. New people who settle here don’t interfere. They just keep to themselves.”

Speaking about the increase in the level of crimes in Chimbel, he says, “The crime rate is high here. Nowadays one will get to see a lot of police nakabandi here near the bus stop. This maybe out of suspicion. But you cannot blame the entire community if one thing goes wrong. The bastifolk are okay. But because of some people, the entire basti’s name is spoilt. Groups are formed for gundagiri, these are mixed groups of hooligans belonging to all communities. They get into brawls and use physical power to assert their authority. That way they think of themselves as mighty. Otherwise there is no social tensions or communal tensions of any kind. 

“The only threat migrants face is the fear of being removed from here if they don’t vote. Chimbel is a vote bank for politicians. People here have turned from passive to aggressive due to vote bank politics. The antisocial attitude may be due to personal grudges. Otherwise, Indranagar a safe place.”

A large percentage of migrants can be found in Vasco. In Baina especially, hordes of shanties, and ghettos can be seen. Shahappa Harijan, originally from Bagalkot Karnataka, lives in a tiny shanty on rent. “I work as an airport loader at the Dabolim airport. Our parents came here years ago to work as labourers. We have been here since childhood so we connect with Goa better. The people here are good to us and we do not face any kind of problem. There are eleven members in our family and we all live in a single room. In the past thirty years, we have moved from ghetto to ghetto nomadically yet survived in Goa. We are all uneducated so cannot apply for a qualified job. Let’s see what happens in the future.”

Prakash Rathod, another migrant who lives in Kattebaina says “My family has been in Goa from the past 50 years. We live in legally built homes and pay our taxes on time.” This young lad is a student of Mechanical Engineering in Goa Engineering College, Farmagudi. He lives alone with his mother who is a fish vendor. “My group of friends in college consists of Goans. They treat me as their equal. In this area (Kattebaina), migrants come from different communities like Banjarans, Marwadis, Marathas, Karnatakis, Punjabis, Gujratis, Andhraites etc. Most of them live in slums and their occupation is primarily that of labourers, plumbers, waiters, hotel helpers etc. Almost all the children here go to school.

Overtime, Prakash and his neighbours have assimilated in the Goan culture thus adopting the food and dress habits of Goa. “We speak Konkani and English but we do not know our native tongue, ie Kannada. Most of us prefer eating fish curry rice over dal bhaat. We have made Goa’s staple food our own. But despite all this, people still say we are ghatees and claim that we are living here illegally. Besides this we do not face any grave difficulties. The only issue we faced in the past was from the indigenous Goan fishermen who refused to sell fish to us since we are bhaile. Then we requested to them over and over after which they complied.
“Another problem was created when the red light area was destroyed. That time, some houses of innocent faqirs living there were destroyed. Some of those houses were legal. The government did not do anything to help them out of their misery. Now all those faqirs have rebuilt a home for themselves and live in Shantinagar.”

Laxman Chavan, who lives in Moti Dongor, Margao also shares his story, “My father was originally from Gadag, Karnataka. He came to Goa years ago for a living. He settled here, got married here and thus I was born here. It has been more than 40 years that we’ve been in Goa. Our predecessors have sold our lands in our native place and come here in search of a better life. My generation of ‘migrants’ were all born and brought up in Goa. We have assimilated in the Goan culture completely. We cannot do without fish curry rice just like any other Goenkaar (authentic Goan). Our predecessors have died but still we don’t have an identity. We have a voting card, ration card and even an Aadhaar card, yet we are considered migrants.”
There are approximately 500 families living in Moti Dongor. Each house is home to 3-8 families. Inhabitants of Moti Dongor claim that they all live in peace and harmony and there is absolutely no communal tension. It is only once in a while that there are personal tiffs between some of the families in the neighbourhood. “All the inhabitants here are from the first settlements.” continues Chavan, “All are from Karnataka. There is no new influx of migrants. We have a school, mosque and two temples here. We all live in peace and harmony. There is absolutely no communal tension. Goans are very nice people. I have a lot of friends here. We don’t have tiffs with them either. The only problem created here is by the politicians.”

Shabbier Shaikh, who has been in Goa from the past 35 years laments about the predicament of being a migrant, “We always thought that we’re here to stay but honestly speaking, we’re dangling in the middle. We neither belong in our native land nor in our assimilated land. We are very unsure about our future. 

“Government demolished houses in Moti Dongor claiming that they are illegal. We all live in fear today. The MLA says don’t worry but everyday there’s something in the papers saying the government will demolish all illegal houses. The only thing the MLA did was build toilets for our sanitation. 

“If any crime takes place, they blame the inhabitants of Moti Dongor for it. Even if there is a personal row between two families here, the incident is exaggerated in the newspapers. We are uneducated and don’t know how to fight for our rights. We get lured towards the leader that promises us a secure future.
“Our women work as domestic help in many households. Some of them even work in the houses of High Court lawyers and the Judge. If we were that bad then why would such repecatable people employ our women? “

 “Whether BJP government comes to power or Congress, whether MGP or UGP, we have always supported the government who promises us a secure future. It is therefore not a question of taking sides. We request the present ruling party to take our woes into consideration.”

 “People are entitled to have their opinions.” continues Prakash Rathod “If they hate us, they hate us; there is nothing we can do about that. I can understand the insecurity that people feel when it comes to migrants, they feel we are not good but what can we do? We depend on Goa for our livelihood. If we are forced to leave despite our legal rights then we’ll fight. After staying here for so many years, we are also Goans.”

Abdul Karimsaaab orginally from Savanur Karnataka has been living in Moti Dongor, Margao for over 50 years. Like most other migrants, he also came to Goa to work as a labourer. “When I first settled in Moti Dongor, there were about 8-10 houses here. Then, there was absolutely no problem here. It is only now due to political influence that we face problems. We all used to live like brothers and continue to do so. Otherwise if you go to see then there is no fear here. It is just people who make a big hue and cry. We left our native land to come and settle here; now this is our home. After half a century if you suddenly tell us to leave this place, then where will we go?”

  - Nida Sayed 

@nidsay on Twitter

Saturday, 11 May 2013

God’s Angels mistreated on Earth

Some of you might find my title too dramatic, but being an ardent animal lover who witnesses cruelty towards animals daily, specially the stray dogs I genuinely feel they are mistreated and terribly neglected. If properly used, the law can be your most effective weapon against animal exploitation. India has one of the most comprehensive set of animal protection laws in the world. There are detailed codes of conduct governing our use and treatment of both domestic and wild animals.  In fact, India is unique in the fact that animal protection is enshrined in our constitution and every citizen is required to show compassion to all living beings. Unfortunately, in spite of the importance accorded to animal protection by our founding fathers, animal protection laws have remained mere pieces of paper because either people do not know how to use it or are not aware of the law at all. 

How many are even aware of the basic laws for animal rights?

Domestic animals & Pets
Beating or causing any animal pain or suffering by the owner or any other person should be reported to the police. The penalty is a fine of Rs 100/-or jail up to three months or both. 
Caging or confining an animal in a cage or enclosure too small to allow reasonable movement. The penalty is a fine of Rs 100 and jail up to 3 months or both.
Tying with a short or very heavy chain. The penalty is a fine of Rs 100 and up to 3 months in jail or both.
Keeping the animal constantly confined or tied for extended periods thereby denying it the opportunity to exercise. Punishable with a fine of RS 100/- and up to 3 months in jail or both. 
Failure to provide sufficient food and water to a pet animal. Penalty is a fine of RS 100/- and up to 3 months in jail or both. 
Failure to provide proper shelter. This means failure to provide protection from the external environment e.g. leaving a dog out in the rain or cold. Penalty is a fine of RS 100/- and up to 3 months in jail or both.
Maiming or injuring an animal in any way or any surgical or invasive procedure without anaesthesia. This would include ear or tail docking is a cognisable offence under Section 428/429 of the Indian Penal Code. The penalty is a fine and up to 5 years in jail. 

Stray animals
According to section 11 of the Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act 1960 it is illegal to put out poisoned food as these could pose a serious health hazard. Also it is illegal to transport any animal in any manner that will cause it unnecessary suffering. This includes loading cows into trucks without ramps and overcrowding the vehicle, tying up pigs and carrying them on cycles and so on. All violations of Section 11 are punishable with a fine of Rs 100 and /or up to 3 months in jail. Section 428/429 of the Indian Penal Code makes it a cognizable offence to maim or cause injury to any animal. Citizens can report any such nuisance to the Municipal authorities. I request you all to please do so. The High Courts of Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Mumbai, and several other states have specifically forbidden the killing of stray dogs and directed the municipality to introduce a sensible sterilisation programme instead. Stray animals cannot be used for research. Rules for Experimental Animals as formulated by The Committee for the Control and Supervision of Experimental Animals has laid down that only animals bred for the purpose of research by institutes registered by the Committee may be used for experimentation. Therefore it is illegal for any medical, educational or commercial research institute to pick up stray animals either from the street or from the municipal pound for this purpose. 

So the next time you see a poor stray dog on the road instead of ignoring it or being afraid and running away try feeding it, or probably contact the blue cross or any NGO for animals if it is injured. All they require is love and care.


The writer has completed her studies in law and is a passionate animal lover.