Economic and social development

Economic development

In the economic study of the public sector, economic and social development is the process by which the economic well-being and quality of life of a nation, region, local community, or an individual are improved according to targeted goals and objectives.

The term has been used frequently in the 20th and 21st centuries, but the concept has existed in the West for far longer. “Modernization”, “Westernization”, and especially “industrialization” are other terms often used while discussing economic development. Historically, economic development policies focused on industrialization and infrastructure, but since the 1960s, it has increasingly focused on poverty reduction.

[1]Whereas economic development is a policy intervention aiming to improve the well-being of people, economic growth is a phenomenon of market productivity and increases in GDP; economist Amartya Sen describes economic growth as but “one aspect of the process of economic development”. Economists primarily focus on the growth aspect and the economy at large, whereas researchers of community economic development concern themselves with socioeconomic development as well.

Many institutions of higher education offer economic development as an area of study and research such as McGill University, London School of Economics, International Institute of Social Studies, Balsillie School of International Affairs, and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

economic development goals

The development of a country has been associated with different concepts but generally encompasses economic growth through higher productivity, political systems that represent as accurately as possible the preferences of its citizens,the extension of rights to all social groups and the opportunities to get them and the proper functionality of institutions and organizations that are able to attend more technically and logistically complex tasks (i.e. raise taxes and deliver public services) These processes describe the State’s capabilities to manage its economy, polity, society and public administration. Generally, economic development policies attempt to solve issues in these topics.

With this in mind, economic development is typically associated with improvements in a variety of areas or indicators (such as literacy rates, life expectancy, and poverty rates), that may be causes of economic development rather than consequences of specific economic development programs. For example, health and education improvements have been closely related to economic growth, but the causality with economic development may not be obvious. In any case, it is important to not expect that particular economic development programs be able to fix many problems at once as that would be establishing unsurmountable goals for them that are highly unlikely they can achieve. Any development policy should set limited goals and a gradual approach to avoid falling victim to something Prittchet, Woolcock and Andrews call ‘premature load bearing’.

Many times the economic development goals of specific countries cannot be reached because they lack the State’s capabilities to do so. For example, if a nation has little capacity to carry out basic functions like security and policing or core service delivery it is unlikely that a program that wants to foster a free-trade zone (special economic zones) or distribute vaccinations to vulnerable populations can accomplish their goals. This has been something overlooked by multiple international organizations, aid programs and even participating governments who attempt to carry out ‘best practices’ from other places in a carbon-copy manner with little success. This isomorphic mimicry –adopting organizational forms that have been successful elsewhere but that only hide institutional dysfunction without solving it on the home country –can contribute to getting countries stuck in ‘capability traps’ where the country does not advance in its development goals.

social development

Social development is about improving the well-being of every individual in society so they can reach their full potential. The success of society is linked to the well-being of each and every citizen.Social development means investing in people. It requires the removal of barriers so that all citizens can journey toward their dreams with confidence and dignity. It is about refusing to accept that people who live in poverty will always be poor. It is about helping people so they can move forward on their path to self-sufficiency.

Every New Brunswicker must have the opportunity to grow, develop their own skills and contribute to their families and communities in a meaningful way. If they are healthy, well educated and trained to enter the workforce and are able to make a decent wage they are better equipped to meet their basic needs and be successful. Their families will also do well and the whole of society will benefit.

Learning must start early in life. By investing in early learning initiatives, we can ensure a greater degree of success amongst our citizens. Making sure that children get a good start in their education goes a long way to increasing their success later in life.

An affordable, high quality child care system is also needed for society to succeed. When people know that their children are being well taken care of, they can be more productive in their jobs. When employers have good employees their business is more likely to succeed. When businesses succeed, the economic situation of a community is improved. An investment today in good child care programs can provide many long term economic benefits for society.

In addition, a safe affordable place to live is very important in helping people achieve self-sufficiency. It is the focus of family life; where families can live safely, nurture their children, build community relationships and care for aging parents. Without a decent place to live, it is difficult to function as a productive member of society .Other investments in people that contribute to the economic prosperity of society include youth programs and services, post-secondary education, job creation, promotion of healthy, active living and safe and secure communities.

To reduce poverty we need to take a social development approach and invest in our people. By investing in people we can reduce poverty. We need to go beyond looking at government to find ways to develop our most valuable resources, our people. We need to share responsibility with community organizations, businesses, universities and municipalities in the task of improving the well-being of all New Brunswickers and preventing and reducing poverty.

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Why Child marraige should be banned ?

Child marraige refers to a marraige ( formal or informal ) of a child aged less than 18 to another child or an adult. In india a third of the global total girl children are married . Although child marraige is banned in india but this practice is still prevalent in many parts of the country like UP , Bihar , Maharashtra etc . It is a global issue as it is also prevalent in countries like Niger , Bangladesh , Mali , Chad , Guinea and Nepal .

Child marraige is primarily a poverty driven practice. A girl child is seen either as a burden or a ‘commodity’ which can be married off or sold for money. Often a girl loses all the future prospects of education after the marraige . Also , girls are forced to become a mother as soon as they get married in many countries. This puts them at a higher risk of STDs , teenage pregnancy , abortion and premature births. They are involved in household activities and have no chance of making a future or career.

A young boy who is put in a child marraige may not be ready to accept fatherhood. He may not be able to earn livelihood for the family.

Often in a child marraige , parenthood is inadequate and the marraige can be unstable . Most of the times there is no legal consent taken from either gender . Child marraige can leave children emotionally and physically traumatised and scarred for their life . In an age where they should study , play , make friends and discover themselves , they are involved in parenting and earning for the family. Child marraige is menace that should be completely erased from the world .

Empowering children by giving them education and spreading awareness among the masses regarding the hazards of child marraige can be done to stop this practice. Laws and practices will also help in curbing this menace. Proper incentives and opportunities should be provided to a poor family so that they do not get their children married off early . Overall , if a society works for completely eradicating this practice , then we can surely save children and teenagers from losing their youth and their future.

Child Labour

This is a word you might have heard of in the news or in the movies. It is a crime in which children are forced to work at a very young age. It is to be expected that the children will be to carry out responsibilities such as working and fending for themselves. There are some guidelines, restrictions, and limitations of the work.

The average age for a child to be appropriate, in the work are considered to be at least fifteen years old or more. Children at this age will not be allowed to enjoy any kind of work is very impressive. Why do we do this? As a child, taking away the children from having a normal childhood, a good education, and the physical and mental well-being. In some countries, it is illegal, but in the end, it’s a long way from being completely wiped out.

Causes of child labour
Child labor, for a number of reasons for this. While a few of the reasons as to why this may be used in some countries, there are a number of reasons that are specific to certain regions and territories. However, if we look at the root causes of child labour, and we’re going to be in a position to fight, the better it will be.

First of all, it is the countries with high rates of poverty and unemployment. If a family does not earn enough, and they are the children of the family, so that they do not have enough money to survive. However, as the adults in the family, the unemployed, and the young people who work for them.

In addition, if people do not have access to education, they are going to have on their children to work. The manual only care about the profit, in the short term, and this is the reason why they have to do things so that they are able to survive in them.

In addition, it is save to save the setting out of different industries, which is one of the most important causes of child labour. They are the children, since they are then they will have to pay less for the same work, but as a grown-up. As children, more than adults, and even fewer wages, they prefer children. They can easily influence and manipulate them. They only see their profit and this is the reason why you have to involve the children in the factories.

The abolition of child labour
If we want to eradicate child poverty, and we need to make some of the most efficient and effective solutions that will save our kids. It will also help to improve the future of the country are dealing with these social problems. To begin with, there could be a number of trade union organizations, who are working to prevent the occurrence of child labor. This should help a child to engage in this work, the punishment of those who are with them.”

In addition, we need to keep parents in the loop as they learn the importance of education. If we, free of charge to the education, training and awareness, in which we are going to be able to educate more and more children do not have to do with the child. In addition, in order to make the people aware about the harmful effects of the use of child labour, it is a must-have.

In addition, to the family of the control measures that must be taken into account. This will help to lessen the burden so you have fewer mouths to feed, and her parents are going to be enough to get them to work, rather than a child. In fact, each and every family in need of in order to get a promise of a minimum income to the government in order to survive.

In short, the government and the people need to come together. Of the jobs that could be given to those who are in abundance, so that they are able to earn a living, rather than having to put their children to work. The children are the future of our country, and we can’t expect them to be, in order to maintain the economic conditions of their families, instead of having a normal life.

Climate change effects

Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner.

Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring: loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, cientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

According to the IPCC, the extent of climate change effects on individual regions will vary over time and with the ability of different societal and environmental systems to mitigate or adapt to change.

The IPCC predicts that increases in global mean temperature of less than 1.8 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 3 degrees Celsius) above 1990 levels will produce beneficial impacts in some regions and harmful ones in others. Net annual costs will increase over time as global temperatures increase.

“Taken as a whole,” the IPCC states, “the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.” 1-2

Future Effects
Some of the long-term effects of global climate change in the United States are as follows, according to the Third and Fourth National Climate Assessment Reports:

Social issues related topic.. Childhood obesity

Symptoms
Not all children carrying extra pounds are overweight. Some children have larger than average body frames. And children normally carry different amounts of body fat at the various stages of development. So you might not know by how your child looks if weight is a health concern.

The body mass index (BMI), which provides a guideline of weight in relation to height, is the accepted measure of overweight and obesity. Your child’s doctor can use growth charts, the BMI and, if necessary, other tests to help you figure out if your child’s weight could pose health problems.

When to see a doctor
If you’re worried that your child is putting on too much weight, talk to his or her doctor. The doctor will consider your child’s history of growth and development, your family’s weight-for-height history, and where your child lands on the growth charts. This can help determine if your child’s weight is in an unhealthy range.

Abandoning and ill-treatment of old parents

How much do you love your parents? From the small baby to the present you, they loved you unconditionally. Completing your every demand that you wished from your childhood. Can you repay the love by loving them till their end?

In today’s scenario, many old parents are abandoned by their own children. They left them at their poorly state. They feel burden to keep their old parents at home. Many parents are mistreated by snatching all the money by their children and thrown out of their own houses. They become helpless and cannot do anything. How can someone bare to see their parents crying?

What is the importance of celebrating Father’s day and mother’s day? They just show the love in the social media posts but they don’t show the actual love that they need the most in real life. They don’t spend much time together with them. In the old stage, they don’t want live lonely. They need the love and care that they had given the same to their own child.

For such cases, various laws has passed for the security of old parents. They can sue or file a complaint against them for such actions. The person can have 6 month jail for such shameful actions. For their safety various old age homes are provided for them with shelter and food.

This should be stopped and we need to learn and value our parents. Respect and love them . Help and be the support system of them.

Educate The Underprivileged Children

“The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of it’s youth.”

– Erasmus

Education is a necessary tool as it plays a vital role in one’s life. It provides us with the skillset to survive and thrive in this world. It shapes our ideas and brains so we can have critical thinking skills; and enables us to differentiate ourselves mindless sheep. Education is essential as it constitutes a means to eradicate the various social evils that prevail and plague our society like poverty, racism, gender discrimination, differentiation based on colour, caste, creed, religion. It’s quintessential in leading a good and healthy life, enabling us to learn and practice rules & regulations while making us responsible citizens of the nation. It is rightly said that education is the foundation upon which we build our future.

Children are inherently valuable as the pillars of the nation, and, therefore its extremely important that they’re encouraged and provided with resources to study & attain good education.

However, as unfortunate as it is, our global culture has stolen the rightful priority of children and placed it squarely on the wants of the adults. Our laws, our media, our investments; all favour the desires of adults first, second, third, and fourth, before ever considering youth. Our adult-centric society takes bets and loans against children, leveraging their future without consent. Thus, it’s essential that we realize that every child should be educated because each child is precious. Even though people have started realizing this gradually, the path of educating the underprivileged and enabling them a means to build a secure future still remains rocky nevertheless.

Awareness still remains an issue as the underprivileged communities are not well aware about education or importance of it, thus, they don’t understand or realize the need to send their children to schools. There’s a severe lack of role models modelling good learning practices and sharing the understanding that schools are indispensable in providing a space where skills are obtained and that the more skills obtained the greater chance at future successes. The next major hindrance is the accessibility to the education institutions. For some, obtaining the inexpensive education resources such as books, copies, pens, etc. too might appear a distant dream. The next impediment lies in the feedback received from those who are educated, yet unemployed or under-employed. This is partly because many educated are, in fact unemployable and others struggle to get a job even when they are employable. In the eyes of parents, therefore, education is either luxury or a palliative. The poor parents cannot afford luxury. The expected value of education, at least from their perspective, remains low.

And thus, due to the aforementioned reasons, the underprivileged communities remain perpetuated in the vicious cycles of poverty and misery for generations altogether. The only way for them to escape from repeating the cycle is acquiring an education and building a safe, secure and stable future on the basis of it.

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“If we nurture the dreams of children, the world will be blessed. If we destroy them, the world is doomed!”

Chasing The Rainbow: A New Era And A New Fight for India’s LGBTQ Communities

“Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.”

-Jason Collins

India’s Supreme Court last year struck down Section 377, a colonial-era law that outlawed same-sex relations, sparking hopes of equality for the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population. Hundreds of students with rainbows painted on their faces descended on a New Delhi college on Friday and others held parties in major Indian cities to commemorate the overturning of the ban on gay sex.

However, once all the celebrations and merrymaking faded into the background and harsh reality set in, it became apparent that homosexuality in India wasn’t going to be about unicorns and rainbows anytime soon. Even those beating drums and dancing warned that the fight for equal rights, including same-sex marriage and serving in the military, had not been won.

After all they still cannot marry, they still cannot adopt. They have many, many years before any of this is over. The harsh truth still remains that even though LGBTQ activists are growing in numbers, acceptance is still elusive as they continue struggle against internalized homophobia.

So, “where does this homophobia stem from?” and “how bad can it be?” you may ask.

One of the root causes of homophobia is that we, as a society, are unaware of homosexuality. We live in a time and place where people call each other gay to mock and insult them. A decade ago, gay and eunuch were used interchangeably and people were highly ignorant and intolerant towards homosexuality. My classmates often gossiped about (Bollywood producer and director) Karan Johar and (actor) Shahrukh Khan. It was a subject of ridicule and mockery. The stereotypical portrayal of gay and effeminate men in Johar’s movies was in unfair representation of the queer community. Even the popular sitcom FRIENDS was riddled with casual and sometimes blatant homophobia. “Gay” and “LGBTQ” still conjure images and connotations of loud, cackling men in gaudy drag costumes in India, partly because that is the only representation LGBT people get to have.

There’s also lack of sensitisation about the LGBTQ+ community. If they had a dime for each time someone told them that it’s “just a phase” or “why someone from the same gender, it’s not like you are deprived”, they probably could afford to move to a more accepting country. When I was in school, there was a guy who was often severely bullied by the “masculine” classmates because he was effeminate. Kids who weren’t “manly enough” were often a subject to ridicule and bash. No one stopped that. People thought it was normal and the right thing to do. This isn’t surprising though, given that even now there are people who find hijras scary.

The LGBTQ+ community also suffers from lack of support from their family. As a result, their only options are either getting excommunicated if they come out or remaining closeted which can be extremely draining.

They suffer from religious dogmatism. India is a secular country. Every major religion in India condemns homosexuality. It must no doubt be petrifying to live in a place which has more than 330 million gods and yet you can count on neither one of them for their blessings.

The arduous journey to acceptance becomes even more strenuous when you try discussing and rationalizing homosexuality to those intolerant towards it and reach the realization that the minds of recalcitrant homophobes are incapable of processing things beyond black and white. They need that sharp dichotomy. Without it, they panic. They feel adrift, as if nothing is sacred anymore. Which is, of course, ridiculous. But anyway, that whole thing comes from an “us or them” mentality, in which they’re the righteous and anyone who disagrees with them is clearly a secret homosexual out to convert their children to dance around a fire with Satan.

It appears that we have become obsessed in this toxic society with the labelling of others, especially with an intense and revolting over- interest in the sexuality and gender orientation of others what happened to the idea of loving our neighbours unconditionally and paying more attention to developing our own selves in good ways? After all, to change the world we change ourselves in ways that enable us to love others all the more. So let us drop the facade of “morality”, the wilting fig leaf over such garish homophobia, and have no agenda on the LGBTQ community.

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Diversity is good, and it’s okay to be different from the norm.

 

Surrogacy

The word “surrogate” is rooted in Latin “Subrogare” (to substitute), which means “appointed to act in the place of.” It means a substitute, especially a person deputizing for another in a specific role, so the surrogate mother implies a woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a child with the intention of giving away this child to another person or couple, commonly referred to as the “intended” or “commissioning” parents. Surrogacy is an important fertility treatment, wherein advent of in vitro fertilization (IVF) has made motherhood possible for
women without uterus, with uterine anomalies preventing pregnancies, with serious medical problems, or with other contraindications for pregnancy, to achieve motherhood through the use of embryo created by themselves or donor and transferred to the uterus of gestational carrier. This technique has also made it possible for gay couples and single men to achieve fatherhood by having embryo created with their sperm and donor oocytes.

Types of surrogacy

Surrogacy is of two types: traditional and gestational. Traditional (genetic/partial/straight)
surrogacy is the result of artificial insemination of the surrogate mother with the intended
father’s sperm, making her a genetic parent along with the intended father. Gestational
surrogacy (host/full surrogacy) is defined as arrangement in which an embryo from the intended parents or from a donated oocyte or sperm is transferred to the surrogate uterus. In gestational surrogacy, the woman who carries the child has no genetic connection to the child. Surrogacy may be commercial or altruistic, depending upon whether the surrogate receives financial reward for her pregnancy. If surrogate receives money for the surrogacy
arrangement, it is considered commercial, and if she receives no compensation beyond reimbursement of her medical and other pregnancy-related expenses along with the insurance coverage for her, it is referred to as altruistic.

PROS OF SURROGACY


1)It fulfils the wish for the couples to complete their family.
2)It is the good alternate for the women who have infertilities due to certain reasons. It is the latest tool for the fight against the infertility.
3) Women have the positive experience by helping the peoples to have their own child.
4) In commercial surrogacy the poor women are greatly helped by getting the money to meet their need and also can be used or the future purpose for their own child or for their families.
5)Any person can have the privilege of having the child whether they are couples, lesbian, gay or single person.

CONS OF SURROGACY

1) There can be explotations of the women regarding the surrogacy for the money.
2)Women can be treated as a labour which provides the facilities for the birth of the child.
3)If both the commissioning parents and surrogate mother refuses to keep the child, then there will be the violation of rights of the child.
4)Only the wealthy people can afford it.

SUGGESTIONS

1) The rights of the surrogate mother should be procted in every possible manner.
2) There should be a proper contract done to avoid the anomalies between the commissioning parents and the surrogate mother and also to protect the rights of the child.

Thanks….

Untangling Gender and Sex: Beyond He or She

It’s easy to fictionalize an issue when you’re not aware of the many ways in which you are privileged by it.

– Kate Bornstein

One can imagine many raised eyebrows at the idea of this distinction between sex and gender. Aren’t they the same; two names given to the same phenomenon? Yes, and No.

Yes, because these two terms are often used interchangeably by people at large. No, because thinking of the terms as meaning the same thing is an error. The terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are closely linked, yet they are not synonyms. There is a subtle difference between the two as stated by psychologists and anthropologists across the globe. Today, let us explore how they are different.

The word sex has its root probably in Middle English which means “section” or “divide”. If we go further back, sex means the number six in Latin. On the other hand, the word gender is derived from Middle English which in turn is derived from Old French which is ultimately derived from the Latin word genus. Genus means “kind” or “type” or “sort”.

If we quote from the Medilexicon’s medical dictionary, we find two definitions of sex and gender respectively:

Sex is “the biologic character or quality that distinguishes male and female from one another as expressed by analysis of the person’s gonadal (gonad is an organ in animals that produces gametes, especially a testis or ovary), morphologic (internal and external), chromosomal, and hormonal characteristics.”
Gender is “the category to which an individual is assigned by self or others, on the basis of sex.” To put it in a nutshell, sex refers to biological differences while gender refers to socio-cultural differences. This will become clearer by way of examples. Sex and gender have different characteristics. Some features related to sex are – while males have testicles, females have ovaries; while males have penis; females have vagina, females get pregnant while males do not; females can breastfeed their babies, males cannot; at the time of birth, males tend to weigh more than their female counterparts; generally, males have deeper voices than females.

Some features related to gender are – women have long hair and men short; women contribute more to household chores than men do ; some cultures expect their women to cover their heads when they step out of the house while there is no such injunction for men; up till the twentieth century women were not allowed to vote in a number of countries (UK granted female franchise in 1928) ; some professions, like teaching and nursing, are considered to be more suitable for women while others like, climbing the corporate ladders, are more appropriate for men (women are now breaking these barriers); men are regarded as bread earners and protectors of women in the majority of cultures.

This means while sex is a natural or biological feature, gender means a cultural or learned feature – the set of characteristics that a society or culture defines as masculine or feminine. As stated succinctly by the French writer and feminist, “one is not born a woman, but becomes one”. We can extend this to mean that one is not born a man but becomes one, too.

While a person is born with a sex, gender is dictated by socio-cultural norms in which he or she finds himself or herself. Gender is not about being born with a penis or vagina but how we feel about ourselves, or identify with a particular group, men or women. Some people are transgender which means their gender identity is not aligned with their biological sex. A person born with a man’s body might identify more with women and vice-versa. Sexual identity is about our attraction to people of a particular sex. While it is largely true that opposite sexes attract, people of the same sex also experience attraction and hence terms like gay, lesbian, bisexual.

Needless to say, cultural norms vary and so do the gender roles. For example in India, it is normal for Sikh men to have long locks while in some matriarchal societies in Africa, women are supposed to provide for the family while men take care of the kids and household.

Similarly, the sexual differences among people cannot be categorized into two binary opposites. While females have XX sex chromosomes, men have XY chromosomes. There are some babies who are born with XO chromosomes (Tuner Syndrome) or XXY chromosomes (Klienfelter’s Syndrome). They are intersex which may have sex organs that appear to be somewhat female or male or both. A lot of times surgeries are performed on such babies right after their births so as to assign a particular sex to them. However, psychologists advise that such surgeries should be postponed till the babies grow up and can decide for themselves which sex they identify with more, male or female, and accordingly go for sex change procedures. Otherwise, they may experience an identity crisis which may lead to depression or even suicides.

In our culture, gender education is given to kids on the basis of their sex from an early age. While men are told that they need to be aggressive and not emotional (men don’t cry), women are told that they have to be feminine (don’t laugh loudly, learn how to cook, don’t study too much else who will marry you). However, such roles can prove to be a disadvantage for both male and female. What about those men who are fragile? Or those women who do not want to marry and bear children but to make a career? Hence, it is stands to reason that such choices should be granted to different sexes irrespective of the expected gender roles in order to ensure the fullest developments of their personalities in accordance with their innate abilities or desires.

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In a nutshell, sex is what lies beyond your legs. Gender is what lies between your ears.

Trigger Warnings

Trigger Warnings (TW) are labels that we are well-acquainted with today. The term comes from the vocabulary of therapy especially for PTSD, where an individual who has undergone trauma is ‘triggered’ by something that they come across, creating a negative emotional response. It has been extrapolated into mainstream discourse as a measure to help in such situations. ‘Trigger warning’ is meant to be used before content that some may find distressing or triggering owing to their past traumas or experiences. It appears widely on social media platforms, spaces of activism, and even in classrooms to alert students about potentially distressing images or texts that may come up in class. These can include images such as those of violence or mutilation, discussions or descriptions of instances relating to racism, sexism, misogyny, discrimination, rape, murder, etc. , or any topic that is connected to traumas. Trigger warnings acknowledge the existence of trauma and give them legitimacy, allowing individuals to mentally prepare themselves should the content be triggering.

close up photo of caution signage
Photo by Viajero on Pexels.com

However, a careful understanding of the dynamics of trigger warnings is worth looking into in the current scenario since the term is a pointer towards a much larger framework of engagement. Particularly when cancel culture is in vogue and anyone who speaks against anything that is not agreed upon by those who control that space is “cancelled”, labeling what others say as ‘triggering’ can be used as a weapon to attack anyone who might disagree. It is important to note that this is not about legitimate concerns and harm inflicted, but about those who use such labels as a defense to escape accountability or use activism as a facade for their own ends. While there are always individuals whose experiences have made their apprehension of such content extremely difficult, there seems to be an increasing proclivity towards considering being triggered as providing legitimacy, especially if one’s voice is to be heard. A Harvard researcher opines that it only encourages people to see trauma as central to their identity. However, that is not healthy for them. There can come a point when any opinion that might be against or even deviant from the popular discourse among a certain group be considered “triggering”. It can be used to permit behaviors that focus on destroying rather than constructively criticizing. Mindful responses are given away in favor of immediate reactions, creating echo chambers where no one who might disagree is allowed to enter. This only leads to the deterioration of any movement or cause, since it effectively cuts off all engagement with another.

It is also important to understand that while we may be able to move away by seeing the label TW, there is someone, and often a group of people, for whom what we move away from seeing is their everyday lived reality. It is our privilege, to an extent, that lets us walk away. While we should not discount our mental states, we should not promote avoidance as a coping mechanism. Adoption of trigger warnings itself has been questioned by academicians who opine that it only leads to lower levels of resistance and consequently, a decreasing capacity to engage or bring change. It is interesting that therapy for those who have experienced trauma does not go the way of avoiding all triggers, but gradually increasing exposure to them under the guidance of an expert. Only then can we say that the person is on the road to healing. This is a difficult process but considered necessary. Otherwise, the patient will be a victim of the experience all through their lives. And a growing of body of research suggests that trigger warnings do not really help a person who faces such struggles. In fact, it might even have the opposite effect by making him weaker and more sensitive to anything that could potentially cause distress. Seeing TW itself can instinctively cause a negative reaction. This will also render him incapable of adequate response when he might be faced with such a situation in real life without any warning. Avoidance does not help with learning nor with the skills to properly respond. Being fragile in such respects is not something to be aspired to, but something to be dealt with gently for those who are struggling, and to be overcome with support and care.

So, while trigger warnings are useful, the manner in which we think about them might need to change. They should not be an excuse to leave every single time, but more of a “proceed with caution” sign. They should exist as a marker that reminds us of the need for change, and an opportunity to be mindful of how we engage with the content that is presented to us. We might not be able to deal well with all content overnight, but gradually we will be able to not leave the space but stay and meaningfully act in spite of our discomfort, and to provide encouragement to those facing similar struggles. It will also allow us to be better allies to those the mention of whose experiences we find triggering. Our mental health is important, but strength can be built over time with exposure, and we should consider if we are to privilege how something makes us feel over how that something is a lived reality that is affecting lives on the ground, and what we can do about it.

Animal Cruelty: Are Humans Losing Their Humanity?

Imagine you were the one being tested on, imagine your skin being torn off alive, imagine your arms and legs being ripped off while still alive, imagine being burnt alive, fellow classmates even imagine losing your life, just so you can satisfy other species. Doesn’t sound fun, does it?

Now imagine this, you are a poor soul who has been searching for food everywhere. Suddenly, your happiness sees no bound as you see pineapple lying in front of you. You thank god and people for feeding such a delicacy amidst long hunger. You gulp that in one bite and feel inside of your body hurting and burning. You soon realize it was not just a pineapple. You run for water to soothe down the internal wound and burning. You stand in water for hours in oblivion just to face one reality – that now only death can relieve this burning. If reading this makes your stomach churn, you might understand the pain that poor soul went through which for some people was a mere ‘elephant’. What makes it even more disheartening that the elephant was pregnant  and yet had to spend her last few hours standing in the water waiting for death so that to leave this cruel world in solace.

In yet another instance of cruelty towards animals, a monkey was hanged to death from a tree in Telangana’s Khammam district.

Animals – creatures that are considered fit for human cruelty. Hitting dogs, throwing bricks at speechless animals and taming them forcefully for circuses has become common news now. It is time we re-emphasized the need for animal rights to protect and safeguard their lives from humans.

It’s blood curling that there exist some people who intentionally hurt animals because they enjoy hurting things, or because it makes them feel powerful. Some, love the control they possess over these helpless creatures. While, there are others who simply enjoy pain and violence.

It should be noted that intentional cruelty to animals is strongly correlated with other crimes, including violence against people. (HSLF). Any psychologist or police officer can ascertain you that animal cruelty is a precursor to criminally violent behavior toward humans. There are plenty of laws against cruelty to animals as well. Thus, Outright cruelty, harm to a living creature for no other purpose than the cruelty itself, is definitely prohibited and while not punishable to the extent that human cruelty is punishable, it is considered a serious indicator of a disordered mind and a dangerous person.

There are very strict guidelines laid down by the Indian government. Like, the animal should have rested before being slaughtered, an animal should not be killed in front of the other animals, no pregnant animal can be killed and all the animals should be diagnosed by the veterinarian before butchering them. The veterinarian must allow only the healthy animals to be slaughtered but all of it is on paper. All the strict laws have no strict implementation due to lack of will. There will surely be reduction in the rate of animal cruelty if these laws are implemented strictly!

We need to begin with our own selves without expecting any kind of new policies or laws to protect animals. Regularly keeping a bowl of fresh water outside your house and feeding the street animals. Such small activities would provide street animals with basic survival needs in the harsh city life.

Are we going to realize this any soon that we are a part of an ecosystem where human, plants, animals, insects, and microorganisms, all have to live together without harming each other? It’s generally only the humans that are less tolerant towards animals, plants, insets, etc. whereas, the rest simply seek for a peaceful existence.

The Paradox of Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is a wonderful liberty and health inducing function of society if, and only if, the citizens exercise their right to freedom of thought beforehand – exploring their ideas to see if they come from a place of love, good intention and virtue – or emotional indifference, entitlement and fear.”

The paradox of free speech and freedom of expression – at what level can one’s freedom of speech will involve limiting the freedom of speech of another person’s? Its really something to think about. The irony and the paradox of freedom of speech is this – in theory, every single citizen, regardless of who they are or where they come from, are entitled to their opinions and should be free to say whatever they please and the government should not try any means necessary to censor that person.. … except that someone else can who is not a part of the government can, or the government can censor that person through indirect means, or that person can be limited in their freedom of speech because of other reasons. Hate speech is one of them or speech that is deemed as offensive or crude.

Sure, saying homophobic slurs or racist slurs are deemed as hate speech, but what if this angrily-provoked language is done to antagonize a particular group of people who rightfully deserve it (like for example, a dictator or an social elite that have all the power but leave little of that power to the public)? Can that turn into censorship as well? Or what if someone has an opinion or makes a statement that is unpopular or controversial or unorthodox? For example, if a person says that he/she does not like a section of people following a particular religion because they possess an internalized paranoia about a religion that they do not know. That person can easily be deemed as being intolerant.

What about having unpopular opinions but you do not want to say anything about of the fear of being judged because of stigma or taboo like sexual fantasies or sexual orientations or having an opinion that is very unpopular like thinking that Communism is justified or thinking that the Earth is flat, even though scientific evidence will show otherwise? Or what about the political correctness movement that has been happening the past few years that replaces certain words with other words which at the same time limits the amount of speech that people are allowed to say or not say or else their words will have a negative effect on a certain demographic? (even though it is already well-known that whatever word or phrase you say, those words will shape our thoughts and may even reinforce already internalized schemas about certain categorized human groups like the mentally challenged as “idiots” will further reinforce the internalized image of an idiot).

What if someone makes a statement that someone else would find as unsettling or offensive? What gives the other person the right to censor the person who made their joke and limit his/her freedom of speech because that person did What if someone makes a statement that someone else would find as unsettling or offensive? What gives the other person the right to censor the person who made their joke and limit his/her freedom of speech because that person did not like it? Whether you liked the joke or not, that person given charges for hate speech and many people feel that his joke can taken out of context and his freedom of speech was taken from him just because some people did not like it.

What about people who have a lot of influence or in a very high position where their influence will influence the behaviors of others? Businessmen, lawyers, politicians, marketers and so on. If they say something that will eventually upset a lot of people, whether they are being genuine or not, they could be risking having their own image damaged such as when EA chief creative officer Patrick Söderlund said about the upcoming game Battlefield V having women in game despite the historical context, he said “either accept it or don’t buy the game” and a few months, it was reported that the number of pre-orders of BFV was low, possibly as a response to Söderlund’s comment (who now left EA). I think we all know that whatever you say, you are not going to please everyone but I sometimes feel that people are in an advantage or a disadvantage – if a person has a lot of influence and power, their freedom of speech will surely have a positive influence on others, regardless of what say or should be very picky on what they say or else their may be a backlash; or for those people who are in a severe disadvantage for having opinions or statements that are unpopular statement are of sound mind or not.

Despite the shortcomings, free speech is an error-correcting mechanism whose function is to prevent the entire structure from collapsing; the ability to constantly criticize ideas serves as a firewall to contain bad ideas and prevent them from spreading uncontrollably. It also serves as a guide to navigate grey areas where the right path is often hard to see. Having said that, everything has a cost and benefit, and free speech is no exception to this. However, I think that this is a commodity that is far too valuable to be jettisoned, such that the price we pay for not having massively outweighs the downsides of having it.

It should be also realized that freedom of speech is deemed to be a governor of other freedoms, and the erosion of it is usually a reliable signifier that some semblance of totalitarianism is beginning to take root. Freedom of speech is the natural extension of freedom of thought, and thus should be the most vigorously defended of all inalienable rights. If your right to free is being violated, it’s your duty as a citizen of a free country to make that known, and if all else fails, it’s a important enough matter to warrant violence if no other means will suffice. Free speech, especially free political speech, speech is the beacon of all other freedoms. It must be protected Is the costs, and at least here in America, our first constitutional government was created with the idea in mind that their constituents should openly rebel should their rights begin to erode. The last time that happened, it ended up being much more complicated than that. You know it as the American Civil War.

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

Noam Chomsky

#BlackLivesMatter: A Wake-Up Call for India’s Closeted Racism

 

 

‘Racism and prejudices are the exhaust fumes of damaged egos.’

 

As protests erupt in America, over the injustices inflicted on black lives after the institutional murder of George Floyd, we are finally forced to look closer into out own country for similar patterns of systematic and institutional racism that exists in our own country. At a time like this, it’s essential to introspect and heck our privilege in the everyday. When we start looking for their stories, it comes barely as a surprise that their voices are muffled amongst the clamour of noises. This begs the question- ‘Is there racism in India?’ Yes, there’s racism in India, but not just to other races, we are also racist towards our own race. It is almost like we hate ourselves, so much that we’d trade in our hide to be a white without batting an eyelash.

There exists racism on the basis of place a person belongs to which is nothing but an ugly truth of this nation. The hatred is such that people have died in thousands. People from north east are considered as aliens and those who belong to states like Bihar, Jharkhand are considered to be illiterate , mannerless, untouchable in metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, etc. Just an example, that happens everywhere in this country. Not only metro cities but every state have their own reasons to hate one from other state. There’s racism on the basis of language we use. We are blessed to have hundreds of languages all with their own unique identity and importance and yet we have failed as a nation to give every language its due respect which includes one of the oldest languages of human civilization. There’s also racism on the basis of culture and colour. India is blessed with a rich variety of cultures, yet we leave no stone turned to mock each other’s culture, well, that’s how we show admiration to some of the oldest cultures in the world. And as of racism based on someones skin colour, all that can be said is that it’s extremely disheartening. Lastly, there also exists racism on basis of religion. As unfortunate as it is, this is probably the time when it’s most prominent.

People from Bihar have been subjected to racism from several decades. Everything about them from their looks, language, culture, accent is ridiculed pretty much all over the country. The term ‘Bihari’ itself is being increasingly used as a curse word in the northern parts of the country If there is ever a rape somewhere in India, the convict is automatically assumed to be a Bihari . If someone speaks Bhojpuri, he is assumed to be a ‘gavaar’ (illiterate). But this issue is never shown in the media, neither it is ever taken seriously, because according to some folks in our society these people are meant to be bullied. Whether someone is from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh, he is no more than a “Madrasi” to a North Indian. Abusive comments on their skin colour, food habits, culture are quite prevalent among the North Indians.

People are so ignorant about their own culture that they even forget that their is an integral part of India called the “seven sisters” or the “North East”. Recently in an interview, the child actor of the movie “Tubelight”, who hailed from Arunachal Pradesh was asked by a reporter, “How do you feel after coming to India for the first time ?”.

It’s worth mentioning that with the outbreak of the pandemic, the situation of racism became more vivid and more clear as the people of North-eastern region were told to vacate their apartments or other accommodations. Some were beaten up, some were prevented to enter the grocery stores to buy their basic necessities and some were even abused on grounds of internalised racist assumptions around the virus. Well, they can’t really change how they look, can they? Can anybody suggest a ‘guru’ who can teach them what ‘Indian-ness‘ means without having to lose their identity?

To top it all off, there’s the whole conundrum of white skin versus dark skin, with underlying tones of colourism and casual racism. Being a dark-skinned Indian woman is significantly harder. The sexism endemic in Indian society is such that the beauty standards for women are stricter and less fluid compared to men. You do occasionally find the odd dark-skinned south Indian hero, but they are largely relegated to the roles of comedians or villains; dark-skinned Indian women are lucky to be cast as extras or auxiliary dancers. It is even more prominent during matchmaking. In Indian culture, aesthetics and beauty are said to be the jurisdiction of women, whereas work and wages tend to define men-or as the adage goes “udyōgam puruśa lakśańam”. My mother remembers when she had to stand up for one of my aunts during matchmaking negotiations when the groom’s parents demanded more dowry to compensate for my aunt’s dark skin. Even today when brides are in demand from decades of a skewed sex ratio, dark-skinned women fare poorly in the Indian marriage market; a cursory glance at any matrimonial ad using the search term ‘fair’ can substantiate this.

Essentially, every non-Hindustani Indian has a difficult time in India. They can find themselves obligated to learn more languages than their Hindustani counterparts, unable to take exams in their mother tongue or face difficulties accessing state services. None more so than the Northeast Indians. Lacklustre investment in their states has meant that youngsters move seeking greener pastures elsewhere in India. It is incredibly heart-breaking to hear the harrowing tales of men and women being treated so harshly, often disproportionately subject to molestation and harassment and called racist slurs within their own country. Government funding towards languages and other infrastructure is skewed in favour of Hindi, and even Sanskrit. This has resulted in several languages and tribal identities in India facing extinction, especially in the South and the Northeast. Northeast Indians, compared to their South Indian counterparts, have poorer representation in Indian media.

We have a long way to go to become a country where we learn to accept all cultures, religions and habits. after all, the first step in solving a problem is realizing that there is one. If Indians do not collectively admit that we have a problem with racism, we’re going to be in serious trouble. We have several ethnicities in India. This simple fact seems to be lost in the hullabaloo about religion in the mainstream. Media is not a passive entertainment industry. It is a projection of culture and aspiration for many. It directly affects our choices, preferences, tastes, fashion, trends and even politics. Young Indians, especially girls, consuming this diet of cultural crap from media and society will mean that a generation of Indians will emerge with serious physical and mental issues. An unregulated industry of face whitening products often containing dangerous carcinogens like hydroquinone makes medical risks very real. What makes this even more remarkable is the warm reception that dark-skinned people of South Asian heritage have received elsewhere in the world- Kunal Nair, Romesh Ranganathan, George Alagiah, Naga Muchetty, Aziz Ansari and the list goes on. Thus, the Black Lives Matter Movement should be wake up call for India.

‘Let us make it our purpose to listen deeply to those who suffer racism so that we may better comprehend what it is, how they feel and how we can build the society they need. It is wrong to become defensive, and right to open our hearts all the wider, to love and acknowledge that all are fully sacred. We are called to love, and the more we love each other the better our world will become.’

Mental Health: Are We Doing Enough?

 

“No one wishes to have dark days, sleepless nights, grumpy mornings and this endless dark tunnel with no sign that it ever ends. Mental illnesses aren’t a choice.”

Mental illnesses are the unseen, unheard, silent killers. It’s the pain that’s too much to cope with, too hard to deal with and so misunderstood. You can’t escape it no matter how hard you try, because it follows you around like a black shadow that’s on the inside, eating you.

There isn’t anything tragically beautiful about them, it’s just tragic. It’s not sad songs and poetry, shy glances or drowning in the bath. It’s not ghostly white skin tainted by charcoal circles under sad eyes and large purple bruises stretching viciously up your arms. It isn’t lonely walks, vacant coffee shops or smoking dusty cigarettes.

Depression is unwashed clothes and flaking skin. It’s over eating and the inability to even get out of bed. It’s giving up on yourself and not taking pride in your appearance anymore. It’s empty inboxes, bursts of anger and late night tears. It’s a feeling of disgust within yourself that makes you want to tear off your own skin just so you can feel clean. It’s uncertainty and confusion. It’s losing weight, long showers and greasy hair. It’s constantly wishing you could be somewhere or someone else. It’s losing the will to even live.

Similarly, anxiety isn’t just sweating and shaking and shortness of breath. It’s also feeling like you have no control over your life and there is a knot in your stomach and you feel like your world is crashing down completely and you have to sit there and act like you’re fine.

Being bipolar is like being on a roller coaster ride. Sometimes you can predict drop offs and others you just have to hang on because the next turn sends you into an unexpected spiral. Sometimes you are laughing and throwing your hands in the air and then other times you are clinging, simply holding on for dear life screaming it the top of your lungs.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorders are like unpredictable demons of your own mind, where the soul is a puppet of your own fears, where a line between right and wrong gets blurred, where your true identity disappears only in you, where you get accosted for thousands of pointless known questions, where you get beaten every single second by your own self, where everyone seems fine except you, where regret is smaller word for ‘reassurance’, where mind goes dead and breathing continues, where you stuck in a small box full of nightmares.

So, are we doing enough about mental health? Long answer short, no.

The first and foremost reason for India to lose its mental health is the lack of awareness and sensitivity about the issue. There is a big stigma around people suffering from any kind of mental health issues. They are often tagged as ‘lunatics’ by the society. This leads to a vicious cycle of shame, suffering and isolation of the patients. Also, there is a serious shortage of mental healthcare workforce in India.

One of the biggest hurdles in addressing mental health is the measurement of objective information. With other illnesses, there are lab reports, X-rays, CT scan, MRI, etc. which are used for identification of illnesses. In case of mental health, such objective parameters aren’t available. Secondly, despite it’s enormous social burden, mental health remains a taboo subject that is susceptible to age-old stigmas, prejudices and fears. Because people can’t see a physical deformity they think there’s no substance to your illness. People often associate it with pretending and take it lightly in less developed states. Even highly educated people react the same way and lack empathy. They’ll belittle mental illnesses and blame it on the sufferer’s personality. Thus, in our country, the discovery of a mental illness is often followed by denial and hesitation to seek help. Thirdly, the output of the same disease or problem varies significantly from person to person, making it very subjective. Thus, needless to say, the path towards addressing and normalizing discussions about mental health is indeed a rocky one.

Mental health stigma is not only a culturally learned aversion to discussing mental illness, it is also the subsequent ignorance in the general population about how to recognize stigma in everyday life or an institutional level. And this stigma is can be soul damaging. It’s also personal and unique to the individual, yet it encourages society to treat the ones suffering from it as: Dangerous. Expendable. Useless. Invisible. To dismantle stigma we have to look much deeper at the specific problems and manifestations of it. How does stigma penetrate into the scientific publications and research? What type of education are we given on mental health in public education? All of these more nuanced questions give us routes to comparison and action. I believe it is in these details that stigma exists and where it must be sought if we are to dismantle it.

We, as a society, need to learn to treat people with mental illnesses with compassion rather than telling them that their brain is defective.
To build a better world we need to consciously design a better environment for all of humanity, one in which all the choices we have are good options. What we have now is a dynamic that makes people sick and then blames them for being sick. This world of fear and coercion can be swapped for one of love and cooperation, a world that brings us all health and happiness in all our different and wonderful cultures.

Corruption

Corruption refers to a form of criminal activity or dishonesty. It refers to an evil act by an individual or a group. Most noteworthy, this act compromises the rights and privileges of others. Furthermore, Corruption primarily includes activities like bribery or embezzlement. However, corruption can take place in many ways. Most probably, people in positions of authority are susceptible to Corruption. Corruption certainly reflects greedy and selfish behavior.

First of all, Bribery is the most common method of Corruption. Bribery involves the improper use of favours and gifts in exchange for personal gain. Furthermore, the types of favours are diverse. Above all, the favours include money, gifts, company shares, sexual favours, employment, entertainment, and political benefits. Also, personal gain can be – giving preferential treatment and overlooking crime.

Embezzlement refers to the act of withholding assets for the purpose of theft. Furthermore, it takes place by one or more individuals who were entrusted with these assets. Above all, embezzlement is a type of Financial fraud.

The graft is a global form of Corruption. Most noteworthy, it refers to the illegal use of a politician’s authority for personal gain. Furthermore, a popular way for the graft is misdirecting public funds for the benefit of politicians.

Extortion is another major method of Corruption. It means to obtain property, money or services illegally. Above all, this obtainment takes place by coercing individuals or organizations. Hence, Extortion is quite similar to blackmail.

Favouritism and Nepotism is quite an old form of Corruption still in usage. This refers to a person favouring one’s own relatives and friends to jobs. This is certainly a very unfair practice. This is because many deserving candidates fail to get jobs.

Abuse of discretion is another method of Corruption. Here, a person misuses one’s power and authority. An example can be a judge unjustly dismissing a criminal’s case.

Finally, influence peddling is the last method here. This refers to illegally using one’s influence with the government or other authorized individuals. Furthermore, it takes place in order to obtain preferential treatment or favour.

Ways of Stopping Corruption

One important way of preventing Corruption is to give a better salary in a government job. Many government employees receive pretty low salaries. Therefore, they resort to bribery to meet their expenses. So, government employees should receive higher salaries. Consequently, high salaries would reduce their motivation and resolve to engage in bribery.

Increasing the number of workers can be another suitable way of curbing Corruption. In many government offices, the workload is very high. This provides an opportunity to slow down the work by government employees. Consequently, these employees then indulge in bribery in return for faster delivery of work. Hence, this opportunity to bribe can be removed by bringing in more employees in government offices.

Tough laws are very important for stopping Corruption. Above all, strict punishments need to be meted out to guilty individuals. Furthermore, there should be an efficient and quick implementation of strict laws.

Applying cameras in workplaces is an excellent way to prevent corruption. Above all, many individuals would refrain from indulging in Corruption due to fear of being caught. Furthermore, these individuals would have otherwise engaged in Corruption.

The government must make sure to keep inflation low. Due to the rise in prices, many people feel their incomes to be too low. Consequently, this increases Corruption among the masses. Businessmen raise prices to sell their stock of goods at higher prices. Furthermore, the politician supports them due to the benefits they receive.

To sum it up, Corruption is a great evil of society. This evil should be quickly eliminated from society. Corruption is the poison that has penetrated the minds of many individuals these days. Hopefully, with consistent political and social efforts, we can get rid of Corruption

#Cancelled: Unravelling The Toxicity of Cancel Culture

 

“I believe it’s worth thinking about what accountability looks like beyond simply exiling someone. In doing so, we can position ourselves more firmly within the values of social justice.”

Cancel. It’s dictionary definition is “to destroy the force, effectiveness, or validity of.” Cancel culture, originally started as a means to correct or inform the misguided. However, it has become something much worse. People go along with it because they think it’s a cool trend to follow. They have gone down this spiral of cancel culture and the idea that everything is offensive. Nowadays, anyone and everyone is getting cancelled. It has become so widespread that by now people think of it to be a normality.

But it shouldn’t be.

The problem arises when it turns into a bunch of people only doing it so that they can show everyone else how good of a person they are. Then everyone tries to out-do each other and ultimately, you end up with a bunch of people wasting their time going through years and years of tweets to find the one wrong thing that someone said and call them out on that. All this, despite the fact that society didn’t care about those things at the time and the person has clearly changed since then. It’s quintessential to realize that today’s morals cannot be applied to something that happened ten years ago.

It should be understood that there’s a huge difference between “I dislike or disagree with this person, and it’s important enough to me that I will not personally patronize them” and “I dislike or disagree with this person, therefore they shouldn’t have a career at all.” Lamentably, the latter view pretty much plagues the minds of most social media users.

Cancel culture is based on the premise that anyone who offends you does so with deliberation, intention, and (usually) malignant motivation. Cancel culture uses public shaming and group complaining to attempt to induce permanent harm to those with whom they take exception. It uses the legal system to induce financial crisis, uses the publicity system to amplify their voice, and generally acts like that kid you see in kindergarten who has to play alone because they can’t be around other people without attacking them for not submitting to their desire to dominate a cultural or economic space. These kinds of people tend to regularly miss noticing that the world and other people (by and large) could not possibly care less about them, if they even know they exist. These kinds of people tend to assume that their own perspective is always the most important and relevant one, and try to get attention by amplifying outrage to culturally blackmail perspectives and people with whom they disagree. Then, they refuse to accept the concerned person’s apology when they do apologize and admit it was wrong and insensitive. It just ends up turning into virtue signalling for selfish reasons. Worst of all, they are willing to injure others and ruin lives to do it.

Personally, I find it to be an appalling display of self- absorption and egotism by people who, I think, behave and seem to be so emotionally insensitive that they just stop caring about anyone but themselves. The worst of the lot always seems to be the same personality. Cancel culture will die the moment this becomes more apparent. The good news is, that’s probably not that far off. The sad news is that in the meanwhile, they’re deriding and tarnishing a far longer and better tradition of social and cultural discourse that actually delivers on change.

It’s generally organized by malicious people who only gather together to form groups of hatred and intolerance for anything that they deem unfit. They probably have never let go of a grudge in their life and are also very likely to be the ones who take a sick pride in that. Their circles are usually only held together by common bonds of hatred, but quickly implode upon themselves the moment they can gather a group to harm one another. They tend to be ruthless, claiming virtue but displaying a twisted set of morals that only fit their own bill. They try and sell you a picture they’ve created from fragments of reality, out of desperation to advance their narrative (i.e., that their upset is more important than anything else in the world) and, sadly, most will probably buy into it if they are not aware of their intentions.

Their logic, too, struggles to hold up, for example, the “once a racist, always a racist” argument. From this perspective, an ignorant 15 year old cannot possibly change and become more educated or grown as a human being. Their comments imply that the people they’re fighting to stop never grow, never change their views on particular topics and are social scum because of comments, posts, tweets, etc. from years ago. It’s embarrassing to say the least. The best part is the likely hypocrisy. I’m willing to wager that even they, themselves, have committed ignorance acts in the past, which just haven’t been exposed, but they don’t think about that.

These people are willing and happy to see others suffer and that’s pretty much the antithesis of the intent of public discourse and even public protest. Some of them, however, outgrow this behavior and learn more productive ways to advance change. Then again, these would be the ones that are actually interested in change, not retribution.

We need to become a more tolerant society not only in matters of differences in sex, sexual preference, race, religion, and nationality but also in showing the willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with and not seek to harm the offender. It may be a fine line that we walk between a legitimate cancel and ill-advised one, but it’s a line that must be drawn to bring civility back to society.

We need to come up with ways to hold people accountable for their wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed.

– Bell Hooks

Addressing Toxic Masculinity

 

“Sometimes people hear “toxic masculinity” and think the term is anti-men. It isn’t. It’s anti-telling- men -they-have-to-repress-emotions- and – be-dominant-alphas-to- be- considered – real-guys. It’s pro-men. Thinking, feeling, resilient, strong, awesome men.”

– Amanda Jette Knox

I am sure that if you’re an international K-pop fan, then you are no stranger to the knee-jerk reaction people have after they have begged you to show them the images and/or music videos or any K-Pop group. Most reactions generally revolve around “They look like women” or “They are too feminine” or “Why are they wearing make-up?” or the infamous “Are they gay?”.

This made me wonder, what exactly is it that causes such a reaction? What does it mean to be ‘man’ or to be something lesser than that? Are we, as a society, missing out on addressing the toxic masculinity that plagues the young minds?

Although, there have been some colloquies on it, most of them leave out the dialogue that Asian men are particularly hyper-emasculated in western culture (and also by minorities in western culture) which could also be a reason why people automatically react in this manner, besides already having discrimination towards appearances that don’t fit the extremes of femininity and masculinity. As for the people mouthing off about K-pop looking too “feminine”, it ends up bringing up the connotation that femininity is a bad thing somehow. It’s essential to understand that feminine and masculine traits are social constructs, so they change according to each culture.

What is toxic masculinity?

Toxic masculinity is those elements of our social definition of masculinity that have concrete negative impacts on men by promoting behaviours such as refusing medical treatment to appear strong, suppressing emotions that show vulnerability, and idolizing violence as a solution to problems.

These behaviours are enforced by other men (and society as a whole), by challenging the manhood of those who deviate from this behavior, while also teaching each other that manhood is something to be valued above all else. In addition, most of them wrestle with the perception of masculinity, which, in a feudal society like ours, is very conditional. Of course, women perpetrate violence too: they can be aggressive and brutal, particularly to other women. But undoubtedly, the culture that stokes such violence smacks of machismo. Manhood is not naturally given, but is a goal to be achieved. To be born a boy is a privilege but one that can be lost if one is not properly initiated into masculine practices.

What are the core features of this model of manhood?

First, aggression is natural and desirable in men. A ‘real’ man is eager to pick up a fight. If he does not, he is told to wear bangles on his wrist. Even the slightest intrusion in his physical, mental or social space is unacceptable. Second, men must be tough — muscular and unemotional; they must not be easily perturbed, must not grieve and cry. Part of what it means to be tough is to suppress empathy towards others, to be embarrassed by fear or any other vulnerability. Third, men must be ambitious and ruthless. Once they set a goal, it must be achieved regardless of consequences to others. Since winning is all-important, other men striving to achieve the same goal are rivals to be eliminated. Extreme competitiveness, on this model, is a classical male characteristic. Fourth, it does not behove men to consult others, negotiate with the weak, or settle for anything less than what they want. They take independent decisions that brook no questioning. As famously put by Amitabh Bachchan in one of his films, ‘Bas… keh diya na (Enough, I have said so).’

And if you don’ fill in these roles, then too bad, you’re deemed to be not ‘man enough’.

In most discourses, however, what isn’t properly addressed is that women perpetuate toxic masculinity too. There is an institutionalized aspect of masculine toxicity as culture that we recognize as true for men in general, but ignore being equally true among women, even many feminist women. Most people and groups do this to some extent, it’s hard to be fully self aware and self critical. We don’t always see the flaws in ourselves as readily as we see them in others. Part of feminism is recognizing the invisible structures that pull societal norms to be what they are. This is just an aspect of that and speaks to the idea that we really have to be the change we want to see in the world and it’s pretty naive to consider yourself or your group as “clean hands” in the matter just because you are aware of one piece of the puzzle.

So, what can be done to overcome this?

The first step would be, abandoning ‘just for men’ attitudes, and not doing it for the sake of getting women to like you. ‘Woke’ bros are just as problematic, so just live honestly and act respectfully towards everyone. Stand up for what’s right even when it’s hard and you’re a minority voice.

Just like we “make room” or “hold space” for voices that are actually impacted by the problems we see in our society it makes sense we should do the same to at least include men as valuable voices to addressing the “male toxicity” problem. Only they can speak their own truth.

Violence, misogyny, and no accountability are pillars of toxic masculinity. So, knock down those pillars daily. Embracing who you are and standing up for those who need it, you start to realize gender doesn’t have a place to shape our lives as rigidly as society tells us. Call it inner peace and confidence! You can embrace your personhood, just not things. You can embrace your own idea of a ‘masculine’ identity, just don’t be attached to the external.

“All of us have to recognize that being a man is first and foremost being a good human. That means being responsible, working hard, being kind, respectful, compassionate. If you’re confident about your strength, you don’t need to show me by putting somebody else down.”

The Cyber City is Struggling to Keep The Scammers Away

 

“I was making more money than a MBA graduate.”

– Confessed a call-centre scammer

Recently BBC Panorama released a documentary called ‘Spying on the Scammers’ which features a hacker who gained access to the recorded scam phone calls as well as CCTV footage and exposed the scammers at work. The cyber vigilante, who uses the alias ‘Jim Browning’, went through hundreds of hours of video footage from the office in Gurugram, near Delhi, and listened to 70,000 phone calls. The documentary reveals that there are centres set up for the sole purpose of scamming, though I would imagine that they are small in size. It’s, thus, needless to say that such scams are thriving and flourishing businesses in India.

It makes one wonder why India has come to be a hub of call-centre scams.

There are several social aspects contributing to it. Technology is indeed a double edged sword & India is a country which ushered into the field of Information Technology in the past few years, and has large number of people with IT skills. However, due to huge population of approximately 1.3 billion people in this country, those who are qualified and skilled have to face cut-throat competition and, thus, despite having skills in IT, they fail to secure a job. Thus, there are too many people becoming educated and too few jobs to satisfy the supply of employment seekers. Owing to unemployment, some of them are led down the wrong path like scamming and using their technical skills to dupe people to earn easy money. Most of businesses hire low-level support staff who can be fired easily, and many a times they don’t even know they are scamming people. So, many people who desperately need money and jobs will join “tech companies” in search of employment. Some know it’s a scam before they start. Some don’t. But it’s putting food on the table, when many couldn’t even get lowly entry level jobs to begin with. And at the end of the day, money is the same, whether you earn it or scam it. Moreover, people in the country possess adequate fluency in English.

Apart from this, since there are many legit outsourcing and customer service businesses here, many parts of country offer good infrastructure for cheap. What’s interesting is that, many of these scammers are ex-employees of call centres and have good grasp over the standard procedures and working of tech support. Plus, they may still have the means to access the customer data somehow.

Now coming to the legal aspect of things, they’re quite untraceable by targets unless the target is experienced in something like hacking or tracing by other means. It’s also because the people they’re scamming are too far away to have them arrested or taken to the court. They are in a sense de facto immune from the law by location. Scammers may choose to operate out of countries that have weak law enforcement relations (or simply weak local law enforcement when it comes to having the resources necessary for locating them) with the target countries of their scams. Weak relations make it harder to track down the scammers, and even of they are found, it makes it difficult to prosecute them. Plus for scam purposes, it’s obviously easier to evade US’s and other target country’s  law enforcement by being thousands of miles away and with a local police force that may be unable or unwilling to take action against them.

The lack of adequate fear among the scammers can also be a contributing reason as to why so many call-centre scams are mushrooming in India. They feel safe and confident enough that they cannot be caught and punished, thus, they continue to do this. Most of the times this kind of scams take birth from the loop holes of any business process. Scamming is an organized crime. In an organized crime, it is very hard to catch a criminal because they are already familiar with ways to avoid geting caught. But, one should understand that the stronger wins. If the law is stronger, it will improve itself to counter attack the new approaches by scammers. A failure to do so, will keep the crime alive.

Also, there’s no proper technology available in India to catch these criminals as Indian law enforcement is already burdened with huge amounts of unsolved cases more heinous than tech scamming, so LEA can’t give proper attention to frame these convicts even if they got caught. This inevitably leads to feeling of safety among tech criminals as there’s very little possibility of them getting caught and even lesser possibility of getting any punishment, if caught, due lack of stringent IT laws in India. Needless to say, law enforcement isn’t up to the point.

Thus, the risk vs. reward conundrum works out in their favour as the chances of getting caught are almost negligible, while the profit margins are high.

The biggest issue, however, is that scamming just happens to be so easy, owing to the mediocre security measures from the banks and the lack of technical knowledge on the part of the elderly and digitally challenged which make them easy targets to these scams. To top it off, Technical Support Companies pay a very great deal of money in the form of incentives, once the salesman achieves the allotted target. Although, it should be mentioned again that, some people working in such firms don’t even have the slightest of an idea that this no more than a scam.

People often forget ‘with power comes the responsibility’ and wrong use of technology leads to tech crimes like scamming which are cognizable offences under India Penal Code IPC – section 420 and IT Act 2000 (Amendment 2008) section 66, but then again, these laws are as good as a toothless tiger as they have repeatedly failed to be stringent towards the criminals .

The scammers not only give India a bad rap but also present a sorry manifestation of the failure of the government policies who cannot provide enough jobs and quality education for the youths, pushing them to adopt such fiendish ways of making money and risking their reputation by getting inevitably busted.

The Forgotten: The Stranded Migrant Workers

There is no section in our country that remains unaffected by the difficulties caused by the affliction that is COVID- 19, however it’s safe to assume that, the most gravely affected by the crisis are the underprivileged labourers and workers. Their agony, their pain, their ordeal cannot be expressed in words. Who amongst us cannot understand and feel what they and their families are going through.

More than 92.5% labourers, including daily wage earners, have lost work and are unemployed owing to the lockdown imposed by the country, according to a survey of migrant workers in north and central India. This is despite the labour ministry’s plea to owners and contractors not to retrench workers.

Why are the migrant workers so hard hit during lock down?

The answer is pretty simple, while many people have lost the jobs, it’s the migrant workers that have lost their only livelihood without any fall-back support. They don’t have any fixed income, health insurance ot savings. They get paid in wages, only if they work, most of them being employed in the informal sector. They are also devoid of sufficient monetary resources to sustain themselves and their families (who are dependent on them) during the unemployment period. Further, they are the only groups who have been displaced from their normal place of residence. Nearly six lakhs migrant labourers are stranded in government camps. They are more vulnerable to corona virus infection as they have repeatedly failed to observe social distancing die to their special living conditions and full dependence on public transport.

The aforementioned consequences may have the following impact if they aren’t monitored and checked by the government and the respective agencies. They might have to draw loans in order to sustain themselves with their home or land they own as the collateral. It might push them further into economic insecurity and instability. The education of their children will also be affected, even during the post lockdown period as they might be unable to afford the fees. If left unaddressed, it might put the migrant labour under tremendous mental pressure and strain, leading to a substantial rise in mental health issues in the community. It’ll also widen the gap between the rich and the poor, thus leading to increased economic inequality. There are possibilities of increased exploitation in terms of employment compensation in the post lockdown period, when a lot of people will be looking for work in an economy which was already suffering from unemployment.

How did their future become so grim?

When the Indian government announced a lockdown with just a four hours warning, large numbers of migrant workers all over the country were left stranded, with no idea of where to go and what to do. No arrangements had been made for them, whether to transport them back or to house them in shelters. As a result, there were tragic consequences. Panicked migrant workers going to buses and train stations and getting beaten by Police or being sprayed with bleach. Thousands of migrant workers trying to walk back hundreds of kilometres to their villages, with many dying on the way. I guess the decision makers seemingly forgot about the most vulnerable people while deciding, why? When they could arrange transport for pilgrims and students, why was no thought put in about what would happen to migrant workers? Why is it that only the NRIs were retrieved from affected areas? Is it because they are voiceless and they don’t have a pressure group.

Even if they were forgotten about while planning the lockdown, there was still a means to rectify the mistake. Day after lockdown, a relief package was announced by government for the vulnerable section, which ended up being too little and too late. As soon as the lockdown was announced, this section immediately lost their jobs and because of the sustenance nature of livelihood, they immediately ran out of food and basic necessity. The moment lockdown was announced, all the relief should have been announced simultaneously. The gap between the announcement of lockdown and the announcement of relief package was enough to create panic in these sections and due to uncertainty they started taking the extreme step of walking back on foot to their home. And soon the situation got out of control. Because remember, we are not talking about a handful of people, not even thousands, they are millions in number.

There was still a scope of avoiding the unfateful. All the states had enough resources and means to take care of all these workers but they failed to pacify and communicate to them. The situation came to a point that state government had to announce for hundreds of buses to carry them home in such a condition, loosing the very purpose of lockdown. The risk of people dying of hunger became believe than the outbreak itself.

Fair, But Not So Lovely

Either as your grandmother’s favourite piece of advice or through the perpetual barrage of fairness cream advertisements on television, if you’re an Indian, it’s hard to miss the magical myths of fair skin is everywhere. One such myth that I came upon, that struck a cord with me was that ‘fair skinned persons don’t lie’, which, needless to say is enough to reveal the fair-skin obsession that plagues the young minds of our society.

Consumer brand Hindustan Unilever announced on June 25 that it’s dropping the word ‘Fair’ from its popular skin-whitening cream brand ‘Fair & Lovely’ to achieve a ‘more inclusive vision of beauty’. However, it’s still a change that only goes skin deep as the change, by all accounts, remains at the level of branding. It was also announced that announced, the emphasis would be shifted from “fairness” to “glow”. But words such as “glow” and skin “brightening” have long been used by cosmetic products as more acceptable alternatives for treatments that aim to lighten skin tone.

Banning anything that goes against the norm seems to be the pitch of the season. The barrage of criticism against the way fairness creams are being promoted in the advertisement is the ‘height of creative low’. Instead of projecting a healthy thought, these ads seem to be promoting stereotypes and problematic beliefs such as fairness being a resume-worthy quality. The ads play big on the connect people have with skin fairness and the job they do. It is blatantly projected though the numerous ads where the girl gets rejected from an interview for the role of a flight attendant-fashion model-teacher. Armed with fairness cream, the renewed zeal of the woman gets her the job she aspired to do. How convenient! These ads must be banned for glorifying skin complexion as part of the resume. It also seems to convey very ambiguous messages. Are dark-skinned individuals the only consumers who use fairness creams? Even those born with the ‘quality’ use dollops of cream and expect to retain their fairness for ever. Despite this fact, the ads continue to project the creams as a Messiah for dark-skinned people. It breeds contempt among users and potential customers. The advertisements also seem to portray that the wonder creams have the ability to get you married or turn you into a star overnight!

However, at the end of the day, they exist because people buy them, and since there is a market for them…like all products or services. But yes, they do feed into the existing prejudice and preference against a darker complexion.

Products like these, make people ashamed of their originality. It’s a shallow concept and its propaganda is ignominious. Some people make a fair skin tone as the yardstick of a person’s success. A woman once hinted me that I am excelling in a lot of places because I am fair skinned. Thank you, fairness creams ads. The question isn’t about the fact that whether or not dark is beautiful. The question is about an individual’s dignity. Let’s not stoop this low to believe in the authenticity of such a biased idea of beauty. So, should the skin-whitening products be allowed to take such a significant place in our society?

I guess, the answer is pretty simple. We don’t need products which make people diffident and which make people shallow in their perseverance of beauty. At the end of the day, they are just devouring off our backward mind-set, insecurities and inferiority complex.
Dropping of fair in the name of a face cream is, thus, only symbolic. It does not change the social bias towards fairness specially for women. They’re just as problematic. Such changes may lend these products a glow of wokeness. But it only whitewashes the in-built prejudices that are yet to be challenged in any meaningful way.

In a country obsessed with fairness creams, people should be educated to find beauty beyond skin colour.

Why Caste Reservations?

The caste-system is something that has been ubiquitously identified with Indian society. It has its roots in ancient traditions and has seen changes over time under various dynasties and regimes. However, the essential notions of assigning position in society by virtue of birth have more or less remained the same. This has led to lower-caste communities becoming victims of the whims of those above them, living lives in deplorable conditions, forced to work in menial jobs, and even considered untouchables who will pollute the higher castes and thus have to live on the fringes of society. Over time, many have fought against the caste system and worked for the upliftment of downtrodden communities who have been exploited and oppressed by those in power.

In the 21st century, many popular media narratives and discourses among privileged sections of society would make it appear that the caste system does not still have a hold in India’s societal structure. Many believe that with the Constitution giving equal rights to all citizens and abolishing untouchability, all caste-based discriminations have ceased to exist. Merit should be the basis for all opportunity, not caste or background, is a common objection. Others opine that it is greatly misused and many who are economically well-off use their caste in-order to get advantages. Still others say that it gives students of lower castes an unfair advantage in academic spaces and other situations. All of these anti-reservation voices work on the fundamental assumption that caste is not an issue in modern-day India. But if one is willing to look into how caste differences are manifested, it will become all too apparent within a very short period of time that this notion of caste-based discrimination still runs deep in our systems and our attitudes. It is a stark reality for millions in this country and is an evil that dehumanizes the individual.

Caste-based reservations exist in order to combat the effects of systemic discrimination and disadvantage that the lower castes have been and continue to be subjected to. Lower caste individuals are even today subjected to discrimination in all spheres from education to employment. Many of them struggle to afford basic education and are often the sole providers for their families by the time they reach college. However, they are faced with difficulties there as well, be it a background of education that has not been as good as that of their peers or even elitist hiring practices in universities that silently discriminate. They continue to face difficulties from various sides even after they enter campuses. Lower caste individuals have barely any representation in public offices and services. Upward mobility for the majority of them is still a dream too far away to reach, and they are continuously caught in structures that are designed to not accommodate them.

It is to improve economic status and living conditions, but also to correct the many wrongs they have been meted out with, and the denial of fundamental rights and opportunities, that reservations seek to address. When one argues that economic status should be the criteria rather than caste, one forgets that in a system fraught with biased attitudes, this will only lead to more higher-caste but perhaps economically backward individuals getting the reservation seats and lesser being available to those of the lower caste. While economic ability is an issue, it is not the same problem as caste issues and has to be dealt with separately even if the two might overlap. Condescending attitudes of apparent saviors who belong to higher castes but who speak ‘for’ the lower castes instead of creating an opportunity for them to speak for themselves is also a bane that has to be resisted.

The continuing existence of the caste system in India is a reality that many would rather not address or even acknowledge since it makes them uncomfortable. It is also this attitude that makes reservations and affirmative actions all the more important. They work towards ensuring a more egalitarian society and should not be done away with until we achieve the end goal of no discrimination. This will require empathy, understanding, and even giving up of privileges taken for granted by many middle- and upper-class folk unless you are able to make it accessible to all sections of society. Social reform, reservation, educating the masses, dismantling of structures designed for the elites, and public awareness of how rampant this issue is would propel this fight for change. We cannot heal wounds that have been inflicted over centuries overnight but we can work towards creating spaces for healing and also ensure that these scars are never inflicted again.

Wasting Minds: Is The Education System Failing Us?

If the purpose for learning is to score well on a test, we’ve lost sight of the real reason for learning.

– Jeannie Fulbright

Education is the form of learning that directs each individual to pursue his interests, to sharpen his skills, to become comfortably employable. The ultimate effects of education may vary from teaching others to take the nation forward to creating world class technologies depending on the individuals. It is different from being literate which is simply defined as being able to ‘read, write and speak. Education system on India in the olden days of Takshila and Nalanda Universities relied on creativity and was famous in the whole world for it. It was the scope for creativity that education provided that fulfilled it’s purpose of developing the society in totality. There is no point of educating an individual without having an effect, directly or indirectly, on the society.

Presently, the Indian Education System is in fiasco, mostly owing to shoddy politics. It now focuses on rewarding rote learning sans understanding, penalising those who question, suppressing free thought and pigeon-holing clueless kids into “streams” and yet manages to combine the corruption and ineptitude of the public services with the greed of the private. Did I forget to mention the abysmally low salaries for teachers and the utter incapability of society to deal with failure?

The entire ranking list of toppers is an unapologetic hierarchy of rote learning, where we’re never ashamed of showcasing the performance of disability. The day since rote learning has replaced knowledge as a standardized way of judgement, it has become more of fierce, dark competition, where children chase absolutely nothing. Celebrating success of this kind was meant to be an all-round personal achievement and not a standard system a failed competition in education. Succeeding in a hollow system like the one that prevails now, is even more worse than not gathering enough knowledge and failing a number of times.

The system is so sick that it has become an antithesis of the pleasure in knowledge acquirement and freedom. With such imprudent exaltation of so called toppers furthermore makes the entire failed system even more worse and disheartening to the not so called toppers, rather the victims of a still failed system. The entire definition of “excellence” is being misjudged. Perfection is unattainable, and in this case, is a complete trick of misjudgement.

Education system was meant to come out with a strategy that would scrap discrimination and not jeopardize the learning process. Authorities shouldn’t teach us displeasing habits of grading every human being out there by a completely wrong system, rather they should join hands to cultivate a sense of morality, joy of learning in every individual and aim towards an all-round development of a human being than pushing towards the death end of a cliff with all sort of cursed strategies.

The ongoing pandemic only magnified the shortcomings of the education system.
The structure of schooling and learning, including teaching and assessment methodologies, was the first to be affected by these closures. Only a handful of private schools could adopt online teaching methods. Their low-income private and government school counterparts, on the other hand, have completely shut down for not having access to e-learning solutions. The students, in addition to the missed opportunities for learning, no longer have access to healthy meals during this time and are subject to economic and social stress.

The pandemic has significantly disrupted the higher education sector as well, which is a critical determinant of a country’s economic future. A large number of Indian students—second only to China—enrol in universities abroad, especially in countries worst affected by the pandemic, the US, UK, Australia and China. Many such students have now been barred from leaving these countries. If the situation persists, in the long run, a decline in the demand for international higher education is expected.

Parents, students, and employers must demand that our institutions deliver real capability and not empty certificates. Let us stamp our vote to those leaders who can make this happen. Let us not keep quiet till we get what we deserve. But with the right to raise our voices comes the responsibility to stay invested. Media must capture this moment and ensure that those in power heed this call. It must hold them accountable for action.
It is our children’s future, not our ancestor’s pride, that deserves our outrage first.

Only then can we begin to unleash the potential of our 100 million young minds.

Is Religion The Problem?

Humanity’s most vicious ambitions have been carried out in the name of gods no one has ever seen and beliefs followers are not willing to question and investigate. Until humankind learns to more closely examine their beliefs, wars waged in ignorance will continue to plague our species and prevent lasting peace.

If the emotions of one in need are like a hurricane, then religion needs to learn how to create the space a hurricane needs to slow and become calm. Rigid rules to such a person are like trying to nail down a hurricane. Guilt makes the winds blow all the harder. Only in moments of calm, when sought, will advice be of help – any other time it will add de- bris to the winds. There a time to actively help and a time to love quietly, trust yourself to sense the difference.

Religion initially commenced as a solution for the problems existing at that time, say 5000 BC. However, at some point in time, it started appearing as the pebble in the shoe of humanity and it’s progression . The anarchy, unprovoked killings and disorderly social structure needed a system, and religion got itself evolved. While it was evolved many others came forward with their own versions to super implant the existing ones. But their actions only increased the number of religions. We landed up with Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam etc. Since more religions came into existence, there were varieties to choose for the people. After having chosen, the people started propagating them. In their enthusiasm, they started negating the existing ones. This resulted in hatred, mistrust and hostility which ended up with problems for the state. Instead of being a solution religion has turned out to be a problem.

Religion is neither the problem nor the solution. The point is, religion was a vessel out from which human curiosity was able to spring, but it is also a tool of social control and thus is opposed to actual progress. It’s about faith and perception of it which is posing as the biggest problem in our country. Every single religion here has it’s own good and bad preachings. If one feels that his or her faith in a religion is far more truthful and look down upon remaining religions is nothing but adult way of showing you are having bigger scoop of ice creams than your friend, like we used to do when we were small kids. This is what happening in our country now, everyone wants to pretend that their faith is much greater than others which has lead to all sorts of quackery and blind modifications of original teachings given in our sacred books. Again by good teachings I meant, the one’s which brings happiness in every living being and doesn’t hurt even a single person at the cost of one’s satisfaction.

One thing most misused after horns in India is religion! Different religions became a problem in India from the day we forgot about our roots. India has always been a diverse nation, and religion accounts for a big diversification. Now you see the problem is, we are not educated. We might be literate but still we are not educated. There’s a big difference between the two! Politicians have always taken advantage of this. And they would continue this until and unless the masses themselves realize the mistake. If we, as the public masses, don’t realize this then soon we’ll be heading towards an authoritarian government which will forcefully assimilates all of the subcultures within it’s polity and create a syncretic identity. Such an orthodoxy that some people dream of would also dissolve the constitution that has given crucial rights to many people. For example, the constitution bans untouchability, which no Dharmashastra did before. The constitution has also given several fundamental rights that the orthodox do not see applicable in their “dharmic” framework. Theocratic societies have several such drawbacks.

So it’s better to focus on more important aspects of life rather than talking about religion at all times. It’s time to let go and rise above the outdated and cruel exploits of our past that we inherited from our ancestors, and realize that our early misinterpretations of our world do not have to define the future of humanity. We have grown. We have reached a time in our history where the misunderstandings of the past must be reconciled and the truth about the origins of our early beliefs must be revealed. It’s time that our world’s religions face the tragic horrors of their past and make honest progression towards love and kindness for all of humanity. Our world, our peace and our growth all depend upon us and our ability to move forward in our understanding. It’s time to embrace our humanity and cultivate the harmonious future we all deserve.

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Is Religion The Problem?

The Digital Divide

It is dangerously destabilizing to have half the world on the cutting edge of technology while the other half struggles on the bare edge of survival.

– William J. Clinton

It’s the knowledge gap created when one group of people have greater access to digital resources (computers, smartphones, the internet) and so are better informed, better educated and across new developments more quickly than people who either don’t have these things, or have limited access. Needless to say, the end result is increasing inequality between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ as knowledge is today’s primary currency.

This divide between rural and urban India stems from economic inequality. Sixty-seven million Indians who comprise the poorest half see only 1 per cent increase in their wealth, and 63 million Indians are pushed into poverty because of increasing healthcare costs, every year. It would take 941 years for a minimum-wage worker in rural India to earn what a top-paid executive earns in a year. The problem of the digital divide is also presents itself as a symptom that points us to a much deeper problem in our economic development. And this is a problem that characterizes both the developed and underdeveloped nations in the world. Once the economic challenges of low education levels, poor infrastructure development, and low quality of life/ income levels are addressed, the digital divide will be eliminated.

The digital divide means the ‘haves’ have internet access, unrestricted internet access, fast internet access, 24/7. They can get into the greatest minds (and most insane stupidity) the world has ever created, whenever they feel like it, from the comfort of their couch, bed, cafe table, etc. Poorer people may not have this. They might have a computer but it’s an old one and has issues, if they have internet at home, it’s likely a plan with a data limit, it may have slower times, especially if it’s being shared among a large number of people. And if they don’t have internet at home, then they’re reliant on free Wi-Fi where ever they can scrounge it in order to find the answers to their questions, complete their schoolwork and so on. And so, the ‘haves’ have information (the new world currency) at their fingertips and continue to move forward and up. The relative ‘have-nots’ lag, fall behind and struggle. Strikes me as a pretty serious disadvantage. The digital divide is predicted to an alternate and more severe form in the next ten years.

Contemporary ways need to be developed to tackle this issue as the challenges it presents now are completely different from the challenges it presented ten ten years ago. This is because as technology innovates at an increased rate over time the gap between those who take advantage of it and who do not widen. The issue is now less about the access to technology because people across socio-economic groups have access via smartphones. The new challenge is that is they are not aware of the value proposition that today’s services avail to them then they will never take advantage of them. The biggest assumption is that everyone has equal knowledge of how today’s digital platforms can benefit them. So there are no real efforts to educate the disconnected.

For the digital divide to be eliminated, the affordability of accessing internet has to be increased. To combat is ‘participation inequality’, where users lack the skills to use it, the public needs to be educated on the benefits and value of utilizing the internet and the various resources within it to achieve economic and social growth. To encourage internet adoption in remote places, local content and applications need to be developed in local languages that can be understood by the local populace. Thus, relevance of online content needs to be improved. Lastly, the internet infrastructure needs to be developed through proper planning and implementation.

If necessary measures are not taken, the existing socioeconomic gap will keep widening with digital illiteracy. The only mechanism to tackle the situation is by teaching computer science, a subject of equal relevance among sciences and maths at the grassroots as well. As of now, it remains an elective subject.

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The digital divide.

Social Media Has Turned Into A Breeding Ground for Toxicity

Social Media is great – no contesting that. It’s a tool for self-empowerment, it’s a way to express yourself, it’s a way to stay connected with your inner circle….all of that. But what happens when the noise of social media becomes so intense that it overpowers your life? Unfortunately, that’s what social media has become for many people today. There’s everything from the infamous cancel culture, fleeting news trends, and fake influencers, to the body dysmorphia faced mostly by women users…..the list goes on.

Being a social media user myself, I find it disturbing how petty and superficial our reliance on social media has become. Instead of developing our personalities through real life experiences, we have developed digital walls. Walls filled with ideas of perfectionism and unrealistic standards of life. I’m still mind blown that we once lived in a world where social media was just another piece of entertainment. Now, it seems to be a necessity to function in life. You are not cool unless you have social media. If you don’t, you are deemed a social outcast. Life is not a picture, nor can it be summarized in a bunch of captions. We are not one-dimensional people, yet we are glued to boxes with snippets of other people’s lives. We wake up first thing in the morning checking our notifications to see how many likes and comments we’ve garnered. This was me, and I know this is a lot of you out there too. But at the end of the day, does of any this matter? If we as a community rely on digital acceptance to function as human beings, then it’s really just disappointing. Our happiness should not be defined by social media, let alone a heart or like. Social media is harmful to us, especially to the younger generation.

We as a society rely on digital acceptance to function as human beings. Nowadays, we can’t take a photo without some sort of embellishment, the “right” angle, or even a filter. We’ve been convinced that anything less than perfect is a flaw, and thus unacceptable. Curves, lips, accomplishments, awards, etc. define beauty and success. If it’s not an already altered image of our self, it’s one of something as trivial as food. But for what? To make someone jealous? Does happiness really need to come through the acceptance of others with a single like on a post? Our intentions on posting may be harmless, but our mind set is so focused on the opinions of other people. When are we going to focus on ourselves? Doing things for ourselves, because of what we want and need regardless of what other people may think.

Social media also enables commoditizing social status via likes is detrimental to mental health.
It’s disheartening to see what social media has done to our society. Nothing feels genuine anymore. A picture is taken to be posted on Snapchat. A video to be shared on our story. An activity because it’s popular on Instagram. We read posts on a person’s Facebook and assume to know their whole life.

Today’s social publishing environment rewards sensationalized content, thereby damaging healthy relationships online. These platforms reward “engagement” by highlighting highly liked posts more prominently in newsfeeds, accustomizing social media users to attempting to post that sensationalized content themselves. This attention-seeking behavior has left people vulnerable to dangerous propaganda and influence campaigns.

Social media is not life, instead, at this point, it has evolved into a wall. What was once a seemingly harmless platform, then, has now evolved into a powerful machine that, due to confusing hate speech and privacy policies, has set dangerous precedents for the future of social media.

At the end of the day, we need to come to the realization that social media doesn’t define us, but it should represent who we are.

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Social Media has turned into a breeding ground for toxicity.

Unemployment

Unemployment is a very serious issue not only in India but in the whole world. There are hundreds and thousands of people out there who do not have employment. Besides, the problems of unemployment are very severe in India because of the growing population and demand for jobs. Moreover, if we neglect this problem then it will be going to become the reason for the doom of the nation.

Unemployment refers to a situation in which a skilled and talented people wanted to do a job. But cannot find a proper job due to several reasons.

Now we know what is unemployment but unemployment does not only mean that the person does not have a job. Likewise, unemployment also includes people working in areas out of their expertise.

The various types of unemployment include disguised unemployment, seasonal unemployment, open unemployment, technological unemployment, structural unemployment. Besides, some other unemployment is cyclic unemployment, educated unemployment, underemployment, frictional unemployment, chronic unemployment, and casual unemployment. Above all, seasonal unemployment, under unemployment, and disguised unemployment are the most common unemployment that is found in India.

Above all, seasonal unemployment, under unemployment, and disguised unemployment are the most common unemployment that is found in India.

In a country like India, there is much reason for a large section of the population for being unemployed. Some of these factors are population growth, slow economic growth. seasonal occupation, slow growth of the economic sector, and fall in the cottage industry.

Moreover, these are the major reason for unemployment in India. Also, the situation has become so drastic that highly educated people are ready to do the job of a sweeper. Besides, the government is not doing his work seriously.

Apart from all these, a large portion of the population is engaged in the agricultural sector and the sector only provides employment in harvest or plantation time.

In addition, the biggest reason of unemployment in India is its vast population which demands a large number of jobs every year which the government and authorities are unable to provide.

If things will go on like the current scenario then unemployment will become a major issue. Apart from this, the following things happen in an economy which is an increase in poverty, an increase in crime rate, exploitation of labor, political instability, mental health, and loss of skills. As a result, all this will eventually lead to the demise of the nation.

Initiative by Government

The government has taken the problem very seriously and have taken measures to slowly reduce unemployment. Some of these schemes includes IRDP (Integrated Rural Development Programme), DPAP (Drought Prone Area Programme), Jawahar Rozgar Yojana, Employment Assurance Scheme, NRY (Nehru Rozgar Yojana), Training for self-Employment, PMIUPEP (Prime Minister’s Integrated Urban Poverty Eradication Program), employment exchange, Employment Guarantee Scheme, development of organized sector, small and cottage industries, employment in forging countries, and Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana and few more.

Besides, these schemes the government also make some rules flexible, so that employment can be created in the private sector also.

To conclude, we can say that the problem of unemployment in India has reached a critical stage. But, now the government and local authorities have taken the problem seriously and working on it to reduce unemployment. Also, to completely solve the issue of unemployment we have to tackle the main issue of unemployment that is the vast population of India.

Is Cyberbullying Real?

Unless and until our society recognizes cyberbullying for what it is, the suffering of thousands of silent victims will continue.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter may be the main social networks used to keep in touch with friends, but, worryingly, they are also the main sites used for cyberbullying and internet trolling.

Cyberbullying has been emerging as a growing concern for quite some years now. With the power of anonymity, people can verbally attack others over social networking sites, most often going after students with low self-esteem or a low circle of friends. These are not exclusive targets, but there’s a general consensus that these are the groups that are most affected by cyberbullying. Anybody can be a victim- although it’s the young teens that are most vulnerable.

Cyberbullying can affect its victims in more ways than you can imagine. Besides bringing down self esteem, it alienates you from social crowds, and in some cases, it may push people to severe depression and suicide. And, no it’s not as simple as ‘just turning the computer off’ or ‘simply looking away’. Think of it this way: if someone hurts your feelings on the phone, is stepping away from the phone going to magically fix it? No, because the issue lies with the person and the interaction, not the phone itself. Similarly, cyberbullying doesn’t end when you turn off the computer. Our real lives are so intertwined with social networks now that if you poison someone’s network, it will poison his or her real life. Besides, asking the bullied victim to not use the computer or advising them to refrain from going online is a rather harsh demand for obvious reasons. The focus should be on fixing the bully issue, not putting the onus on the victims. It’s even worse when the bullies wear the shroud of anonymity. After all, how do you deal with a bully when you don’t even know who he or she is. Cyberbullying is visceral too. Bullies can go out of their way to post unflattering pictures of you or paint you in a negative light in ways that they can’t do face-to-face.

What’s worse it that there’s not much that can be done about it. Cyberbullying is still protected by freedom of speech, and as long as a bully isn’t crossing over into obvious libel territory, they can’t really be touched. Even then, if you had a libel case, it is costly, expensive, and hard to prove.

So, why do people cyberbully? Is it out of jealousy or hatred? Or is it just the law of the jungle that the strong bullies the weak?

It is a myth that the strong bully the weak. It is those who cannot handle their stress with grace, who attack the gentle natured. The most clear, and psychological aspect is that they feel tough behind a computer screen, and believe that anything they say won’t affect them negatively in the grand scheme. It is a sort of thought process that most people employ when cyberbullying. Think of it this way. How much more likely are you to argue or even insult someone online than you are to do in person? You would probably feel “safer” attacking someone online as opposed to in-person, and understandably so. They could do it to feel better about themselves. A lot of bullying cases, IRL or online are usually fed by insecurity or hatred towards oneself. Again, most bullies have some underlying problem which they believe can be quelled by being aggressive online. It’s also much easier since they don’t have to worry about other factors and feel they are safe from consequence. Lastly, they could just be looking for attention. It is evident that most cyberbullies attack others for the sake of attention, and the ability to instigate a response out of a victim.

So, if you ever encounter a cyberbully, Know that it’s not your fault and Don’t respond or retaliate. Sometimes a reaction is exactly what aggressors are looking for because they think it gives them power over you, and you don’t want to empower a bully. Further, you should save the evidence and Use available tech tools to either block the person and/or report the person to the service.

Lets never forget that words impact people emotionally, and how you feel emotionally affects how you are physically. Pulling someone down will never help you reach the top.

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A keyboard away doesn’t make it okay.

The Visibly Invisible

Hijras are a sexual minority that’s very visible, and yet they are treated by the society as if they’re invisible.

When Lord Rama was exiled from Ayodhya and his entire kingdom began to follow him into the forest, he told his disciples: “Men and women, please wipe your tears and go away.” So they left. Still, a group of people stayed behind, at the edge of the forest, because they were neither men nor women. They were hijras, which in Urdu means something like eunuchs. Those people waited in the woods for 14 years until Lord Rama returned, which won them a special place in Hindu mythology.

At a traffic signal on a busy day, the slight tapping on my car’s window by a transgender would often unnerve me. They are persistent, and there is a common notion that they will cause you embarrassment if you don’t hand them money. At other times, one might find them in the trains badgering the passengers for money, often to point that even the bystanders feel uncomfortable.But is that all there is to their identity? What is it like to be a hijra in India?

I can only guess. One must be fighting a constant battle with the rest of one’s nation to be taken seriously, to be accepted, to be respected, to be spared a laugh, to feel secure about their sexuality and to be understood, among so many other things. We can only guess.However, we can at the very least attempt to understand their plight. Imagine you’re thrown out of your house. What would you do? You’d go to your friend’s place? Or you’d go find some work and make your living? Imagine you don’t have any friends. And even if you did have any, they wouldn’t let you anywhere near their houses. What would you do now? Obviously you’d get some petty job and start earning for your own expenses. Now, imagine this. People aren’t even willing to give you a job. Everywhere you go, they just shoo you away, wanting to get rid of you from those places as quickly as possible. What’s next? You can’t go back home since your family has deserted you. You might want to try to talk to someone. Then, imagine no one even wants to lift their eyes and look at you when you approach them. You’re someone most people don’t even want to see. That’s the daily life of a transgender or a hijra.

Today hijras, who include transgender and intersex people are really hard to miss. Dressed in glittering saris, their faces heavily coated in cheap makeup, they sashay through crowded intersections and crash fancy weddings and birth ceremonies, singing bawdy songs and leaving with fistfuls of rupees. Behind the theatrics, however, are often sad stories — of the sex trade and exploitation, cruel and dangerous castrations, being cast out and constantly humiliated. Within India’s L.G.B.T. community, the hijras maintain their own somewhat secretive subculture.

Hijra communities face several sexual health issues including HIV, and since most hijras are from lower socioeconomic status and have low literacy levels, there are several barriers stand in their way of seeking health care. Mental health needs of hijras too are barely addressed in the current HIV programs. Some of
the mental health issues reported in these communities include depression and suicidal tendencies, possibly secondary to societal stigma, lack of social support, HIV status. There’s also the need to address alcohol and substance use among the hijra communities, a significant proportion of which consume alcohol possibly to forget stress and depression that they face in their daily life.

One might argue that since they’re able-bodied, they should just get a job job and provide for themselves. Yes, they absolutely should. Except for two words – social stigma. Most people would know the Kochi Metro recruited many transwomen when it started operations. Almost all of them have since quit. Why? Because while the job paid them 9–10,000 rupees a month, nobody would rent them accommodation, so they had to end up in lodges which cost hundreds daily. Ergo, they spent more than what they earned. In that instance, the government tried, and so did they. But society didn’t. The media also outed some women who were living secretly, away from family. The result? Threats of death if they came back home. In India, lakhs of male engineers are struggling to find gainful employment. What chance do these uneducated transwomen stand? They are not eunuchs by choice, they were born like that. We fail to create an environment for them in which they feel equal to us (which they are), in which they can lead a respectful and decent life by earning a living and not by begging, the least we can do is to help them by giving them these small amount of money, which hardly makes any difference to us.

Thus, the next time you meet a transgender, be polite, behave in a humble manner because what we see is the reflection of what we as a society have done to them. Tackle them with empathy and kindness, and be eternally grateful that you are not struggling with your gender, thrust on you by society. It could’ve easily been any one of us in their place. Even if you don’t give them money, at least don’t look at them with disgust.

At the end of the day, they’re normal people but it’s the world that makes them feel different.

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The visibly invisible community.

 

Women Empowerment

Women empowerment refers to making women powerful to make them capable of deciding for themselves. Women have suffered a lot through the years at the hands of men. In earlier centuries, they were treated as almost non-existent. As if all the rights belonged to men even something as basic as voting. As the times evolved, women realized their power. There on began the revolution for women empowerment. As women were not allowed to make decisions for them, women empowerment came in like a breath of fresh air. It made them aware of their rights and how they must make their own place in society rather than depending on a man. It recognized the fact that things cannot simply work in someone’s favor because of their gender. However, we still have a long way to go when we talk about the reasons why we need it.

Almost every country, no matter how progressive has a history of ill-treating women. In other words, women from all over the world have been rebellious to reach the status they have today. While the western countries are still making progress, third world countries like India still lack behind in Women Empowerment.

In India, women empowerment is needed more than ever. India is amongst the countries which are not safe for women. There are various reasons for this. Firstly, women in India are in danger of honor killings. Their family thinks its right to take their lives if they bring shame to the reputation of their legacy.

the education and freedom scenario is very regressive here. Women are not allowed to pursue higher education, they are married off early. The men are still dominating women in some regions like it’s the woman’s duty to work for him endlessly. They do not let them go out or have freedom of any kind.

In addition, domestic violence is a major problem in India. The men beat up their wife and abuse them as they think women are their property. More so, because women are afraid to speak up. Similarly, the women who do actually work get paid less than their male counterparts. It is downright unfair and sexist to pay someone less for the same work because of their gender. Thus, we see how women empowerment is the need of the hour. We need to empower these women to speak up for themselves and never be a victim of injustice.

There are various ways in how one can empower women. The individuals and government must both come together to make it happen. Education for girls must be made compulsory so that women can become illiterate to make a life for themselves.

Women must be given equal opportunities in every field, irrespective of gender. Moreover, they must also be given equal pay. We can empower women by abolishing child marriage. Various programs must be held where they can be taught skills to fend for themselves in case they face financial crisis.

Most importantly, the shame of divorce and abuse must be thrown out of the window. Many women stay in abusive relationships because of the fear of society. Parents must teach their daughters it is okay to come home divorced rather than in a coffin.

Indian Soap Operas Need To Do Better

A woman is chided by society for her loud and brash manner; background music meant to tug at one’s heartstrings accompanies the sermon they deliver about how her behaviour is unbecoming of a woman and causes everyone distress.

“You’re in love with someone?” her sister gasps. “I was under the impression that you are a good girl!”

Another ludicrous scenario that I can recall goes something like this.

The parsimonious mother-in-law taunts the beguile protagonist saying that she has no clue on how strenuous it is to operate a business and that it requires years and years of hard work and struggle. The protagonist retaliates to her mother-in-law’s call down by saying that anybody can be a doctor or an engineer, and it’s nothing to be proud of, and that she can accomplish the same if given 3 months of time, but what’s not any layman’s work is cooking a perfect kheer and she dares her to accomplish that. The episode ends with mother-in-law failing to accomplish the task and giving in to the daughter-in-law with a ‘victory soundtrack’ playing in the background resonating with the proud face of the protagonist.

Now you may ask, what’s so problematic about this? In a day and age, where hundreds if not thousands of girls are studying day and night and working their fingers to the bone just to be able to sustain themselves in the corporate world, the soap operas project that kitchen is the ultimate fate for a woman. Neither is getting into B-school is easy, nor is cooking a perfect meal. But just because your target audience mainly comprises of housewives, it doesn’t mean you’ll need to defame and demean the female workforce.

It’s really disheartening that despite being women-centric, most of the TV serials reinforce archaic beliefs about a woman’s modesty and her place in the household and in society. Maintain your dignity, keep your head down and endure the humiliation, for that is a testament to your strength of character, they seem to say. It’s generally achieved through stereotypical (and regressive) portrayal of saas-bahu relationships who are often pitted against one another just for the sake of it. Another way of doing it is through drawing a dichotomy between ‘an ideal woman’ and the ‘vamp’. The former is primarily seen in traditional attire, is respectful and performs all of her daughterly duties with precision. On the contrary, the vamp is often clad in pants or decked in heavy jewellery and make-up, has a domineering or outspoken nature, and is possibly unmarried (because who would tolerate her, right?).

So, who do you think comprises the majority of the viewer segment for these on-screen aberrations? Mostly the women-folk, specifically the elderly and the housewives and in a nation like ours we all know the sad truth of an women’s existence. Kitchen, marriage and babies, in most cases, are the holy trinity amongst which many a woman’s dreams and ambitions are snuffed out. Who are the staunchest implementers of oppressive practices on women? Women themselves! All in the name of ‘tradition’ and ‘culture’. For these women, these serials are providing a validation of their existence which otherwise is always limited to being the shadow of a male family member- Mr. X’ s wife or Mr. Y’s daughter or Mr. Z’ s mother but never an individual.

These serials with their mindless and baseless storylines make martyrs and Goddesses out of these brainless, one-dimensional female characters; glorifying submission and sacrifice to the point where rationale ceases to exist in totality. Add to it a dash of black magic and divine intervention and voila! You have just created the perfect potion to keep womenfolk tame and submissive and most importantly voiceless accompaniment to male demand and fantasy! I’m rather inclined to think of these serials as a well thought, well-crafted and well-executed strategy by a largely patriarchal powerhouse to keep women away from exerting their rights or voicing their ambition and dreams.

To conclude, these serials are basically a reflection of our societal mind-set at large and are meant to sustain that sick mind-set going forward. These storylines, intentionally or unintentionally, prevent women from being exposed to concepts of freedom and strength of character and determination, and as result women are simply reduced to an epitome of sacrifice and fragility who aren’t allowed rebel but always endure and adjust!

Indian soap operas, it’s a sincere request, please stop glorifying misery, mistaking stoicism for masochism, degrading the art of storytelling, and reinforcing gender roles on television.

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Regressive portrayal of women on Indian Television.

Don’t Bully the Bully

End bullying before it ends another life.

The news of tragic demise of Sushant Singh Rajput has shaken up the entire film industry to the core and people are filled with understandable grief and outrage, but unfortunately, the whole situation has turned ugly as the people who’re rightfully filled with anger have become so blinded by it that they think that there are no consequences to abusing on the internet and they think that their actions are justified. They want to take out their frustration, so where do they go? Of course, the Internet. On social media, the initial outpouring of grief and conversations about mental health rapidly gave way to conspiracy theories, allegations of dark plots, and soon enough, some “villains” had been zeroed in upon – recognisable faces on which to pin blame, and then mercilessly, relentlessly abuse.

So far, it’s Sushant’s close associates and the “star kids”, in the recent turn of events, have been bearing the brunt of all the outpouring rage. Of late, people have been invading Ankita Lokhande’s fiancé Vicky Jain’s Instagram handle with hate comments for him. While some asked Vicky to leave Ankita, some accused him of ruining Sushant and Ankita’s relationship. Vicky has even now limited the comments to his Instagram posts to avoid the negativity. Actress Sonam Kapoor Ahuja too has been receiving several hate messages where people have slammed her and wished death for her future children.

It’s high time that we realize that cyber bullying is a crime. It’s in a way ironical that Sushant Singh Rajput lost his life due to bullying, lookism and nepotism, but now we are doing the same thing. Bullying the bully won’t cut it. Tragic as it is, Rajput’s suicide only highlights the stress faced by those in Bollywood. But issues such as nepotism, insider-outsider biases, sexism, discrimination are also part of other industry. By blaming and shaming Karan Johar or other so- called “nepotists” like Bhatt, Ranveer Singh, Varun Dhawan among others, many on so social media seemed to lose the real focus of the discourse which should be on improving mental health awareness, preparedness and infrastructure to help people cope with stress in all environments.

Toxicity cannot be reduced with further toxicity and cyberbullying is not the best practice when the end-goal is improving mental health.

Sending death threats and calling people ugly is definitely not the way to pay tribute to his legacy. If you want to pay a tribute to SSR, then the best thing is to be kind and never fear from struggle. We should remember him for his acting and his talent. Sushant Singh Rajput was struggling with mental health. The worst way to disgrace his memory is to subject others to bullying and mental harassment. Nepotism in Bollywood is real and rampant. The industry is largely run by a few clans, promoting their kin at the cost of talented outsiders, who are robbed audience, which is robbed of quality content. All these problems need to be acknowledged and discussed. None of these problems can be solved by heaping abuses on individual actors and subjecting them to vile trolling. This incident has also caused a much-needed debate regarding India’s mental health awareness and preparedness.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.

#BlackLivesMatter Vs. #AllLivesMatter

Saying that black lives matter doesn’t mean that other lives do not.

The tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has sparked intense debate over the question of racism in USA and triggered the Black Lives Matter movement. The protests have also sparked wide-ranging conversations about the responsibility industries and organizations — including the media — have to address institutional racism. To be clear, for much of its seven-year existence, the Black Lives Matter movement has been seen by many Americans as a divisive, even radical force. It’s very name enraged it’s foes, who countered with the slogans “Blue Lives Matter” and “White Lives Matter.” The tragedy, however, dramatically sparked a wave of protests sparked and enabled the Black Lives Matter movement to go has gone mainstream. The struggle is no longer confined to the national borders of the United States. However, soon enough, #AllLivesMatter became a slogan that has come to be associated with criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, saying #AllLivesMatter completely missed the point of the Black Lives Matter.

Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment – indeed, everyone should, and that was kind of your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any! The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out. That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.

Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem. The phrase “Black lives matter” carries an implicit “too” at the end; it’s saying that black lives should also matter. Saying “all lives matter” is dismissing the very problems that the phrase is trying to draw attention to.
Needless to say, dialogue matters and the George Floyd uprising has brought us hope for change. Now we must turn protest to policy.

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All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter.

From Period Poverty to Period Dignity

A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.

Sadly, in a country where 70% of reproductive diseases are caused by pitiable menstrual hygiene conditions, we’re still missing out on addressing the ‘period poverty’. Period poverty refers to the lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints. Lack of access to clean water, lack of toilets with doors, and difficulties disposing of used products are just some of the challenges that women face when trying to manage their periods in a private, safe and dignified manner. The inadequate access to menstrual products and education around hygiene had been a serious barrier in working towards menstrual equity. Period stigma is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality, cultural shame, internalized taboo and dogmatic religious practices that have made initiating a discourse on menstruation a catch-22. The most direct cause-cum-consequence of it is menstruation blood being strictly distinguished from other bodily fluids and being culturally portrayed as dirty, unclean and impure.

Another example of consequence of period stigma can be seen in the famous Ambubachi Mela which celebrates the menstrual time of Goddess Kamakhya where rice holds a huge significance denoted by dhan. However, it’s accompanied by the absurd myth is that when a menstruating woman touches the rice container in her household, then she and her family faces the wrath of Goddess Lakshmi. It is believed that the influx of dhan or wealth gets negatively affected in that particular household. Us, women, live a life of irony don’t we? While Ambubachi signifies fertility and celebrates the child bearing capabilities of women, the ground reality of menstruating women portray a different tale altogether.

It’s unfortunate that even though we’re living in today’s 21st century and everyone knows about it, no one is allowed to talk about it publicly. Films are being made on this, numerous campaigns are going on but the fact is that people still hesitate to utter this word in front of others looms large.

To add further to this paradoxical situation, sanitation facilities are unaffordable by most. Approximately 70 million people in India live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 dollars per day. Hence for low-income households, the cost of sanitary pads is often unattainable. An average of more than 40% of students in India resort to missing school while menstruating as a consequence of social stigma, isolation, embarrassment and inaccessibility of products. The instances of avoiding school are also ramification for the lack of proper sanitation facilities across the country.
Government has intervened to tackle this issue several times, but to no avail. In fact, in 2017, the Indian government had labelled menstrual products as luxury goods, but fortunately enough, in July of 2018, the Indian government removed the tax, to make the sanitary products more accessible to everyone. Other than this there’s the Janaushadhi Suvidha scheme which aims to provide women with oxo-biodegradable sanitary napkins at a meagre cost of Rs. 2.50/pad across 3,600 Janaushadhi Kendras in the country.

The pandemic has made the situation even more challenging than it already was. It’s well known that the coronavirus outbreak is having a devastating impact on family finances all over the world, but now we see that girls and women are also facing widespread shortages and price hikes on period products, with the result that many are being forced to make do with whatever they can find to manage their period. This can pose a real threat to their health and may increase the risk of infection. Thus, is about time we realise that menstruation is just a biological process and the secrecy surrounding it must go. It is important to normalise and de-stigmatise menstruation, and destroy taboos around this natural process.

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Period. End of Sentence.

Sustainability: The Only Way Out

We can’t just consume our way to a more sustainable world…

When the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi decided to return back to his motherland from South Africa where he had gone as a lawyer for the Indian community, he called Kasturba and told her, ‘Let’s distribute these gifts among the impecunious and needy people.’ Kasturba, befuddled, replied, ‘But these gifts have been given to you by the very same people. To this Mahatma Gandhi answered, ‘They gave it to me out of love , but I don’t need it.’ This man spent his whole life the basis of needs, that too reduced.

This is also what he had preached in context of sustainability, ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed’. This is proved by a research conducted in the 80s which indicates that if the world’s population is multiplied by 4, there still would be enough for everyone provided that our life is confined to our needs and not greed. Keeping this in mind, it’s vital to understand that the distribution of development in our country isn’t horse to horse. The current model of development has created more problems and solved less. The irrational methods of production, consumption and distribution has created a huge gap between the haves and have-nots. If the benefits of development doesn’t reach to all the people then how can we call it development? So it’s logical and rather exigent to question ourselves whether the type of development we pursue creates, reinforces and perpetuates this crises. If the answer is yes, then it’s the eleventh hour for us to altercate our policies and consciously design a thorough plan development that by every means is sustainable.

We can recall an advertisement where a school going youngin expresses his wish of becoming a cycle mechanic to his father reasoning it with the fact that if we are ever so careless with the precious resources we possess, it wouldn’t even last until he’s grown up. The father in the same advertisement shows sensitivity and awareness towards his son’s words and turns off the car stuck in the traffic . But what if he hadn’t, what if WE don’t, don’t what would lie in our future? Perhaps something like this ‘The street is carpeted in the same dusty powder that is in my hair and clothes. Homes trajectory the street like broken teeth, falling down impetuously as if they were bombed. Yet the most sumptuous thing to happen here in the past twenty years is the ever hotter summers and wind that howls across the landscape unhindered by trees. Graffiti still shows red and blue through the dust, tags from people who fled north with the dying rains, all childish rebellions long blotted out. How all this trauma aged us. Adolescents could be ninety in those teenage bones. One wouldn’t come here if it weren’t for the resources we now need, stuff that could be lying relinquished behind these sunbaked walls. I would shout to shock this place with the exuberance of life, but then I would have to breath this foul air in more deeply and I don’t know how much this old hospital mask will filter.”

The child symbolizes the future generation and the father represents the present generation. As parents we all are concerned about our children’s future. After all we want it to be safe, secure and prosperous. But do we really? The answer is a big no. You need not ask me ‘why’. Let us ask ourselves what are we leaving for our children – toxic air, water and soil. This translates to the fact that whatever they will inhale , drink and eat is TOXIC. This again leaves us with a question – Are we responsible parents or citizens? No matter how harsh this dreadful imagination may sound, it has the potential to transform into reality if we aren’t cautious enough. We are setting up the future generation for a dark future. Can we reverse the trend, repair the damage and change it for the better? The answer is yes. The solution is Sustainable Development which is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

But this leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Whose “needs of the present” is this referring to? The needs of a family of four in a United States suburb are quite different than those of a similar sized family in sub-Saharan Africa. And regarding the needs of future generations, a world in 2100 is drastically different than our current world . Figuring out how to meet our needs while simultaneously considering the uncharted territory of such a large future population is a massive undertaking. Most importantly this definition doesn’t tell us what sustainability actually looks like in practice. How can we motivate people to move toward more sustainable lifestyles if they can’t envision what they’re moving toward?
Further complicating the topic of sustainability are the myriad aliases it operates under — sustainable development, resilience, sustainable entrepreneurship, Triple Bottom Line, corporate social responsibility, etc.
That’s why, perhaps it’s more efficacious to break the issue into smaller, more manageable knobs than to speak of sustainability in grand pronouncements .To that end, here are four suggestions to help advance the “global sustainability” narrative.

1. Break sustainability down by sector

When throwing around phrases such as “building a sustainable future,” it’s critical to identify the sector you’re talking about. The sustainability of the transportation sector obviously presents a different range of challenges and opportunities than, say, the sustainability of global agriculture. And if one becomes more sustainable while the other becomes less sustainable, are we truly moving toward a more sustainable future overall? Even within sectors there are challenges. If your goal is to create a more sustainable energy system, does that mean reducing carbon emissions — thus including nuclear energy — or are you referring to “clean” sources of renewable energy such as solar and wind? Once again, details matter greatly.

2. Speak in specifics

Ask a hundred people if they’re interested in living in a “more sustainable world” and I bet the vast majority would respond, “Yes.” The trouble is, they’d probably all have a different idea in their heads of what that meant. We need to start talking about a sustainable future in specifics. Sustainability over what time frame? Where? For whom? Which brings me to my next point…

3. Clearly identify who benefits

We need to clarify who benefits from sustainability efforts. For example, does sustainable apparel benefit someone making dollars a day? If so, explain how. Does sustainable energy help the millions living without access to electricity? Are we talking about sustainability for humans, animals, plants and/or other natural systems? If humans are living “more sustainable lifestyles” while the extinction rate for plants and animals continues its upward trajectory, can we call that a success?

4. Paint a picture

What does sustainability look like in practice? How does it actually work? What’s different from the world we live in today? And, perhaps most importantly, what are the trade-offs? Walking and biking might be the most sustainable forms of transportation, but they’re probably not the most time efficient if you need to drive 10 miles across town for work or an appointment. No matter how different we want the future to be, we can’t simply ignore the way people actually live today. We cannot simply wish for a world we want.

It’s also imperative to comprehend that sustainable development does not mean a return to a preindustrial or pre-technological era. It calls for perpetuated economic growth and for business and industry to play a pivotal role in achieving sustainable livelihoods for all people–alleviating poverty and improving living standards while maintaining the integrity of the global environment. But the process has been hindered by a conceptual obstacle: the belief that economic progress and environmental protection are mutually antagonistic goals. This thinking originated with the industrial revolution and achieved its fullest realization in the decades of unprecedented growth following World War II, when innovation produced such high-tech items as computer chips and satellites, new and quicker modes of transport, agricultural green revolution, etc. However, this only served to reinforce a belief in the virtues of unbridled industrial development, even at the expense of the environment. Balance is essential between development and environment changes in global climate patterns, deforestation, species loss, air and water pollution, ozone depletion and toxic waste disposal, all indicate the urgent need for sustainable practices. The crisis is global. So everyone rich or poor , developed or underdeveloped have to make painful choices in the name of mutual security in order to meet the goals of sustainable development.

Sustainable development is the need of the present time not only for the survival of mankind but also for it’s future protection. Unlike the other great revolutions in human history like the Green Revolution and the Industrial Revolution; the ‘sustainable revolution’ will have to take place rapidly, consciously and on many different levels and in many different spheres, simultaneously.

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Sustainability

The Problem with Online Activism Today

We live in times of great political and economic turmoil. Questions that have been pushed back till now are being asked on public platforms and many are unable to answer. There is also the rise of alternate ideologies, identities, and other categories which are challenging traditions and cultures, and rightly so.  An intrinsic part of our current culture is activism and social media engagement with issues in the world. Problems such as discrimination, violence, and abuse are talked about greatly and much needed debates held, often in the comments section of posts. While there is meaningful engagement, many activist pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are littered with comments of vitriolic language, multiple opinions, and yelling. While discussions are useful, one has to stop and wonder whether this is the best to go about bringing change.

Most of the social media today is usually seen protesting or talking about an issue. Posts are shared and people are called out. But we have to be mindful that it does not lead to a kind of elitism where only those who are educated in the ‘woke’ culture can speak. There has to be respectful space for dissent and dialogue that is inclusive of even opposing views. It is saddening that there is an increasing group of people who limit their activism to what they do online. We tend to become comfortable once we have posted something on a public platform and wait for approval from others. We shape our words in such a way that it will have a lot of impact or even invite debate. Once we have a debate going, it is often the sensational value of it rather than what is being said that is the focus. And this approach might be detrimental to true engagement. Such online activism also allows many to feel like they are actually doing something to change the status of things in the real world. This doesn’t mean that raising awareness online or speaking about it is unnecessary or useless but also shows that if our activism ends after posting something and ranting about it, we have changed nothing. It is a mechanism to gain emotional satisfaction especially in a culture that is oriented towards getting things done quickly and seeking instant gratification. Actually engaging on the ground is a messy affair and requires patience, perseverance, ability to listen, and also to accommodate. But we do not like those things and it is much more convenient to talk about discrimination sitting on our couches typing on our high-end laptop while watching Netflix. This is to be expected with the virtual world indulgence that we have but we need to realize that just because we enjoy something or think something is good does not mean that it is good.

A desire to change things is necessary and essential. But when we live in a culture geared towards justice but often becoming hateful in the process, unless we are able to see beyond our own opinions, look for objective frames of reference, and listen to those who have been systemically discriminated against, and then get onto practicing what we say in real life, no amount of sharing posts or shouting will change much. We have to learn to respond intelligently, with love and concern, rather than react spontaneously with anger and then stop with that. Unless we learn to do that, no matter how wronged we feel, the ultimate result of our campaign wouldn’t be effecting change but creating another kind of exclusivity which might not solve the problem at all.

Child Labour

An innocent child, whose age is to enjoy the best days of his childhood, He/she should see big dreams about his/her future, should be learning new things and grow freely and play carefreely, should be going to school everyday. Is going to work everyday whose shoulders should be carrying a School bag but instead of carrying school bag carrying heavy burden of responsibility. That burden is spoiling his mental and physical health and opportunity to build a better future.

Child labours are exploited, exposed to hazardous work conditions and paid a pittance for their long hours of work. Child labour is very common in many developing countries due to severe poverty and poor schooling. High rate of child labour is still more than 50 percent in which children of 5 to 14 years are working in developing countries. Child lobour are cheap and easily available in developing countries, that’s why they are preferable which is an offence, under Child labour (prohibition and regulation) Act 1986.

The Constitution says that :- a) No child below the age of 14 shall be employed to work in any hazardous employment (Article 24) b) Childhood and youth are to be protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment (Article 39 (f)) c) The State shall endeavour to provide within a period of 10 year from the commencement of Constitution free and compulsory education for all children until they have completed the age of 14 years (Article 45)

Child labour is becoming a big social issue in India which should be resolved on regular basis. This is not only the responsibility of the government, but it also be reconciled by all the social organizations, bosses and guardians. This issue is for everyone which needs to be sorted out personally because it can be with any child of anybody.

Importance of Mental Health during Pandemic Times

Mental Health is a topic much discussed in the current times owing to its increasing importance in the world. Since it was not considered as important as our physical health, mental health disorders, illnesses and issues had been ignored and pushed under the rug for many years. However, with depression and suicide becoming the greatest threat to human life in this modern world, addressing mental health with understanding and seeking solutions are extremely important. Emotional and mental well-being is necessary for an individual to function as he ought in society, complete his tasks and maintain his space in the world.

Modernity has brought with it a number of problems all of which have contributed in their own way to a crisis of mental health. Long hours at the office, increased stress levels, financial crisis, managing work life and home life are all significant factors that affect our mental health. Among students, demanding coursework, fear of the future, a crashing job market, worry about not performing well and peer pressure can all lead to a situation where one is not able to think and behave as one ought.

Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a spike in the number of mental health issues coming up. There is fear of the virus, worry about what happens next, and many don’t see how they can survive. 1 in 5 college students say that they are experiencing heightened mental health issues during this pandemic. This will become a pandemic by itself and the countries of the world are already realizing this.

A major issue that we in India is what the World Health Organization considers the mental health gap. It refers to the gap between number of those with the need and the number of providers available. There are not enough responders who can adequately deal with the issues and the number of people who are in need of help.

Another major issue with addressing mental health concerns in India is the stigma associated with it. Many are told to ‘just get over it’ or asked to ‘forget about it’. The honour-shame culture in India lends itself to this.  It is considered shameful to approach someone for help or to say that I am struggling mentally. It is not a choice to go into depression. There is rejection and discrimination against people who suffer from severe anxiety or other issues and they are not given the care they need. We need to understand that mental health is as important as physical health and that it needs to be dealt with as seriously.

If you or anyone you know seem to be struggling mentally, never hesitate to reach out for help. It is important that we ourselves do not try to treat anyone or counsel them if we are not qualified. Never wait for your mental health to deteriorate immensely before you start seeking help. Self medication and deluding oneself into thinking that they can conquer this on their own should also not be encouraged. If we see someone struggling with mental health, learn how to move towards them and assure them they are not alone. Don’t moralize them but listen to them and walk with them in their journey. You can do much by taking people seriously when they talk to you about their struggles and by being there for them.

 

 

Secularism Vs Religion in politics

Secularism implies equal respect for all religions in the same measure as we have our own. In our country,the liberty of ” belief,faith and worship”, as enshrined in the Constitution, has been implemented by incorporating the fundamental Rights of all citizens to ” Freedom of Religion” in Articles 25-29.

India is a land of multi- religious,multi ethnic and multi lingual people with a plethora of castes and subcastes. All the major religions in the country, viz, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism tech their followers to imbibe faith in God an dlove for human beings.Yet our people have developed peculiar attitude to their own religion. Today, religion,the opiate of the masses,disintegrates people through communal violence the behest of political parties and their unscrupulous leaders।Religion is an ally of politics is fraught with danger.

The constitutuon of India uphold the unity of all religions ,based on their moral precepts of building unity in diversity. This shows that India as a secular state is neither religious nor anti religious ; it is completely detached from all religious dogmas.

The british created a rift between Hindus and Muslims that led to the partition of the sub- continent in 1947. The rift has widened since then.Today, Ram Jamnabhoomi- Babri Kashif issue,1993 Mumbai riots, recent riots in UP are there to spark off communal violence.Such tendnecies are drifting away people from the idea of secularism.

There is growing feeling in the country that the functioning of secularism has suffered some setbacks. Recently,this has led many individuals from the film fraternity, literary field and other arts to return their Government awards, this show their dissent at the growing intolerance in thecountry.The unchecked growth of fundamentalism is posing a serious threat to the secular character of our polity. Our political parties aid and abet communalism.They do not allow secularism to take precedence over their political interests. There are several ways through which secularism is being diluted. Performance of religious rites and rituals at official functions ,misuse of media including official media for propagation of anti secular material are undermining the foundation of a secular polity.

Secularism is the need of the hour for uplifting the nation from the abyss of religious myths and beliefs , and waging a united war of all the people against the cancer of communalism and other social evils hindering our country’s progress. Even though the task appears daunting,the present generation must strive for moulding the mass opinion and evolving a truly secular and democratic India.