Indian Society, Parenting, Life, Male, Female, Women Empowerment

Indian Women – Sati Or Shakti ?

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India is a difficult country. With abject poverty, lack of basic facilities like water, electricity, sanitation and housing, corruption, inefficiency and social disparities, if you are not the privileged one, it is not easy to survive in a country like India. Worse, if you are born as a woman. It’s a general perception that if a son is born he is your retirement fund but if a girl is born the same fund becomes dowry fund. Women are not preferred as a child. Women are not wanted. Women are not respected. Women don’t have status. Women are perceived and treated like inferior’s worthy of only compassion, pity or help.

In last to last year’s election, Mr. Narendra Modi spoke a lot about Indian youth as demographic dividend. Unfortunately, when it comes to women, nobody sees them as another demographic dividend. It’s time that we recognize our women as most productive, efficient and economical asset of our society and celebrate her.

Indian Woman plays the most important part in our society yet she is the most ignored member of our society. Indian Woman, from the moment she is conceived, spends rest of her life fighting against a male chauvinistic society. Inside her house she is fighting for equality with her brother. Outside in the society she is battling eve teasers, men who smirk when she drives a vehicle because she is a woman and so many other battles on a minute-to-minute basis. She has been fighting it for centuries. And this is the reason, I think, Indian Woman has emerged as an extremely strong person as compared to woman of any other country. A woman who fetches water from a well, walks back several kms in scorching heat with ogling men and a latent danger of rape looming over and then she uses the water in most economical way can’t be an ordinary woman. Perhaps, she knows better about hard work than any man. This is why she should be celebrated.

Tragically, whenever women are discussed, we start thinking about a woman who is a suffering from illiteracy, ignorance, dowry, honour killing, eve teasing, rape, abuse, financial slavery etc. Is that what Indian Woman is all about? Who has made her illiterate? Who takes dowry? Who kills her for honour? Who is behind molestation, eve-teasing or rape? Why is it that all the evils of the society are associated with the victim? Because, it’s a design. The biggest trick rich play on poor is that they never let us see poor without their poverty. If one inverts the pyramid and see it from a woman’s point of view, men will come across as abducters, exploitators, molesters and rapists. The pyramid can’t be inverted because the narrative is in in the hands of the people who want to see women as abla nari (hapless victims). Indian Woman is abla because the narrative has always been with the men. Just to substantiate my point, let me illustrate a very interesting example. It came to notice that the incidence of HIV was increasing at an alarming rate of 15%-20% amongst women. A lot of men started questioning the character of their women. After a sustained, pan-India research, spread over two years, by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) o it was found out that this incidence was due to ‘condom failure’. They took a large sample size, measured their penises and discovered that over 60% of Indian men have penises too small for the condoms to fit WHO (World Health Organization) specifications. Since men control the narrative, the small size of their penis remains a well-guarded secret. Isn’t it remarkable that despite being surrounded by such social evils, prejudiced narrative and inspite of social support, Indian Woman stands strong, calm, loving, compassionate, forgiving and beautiful? This is why she should be celebrated.

Indians believe there are two worlds – Mythological world and the real world. In our mythology, there is a concept of Panchkanya. Panchkanyas are made of Panchtatvas (five elements)earth, fire, water, air and space. Like earth (Sita) she is strong, ever-giving, sacrificing and stable. She is fiery, passionate, sexy and strong-willed like fire(Draupadi). Like water (Mandodari) she is in a ‘flow’ with strong undercurrent, turbulent on the surface yet deep in her spiritual quest. She is like wind (Ahilya) for her free-will, ethereal nature and freshness. She is likened to space (Tara) for their infinite intelligence, emotional range and vastness of heart. In a society where a woman’s greatness is measured by her chastity, where her patience is measured by her capacity to tolerate great injustice, one can still find many Sitas who happily sacrifice all comforts in lieu of their duty and devotion for their family. This Sita is constantly fighting Ravanas with her sacrifice and penance yet she doesn’t compromise on her dignity and righteousness, she instills right values in her children and protects her family’s honour.

There are Draupadis all around us with storms of anguish and anger. In every house, there are Mandodaris, trying to create a balance between the injustice of society and the stability of her family with her wisdom. Whenever her family faces turbulence, she is the one who chooses the right path. We meet Ahilyas in colleges, at home, at work who are subjected to unforgivable wrongs yet they forgive and spread their compassion. Indian Woman displays some or all of these qualities despite her financial status or social reality. She is suppressed yet liberated. Illiterate yet wise. Discriminated yet strong. Unaware yet innovative. Deprived yet rich in emotions. She is the unpaid labour of the household yet she controls the intricate economy of the house. She follows everyone’s wishes yet she is the moral leader of the house. She is bound by the dogmas of the society, yet she designs the life-graphs of a new generation. She is the hope in a hopeless situation. This is why she should be celebrated.

If ancient texts have to be believed, Indian woman was always free, equal and in many cases superior to men. She is found seated next to her man and no religious ritual could be completed without her. She is always portrayed as sensuous, charming and beautiful. In fact before the invasion of Mughals and spread of Islamic social taboos, Indian Woman has always been depicted in minimal clothes. Her beauty, body, and sexiness are celebrated in almost all the texts, literature and paintings. Be it Laxmi, Saraswati or Durga. Indian Goddesses are described as:

“eye-ravishing, smiling-eyed…  Swelling breasts…  Shapely thighs…  fragrant like the lotus…  extraordinarily accomplished, soft-spoken and gentle… slim-waisted… long-haired, pink-lipped, and smooth-skinned.” (Adi Parva 169.44-46, Sabha 65.33-37)

Management Guru, Stephen Covey, in his book ‘Seven Habits of the Highly Effective People’ talks about role-playing quality of leaders. Nowhere in the world one would find such a multi-dimensional woman who is a leader of the family, dutiful daughter in law, sacrificing mother, indulgent bhabhi, obedient daughter, concerned wife, shy bride, cultured hostess and a brilliant chef. She is a nurse to parents/ parents-in-law and baby-sitter to grandchildren. And, Mr.Covey, she can play all these roles at once. Edward De Bono has professed the theory of ‘Changing Hats’ for leaders. De Bono could think of only six hats because, perhaps, he never met a typical Indian Woman. She looks after her family; her parents’ family, keeps helping neighbors and relatives. She is extremely hard-working, sincere, loyal, friendly, proactive, quick decision-maker, team-builder, resource manager, inventory planner, cost-cutter, quality controller, an efficient floor manager, productive worker, great negotiator, recycling innovator, fire fighter, 24*7 doctor, engineer, plumber, baker, tuition teacher, hostess, trainer, consultant, HR manager, R&D manager, maid, dish-washer, laundry-person, baby sitter, event manager, PRO, bearer, producer and nurture of human life. With limited resources, time and money, she creates human wealth. And she does all this for free. In corporations they say love your work like it’s your life. Nobody executes this work-culture better than Indian Woman. When Indian men are recognized, world over, for their hard work, humbleness, loyalty, honesty, knowledge and intelligence, it’s the result of this result-oriented, value adder Indian Woman. A day is not far when Indian Woman will show the path to this world. This is why, Indian Woman should be celebrated.

The themes of loss and humiliation are common in an Indian Woman’s life. They were abducted, raped, tortured, punished, abandoned, left to live miserable lives as widows and even sold as slaves by powerful men. Its because of this constant struggle, Indian woman possesses native intelligence, hidden wisdom, and a superior knowledge of life. The traumas, sufferings, hardships and a constant struggle to assert her space in a misogynistic society has given Indian woman maturity and foresight, the ability to find simple solutions and use the learning from experiences to arrive at intelligent instincts that benefit both her family and the society.

A woman who can survive such traumatic evolution cannot be a Sati but predominantly and fundamentally she is Shakti. It’s entirely our choice whether we want to see Sati with pity or celebrate her as Shakti. I think, it’s time to change the ‘negative’ narrative and celebrate Shakti.

It’s time to post a #SelfieWithIndianWoman.

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Pursuit of Happiness, Yoga, Society, Uncategorized

Is Evil Necessary?

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What you label as evil essentially depends on which side of the border you are on. I
understand, the only evil on the planet is, people are in pursuit of happiness. In pursuit of
our happiness, we will do many things which we think are perfectly okay, but somebody else thinks is evil. The man whom you call a criminal is also in pursuit of happiness. It is just that he is pursuing it far more vigorously than you. That is why he creates unpleasant results. You worked for 30 days and you made some money; you made this money in pursuit of your happiness. But his longing for happiness is so vigorous that 30 days looks too long. He wants to get it in ten minutes – which you call as crime. He thinks it is just pursuit of happiness.

When you are in pursuit of happiness, you are in some way causing suffering to others all the time. For us to sit in a comfortable home, do you know how many worms, insects and other creatures have suffered? In pursuit of human happiness, every creature on this planet has gone through untold suffering. If you ask the worms and the insects, they will say human beings are evil!

Just an Ant’s Life?

We are doing these things in pursuit of our happiness, but that is not coming easy for others. It is just that we think, “Oh, it is just a damn insect,” but an insect does not think so. In an insect’s mind, the most important life on this planet is an insect’s life. If you try to crush an ant, does it not do everything in its capability to save itself? Obviously it values its life. It does not think, “Oh, just an ant’s life. Okay, take it.” How much you value your life, the same is instilled in every life.

The moment you are in pursuit of happiness, you do not know what you are doing to others. If your life is an expression of your joy, you will still do some of these things, but only to the extent it is necessary – no more. And that is all you can do. You cannot stop completely. If you simply inhale and exhale, a million microorganisms die. Your existence is evil, if you want to look at it that way. But if you were very pleasant within yourself, you would not do it to an unnecessary length and extent.

Let us not go about labeling people as good and evil. The essential problem is; we believe too many things that we do not know. If you see, “what I know, I know; what I do not know, I do not know,” you have no fight with anybody. If you believe something is right, somebody else believes something else is right – do you think the fight is ever going to stop?

Violence and war are not happening just like that. They are in pursuit of somebody’s happiness. If you were joyful by your own nature, then you would not do anything that is not needed. You would conduct your life sensibly to the extent it is needed.

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Society, Parenting, Life, Male, Female, Uncategorized

Finding Freedom in being fluid (Just Maybe):

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In my delusional space of randomness, I often wonder about freedom. Am I really that free? Yes, I am living on my own. Yes, I take my own decisions when it comes to my life. Yes, I have chosen my own field of work and yes, I have chosen my own sexuality. But is it really true, especially the last choice?

I mean, rewind your life to the day you were born and your nani made halwa and daddy distributed ladoos in his office and mummy took out the stock of hand-knitted booties and caps. It was the day when the doctor declared, ‘It’s a boy’ or ‘It’s a girl’. I mean the bias starts creeping in from that moment on.

Nobody gave time for that ‘it’ to become a girl or a boy, the doctor declares it and we abide by it like a rule book for the rest of our lives. And if the declaration isn’t enough, we have an ardent conditioning taking place over the years —whether it’s in the form of clothes you are made to wear, or the gifts you’re given, or the uniform that you wear or the queue that you select or the washroom you use or the sitting posture on a bike or the type of perfume you wear — just about everything is gender-based and gender-biased.

A lot of people realize their sexuality late in life and often, are confused as kids. Confused because other kids were clearly boy or girl-oriented. But what if there was freedom to choose your identity yourself? What if you could choose whether you want to put yourself out as a boy or a girl or whatever you are comfortable with in your birth certificates, ration cards, driving licenses, passports, Aadhar cards, voting IDs, educational admission forms or the character certificates issued to you by your education institutes yourself? What if there was absolutely no conditioning of a patriarchal or matriarchal society around you when you were born and you were just declared a homo-sapiens and then with time, with no judgmental eyes or scathing remarks or benefits for some gender, would you choose your own sexuality? What if such boundaries were so fluid that it would ultimately boil down to own your choice? Some may call it being experimental, some may call it being characterless, I say you are just trying to figure out and that in true sense, is freedom. Could this possibly be the end to sexism and maybe foeticide, infanticide and many other such conflicts that plague humanity?

Since I am working in Lucknow for project (Duration is around 2weeks), I want to take this analogy of the “Bada Imam Bara” that I just went visiting. It has the famous bhul bhulaiya in it. So every passage has four entrance points, you get confused which route to take and it takes a whole lot of time to figure your way around, but to exit, it takes less than 30 seconds, if you have figured out the route.

Similarly, when it comes to sexuality, it may take some time — perhaps, a few years for some or a life time for others — but once you are sure of where you stand, it’ll take only a few seconds to take the right decision. And that right decision would mean freedom in every sense of the word.

Sounds crazy? Yeah I know…since when did being random make sense! But the day it does, we might just feel more connected, more rooted, more happy, more human. Just maybe.

Uncategorized

Why Friendship Should be a Choice

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The Friendship Project:

You have lots of friends. You know that some of them are “good guys” and others are…well, not so much. And, you realize that some of these friends can influence you in bad ways, while others inspire you to do more and be better through the examples they set each day.

  • ..We Shouldn’t Leave this Important Activity to Chance

Most of us let friendship just happen. We encounter people as we go about our daily routines…attending school, going to work, participating in sports, enjoying our hobbies. As we make our daily rounds, we encounter people that we like and, when the feeling is mutual, friendships develop. For the most part, our friendships develop by chance…we go about our lives and “whatever happens, happens” in the friendship department.

But rather than rely solely on chance to build your friendship circles, you should take this on as an important project, a friendship project. You should think about ways you can promote sound friendship development in your life, and then make the choices needed to turn those plans into specific actions and activities. You can update and use this plan your entire life as the importance of developing friendships will continue until your dying day.

  • Friendships Are Great Investments

Friends can bring fun, laughs and an endless number of enjoyable moments into our lives. Friends can be there for us when we need someone to talk to and guide us through difficult situations. Friends can be influential concerning our job/career as they become a part of the network that we use to find our way through life. Friends can introduce us to new friends and expand our life experiences. Friends play so many important roles.

“Spending time with friends is fun, but it may also yield many long-term physical and emotional benefits.  Studies show that healthy relationships make aging more enjoyable, lessen grief and provide camaraderie to help you reach your personal goals. Maintaining positive friendships should rank up there with healthy eating and exercise as an important investment in your health.”

Before making an important financial investment, most of us would think carefully about it, do some homework concerning options and develop a plan to accomplish our financial objectives. Well, your friendships are important, too – more than money will ever be. So, the time you spend to develop sound friendships is, in many ways, an investment that you are making in your future.  That’s why we recommend that you get just as serious about the project of building your friendship circle as you would about investing your money.

In some ways, this element of chance will exist as you implement your friendship project as well.  But, by going about this in a planned, well-thought-out way, you are much more likely to develop meaningful and long-lasting friendships, and to develop more of them. So, improve your chances – and significantly so – by getting started on your friendship project today.

“A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, 
and that which we take the least care to acquire.”

What You Need to Know to Get Started

  • Acquaintances vs. Friends.There is a big difference between an acquaintance and a true friend, and we need to be aware of this difference. An acquaintance, of course, is someone we know casually…a “we know them when we see them” kind of thing. On the other hand, a friend is “a person who we know, like and trust.” You could even expand this definition to know well, like a lot and trust implicitly. And, why is this distinction important? Well, for two reasons. You will have many, many more acquaintances than friends, so don’t expect it to be the other way around. True friends are hard to come by and most of us only have a few at a time. The second, and more important reason, is that you need to be very careful how you let an acquaintance influence your life or talk you into something that you may not be too sure about. True friends will likely be more concerned about your well being, acquaintances – maybe or maybe not.
  • Number of Friends.There are thousands of people living within a few dozen miles of most of us. However, our “friendship world” includes only a very small portion of these. According to Lewis Smith in his book Whatever Happened to What’s-His-Name?, we have approximately 400 “pals, mates, chums or buddies” during our lifetime, but only about 30 at any one time. Smith further points out that, on average, only about five or six of these would be considered “close friends in whom we confide and trust.” Although the exact number may be difficult for most of us to pin down, the important point is this – the benefits of true friendship are delivered to us by a very limited number of people.  Therefore, we should put some careful thought into who those friends will be.
  • The Influence of Friends.Another important point about friends – the level of influence that friendships have in our lives and the way we live it can be very significant. Your friends can influence you in many ways. What your friend is wearing to the party can determine your clothing choices as well. The opinion your friends have of someone, with little awareness, can become your opinion as well. Where your friends want to go and what they want to do can quickly become your plans, too. Even your friends’ little sayings or mannerisms can frequently become a part of your conduct. If you fail to manage these influences and maintain the independence to make your own choices, you can become much “like everyone else” without even noticing it or thinking about it.

Developing Your Own Friendship Project

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This is your friendship project and you are, of course, free to design it as you think best. It should be your own plan and contain activities that are important possibilities to you. Here are our suggestions for some of the steps or ideas you can consider as you put this plan together.

  • Give It Some Careful Thought.  This may be one of the most important “life planning” activities you have ever done.  Other decisions may take on a greater importance as your life moves along, but right now this is probably the most important thing “on your list.” So take some time and give some careful thought to the activities and choices involved.
  • Write It Down/Review It from Time to Time. More careful thought is required to write something down than to just give it some casual thinking. So write down the steps or activities that you want to be a part of your plan.  Save this plan, edit/update it from time to time and “get it out” frequently so you can review it to determine the actual progress you have made.
  • Decide if You Need Someone to Help You.  There are two other reports in this section titled A Valued Listener(Part 1 and Part 2). If you haven’t read them, maybe you should do that as part of your friendship project plan. You can then determine if you need a valued listener (as Gran was for Sydney in the story above) …a person to help you develop and work through the activities in your friendship plan.
  • Start by Being a Good Friend. Perform a little self-assessment…are there some personal changes that you need to make to qualify as a good friend yourself? Do you need to be a little nicer? Do you need to be more helpful? Do you need to stop doing some things that you know are not good for you? What do you need to be doing to be a better person and, at some point, a better friend? Put these into your plan and start now to make the choices to make these adjustments happen.
  • Look within Your Family. Look with your family…this is the best place to start developing real and important friendships. Who knows…your sister, your brother, your mom or dad, or even your cousin may also be an important and influential friendship in your life. Sometimes, there is a hands off attitude that develops within families…watch out and make sure such an attitude is not hindering some of the most important friendships you may ever have.
  • Join Special Groups or Clubs.  Join a school club where you will find others who have the same interests as you. This could be a club in your school or community or an athletic team. If you are not into sports, reconsider the importance of being so. Not only is physical activity good for you, but the experience of practicing, sweating, playing, winning and even losing can be one of the best friendship development experiences of your life.
  • Volunteer to Do Something for OthersVolunteering at a charity or nonprofit organization can bring you in contact with like-minded people. If you are interested in animals, volunteer at the local animal shelter where you may meet others who are interested in helping animals as well. If you are into reading, volunteer at the local library. Maybe you are interested in the field of human health and would like to help at the hospital. There are limitless choices for volunteerism that will also allow you to meet others with interests similar to yours.
  • Conduct Special Friendship ExpeditionsThis could be attending a summer camp, tutoring a young person in your school, feeding the homeless in one of the kitchens in your community or reaching out to help a family that has just moved to your town or neighborhood. Just look around for something or someone who needs some extra help and provide it.

These are but a few ideas to help you get started with your friendship project. Everyone can benefit from the development of such a plan. You may be the most popular person at your school or in your neighborhood, but you can still gain new and important friends from doing this work. You may, on the other hand, feel that you don’t have enough friends or that, like Sydney, you’ve got the wrong group of friends.

You have the power to change your friendship circumstances. You just have to think carefully about what you need to do, develop your friendship plan, and then make the choices required to fully implement it.