Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Pioneer- Dilli Billi -29th.July.2012 - "NEED TO CHANGE MINDSET OF MEN"


Not much has changed for the girl-child since Independence. Crimes like rape, molestation and dowry deaths are on the rise. Steps need to be taken to prevent such acts .

Crime against women has become a big problem in the country today. Unfortunately, the more the media reports about such crime, the more cases come to light. The way things are going, at present, it appears the situation is totally out of control and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. But due to the awareness, women have started taking precautions. They carry pepper sprays in their bags and are very careful with whom they befriend.

I don’t think that much has changed for the girl-child since Independence — whether it is big cities or villages, educated or uneducated class. Even though the Government has introduced many schemes and given facilities to stop female foeticide, prevent child marriage and spread awareness that daughters, too, need to be educated, not much has changed for the women. Education plays a huge role in changing the mindset of the people. Superstition, old beliefs and poverty continues to take its toll on the girls. Getting rid of one more mouth to feed has become a norm when it comes to women. We all know that a daughter cares more for the parents as compared to the son. She is more concerned about their well-being and is emotionally more attached to the parents.

Rape, molestation and wife beating, I believe, is a man’s way of taking out his frustration. Only an insecure man will take to a heinous crime against a woman just to his manhood and superiority. A secure and confident man will never stoop to such levels. A man who can’t give respect to a woman deserves the worst kind of punishment. I believe that the mental harassment either by husband or by parents for any reason is worse than the physical abuse that a woman is subjected to. And that too because she is financially dependent on her husband. The fault lies in the up-bringing of the daughter. It is time that daughters are brought up in the same manner as sons.

During my time, daughters were taught to be submissive, giving and patient. To blame the Government for all the problems that ail our society is not correct. After all the Government can’t force its choice on the girls that she needs to study and not marry. After all we are a democratic country. The only option available for the Government is to introduce the harshest punishment for even the smallest crime against a woman. If strict actions are taken and courts expedient the trial, half the problems would be taken care of.

But in a nation where criminals like Kasab are still Government’s guest how can one expect that rapists and people charged with dowry death will be be punished overnight? It is impossible for a rape victim not to be ashamed in the court while being cross-examined. Women are harassed and made fun of by the very people who are supposed to protect them. It is sad that the mindset of the men can’t be changed. They have seen their mothers and sisters being harassed. For them, it is a way of life. Women are supposed to be like sponges who soak up everything without reacting.

It is time that we changed the way we treat our women. A society that can’t respect its women can’t progress.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Pioneer-Dilli Billi - July.22nd.2012 -"IT'S A ROUGH RIDE FOR THE CONGRESS"


After the Assembly Elections in Uttar Pradesh the Congress has been going through a bad phase. Its leaders are lacking grit & will to win. The constant infighting is adding to the woes.

These are testing times for the Congress. The party’s PR department had been working overtime and gearing up for the Presidential election proving that the party was feeling insecure. In this day and age, to be secretive in politics can be damaging especially if you are running a Government with allies. My point is if a man of Pranab Mukherjee’s stature is the Presidential candidate, there should be no controversy involved.

The Congress has been going through rough patches recently, moreso after the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. It is not only the outsiders but even the Congress partymen are worried. As the Assembly elections approach in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, it is a testing time for the Congress High Command as far as decisions, leadership and strategies are concerned.

It is a known fact that a weak High Command leads to groupism and infighting within the party. Every leader thinks he is chief ministerial candidate. The Central leaders from these States, who have easy access to the High Command, feel they know what the top brass wants. The grassroots level worker is praying that there is no repeat of UP and Bihar in these two States as well.

Hopefully, the Congress has learnt its lesson and the mistakes will not be repeated.

But what happened in Punjab? Candidates were announced by the High Command keeping in mind their loyalty rather than winnability in the State. The voter today is smart and wants a leader who is accessible, helpful and works for the betterment of the society. He wants to vote for a person who is not corrupt and can help fulfill his needs. And his needs are simple — roti, kapda, makaan, sadak, bijli and paani.

Due to rampant corruption in the country, the common man feels why he shouldn’t take advantage of the situation during elections. Taking money from all political parties and casting vote in favour of the party from where he will get maximum benefit has become common place.

Unfortunately in Gujarat the Congress has no chance because of the infighting. And to top it all, the names of the candidates are still to be selected. There are rumours and reports that some of the Congressmen are hand in glove with the BJP. It is also said that for the local Congress leaders who forms the Government is not important. Sadly, it is the grassroots worker who is the sufferer. The State unit Congress leaders lack the grit, passion and the will to fight. They have become lazy and mostly depend upon the anti-incumbency factor to win. And if don’t win, it has become easy for them to blame their senior leaders.

It is difficult for such leaders to stop the infighting and mudslinging at each other and instead fight together to win the election. The High Command needs to step in, announce the leader and stop all the fighting. As it is the UPA Government is not very popular. If the Congress loses another election surely it is harbinger of bad days ahead.

It is very sad that at the end of the day, it is the hard working grassroots worker who will pay a price for the inaction and inactivity of its top leader.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Pioneer-Dilli Billi - July.15th.2012 -"HOW GREEN IS MY VALLEY"


Kashmir has once again become a visitors’ paradise. The fact that there have been no incidents involving the tourists has only added to the attraction of visiting the State.

Kashmir has been in the news lately and thank God that it is mostly for tourism reasons. Four lakh tourists have already visited the Valley till now. And another 10 lakh are expected. The State really needs a boost in the tourism industry. It is a signal to the world that it is a safe place to visit. But last week, news that a certain section of the people in the Valley want a dress code for the tourists has not been taken well by the visitors. There is no need for being so hyper-sensitive and sentimental about what kind of clothes the tourists need to wear.

A major problem stems from how the foreigners dress — roaming the streets in mini-skirts and shorts. There is a adage — When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And I completely agree with this. Forget about foreigners but even when we (Indians) visit Kashmir we keep in mind that the locals are conservative in their thinking. Their sentiments should be respected. We must honour the character and culture of every place. When we go abroad we study about the place and make it a point to try and adapt to the culture of that place as much as possible. There is always a travel advisory. Following them saves many problems and embarrassments that may be cause due to different cultural background.

I have lived in the Valley for many years and visited many mosques and other religious places. The locals are orthodox. Militancy has only reinforced this orthodoxy and affected tourism for decades. Due to several State Government initiatives, tourism is has slowly picked up in the last couple of years. The message that the State is safe has finally caught the imagination of the people who are once again visiting the beautiful State.

Fortunately, there have been no major incidents involving the tourists. The hotels are fully booked; the houseboats have been renovated and they are doing brisk business. Local artisans who make silk carpets, shawls and wood carvings have plenty of work once again. At one point of time, these people had no work. The young, with no work, had gone astray. Picking up the gun was the only option left for them. There were times when the Government appeared to be helpless in tackling the situation. There were rumours that many people in the Government looked towards militancy to continue in their chair. Fear of being shot at also played its part.

Coming back to the dress code diktat. There are many ways in which the Government can address the situation. The call by Jamaat-e-Islami can’t be called cultural policing. A simple dress code posted on the travel website on the appropriate dressing can solve the problem.

Kudos to the family who spent nearly Rs 5 crore on a wedding that the family had organised in Srinagar last week. The family from Rajasthan have really set an example. The mandap was facing the Dal Lake and the wedding was solemnised with Hazratbal, Peer Makhdoom Sahib shrine and Shankaracharya temple at the background. The Valley, after years, saw luxury cars and celebrities.

Hopefully, the spell of calm and peace will continue.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Pioneer-Dilli Billi - July.8th.2012 -"QUEEN ELIZABETH'S HIGHWAY TO GLORY"


The four-day-long celebration of the Queen’s 60 years as England’s ruling monarch was an experience that is impossible to forget.

On a visit to London during the Queen’s jubilee celebration last month, I realised how popular the royal family is in the city. The entire London took part in the extended weekend celebrations. If this was not enough, there were celebratory activities in the Commonwealth countries as well. After Princess Diana’s death, the popularity of the Queen and Prince Charles had gone down. Now that Prince William and Prince Harry have grown up, the public is back to admiring them.

Though the weather Gods were not very supportive during the festivities, it didn’t put a damper on anybody’s spirits. As the Queen with her family took part in the Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant, it filled the Britishers with pride as the the entire royal family stood for four hours and watched a thousand ships take part in the pageant. One could see the Queen on the barge watching the Dragon boats. Nearly a million rain soaked people waved, laughed and cried as they witnessed history being made. This is only second time that British royalty is celebrating a Diamond Jubilee. The Queen dressed in a cream hat and coat with Swarovskis looked stunning.

What was interesting was how the tourists, shivering in the cold, got into the spirit of celebrating. For them, it was clearly a powerful sense of continuity with the past. The celebrations were undoubtedly a show of unity. And though there were millions of people on the streets there was no chaos or confusion. There were long queues to not just watch the events but also see the royalty. It was fantastic to see the 91-year-old Prince Philip stand tall through every ceremony except the last day when news of his ill health put a dampener. However, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry and the extended royal family solidly stood by the Queen.

When the news that Prince Philip was admitted in the hospital spread, the people were shocked. Many people shed a tear or two when they saw a sad looking Queen Elizabeth II arrive alone. Though the entire event was star-studded, it was the Queen’s gold lamè dress that stole the show. The Buckingham Palace proved to be the best backdrop for the events. Prince Charles’ speech in which he paid a personal tribute to his ‘mummy’ touched many hearts. He thanked the nation for making them proud to be British. The speech was warm, witty and full of praise for the Queen.

The entire festivities filled me with admiration for the people of the country. The best part was that everything ran like clockwork. Any chaos was dealt with speed. Cops sprung into action at the slightest of commotion. I don’t know whether this was in preparation for the Olympic Games or the celebrations but everything ran smoothly. No one was harnessed. There were no traffic jams too. Though the malls were full of people, the service was excellent as usual. There was street food as well. Traditional cupcakes and the British flags were on display everywhere. Lots of preparations must have been done in advance to avoid glitches.

India, too, needs to learn how to run things smoothly.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

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