Monday, March 27, 2006

Kya Karega Qazi - Zee News - The irresponsible & disgusting Behavior of media

One of the most irresponsible & disgusting Behavior of media that I have seen in recent times.

Caught the tail end of a program called "Kya Karega Qazi" on Zee News a little before 8pm today. It disgusted me, as to the depths to which media responsibility has sunk.

Essentially a muslim woman, has been divorced by her husband for being abusive. The panel comprised of this muslim woman totally unidentifiable in her simple burkha, another woman in a saree who wasn't saying much, the husband who was getting very aggressive, a qazi who was ostensibly there to sort out the matter & an extrmely irritating, irresponsible, unempathetic, rude anchor who thought himself to be India's answer to Oprah Winfrey. And a studio audience.

From what I could understand about the matter:
The husband had divorced the wife because she was abusive. They have a 4-6 year old daughter. The husband now wants custody of the daughter too. The qazi was trying to resolve the matter.

What went wrong in the process:
The anchor kept pressurising the woman, asking her what she wanted. Now asking a woman what she wants or how she wants to resolve a matter is a good thing, but the way you ask it, your tone, your manner, should be one that puts her at ease & not one that scares her to death.
The studio audience of about 40 comprised of only 2 other women both of whom were also wearing burkhas. (I do not have anything against the burkha or women who choose to wear one. That is their choice.)
The social background that the protagonists seemed to come from was lower middle class. Now most of us are aware that the status of women in this class is lower than that of women in other strata.
In a lot of interior regions in India (not just the rural areas) women are not comfortable talking to their husbands in public (even if they dare to talk to them in private, it is an achievement)
Women are not expected to talk when there are males present.
In this scenario of a 99% male gathering, the anchor was pressurising this poor woman to say something against her husband. Is it logical ? Is it reasonable ? How can she break generations of suppression to become an advocate for womens rights ? Did the anchor honestly think that if he was rude enough, he might discover another Nisha (the one who said no to marrying the man who demanded dowry the day of the wedding) ?

Instead of empathising with the woman, trying to make her comfortable in an alien setting and being gently probing (which may or may not have got any answers, but is at least a better approach) he was downright rude & insolent. He was shouting at her and saying "Why aren't you saying anything ? You will lose your child also, don't you have any balls ? Why don't you say something? You are going to lose everything."

Culturally, socially, economically. what foot could this woman stand on ? I can only imagine the fear this poor woman must have been trembling with.

What hapenned in their marital home, none except those concerned know. Who is at fault is not up to us to decide. The religion they belong to, who said what, how they should behave, is not relevant to my post. What I want to know is, who is going to bring such irresponsible news anchors to task ? Is there a governing body ? If this same scenario between the anchor & the woman had taken place in a prison instead of a news studio, the Human Rights commissions could have gone ballistic on the way the woman was being treated.

At the end of this disgusting display of reprehensible media ethics, an SMS vote was thrown open to the public. What do u think she should do :
a. Go back to her husband ?
b. Start living on her own ?
c. Go & live with her parents ?

Is there anything we can do, to stop such denigration & degradation of women on National Television ?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rain Water Harvesting : On the Occassion of Water Conservation Day

I'm not an expert on Rain Water Harvesting. But I have interacted with a couple of experts and listened to what they have to say. In the process, I may have missed out on some points or misunderstood a couple of them, I'm sure someone can correct me if so.

Rain Water Harvesting can be broken up into 2 categories.
1. Collecting water during monsoons in a storage device to be used later when the need arises. This would include methods of storage like overhead or underground tanks.
2. Providing a channel for the rain water to recharge the ground water levels.

Most people prefer Option 1 with the opinion that "If I am spending X amount of money on anything, I should directly benefit from it" In reality, Option 2 is better environmentally. The problem is, if you live on a higher ground then the water will accumulate at a lower level. The ground water levels will go up all around but not as dramatically at the higher levels as at the lower levels.

In a city like Bombay, it is extremely important to go in for Rain Water harvesting to recharge our Ground water levels. The shortfall of available water against necessary water is huge and will only increase as the days go by. In other cities like Hyderabad & Chennai because of constant water shortages, most people dig borewells in their back or front yards. I am not too sure of the situation in Mumbai, having just moved here.

Borewells & wells are the best conduits for rain water harvesting from a house with hardly any expense involved. All one has to do at a building that has a well or a borewell is extend the channel (PVC pipes) to direct the rain water that flows down from the terrace or a tiled roof into the existing well. If the water from the well is to be used directly for drinking and cooking purposes, a simple filtration process of channelling the rain water through a large drum with various sizes of pebbles and slightly larger stones (I'm not certain if a chemical treatment is also given, I don't think it is) should do the job.

The rain water of the first few showers is not normally acummulated because they can mix with pollutants in the atmosphere and be harmful. But after the initial showers, the concentration of pollutants decreases and then the water can be safely harvested.

One of the experts I spoke to has worked with a village in Karnataka, where nobody depends on muncipality providing amenities any more. The water they accumulate through rain water harvesting. Electricity is generated through Gobar Gas. They use only natural pesticides not chemicles. They have their own sewage management system. All the villagers participate actively in all activities. They truly live as one community where everyone celebrates every festival as one community.

The moderator of Sproutsonline said:
Usually Urban Water Harvesting is not used for drinking water, but for services cleaning, washing, watering plants, flushing toilets etc. As water health is an important issue and even small level of pesticides & pollutants can be really hazardous.

One of the important problems for Water harvesting is over concentration - like what is being done in housing colonies, the PWD (Roads) and BMC in Mumbai with a venegance - leaving little or no space for the earth to absorb / soak water. One of the first things necessary is to unconcretise some space and put in mud / earth.

Although it may seem very far fetched, reducing polythene bags, can be one of the best ways to get rain water to the soil - After the July 26th deluge, plastics choked not only the drains but also the soil & roots of trees- clearly showing their pest like role in preventing natural water harvesting.

Filling in of old wells & tanks (Mumbai has/had loads of tanks like CP & Gowalia tank, Bandra & Sion Talaos, Banganga etc in the past, which are now filled with garbage) seen in plenty in and around Mumbai is another reason for lack of success in water harvesting in the city area. We need to re-open these wells, a seemingly tough job, but not really so....

Also, at a household level, changing your washers (to ensure zero leakage), watering plants in the evening - so water evaporation is avoided (which happens when plants are wattered early in the day), using spray bottles or cotton threads to water plants trhough drip irrigation rather than mugs and buckets helps conserve water.

Will later post some links in the comments section on urban water harvesting.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Holi - Its significance + how to make your own Natural Colours

I have received this beautiful piece of information from NIC. Please read, implement and educate your relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Thanks.

Nature Information Centre
Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali (East),
Phone: 3097 2620

HOLI – 15th March, 2006
Holi is the festival of Spring, the festival of romance, the festival of the triumph of good over evil, a festival of colors and festival of fun and pranks. The festival is celebrated on the full-moon day of Phalguna, though it stretched up to a week in Northern India and six-day long in Manipur. As the tradition goes all the people gather around on a day before the Holi as we know it, it is the evening of bonfires. People light up bonfires of dead leaves, twigs and sticks and people dance and sing around it to welcome the Spring and commemorate the saving of Prahlad and burning of his wicked aunt Holika. People take embers from this holy fire to rekindle their own domestic fires.

Biological Significance
It is interesting to note that the festival of Holi is significant for our lives and body in many other ways than providing joy and fun. We also need to thank our forefathers who started the trend of celebrating Holi at such a scientifically accurate time and also for incorporating so much fun in the festival.

As Holi comes at a time of the year when people have a tendency to feel sleepy and lazy, it is natural for the body to experiences some tardiness due to the change from the cold to the heat in the atmosphere. To counteract this tardiness of the body, people sing loudly or even speak loudly. Their movements are brisk and their music is loud. All of this helps to rejuvenate the system of the human body.

Besides, the colours when sprayed on the body have a great impact on it. Biologists believe the liquid dye or Abeer penetrates the body and enters into the pores. It has the effect of strengthening the ions in the body and adds health and beauty to it.

There is yet another scientific reason for celebrating the Holi, this however pertains to the tradition of Holika Dahan. The mutation period of winter and spring, induces the growth of bacteria in the atmosphere as well as in the body. When Holika is burnt, temperature rises to about 63oC. Following the tradition when people perform Parikrima (circumambulation or going around) around the fire, the heat from the fire kills the bacteria in the body thus, cleansing it.

The way Holi is celebrated in south, the festival also promotes good health. For, the day after the burning of Holika people put ash
(Vibhuti) on their forehead and they would mix Chandan (sandalpaste) with the young leaves and flowers of the Mango tree and consume it to promote good health.

Traditionally, only natural colors prepared from flowers and herbal products were used but today, artificial colors have taken over. Now people often use colored foams and balloons filled with chemical-based colored water.

Plants which can be used for preparation of natural colours.

Colours: Plants and their parts

Red, Pink :
Rajgira (inflorescence); Beet (root); red amaranth, teak, henna (leaves); Tomato, Kokum, Strawberry, Cherry (fruits), shoe flower, Palash, Erythrena, Silk cotton

Turmeric (roots); Marigold, Yellow Champa, Gulbakshi/4'oclock plant

Spinach, Neem, Turmeric, Marigold, Mint (leaves)

Barleria/ Koranti, Gokrna

Prajkta/Bela (stalk of the flower); Bixa/Aneto (seeds)

Gokerna, Gulbakshi, Shoe flower (flowers)

Method :
1. Clean all the fruit/flowers/roots/leaves then chop them and grind them into the mixer.
2. Put adequate water into the mixture and strain it through strainer. Your coloured water is ready!
3. Grind remaining part into the mixer again, and then add some ubtan. This colour you can use to apply on skin instead of chemical colours.

All these colours are neutral and do not cause any ill effects on human body.

Chemical colours and their bad effects -

Colour: Chemical/ Chemicals : Bad effects on the body

Lead oxide
Damages kidney/excretory system, Adversely affect on physical and mental growth of a child, numbness.

Copper sulphate
Eye allergy, swelling, temporary blindness.

Aluminum bromide
Causes Cancer

Skin diseases, ill effects on eyes, respiratory system, liver and nervous system.

Mercury sulphate
Highly poisonous, dangerous, causes skin cancer, ill effects on liver, kidney and nervous system.

Jention violet
Skin diseases and allergy. Highly dangerous in concentrated form. May cause temporary blindness.

Asbestos, Siliqua
It has chemical that causes cancer, may cause respiratory disorders such as Asthma, Tuberculosis.

Iron, Chromium, Cadmium.
Fever, Asthma, Pneumonia. Skin may become sensitive towards sunlight.

New outsourcing opportunity for India

Mad Man's Web

New outsourcing opportunity for India
March 12, 2006
(Special to MadMan's Web)
Move over call centres and data processing BPOs. The future of outsourcing belongs to another industry, if Indian Minister for Commerce, Kamal Nath, is to be believed. According to Nath, the next new wave of growth in the Indian economy will come from - believe it or not - the protest industry, now being referred to as SPO - Strong Protest Outsourcing.

Speaking at a news conference in New Delhi, Kamal Nath briefed reporters that he sees major business opportunities in getting Western countries to outsource their protests to India. Nath said, "the outsourcing business is about saving costs and increasing efficiency. Why should people in countries like USA and UK waste their time protesting over various issues? The per-capita income is too high to waste time on being offended. Instead, they can simply outsource this activity to Indian companies." Asked whether Indian companies were globally competitive in this market, Nath confidently added, "Can you think of any country better suited for this business? India is a diverse country with people of many faiths and beliefs. We have a rich history of being offended at every little thing, from western expressions of love like Valentine's Day to what someone names their dogs. I am certain that we can be the dominant player in this market in the next five years."

After the press conference, Kamal Nath granted MadMan's Web an exclusive freewheeling interview in which he talked at length about this new business opportunity, India's competence in this area, and the government's special initiatives to foster growth in the industry.

MadMan's Web: Mr. Nath, thank you for giving us this chance to interview you.

Kamal Nath: My pleasure. This is the Internet age, and blogs are fast becoming a powerful medium of disseminating information.

MW: Mr. Nath, could you please tell us a little more about this new opportunity for India?

KN: The world is far from a peaceful place. Every day, there are protests in Europe and North America over several issues. Part of being democratic countries is allowing people the right to protest against what they think is wrong. But protests also waste productivity. When people are protesting, they are not contributing to the economy of their nations. So instead of protesting themselves, they can simply outsource their outrage to Indian companies that will specialise in this area. They can then go about their daily lives, confident that their protests are in safe hands.

MW: Why are you so convinced that Indians are the best suited for this activity?

KN: Of course we are the best! First of all, Indians have been offended at pretty much everything over the years. If you've written a book that's even slightly controversial, there are sections that want it banned. If you make a movie that tackles bold themes, you can expect howls of protest about how it's corrupting impressionable young minds. If you wear a female tennis outfit just like everyone else in the tennis world, somebody will be quick to point out how you are no longer a good member of your community. So let me assure you, no matter what the subject of the protest is, we Indians are capable of delivering a strong protest. Our service standards are world-class and globally competitive. When it comes to protesting, we are the epitome of "unity in diversity"! With our wide range of religions, beliefs, and castes, we are champions at being offended and having our sentiments hurt.

Read the rest of the Interview at Mad Man's Web

Friday, March 10, 2006

Movie script developed by My friends.....

Well, a couple of friends on our yahoogroup were just discussing the Blank Noise Project and there were some strong views coming from the women. Couple of us shared our Links on what we had written for the bloggathon
When suddenly this mail arrived in my inbox.... The rest is the series of mails that followed it & if u wanna make a movie out of it.... we want the credits & You will have to "Show Us the Money"

-----Original Message-----
From: Karishma Pais
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2006 4:45 PM

What is this new service from yahoo ?
Surya any tips on how to handle this ?
Maybe I should tell him I'm a 75 year old grandmother of 12. . . .
-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of kuch_kuch_hota_hain2000
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2006 2:10 PM
To: karishmapais

Subject: wow

u r name is sweeet
i got ur id from yahoo
i am chinmay kelkar
i am m21mum
i did BMS from SIES
now doin MCA
well what abt u?
whats ur asl?
well if u want/can contact me at 9323075885
bye for now
waiting for u reply

From: surya s
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2006 8:03 PM
To: karishmapais

nah, there are pervs who do not spare even them. Try to be a guy. Or better still, your own jealous and angry boyfriend who happens to know your yahoo password. It works everytime.
And if all that fails, well... why do you think we have XL-IIMC for?
just think that you are an HKD and start the stream... :)
and for security sake, just put him in ur yahoo ignore and block list...
and see to it that your yahoo id and profile is not public in yahoo domain..
May the force be with you! >:D<
--Surya -----

From: Gautam Ghosh
Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 12:12 PM

do some career counselling for him...
BMS karke MCA?
tell him he won't ever find a job !
I like the sound of a Grand Nun grandmother ! ;-))

From: Bireshwar Dasgupta
Sent: Sunday, March 05, 2006 8:52 PM

here's a thought !!!

why dont we have this number entered in as many telecalling databases as possible - if not Kim's details, he can at least compare and find out whats the best Credit card out there and the cheapest PL? :)

From: Tejinder Pal Singh
Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 8:43 AM

Or may be we can have a few hundreds of young women, real or fictitious, writing into him. But just imagine his plight if he hasn't written this himself and some body with access to his e-mail has played a parank on him - anyway its worth a shot....wot say?

From: Anuja
Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 10:41 AM

maybe Chinmay didn't write this mail. maybe his enstranged GF KKKKKiran is sending these to sully his reputation so that in his moment of frustration she can seduce / ensnare him with a (bare) shoulder to cry on... maybe chinmay needs our support right now instead of ideas to enrol him into the bank mafia's books

From: Bireshwar.Dasgupta
Tuesday, March 07, 2006 11:15 AM

Buddy Boy is seething atop the terrace of his small farmhouse north of Delhi when, in the the Rang De Basanti mode, the local vamp says, "Maar do uuse" and then Buddy starts stalking Kim like Terminator ! A frightened Kim thinks of going to the cops but having read Annie' blog on Streets, Stories & Strategies, instead decides to enlist the help of a local private agency. The assigned bodyguard, is none other than Abhishek Bachchan in a sensational guest appearance (item number, posters, the works - after all, the distributors need to buy the film). After a bit of song and dance and a few threatening phone calls, its the grand climax - Aby Baby Jr and Serial Kisser dude face off - and then it begins, the fight scene to end all fight scenes - at the end of which, the two end up in a sweaty mass, holding each other in their arm making out with gay abandon (pun intended) - our tribute to the oscar boo hoo Brokeback Mountain.

Clap clap clap - applause?

Arre, Khattam nahi hua c******.

At this moment, Kim, angry at no longer being the centre of attention, seethes and fumes. The curtains fall with her giving a long, wishful look at Aby Baby and then looking at Buddy Boy screaming - main tumhe maar dungi - ensuring we can make a sequel.

From: Anuja
Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2006 11:32 AM

At which point MadShuks will inform us that XLRI has been renamed Xavier's institute of Laborious and Razzie-worthy Imaginations ;O)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Resident Doctors on Strike in Mumbai

The last few days the papers have been carrying all kinds of reports on the resident doctors in Mumbai who are on strike. Very few newspapers are on the side of these doctors. Most of them have criticised the doctors harshly.

Lets just look at a few points objectively.

As far as I know, Resident doctors are students who have cleared their MBBS exams and are preparing for their MD exams. In some cases you have students who have given their MD exams & are waiting for results.

Education & Pay :
Doctors are educated citizens in a civil society. They get a salary of Rs.8000/- per month.
Lift men in hospitals on goverment pay scales earn approximately 10,000/- per month. Call centre representatives earn an average of 15,000/- per month and in most cases they aren't even graduates. From the time of independence, the government has hiked its own pay umpteen number of times. That of resident doctors has only been hiked thrice in almost 60 years.
Do you think 8000/- per month is a reasonable salary to expect for someone who is well above average intelligence & has put in all the hard work to become a doctor ?
Most resident doctors in government hospitals are there on merit & because of a vocation & not because of donations. If they had become doctors through the donation route they would be serving their residency in fancier hospitals with better working conditions.
Until now their annual fees were 18,000/- per annum. They have recently been increased to 50,000/- per annum. Annual income 96000/- per annum. Resident doctors don't even fit into the lowest tax bracket. Which means they aren't even earning minimum wages.
Recommendation : Pay needs to be made commensurate with their education & the amount of work that they put in.

Work hours :
Lets compare the work hours of Resident Doctors to a couple of other occupations. Class IV government employees who are supposed to work for 8 hours but actually work much less as we all know. Call centre employees may work in weird shifts but at least their timings are fixed again between 8-9 hours. Resident doctors go 48 hours and more without a break. Forget sleep.
The factories act insists on at least 24 hours off in a week. I wonder if any of these resident doctors have ever had 24 hours off in the last 1 year. There is talk of forming a union for call centre employees. Resident doctors do not even have the time to attend union meetings and in most cases may not even know which union is purporting to speak on their behalf.
After the floods when most of us were trying to get our lives back to normal, Resident doctors were under even heavier stress. Many of them went 2 weeks with barely 3 hours sleep at a stretch because of the flood related diseases.
On paper their shifts are for 12 hours. But between handover periods it extends to about 16 hours. And once a week when shifts rotate it evens extends to 24 hours.
Recommendation : 8 hour shifts to be followed rigorously.

Bosses :
Has anyone done a random check on how many senior doctors are available in these government hospitals at any given time ?
Many of the senior doctors have flourishing private practices on the side. The entire hospitals are run by these resident doctors.
Recommendation : Senior doctors should not be allowed to shirk work or to operate private practices.

Duty Allocation :
Class IV staff are very often missing from their posts or their vacancies aren't filled up on time. Nurses are busy completing paper work for all the red tape that is mandatory in these hospitals. Resident doctors end up doing a lot of leg work which should ideally be allocated to others. They become the only face of the hospital for the patients family & hence the family takes their ire out on them.
Recommendation : Cut down on paper work or hire enough staff to take care of routine jobs and leave the doctors free to focus on their area of expertise -Healing ! Additional benefit, create more jobs.

Irate Customers :
The worst expereince in life is when someone you love very much is in pain & there is nothing you can do to make them feel better. This pain, often turns into rage against oneself & in some cases manifests as anger against whoever is easiest to blame. In this case the Resident Doctor who is the face of the hospital.
Patients who visit Government hospitals for treatment, often wait till the last possible moment before consenting to visit a doctor. Often, there is little a doctor can do once the patient has arrived because the disease may be in very advanced stages.
Social workers & local politicians trying to make their mark often indulge in loud rhetoric to make their mark in unfortunate cases where the patient dies. They further incite the family to take "revenge"/"badla"
The resident doctor does his/her best to ease the patients suffering and heal him/her. But sometimes that isn't enough. Life & Death is in God's hands. If your time has come, it has come. Do you think it is easy for a doctor to sleep peacefully when a patient of theirs dies ? I know doctors who have spent sleepless nights saying "Why couldn't they have brought the patient in earlier ? I could have saved him" Many doctors suffer from depression along with fatigue. And to have to put up with violence too ? Aren't we asking for too much. They too are human beings after all.
Recommendation : Grief Counsellors & security. I think the time has come for Indian hospitals to hire grief cousellors. Given the hectic dog-eat-dog existence especially in Mumbai, a lot of people are hanging to sanity on a slim thread. A loved one's death is just the trigger to push them overboard. Grief counsellors can help break the news in a humane way & help the family copy with their loss. Very often a large group assembles to either see the patient or offer condolences after the patient has died. This sometimes leads to a mob mentality which could trigger violence. Better equipped & sensitised security could handle this.

Living conditions :
Have you ever visited a hostel room of these resident doctors ? Lalloo & Rabri's buffaloes lived in better conditions. Small cramped rooms. Tiny windows (ship port holes are larger). 2 beds between 4 or even more. 1 centuries old ceiling fan painfully trying to whir itself. Pathetic, tasteless mess food so much so they prefer to eat at the hospital canteen even if they have to pay extra (and we all know how bad hospital canteen food is) Some even shell out extra for a dabba, so they can eat at least one decent meal a day. Irregular timings, irregular meals. Most of them survive on coffee & tea.
Recommendation : 2 students to a room. Better ventilation. Better management of hostel mess with nutritious hot food.

Working conditions :
Irregular hours, double duty shifts, no staff to handle the medical tests. Resident doctors have to handle the medical tests, dealing with the patient, dealing with the family. They have to manage it all almost single-handedly. I have seen patients who refuse to let their blood sample be taken, patients who flat out refuse to take their medication, patients who demand that their entire family be allowed to come into the ICU, patients who want the best treatment at the least cost. the doctor has to handle all of this. Very often the equipment at government hospitals fail or are just not available. Blood banks do not have enough blood.
Recommendation : Medical equipment manufacturers could be allowed tax breaks for supplying free equipment to government run hospitals. Better awareness programmes on blood donation, eye donation drives. An organisation in Kolkatta collects pacemakers from the dead before they are burnt or buried & provides them to families which can't afford them. We need better awareness on the steps that the common middle class citizen can take.

Who becomes a doctor today ?
One who can afford the donations & palm greasing.
One who has less that 40% marks but has a quota or has managed to procure a minority certificate.
Are these the doctors you want, treating you ?

The only honest merit based doctors that are coming out of our system today are doing their residency at government run hospitals and we are treating them very shabbily. These doctors have to depend on their parents to support them & supplement their meagre income until they are 27-29 (MD) 35(if you want a better qualification) They literally put their lives on hold for their vocation. They might earn good money after they are 40, but they have lost their youth in a blur.
If I have to be operated upon, I want the surgery done by a competent, intelligent doctor. But if the government is going to sack all the current resident doctors & not recognise them, will I be able to find a qualified one ?

Are the resident doctors justified in striking ?
Under the essential services act maybe not. But are the conditions they are living in justified ? Absolutely not. If they don't take a stand right now, future generations will suffer. Not just the future doctors but also future patients. We may not get any honest hard-working doctors in future if we do not correct the present.
By the way, there is no such thing as a "legal" strike ? By their very definition, all strikes are illegal.
None of their petitions to the government have worked. Violence against doctors has been in the news continuously since the last year or so, but nothing has been done. Encroachers have built shanties inside hospitals. Nothing has been done. The Mithi river flooded the entire city last year. Nothing has been done. Amount of Electricity needed this summer is at a huge shortfall. Nothing has been done.

There are umpteen problems facing the common man, that have been evident for more than a year. But the government has done nothing to ease their burden. How then can you blame the doctors for going on strike. How long can they continue in silence and hope that things will get better. The government said that we have promised to look into the issues, so now get back to work. But how many times have we heard that statement before ? Has anything ever been done.

They say we get the government we deserve. The common man is fed up of its government. They want a better government, they deserve a better government, they deserve a better life. And now he is willing to stand up and ask for it & the government that hates any dissent is trying to squash the common man even further. How long will we take this attitude? The common man pays one third of his salary as tax & gets a loutish paan chewing kind of service in return. We should stand up in solidarity with the resident doctors but in this Mumbai metropolis which common man has the time ?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Daily Harassment faced by Women in India

Annie writes
Streets, stories, strategies

I had my doubts about blogging this - writing about street harrassment.
After all, it's as common-place as paan stains, as ubiquitous as spit.... Will my saying 'NO' to harrassment prevent it? How does telling my stories serve any purpose?

Some things, you learn to expect, growing up a girl.

You expect to confront harrassment as surely as the sun in May and the fog in a Delhi December.

When you leave the house, an invisible snake of alert suspicion will wind down from your shoulders down your back and become a clenched fist in all public spaces, through all journeys.

How optimistic you're feeling about man-kind, on any given day, determines whether you take a bus home, or just hop into an auto, or a cab, knowing you cannot really afford it. If you really cannot afford an auto some day, you will not take the bus at rush-hour.
You'll let bus after bus after bus go past. Waiting is tiresome. But waiting is easier than bristling.

You didn't always expect to do this, of course. One learns these things, by and by.

I began learning in Bombay. Yes, that delightfully sprawling city that is so kind to its women.
My first lesson was delivered atop the railway bridge at Andheri station when I was 13 years old. My first visit to this city by the sea. The first brush with the overspilling local trains. The first time someone grabbed my 13-year old breast.

After all these years, I cannot forget - his face pudgy, more fair than dark, moustache, white shirt, briefcase in hand, big belly, must have been about 40. Old enough to be my father. I remember he had walked into me - or pretended to - and while I struggled with the shock of what he'd been doing under the guise of walking into me, he calmly walked past... just a regular uncle-ji hurrying home after a hard day at work.

What did I do?
Nothing. I kept walking on, beside my brother.... My 17-year old brother who might have picked a fight if I'd told him.... What could I have told him?... It was too late anyway. The crowds had swallowed all of us up so completely.

For the whole post which is definitely readable, visit
Streets, stories, strategies

I think this is a very courageous effort by Annie to write about it. All of us women, know that it happens. But a sense of dirtiness/guilt/embarrassment prevents us from talking about it openly.
My first bad experience was when I was 13 in Mysore. We had gone for the Dusshera fair at the Palace and in that crowd, someone grabbed me. This had never hapenned to me before. As a young teen I had absolutely no idea what had hapenned or how to react (especially coming from a small town where every1 knew every1 & hence "behaved") The crowd was so dense that I could not identify the disgusting bastard who had squeezed me.
The physical pain was just one part of it. The mental & emotional confusion lasted much much longer. It wasn't something u could discuss with your dad or your mom. Why worry them when there was nothing that they could do about it?

I've had to face this silent oppressment from unknown men in a lot of cities after that. Delhi is the worst oppressor since women have no status at all and every man is related to a politician or a policeman. Mumbai perverts have a free run because of the anonymity of the crowds.

In Delhi, I was most comfortable when I wore the most unshapen clothes & covered up in umpteen layers. I recently heard the true story of a call centre cab being chased and smashed by a sumo full of haryanvi jats. The only occupants of that cab were the driver and a long haired male employee. Only after they had smashed the cab did the "men" realise that it was a male employee & left (note left not fled) the scene.

In mumbai the local trains and transport systems offer the worst security. Sometimes U feel a ladies compartment isn't enough. We need a ladies platform or a ladies only station.

I now have the luxury of travelling in my car with my driver. In general the Mumbai male is polite and respectful, but something happens to him when he is in a crowd. Unlike a mob mentality, it is the anonymity of the whole process that lends courage to him & he behaves like a depraven disgusting piece of shit who doesn't deserve to walk the face of this earth.

What have I learnt ?
i have learnt to walk with my elbows sticking out at the waist & give a really hard shove to anyone who walks too close to me.

I have learnt to scream & shout in overnight buses {where men with extra long hands think its easy fun to paw a woman (in the seat in front or at the side or when walking down the aisle) } until the conductor either gets the man off the bus or the man is humiliated in public to an extent that he will think 10 times before doing it again.
Some of my aunts who would rather not bring attention to themselves, keep themselves armed with large safety pins & draw blood from wandering hands.
The problem in Chennai buses is so bad that some bus operators don't accept women travelling alone even if u r willing to book 2 tickets.

So conditioned have I become to this roving hands phenomenon, that I am extremely uncomfortable on packed flights when I have checked in late & had to sit between 2 men, that I spend the whole flight literally with my arms wrapped around myself. I'm still paranoid & cant feel comfortable resting my arms on the armrests on these pokey seats. I think its time to reserve ladies seats on flights too.
I havent' had a bad experience on a flight yet, but it could be because of the no-nonsense expression on my face. But yes u do have the occassional co-passenger whose head drops 2 the side when he is catching a short nap & u never know if it is deliberate or intentional so U wake him up never the less & tell him to stick to his side of the seat.

I have had worse expereinces in my earlier days. They have become almost nil now. Whether its because :
- there are younger & better looking prey available
- I have a no-nonsense or I'll punch u HARD in the Face or worse in the Groin look about me.
- I have become more cautious & consciously avoid putting myself into risky situations. (waiting for 3 more trains to pass although I might b late for my morning meeting)

At least now I am not subject to the guilt & frustration of being a woman in India.

Street harrassment Blog-a-thon

If you like what you read above & wanna know more....

Blank Noise Project is organising a Blog-a-thon 2006 on March 7th the issue of street harrassment

for those interested the following is the link and announcement
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Blank Noise Presents....

Blog-a-thon 2006

Marking our one year foray into the blog world, we’ve decided to host a Blog-a-thon on the issue of street harassment. No, you don’t have to run anywhere (thankfully) to participate, you’ve just got to get to your computer this TUESDAY (7th MARCH) and post your thoughts on street harassment/ eve teasing on your blog. You can write about anything related to the topic: testimonies, opinions on harassment, comments about the Blank Noise project, would all be great. It doesn't matter where you're from, where you live, or whether you're a man or a woman - we'd love to have you on board. If you’d like to participate, send an email to blurtblanknoise[AT] before the coming Monday (6th March). We’ll add your name and blogsite to the ‘running’ list of participants on the Blank Noise blogsite so that everyone can see what everyone else is writing about the topic. Also, just to get the maximum number of people 'out' for this event - we'd request that you put up a posting on your blog prior to Monday to encourage other people to participate, and to let them know to check your blog on Monday. So join one, join all!
Blog-o-thon List of Participants:
Amit Ken
Black Ink
Black Mongoose
Boheme Belle
Buttercup Tea
The Compulsive Confessor
Dina Mehta
The East Street
Gaurav Sabnis
India Uncut
Kalesh Kumar
Komal Mehta
Mathy Kandasamy
Megha Krishnan
Payal Dhar
Rahul Bhatia
Sea & Sky
Shruthi Rao
Sumna Inc.
Twilight Fairy

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Mumbai meeting
Blank Noise Mumbai will meet on Saturday, March 4, at 4 pm. Please be there and email me - - for directions. See you all soon. And come with lots of ideas and some clothes to give us, please!
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