11 March, 2015

What are we humans doing with this world ?

(Image courtesy : constantinealexander.net via google)

What is wrong with the world of today ?  I now often wonder
Why are people tearing each other, countries apart, asunder
Why is there so much hatred in this world ?
With allegations and accusations against each other, being hurled.

Look at Planet Earth, the very planet we all call 'home'
Where now zealots plunder in the name of religion and freely roam
Goodness and morality do not seem to make the cut anymore
As hatred and animosity run riots in human minds and come to the fore.
We humans take it for granted, think it's our birth-right
To maul and strip Mother Nature, to raze trees on sight
Climate change, unusual weather, we wring our hands and fret
But are we doing our bit to save greenery and trees ? No, not yet !

Deforestation has become the name of the game
It's all in the name of progress, politicians claim
Mother Nature shows her displeasure and fury every so often
The stance of politicians the world over, however, does not soften.

People are too busy with power play and dominance
Human values do not seem to hold the same pertinence
Lives are cheap, morals askew
To stand up against wrong and right, there are but a few.

Violence rears its ugly head way too frequently
Gunmen get into schools and go on shooting sprees
People in nations tortured, maimed and killed by terrorists
There seems to be no room in this world, for non-conformists.

Religion still happens to be the most favoured tool
Steeping minds and hearts with hatred, forming vile cesspools
One still hears of bloodshed aplenty in the name of God
In the name of One who's supposed to protect and nurture, is that not odd ?

That day in Bombay's history will forever be etched in my memory
Where ordinary people went on a bloodthirsty spree
I was at work when, one by one, the bombs exploded
As, one after the other, multiple places in the city were pounded.

I saw bodies being carted away in trucks, limbs lying scattered
The heart ached to see the city torn, families shattered.
If one thinks these incidents were just events in the past
Look at the more recent ones the world over, they'll leave one equally aghast.

Caste and religion are such fertile breeding grounds even today
Little children being indoctrinated into violence, their minds led astray
The heart aches and the eyes sting with tears
As children are taught to handle guns and bombs, and terror cheers.

Women have no space to voice themselves, in many a place
As their own, physical or mental, many women can claim no space
Women are still treated as objects, to claim and plunder
When will good sense prevail, if at all, it makes one wonder.

Watching the evening news is nary a pastime anymore
For, all one hears in the headlines and news, is a whole galore of gore
What comes from such violence, I ask
Is there indeed such hatred deep in the minds of people, to unleash and unmask ?

Violence, bloodshed, carnage and mayhem rule the roost
With false values and deceptive tenets, young minds are being seduced
Is this right, is this really the road to heaven or jannat, as claimed
Does violence not leave families shattered and youngsters, for life, maimed ?

Why then, does humankind spread such hatred and loathing
And in doing so, what sort of a future course are we charting ?
War and bloodshed in the name of personal conviction
Oh brethren ! Human attitudes are so very brazen.

We humans are fast being dragged into a mire
We humans are fast setting the world afire
Humanity has imprisoned itself in cages of bigotry
To random violence and anger, there seems to be no boundary.

Change is what the world over, humanity needs
Pray, who's going to make a start in tilling hearts and of change, sowing the seeds
It has to start from the grassroots, it so does
To crush prejudices and bigotry, do we humans have it in us ?

Oh ! Don't you think there's got to be a start somewhere ?
Of intolerance, chauvinism and prejudice, all humanity needs to beware
A start sure needs to be made on this front
Else, our future generations risk bearing, of such hatred, the brunt.
Else, our future generations risk bearing, of such hatred, the brunt.


06 March, 2015

India's Daughter

India's Daughter

India's Daughter.
This documentary by Leslee Udwin is making the headlines all over – for a whole range of reasons.  The most important one being that this documentary is about the mindset which has prevailed in patriarchal societies like India for eons now and how this, in turn, becomes the root cause of many an evil towards women in society.  It is a known fact that these mindsets towards subjugation of women exist even today, even among the so called ‘educated’ community in India.  India’s Daughter serves not just to drive those attitudes home, it actually brings to the fore, focuses attention on why women are still subjugated, dominated and suppressed in an India which is supposed to be ‘fast developing’.
The government of India, for reasons or excuses best known to it, have banned the screening of this documentary in India.  My question remains the same – Why ?  I guess this question will have a whole plethora of answers ranging from “it shows our country in bad light” to “this sends out the wrong message to people because the convicted rapist has been interviewed in this documentary”. 
If the reason is the former, it is not the documentary that shows our country in bad light.  It is the fact that crimes against women are still rampant and worse still, action taken is far and few, if at all any.  That is cause for concern, not the fact that the flaws are being openly portrayed in this documentary.  If it is the latter, judging by the opinions of some of the other people who have been featured in this documentary, this mindset of women not having any say in anything worthwhile, women being treated as doormats, women being held responsible for crimes against them, is more widely prevalent than what people would like to believe, think and assume.  Therein lies the monster and it is this monster whose face has been unmasked, in Leslie Udwin’s documentary.
This documentary makes an attempt to showcase women’s rights (or the lack of it) all over the world.  There are so many countries where women suffer on account of repression, they still continue to live under the shade of inferiority that patriarchy has shadowed them with, many women still continue to be repressed and victimized on a regular basis, just by virtue of being a woman.
There have been quite a few critics of the documentary who have pointed out to the fact that the research done when producing this documentary, leaves a lot to be desired.  That may be true but just for a moment, let’s look beyond the nitty gritties and focus on the matter that this is trying to bring to the fore. 
That highhanded male attitude that patriarchy bestows on male members of its society is so very evident, especially in the clips where the convicted rapist has been interviewed and worse still, when the defendents’ scum lawyers open their mouths and spew filth.  It was unnerving, hair raising and extremely infuriating watching those interview clips.  When the convicted rapist talks of his brother (the main perpetrator in this heinous incident), the feeling I got was one of adulation, of the fact that he looks up to his big brother as the person ‘who could do anything’.  There is a definite element of hero worship when he talks about his brother having ‘done such things before too’.
The almost amused look that flickers across his face, the complete lack of remorse and those blank eyes stand testament to male attitudes that persist, that are very much alive and kicking in the Indian society, even today.  There is not a sign of regret or repentance over what they did, neither does there appear to be any element of shame.  Instead, he does what many men like him have been taught to do, by society and by their parents, through the years – point the finger elsewhere and blame someone else.  He nonchalantly blames the girl for what happened with her when he says ‘they had to teach her a lesson because she fought back’.  His parents, when interviewed, point fingers at the other four accused in the gang rape.  In their minds, both their sons were not to blame. 
What is most dismaying, most disturbing about the whole documentary is a truth that people already know.  Atleast people from India do, very well.  It is how women, how feminity is viewed in India by a whole spectrum of males, ranging from the uneducated rapist to the so called ‘educated’ lawyers.  It is the unapologetic misogyny, the unrepentant objectification of women that this documentary unmasks.   This predominant male mindset is prevalent only too widely. 
Another thing that the documentary brings to the fore is the fact that in the minds of these men who have been convicted and in prison right now, nothing has changed.  I cringe at the knowledge that the juvenile who was just as responsible as the many others, in gang raping Jyoti Singh, will walk free in December 2015.  This animal will roam the streets once again and can our legal system, which chose to give him a three year sentence on the basis of him being underage, vouch for the fact that this sentence has been deterrent enough to prevent him from doing something as heinous, all over again ?  No, it can’t.  It exposes another one of those many loopholes in the Indian legal system wherein someone who gang raped and murdered a woman gets away, simply because he is not eighteen yet.  Our prison systems do nothing either.  Is he going to walk out of his juvenile prison, a changed man ?  I sincerely doubt it.  So then, on what basis are our courts letting him walk out, a free man, come December 2015 ?
The heart goes out to her parents and to me, they stand as shining examples of dignified courage.  There is helplessness writ large on their faces.  Definitely yes and that is totally gut wrenching.  It is that powerlessness, that vulnerability that underscores why, as of today, there is a definite limit, a ceiling to what one can do in the face of literally every crime that takes place against women in our country today – right from domestic violence to rape.   Yet, through their helplessness, their pain, they come across as symbols of hope – hope that there would be more parents like  them who are prepared to stand up to their families, hope that there would be more parents like them who would be broadminded enough to defy societal rules in educating their daughters, hope that there would be more parents like them who know and recognise their daughters’ strengths and appreciate them.
The Indian government has pretty much done the people of its nation, the women of its nation and feminity in general, a disfavour by banning the screening of this documentary in India.  They are doing exactly what people have been doing in the past – trying to push the problem into the deepest recesses of a dark drawer in the hope that it blows off and the whole thing just disappears, goes away. 
Simply put, our society needs to take a long, good look at the mirror that has been placed in front of its face and confront the issues that need confronting, not push them away into the deepest recesses of the nearest closet in the hope that the issues disappear.
The documentary does not sermonise, nor does it show the country or its people in bad light, nor does it seek to glorify the directors and the producers.  Very simply put, it unmasks, it unveils, it bares, it reveals all over again, the picture of women in India, shackled by the chains of a patriarchal society.  It debunks the myth that things have indeed changed and more importantly it hits home on the fact that there needs to be a beginning somewhere, a start towards changing the notations, the assumptions, the mindsets in people, towards womanhood and feminity.