‘Satyameva jayate’: Are our star TV anchors poor actors, or Aamir Khan a better journalist?

Aamir Khan at the 2010 Toronto International F...

The ripple effects of ‘Satyameva jayate’ are being felt all over the nation. Actor Aamir Khan has roiled up the stagnant system by picking out burning issues for his TV show. The nation, so drowned in trivial sitcoms, ‘reality’ shows and talk shows that can put street cockfights to shame, seems to be finally experiencing self-awakening moments.

What is it that Aamir doing to wake up a nation that prides itself on the pip-squeak number of flyovers and malls it builds, but shuts its ears when it comes to female foeticide, child sexual abuse—the issues that Aamir handpicked for his first two episodes? Did these episodes act as truth-finders? Continue reading

Dumbing down: Reducing our children to a bunch of box-tickers

It’s out: Some Oxford University students cannot spell ‘erupt’, ‘across’, ‘illuminate’, ‘blur’, ‘buries’ or ‘possess’ correctly, said a news agency report recently. It was quoting the examiners’ reports who termed it a “worrying degree of inaccuracy”.

Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? Well, they can’t even get ‘bizarre’ right! Continue reading

Female foeticide in India-VI: A virtual Holocaust

Inside Asia's largest slum, Mumbai - India

By calculating the number of extra women who would have been in China or India if these countries had the same ratio of women to men as obtained in areas of the world in which they receive similar care, noted economist Amartya Sen calculated that in India alone there were 37 million ‘missing women’ already in 1986 when he did the first estimation. Continue reading

Female foeticide in India-IV: Are mothers killers?

Indian family with goat in field, India

Image by World Resources via Flickr

A question that often leaves even thinking people befuddled is how a mother could kill her own baby! If we fail to fathom what actually makes a woman kill her own child or not protest when others smother it to death, the most important question is this: is it her intent? Her will? Or someone else’s? Continue reading

Female foeticide in India-III: Swatting them like flies…

Indian baby

Image by Zuhair Ahmad via Flickr

When and how did it all begin? Writers have drawn references from Atharva Veda, which states, “Let a female child be born somewhere else. Here, let a male child be born.” As far what Manu Shasthra says about the futility of being a woman, the less discussed the better.

Research on female foeticide in India reveals how deep-rooted misogyny is and how mechanical the killings have become. As if the traditional methods of killings weren’t efficient enough, we now have modern ultra-sound scanning machines that swat foetuses like flies. Continue reading

Female foeticide in India-I: Murder in the womb

Beautiful baby girl

Image by adam.declercq via Flickr

Think hard. Search every corner of your mind for words that can match this act called female foeticide. Chances are that you may not find one. Female foeticide in India is one such dark realm that words can’t enter.

Words fail because there is no way to explain how the nation continues to be in a self-congratulatory mood when 7,000 female foetuses are eliminated each day (Unicef—State of the World’s Children 2007). Worse still, there is no way to fathom how mothers are turned into killers here, and how suddenly motherly instinct seems like a multi-dimensional deception.

There were a few incidents that took place in mid-2007 that I have never been able to forget. Continue reading

Food before mortality

A flood-hit woman in Bellary district, 2009. Lakhs of people starved for weeks on end. A majority of them are still homeless.

The nation debates economic expenditure on infrastructure and industrial growth threadbare, but its social expenditure on food, health, and education has been shamefully low. Amidst all this chaos, something else remains woefully neglected: the female population and their right to nutritious food.

Sifting through the shards of history isn’t enough to fathom gender bias in India. It is multi-hued, many-faced, and uniquely critical. How and where do you begin to untangle the issue? Which face do you look at? Which premise do you hold on to?

Click Prayas to read the rest of the article.

(Pic: SH)

Your mother could be your own homespun eco-champion!

When my mother, 67, sat down to hem in the frayed ends of a handloom blanket, it took almost two hours for her arthritic fingers to cut off the extra threads gently and hem the ends in with near-perfect stitches. As she folded the blanket and placed it back in the cupboard, she said: “Handloom blankets are more comfortable than those useless (synthetic) ones. Why do you waste thousand of rupees for those you can’t even wash and reuse for long?”

This is a woman, much like those of her and older generations, who grew up without using a single chemical (barring soaps) in her entire home. While baking soda and gram flour erased tough oily stains with ease, ash and rice husk washed dishes. She poured out soap water used for soaking clothes to wash courtyards and bathrooms. She took out her cloth bags whenever she went out shopping. She did not use fridge or water heaters. The only few plastic bags that she carefully preserved were meant to serve one precious purpose: waterproofing cloth bags during rains. Such has been the sanctity of her everyday routine that the waste her household generated hardly needed segregation. She recycled paper, utensils; found ingenious ways to reuse clothes by turning them into quilts, blankets and unknowingly let the local quilt-makers’ families survive on such local economy. Continue reading

Heart of darkness

His body lay squashed on the bridge that connected my hometown to the rest of the world – a typical dusty Indian town that stumbles on its own follies but never rises above them.

A monstrous 10-wheeler truck had run over the doctor leaving his bloody innards entangled with those of his bike. Dr Dinakar Shetty had met with his end on the same bridge from where he dumped black plastic bags stuffed with female foetuses and newborns into the rivulet flowing under—some poisoned, some smothered, and some throbbing soft and warm. Continue reading

Can Bangalore afford private penthouse swimming pools?

For the last few days, I have been seeing some real estate ads in newspapers with lavish display of a massive swimming pool inside the club house, with a promise of private swimming pools for penthouses!

It’s not about criticising the idea of luxury. All of us want to succeed in life and live luxuriously.

But where is water for all this? Any idea how many Continue reading

Hampi, that little world of wonders!

“Architecture is the only functional art,” said an erudite friend of mine recently. “And if you want to live it to the fullest, visit Hampi,” I quipped.

I grew up in a village close to Hampi and have made countless trips to this architectural spectacle. Life changed, and I moved away from my village. Continue reading