Sunday, August 26, 2012

Going Top-less...

India seems to have been gripped with a strange but unspoken competition going on within its boundaries. States, cities, organizations, individuals, just about everyone seems to be busy taking on everyone else in a battle of wits. The only catch being, in this battle of wits, everyone appears unarmed !

Just a few weeks back, the management of the famous Mahalaxmi Temple in Kolhapur (Maharashtra) decided to impose a dress-code for the women devotees visiting the temple. But before they could hog the media limelight, some alert ‘social activists’ from the city of Ranchi declared that females who preferred wearing jeans would be greeted with acid attacks. Though these well-meaning ‘social activists’ didn’t confirm that the acid would be that contained in their own skulls.

While just the other day, the professors of a college in Bareilly, denied entrance to female students into the college campus. Why ? Obviously… the girls were dressed in jeans and tops. (More here)

It appears to be a really sorry state for the Indian male. With the females being the center of attraction of all and sundry (right from Guwahati to Mangalore) the Indian male can just sulk in frustration. I mean, a girl who is covered up from head to toe, revealing no more than 15% of her skin gets more raised eyebrows than a poor guy standing topless on the road. Why ? Just because the girl is attired in western clothes on Indian land. So unfair !

According to the management committee of the Mahalaxmi Temple, it was observed that majority of women visited the temple in western attire. It doesn't look decent and also distracts attention of male devotees.” (More here)

And all this while, I thought a temple was supposed to be for the worship of Gods and Goddesses and They should have been the ones examining the devotees. Not the members of some committee. And shouldn’t the male devotees be concentrating on their devotion to the Gods instead of the girl standing besides them ? Ahhh… but haven’t I always reveled in the bliss of my ignorance !

And strangely, the Mahalaxmi Temple is dedicated to Goddess ‘Shakti’, the goddess of power ! When asked if the temple committee plans similar rules for male devotees, committee members said that there was "no need for dress code for male devotees". Errrr… excuse me, but shouldn’t it be the male devotees who should be properly dressed while visiting a Goddess ?

The professors of the college in Bareilly claimed that wearing jeans spoils the college environment.” Of course, the male students and the male professors (many of whom themselves were dressed in jeans) would be expecting any and every girl dressed in jeans to break into an ‘item song’ on the campus. Detrimental to the studies… I tell you !!!

Strangely, sometime back the professors of an ‘all-girls’ college in my own city were in the news as they banned jeans for its students. And there weren’t even any male students or professors in that college ! 

And all this while, the ignorant me thought that the issue was about the showing of skin. (exclusively related to females, obviously)

Though, of course, skin show is sacrilege. For a female, that is. A man wearing an ill-fitting t-shirt and shorts is welcome to fold his hands and pray in a temple (I’ve witnessed it many times myself), but not a girl who forgets to cover up her head. I was a bit confused when I saw the male priest of a famous temple performing the ‘aarti’ with just a ‘dhoti’ tied around his waist. The ‘Tissot’ watch on his wrist was obviously ‘western’. Though he didn’t have a baseball cap on his head. Or any other head-gear for that matter. If the dress/decency aspect is to be considered, then how, he was the most eligible person to be nearest to the Goddess was something my idle brain couldn’t comprehend.

So, jeans, shorts or skirts are western. And thus, are strictly forbidden. But why just for girls ? Ohh… boys don’t wear skirts. So, jeans and shorts are fine for boys. But I wonder why don’t boys test the waters by trying out skirts. Maybe that will be fine as well. But as long as one is a good, cultured Indian girl, jeans, shorts and skirts are forbidden. No wonder the young girls from the village ‘Asara’ collectively burnt a bonfire of jeans and other western dresses in favor of a 'directive' dress code by their elders recently. (More here)

When a Sunita Williams walks smartly dressed in a pair of jeans, she is ‘Bharat Ki Beti’.

When a Saina Nehwal wins an Olympic Bronze wearing a short skirt, she is ‘Bharat Ki Shaan’.

Ahhhhh….. where was I ???

Last week while blog-hopping, I stumbled on to a story of a young American girl who has been going around topless in New York State since 1992 to raise awareness that it's legal for a woman to be topless anywhere a guy can be without a shirt. According to her, she was harassed by middle-aged men while debating going topless with passersby (including one man who said topless women are "going against God's law"). So you see, God’s laws are not just a boon to India. They are fortunately available all around the world. But it is in India, that those ‘laws’ can be effectively put into practice (exclusively to females).

August 26th is ‘International Go Topless Day’. But our society believes in celebrating our ‘top-less-ness’ all the year round. Our top floors are ever so empty !

(Image courtesy : Google Images)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Duty vs Conscience...

The other night I was watching a debate on ‘Times Now’ about an ex-minister who has been accused in the case of suicide by a young air-hostess. Anyone with a bit of common sense, after watching the development of the case can understand how a person with power, money and a criminal record, has been making a mockery of the legal system of the country.

Yet, I was aghast to see a senior lawyer of the Supreme Court (who has been selected by the accused politician to fight his case) exclaiming his client to be absolutely innocent. According to him, the accused, who had been declared absconding by the police, was merely exercising his legal rights by evading questioning and seeking anticipatory bail.

Now, why would a person seek anticipatory bail and abscond to evade the police if he is absolutely innocent ? It doesn’t really require rocket-science to make out how innocent the man really is. But then why was such an eminent and senior lawyer trying to defend a man who had so many evidences against him ?

It could be because the lawyer was carrying out his professional duty towards his client who had obviously paid him a huge amount of fee. Not considering money to be the deciding factor, but should we really imagine that the lawyer was bound to do so because of his duty towards his profession ?

Hence, I wonder if professional duty is such a driving force that makes a person forget about morality. Or is it just the other side of the coin of a fair legal system to provide an equal opportunity of defense to an accused ? Just like the appointment of a lawyer for defense for the terrorist ‘Kasab’ who was captured during the 26/11 attack ?

But does such a criminal even deserve a defense ? Someone who is caught red-handed murdering so many innocent citizens ? Does such a terrorist have human-rights for himself who didn’t blink an eye while destroying hundreds of innocent lives ?

What should the lawyer have done who was appointed to defend the terrorist ? Should he have accepted just because it was his professional duty ? Or was his job more important to him ?

Being a doctor, I now shift the same question towards doctors.

Suppose the accused politician I mentioned above is finally proved guilty and sentenced to prison. Most probably (if not surely) he will then complain of chest pain and will be shifted to a personal room in some hospital. Should the doctor on duty be true towards his profession and treat the criminal just as another patient ?

I wonder, if I was the doctor on duty in a government hospital, and was asked to treat a criminal for an illness, who had raped and murdered a little girl, would I rather think about the ‘Hippocratic oath’ (which asks me to treat any and every person who is in need of treatment) and treat the criminal with care or would I think about losing my job if I refused.

Should a terrorist like ‘Kasab’ be entitled to the care from a doctor for an illness just like any other normal patient ? Should the ‘Hippocratic oath’ decide the doctor’s actions ? Or should his conscience decide it for him ?

Should a professional forget about his professional duties while tackling a criminal case and let his conscience take the decision ?

OR…. is money and security of job the biggest factor for one’s actions in today’s times ???

(Image courtesy : Google Images)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Confessions of a Corrupt Indian...

It has not been surprising how over the past few days, every news channel is going berserk with debates, discussions, news-specials and breaking-news about the ‘India Against Corruption’ campaign which has been going on for quite some time now. There have been views both for and against the movement, some subdued, others harsh. But there are a few points which made me ponder upon what exactly was and is happening.

Firstly, as I hear each social-activist, celebrity, politician and even common people exclaim on the television how every Indian is sick and tired of corruption in the country. I wonder if every Indian citizen is against corruption, then who exactly are the corrupt people ? Are they some individuals imported from places like North Korea, Iraq or Kazakhstan ?

I know my question appears rather stupid, as ‘every Indian’ here means every citizen who is not corrupt. Then who exactly is corrupt ?

And then I come to realize that the common man or the ‘aam aadmi’ of India refers to the government officials, bureaucrats and politicians when he talks about corruption. So I ask, are theses people then, some foreign nationals who have smuggled into India for the purpose of looting its people ? Or is it the Chinese population who voted for our parliamentarians ???

NO ! All the corrupt people against whom all of India is fighting are legal citizens of India as well. But are these government-related individuals any different from the rest of the Indian population ? (except the fact that they are corrupt)

NO ! They come from the very society that makes up the rest of the population. Be it a peon, a clerk, a bureaucrat, a politician or a minister. And it is certain that a person’s economic class has nothing to do with him being corrupt or not. A peon, if corrupt, will ask for a bribe, just as a minister will, to help a business lobby.

And there’s a war going on between the IAC movement and the government about passing a bill. The IAC wants a ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ while the government is adamant on its own version of a ‘Lokpal Bill’. And it is almost an accepted perception that such a bill will certainly curtail corruption and without which corruption cannot be checked. As if such a Bill/law/anti-corruption body is the one and only way to weed out corruption from the country.

So, in other words, we are trying to emphasize that we, the corrupt people, will not change unless and until there is a law which honestly and efficiently checks us if we are corrupt and punishes us if we are guilty !

Isn’t it amazing how we dance, sing, fly the tricolor and rejoice in anticipation of the passing of such a ‘Bill’. Isn’t it like rejoicing about the realization of the extent of corruption ?

Should we actually be proud that our society has come to such a low that there is no hope of us changing and we simply refuse to change unless we are checked and punished ??? That we will stop being corrupt only when forced by the law…

It is said that corruption is so rampant because the people in charge are not accountable. And that the people at the helm are corrupt themselves so corruption is rooted deep into the system. Doesn’t that mean that every subordinate will continue to be corrupt till his superior is corrupt too ?

Are all government officials honest people before they join their jobs ?

Do they become corrupt only after they get into the government service ?

If they were honest before, should they become corrupt just because they have a corrupt superior who doesn’t check them ?

Each and every government official and employee is from amongst us. They may be someone from our family, friends, neighbors or relatives. Then how do they manage to become corrupt ? Is a person corrupt without his family knowing about it ? But still, we as a society let it happen just because it is someone close to us. And we point fingers to those whom we are not related to.

Secondly, is corruption only synonymous with the government ? Is every other individual in any other field of work completely honest ?

What about the doctor at a private hospital who refers his patients for useless investigations just because he gets a part of the investigation charges too ? Is that not corruption ? (Being from the medical field I have witnessed things which might put even a government employee to shame)

What about the employee of a Multi National company who prepares forged bills for re-imbursement from his company ? Is he not corrupt ?

What about the member of a NGO who bungles funded money instead of utilizing it for the required purpose ? Is that not corruption ?

What about the person who drives without a seat-belt/helmet or over-speeds and tries to bribe the policeman instead of accepting a ticket ? Is he honest ?

A common-man who is a honest citizen who is sick and tired of corruption, protests for an anti-corruption bill without realizing :

How he turns his head away when his neighbor is hacking the electricity line without using a valid meter. Just because the neighbor looks after his house when he is away.

How he tries to bribe a railway official to provide him a seat without having a valid ticket to travel.

How he skips taking a valid bill while shopping, to evade the service tax.

How he ignores the fact that his own colleagues are indulging in corrupt practices while being in either the government or the private sector.

How he writes an application for a false sickness-leave for his school going relative just because he skipped school for no reason. Probably training the kid who may one day himself go on to forge documents as an official.

How he secretly conducts coaching classes even though it is illegal for him to do so being a government salaried school/college teacher.

How he bungles up donations collected from the locality in the name of organizing a religious function.  

The above are just a few examples of the types of corruption a common man takes active part in. And even if I haven't indulged in such acts, I am no less corrupt by being a mute spectator and letting others indulge in such acts just because they are close to me. 

But somehow, we seem to be obsessed by linking the word corruption to everything related to only government offices. We detest at having to pay a bribe to a stranger in some office, but we are fine when our own near and dear ones do the same.

I am all for any anti-corruption bill, even if it is directed only to government related corruption and even if it curbs corruption by 0.0001%. Anything positive, no matter how little should be appreciated.

But living in a false sense of euphoria that any rule or law can eradicate corruption or even curb it to a great extent is dangerous.

Corruption is not some dust that can be wiped with the magic broom of a Bill. It is also not any act. (bribe or otherwise) Corruption is a part of one’s character. So, even if strict laws are made to check a corrupt individual, he will always find ways to play by his character.

A rule or a law can be a symptomatic treatment. But just as in medicine, any symptomatic treatment should be given to suppress the symptoms while the root cause of the disease is being treated, just relying on a symptomatic treatment for cure can be dangerous. So, prevention and awareness of our society through those near to us is the only way to cure the menace of corruption. And that’s not possible overnight.

As for the government, it can never change till people continue to vote according to caste, religion and ideologies of political parties.

So, while I’ll be all for any anti-corruption movement, I, as a citizen, need to check my own indulgence in any sort of corruption and also create awareness and prevent those near me to indulge in corruption. I don’t need to sing, dance, clap or run around with a cap on my head and a tricolor in my hand in anticipation of a magic cure in the form of a Bill. Even if that forces me to be labeled as pro-corruption.


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