Wednesday, 26 June 2013

This is what makes India special

A lot has been said about India's politicians and her land mafia and their rapacious greed which stops at nothing. The cloudburst, and the floods and landslides that have followed in Uttarakhand and parts of Himachal, were exacerbated by the doings of the politician-land mafia who have mindlessly plundered the region. Hundreds dead, tragedy after tragedy, house collapses, property worth crores lost, the unending suffering ...

Amidst all this, come stories of how our security forces have been helping out. If it were not for them and their selfless service, one shudders to think what more could  have happened. These men, have the nation's gratitude. However, we treat them badly. Our parliamentarians have grudged them small pay hikes, while giving themselves hefty increases. That is another story.

Here I want to focus on what makes India special. It is the generosity of the ordinary Indians. People who have little, but give it unstintingly. These are the people, who rush to help whenever tragedy strikes....while our politicians quibble over turf and upmanship and our rich are slow to open their purses.

I have put together stories that are indeed moving and celebrate that special quality we call humaneness:

Grocery store keeper and friends feed over 800 a day

Chennai pilgrims bring home a hero

Youth took charge

Villagers rescue 43 foreigners

Relief camps by locals

This one celebrates the IAF women pilots
IAF women pilots to the rescue

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

When marriage for a girl is more important than education

A news item in the Times of India:

Father kills daughter for refusing to marry

Some portions from the news item -

KANPUR: A man allegedly killed his 15-year-old girl for refusing to marry a boy of his choice at Virma in Uttar Pradesh's KanpurDehat on Tuesday evening. 

Police said the girl had apparently turned down the proposal saying she was young and wanted to study.

The girl was an intermediate student and had been staying with her maternal uncle in Gudha village to complete her studies. She had returned home for summer vacations.

A police officer said ever since she had returned home, Shukla had been pestering her to accept the marriage proposal.

So what does this say about the society -
  • You should not have an opinion of your own girl. You dare not go against parental wishes. Father knows best. 
  • He can even kill you for opposing him. 
  • Marriage is more important than education.
  • What use is education? Your role in society is to cook, look after your husband and his family,  and bear children.
This is the mindset that has to change. Until then....

Friday, 14 June 2013

Why does this happen?

Lover's family burns girl to death in front of panchayat

Yes, you read it right. The item appeared in Hindustan Times today and I am reproducing it below:

A woman was brutally assaulted and her daughter burnt alive in public view, and in the presence of the village panchayat, Uttar Pradesh Police said Friday. The incident occurred at Karahkol village of Deoria, 475 km from state capital Lucknow.
Police said a girl named Manju was in love with a boy named Ranjit of the same village. The boy's family opposed the relationship, and the matter was taken to the panchayat.

At the panchayat meeting, Manju's mother pleaded that since the two loved each other, they should be allowed to marry.
Incensed by the proposal, Jai Hind, Ranjit's father, and members of his family assaulted Manju's mother Gyanwati and rained blows and kicks on her.
Manju rushed to help her mother as she was being attacked, and members of Ranjit's family doused her with kerosene and set her on fire.
Police reached the spot on being informed of the incident. By that time, Manju, who was taken to a nearby medical facility, had died of burn injuries.
Seven people have been charged with the crime, and two of them have been arrested. Policemen said the absconding five would soon be nabbed.

Questions that have been bothering me:Why didn't anyone from the panchayat or from those who had gathered, try and prevent the boy's father from burning Manju alive? Or do anything to save her? And why did they not protest when her mother was being assaulted?

Shame on the panchayat members! Their mouths, hands and feet were self tied.
They failed to prevent the murder in front of their eyes.

They probably thought by keeping quiet they would be sending a strong message to the community:
Youngsters should not fall in love. 
They should not make independent decisions about their marriage. 
How dare the girl want to marry a man of her choice! 
How dare her mother support the young girl! 
For young girls should not have a say in who they marry. The elders know better. 
It is okay for a man to beat a woman.

The boy's father and other relatives who took part in the crime must be arrested and punished. But, all members of the panchayat in whose presence the murder took place are equally responsible. There is no mention, as yet, of any panchayat member being arrested. 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Please sign the petition -- Justice for Preeti Rathi

The life of Preeti Rathi, a young vivacious girl who was on the verge of starting a career as a nurse, was cut short by a  man who threw acid on her in Mumbai. She was injured so severely that she passed away after fighting a  month-long battle.

Preeti Rathi's father, Amar Singh Rathi,  is making an appeal that you sign the petition demanding an a CBI enquiry into who threw the acid on his daughter.  In his petition he says: " I demand justice for my daughter who suffered so much because of this criminal. After my daughter passed away, I met the home minister of Maharashtra, R.R.Patil, and demanded a CBI enquiry. He promised an enquiry but I have not been provided with any time frame for it. The enquiry has not even started yet.

With every passing day, the chance of nabbing the culprit is getting bleaker. I have started this petition to ensure that the Home Minister keeps his promise and the enquiry is started as soon as possible."

The rising number of acid attacks on young girls is a very worrying trend. Unfortunately, the punishment so far meted out to such criminals hardly matches the severity of the life-long damage they inflict on the women.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Dear Reader, Would you be interested in reading this story?


A blue sequined dupatta was wound around her face. Only her eyes could be seen. She had collected the medicines from the chemist and was coming down the steps as I went in. If I had not been so preoccupied with my problems, I might have thought she looked rather strange. Why would a woman cover her face so?

But stranger still: She called out my name. I turned towards her. Who was she and how did she know me?

If only the dupatta would come undone. If only she would pull it off…I would recognize her... “Tanu. I am Tanu,” she was saying by way of explanation.

“Tanu who?” I asked. This was like the film magazines of my younger days or the MTV of today that give you snapshots of body parts and then ask who they belong to.

The summer breeze played with the edges of the dupatta that fell on her shoulders. But so deftly was it wrapped around her face that it would take a demon of a wind to unwind it.…. She lifted her eyes to stare back at me.

Oh yes! I had met the eyes. In the hospital next to Mami’s bed. It was THE TANU. “How are you?” I asked.

“I am back at the hospital. I am getting admitted today. Another operation.” I looked over her shoulder and in the vicinity beyond hoping to see him. And he was there, standing a little away as he always did. Quiet. Distant, but watchful. If he recognized me, he did not show it...

Tanu had sharp chiseled features framed by a thick curtain of straight hair, which she tied in a loose ponytail. Her lips were an inverted C, pulled down at the corners, like the arc of a bow. But every now and then, they would lift into a captivating smile, keeping you hooked.

Tanu had occupied the bed next to Lakshmi Mami's at the hospital. I had been struck by her perfect features when I first saw her six months ago as she lay absolutely still under the heavy blanket. She looked young and very forlorn, I couldn't help asking her why she was there. She uttered just one word, "Operation" and looked away. She clearly did not wish to speak.

During my daily hour-long visits over the ten days that Mami spent at the hospital, Tanu opened up. To tell me the story of her life. A strange tale of longing, deceit, acceptance and love…

Now, as I stood facing her at the chemist, I wanted to ask her about him. The man who never visited, but who she called everyday. The man who she would talk to late into the night even after the nurses had turned down the lights, while the other man sat quietly on the attendant’s bed and watched.

Had HE come with her this time?

Dear Reader,
Does this blurb make you want to read the true life story? If yes, do send me a message at . I would value your opinion. I am trying my hand at a short story for the first time and your reaction would give me an indication if  I am set on the right track!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

An acid attack is worse than murder for it makes life a living hell

This was one of those posts that I began and then gave up midway. It was lying as a 'draft' for months. And for the past few days, ever since Preeti Rathi's case made the headlines,  I have been thinking a lot on the subject of acid attacks.

Acid attacks is one of the most barbaric crimes. In India, the perpetrators are usually men who cannot take ‘no’ for an answer and so seek to destroy the woman. The crime is so horrific that the woman is disfigured for life. She loses her identity, her future and with it the will to live. Everything is destroyed and some victims have described the attack apart from the searing pain, physical torture and disfigurement, as something worse than death.

Every other day we hear of an acid attack on a young woman. Delhi alone saw 56 acid attacks over a span of three months.

The recent amendments to the law give ten years to a maximum of life imprisonment to the criminal for destroying another human being. The punishment should be for life, nothing less! There shouldn't be bail for such a horrific crime. A person who can willfully destroy another human being in this fashion, is very dangerous to have around and should be behind bars.

Even though the Justice Verma committee had recommended life imprisonment for the culprits, our law makers reduced it to ten years of imprisonment and some fine. The new law has nothing on the rehabilitation of the victim, who needs to spend on reconstructive surgery, usually falls into depression, and finds it hard to get employment and carry on a normal life. Till date, there has been no effort to curb the sale of the corrosive acid which is very easy to procure and available in every market.

Why is there such leniency towards the culprits? All I can say is that our law makers have failed to feel the pain and the horror of an acid attack and what it can do to a woman. They have done nothing for her rehabilitation.

Recent cases of acid attacks

The new law does not help victims

And this - Acid attacks in Italy -

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