Sky is the Limit For Unshackled Women


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The world of women has always been oscillating, especially in our sub-continent. Recorded history and sociology vouch for the fact that women were enlightened and emancipated in the best possible manner in the early Vedic ages. Conditions regressed in the later periods, only to deteriorate steadily. Women were weaned from the right to education, equality, economics and even dignity.

Foreign invasions and inland political insecurities which prompted the use of the purdah system caught on to the point of shrouding our sisters in some parts of the country till date.

Dowry system which was paved with the intention of passing on the rightful fraction of the family heirlooms and property took demonic proportions which started smouldering and singeing young women in their marriages. The rigid caste system, polygamy and the system of honour killing almost decimated the status of women to non-entities.

Our society slowly fell into a decadent pattern that proved to be a dreadful nightmare for women in particular. So much so that even five centuries ago, there were formulae for bringing up children. A separate set of rules for sons and daughters. By the time they were responsible young adults, they were prepared to slip into their slots and play their part within and outside their households. This methodology worked quite well through several centuries.

Several centuries later, the fairer sex stepped out of their hearths and homes pursuing education and professions. They did face teething problems till they emerged successfully. Then the trend became an accepted norm.

Young women blossomed at every given opportunity while their less accomplished sisters experienced the much needed exposure. This encouraged them to dream for a bigger platform for their daughters. If this phenomenon of getting better with each passing generation were to become a reality, then the world we live in will transform into Utopia.

Alas such is not the case. Parenting has become a challenge. Despite all the talks and convictions about creating a level playing ground for children of either gender, the harsh truth remains contrary. To be fair to parents of our sub-continent, many of them do walk their talk. There are lakhs of couples who have parented only one girl child and have helped her achieve wisely and well. Yet, sadly the fact remains that many of these young women are considered to be round pegs in square holes because the world at large openly or secretly consider them to be second class citizens.

Freedom for girl child

More than ever, there is a serious threat to the security and freedom of the girl child, especially in urban set ups. We are living in times where stories of molestation, rape and the fairer sex being subjected to indignities have started making headlines almost on a daily basis. While rationalists would like to smother this news content as the hype created by media, we must also remember that there can be no smoke without fire.

Let us face facts, looks like we have reached a stage where debauchery has begun to become a byword in our country. At one glance it is obvious that there is something essentially wrong in the way we bring up our children. It is not just about gender inequality which begins at the foetal stage.

The health and education sectors which make a staple contribution during the formative years wallow in corruption. The families and immediate society which moulds the child’s thinking and shapes its character unthinkingly imposes its biased convictions and baseless theories which undermine its personality in the long run.

Intrinsic human values like truth and compassion have given way to superficiality and wanton display of materialism. Certificates and documents have substituted learning and imbibing knowledge. The global village which leaves us spoilt for choices have made us blind to the positive qualities of our vicinity. There seems to be no censor over the entertainment sector which is dishing out brain candy and promoting medieval beliefs and superstitions. The scenario is bleak.

Despite this drawback, it is heartening to note that quite a decent number of the fairer sex in our cities have not only managed to survive but also thrive. If women can stand up against all odds and prove their mettle, just imagine, how much more they can achieve if they are unshackled of obstacles? The sky will be the limit!

Testing time For Trees


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How does one kill a tree? Axe it down silly! I can almost hear you screaming out loudly. But then, we also know that the old fogey will shed tears for a while, mope around a bit and spring right back with tender green sprouts at the earliest opportunity.

So, if someone wants to get rid of the tree forever, they must ensure that the roots are pulled out entirely and they are denied access to moisture because they can battle back to survival with the least of resources.

Man learned to do this job meticulously because he did not want impediments in the form of trees on his road to progress. Never mind, if he destroyed the green cover, he could always cross bridges as and when he came across them. Well, what has been outlined is a well known old story.

These days, the green activists, the government, its opposition party and the common man are in agreement about the importance of growing and nurturing trees for our own sakes. This wisdom has dawned across mankind around the world after mother nature has given us a sample of how climate change and depleting natural resources can actually spell disaster to us in the long-run.

So, If we are under the impression that we have turned into Samaritans who will squirm at the very thought of bringing down sturdy trees, we must stand corrected. We have simply changed our excuses to do the dreadful deed.

These days we bring down the old fellows who are threatening to fall down during the next rains. This measure has the sanctified permission of the powers that be and is carried out in full public view in broad daylight.

Inhuman way
However, this piece aims at throwing light on several other inhuman ways which are being employed to do away with the green shade. How many times have we not noticed a lot of garbage, mostly the inflammable variety being dumped around a tree?

They are regularly burnt down till the tree gets browner by the day; even as its life supporting roots are singed to death. When the tree starts resembling deadwood, they become officially ready to be brought down with official sanction. It is strange but true, that this modus operandi has been almost uniformly adopted by urban India.

Materialistic instincts

It is also a fact that these trees are invariably the ones that are found on the pavements or properties that have been earmarked to serve a greater commercial purpose driven by the materialistic instincts of the perpetrator/s.

All the same, these days, the eco-friendly lot occasionally smells a rat and bung a spanner in the destructive project. Nevertheless, there are people who are ready to go to any length to eliminate the obstacles that come in their way of their growth.

More recently a bunch of diehard tree lovers were shocked out of their wits to see a whole copse die and fall down. When the area was marked to be developed as a commercial complex, the builders wanted to get a better look at the ground and ordered the trees to be cleared.

The tree enthusiasts managed to convince the owner to retain the trees and even came up with a less lucrative plan B which would prove to be a green service to the society at large.

The matter did seem to conclude amicably and seemed to be that way for almost a year, till the day when all the trees came crashing down within a matter of a few days. A little investigation by the heartbroken group revealed that small dozes cups of poison had been dropped around the roots of the trees, one foot below the ground level. When they shared this bit of tragic news, it became apparent that this dirty secret happened to be the cause of death of many such random trees that came down across time and space.

Once the initial distaste for the morbid thought process ceases, one must realise that people will always be on either side of the fence when it comes to their equations with nature’s verdant bounty.

Therefore, it becomes the solemn duty of the champions of the cause of trees to watch out and foil the clever, furtive and sly attempts of their detractors. If we choose to be passive onlookers of the massive annihilation of our green cover, we may not even have enough time for retribution.

Improve Quality of Living in Villages


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Urban India has undergone a sea of change over the decades. A little more than half a century ago, industrialisation beckoned to a large number of people from small towns and villages to shift to the happening cities. Cities welcomed youngsters who were barely out of schools and colleges with open arms. They established their families, educated their children, bought property and built their homes. The vast expanses of urban land were occupied. Satellite townships were absorbed to expand cities and everything seemed to fall into place. Thus the great Indian middle class came into being when the migrants decided to settle down in their second home for good.

But, the success and the relative comfort of the city dwellers as against their country cousins proved to be the thorn in the bush. More and more agrarians who were working hard for a pittance and their landowners who found themselves at the mercy of erratic rainfall looked citywards.

The innumerable job opportunities for the unlettered as the support system of the city to help it function smoothly, translated as secure salaried jobs for them and a better future for their kids. They came in broods from all over and occupied the nooks and crannies of the cities and looked forward to making it big or at least reasonably sustainable. Though their skills were limited, their willingness to learn and work hard for a living stood by them. And today, the second generation of the working class has proved that the speculation of their parents hit the bull’s eye.

They have been educated in English medium schools and colleges and many of them have landed jobs as  drivers, mechanics, electricians, clerks, accountants and many have even been absorbed in white collar jobs.  Quite a few have managed to clear loans, buy a little gold and build homes for themselves.

Millions of such people who have migrated to the cities in search of greener pastures have no doubt found the experience enriching in more ways than one. Yet the price that they have had to pay is humongous. They have embraced a way of life very different from their own. They have battled against variance in ideologies, language, culture and ethos and have come to terms with them without ado. They have been removed from their families and communities. They have even lost touch with Mother Nature in the bargain.

One is likely to think that the merging of the rural and urban populace would have happened over a period of time and must have helped the city that has sheltered and supported them to progress in a healthy way. Yet, the picture is quite to the contrary.

Contemporary picture
If one were to present a contemporary picture of Indian cities, it is likely to be uniform across the length and breadth of the country. We are riddled by a large population, pollution of every sort, concrete jungles, garbage and traffic jams — not necessarily in that order. There is a definite line of demarcation that separates natives and migrants socially, economically, politically, educationally and emotionally.

Yet these setbacks have not discouraged mass migration from villages to the cities.
The people who come in search of better prospects know that they have to stretch resources like housing, water, electricity, sanitation, transport among other things till they become threadbare. They are acutely aware that one of the reasons for pseudo inflation is the inverse relationship between demand and supply.

The other obvious reason is, there are not too many hands toiling away and growing food for those of us who are willing to buy them. Yet, these factors do not seem to deter hopefuls from making a beeline to the cities.

The Indian cities are bursting at their seams and are presently witless to deal with fresh onslaughts like dealing with rain woes, overflowing garbage, increased power cuts and traffic jams.

The only way out of this syndrome is to step up the quality of living in our innumerable villages. The government does not really have to do much on this count, except encourage entrepreneurs to establish their industries in and around the villages. Housing, transportation, communication and attendant facilities will follow automatically.

As for the ever growing cities, its population should be persuaded to take up terrace gardening, rain water harvesting, solar lighting and garbage management in right earnest. Only then shall the twain meet!

It is Good to Feel Bad


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Sanjay, all of 17, was severely reprimanded by his lecturer for not submitting his record notebook on the due date.

The lanky boy hung his head in shame and looked sideways at his friends who were standing by the door. Reassured, he mumbled a cursory apology and exited the staff room. Before long, his pals cheered him up and soon, the gang was off to watch a movie.

When Sheila, 12, was scolded by her mother for not keeping her room clean, her teenaged cousin Leila consoled her saying, “Moms are like that only. Even mine never misses an opportunity to pick on me. So don’t worry, chill!”

Evan, 22, a waiter at a high-end restaurant, was clumsy while serving tea to a regular customer and was taken to task by his manager. When he returned to the kitchen, his colleagues told him that there was no point in moping because the manager was incapable of digesting his meals if he did not chew up one of his underlings every day.

These are but random instances. Yet there is a line of commonality that strings them together. In every cited case, the person who was pulled up for his or her mistake felt victimised. Not for long did the person pause to reflect on what they did wrong.

The already dormant conscience was further assuaged by an empathetic consoler who made a villain out of the conscientious disciplinarian.

How many times have we not been party to or at least witnessed scenes where the pointlessness of feeling bad is underscored? Then comes the scolding of the ‘scolder’ for finding faults unnecessarily and making proverbial mountains out of molehills. Eloquent empathisers will go a step further and cite a track record of similar situations and ridicule the stickler in good measure.

Usually, martinets are nicknamed and made laughing stocks of their immediate society, fodder for the gossip gristmill. True, none of us like to be criticised. Often harsh words can make our hearts bleed much more than prickly thorns. It is during these times that we look up to our friends and well-wishers for emotional support. We feel lighter and better when we are comforted.

There is nothing wrong in craving for some reprieve when we are submerged by our blues, especially if we have been walked all over for no fault of ours. At such times, we will do well to follow the advice of our supporters and treat these instances as passing clouds. We must get on with our lives without attaching too much importance to the slights meted out to us.

Nevertheless, if we happen to be at fault, the best course of action would be to reflect and introspect on the subject. Then it will not be very difficult for us to see that we have erred and therefore have been admonished, albeit harshly. It is time for us to realise that it is alright to feel bad or guilty. It just shows that our conscience is functioning well.

The best step forward in such circumstances would be to apologise sincerely and correct the error and make a mental note of the new lesson that has been learnt. On the other hand, if we happen to be in the shoes of the sympathiser, we can lend a patient ear to those who are hurt, but must not fail to point out the need to apologise gracefully and set things right. If we get used to the ‘don’t care’ attitude, we will remain mediocre all our lives.

The Changing Face Of Namma Bengaluru


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The residential areas in Namma Bengaluru are facing an unexpected makeover just when one thought that it was settling down into a pattern. The Namma Metro, road widening, underpasses and over bridges are all set to change the face of the city. DH photo

The residential areas in “Namma Bengaluru” are facing an unexpected makeover just when one thought that it was settling down into a pattern. The Namma Metro, road widening, underpasses and over bridges are all set to change the face of the city.

The constant digging of roads in the name of progress is pressing the panic button of the general public who happen to own land along the “roads to progress”. Though none of the landowners want to part with their precious piece of land, some prefer to chicken out of the issue by quietly submitting to the authority, while the more passionate decide to fight tooth and nail to retain their prized possession. Scenes of disharmony on the subject are not rare. The subject is the hot potato of the Metro and just about everybody – landowner or not – is not particularly happy with the situation. Then, the apparent moot question in the situation is, why should the authorities tenaciously persist something, which is totally unpalatable to the people?

In order to comprehend this phenomenon, it is important for us to realise that besides being economic assets, all buildings, urban designs and settlement patterns have a symbolic content, which gives them an identity of their own. They have grown into the psyche of the citizen and have been nurtured by the people who inhabit or observe them. Old Bengalurians will vouch for this home truth without hesitation. They have been mute victims to various modern architectural metamorphoses from time to time. It has  ignored customs and contexts, which eventually resulted in sterile urban environments.

Individual bungalows, which made the city a “Pensioner’s Paradise” gave way to smaller houses with one or two storeys with the coming of several public sector units in the city. Increased business opportunities and arrival of the IT sector gave rise to high rise buildings and flat culture in the Silicon City. All these changes have taken place right under the nose of the conscientious citizens who have invariably turned their noses up in the air at each juncture.

But has it made an iota of difference to the “indifferent authorities” who choose to override the opinion of the common citizen? These frustrating rhetoric questions are the very
ones, which are eroding the peace of mind of the common man! It is immaterial as to whether he is a direct victim of the said circumstances or not!

In the process of development, we ended up losing our balance with nature. With technological progress, we are facing inadequacies in every which way. The impact of globalisation, implication of the virtual world into the real, rapid extinction of basic amenities like potable water and electricity are some of the harsh truths which boggle the metropolitan these days.

Evolving new direction
It is time we truly reflected over the monstrous manifestation and look for a new direction to evolve sensibly and sensitively. Architects and thinkers on the subject look upon the subject as an embodiment of experiential, emotional and sensory qualities of a city. The much celebrated “salubrious climate” of the city, the regional landscape despite the disappearing green canopy and the symbolic identity of a city which welcomed all and sundry with open arms is a victim of its own “accommodative nature” today.

All the buildings, properties and settlements which were an intrinsic part of the fabric of Namma Bengaluru are apparently fighting a losing battle for they are trying to race against time and the “so-called progress”. They portray a static image of a dynamic entity, which has undergone several transformations over the years, right in front of them. The truth is inevitable, no matter what is said or done; the process of metamorphoses has begun. We have to wait and watch to see how the final picture will turn out to be. One should not be too very surprised if there are more mutations and changes in “city planning” as and when required or desired by the authorities.

A settlement becomes timeless in the minds of its inhabitants because it possesses evolutionary significance. Hence, people who are fighting for their piece of “good earth” are, in fact, commenting on contemporary lifestyles which are but alterations and condensed continuities of the original way of life.

The pragmatic people look upon the changes to come from a socio- economic angle. It is obviously a part of the foreseeable future. The time to face the reality of the realty scene is looming above our heads like the proverbial Damocles’ sword. The ball is in the court of the common man. If we decide not to not succumb to pressure, it is imperative that we stand united by the cause. Just in case we choose to stand divided on the subject, we must be mentally prepared to go with the flow!