Sunday, February 27, 2011 7 comments

The Last 4 Years

*Note- This is a Personal Post and if you are not interested in reading about my personal life, kindly skip it.

Some of you [Especially if you know me personally] may have wondered that I have rarely written anything about my college life. In fact almost nothing. Maybe you were a bit puzzled as to why be that so? After all, college life is supposed to be the most enjoyable, fun period of one’s life. It’s the time when a teenager blossoms into an adult. It’s a time when students get to become independent, learn to party, start preparing for job interviews, make their career paths, get into good[or bad] company, make multiple friends, in short enjoy their most productive years. College life is something which no person forgets. Many[or most] people consider it as the best time of their life. People currently bogged down with their hectic work schedule recollect their college days with nostalgia. Unfortunately all the above characteristics do not apply to me.

If you ask me to describe my college life in one word, I would say-‘Pathetic’. I did not enjoy anything for one moment, hardly made any friends, hardly did anything productive, faced betrayals, threats, abuses, detested the classes like anything, hardly did anything of use in practical classes, and even the extra-curriculars weren’t up to the mark. Now first of all let me state that I do not hold ANYBODY responsible for my situation. If I have to blame anyone for it, it would be myself alone. Though I have had serious arguments with some people here, I do not believe in holding grudges against anyone. You may think that I am being too pessimistic, that everyone faces his/her shares of ups and downs in college, that we have to witness both good times and bad times. It’s just that I feel that I experienced the bad times 9 out of 10 times.

Often when I tell others[people who are not in my college] about how I feel, most of them reply in the same way-‘You will feel like this now, but once you leave the college you will start missing it.’ I can assure you that I will not feel that way. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I am in fact desperate to get out of my college and finally start enjoying my life. I almost feel as if I am carrying out a prison sentence of 4 years. Maybe one of the reasons for my sorrow is the fact that I did not stay in a hostel. Hence I did not get to mix around with people much. I made just a handful of real friends, and I felt that most people here are just too casual to take anything[including studies] seriously. In short, I disliked the environment here from the start. I felt that most of the teachers here are at best, just average, and many do not even know basic details of the subject they are supposed to teach. I will not blame them, as they are possibly paid quite less, and it is obvious that they joined the teaching profession only because they were unable to find jobs elsewhere. So its natural to say that the classes are a big bore, and I don’t think I have actually learned anything of use in the past four years.

Often I ask myself this question-‘What on earth am I doing here? Shouldn’t I be in a better college, or maybe doing some other course?’ I wish I could answer that. Maybe I made a big mistake by joining this institution. Maybe I should not even be doing Computer Science and Engineering. Who knows. I wish I could go back into the past and change the decisions I made. But that is just a losers approach. I have to take responsibility for my action and bear with the consequence. That’s the way of life.
In fact I believe that my college life is a perfect example of What a College life SHOULD NOT be. Academically, I did not learn anything, socially I could not make friends, recreation wise, I did not attend any party, or any festival with dealt with fun, environment wise, I could not adjust, as I always felt that I was incompatible here. Slowly, I shut myself off with the rest [in college]. I would pretend as if everything was okay, but hardly anyone noticed my pain. People believed I was selfish. But for me, every day was like a torture session. I was feeling suffocated, depressed, dejected. I knew I had to get out. That was the only thing which kept me going. That and my desire to get into a top Bschool, which was one of my goals.

There are many people here who do not have any ambition at all. They are satisfied the way they are. They have no desire to learn or to excel. While most of them at least desire to get jobs, some are even too lethargic for that. Its as if wasting time doing all sort of negative activities[smoking, drinking, drugs, pornography, abusing others to name a few] is the only thing that matters in college. Today I will admit that I always wanted to rise above such people, and then come out on top. What made the difference is ambition. I knew I could never be satisfied with a mere degree and an ordinary job.

My college life will end in two months. I am eager to forget, to leave everything behind, and start anew, afresh, rejuvenated. A New life, a New beginning. One which will hopefully be much better than the previous one. Even today, if someone asks me what exactly I learned or gained in my four years of college life, I have no qualms in giving a one word answer-‘Nothing’.
Monday, February 14, 2011 14 comments

The Price of Ignorance!

A Disco Party

Finally, its time for a serious topic. In one sentence- ‘Inequality in distribution of wealth in India’. Now first let me clarify that inequality is definitely not exclusive to India alone. For example, recently Tunisia’s president Ben Ali had to give up his post, mainly due to the protests made by the common people. Ben Ali and his family had amassed a huge amount of wealth and were living a life of opulence where the people of his country were suffering from unemployment and lack of food, etc. India also faces similar problems of high food inflation, unemployment, etc, but as not witnessed such a large scaled protest, yet.

If you are not an Indian, and are not staying in India, chances are that you may have read some article or the other- stating India’s economic progress, rapid GDP growth at a rate of 8.9%, ever rising purchasing power of the middle class, opening up of MNCs every week, with companies such as Google and Facebook, and now even Wikipedia setting up their offices in India. Some articles boast about India’s demographic dividend, suggesting that half of India’s population is under 25 years of age, and that India is a young country, whereas most developed countries are becoming Old countries. Or you may hear about the success stories of some Indian companies, especially in the I.T and BPO sector, such as Infosys.

But if you are an Indian, then I am sure you know of the inside story as well. More than 70% of the population thrives on less than Rupees 20[approximately half a dollar] a day. Unemployment is almost at 10%[and that too of the labor population]. 65% of Indian people[and that amounts to over 700 million people, almost twice that of the population of the USA] don’t even have access to toilets, forget having a concrete house or access to clean drinking water. 60% of Indians do not get proper food to eat, nor do they have a proper place to stay or live. Just 16% of India’s GDP is obtained from the agriculture sector, but ironically, over 60% of the population is dependent on it as their primary source of income. Farmers are paid awfully low amounts for selling their crops. In the slums of Mumbai, 15-20 people sleep in one room, of a dank and dark house. Millions of children die before they reach the age of 5 every year. Diseases such as malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, dysentery, etc, regularly claim the lives of millions. Most people still do not have access to basic health facilities, primary education, voting rights, food, shelter, etc. More than one-third of the population drops out of school by class 8. India has a Human Development Index of 119[less than even Guyana or Namibia], and it is estimated that the condition of the BIMARU[Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh] states is worse than that of the poorest countries of Africa.

A Slum in India

If the situation is indeed that bad, then where is all that wealth going? It’s easy- In the hands of a selected group of people. To state simply- ‘The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer.’ To give an example- India has more money[over 1.2 trillion dollars] in the black market than the rest of the world combined. Corruption is at a all time high. Money is pilfered like anything: be it the Coal mafia, Oil Mafia, Kerosene mafia, or even Milk mafia, nothing is spared. There is a well developed nexus between politicians, bureaucrats, police, media, businessmen, corporate-houses, and what not. The Government is ready to spend crores of rupees in building statutes of politicians but refuses to spend money in making toilets, hospitals or efficient schools.

India has become a land of contrasts. On one hand, the number of billionaires in India is rising, on the other hand- millions of people are starving to death each year. But the thing which really makes me frustrated is the Total Apathy of the Upper and Middle class towards the Lower class[and I am just as guilty as the rest]. Most of us[ie the Middle class and Upper class] pretend that the lower class does not exist. That the 700 million people simply do not live here, as our fellow countrymen. Instead we are more interested in knowing about the latest variety of imported shoes which are available in the market, or which movie is doing the rounds in the theatres. An average person from an affluent family can spend thousands of rupees during a single lunch session alone. Something which a poor person cannot afford even after working for 2 years. We are misusing wealth like anything. We want to flaunt our affluence, show-off our purchasing power potential in front of our peers and friends.

I have seen people turn their face in disgust whenever they see poor people begging or just moving down the street. Or they just casually move away, doing the Ignoring act. In extreme cases, they may even abuse or strike them down. In fact, the largest recipient group of violence and crime in India is the one including people from the extreme backward castes[also usually the poorest]. Everyone knows that they do not have the power or will to fight back. The unfortunate situation in India at present is that everyone is too busy with their personal lives, to spare time or thought for the poor. Why should we be concerned with inclusive growth as long as we are getting our own cups of cappuccino or Baskin Robbins ice-cream?

In this regard, I salute the spirit of those 1.2 million NGOs in India, which are helping to fight corruption and help the needy. I will mention the name of one-Pratham, which has been doing its best to provide education to the poor children. If only the spirit of giving was present in each one of us, we could have indeed made India a REAL developed country, and not one which just remains on paper. However, I am optimistic and I do hope that people will continue to give back in future. Otherwise the Price of Ignorance will be too much to pay.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 11 comments

What is Love?


She was sitting just one row ahead of me. I could see her back clearly. She was wearing a purple top. Her hair was neatly tied back, and held by a black clip. She had one hand on the desk and the other clutched her brown leather bag. She was listening attentively to whatever the professor was saying. And I was watching attentively to whatever she was doing. I had eyes only for her and nothing else. Somewhere I could hear the voice of a koyel, and vividly the sound made by fluttering leaves as the wind blew by. But it was all distant. There were 20 other students inside the classroom, but I pretended as if they did not exist.

She was wearing a golden bracelet on her right hand, and had a silver watch on the left. Sometimes when she turned, I could catch glimpses of her face. It was pure natural beauty, with minimal make-up, just the sort of features I preferred. She was wearing short diamond ear-rings, with a subtle hole carved in them. The radiance of the ear-rings enhanced the brightness of her looks. Her looks displayed confidence, intelligence, and maturity. She had a spark in her, a glow which I could feel but could not describe. I had talked with her yesterday for the first time. At first I was hesitant, but I soon discovered that she was amiable and honest. She asked me about me background, my interests, my career plans. I inquired about hers. She smiled. I looked, but could not speak. My tongue would not move.

Today, she had wished me Good Morning as she entered the classroom. I mumbled something in reciprocation, but I could feel my face turning red. I lowered my gaze, unable to do anything more. 1 hour had passed since that moment. Yet I could not take my eyes off her. She removed her hair-clip, tied the hair back again[though it was quite un-necessary] and put the clip back on. I followed every hand movement of hers. Her eyes illustrated curiosity, interest, passion. But they also hinted at loneliness. Her hair basked under the sunlight, reflecting it straight at my eyes, forcing me to blink. I felt as if she needed company. Maybe the guy sitting next to her felt the same, as he touched her arm and made a funny comment[I am guessing it was funny, even though I could not hear it, as she started laughing after hearing it]. I felt a sudden twinge of jealousy. But for what? I didn’t even know her well enough.

It was evening. All the classes had ended. She was walking towards the exit. This was it. Do or die. I almost ran in order to keep up with her. I hope she did not notice that I was almost out of breath. She smiled again, and I started examining her face once more. Was I being rude? I did not know. ‘Well then, bye. Will catch up with you again later,’ she said and smiled at me.

‘I do not know if we will ever meet again but yes all the best for the future.’
She stared, apparently a bit surprised at my sudden comment. I turned and started walking. I did not look back.

I was in love.

Note: The above short story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely co-incidental and entirely un-intentional.
Friday, February 4, 2011 17 comments

Its Her Fault. She was wearing Indecent Clothes!

I was reading this article on yahoo,check Here , and the comments which followed it. Apparently a Principal of a college asked a girl to pull down the zipper of her pullover to show her T-shirt. That was ostensibly done to check if the girl was wearing an indecent dress or not, and whether she deserved punishment for it. Many people supported the action of the principal, saying that girls should not wear provocative dresses to college, as it is responsible for corrupting the society, and that it instigates men to carry out nefarious tasks[read- Sexual assault].

Okay, my point is, no matter what kind of clothes a girl wears, what right do you[any male] have to tell her to unzip her pullover[or any other dress] and show you what lies underneath, etc. If majority of the people are offended by someones clothing, then he/she should be told explicitly that a dressing code needs to be followed, irrespective of the gender of the person. Why single out girls alone?

We live in a Male-dominated society, there is no doubt about that. Men are supposed to dictate the rules, and women are supposed to follow them with unquestionable obedience. If such a thing does not happen, the man gets angered, and with an injured ego, does his level best to take revenge[ Read- Honour Killing, Rape, Molestation(especially when his advances are spurned), Kidnapping, Murder, Domestic Violence- say on refusal to give dowry, Other Crimes, etc]. If a girl gets raped, its her fault for wearing provocative dresses and wandering alone at night. If a girl gets molested or beaten up, its her fault for not responding to the advances made by hoodlums. If a girl marries someone against the wishes of her relatives, she is ostracized and treated as an outcast, as a disgrace on the family. If a girl[or her family] is unable to provide sufficient amount of dowry, she is subjected to domestic violence. And the in-laws justify it by saying-'Un logo ne hamari Demand poori nahi ki'

In todays world, the situation has improved somewhat. Women are becoming independent, leading teams, becoming managers in famous organizations, etc. However crime against women has not subsidized. Sexual harassment cases[in workplaces] are on the rise. Most men still cannot accept women as their equal. They want to dominate over them and make them do what they wish.

People try to justify their horrendous act[say molestation or sexual assault] by saying that the girl wasnt dressed appropriately. This is ridiculous. No matter what kind of dress a girl wears, who on earth has given you the license to go and exploit a woman? Its almost as if wearing such clothes unleashes such an irresistible lecherous urge in men, coupled with lust, that they cannot stop themselves. Its true that Indian society is still mostly conservative in the sense that people tend to feel uncomfortable if they see girls wearing a skimpy outfit, or tight-fitting clothes, etc. But you have the choice of not looking at them, going away from the place if you wish. Or if its a public gathering, and you and your are feeling extremely uncomfortable, just go and tell them what you feel. But theres absolutely no excuse for molesting or mistreating women on account of their clothing.

With advent of westernization, Indian people are doing their best when it comes to imitation. Women walking in bikinis may be an ordinary sight in America or Brazil, but may flabbergast Indian people[especially middle aged or above]. Moreover, Indian men are known to be lewd, they love staring at women and passing comments, whistling, etc. Most people act as if that is normal. 'Arrey, jawan ladka hai. Abhi hi to umar hai yeh sab karne ki,' is a common reply. Aur jab woh jawan ladka koi kharab harkat kare, then its all the fault of girls who are asking for trouble by trying to be independent. 'Usko ghar se bahar jaane ko kisni kaha tha? She deserved it.' Such outdated mentality has no place in the current civilized society.

In ancient Greece and Rome, rape was legal. And the woman who got raped was considered to be a criminal and punished. Sometimes even burnt to death. In present day India, most rape victims are considered as a black spot in society, and are further harassed by the police, if they are bold enough to file a report. Most cases are never reported, and if they are, the criminal manages to escape by paying a paltry fine. In rare cases do criminals serve out an entire rape sentence[that too of a mere 7 years]. There have been instances of criminals raping the same woman again after getting out of prison. Where are we headed? If we have such a defunct law, how can we think of handling justice? Most rapes occur because the rapist is confident that he can get away with it.

If you see a woman in a skimpy outfit[or any outfit for that matter], and you cannot control your impulses, and you assault her, then you are a certified criminal. There can be no excuse for your immoral behavior. Let women wear whatever they are comfortable in. It is you[read-man] who needs to control your emotions. For a second think the reverse. Assume that a man is walking topless in the street. Do you expect every girl to jump and pounce on him? Even if they did, would you say that it is the fault of the man for not wearing proper clothes? So why should you blame a girl for what she wears[or does not wear]? When a girl says No, she MEANS NO. Do not take that NO for a Yes, that she is inviting you to violate her. True, the society is heavily tilted in favor of males. But that does not mean we should not opt for equality.

If you think that I am exaggerating too much, then feel free to read this News-18 Year Old Girl burned to death for defying rape.. Maybe then your viewpoint will change.

We men[that includes me] should learn to give women the respect they deserve. We should learn to appreciate the work they do, the decisions they make. For a developing and progressing country, we need to shed our archaic outlook, and move ahead. For a better India and a better world. Lets join our hands together in Fighting Crimes against Women.