Thursday, May 30, 2013

The "I" Relationship - 'Intercaste'

"The real remedy for breaking caste is inter-marriage. Nothing else will serve a better solvent for the caste" (Sri B.R. Ambedkar)

Hi Everyone,
People all over the world are very good at stamping. This one thing we as human beings have perfected over time beautifully and have diligently followed it too. We stamp people with stereotypes, with religions, castes, nationality and any other label or brand you can think of. Have you ever visited a shop that makes stamps illegally? They keep stamps in groups depending upon their purpose. Like stamps for government offices, stamps for private offices and several other such groups divided in various boxes. That's what we have done over ages, divided ourselves into various boxes and slowly and slowly the walls of the boxes have grown so high that either we no longer wish to see outside the box or we are unable to if we want.
As you might have guessed today’s topic is about the walls created by caste. When a child is born it just that a child, it has no religion, caste, nationality etc. How can it have, it has just arrived into this branded and stamped world. Even before the child understands anything it starts hearing words like religion, castes etc. Parents specifically say that people of those castes are not good, you should not mingle with them, and these people are below our class, you cannot marry that girl or guy as they are not from our caste and the list goes on
My focus here is specifically intercaste marriages. People say that marriages are made in heaven, they why parents and society get all worked up when the marriage does not suit their criteria of class, caste etc. The moment parents come to know that their son and daughter have chosen an intercaste partner, all sorts of emotional drama starts. All of a sudden the desire to please society becomes more important that the happiness of the son/ daughter. Sometimes the couple succeeds in changing the mindset of the parents but in most of the cases they aren't able to, which leaves them with only two choices - forget their love or elope. Both the choices are difficult as in both the cases they end up losing someone close to them either parents or their love.
One thing that boggles my mind is that why only in marriages the caste becomes so important. It has been proves scientifically that genetics of the future generation become weaker if the marriage happens within the same caste or community. TO keep the genetics strong it is important that marriages happen between people of different castes, or places. It keeps the future genes strong and healthy. But the narrow mind of the society can't understand or accept this fact. How can it when it practices honor killing if a couple has married against the wishes of the parents and society
These practices sicken me deeply. One of the biggest reasons for these is the attachment of ego with the marriage event. So much ego is involved in the entire process that sometimes I feel marriage is being done for the guy and the girl or for the society. Because of the ego I feel that caste becomes an impenetrable barrier when it comes to marriage.
This society and we as individuals need to understand that Intercaste relationships are necessary for better future generations. Who are we do differentiate and discriminate on the basis of caste when the same blood flows in all of us. And more importantly who are we to separate to people in love, especially when the only issue is caste and rest everything is ok.
I know for anyone reading it will easy to agree, but actual test comes when it happens to our own kids or in our own family. If we can agree to "I" relationship at that time we have done our service in improving one of many sins of the society.
Let’s be the part of this tough decision and be the SOLUTION.
Genie Signing off
P.S.: Next in Series - A Career Like "J"       (Any Guesses for the letter J)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Selfish "H" - 'Heights'

"The rising sun can dispel the darkness of night but it cannot banish the blackness of malice, hatred, bigotry and selfishness from the hearts of humanity" (David O. McKay

Hi Everyone,

When I started this A-Z series I was a bit worried that may be for a particular letter I would not find a suitable topic to write but what has surprised me that we are so surrounded with everyday problems that I actually do not need to look far or search for issues. Today’s issue that I will be discussing is something that I encountered on my way to meet my sister.

I was in an auto and stuck in the traffic jam (not new for Mumbai city :)). All of a sudden an ambulance horn starts blaring up and as is required as courtesy, vehicles standing in front of it started giving way to the ambulance. But there were three vehicles, two cars and one auto, which refused to give way to the ambulance even though the ambulance was honking the horns continuously. I wondered whether the drivers of the those vehicles were blind, that they cannot see the ambulance in their rear mirrors or they were deaf that they could not hear the ambulance siren or they were just plain selfish. Whatever the case was this was supreme height of selfishness.

In our country we do not follow traffic rules unless there is a traffic police person with a stick and fine book in his hand. Why? Are we so short on time that few minutes lost in giving way to the ambulance will cause disaster for us? What about the person who is in the ambulance and might be struggling between life and death. Whose need is more important? The answer is quite obvious but obvious seems to be the most elusive answers to us.

I was having the same discussion with my HR yesterday for few minutes. What she said is sadly and actually true for most of the Indian citizens, "We in India in general lack common courtesy". How true and sad fact. I remember there used to be a program called "Suribhi" which came on DoorDarshan channel. In that program they once showed about some place (don’t remember the place), where if a person is standing by the side of the road to cross it and there is a vehicle coming, the vehicle driver will politely stop the car, let the person cross the road and then he will move away again. Now in Mumbai or in India in general due to the huge population, this is not possible but at least give way to the ambulance which is carrying a person struggling between life and death. This is common courtesy.

I hope I am able to make my point here. Please a request to everybody from next time if you hear an ambulance siren, give way to it or you might be responsible for grave injury to someone or even death. Be a part of such a simple SOLUTION and do not remain the PROBLEM like we generally behave.

Genie Signing off

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Senseless "G" - 'Grading' - Part 1

"A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain" (Mildred W. Struven)

Hi Everyone,

In one of my previous posts The "E" Factor - 'Excellence' I stressed on the fact that the education system must be more practical rather that memorizing a bunch of course text books, and some other facts too. But one thing everyone should remember that there is no shortcut to success. If one wants to succeed he/ she will have to thoroughly understand the area of work whether it be in office, college or school. No one can escape hard work as it is foundation to the ladder of success.

Having said that I bring attention to the RTE (Right to Compulsory and Free Education Act, 2006). This act was primarily created and put into action to ensure that all the students, privileged or unprivileged can get an education up to class 8th without the fear of being denied the basic right of education. But there are few clauses in the act that caught my attention and which I (and many others) personally feel undermine the good things that the act was supposed to bring out. The one clause that troubled me most is:

"No student shall be held back or expelled under any circumstances from class 2nd to 8th"

It is practically giving the student the free license to do whatever he wants and he will be passed to the next class. I was scouring the web for information about cases on misuse of RTE and found one case that happened in Chennai where the parent sued a CBSE board affiliated school for dropping his kid in the 7th standard because of poor performance. The father might have won the case but he failed his kid.

The clause should have been taken in the sense that even if the student is not very good in the results teachers will work with students to increase their IQ levels and potentials rather than expelling them from the schools. Rather than this, the students and more surprisingly their parents take it as a free chit for not having to worry about their kid’s performance till class 8th. I say why only stop at class 8th, let the law cover till 12th and then let the students jump into the world of competition unprepared. That’s what happening when the students enter the class 9th. A huge percentage of students are so weak in their basics that it’s useless for them to be in that standard and it brings a lot of demotivation. The pressure causes many students to commit suicide or do irrational things in an attempt to live up to the expectations of the parents and society.

This is so utterly ridiculous and insane. How can one suddenly expect to perform at an excellent level in 9th standard when he/ she has been doing time pass till 8th standard. Surprisingly the kids today are so smart that they know no matter what they do they will breeze through till class 8th. The government officials told that this law will prevent any sort of demotivation. Might be true but they failed to take into account the huge pressure and suicidal tendencies that this law is generating after class 8th. 

Like I said in starting, there is no shortcut to success. you have to work hard to get good results. If one can work hard as well as smart then even better. But hard work is a necessity. I still remember my school days when my father used to take my test at home before exams. I remember that it always used to be the entire course at one go and not one or two questions or chapters. It’s result of that hard work that I am where I am today and the skill sets I have with me.

What this act has effectively conveyed is that till 8th you don’t need to do any hard work, no one in the world can stop you from going into the next grade. Then all of a sudden the pressure becomes so high in 9th standard that only students who have a natural tendency towards studies are able to cope up with the pressure.

It’s a sad state when a Government makes a blanket law like this. Government has created a senseless grading system that is affecting the coming generations in ways government is not able to comprehend. To be continued in the next article when I will reach the letter "M"

Genie Signing off

Monday, May 13, 2013

The "F" Line - 'Finish'

"No one has a problem with the first mile of a journey. Even an infant could do fine for a while. But it isn't the start that matters. It's the finish line." (Julien Smith, The Flinch)

Hi Everyone,

Just take a look back down the memory lane and try to find out how many projects you started but either did not finish or did not even start. You would be surprised to find a plethora of ideas that never reached the finish line for one reason or another. Ever thought how would your life look like if you had finished all those projects and ideas. I don't really need to spell that. Someone has rightly said, "Best ideas are found in the dustbin". Some of the best ideas of our life were the ones, which we did not start upon or never finished.

This article is about those ideas we never started or finished, ideas which could have changed our lives. I was looking at my website and felt bad that I have not paid any attention to it for so many months even though I have paid for it. It's completely my fault that I am not working towards it even though I know that it will generate rewards for me. The irony is when we do not take our ideas to the finish line we try console ourselves and justify by telling others and ourselves too that there were several unavoidable reasons because of which the idea could not work out. Sadly in our hearts we clearly know that in 99.99 % cases we ourselves are the only ones to blame.

I have many examples from my life where if I had followed those ideas to completion the growth in my career and personality would have been tremendous. But like I mentioned above I kept consoling myself that they were not the best course of action. But in hindsight I feel they were much better course of action than the ones followed. I think what is said about hindsight is true - it’s always perfect. But I am digressing here. What I am trying to say here that we all want a lot in our lives and we keep dreaming (and there is nothing wrong with dreaming) but then we don't put enough efforts to bring our dreams and ideas to fruition. Most of the times we lazy around until its too late to anything constructive about our ides. There are also cases where genuine problems arise and ideas need to be shelved either for a future date or forever. 

I have been writing this article for 6 days now and I was laughing at the irony that the name of the article is finish line and I am not take the article itself to the finish line. So I have decided to complete it today. Having highlighted some of the reasons behind incompletion of the ideas let me also share examples from my life where I also shelved the ideas but then I later did complete them or started working them on again. The purpose of this is to highlight the triggers or events, which can help any individual to mold the ideas and situations so that they can carry their ideas to "F" line.

  1. This is not my first blog. I started one when 6 years back but then I stopped after first article and never pursued it. I kept telling myself I don't have time for it. Recently something happened which forced me to bring out social problems out in the open in an educated community and what we as individuals can do to resolve those problems - an example of external trigger
  2. I used to learn guitar but then when I came to Mumbai I just left it. Now once again I have started learning after I realized that it is something that brings peace to my mind and even if I don't learn it I should keep playing and improving on what I already know - example of personal trigger
  3. Like I mentioned above my website has been sitting idle. I have started working on it again after I started writing this article because I realized that I am wasting the money I have already invested in it - example of monetary trigger

What I mean to say through these examples is that we lack the motivation and triggers in our life to complete our ideas. But no one from the outside is going to come and tell you that you should do this and that. We ourselves have get off our lazy bums and start working towards them to completion.

Ideas are like any animal species. Initially there are many, then people start hunting them, then they become endangered species and they finally they become extinct. Same case with ideas. Initially we all have a lot of ideas, when we don't implement them others who have the same ideas implement them, then the frequency of ideas become less and finally they become extinct and we get no more good ideas in our mind.

The more we implement the ideas the more we get. So it’s high time that we all as individuals start working on our shelved ideas and plans before they become extinct in our mind. Start realizing the triggers that motivate us and catch them before they flee away. And finally start making a better life for ourselves instead of just toiling on something, which we don't like to do just because we didn't pursue our ideas.

Lets take our ideas to the "Finish" Line.

Genie Signing Off

Friday, May 10, 2013

The "E" Factor - 'Excellence'

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well'." (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Hi Everyone,

I still remember the third semester of by graduation very clearly because it was that semester that jolted me out of the dream world of marks. You see when I was in first semester I topped my branch, then in second semester also I got better marks than first semester but then in third semester my mars dropped drastically by 20%. From 80s I reached into 60s. A big shocker for me really. Why I am telling this? Because I have seen in our society guardians, teachers and parents put a lot of pressure for marks on the students.

I was never a very bright student until I went into graduation. For me getting marks was very hard. When I was in KG I was ok ok at studies. Somehow I still remember almost all the results. Then when I entered second grade, for the first time I got a position in the top three. I was shocked to be true. But then I felt that getting marks makes others happy so this might be the right thing to do. So I worked hard to get marks. It’s true that when you get good marks you do absorb knowledge also but it’s not necessarily true that you develop a good understanding also. This is where the "E" factor comes in.

I believe that getting marks is not as important as getting excellence in a subject. Motivating a child to get marks is as important as to motivate him/ her to develop an understanding of the subject. I do not need to quote example of others when I myself got good marks in maths but never really understood the concepts behind them properly. Oh I understood enough to get the questions true but beyond that no idea. I have taught for few years and I have seen that students have a habit of learning things up rather than questioning the things, a habit extremely important.

Getting marks is easy. Some people may laugh at this statement but trust me I am saying from experience.. getting marks is very easy, what’s difficult is knowing why you got those marks, did you really got the topic down, can you apply the logic of the same problem to a different situation etc. The education system in this country is partly to blame. I have observed that we learn a lot of things in school and college, which have no real application later on in life. Comparing to the system in western countries, there also till certain grade the students are required to learn the basic things but that’s it, after that each student is motivated to pursue his/ her own area of interest and the subject related to it. 

What difference does it make when compared to Indian education system. A huge difference. A bucket load of subjects of all varieties is much less efficient that a selected set of subjects suited to the interests of the student. Also in this country most of the companies equate marks with excellence when interviewing for jobs, which is wrong on so many levels. I might not have good marks in my exams but that does not mean I don't understand my subjects. It might be simply that I felt too lazy to write in exams, which I really do, most of the times.

So coming back to the opening paragraph, after that shocking result I stopped going after marks and devoted my time in library going after things I liked to read and understand and the growth in my excellence was tremendous. Slowly but surely I developed that "E" factor in me. Some may feel that they are past the age of studying and developing excellence but its never late. One movie recently very eloquently put the message that I am also trying to bring out

"Don't run after success.. Run after excellence.. Then success will have no choice but to come after you."

Everyone is unique and has one factor that separates him/ her from the crowd. One should find out that quality and develop it. That will bring the more success than anything else. I have found out mine and continuously developing excellence in it with rewarding results, both monetarily and personally. 

So lets build this "E" factor in us and make our life more prosperous and happy than it can be otherwise.

Genie Signing off

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Limelight "D" Syndrome - 'Deficiency'

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I am not so sure about the universe" (Albert Einstein)

Hi Everyone,

I just hate people, completely abhor them, detest them, who just for the sake of little limelight spout sexist remarks, unsolicited advices which no one is interested in and make comments whose stupidity level, more often than not, is beyond the reaches of my imagination. You must be wondering why all of a sudden I have gone off my rocker. Just a couple of days back I read a comment made on why girls should not wear skirts or shorts, by some organization's big boss in Noida. Come on people why cant you just mind your own damn business. Don't poke your nose in matters where it does not belong.

Now that I have ranted a little and I feel better I will come to the core of the topic which is about people who just for the sake of little limelight would say anything and comment anything. When the Delhi rape case happened (which one though, so many happened recently... sad state right...) all the political leaders and religious leaders had something to say on the matter. Some of the comments were so hilarious and outrageous that I could not believe my ears and eyes when heard or saw them. I consider myself a bit of a maverick but even I will not think of such statements.

Well they are politicians and religious leaders, their day does not end unless they make some stupid comment. But the main question is why they get inclined towards making such comments? Media attention obviously. Trying to get back in news. You know they are just like a product in the market. When a new product is launched in the market lot of advertisements are given to establish the credentials of the product. After sometime people start forgetting the product and it starts losing foothold in the market and at that time they again show some more advertisements. These people are like these products and what stupid comments they make are like those advertisements to keep them in the eye of the people, in the limelight.

As soon as something happens everyone gets a chance to advertise themselves, to once again get back into the limelight. Why? Because if they will not be in the media limelight, from where will they get all the money they have at present. Media is to blame big time for the stupidity of these individuals. Whenever someone makes some comment it will be aired on the television for the entire day. Whole debates will happen, people will come who will analyse each and every word said by that individual and try to find hidden meanings in what he said (even if the comment was plain crap). Don't they have anything else to report with so many things happening in the country. So you see indirectly media is increasing their urges to come in the limelight because they know the moment they spout something people will listen to all these media channels all day as they will definitely air it.

Leaving aside the politicians and religious gurus and coming to common people, there is no shortage of such people here also. Just yesterday I read that some one has a filed a case against M.S. Dhoni (Indian Cricket Captain) for hurting the sentiments of Hindus through some advertisement. No one will argue on the point that we see almost on a weekly basis someone doing something that hurts the sentiments of one religion or another. But do we see a line of cases for these in the court. Obviously not because it will not generate any publicity; but if you file case against a big name like Dhoni media will be your host for next many days and you will become an instant celebrity. Such petty mindedness. Whether Dhoni was right or wrong is not the case here; case is why against him, or many such cases that have happened before also with popular names.

These individuals suffer from something which I have started calling "Limelight Deficiency Syndrome (LDS)". The symptoms of this syndrome are periodic urges to say something extremely stupid which will probably hurt the sentiments of masses and thus give better limelight attention to them. We are the ones who feed this disease to grow by being the audience they want. Actually I have stopped listening to all the stupids debates that happen on the News Channels. Media industry works on TRP and if we, the audience, do not give them the TRP they want they will themselves stop airing such stupid crap on the television for the entire day.

Hope everyone gets the embedded message in the article. Be the change, be the part of the solution.

Genie Signing off

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Cancer Called "C" - Caste

"When we choose a mobile network, do we check whether Airtel or Vodafone belong to a particular caste? No, we simply choose the provider based on the best value or service. Then why do we vote for somebody simply because he belongs to the same caste as us?" (Chetan Bhagat)

Hi Everyone,

I would like to dedicate this article Mr. Amit Madan (head of production team of current IPL). So here is the 3rd article in the series of 26 articles

Last time I wrote the article on caste it was taken down - reason given that it was too sensitive for people's mentalities. Hope I can be less blunt this time and still make my point.

In this article I am not going into any lengthy discussion but I will simply put out some general observations. No one with enough sense can argue against the fact that caste has become a menace in the society. For the purposes of debate and discussions everyone if fighting to come forward with points against caste but when it comes to oneself no one is willing to go against the society. Some observations which I have accumulated over years are so contradictory that I just wonder what role exactly does caste play in the society?

Still in many places in this country two people of different caste refuse to eat in the same plate. Many might wonder but in villages it’s still the trend. But if the same person of upper caste is ill he will not hesitate to take a pill or medicine from a doctor of lower caste. So my question is if you cannot eat food from the hands of that person how come you can take the medicine.. Of course they will take it’s the matter of life and death there and nothing is more important than life.

Another example - People from upper castes keep cribbing and complaining about the reservation policies in the name of caste and religion but what they fail to realize that their oppression of lower castes is what has created an opportunity for people with cunning to use it in form of politics and votes. The politicians are not to blame; we ourselves are the root cause of this problem.

These are two very general observations, sadly there so many more. I have been personally through a lot of trauma because of caste issues. And now I realize that caste is nothing but an excuse to do what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. Period. There used to be a rationale behind caste system but that rationale has been twisted over time and has become a cancerous cell now that eating the society from inside out.

We keep complaining that this country is not progressing, the politicians are after vote banks and what not but in reality we are the one who has created these niches and opportunities. So can this cancer be stopped? Obliviously. We are the medicine. We are the cure. We just fail to realize in fear of the society and reputation. This generation has a huge responsibility of erasing these boundaries created by caste, and kill this cancer once and for all.

I am leaving this topic open for debate. All views are welcome and appreciated.

Genie Signing off

P.S. - I don't believe in any kind of discrimination based on caste or in caste system. I have used the words upper and lower castes only to keep the writing simple and easy to read.