It’s Acceptance! Not Equality!

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Yes, indeed! But, in ways that differ.

This week, women and men the world over took up the cause for gender equality  up, close and in certain cases, very personal. Women’s Day had arrived yet again! Hallelujah! But was it here to stay? The bitter truth is most obvious. An optimistic ‘Yes‘ and a doubtful ‘No‘ would be the most apparent answer in the present tense. In view of the United Nations effort to bring about a change and, to champion the cause for gender equality, it had launched its campaign for ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality‘ under the watchful eyes of the UN Women; the organization’s entity that looks into the cases for gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Prior to a recent panel discussion that I was fortunate to have participated in, which, revolved around the theme as highlighted above, I had a round of insightful dialogues with my fellow colleagues,  teammates and, those within my peer groups. These primarily included the self driven, self nurtured employed women who belonged to categories such as the ‘married’, the ‘to be married’ and, to the ‘I have no clue what’s going on here‘ kinds. The question that I had put forward to them mostly revolved around as to what stopped them from moving further and to run head to head with their male counterparts. And, in the majority of cases, what I’ve noticed was a far out cry, not for the cause of equality, but rather for a state of acceptance of the individual that they represent; for respect; for kindness; for politeness. I have felt that this is also the true underlying principle that gets overshadowed in the very act of feministic views which, in recent times under the advent of extensive role that social media has to play, has been taken in for a ride.

Equality by itself, by definition, is a dangerous term to be put forward, especially in cases involving the sexes. Under the present context we see the two sexes being portrayed as two powerful opposing forces. I for one, is of the strong notion that the cause for equality without the traits of consideration and acceptance is a recipe fit for disaster in the longer run. The reason I believe that gender equality has taken up centre stage in many a cases is because that it can win you elections. As plain as that. It can be termed as the icing on the cake, the cherry on top or the well fabricated halo that seals a book of propaganda, which ever way you wish me to say it. The bedrock of the issue is that, we as a society have invariably and saddeningly have forgotten the act of interaction; of conversing and of actually listening through all the noise that is being played about.

The equality of the sexes cannot be considered on the same tasks at hand. Yes, it does depend upon the individual in person, but things which men are good at cannot be in all cases be replaced by women and the same goes the other way round. I say this with utmost due diligence and respect for both parties at hand. For, a mother can never be replaced by his/her father and in the same way a mother cannot be the best replacement for her/his father. The keyword here is not equality, but acceptance. Feminism is a powerful force in itself but, it should not be channelled in ways by which roles have to be taken up in one’s individual capacity but should be channelled effectively in cases of injustice, mistreatment and, cases of abuse against women in it’s righteous form and principle. And, as an evolving society it is an absolute necessity to listen and not just be heard.

One sees what she/he looks for.

 

Shooting ‘Stars’!

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Your Honor, but!?

What exactly had been said:

For the last six to eight months, there has been a growing despondency, I would say. Kiran (wife Kiran Rao) and I have lived all our life in India. When I sit at home and talk to Kiran, for the first time she said, ‘Should we move out of India?’ Now that’s a very disastrous and a big comment to make to me.

What happened next was unprecedented. The actor, Aamir Khan, had become the most sought after discussion on social media news feeds and, yet another scapegoat for media houses nationwide. His statements had been in many a places misquoted, misinterpreted and served as a mouth watering appetizer for millions. What followed further were aggressive debates, discussions and so called ‘in depth’ analysis as to what the actor ‘might have’ intended. All of this in turn only strengthens, the actors remarks on the state of growing intolerance in the country that seems to be on the boil with each passing day. The statement that was made was only a concern that had been raised in public. He had never made a mention that he was indeed leaving the country nor does it point out to any anti national comments in any regards. But, the disastrous means by which reporters of various news channels had misconstrued his statements for rise in viewership is nothing but a new low as far as the ethics of journalism in this country is concerned. This indeed had been many a times highlighted; be it the case of the Nepal earthquakes earlier this year, or the disastrous turn out of poll predictions for the Bihar elections of 2015.

Earlier this week, in an interview that the Human Resource Development Minister, Smt. Smriti Irani had given to Barkha Dutt; she was asked to layout her thoughts on these statements made by the actor, to which she had responded stating:

Aamir Khan is a brand ambassador for tourism in our country – Incredible India – and that what’s incredible…that he can be a brand ambassador for our government and he can be on a platform in front of the Information and Broadcasting minister (Arun Jaitley) and speak his mind shows that free speech thrives.

With all due respect madame Minister, but, the way in which the whole situation was allowed to spiral out to such extremes has in itself, a scent of intolerance in every step of the way. But, what is more ‘incredible’ is the fact that how an individual who had filed false documents pertaining to her educational qualification still continues to hold on to her portfolio as a cabinet Minister in New Delhi. And, more bizarre was how the reporter had never touched upon these topics for the chance she had for this said interview. This again, reiterates how journalism is more or less being streamlined alongside those issues that are currently in trend in the present tense.

Aamir Khan is perhaps, the latest in a series of celebrities from the film fraternity who had been targeted for speaking his mind out. But, if this is the plight of individuals who hold such esteemed positions in society, it is rather easy to value the voice of the ordinary citizenry. Times have turned around so much so that, the Prime Minister of this country is eligible to carry out his ‘Mann Ki Baat‘ on national radio, unquestioned; and the rest finds themselves in a position were they cannot. There is certainly no doubt that there is an air of intolerance prevailing in the country. But, the manner in which facts are distorted and how news feeds are tailored to suit the taste of the end user is bound to have disastrous implications in times to come.

– Breathe.

My Review: One Life Is Not Enough.

 

This would perhaps be one of my first reads which I believe sheds light into the corridors of power as far as the world’s largest democracy is concerned. K. Natwar Singh had previously served the prestigious Indian Foreign Services for close to 31 years before taking up his retirement voluntarily, to enter the grand stage of Indian Politics as the Minister for External Affairs. His autobiography gives in depth details and analysis on India’s Foreign Policies right from the Nehru era till 2004 when he had to step down as Minister due to his alleged involvement in the Oil for Food scam in Iraq which was shed to light by the Volcker’s committee report under the United Nations.

His book had been criticized extensively by the Indian National Congress as he had brought to light many of the chain of events that had transpired from the moment his name had been mentioned under the Volcker report. He goes an extra mile in even mentioning the name of Smt. Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress and questioning her actions and her hold and control that she exercised over the party. It’s worth mentioning that only a handful of Congressmen have stepped this far in criticizing the Congress President and this is one such. The book talks in length of K. Natwar Singh’s term during which he had served the Indian Foreign Service and his experience in working under the tenure of the late Prime Ministers Shri. Jawaharlal Nehru, Smt. Indira Gandhi and also under the young and vibrant Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. As far as the literature is concerned, it is well versed and has a diplomatic tinge to the style of writing. Some of the other important contexts of the book would be the foreign policies that India had pursued mainly with it’s next door neighbors which includes China, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It highlights the key notes both on the winning and losing edges as far as the policies and relationships which India had shared with her next door neighbors.

The book also as with most biographies or autobiographies are concerned as it is with this one, has a collection of great moments captured in photographs which gives a sense of power and the high stakes at which the actions or the chain of events that progressed as narrated in the book. One of the major insight for me was the realization of the close bonds that India had shared with the erstwhile USSR right from the beginning of India’s independence all the way up till it’s fall with the onset  of the 90’s. The other major highlights would be the LTTE crisis that had persisted in Sri Lanka and how the Rajiv Gandhi Government had made a total mess of it and how it all in the end, culminated in the untimely demise and assassination of the Ex. Prime Minister Shri. Rajiv Gandhi. The same would also go for the Golden Temple crisis which later took a toll on his mother’s lifer prior to his.

This would certainly be a recommendation for anyone who is interested in getting to know as to what it is like to serve in the helm of power and what goes around along the corridors of power in New Delhi from 10 Janpath all the way till 7 Race Cross Road.

– One Life Is certainly Not Enough.

The Hyderabadi Affair.

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The Laund Pana of Mysore.

It’s close to one in the morning as I write this down. A couple of minutes back, I had dialed down the extension 1-83-404. To my much expected dismay, no one answered the call, and I believe it never will be, anymore. Block number 83, 404, will always remind me of these two- late night Hyderabadi Biriyanis and Iftar parties. Yousuf, my dear friend and collegue who used to play host to such affairs with much zeal and enthusiasm, had always brought about a sense of brotherhood and trust amongst all those who got together for occassions such as these. The memories are timeless, and the food was nothing short of but, appetizing.

They say, one can make friends for life only up until college. But, none of that seemed to make much of a sense to me after I met up with these random bunch of guys from Hyderabad. I’ve been told time and again that this city and it’s people are well renowned for two things; the first being for its food and the other being for it’s hospitality. And, it’s exactly into these two that I was literally thrown into. The major highlight of a short spell of around six months that I had spent over here at Mysore as a part of the training program I had to attend for the company I work for, was getting to meet up with people from all different backgrounds. The whole story of my training period is yet, another tale in itself, which I hope to jot down in posts to come. But as for the moment, this post is specially an ode to those who mattered the most during these past six months.

Yousuf, Farooq and Waseem: individuals with that rare intellectualistic mind set. Habeeb and Rayees: you don’t mess with these two, unless and until you wish to see yourselves six feet down under. Arshad and Haneef: the clean slates. Arif, Naveed and Murtuza: the pious and the righteous. With the others being Shahbaaz, Sivaram, Sharif, Sajid and Nihal just to name a few, all belonging to a blend of these sets as mentioned above. I had come to meet them all up by pure chance and by virtue of nothing more than but circumstances. But, however, it wasn’t long before I started to have a common ground of understanding and a sense of togetherness.

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Thalacauveri.

Over, the past period of six months, I’ve had my share of testing times, but none of it seemed to be of much significance as I always had a shoulder of one amongst these many to rely upon. And, it was here that it mattered to me the most. I had the chance of learning a whole lot many; from trivial ones such as the proper way of offering Salaam or greetings to someone, to the best possible ways of abusing someone in Hindi (which my dear friend Habeeb knows best). The times I had, is and will perhaps most certainly be ones to cherish on my behalf for a very long time to come, be it, new movie releases at the local multiplexes, lunch at Khwaja Bhai’s, Iftar parties at 404, Hyderabadi Marfas, birthday bumps, sweet paans, or white water rafting along the Cauvery, just about anything fits in just perfectly.

Getting to have them all together again under one roof seems most unlikely, as I bid farewell to each and everyone of this lot. But, however, amidst all the unlikeliness, I hope and I pray that I do get a chance someday. For, as far as I believe and as far as I understand, it’s how one values this bridge of friendship in years to come and not as to how things might seem to be in this present state of time. I can only wish my words could express more.

Prayers and wishes.

A Frequency Lost, and Stranded in Time.

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A.I.R.

326 stations nationwide. Covering 92% of whole of the subcontinent. Reaching out to 99.19% of an overall population of in excess of 1.2 billion and rising. Available in 23 different languages and in 146 different dialects. These are the official figures as enumerated by All India Radio as per their records available online. So what’s the big deal? They definitely seem to have some of the best figures any radio channel could possibly dream of, right? But, still how many of us would prefer tuning into A.I.R. when you’re given the most  obvious choices of other more exuberant and ravishing stations available On Air as in the likes of Radio Mirchi, Radio City, Radio One? Just to name a few from the list of many.  Well, in all honesty I would be very much be surprised if there were more takers for A.I.R. in the urban stand point as in comparison with its rural counterparts.

With the start of  the year 2008, the whole of the country was re-introduced to a form of mass media which was long forgotten and considered extinct; Radio. With the onset of visual media and the rise of the internet, this form of reaching out to the masses was considered in all of it’s certainty as obsolete. And, it was this very reason that was named time and again to justify the fall of the A.I.R. from it’s position being one of the most reliable and respected means of reaching out to a country that was slumped into a trance of uncertainty and doubt, following the post independence era. But, however, Radio continued to be a very much rivaled and active form of broadcast in the West. The only difference was the fact that, they continued to evolve with time; it ceased to stay dormant and inactive in the face of more challenging forms of media. At one point in time radio was primarily used as a media for news broadcast, but when visual media started playing a more vibrant role in this domain, it had to diversify into other spheres of interests, such as music, debates, discussions and so forth.

Soon as this revival made it’s was into the late 90’s and the early millennium, it struck gold. Advertising. With the limited number of audience it commanded, they were able to use this as an effective tool as to generate a source of revenue, which otherwise used to be a free-for-all service which was accessible to all those with a receiver. It was with this that the whole renaissance for this form of media kicked in. Making note of the prospects at hand, private players started swarming in for their slice of the lion’s share; and before you knew it a whole lot of changes set in, the first would be the exuberant role of a ‘Radio-Jockey‘, as in comparison to the conventional format whereby which anchors for radio shows were streamlined with the news reporters and presenters, the new age of such anchors were rather more charismatic and random individuals who took up a rather unconventional approach of presentation, that was more attractive and all the more more informative to a wider range of audience, specially in sync with the present times and generations.

Now, this was what the buzz was, as far as the west was concerned, and it wasn’t too late before the ripples were felt by various Indians within the private domain who realized the potential and started setting up their own stations. And as per current statistics, there are close to 240 stations in active operations in the country, generating about 8 billion in revenues in 2008 and expecting to touch 18 billion in 2012, as per data and sources available online. Of this Radio Mirchi is reportedly said to have a share of a whooping 40% share of the overall domestic market, while A.I.R. continues to be in the scratch, ironic to the fact that it continues to have an indisputable reach and range over the masses.

The reason for this ‘outrage’, as I would like to refer it to, is rather clearly evident if you click on the following link (http://allindiaradio.gov.in/).  Yes, if your response is somewhere related to ‘being old’, well you’re right on spot. It never has made a daring leap to change in the midst of it’s private counterparts. The best part is the fact that if you go back over to it’s official site, you’ll notice a column by the name ‘Archives’; with all do respect, the whole site in itself resembles an archive. That’s where the root cause of the whole problem lies. If you tune into A.I.R. or ‘Akashwani’ (Meaning ‘The Sky’s Voice’) as it’s popularly known among the masses, you’ll find it’s range and choice of programs dull and not in sync with the present times. In such a scenario, it’s isn’t much of a surprise as to why it repeatedly fails to make it’s way into the popularity list. In such a scenario, it’s also very unlikely that it can lure in much advertisements and promotions.

In times of finding itself in such troubled waters, the most obvious answer would be to Anchor itself. A.I.R. has a very huge upper hand as in comparison with it’s rivals; it has the abundant wealth of existing man power and infrastructure; even if you put together the combined resources of all it’s closest rivals and compare it to the former, it wouldn’t add up. It needs to go in and get a hold of jockeys that can attract a lot more audience and one that can rig up the whole rating. The, only hindrance in the way is a strong initiative; that’s the only obvious roadblock in the way.  I’m pretty much sure that there’ll be many lining up for the top job, its as obvious and clear as broad daylight. Once, this is set in, it’ll start luring in the necessary attention it rightfully deserves; with this as the ratings are bound to soar up and at the same time gathering up momentum with respect to potential advertising.

This, is most certainly one sphere which has been long lost and forgotten. At one point in time A.I.R. used to be the prime time form of news broadcast, serving as the medium via which the late Prime Minister himself delivered his freedom speech at midnight to hundreds of thousands of Indian‘s about their long cherished dream of independence and free rule, the medium through which it was capable of knitting together the whole country as one during times of war specially during the Indo -China conflicts of the early 60’s and even at times during famines, droughts and epidemics at various stages in time, serving as an effective informer for the displaced, and the needy.  But due to lack of proper appraisal, face lifts and management, it has most definitely and certainly on the highway to losing a winnable race, if only it musters up it’s spirits.

In all of the optimism and the opportunism that it can muster up I certainly hope and pray that this great service gets restored in all of it’s pomp and glory which it sustained at one point in time and one which rightfully deserves, rather than let it wash away into the clutches of the private domain.