Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Talwars and justice

What if the Talwars are innocent? Having seen the utter messy way in which CBI and the police handled the case, and the salacious way the media played it up, there are very good chances that they might be. And have been wrongly thrown into jail, with their lives messed up, torn and destroyed beyond repair. 

Not one person who has known them has said that they could have murdered their only daughter who they loved and adored,  and househelp Hemraj. 

An then of course, there is Avirook Sen's book Aarushi!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Now this judge wants to put a rapist in the house of a six year old girl!

The article in today's Indian Express  Madras HC judge gives bail to rape accused to ‘mediate’ with victim  is shocking. A judge of a Madras High Court actually wants a rape victim to marry the rapist and subject her to the torture of living with him for the rest of her life! 
And worse, he knows the woman has a six year old daughter as a consequence of that rape. Does the judge really think that the little girl will be safe with a rapist in her house? Why does he want to put the little girl in danger?
The judge talks of a concept called reconciliation. There are crimes where there cannot be any reconciliation and these are - murder, attempt to murder, sexual assault, rape, and acid attack among them. 
The brave woman in ‘One day, I’ll tell my girl her father was a rapist’ has asked that the judge cancel his order. She is quoted as saying: "Only those who live here and see my plight understand the kind of problems I have undergone… There are several ways to make money. But you can’t buy dignity. Isn’t this order, without seeking my opinion, now asking me to place my self-respect at the mercy of the man who raped me? How can I have a life with him? I can only request the top judge (Chief Justice) to cancel this order.” 
What was galling was a statement made by the judge about the woman: "She is not yet married. She is an unwed mother." So in his eyes placing her and the child with the rapist is a better option! God save the women of this country.  

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Raped, 24 weeks pregnant, abandoned by family, court denies permsission to abort

The Times of India had recently reported --
AHMEDABAD: Apr 7, 2015, 05.45AM IST A 24-year old woman, who is seven months pregnant from rape, has moved Gujarat high court seeking permission to abort her unwanted child.

Law, however, does not allow medical termination of pregnancy of over 20 weeks. Unable to allow the woman to abort her pregnancy, the court on Monday asked the state government how it could help if she delivers the unwanted child. Justice J B Pardiwala said a seven-month fetus has high survival chances and there is no question of taking life by allowing abortion.

The Surat-based woman was abducted from her village in Botad by seven people. Six months into the ordeal, she escaped. Freedom spelt more agony as she was 24 weeks pregnant and her husband and in-laws dumped her citing her pregnancy. Her own family also did not want her to have the child. Botad police too refused to register FIR and insisted on a compromise. 

For more -

What do you think should be done? Write in with your views.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Nuggets of Jain wisdom

Book review

Title: Rishabhayan: The Story of the First King
Author: Acharya Mahapragya
Translator: Sudhamahi Regunathan
Harper Element: An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Rishabhayan: The Story of the First King is a rare book of its kind.  Written by Acharaya Mahapragya, a respected Jain monk and scholar, it tells the story of Rishabha, the first King and its very first Tirthankara, and through it introduces the basic concepts of Jainism. The commentary provided by Sudhamahi Regunathan, former Vice Chancellor, of the Jain Vishwa Bharati University, who has also translated the work from Hindi to English, makes it an immensely readable book. Sudhamahi Regunathan puts the concepts into context to help the lay reader, or a student of religion and theology unravel the throes of the past and discover the gems Jainism has to offer.

How did the story of human life begin and progress? What was society like before what we term ‘civilisation’? How did punishment evolve? When did the concept of family take root? These are just some of the questions that the book answers, all in about 2000 very beautifully crafted verses.

Rishaba’s story is set almost 2500 years before Christ. Consider that Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, was in the sixth century BC. A Tirthankara is a person who attains a state of enlightenment through meditation and conquers the cycle of death and rebirth. It is with the birth of Rishaba that society began to be organised, or put it in the Acharya’s words, it was the beginning of Indian civilisation.

The book is a mine of wisdom. You get introduced to the pillars of Jain thought --  non violence, non absolutism and non possession. You learn about anekanta or relativity that states truth is multi-dimensional, and forms the foundation of Jain philosophy.  

The verses deal with administration and governance of society. The Acharya writes that the underlying principle of governance is equality of all living beings.  A healthy society is one in which there is no shortage of wealth and materials, and yet their influence on people is also not overbearing.

Punishment was the first tool of administration. Initially remorse was enough to control people. Soon they grew thick skinned and direct admonishment had to be used. But crime could not be contained by admonishment for too long and then the third tool – reprimand came into effect, the Acharya explains.

Or sample this, in the Acharya’s elegant style: One should eat food as a bee draws nectar from a flower without harming it or as a cow grazes on the grass without uprooting it. It is only the donkey that uproots the entire plant!
Or this on longevity –

Lack of anger, lack of greed,
Mental peace, positive outlook, and
Balanced nutrition, these five potent
influences ensured longevity

The causes of a short lifespan are five:
Fear stress, passions high,
Imbalanced food and collective effect
Of all negative emotions and thoughts

The Acharya should know. He lived till 89 years and passed away recently.

Sudhamahi writes that translation has been challenging as she had to find synonyms for the philosophical terms and accommodate the adages and proverbs common in Hindi, Rajasthani and Sanskrit into a culturally different language. But she has done so with an elan matching the Acharya’s elegant style and the result is a treasure house capturing the journey of human society.

If you are fond of contemplating on life, or a poet, or a student of religion, the book is recommended for you.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My favourite photo of 2014: Women scientists celebrate at ISRO

My favourite photo of 2014:  Women scientists from the Indian Space Research Organisation celebrate after successfully putting spacecraft Mangalyaan into the Mars orbit.
Loved their smiles and shared their joy! We are told 20 per cent of the employees at the space research organisation are women. Forty-four year old Nandini Harinath, physicist and a mother of two, was the person who operated the spacecraft between Earth and Mars, as the deputy operations director of the mission.
To see an interesting contrast between NASA and ISRO, log into a post by Melanie Meadors at

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Mary Kom worth watching

Mary Kom another wonderful Bollywood film. Loved it! Its story line, its character portrayal, the settings...all commendable. Fine acting by  Priyanka as five times World Boxing Champion and Olympics winner M.C. Mary Kom, and Darshan Singh as Onler Kom, her husband. The film moves at great pace and before you know, it is the end. Over two hours of action and not a dull moment!

And what wonderful role models both Mary Kom and Onler make for our youngsters. Mary as a young woman who has taken up boxing, and her husband, as a supportive partner who offers to look after the babies while she trains to re-enter the boxing ring after pregnancy and childbirth, and gets ready to compete. I have not seen such inspiring figures, such powerful role models for our youngsters in a long long time. And ones that break the stereotypes for both men and women!

I am very dismayed to learn that the film has not yet been released in Manipur, Mary Kom's home state. There is a ban on Hindi films there by a militant group. And while the people of Manipur are travelling to neighbouring states to see the film, theatre owners in the state dare not screen the film and face the wrath of the militants. Also read that Onler is trying his best to get it released there. He has been in touch with the Chief Minister's office. Now imagine having to knock at the CM's door to have a film released about the national figure who has done her state and the country proud. What knots we tie ourselves in!

Then I hear, that there is some controversy over why the character of Mary Kom was not played by a Manipuri actress. It does not have to. In fact, it is good that it was played by a Punjabi from Meerut (if I am correct about Priyanka's origins). Cinema is an art form and no art form should be restricted or be restrictive. I thought Priyanka did justice to the role and so do Mary and Onler!

There is criticism and with reason about the north-east being left out from national mainstream. The rest of India knows so little about the north east. This is one film that is a giant step in changing that through the story of one of its best known face. I saw the hall full when I went to see it in Delhi. The audience largely youngsters, seemed to have loved it. Manipur should welcome the film. Screen it in schools and colleges as should the rest of India. It is not often that we get a film like this! Great job by its director, Omung Kumar and producer, Sanjay Leela Bhansali. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

We need more men like them

Well done! It is great that some Indian men have started voicing that Indian women have it bad because of Indian men! Watch this powerful video: India would be a great place for women if we had more men like them! Thank you guys!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Violence is NOT Glamour!

I cant get over this! We must be really depraved if violence starts to inspire us. I am shocked and very saddened by this fashion shoot. I am giving you the link:

I refuse to put any of the photos from this shoot on my blog for they are all downright offensive.They stink! I enjoy fashion. I sincerely believe fashion has to be elegant, it has to be artistic, it has to appeal. But the way it is portrayed by the designer/photographer makes me want to throw up. Yuk!  And the man actually seems proud of his creation! He does not think he has done anything wrong.

This fashion shoot falls in the same category as the Ford ad, the Japanese rape game videos and their ilk that sink so low as to use violence on women for game, fashion and sale purposes. And I would go as far as to say that the creator of this shoot, some Shetye, is as bad as a rapist. Do you agree?

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Living with cancer in India

Number of cancer cases in India predicted to double in next 20 years

India reports about one million new cases of cancer every year. India is on the verge of a cancer epidemic, states a report in The Economic Times: 
I was one among the million cases last year. It was one late August evening in 2013, I learnt that I have cancer.  I had been feeling normal: I went to work, drove the car, carried heavy bags filled with groceries, was regular about my walks, could go through a long action-packed day with energy.. It was pain in the region of my left ovary for about three days that drove me to the gynaecologist, who after an examination sent me for an ultra sound test.

The technician at the ultrasound clinic announced it in a most matter of fact way: "You have a tumour." I was referred to an oncologist. And as I walked into the Cancer Centre, I knew my life had taken a sharp turn. Though I knew next to nothing about cancer, my heart was filled with dread. The word had such a sinister ring to it.

When I met the oncologist, I told him how scared I was walking into the Centre. He smiled and said, "What would you like us to do? Change the name?" I did not have an answer to that then. I do not have one today.

I used to skip articles on cancer, or change the channel when I came across a talk on the subject. I was fit and healthy and never imagined cancer could strike me. But today, I read everything on it that I come across. And in doing so, I realise that though modern medicine has advanced, there are many many areas for which it has no answers yet...I also realise how vulnerable we all are. Cancer can strike anytime...anyone. Even children.

On this page I will post links to articles and sites that I find informative and useful. Though there is a lot being written about the subject abroad, I will restrict myself to the scene in India. If you have landed on this page looking for some information, I hope you will not be disappointed. Do comment and share links to useful sites. 

What causes cancer?  Discovering the answers
Low vitamin D levels in body linked to cancer, heart disease
Number of cancer cases in India predicted to double in next 20 years

Punjab is becoming a hotspot of cancer cases in India. Is the culprit high pesticide use?  

Cancer drugs

Govt mulls cancer drug patent waiver


For women in Navi Mumbai - Reflect and connect 

Pets and cancer

Dogs can smell out cancer!

Dress well, it helps!

Look good with no hair -

See this - a new fashion statement for those suffering hair loss from chemotherapy. Henna, bindis and jewellery - a very Indian look. Click here for the amazing lovely look!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Condone rape, mar the development of society

The recent statements by two Samajwadi Party leaders, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Abu Azmi on rape are a direct slap on the face of the Indian women.

The Indian Constitution has given Indian women an equal status. But Mulayam declared on April 10, as India was getting ready to go to polls, that it was unfair to award death penalty to rapists for their 'mistake'. Mulayam, who has been chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and the defence minister of India, is the leader of Samajwadi Party that is currently ruling in the state. Speaking at a election rally in the town of Moradabad, he promised to bring about changes in the tough anti-rape law if his party comes to power in the 2014 general elections. Read the full story here. It was his terming rape as ‘a mistake committed by boys’ that had women fuming.

Abu Azmi went a step further. He called for punishing a woman who is raped! He is reported to have said the following when a reporter asked him for a solution to the problem of rapes: "Solution is this: any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged. Both should be hanged. It shouldn't be allowed even if a woman goes by consent." For more on Azmi's comment, click on the link. Later, after facing the ire of women’s organisations and some political parties, he retracted. By that time his son had come out with a statement citing a generation gap between senior members of the party and others who were of the view that a rapist deserved strict punishment. But that was a little too late. The message of what the leaders stand for had been made loud and clear.

When rape is termed a 'mistake' by boys and men, it completely negates the enormity of the crime that is known to scar a woman for life. At the same time, the blame is put squarely on the woman for the crime. Mulayam Singh Yadav epitomises this mindset that treats girls and women as second class citizens, as commodities and puts boys and men at a pedestal, worthy of special treatment.

With their utterances, Azmi and Mulayam join a chain of men in positions of power, whose statements keep the women subjugated and shackled in a society that is already heavily biased against the woman. In fact, these statements can be said to lead to greater violence against the female of the species, not just physical and mental, but that which stifles her very existence: rising number of female foetuses being aborted, neglect of the female child, poor literacy and education levels, poor participation in the organised workforce.

Statements like these negate the work of many individuals and organisations which have been trying very hard to bring about a change in the status of Indian women. When a common person finds a leader endorsing such a view, he is only emboldened, and once again the notion that a woman can be treated any way one wants, reverberates through the society.

The woman has traditionally been blamed for the violence on her. Rape has been used to keep women subjugated, ensuring that they do not step out of the many restrictions imposed on them: of dress, of behaviour, of their place in society, of being second to men. It was after decades of silence and inaction that the rape law was made stringent. It was a gang rape of horrific proportions in a bus moving on the roads of South Delhi, the most affluent of India’s neighbourhoods, that shook the nation and finally saw a lax law getting some teeth.

Before that, India had seen some of the most inane judgments on rape. A former Chief Justice was quoted as stating that a victim should be allowed to marry the rapist, a throwback to some medieval practice. The Bombay High Court actually reduced punishment for a man convicted of sodomising a 10-month-old girl baby, accepting his contention that he lost control over himself as he was living away from his family! Click here for the full story. Panchayats have let off rapists with punishments like five shoe smacks, and small fines, sending a message that rape is not a big crime.

And now, we have these statements by men from a party dominant and in power in one of the most backward states in the country: Uttar Pradesh. The state performs poorly on all social indicators like maternal mortality, child sex ratio, age at marriage, nutrition for women, life expectancy, education and workforce participation, and a rising crime graph.

It is important for women to feel secure in the knowledge that they matter, that any injustice done to them will be dealt with, that they are not second class citizens but enjoy the same status as men in the country, in society and in their families. Only then will there be progress.

You might like to read an earlier article by me in The Tribune -

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