Thursday, June 21, 2007

WHO will bell the cat???

Few years back Britney Spears sang - "don't preach me papa".. Now probably its time that somebody starts preaching his/her older ones. Not because there is a generation gap, but there is a black hole which would gulp all of us if we are not able to cool it down right now.
Are we heading towards a day when probably the next generation wants to discuss all taboos, secretly kept under the carpet till date? If the recent posts are anything to go by, there is a furor amongst the teacher community about imparting sex education among the students at an age till now considered being inappropriate for such discussions. This is probably a rare situation where the teaching community is feeling insecure about something which the government is trying to go ahead keeping in mind the danger that AIDS is spreading across India. But, this time again the "irrational majority" is against it.
As usual there are supporters and protesters in this issue and as my friend says "everybody has a right to protest". The neo liberals or the ultra modern liberals would jump guns because they think that it is of utter nonsense to keep something hiding from somebody just because of his/her age. The conservatives say this puts too much unwanted pressure of choice on that small head and also it won't be right to leave every interpretation to the mercy of an immature brain. Someone like me who safely passes staying in the middle faces a larger problem. This is of deciding whom to follow.
I mean, my biggest apprehension about this stems from the fact that the teachers themselves are unsure about the education. It's not that I rate teachers in India very highly. To be extremely honest, barring a few instances, where yours truly has been really moved by the aura and character that a teacher posses, most of the times they have been disappointing. This is without diluting the service that they provide to the society and keeping in mind the hardship that they have to face in our country. If the master is not sure of the path then even god couldn't save the disciple.
As a matter of principle and policy, I do support the sex education policy which is being prescribed by the WHO and the NACO. The fact of the matter remains that if we have to reduce certain taboos (which are harmful for the society in general), we need to break certain traditions also. It is a different matter that as a society we are still testing the waters instead of directing the action. But, the time is running out fast.
India houses the 2nd largest numbers of HIV+ patients (official record - unofficially, considering the taboo that we have, it might be much more than those) and also exposes a huge number of people to this deadly virus because of sheer lack of knowledge. People would argue that even the most economically and socially developed countries are also facing the same danger and so, there could possibly be no link between sex education and AIDS. But I beg to differ.
Not that I am very comfortable in answering such questions to the younger ones, but if it comes to improve their knowledge through gradual education then probably we have to start somewhere. We, for a long time, have been living under thousand such preposterous and irrational taboos. And it is not only related to the field of human relations or religion only - it starts from arts, cinemas, and anything which touches our senses but shows no end of this. Only today I was very pleased to read in TOI that some devout Muslim in Britain has asked for the "right to offend" which he believes is important in world democracy. Not long ago, we had nation wide debate about what is permissible in art, cinema and other such public displays - and what constitutes as unlawful in evoking sentiments. The challenge lies in handling too much sensitive people. The day we are able to move beyond the fears of such en mass moral code of conduct we would solve most of our problems.
I have always believed that, narrow knowledge only restricts the passage of fresh ideas and that is not a healthy sign for any vibrant society. If we leave the moral code of conduct to individual discretion (or at max as a family matter) then such transparency becomes easier.
I am for abolishment of censor board as it serves no purpose other than titillating the curiosity of adolescent citizens. How on earth could someone else judge my ability to segregate the good from the bad? What guarantee does he/she produce to satisfy my emotional and moral needs? I simply refuse to put so much faith and responsibility on another person on my behalf. Long ago, the best movie director that India has ever produced had commented that - we cannot make great movies on human relationships as we are forced to see the other way and we never give credit to the sensibility of the en mass viewers. I think, this is mightily true.
For long we have lived in fears - fears of antagonizing our elders, fears of offending our respected ones, fears about destroying the traditions and mostly fears about doing the unconventional. The result is there for everyone to see. We have a confused generation which lacks direction and motivation, we have teachers who are not brave enough to tell students the truth and we have society fearful of coming out of the closet. The suffocating wind has started polluting our lungs and not for long would we be calling ourselves living.
The fear was also there when we were deciding about our careers - we all played safe and did only what majority showed. Over a period of time all the energies flowed into technology and medicals. The result is dangerous - we have teachers who are basically people who had no other choice so took up this profession and then we have engineers and doctors who are nothing but a product of routine affairs. So, we lost on both counts. Now we are in search of a doctor whom we could rely upon, in search of engineers who could build this country and most sadly, badly in search for teachers who would take the responsibility of making us a great human being. All these because we all did what our brain whispered and not what our heart cried out. I am not too convinced about the pay off that we have generated.

I know, I might have diverted a bit in discussing the important issue of imparting basic and important education to save our dear ones. But I believe all these are interrelated. As a nation and as a society we have been too deeply engrossed within our own world that we forgot to keep our eyes open. The saddest part is, we keep comparing us with people less flexible than us and think that we are doing more than fine. But, the problem in human psychology is that it doesn't allow compartmentalized emotions in a single entity. If you are not open enough about your own self then how could one expect you to be dignified about others views?
Its time that we start looking at things from a different angle and always keep the perspective in mind. This time again the majority is wrong in not taking the risk and as usual probably government would bow down to the vote bank politics.
My only hope is to hope against hope and I am counting on my prayers.


Monday, June 04, 2007

For you Mr.Ambasta...Post MBA syndrome

For the past few months time has been flying away and mind finds it extremely difficult to concentrate on any single entity, be it spiritually motivating or sensually intoxicating. However boring that sounds I could guarantee that some part of it was really called for. After 2 years of may-be may-not-be grinding that we went through this break was greeted with a vigor that went for a toss for the best part of the past years. Having said that we are again back to routine office-work-no work-time pass-TV-sleep cycle of eternity. Only now could we value of what we have left in Mumbai.
Some of my extraordinarily talented friends have already started to utilize their free or not so free time by posting extremely enjoyable yet provocative blogs on matters covering from head to toe yet beyond comprehensive ability of mere mortals. However I, as usual, being a left liberal, could not miss a chance to hog media light ("media" - in our own space) and reasoning about what are my stakes in the matters waving across the Indian subcontinent.
The most heartening as well as subjudice matter has been the so called "hyper active" judiciary. This 3rd and possibly the most independent arm of Indian democracy has taken upon itself to cleanse whatever debris has been deposited in the political and legal space of modern India. However, this has come along with the suspicion of eventual high ground that judiciary holds. Even if the general public has welcomed this, the political class predictably has started defending their turf vigorously. The question remains for the long run. I know for sure, at this juncture, an independent and transparent judiciary remains our only savior - but for how long? In a democracy, the role of courts are bounded by the constitution itself and even the most ardent friend would vouch for its supremacy. I guess, the solution remains within us. To know ourselves , to organize ourselves better and to equip ourselves better for a tougher tomorrow is what I ask for. Irrespective of all the independence that we got, we are yet to fathom the enormous responsibility that our democracy puts on us. The canvass is dirty but erasable only if we could produce a forceful eraser.

The next big thing is unrest across India about religion as well as caste. India is clearly divided on these things along predictable lines. The danger is, as I have already commented is the lack of responsible shoulder who is educated enough to remain rational. With every incremental independence comes added responsibility which we conveniently bypass for our own convenience causing irreparable damage to the society at large. Be it a common man breaking law or a celebrity doing certain things for whatsoever intentional or unintentional cause - the result is the same. For the celebrity, only the affected horizon of landscape gets broadened. Hence, exercising restraint is important. Especially in a country like ours with half a billion illiterates and equally numbered educated lampoons the role of a celebrity becomes that much important. It’s the difference between a fault done by a follower or a leader. However, having said that, the idea is to try and distance ourselves from such religious inebriates in the long run. I know some of my friends might not agree with this, but as long as we are not able to put a wall between private religion and practising virtues, we remain vulnerable to political maneuvers. From Punjab to Rajasthan, from TN to Maharashtra everywhere I see the same story repeated time and time again to my horror. This only shows the importance of believing the fact that "religion is for human and not the other way round".
The sooner we succeed in this the better for us.
The last point remains a very personal observation which we have always ignored. Last weekend, out for a SP get together, I came across a girl child selling flowers. This is a common scene across our motherland and the contrast she brought to those lighting's and bright canvass threw up some uncomfortable questions. If GDP is surging ahead, if we all are earning probably 10 times more than an average income, how is it that we fear to face these little angels. I thought of buying some flowers she was selling only to realize that I am a bit hesitant in reaction. For me, everything else about India and its shining armoury are baseless till we could bring a perpetual smile on such faces. Religion or no religion, caste or no caste my crusade remains the same.
Only and only if my countrymen could face this naked mirror. Amen!!!