Monthly Archive: May 2012

May 27 2012

SATYAMEV JAYATE 4 – Apathetic plight of our HEALTH SERVICES

Aamir Khan delivered yet another thought provoking and ultra-revealing facts filled show of Satyamev Jayate on this Sunday. This time it was all the more shocking and disturbing since it was about the most elementary and essential need of human beings – healthcare.

I have been trying to share my thoughts on this topic but all that I feel now is anger and agony! India as a country is full of people who live their lives based on trust and faith. Be it GOD, religion, politicians, teacher or doctors for that matter. We have immense faith in all these along with many such things. We trust that what they do will be for our good.

Honestly, I am not able to relate to any of that! Not so because I do not feel that it was true, but because I do not understand how someone could do that! We have discussed issues like foeticide, dowry, and child abuse in the past where to me, the culprits were people. You correct the mindset and the evil practice can be curbed.

But in current topic in discussion, the entire system is a party to it. It’s a complete process under which the lives of millions of people ate kept on stake every moment!

Let’s look at what all was covered in the show:

Aamir opened the show with addressing many students of medicine who were present in the studio. As usual, he spoke to doctors and victims to highlight the cases of malpractices in the health services.

He asked the students as to why they wanted to pursue medicine and want to build a career in the field. It felt good to hear all the responses from the youngsters who wanted to serve the society and help people live a healthy life.

Some stories were shared by the victims of the malpractices of doctors. VS Venkatesh could have healed the infected finger with an antibiotic but had to undergo 4 surgeries, and spent around 2 lakhs for no good reason. Arvind Kumar had to spend around 1.5 lacs for just tests when he could have cured with a mere pack of ORS! Such fraudulent practices left people in the audience shocked and shaken!

First case discussed was of Mrs. Seema Raj, wife of Major Pankaj Raj. Seema was suffering from a kidney ailment and was undergoing treatment. Major Pankaj revealed that without her or her family’s permission, doctors operated upon Seema to transplant kidney and pancreas. There was no need to transplant the pancreas, but doctors urged that since they have a spare pancreas so they should get it transplanted!! Already being in so much of trouble, Maj. Pankaj had to arrange almost 60 ltrs of blood for the operation! It cost the family 8.25 lakh for the surgery but still Seema passed away in less than a day’s time. Shameless doctors didn’t even inform the family about her demise and the switched off their mobile phones. Do I need to say more on that??

Another story was of Dr. Anil Pichad from Mumbai who owns a pathology lab. He revealed that he used to overcharge patients for tests since he had to pay commission to the doctors, which most of the times amounted to be more than 50% of the charges. There was another shocking revelation about BASIN TEST recommended by doctors these days! It was uncovered that BASIN TEST means to take the blood of the person – throw it in the BASIN – and give an ALL OK report; all that since the doctor knows that the person is fit and nothing is wrong with him!!  It was after Dr. Anil went through a personal tragedy that he realized his mistake. He claimed that he has stopped bribing the doctors now and takes nominal charges from patients.

The most dreadful story was of women of Kowdipally village of Andhra Pradesh, who were asked to get their uterus removed by the doctors in the area. They were told that if they don’t get the operation done, it might lead to death. As the operation is expensive; it leads to the farmers selling or mortgaging their lands to raise money. Now, you might be able to understand when I say I cannot RELATE to these things! Appalling!

Aamir also spoke to retired Maj. Gen. Jhingon (former head of Medical Council of India). Maj. Gen. Jhingon shared with Aamir that he had resigned from his position in just about an year since he did not approve of the way the body was run. He openly revealed that everything done here was related to make more bucks – “It’s all about paisa, paisa, and paisa” – he said. Let me tell you, Medical Council of India is the supreme authority which is supposed to control all the doctors, hospitals and medical colleges in the country.

If that was not enough, Aamir also spoke to the current head of MCI, Dr. Talwar. It was so sad to see a head of a top body, who is expected to ensure the governance of health services in India be so helpless and incapable. Listening to him made me feel that we are not safe in the hands of the doctors until such people are going to run these organizations.

While speaking to Dr. Talwar, Aamir read out the statistics of the percentage of doctors in England whose license were permanently cancelled in the past 3 years. But according to the RTI filed by Aamir and his team, not even a single doctor’s license has been cancelled in India!! Are we saying that Indian doctors are SO GOOD compared to the doctors in UK?

Aamir also invited Dr. Samit Sharma to the center stage and spoke to him about the malpractices in the drug market. Medicines which can be made available to patients and much-much cheaper cost were being sold at very high prices which made it impossible for poor to benefit from it. Shockingly, few medicines which are sold at 170 rupees can be sold at less than 2 rupees, as per Dr. Shetty’s analysis of the cost of production, packaging and distribution!! He also shared a particular example of some medicine which is used for Cancer treatment and is sold for almost 1.5 LACS (one month’s dosage) – same medicine was being provided for less than 10000/- by Rajasthan Government to the patients!!

There were many other evil-practices discussed in the show like doctors seeking commission for referring patients, sharing aggravated ailments with the patient and its family to attract more money for treatment, sharing false news of ailment and operate upon the patient for something which is not needed at all etc.; however I would stop here on the same note where Aamir closed the show:

DOES OUR HEATHCARE SYSTEM AND OUR DOCTORS NEED HEALING?

Let’s hope that they GET WELL SOON and realize that the human life is above business and money!! Let’s hope that one day our health services can be as good and effective as western countries!!

All the best and god bless.

Satyamev Jayate..

(P.S. – This post, in no manner claims that all the doctors in INDIA are involved in such deeds. It primarily is an attempt to share with people that such things are happening in our country and it should be stopped.)

 Question of the episode:

 

  • Should every state government follow the example of Rajasthan and open generic medicine stores throughout their state so that all citizens get medicines at the lowest possible price?

SMS on 5782711

Y for YES

N for NO

  • The cost of sending this SMS is only Re 1, which is donated after tax to the charity Humanity Trust. You can send more than one SMS to benefit this organization, and you can also, if you wish, help the organization further by sending them a cheque, and deposit it in your nearest Axis Bank branch. You can also transfer your amount to them online through their website. You can get more information about depositing the cheque at any Axis Bank branch. The amount donated by you to this organization will be matched equally by the Reliance Foundation. Reliance Foundation is the philanthropy partner of Satyamev Jayate.


Watch the video here:

May 26 2012

‘DOWRY’ & its modern version as a SYSTEM

As I had stated in my last post on Dowry, I am sharing my views on the prevalent form of Dowry System in the country, a first-hand account of the practice.

I always believed that Dowry System must have evolved thousands of years ago in our culture and must have been based on the idea of gift giving. I personally do not just believe in something just because it is being written or said about, rather I try to find some logic in the same to believe in it. Same way, I have an understanding that the Dowry system must have originated long back with an idea of giving gifts to the daughter and the groom’s family to ensure the well-being of the bride.

I feel that every tradition starts as a practice and then gradually evolves into a custom or tradition. Same way a practice of giving gifts for the well-being of the daughter in a new place gradually developed into modern day Dowry system.

In the earlier days, when the communication and transportation systems did not exist (or were not well developed) the dowry system must have been limited to small payments and exchange of some tangible household items. I could remember (not very long back though) how young girls used to stich their own dresses and collected articles that they would be carrying along at the time of their marriage. A big steel box (peti) use to be arranged for storing these articles much before the marriage.

I remember an incident where a girl had stored an electronic product (received as gift from someone) for almost 6 years; but when she actually wanted to use the product after her marriage, it didn’t work!!

Anyways, when the economic conditions of the people of the country began to improve, it had an adverse effect on the practice of sharing gift. Dowry System has transpired into an atrocity, which had claimed many lives in last few decades. Transactions in the name of Dowry became the norm of the society across the country, which spread essentially because of the phony prominence of HONOUR amongst families.

It was believed that the larger the dowry paid or received, more honorable it would be in the community. In fact, not paying dowry is rather considered reprehensible for the family doing so.

The practice which originated from a modest root has grown and transformed into an outrageous custom today. Today’s Dowry has involved many characteristics when compared to the traditional practice of giving gifts. It is no more a voluntary exercise rather it is demanded. With the liberalization of the market and availability of luxurious items, the need of people has been replaced by greed.

This greed has afflicted the marriage system of our society the most. The eligible male is sold as a commodity in the market of marriage. The parents of such men act as negotiators in the process and demand cash, jewelry, car, bike and other goods. At times the demands can include land and houses as well!!

I personally feel that Dowry system has been impacted adversely by the changing face of the modern day marriage tradition as well. Families splurge lavishly in the marriages just to earn a good impression in the community. As said earlier, higher the dowry paid or received – higher the honor. This makes parents treat marriage as a transaction more than a social connection.

Selection of the bride or groom is based on the status of the opposite family, their bank balance, their assets etc. Families even look at some appalling factors such as number of siblings – brothers or sisters!! All this to ensure if all the assets would be passed on to the groom!!

I had highlighted in my earlier posts on foeticide that the modern dowry system has numerous adverse effects on the position of women within Indian families. To begin with are the obvious negative financial effects that a dowry may have on a family. By negotiating too high a price for a potential groom, a family can experience severe financial setbacks.

On the other hand, not being able to meet a dowry payment can cause detrimental social effects on both the family and the daughter that is to be wed.

Similarly, while a boy brings a dowry into the family wealth, a girl will result in having to pay one out. This particular mindset has led to serious evils like female foeticide to thrive in our country. With little (or no) benefits of having a daughter, Indian women and girls are neglected and abused.

The communal burden of having daughters is clearly depicted in the current sex ratio of our country. As we have seen earlier, the number of females in India has been dramatically declining in recent years. Though some of the difference can possibly be accounted for by natural birth rates; but majority of the girls are dead either through neglect of female children, female feticide or infanticide.

The modern dowry has also had many negative effects on women after they are married. ‘Bride-burning,’ a term used to describe the increasing number of young Indian housewives found murdered each year, has become commonplace in young marriages. Driven by consumerist greed, new evidence is showing an increasing number of young wives being burned alive within their households, supposedly due to gas cylinder explosions!

In the last couple of decades, the commercialized, modern dowry had developed from a social institution that provided some security and equality within young marriages to a deadly reality that many young Indian women are forced to face, largely alone.

I am strongly of a view that all sections of the society have their role to play in the prospering of the custom of Dowry in modern times. Let’s try to inspect

Groom’s Parents:

  • Boys are seen as investment for old times and it is being fed in the minds of boys as well that they must fetch good bargain in form of dowry.
  • The groom’s parents perceive dowry as a way of making good the investments they have made in their son’s education.
  • An apprehension of insecurity that the son, following his marriage, may not look after them in old age tends to be yet another incentive.

Bride’s Parents:

  • Girl child is seen as a burden and it is resolved at the time of birth only that dowry has to be paid at the time of her marriage.
  • Fast rising income graph has made the grooms much sought after by the brides’ families who want to enter into matrimonial alliance with families of a status higher than their own.
  • Parents of girls accept all the undue demands of the groom’s family with a perspective that this will in turn ensure the well-being of their daughter in the new family.
  • Education of girls is not giving importance since the parents expect the husbands to take care of them.

Grooms:

  • Men most of the times accept this tradition and a part of the marriage system and become a party to it; no matter how realist they might be.
  • Men treat the wives/would-be wives as outsiders and simply follow the words of their parents.
  • Few men themselves favor dowry the most and compel the bride’s family to meet their demands; varying from a 2/4 wheeler to expensive gadgets or even jewelry.

Brides:

  • Most of the times, girls remain silent in spite of all the agony from the fear of community.
  • Despite of knowledge of transactions happening between two families, girls do not intervene since they feel that they do not have a say in all that.
  • Even in the modern times when a small courtship has become an acceptable norm, girls do not discuss such issues with the would-be husbands to know his views about this issue.
  • Many girls also feel that dowry is their right which parents must give them at the time of marriage. This tendency is common amongst girls who have a male sibling, which is related to the feeling that the brother would inherit the property of parents after her marriage.

These were a few specifics that I could list.

But is it an everlasting practice or can someone put a stop to it? Yes, it is very much stoppable!!

Let’s see how simple steps can set off the process of eradicating this evil practice.

  • Men should insist on marrying without a penny being exchanged in the process. They should have confidence in their own ability to provide for their family.
  • Women should insist on marrying only those men (not immature boys!) who have the courage of their conviction to say “NO!” to dowry. Men who insist on living on the wealth provided by their in-laws are as good as incapable.
  • Children should be imparted the value as a part of their education that Dowry is an evil and that they should never take or give dowry.
  • Parents of bride and groom should avoid splurging on expensive marriage celebrations. They spend a life time of saving in these events which put financial pressure on them.
  • Girls should be treated equal in family without any discrimination. They should be encouraged to have a career.
  • Girl’s parents should focus on education of their daughter in order to make her economically independent.
  • Girls should take a strong stand when they face situations of adverse effects. They should always believe that they are in no way inferior to men.
  • The prospective couple should sit together and chalk out a plan for future. This will give ample confidence to the parents that they both can take charge of their lives.
  • None of the people involved in the marriage system (bride, groom, parents) should allow their decision to be ruled by comments and views of the external people of community. Such people mostly comment sadistically and somehow do not contribute towards their welfare during the times of distress.
  • The already existing law should be strictly enforced and the defaulters should be severely punished.

Talking of law, another irony of our country is that majority of the laws meant to protect the citizens from such crimes are least know to them! How many of us know of the Dowry Prohibition Act that is has been laid to prosecute the offenders.

Let’s have a look at some pointers related to the law:

  1. The law is called the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961.
  2. Offences under the law are:
    1. Giving and taking dowry
    2. Helping in giving or taking of dowry
    3. Asking for dowry
    4. Advertising for taking or giving of dowry
    5. Punishments for giving or taking dowry or for helping are:

a)     Imprisonment up to five years

b)    Rupees 15,000 fine

c)     If the dowry amount is more than Rs 15,000, a fine equaling that amount

  1. Punishment for asking for dowry

a)     Imprisonment for at least six months or fine

  1. Punishment for advertising

a)     Imprisonment for a minimum of six months or Rs 15,000 fine or both

 
Now let’s have some more details on the various sections of Indian Penal Court (IPC) related to the Dowry System (Courtesy: Wikipedia.org):
 
Cruelty, Sections 498A, IPC
 
This section was inserted into the Indian Penal Code in 1983 via an amendment, which reads:
  • Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.
  • Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation – For the purpose of this section, “cruelty” means-
  1. Any willful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health whether mental or physical) of the woman; or
  2. Harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her meet such demand.
This section is non-bailable, non-compoundable (i.e. it cannot be privately resolved between the parties concerned) and cognizable.
 
Dowry Death, Section 304B, IPC
 
This Section of the Indian Penal Code was inserted by a 1986 amendment.
  1. Where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death” and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.
  2. Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.

Criminal Breach of Trust, Section 406, IPC
  • This section, for offences related to Criminal Breach of Trust, is usually applied in investigation of stridhan recovery from the husband and his family.
  • Offences under this section are bailable and cognizable.
  • Punishment for criminal breach of trust – Whoever commits criminal breach of trust shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

That’s all for now! Let’s not only hope and wish but DO something to make our world free of such evils! Let’s pledge to do everything in our capacity to curb prevalent vices for the generations to come live a happy and liberal life!

God bless!!

May 22 2012

On the edge of the ‘BENCH’

I am writing to share an incident that has made me think about the way we manage organizations today. I am associated with IT Industry since early days of my career. Being the head of the function that takes care of hiring the talent (I prefer TALENT over RESOURCE or CANDIDATE), it was a part of my profile to interview people and determine the fitment in the organization. I must have interviewed hundreds on them in last few years of my career. As a part of process, we interview, give feedback, candidate is offered for the employment and if everything goes well the talent joins the organization. Owing to the busy schedules, we seldom do a follow up after the talent joins the organization as to how he/she is fairing and finding the organization (that is HR’s job, right!). In fact, in bigger organization, that is more of an automated mechanical process.

But, it was a bit different for me in particular since as per my work profile I was supposed to hire as well as keep track of a talent till he/she is in the organization. Assigning projects to them, seeking feedback from the project managers about their performance, manage their aspirations etc. were a part of my function. In the same process, management of BENCH (The bench refers to people who currently do not have any projects on hand – more relevant to IT industry) was completely my responsibility.

The story goes as below:

It is about this one particular talent, let’s call him John. John had been in IT industry for past year and a half (1 yr 5 months) and had changed 2 jobs before applying for my organization. Third job in 2 years!! Didn’t impress me at all as an interviewer! I had (kind of) made my mind already that this person would be no good, though it was against the principles of effective interviewing (I know!). Anyhow, as we got into discussion and the interview progressed, I realized that he had great passion for technology and wanted to make big on technical front in next 5-7 years.

I liked his enthusiasm and decided to give him an opportunity. Anyhow, we do not expect a 2 year (professional age) old kid to build a rocket for us – do we? So I decided to go ahead and hire him.

While I was giving my positive feedback (more of a final decision since I was the one to take the final call) I had this thought in my mind that John has never worked on a live project in both of his last jobs. He was put on BENCH in both of his earlier jobs! However, I overruled my apprehensions solely for the reason that his last 2 organizations were real big BRANDS.

Anyway, John was hired and he joined us after a month. He was very happy to join a growing organization since he could see huge potential for growth and learning for himself. More than that, he was happy to be working on a live project for the first time.

Like other organizations, we too have people on BENCH for some time before they are allocated live projects and John was informed about the same at the time of selection process. He had accepted that and was ready to wait for some time before he gets a project as per our instructions.

But I guess John’s destiny had other plans! The very next day of John’s joining; we received a project requirement which was matching John’s profile. I asked my colleague to call up John and give him the news of his allocation plan. John was happy, we were happy, everyone was happy!! Indeed it was a happy moment. Someone getting a project in a day’s time is wonderful. Finally, John was allotted the project and the meeting with the manager was fixed. He started working on the project with all the good feelings and dedication, clueless of the fact what time had in its store for him.

After just about a week, I got a call from John’s manager. He had called to express his dissatisfaction with John’s performance since as per him John didn’t have the required experience to work on a live project. He cited reasons like lack of exposure, lack of confidence and more lead time to gear up for the poor performance of John. Although John was working as the most junior member in the project; still it was not possible to continue with him as it was affecting the profitability of the project. Looking at the business criticality, we had to remove John from the project.

All hell broke loose on John! He was shattered, disturbed and disheartened. He was on the BENCH again. The fascination that he had felt around him in life vanished in a moment! Whole world came to a halt for him. But then, he was a strong guy! He gathered his thoughts and prepared himself to fight. To fight along with other 110 people on bench; waiting to be allotted a live project.

Days became weeks, but things didn’t change for John. We were not getting rightly matched project requirements for John. The world was moving ahead swiftly and John was feeling as if he was being left far behind in the race of success. But still he held his nerves. He kept calling, writing and probing frequently about any movement on his allocation.

One bright morning, I again got an opportunity where I could put John on a live project. I got a mail with a requirement from one of the projects, suiting John’s profile. John was informed, meeting was fixed and everyone was waiting for the results of the meeting eagerly. John looked very calm this time. He did not show any strong signs of joy or delight. I guess time had made him strong enough to take things as they come in life J.

Anyway, the meeting got over but the manager left us wandering for the result. He wanted some time to decide.

“Fair enough” we all thought! “Let’s give him some time.”

Next day, I got a call from the same manager early in the morning (10AM is the early morning as per office hours). He had called to inform that he cannot add John in his project team quoting a reason that he does not have valid experience. I immediately recalled what John had told me last evening about the meeting that there was no discussion on project experience as such in the meeting.

My inquisitive part promptly asked the question – “But how do you know that he does not have relevant experience?”

“I spoke to his last manager whom he worked with for a week!” he responded immediately.

He shared that the last manager had given the feedback about John after which it was decided that he could not be included in the team. I was surprised and equally annoyed too. How can one take a call based on someone else’s feedback, that too when the other person didn’t work with the guy long enough to comment? But, duty calls! Amid all these thoughts I called John to share the news with him. He calmly heard everything, thanked me for the information in the end and hung up the phone.

Process was completed! Another opportunity was closed for John.

Days passed by and I got busy with other things at work. John never called back or wrote for a new project. He used to come to office every day, spend the 8 hours of his quota doing things and go back. I could see him going out with friends for tea, chatting over lunch and I looked like he was having a good time. One day, suddenly I got a mail from John asking for a meeting to discuss something. Since he was writing to me after many days, I promptly accepted the request and fixed up a time to meet him.

We met in a meeting room. He greeted me and pulled a chair but this time he looked very uneasy. Red eyes, fumbling hands and shaking voice! He sat on the chair out in front of me, quiet, sobbing. I was surprised to see a grown up guy crying in front of me and that too at the workplace. It was a strange sight! I softly asked him as to what was wrong. He would not answer initially but then he looked at me and plainly asked me a question, hitting the nail on the head: “How will I gain experience if I am not given a live project?”

John had stimulated a never ending debate going on since ever in the corporate world – How would you get experience unless you are put on actual work?  Sounds similar to the Chicken-or-the-egg dilemma!

Somehow, this problem has become an inseparable part of our industry these days. John was the victim of the same mindset. We, as an industry could not nurture him in the early days of his career (made him sit on BENCH) and when he got old enough sitting there, we declared him unfit to be a part of the team! We are tagging talent based on their age in the industry without giving any heed to the passion for the work. We talk a lot about Training & Development, Mentoring, Coaching, Career Path, and Competency Development – but when it comes applying these basic practices like grooming talent things like Margins, Profits, Productivity come in the way.

We do not want to make conscious efforts to groom passionate young people who can make big in the field claiming that this will incur COSTas well as TIME – both being very critical for organizations these days.

No project manager wants a slow runner in his team since he believes that it would make his project suffer. He will have to put efforts in grooming the person and he finds it as an overhead. He wants all STARS in our team, but he does not want to groom any STAR.

Are we doing justice to the young people who enter the industry with high hopes and almost no understanding of its functioning?

People grow not by their passion and talent but just by being in the industry. In the rat-race of making more money by doing more projects delivered in time, organizations have naively given an upper seat to SKILL as compared to PASSION & TALENT. As organization, we preferred SKILLED people over TALENTED ones who might be really passionate about the work. This mindset has developed deep roots in operative of most of the corporate functions. A programmer will routinely become a project Manager after he has spent 10 years in the job; least that he has to do is KEEP WORKING!

There is no harm in this concept of career development but is this the only way of doing things?

I leave it for you to decide and if you get some answers, please share with me as well.

May 20 2012

SATYAMEV JAYATE 3 – ‘Dowry System’

There is no end to greed!!newstrackindia.com

This was the baseline of today’s part of Satyamev Jayate. I somehow had a feeling that Aamir might take up the topic of DOWRY SYSTEM in next episode, and it came out to be right.

Again; a neat presentation of an evil practice that is prevalent in our society. The cases picked up were very appalling and revealed the ugly face of our high-class educated society. In my last few posts I had pointed towards DOWRY as a major reason for eruption of other vices in our country – Female Foeticide being a major one of them.

The first story of Komal Sethi from New Delhi was unfortunate and that not only because it revealed the ugly faces of delinquents who could go to any extent of parsimony for the greed of money, but also because the in-law family in discussion was of a well-off IT professional earning a whopping 65,000 dollars a year! That is a not a small amount of salary for someone who is not yet married! Trust me on that since I am from the same industry!

An educated professional treating his wife like an animal is unpardonable as per me. This poor lady was manhandled and tormented to get stuff from her parents. Cash for car, furniture, then travel to US, car in US – everything was sponsored by girl’s parents – not by choice but by force. I would not get into much details but one thing that makes me loose cool is that the man left the poor girl without food and water for 4 days, locking her in an apartment! All this because she denied asking her parents to give their only house to him! I hope when this man looks at the mirror he actually sees a man, because he does not deserve to be called one!

Honestly, this topic of DOWRY did not unnerve me that much – not because I am insensitive to this issue but more so because I have seen all this in my own society.

There were many cases presented today which hailed from Punjab and I somehow belong to the same state. My state has a lot of things to boast about but there are many to be ashamed of as well. DOWRY system is one of such issues. Fraudulent marriages by NRIs, marrying just for the sake of travelling abroad, demanding dowry at the time of marriage are a few common vices in my part of the country. Mr Balwant Singh Ramuwalia (Minister, working extensively on this issue) shared after narration of another story of Paramjit Kaur (who was tricked into marrying a person who went abroad after taking money from her parents and never returned back) that there are more than 30,000 such women in Punjab alone who are a victim of this malpractice! What has happened to our people? Where are we headed? Many such questions always keep hitting us hard. Alas! As always, we do not have any answers to them!!

The other stories discussed in the show were:

  • A highly learned and ambitious girl, Nishana from Madurai had to end her life to end the turmoil that she was going through in her married life because of the greed of her husband and his family. The kind of behavior that a husband should have towards his wife, Nishana never got anything close to that. Her parents tried to fulfill all the demands of the boy’s family, but during all that life became unbearable for Nishana and one day she decided to end her misery.
    Just one question here: What was her mistake for which she had to give away the most wonderful gift – LIFE?
  • Extravagant marriages have become a trend in our society these days. Middle and High class families are spending exorbitant money in lavish marriage ceremonies, but it has an adverse impact on the poor who have to live up to the expectation of the society, which has risen in the past owing to the trends set by the rich. This has led to outburst of another problem in countryside – FARMER SUICIDES. Like many, I also believed that farmers in the villages of India (Vidharba etc.) commit suicide because they take loans for agriculture but are not able to repay because of low output. It shook me internally when I learnt that many of them take loans (much beyond their repayment capacity) just for getting their daughters married. This is really sad because amount of rains cannot be controlled by us, but such vices can be controlled by us for sure. May be we can save some lives that way.
  • thehindu.comAnother strange story was from Bihar where a college going man was abducted by the parents of a girl and was married (forcibly). They even call this practice as MARRIAGE-BY-FORCE! Funny & unbelievable, but is true. All this is done in order to avoid paying the dowry. But, is this a solution? Are we saying that all marriage should be MARRIAGES-BY-FORCE and then only we can get rid of this evil practice? Absolutely not!
  • As it is said – “Where there is despair, let there be hope.” Such were the examples of two villages of Maharashtra – Behranpur and Bhiwandi. Both these villages have a unique practice, which has been introduced by the entire community that there should only be very simple and silent marriages. They have set 3 rules for themselves:
    • No one from community will attend the marriage if a family is holding a lavish ceremony.
    • People will join the girl’s family during Nikaah (main marriage) but will not feast there.
    • The marriage should take place in a Mosque and should happen at 4pm. This was introduced with an idea that no one can play bands or burn firecrackers in a mosque and since it will be 4pm, it wouldn’t be a time for Lunch or Dinner either.
  • Then an infamous sting operation done on another greedy family by a strong girl Rani Tripathy from Mumbai (was in news a few years ago) was shared. It was indeed good to learn that there are people who not only feel that this is not right but have also fought against it to teach lesson to the crooks.
  • Most amusing part of the show was the revelations by a few north-eastern people who proudly shared that DOWRY as a system is not at all present in that part of the country. In fact, it’s the boy’s family which takes care of everything that a girl does during the marriage including her clothes and other nitty-gritties. I must say it is really commendable!
  • Last but not the least, the peppy solo “Rupaiyyah” in the end of the show was really very well written and equally well sung. It fit the show completely and am sure must have induced strength in people watching the show.

That was about today’s episode – in my view.

Now, as I had shared in the beginning of the post that this issue is not alien to me – what does that mean? It means that I have seen many thing around me which had always made me think that why do these things exist in the first place. I will try to put down those in words for all to read. I will share that soon in next post.

I will also share my views about how this evil can be curbed with a collective effort from all sections of society who are a party to this.

All those how could not watch the show on TV can watch it below:

May 19 2012

“PARENTING” – How much is TOO much?

topnews.aeIt has been in my mind for couple of days now and I finally decided to word my thoughts about it. I have been thinking extensively about PARENTING, specifically from Indian context. When I say India, I am precisely referring to the structuring of the families, cultural and value system and our age old traditional legacies of INDIA.

All would agree that parenting is one of the toughest jobs and more so it has to be done well. Parents take care of all the things for kids when they are small and nurture them with intent to help them to be the best possible adults. Though, as I did share last time that I am not a parent yet, but I have many parents around me – my friends, relatives, neighbors, colleagues and many more.

I get to observe them and by the virtue of being able to compare the various styles of parenting of different parents, I feel that I have created my own understanding about the process.

Oh yes! You read it right! To me, Parenting is perhaps a process, which needs to move gradually from one stage to another, evolve from one phase to another. It has to be followed with certain considerations, keeping the desired outcome in mind. You cannot call something a process unless you know what is desired out of it and what inputs would it take to get the desired result. I am attempting to seek an answer to a very basic question about parenting – How MUCH is TOO MUCH??

This question is primarily from Indian context since we as a nation have changed a lot in last few decades. But did we evolve when it comes to parenting? Are we flexing ourselves to adapt to the changing eco-system or are we clinging on to the belief that ‘if my parents did an okay job with me then the same parenting style would work for my child as well?’

We must accept the fact that Change is inevitable. Our bodies change, our environment changes, technology changes, and our parenting skills MUST change with the times or we will have difficulty. We must look at these simple changes and then extrapolate that something is at work here bigger than us. “CHANGE” is happening hence our parenting must change. I would consistently make mistakes once I become a parent and will consistently make more mistakes as I become a grandparent. Parenting in 2012 is clearly different that 1912 and it will be much different in 2112.

From all my observation and studies, I have learnt that Recognition is a key in parenting. Recognition not of the acts of the child, but recognition of our defensive posture, our fear of doing the wrong intervention, and we must STOP externalizing blame on everything from teachers, friends, facebook, i-pads and McDonalds!
Parenting is taking responsibility. Taking responsibility – not for your children, but first and foremost for yourself.

When we recognize change and how technology has impacted everyone’s lives, as well as the want for immediate gratification (which is occurring faster and faster), then we can modify our parenting. But the question here is – How do we modify parenting? I think we need to know first  -  What are we doing? How are we fairing in what we are doing? If we are doing something completely wrong, then what is the right way of doing it?

I would share an interesting comparison done by Dan Neuharth (www.controllingparents.com). It is an attempt to depict a differentiation in the way families behave. This comparison will answer some of the questions above -

Read on:

HEALTHIER FAMILIES

CONTROLLING FAMILIES

NURTURING LOVE CONDITIONAL LOVE
Parental love is relatively constant Parental love is given as a reward but withdrawn as punishment
Children get affection, attention, and nurturing touch Parents feel their children “owe” them
Children are told they are wanted and loved Children have to “earn” parental love
RESPECT DISRESPECT
Children are seen and valued for who they are Children are treated as parental property
Children’s choices are accepted Parents use children to satisfy parental needs
OPEN COMMUNICATION STIFLED SPEECH
Speaking honestly is valued more than speaking a certain way Children are told things like “Don’t ask why” and “Don’t say no”
Questioning and dissent are allowed Questioning and dissent are discouraged
Problems are acknowledged and addressed Problems are ignored or denied
EMOTIONAL FREEDOM EMOTIONAL INTOLERANCE
It’s okay to feel sadness, fear, anger and joy Strong emotions are discouraged or blocked
Feelings are accepted as natural Feelings are considered dangerous
ENCOURAGEMENT RIDICULE
Children’s potentials are encouraged Children feel on trial
Children are praised when they succeed and given compassion when they fail Children are criticized more than praised
CONSISTENT PARENTING DOGMATIC OR CHAOTIC PARENTING
Parents set appropriate, consistent limits Discipline is often harsh and inflexible
Parents see their role as guides Parents see their role as bosses
Parents allow children reasonable control over their own bodies and activities Parents accord children little privacy
ENCOURAGEMENT OF AN INNER LIFE DENIAL OF AN INNER LIFE
Children learn compassion for themselves Children lack compassion for themselves
Parents communicate their values but allow children to develop their own values Being right is more important than learning or being curious
Learning, humor, growth and play are present Family atmosphere feels stilted or chaotic
SOCIAL CONNECTIONS SOCIAL DYSFUNCTION
Connections with others are fostered Few genuine connections exist with outsiders
Parents pass on a broader vision of responsibility to others and to society Children are told “Everyone’s out to get you”

In my opinion, if parents find themselves on the other side of the road of having a healthy family, they can take steps to correct the actions that can cause more harm than good to the very ones they are trying to love and protect.

I will share more on this topic with a specific focus a particular type of Parents - HELICOPTER PARENTS. This section will be published next week.

May 13 2012

SATYAMEV JAYATE 2 – ‘Child Abuse’

Along with many of you, I was also wondering as to what Aamir would present next after the shocking story of female foeticide. But, must I say, he stuck yet another master stroke this time again!! Please forgive me if I am sounding ecstatic, but this appreciation is solely for Aamir and his team for presenting such grave issues with utmost neatness and in a way that it strikes chord with every one, let it be the audience in the studio or millions of people watching the television.

The other day, I heard someone saying that Sunday’s will not be the same from now on! People are doing everything they can, from cancelling their weekend getaway trips to dropping the plan of an early morning movie, all this to ensure that they get the first feed of Satyamev Jayate. Needless to say, I am one of them!

In fact, for me, only Sunday has not transformed but the entire week is different now. I spend much time reading about things, collecting information and work towards being actually INFORMED about what’s happening around in our society.

Image courtesy: ucanindia.in

It isn’t long since I wrote my last post about the last topic of Satyamev Jayate and here we are with yet another issue. Though, this one is more delicate and alarming than the earlier. Please excuse me for the comparison of two vices in the first place, but if at all I had to do so, Child abuse is more disturbing as per me; particularly for the reason that the victim has to live with the feeling for rest of the life. More so since these sinful things happen to them at a very tender age when they cannot even understand what is happening!! They cannot differentiate in love & affection of their loved ones and sexual advances by wicked people.

However, listening to a few brave people who have been through all this in childhood and still have a positive outlook towards life gave me a very positive feeling.

Aamir started the show with a unique way of putting across the message that the content of the show can be disturbing for kids. He, very informally requested all the parents watching the show on television to arrange to send their kids to some other room till the time the show was not over. At the same time, he also shared that he would need the kids to watch the last part of the show where he would do a workshop with them. I would call it a very effective way of connecting with the audience and passing the message to them, loud and clear.

I am yet to become a parent! Still, what Aamir spoke about in the beginning of today’s show about the basic fears of parents, had been in my mind for quite some time. May be it’s a normal process of preparing oneself for being a parent! But trust me; this issue was not there in the remotest part of my mind!

Incidentally, I am writing about ‘Parenting and its effects on children’ from Indian context and this show have happened at the right time to me. My focus has completely shifted now. Undoubtedly, all the parents would do anything to keep their kids safe! But today’s show has left everyone with a question – “Do we really know of all the dangers that might hurt our children?”

If our answer is a YES, then how come, as per the Indian Child Sexual Abuse report of 2007, a shocking 53% of all children below 14 years of age have been abused sexually in our country? These 2 claims cannot be true at the same time! One of these is a hoax and going by the reliability of the survey, it’s our claim that is resonating. Something is missing somewhere. May be we do not understand the gravity of this issue and the impact it has on the kids mind  or we are so frail to accept that this can happen in our surroundings or more so in our HOUSES!!

A kid abused by a tuition teacher in her own house, another one abused by a very reliable member of the parent’s friend circle, someone abused by own uncle – aren’t these alarming enough for us to realize that this evil is present within our most secure (as per us) eco-system?

The myth of most of the people that majority of the victims of sexual abuse are girls was also shattered by the stats presented by Aamir, once again from the same report of 2007.

Out of all the children who have been abused sexually, 53% of them are BOYS!! That was even more awful!

Another surprising revelation made by most of the victims was that they couldn’t tell their parents about it since they knew that their parent wouldn’t believe them! That came out to be true when one of the survivors, Harish narrated his story. He did try to speak to his mother about all that was happening to him, but his mother didn’t believe him. Later, when after 11 long years of facing the agony and leading a dreadful life of being abused by a close relative, his mother realized that he was telling the truth; she felt guilty to the core of her soul. She confessed that in front of millions on the show today. Nevertheless, it was a message to all the parents who do not trust their kids with such issues.

Stories share by Cinderella, Harish and many other incidences were shared one after the other, and believe me every story was more dreadful than the earlier one. However, every survivor has demonstrated that they have the strength to come forward and share it with the world with a hope that it is not repeated on someone else. That was a true display of courage and compassion!

I had listed a few pointers which I personally have picked from the show and would like to list them down for all to review:

  • Parents must take the first responsibility of their kid’s education:

Barely leaving kind completely in the hands of tuition teachers can turn fatal, as seen in one of the cases. It is also more surprising since the age group in discussion is below 13 years!! Parent can manage the education of kids of that age on their own. If at all such arrangements are a must, parents should ensure that they have the kid and the teacher in front of their eyes till the time the class is in process. I am not saying that all the tuition teachers are like that, but then a few have brought the bad name to the fraternity. Moreover, the tuition teachers, especially the home tutors must also ensure that they keep things open for the parents to have a watch over things.

  • Be open to your kids about their issues; let it be of any nature:

Image courtesy: Indiatoday.intoday.in

Never turn down any attempt your kids to discuss some issue with you. Rather, encourage your child to share things with you – about school, friends and whatever they feel to talk about. You would not know if they are being abused unless you talk to them. The abuser can be anywhere and it can be anyone – some relative in your house, your help, school bus driver, lift man, someone at school (teacher, senior, or peon).

Try to pick up the cues from any change in behavior of your child in recent past and if you find any then try to probe into the reason for that. It might seem a waste of time if things turn out to be usual, but it might not be the case every time. You would never want to overlook some serious trouble that your kid might be in, just for the effort it would take to probe. It is your duty and responsibility, both!

  •  Be more alert and attentive:

I have seen for myself that parents tend to leave their kids for hours with someone whom they trust. Trust can be a very relative attribute in this case. A trustworthy house help, who has been entrusted with the caretaking of the house for years, not essentiality be equally trustworthy when it comes to kids. He might be a potential abuser. As per Dr. Rajat Mitra (who did an extensive study on the inmates of Tihar jail who were accused of Child Sex Abuse), a potential abuser plans his action as a well-thought-out strategy under which he picks up the victim. Someone, very close to you might be picking your kid as his victim and you have to be highly alert to protect you child from such culprit.

  •  Trust your kids when they talk to you about Sexual Abuse:

Let’s get a fact straight – NO kid would ever lie about being SEXUALLY ABUSED. No parent, for a fraction of a moment should doubt their kids if it is about being abused sexually by someone.
When faced with such situation:

  1. Tell the kid that you trust him/her completely
  2. Apologize to the kid for not being there to protect him/her when it was happening
  3. Give confidence that now since you know it, nothing will happen to the kid after the moment
  4. Tell the kid that it’s not his/her fault and the abuser is the culprit
  5. Finally, take a stern action against the abuser immediately without any delay

These few pointers might not be enough to tackle this problem completely, but I am sure that such small steps will reduce the risks of victimizing of kids to a great extent.

Well, towards the end of the show, as promised, Aamir did a small workshop with a group of kids aged between 5 to 10 years. He briefed the kids about 3 body parts which they should not let anyone but their parents touch ever. He also told them as to what they should do if they feel in danger, which included shouting, running to a safe place and telling their parents about it. He suggested that parents should do such a workshop with children once in 6 months, the least.

Another commendable initiative that was highlighted in the show was ‘CHILDLINE India’, India’s only and most

Image courtesy: CHILDLINE India

widespread Children’s phone emergency outreach service (1098) for children in need of care and protection, in existence since last 15 years.

CHILDLINE was founded by Ms. Jeroo Billimoria, who was then a professor at the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai. Initiated in June 1996 as an experimental project of the department of Family and Child Welfare of TISS, CHILDLINE has come a long way today, to becoming a nationwide emergency helpline for children in distress.

As of March 2011, total of 21 Million calls since inception have been serviced by CHILDLINE service and operates in 200cities/districts in 30 States and UTs through its network of 415 partner organizations across India. To know more, visit http://www.childlineindia.org.in/index.htm

In the end, Aamir has again made a promise to write to the government of India, requesting for an expedited process of passing the bill, which is pending in Rajya Sabha pertaining to the law to deal with Child Abuse. Yes, it is very unfortunate that we do not have (YET) a strong law for this hideous crime. A question is posted on the official website of the show. To support this move to pass the bill, please sms Y to 5782711. After deducting tax, the rest of this amount will be given to Child Helpline 1098 NGO to support their cause.

Let there be light and let India SHINE..

SATYAMEV JAYATE!!

For those who missed the episode on Sunday, can view it now:


(As per information available on the report that was discussed in the show, A survey conducted in 2007 by the Women and Child Development Ministry and the NGO ‘Prayas’ in association with UNICEF and Save the Children across 13 states and with a sample size of 12,447, found that 53.22% of children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Delhi had reported the highest percentage of such incidents at that time.

In 50% of the cases, the abusers were known to the child or were in a position of trust and responsibility and most children did not report the matter to anyone. The aim of the study was to develop a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of child abuse, with a view to facilitate the formulation of appropriate policies and programs meant to effectively curb and control the problem of child abuse in India.

The National Study on Child Abuse is one of the largest empirical in-country studies of its kind in the world. This study also complements the UN Secretary General’s Global Study on Violence against Children 2006. (Courtesy: businesswirenews.com)

May 10 2012

Transformation of Sunday – SATYAMEV JAYATE 3 (Final part)

I now come to the last and final part of my post on Satyamev Jayate! I might look obsessed with the topic, which might be true in some sense, but I somehow hold myself (and people like me) too accountable for this menace which has become so prevalent in our society.
I (we) might have come across someone who was involved in this cruel act, but I (we) might have not noticed or might have overlooked entirely! Maybe I (we) need to relook at my claim of being highly informed and an active citizen. Maybe I (we) need to relook at my perspective of looking at social issues in the country.

Recently, I was talking to one of my colleagues at work who had an opinion that this problem is not so scaled up that it cannot be curbed. He was of a belief that when it will actually become excruciating, someone, somewhere will stand against it and wipe it out forever! WOW!! What a feeling that was!!

His words charged me up to my core. But then, I am a realist too!! I immediately intervened with my probing query that is it really possible for one person to bring about change in society on an issue of that severity?

Before anyone in the room could answer, the next segment of Aamir’s show struck my wits and I myself uttered, “Yes! Why not? It is possible.”

I was referring to the success story of Nawashahar (Jalahmajra) in Punjab, a town which once was severely hit by the issue in discussion. The sex ratio, which has depleted to below 800 sometime back in the area has now been restored to 1000!

Wow! What a success story! That’s commendable indeed. But how did this happen? Who brought about the change?

It was again an initiative by one person, Krishan Kumar (DC) who after taking the charge of the district did everything possible to bring about this change. Read on more about the story at: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_village-turns-sex-ratio-around_1037903.

Today, the same district has become the most women-empowered district in the state, with women occupying almost most of the high profiles offices. (http://www.financialexpress.com/news/nawanshahr-now-most-womenempowered-district-in-punjab/941575/).

If the idea could be implemented in one town/district and had such an impact, I am very positive that it can be replicated in all parts of the country.

I do not want to discuss on another issue discussed in the show – about trafficking of women from various parts of the country in the name of marriage. This topic is too unkempt to be even spoken about. It once again brings forth the ugly face of the law & order system in our country.

About the show and its format, I have one word to explain it – Cerebral.

Image courtesy: ibnlive.in

I pity those people who are expecting entertainment out of the show and are disappointed in it for the lack of entertainment quotient! I would pray that they always have their families safe & secure and must never have to go through the ordeal that the victims of foeticide have to face.

Honestly, I fail to understand that why a few people (self-acclaimed critics) always have to criticize, no matter how valid or rational an issue is? I could see people debating in newsrooms over the show’s intent.

If we are divided over the very basic fact of the existence of the evil then how can we ever fight it? People are commenting on anything and everything from Aamir’s inclusion, TRP agenda, business model, advertisement revenue and what not!

Has our conscience got so messed up that we cannot differentiate between what is right and what is not?

I wonder that when a sequel of ‘Harry Potter’ is released, fans (including people of all genre, sex and age) flock the internet with comments and views about it, but I have never heard of any hue & cry created over that!

So, are we saying that we have become so self-engrossed that anything to do with society at large doesn’t move us? Or is it that a small section of the high class society (who has access to news rooms) looks at it as an opportunity to leverage the sensitivity of the situation and have a go in front of the camera to be visible. But what do they intend to do with this visibility? I don’t get that, do you?

To me, the show was so neatly presented with no lavish set-up, no gaudy light system, no zooming cameras, no slow motion cuts and most of all Aamir himself as one of the audiences. The reactions of the audience on the revelations made by the people (speakers) were so genuine that even a kid could make that out. There was a light moment as well when Aamir spoke to a group of ‘bachelors’ (forced to be that way because of depleting numbers of girls) from Kurukshetra, who tickled everyone with their innocent yet witty comments. Though people were giggling, but the souls were shaken because of the underlying cause – no women for these men to get married to.

And needless to mention, the final score presented by Ram Sampath and Swanand Kirkire was so touching that I made me loose my self and cry!! I did have tears in my eyes.

I believe it’s time now that we stand up to fight against these evils, collectively (as a system against a system) and wipe them out of our society. The show got people talking, which is good as revolutions always begin with awareness and in issues such as these, we need nothing short of a revolution, says Rajul Kulshreshta (MD of Kinetic Group).

I want to add another view here that though we are moved by the way Aamir has presented a grave issue in front of all of us, supported it with data collected with a lot of analysis and research; still we have to dive deeper and try to understand as to WHY is this happening so rampantly.

As per a little understanding that I have of the society, I can list a few factors which might be fueling this practice:

  1.  Dowry system: This practice is still prevalent in our society, and not only villages and poor families but urban areas are also no exception to this. Girl child is seen as a responsibility, which has to be fulfilled till she gets married and that too with a heavy price.

    ‘Betiyan to parayi amaanat hoti hain’
    still is a widely accepted mindset in our society.If we want to wipe-off the evil of foeticide from the face of our society, we first need to free our social system of the voracity that has seeped into both, poor as well as well-to-do sections of society. Even educated families are demanding exuberant amount in form of dowry from the families of brides, as if they are selling their sons in the market of marriage. In-laws killing the girls for demand of dowry have been an dark truth of our society since ever and this also triggers poor and helpless families to commit the dreadful crime of killing the girl child in the womb itself, only because they cannot pay dowry at the time of marriage.
  2. Male-dominated family system: Our society has always been male dominated and it has become an established outlook. In the same light, people wish to have a male child in order to take their generation forward and that’s why they call them ‘Ghar ka Chirag’. The desire to have the so-called ‘Chirag’ (light emitting lamp) has led to killings of many souls before they can even see the light!!Two girls (in Rajasthan itself) have recently set an example by performing the last rites and cremating their father’s body, a ritual which is predominantly professed to be carried out by sons ONLY. This indeed can be seen as a step towards transformation of the orthodox mindsets of our society.
  3. Poor implementation of otherwise strong law: Though the law has been drafted well to ensure that such crimes do not go unnoticed and the responsible people are brought to justice; still the system accountable for the effective implementation of the law has never played its role effectively. When the guilty is set free by the law, the fear of committing the crime starts eroding and culprits start taking liberty of the loops in the system.If we want to fix this issue, we need to strengthen the system to ensure the implementation of the law at the lowest level of the society.Korea is an excellent example to learn from – Punish the guilty severely and curb the crime. I wish that we can also take such strong measures to ensure that such crimes are swept clean from our society.

Not preaching much about what is wrong and what is right, I still would say that this brave attempt by one man (Aamir Khan) will at least (if not much) send a message loud that if so many people are against something, then it is not supposed to be done. If the punishments are rendered to the guilty, it would warn the prospective culprits to not to commit such crimes for of the fear of being punished.

Another thing that Aamir said during the show and I truly believe in is that WE (the people of society) are the magic wands and if we resolve against the evil of Female Foeticide, nothing can stop it from getting eliminated.

To end, as says the Genesis 1:3 from the BIBLE:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light!

Let there be 'LIGHT'

Let there be light and let the nation rise and shine!! God bless and good luck.


Satyamev Jayate!!!

May 09 2012

Transformation of Sunday – SATYAMEV JAYATE 2

Image courtesy: topnews.in

I am continuing from where I had left the last post..

The show’s content was so gripping that I could not move my eyes away from the TV set even during the 2 minutes long commercial break. Thought I was looking at the screen but my mind was processing the information that I had gained from the earlier part of the show. It was disturbing yet engrossing and I had already thought that I am going to write about this after the show.

It wouldn’t be wrong if I call it a show of revelations since everyone who spoke, revealed some or the other shocking and horrendous fact. Next to join in was Dr. Puneet Negi, a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology by profession. He pointed out at the fact that the problem of foeticide erupted in the decade of 70s when it was a presumption that population is the cause of all the problems in our country.

What was more shocking was that this entire concept of killing the foetus if it is a girl child was a brainchild of the government of India!! How is that possible?

It was triggered by a research paper published by All India Institute which said that most of the people in the country crave for a male child and girls are just being born without any purpose at all. The paper claimed that if the girls are not let to come to life and only boys are born, the problem of population can be sorted out.

I feel so sorry to be a part of a country that was ever led by people who had such a mindset towards their own people!!

Anyways, that was not all that Dr. Negi had to jolt us with. He further shared that in the light of the research work, an extensive program was started by the government of India, under which pregnant ladies and their families were literally provided counseling to make them to drop their crave for many children. The program was allegedly based on the concept that families which do not have a male child go for more children just to have one. However, they were providing free services in major hospitals of the country for ABORTING GIRL BABIES in the womb of mothers.

Can you, even for a second, try and relate to this idea from any perspective? You heard yourself!!

Image courtesy: UNICEF

Even back then, activists objected to the program and feeling the pressure, government of India officially retracted the program. However, the damage was already done! People became aware that there were tests which can determine the sex of the foetus and this became an occupation for the doctors and lab assistants who started their private clinics to cater to the demand by the families.

Though the conventional means of determination were complex and had fatal risks  involved, however with the induction of Ultrasound technique in the 90’s the process became quick and easy to conduct. That opened the doors for many waiting in the line to try their hands in this fast growing industry of sex determination and abortion; doctors, technicians, druggists, small time nursing homes and manufacturers & dealers of the ultrasound machines. What a vast impact this social evil had on business world?

Salesmen had the pitch prepared for their customers (doctors) of ultrasound machines which stated that the machine will recover its cost in only about a month after it is put into use!! I think I need not explain any further that it has become a 3000 CRORE industry in the due course of time!! Yes, that is a hell lot of money indeed! I agree. But what about ethics? Values? Moralities? Do they have any place in our society or is it just money that drives us? Were these characteristics ever important for our society? If the response is affirmative, then how come something like this bloom in the first place!

If we are feeling so agitated and disturbed today, did the aware mass of those times feel the same? If it did, then what did it do to curb this evil practice? How did they let this become a wide spread money minting business? If Korea could change the face of its society in just about a year’s time by punishing all the doctor’s involved in the practice of foeticide, why couldn’t our country do the same (Korea also had the same issue before 90’s). Honestly, I do not have any answer to these questions! May be you can help me here.

The supreme authority in medical fraternity in our country; the Medical Council of India has failed in punishing even a single doctor in last several years for this grave act. None of the doctors have ever got their license to practice cancelled for their alleged involvement in such matters. Was I surprised? Not exactly. The revelations in the show had made me aware of the prostrate system that we have had to let something like this stem within our social fiber.

Then came forth a sorry story of two brave, responsible and dynamic journalists; Shripal Shaktawat and Meena Sharma, who did a sting operation to uncover the ugly face of female foeticide prevalent in the state of Rajasthan. They covered more than 40 cities & towns and exposed more than 144 doctors who were involved in this evil practice. They revealed so much about the atrocious acts of some soulless doctors that I can bet that no sane person can stand the complete narration in one go.
Having said that, I also accept that this is as a bitter reality of our society but I strongly refuse to accept that this is an inseparable part! This is clearly a disease, an evil; it has to go and it must go.

Image Courtesy: UNICEF

It can be called mere irony of the paralytic system of our country that these two journalists, who had put their heart & soul into exposing the devils hidden under the covers of medical degrees in our society, are summoned by a number of session courts in various cities of Rajasthan for the hearing of the cases (against the alleged defaulter doctors).

This is happening for last 7 years since the cases have been registered against the doctors who were seen in the sting operation video. State government has booked the cases in different courts in different cities (for a very obvious reason cited that since the doctors are from different jurisdiction areas). I pity such a spineless system!

Things are so tragic that at times arrest warrants are issued against Shripal and Meena if they are unable to attend the hearings!!  However the under trial doctors are still practicing; not only that but few of them have been promoted over the last few years. Our caretakers (supposed to-be) are behaving as if nothing has happened!!

‘Nahin khatam ho toh Yamuna mein phenk dena’ – (If it doesn’t die, throw it in Yamuna)

This was not said for some polythene bag, some garbage or a used pepsi can! A doctor used these lines referring to a LIFE, a child, a foetus who was yet to come out of the womb of her mother and see the light!! Are these people really living amongst us? Aren’t such people only seen in movies or read about in comics? Are they for real?

I am leaving you with these questions for now and will describe in my next post as to why this attempt of Aamir is unique  and how it can make a difference.

God bless!

May 07 2012

Transformation of Sunday – SATYAMEV JAYATE 1

Image courtesy: Satyamevjayate.in

Sunday morning! The laziest day of the week! It started as usual for me; got up at around 9:30, had morning tea, read the newspaper. Then I realized that we had planned for a trip to Lavasa today! Oh yes! What about the trip?? I shot that question to my wife immediately. She looked at me with ‘are-you-nuts’ look in her eyes. I got the message that the trip was dead already by now :(. Killed by a famous assassin named Lazy Sunday!!

Anyways, I settled down on my couch browsing through the channels on the television. Oh man! Today is the maiden telecast of Aamir Khan’s much awaited show - SATYAMEV JAYATE. The moment this thought came to my mind, I immediately switched to Star Plus (channel which is hosting the show). It still had another 5 mins for the show to be on air and so we (me and my wife) started talking about what the show would be about. We both were of the same opinion that since it is Aamir Khan, it must be something different and unique. Going by the promos of the show, it gives an idea that Aamir must have picked up real sensitive issues of our society and would present in it with an inimitable flamboyance and wit. Well, 5 mins went past in this discussion and we had Aamir on the screen. He looked as young and fresh as always (in fact he is getting younger and fresher with time!!).

Suddenly, our door bell rung and I opened the door for our help who ensure that my car is in a good shape every morning. He was there since it was first week of the month which means pay day!! This small transaction actually took a long time, which I realized after I sat on my couch again to watch the show. I had missed most of the introduction and now Aamir was talking about the issue of the day that was to be discussed. Initially I took it as another Public Awareness Shows which are in abundance today discussing the social issues and doing nothing in the end (in terms of impact on society). However, by the end of Aamir’s show – I had wet eyes, which itself speaks as to how I feel about it. Little did I know the previous night that my SUNDAY is going to get transformed completely the next morning!

I want to narrate my understanding of the entire concept, issue and the way it was presented along with the facts that were shared in the show so that it can reach maximum people. Below column contains the transcripts of today’s show.

Issue – FEMALE FOETICIDE

Aamir opened the episode with a very touching, meaningful and thought provoking word about MOTHER.

 First segment of the show was narration of real life stories by 3 mothers who have been through the turmoil just because they supported the birth of a female child, much against the desire of their families to have a boy.

1st case – Amisha Yagnik from Ahmedabad

Image Courtesy: satyamevajayate.in

This story is about Amisha, a mother from Vastipur, Ahmedabad who has a 8 years old daughter named Kamya. Amisha was married in year 2000 and since then she had gone through an ordeal of cruelty by her husband and in-laws who forced her to abort her pregnancy only because the baby in her womb was a GIRL.

They had an arrangement with the doctors who were supposed to take care of Amisha in the days of her pregnancy. Her in-laws got her determination test done and on finding out that it was a GIRL, they gave her some medication to remove the pregnancy, or must I say KILL THE BABY. It was even more gruesome and shocking to learn that this was repeated 6 times with poor Amisha in 4 years!! I can’t describe how I feel about those people who could do such things to babies!!

Once, taken ill, Amisha asked her in-laws if she can go to her parents’ house for a few days. This was the time when she went against the will of her husband and his family to give birth to her baby, Kamya on 1st March 2004. Though they were not at all pleased to have the girl child being born (none of the in-laws including husband visited Amisha for 2 months after the birth of baby), but since the society must have pressured them they took Amisha and her baby home. It wasn’t long after that when they pushed Amisha out of the house claiming that they can replace her with many women in a matter of no time. They even confiscated her baby and didn’t let her meet the baby for 3 months!! They black-mailed Amisha to sign the divorce papers and take her daughter back! How INHUMAN is that?

Amisha even revealed a disturbing fact that doctors use code language to share the news of sex of the baby in womb – ‘Jai Shree Krishna’ for a boy and ‘Jai Mata Di’ for a girl. I don’t have words to express how I felt on that!

She fought a legal battle for her baby with help of a lawyer from her home town. The case is still in hearing in a local session court.

Today, that baby if 8years old and Amisha is working in a small time call center to make her ends meet.

It was after the appalling narration of the story by Amisha that Aamir broke the myth of many educated yet ignorant people that it’s a man’s sperm which determines the sex of the child and not vice-versa!

If anyone must be blamed for what sex a new-born baby is of, it must be the husband. Moreover, why should anyone be blamed at all? Do we actually have a right to choose as to which sex the new life coming in this world should be of?

2nd Case – Parveen Khan from Madhya Pradesh

The other story is about another mother from Morena, Madhya Pradesh. Her life can be seen as a perfect example of a woman who has seen it all and have still embraced life in the best of the spirits. She was beaten and manhandled by her husband only because she gave birth to a baby girl. She was dragged by hair to the abortion centers where her baby was killed against her will. It became worse when she gave birth to second girl child. Her husband just couldn’t stand the site of it and literally ran away from the scene. Later, he attacked Parveen in fit of rage and violently bit her face with his teeth, much in a way how an animal would attack its prey. Honestly, I feel that I am a brave person, but even I could not look at the picture of her disfigured face shown in the show and trust me even you cannot look at that.

Parveen fought with all the odds, completed education along with work to take care of her kids. She left the house of her husband and is living alone and leading life as a true fighter.

Before leaving the stage, she said a few lines which plainly depicted her view towards life:

Zindagi hamein bahut kuch sikhati hai,
Kabhi hasanti hai toh kabhi rulati hai.
Par, jo har haal mein khush rehtey hain,
Zindagi unkey aagey sar jhukati hai.

 Really, hats off to her spirit!!

Aamir must have felt that many people watching the show would not concur completely with what he is trying to put across. That must be why he presented the facts in the form of a slide to depict the declining numbers of girls in comparison to boys for last 40 years.  From 1981 to 2011, the boy to girl ratio has depleted to 914 from 962 against 1000 boys. I am sure many must have got shocked looking at this data.

Aamir also explained this in a very subtle way claiming that 914 to 1000 looks a very minor difference – merely of 86!! But, don’t get fooled by this comparison. Difference of 86 to 1000 becomes a big number if looked from a different view – compared to lacs or crores of boys.

Another revelation: The figure of girl child killed in the womb in last 30 years is shockingly more than 3 CRORES. Shocking indeed!!

The surprising display of spread of this epidemic in most of the part of the country in last 30 years have been directly proportional to the increase in the literacy rate of these parts. Is our education system doing this to our society? I bet not! Then what is the cause of this?

Even the myth of most of the people that this evil is prevalent in country side was also shattered when Aamir shared the census data, which itself proves the point that it all started in cities, completely opposite to what most of the people feel. In comparison to 934 girls to 1000 boys in villages, cities have only 906 girls per 1000 boys. What do you have to say on this now?

It was not the illiterate and the poor who tipped it off but the rich and educated are the ones responsible, who reside in most urban cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh.

The next narration was from a mother belonging to a high profile family full of highly educated people.

3rd case: Dr. Mitu Khurana from New Delhi

Image Courtesy: satyamevajayate.in

Mitu is a resident of a posh locality in capital of the nation, New Delhi. Doctor by profession, she comes from a family of doctors.
Even a highly educated woman like Mitu had to undergo the wrath of the evil of sex discrimination. Her in-laws started pestering her to get the sex determination test done, from the moment she shared the news of her conceiving. They also cheated and fooled her into getting the tests done after she refused to get it done willfully.

In the test it got revealed that Mitu was carrying twin girls in her womb. Wow!! What a feeling that must be!! Isn’t it? Not for her cruel in-laws though.
They started torturing Mitu to get the babies aborted. They even pushed her from stairs when she was in 20th week of her pregnancy. 

Learning about her condition, her father took a strong stand and brought her to his home. It was there where she gave birth to the babies. Since Mitu was a cultured and educated woman, she went back to her husband’s house with her babies. The behavior of in-laws didn’t improve after that and they tortured her by making her do all the household chores along with taking cares of twin babies.
Her ignoble mother-in-law even kicked one of the less than a month old babies from the stairs, clearly with an intention to kill it, who got saved since she was in a carrying cot covered in blanket.

This incidence made Mitu leave her in-law’s house immediately and she went to her parents with her babies.

Now, let’s look at the profile of Mitu’s In-law family:

  • Husband : Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Father-in-law : Professor at Delhi University
  • Mother-in-law : Retd. Principal of a School
  • Sister-in-law 1 : Ph.D. Mathematics
  • Sister-in-law 2 : Teacher

This description needs no further description now, i guess!!

One of the researchers and social workers from Rajasthan, Mr. Ram Babu shared the findings of his research carried out for years now. He also supported the fact that this evil is not rooted in country side but is prevalent in the cities and urban areas. People amongst us, professionals, doctors, lawyers, educationists, CAs, IAS officers, all equally have their hands stained in these killings. Another shocking revelation that Mr. Babu made was that this is being carried out as a packaged deal by the doctors and nursing homes. Ultrasound with abortion!! Is this a business offer? How disgusting it that?

As that is not enough, these nursing homes aka ‘business houses’ give false reports to such parents claiming that the child in the womb is a girl and make them get it aborted.

Phew!! I was already feeling sick and speechless though I feel that I am a well-informed person (relatively).

Another practicing doctor, Dr Shaili Agarwal from Sirohi, Rajasthan who deals with many tribal women expecting babies shared her views and experiences. She claimed that she has never been probed by any of these tribal women to know about the sex of the child in their womb. They feel as happy for a girl child as they be for a boy.

I was feeling guilty enough to call myself educated and urban if that is what urbanized people are doing and if this is where we stand compared to poor tribal people on moral & ethical issues.

I will bring the next part of the post where I will share my views about this issue in a more elaborate way and how the society only can bring about the change in regards to foeticide.

Visit the link to watch video of the show http://www.satyamevjayate.in/

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