Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In Memoriam

This does not exactly come under the umbrage of feminism but some things are so much bigger than that.This is in memory of all those who lost their lives yesterday in a Tragic Fire Accident in one of the Landmark buildings of Kolkata.

A massive fire at Kolkata’s Stephen Court, a heritage building in the heart of the city has killed 24 people and left about 18 injured, eight of whom are critical.

Firemen recovered 17 bodies overnight as they went from door to door on the 5th, 6th and 7th floor of the building. Only 12 of these bodies have been identified so far.

Stephen Court is a 150-year-old building on Park Street, home to two of the city’s best known restaurants – the iconic Flury’s and Peter Cat.

The fire began at 2.15 pm on Tuesday. It was brought under control at about 10.30 pm.

Initial findings suggest a short circuit or cylinder burst may have caused it.

The fire, that may have started in a lift between the 5th and 6th floors soon spread upwards and sideways, forcing people out of windows onto narrow parapets and ledges as they waited to be rescued. Reports said at least one woman missed her step and fell five floors below.
The fire brigade dispatched just one truck that too without proper equipments initially.the later trucks got stuck in a "traffic jam".The Government is offering 1 lakh as compensation to victims' families.(thank you.that definitely makes up for the loss.).and i can't help but be angry at people for being so careless in their lifestyles.For Godsake,GROW UP!

please pray for the dead.Lets hope such a meaningless loss of life never happens again.RIP.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,

Put crépe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,

I thought that love would last forever: 'I was wrong'

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.
                                                                          -WH Auden,Funeral Blues

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Indian Feminists

For quite some time now,Indian women have been perceived as weak minded,husband appeasing,abused women.while sadly this may stand true for a majority of women still,it wasn't always the is a list of Indian women from the past and present.Women whom I admire.Women who left their mark.

1. Gargi-All those who feel education is a waste on girl children must look up to this icon. Born around 800 B.C.E in the family of Garga, Gargi Vachaknavi remains one of the most renowned scholars of the Vedas even today. Her wisdom was so celebrated that she was invited to the world's first conference on philosophy convened by the then King Janaka. Known as a formidable debater she challenged the Great Sage Yajnavalkya. Their dialogue was written down as the Yogayajnavalkya Samhita- the very first treatise on what the world knows as Yoga.

2. Razia Sultana- The country was much excited when we got our first lady President in 2007.However much before Mrs Patil came to the scene,the seat in Delhi had been occupied by Razia al-Din from 1236 to 1240.She was trained to lead armies and administrate. She was also the very first woman ruler in Muslim and Turkish History.She ruled against the wishes of her powerful courtiers. She was a shrewd politician. Donned a man’s tunic and head gear as a sultan(she refused to be called Sultana,which means wife or mistress of a sultan) and contrary to the purdah custom, showed her face when leading an army. She worked towards religious tolerance in her State and encouraged academic and scientific research.

3. Rani Lakshmi Bai- After my mother, she is my most favourite woman in the world! Also known as the Indian Joan of Arc, Lakshmi Bai, the queen of Jhansi was an important icon and leader in the Great Rebellion of 1857 against the British Raj in India. When Jhansi came under threat she collected and trained a group of soldiers that included women and fought shoulder to shoulder with the ruthless British forces. She dies a brave and heroic death in the battlefield. General Sir Hugh Rose addressed her as the “most dangerous of all rebel leaders”. Not much surprising, therefore, that during the last years of freedom struggle, the first all women regiment in the History of Indian army led by Capt Lakshmi Sahgal was named the Rani of Jhansi Regiment.

4. Tarabai Shinde- Around the nineteenth century, Tarabai Shinde had begun raising and providing solutions for the existing women issues.She fought against the stifling patriarchy, ill treatment of uppercaste widows and lower caste girl children. Her book Stri Purush Tulana ("A Comparison Between Women and Men"), is regarded as the first  modern Indian feminis text.

5. Roquia Sakhawat Hussain-She is a writer who has influenced the likes of Taslima Nasreen. Her worked tirelessly for the sake of gender equality. She blatantly criticised the corruption that had crept into the Islamic society.She wrote against the gender discrimination and promoted theit emancipation.

6. Mother Teresa- She was born Albanian. But since she adopted India,how can India not adopt her?Mother founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata in 1950. Today the Society of Missionaries has spread all over the world and is touching millions of lives. She received a number of peace awards for her endeavours while she humbly maintained “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world".

7. Kasturba Gandhi- the woman behind Gandhi. In a lot of ways, Kasturba Gandhi, fondly called Ba (mother), beautifully amalgamates the traditional traits of an Indian and the fiery zeal of a woman. She joined Gandhi in his political movements against the British Raj. She talked to women and children about issues like hygiene, literacy and discipline. She died while in custody in the arms of her husband.

8. Sarojini Naidu- A freedom fighter, a poet and an intellectual, Naidu proved her mettle in every field. At sixteen she travelled to England to continue her studies in King’s College, London and eventually Girton, Cambridge. She led Gandhi’s satyagraha movement post his arrest.She went againt the social custom of the day and loved and married a man outside her caste.She died in office following a heart attack in 1949.

9. Kiran Bedi-  In 1972, Kiran Bedi became the first woman Police officer in India. Her sense of justice and fairness made her an exemplary law keeper(she once towed the prime minister’s car for violation of parking space). Post retirement she is still socially active and runs two NGOs simultaneously.

10. Barkha Dutt- When the country was in a state of war in the year 1999, Dutt reported live from the battlefield every minute of the war.Today she is one of the most influential journalists in the country and raises a variety of issues for the country and its government to ponder over.

 Keep adding to the list!(Indira Gandhi and Ashwarya Rai do not qualify)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gloria the Hippo

Lets face it, it sucks being a woman in a world like this.There are a thousand ways to let us know how we are not good enough(cheating ex boyfriends,fashion magazines,annoying tailors,nosy aunts).Little wonder then that I am surrounded with women who are good,beautiful,strong minded and suffering from a mysterious sense of inferiority(I am thankfully not one of them because chocolates keep me happy.fat.but happy).To these lovably idiotic women I present a steaming hot feminist icon-Gloria the hippo.

 She gets male attention because she is "big".She stands by her friends no matter what.She is cheerful during the toughest situations.She speaks her mind.And she chooses the better man in the end.

Way to go Glo!To you i dedicate the most eloquent words in the History of music-I like big butts and I cannot lie.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Give me my Rights,I am a Woman.

For days now the country has been talking about nothing but the women's bill.The bill has been an issue of heated debate for nearly 14 years now and has finally(FINALLY) been passed.For those who do not know of it,the women's bill reserves 33% of seats in the Indian parliament for women alone.some salient features of the bill are:-

1.The bill seeks to reserve, as nearly as possible, one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies

2.As nearly as possible, one third of the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies shall be reserved for SC/ST women.

3.Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of the Act.

4.(Actual) Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory.

On the surface,this seems like a good move.A country where women have been ill treated for ages because of superstitious beliefs,patriarchal culture or simply sado-misogynistic mindsets,such a step appears to be a huge leap forward.The bill puts a lot of power in the hands of women,its apparently a symbol of how the "times they are a'changing",it shows how modern our country is becoming,it represents a certain breaking of barriers and it gives a majority of the womenfolk hope that things will be better for them henceforth.

My question is,how does a reservation do any of these things?Since the bill was back as a dining table discussion,I (with the risk of sounding melodramatic)  have been in a constant state of conflict with me.I am a woman.Here's a step that could do me good.Here's a move that's giving me an opportunity to do something for my country.Here's an action that could eventually help me better the lives of Indian women.It is to my advantage.I should be happy. Right? But the (wannabe) feminist in me says a loud and clear "WRONG".I love my country.I hate what happens to Indian women.I want to make a difference.But I want to make it on my OWN terms.I want to make it with my OWN abilities.not with the Government gifted compensation!

As a woman I feel I am losing by right to dignity by gaining my right to enter the parliament through reservation.Henceforth,nothing we do will be credited to us,our abilities,our merits.It shall always be the Government who will be responsible in making me.Men shall grumble how we women have it easy and we won’t be able to refute it.we shall always be known as the "weaker sex", the "privileged class" and we won't be able to refute it.what purpose does it solve?there have been women in the parliament before,even if not in large numbers,and how has it helped?this reservation bill is not a symbol of our fight for is a symbol of our craving for comfort and luxury and i condemn it.

Politically speaking,How will the bill prevent the election of "proxies"?how will it cure larger issues of electoral reforms?how will it ensure gender EQUALITY?how does the government plan to divide the constituencies?The bill is a mess in every sense of the word.

The bill is nothing but a compensation for the years of abuse,torture and discrimination.nothing but a symbol of hope.nothing but a tool to increase vote banks.and the sooner we women realise that,the sooner we get REAL empowerment.