Sunday, February 26, 2006

Changes this weekend...

So, I finally get around to changing my template and updating my blogroll. I think there are still some blogs that I read that are still not there in my blogroll.
I am thinking of using some blogroll serivce which would probably make it easier to maintain the list of blogs I read.

Comments on the new template are welcome.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


a lot of lessons learnt by the entire "Save Indian Family" fiasco.

I expected them to come and spam my blog, to completely ignore what I said, to be idiotic and belligerent, and to make asses of themselves.

They did all that and their comments vindicated my post. Not one of them bothered to comment on what I said about them. Instead, they went on and on about 498a and how the "evil feminists" are destroying their sukhi parivar.

Any sane, unbiased person visiting my blog would have read my assessment of them and the proof of my assessment. Well, it is all there for them to see.

But along the way, I have a few observations about these guys. One of them is that they are desperate to get more and more people to support them. They are impatient and want to get back at their spouses by de-teething the law that got them in trouble. Thus to assuage their male ego, perhaps? That is why they are spamming everywhere - on blogs, newsgroups, etc. Little do they realise that this is not going to work and they are going to attract people like themselves and that does not worry me at all. That is why they went on a streak, posting and re-posting the same thing over and over again. Perhaps they believe in the idea that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes a truth.

Then they started to get people to write first-hand accounts of their sob stories. On how their wives/daughter-in-laws have ruined their lives for apparently no reason. A change in strategy? Oh yes, because first-hand sob stories are so believable. The thing about such stories is that they never find faults in the person telling the story. The protagonist is always the victim who would "never hurt a fly". Secondly, even if the person had in fact harassed their daughters-in-law, they would never accept it (why would they; very few culprits confess the crime). The daughter-in-law who fights back becomes an evil person for them and they never see the evil in themselves. Every person thinks that s/he could do no wrong and that their beliefs and ideas should be the law (heck, sometimes I think that too, though I try to keep an open mind). Plus, in the internet world, we are never sure whether the person is real or fake (heck, we have played a lot of jokes on our batchmates using fake names and fake ids).

What I did not expect was other people who have been frustrated by this group of spammers would get so riled up and start venting out their anger here. It was starting to turn ugly and I had to put an end to that... They have still persisted, perhaps in the hope that I will publish their comments but as far as I can see, they have written nothing new and so, there is no point in exhibitng them. So, they stay rejected.

Another thing that I noticed was their attempts to provoke me. it followed the similar patterns of hysterical people who try to rile up people for patriotic/religious purposes. Sadly for them, I had chosen to ignore them long before they came to my blog.

My purpose was never to engage in a dialogue with them because it would have been frustrating. And I think my purpose was fulfilled in that extremely long and drawn out comment spam series.

These guys are really a bunch of idiots that are not really worth my time. And thats all I have got to say about this matter.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Of foetus and souls

An NGO in punjab has taken the interesting step of mourning the soul of a foetus in front of the house of the family that is suspected to have killed that foetus. They call this the shokh sabha and it is probably believed that this would shame people so much that they would stop murdering female fetus.
I saw an article in ToI today but am unable to find it online. But I did find this online. Scroll to the bottom of the page. The NGO is called Upkar.

While I would nod my head in approval of their intentions but I do disapprove their methodology. They are unknowingly stepping into dangerous territory. Attributing a soul to a foetus is one of the ways that anti-choice advocates in the US are fighting abortion rights. While it is debatable whether a unborn child has a soul or not, abortion rights are very important because more than the life of an unborn child, it is the health and life of the woman bearing the child that is at stake. 1% women still die at childbirth and women should have the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies. If you are going to say that an unborn child has a soul and that terminating pergnancies is equivalent to 'murder', you are saying the exact thing as utterred by the neo-cons in the US who are fighting to make abortion illegal or difficult in the states. So, beware and be warned.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A thoughful post...

Annie is a fantastic writer. She has the power to capture her readers attention because she writes from the heart but is never maudlin. She always researches her stories properly and tries to bring out the true picture.

Why the sudden effusiveness about her writing?

read this.

I knew that Islam is the only religion in the world that gives women property rights, divorce rights, etc, etc. In her post, she tells us a lot about the rights that Islam provides and the reality of the world. I wont spoil it for you, so I advise to read her post.

I think for India to be truly secular, it should provide equal laws for all people. It does not make sense to have different laws for different religions in the same country. That is simply not just. After all, we live in the modern democratic world!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Look deeper...

We always say that things are not always what they seem to be and one should look closer and deeper before making a judgement about anything and anybody. Sometimes, you do get sucked into something that superficially looks genuine and rational. But the core is rotten and you realize this after a while.

One of the ways that right-wing seems to attack feminists/liberals is to pick up some isolated cases and generalize it. They get a few people who are supposedly victims of some injustice and they use them to create enough noise to compel lawmakers and people on the fence to believe that their cases are genuine and that the feminist movement is evil. Interestingly, I see it happening more often than not with the communists. There is a wide-spread belief that communists are anti-development, trouble makers, etc, etc. Why? Pick up any paper on any given day and you will never see anybody discussing the communist's point of view. Moreover, it is likely that you will see cartoons and articles deriding the communists without looking at their messages. Before you start accusing me of being a communist, let me just say that I am not. But I do not think that there are pure evil in the way the media seems to portray them and they do make some relevant points. I am more likely to pick a communist newspaper/magazine because I feel that though there is a definite communist bias in them, they report things in meticulous details and they report things that are generally ignored in the mainstream media, which seems to be obsessed with things urban.

Recently, a bunch of 'activists' spam-posted on my friend, Jaya’s, blog. The first post sounded quite reasonable. (for the uninitiated, the law basically protects women from the harassment they receive from their in-laws regarding dowry. The law makes this offence un-bailable) Well, there is nothing wrong with protesting against unjust usage of the law but the misogynous nature of their views is there for us to view right in this post.

"See growing rate of divorce. Few days back there was news in HT, as per which majority of divorce cases are because women are having extra-marital affairs, why this situation is there, it is because certain women feel with weapon of section 498A on their side, they are much stronger than their husbands and In-Laws. My appeal to President of India, Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers, and Judges is please examine this issue on priority and save Indian culture. Introduce Law, which will protect innocent - both women and men."

Look how quickly they make the connection between divorce and the power given to women by the law. It is connection that is neither substantiated nor correct! And they go to further make the pronouncement that this law is against Indian culture! First, there is no proof that this law really is the cause of divorces nor do they bother to give any. Second, their idea that divorces are against Indian culture and thus, evil would be hilarious if they were joking. For the patriarchy, divorces are dangerous as it challenges their claim to power by giving women the option of getting out of a marriage that are not happy in. One of the reasons why people are forced into marriage early in their life is because of the fact that it takes a long time and education for an average person to be able to get a decent paying job and be independent. So, parents try to get their children, especially daughters, before they are able to "stand on their own legs". Daughters are put under more pressure because they are supposed to live a life that is subordinate to their male counterparts. Most women succumb to this pressure and get married to someone that their parents pick out for them. For people like Satya, this is Indian culture. It is sad to see our culture being derided by such obnoxious people!

People give anecdotal stories of how they have been harassed by their better halves but they are always the victims of some malicious woman whose seems to be worse than the devil, according to them! I am not saying that there wasn't any genuine case of the law being misused. I am not saying that all women are angels but neither are all men innocent. Besides, it is men who hold all the power, both economically and socially. And the dowry system is a real social problem, which these guys never seem to address. To break away from an abusive family, the women needs to be economically and socially empowered but that is sadly not true in the majority of the cases. Most men and their families expect the women to give up their career once they get married and take care of the household. This makes the women economically dependent on her husband. Secondly, a woman who leaves her husband is looked down upon in our society. She might even get turned out of her own parent's home because it is no longer 'her home' and that her husband’s home is 'her home'.

Jaya is pretty sane and she is definitely not interested in encouraging such spammers on her blog. She basically tells them to go look somewhere else because she is not interested in their 'activism'. Sadly, they do not want to leave her alone and there is this barrage of comments on her blog that she is forced to post a series of posts titles, tongue in cheek, 'Save Indian Sanity', spoofing their movement's title -- 'Save Indian Family'. :)

Here's what she has to say –

"I can't say anything other than this that these people are behaving pathetically. Look here - if a law, any law in the world, is being misused by anyone, its wrong. Who would be foolish enough to go against that stand? Okay, here is another law that probably is being misused by some. Its a great idea if one could help people who are unnecessarily being troubled by that. But as Abhaya rightly pointed out, what the heck does that have to do with Indian culture and family and divorce!! I mean, that's just too much. Misusing a law is just that, misusing a law. Has got no cultural connotations please… Then think of how pathetic it is to appeal to IITian sentiment for that; or for that matter to bash Feminism as a whole."

Derision of feminists is not uncommon. The image of feminists as bra-burning, male-hating, lesbians is now so common that it could quite easily manage to get into the dictionary! So, this response that she gets wasn't really that far off..

"Damn every evil thing in thise world is related to evils of feminism , sowry.
NCW is planning to steal the houses from IITians under the new domestic violence law.
IITian suffer the highest percentage of those trapped false dowry cases.
So are just makies all teh freshies aware of how these laws operate.
Dear IITian
The mere fact that you are not a dowry monger is no excuse for you to avoid jail .
That is the beauty of of our Dowry laws drafted by our misandryst feminists"

For being stubborn and unmoved by their incredibly inane bombardments, she gets bad publicity on their blog (I do not want to link them here but you can find the link on Jaya's post)! She just wants to be left alone and her blog unspammed but she does not get her wish...

"Some people prefer to be adamant with their own view and never has courage to try putting onself into other’s shoe!!"

She doesn't give in to their views and resists their attempts to make her 'understand' and she gets derided for lack of empathy! I wonder whether these people ever empathize with the women who do get harassed by their in-laws for dowry.

Just when you think that it just cannot get more stupid, we see this. I think this is where they realized that their shouting was not having any effect on Jaya and out comes their hatred for what they call "modern supernakh" (shoorpanakha is a character in the Indian epic, Ramayana. She is the cultural stereotype of a bad woman – immoral, head-strong, lying, conniving, lustful, etc, etc).

scroll further in those comments and you find this self-righteous comment...

You had been exposed , though you try to best to take a msk of Modern Sita , but SIF volenters exposed your real face , you can not hide the coments in your bolg .
This for your reference , let the whole world observe how you are killing our age old parents and pregent sister by doing the legal terrorism in india ."

In fact, it is they who have been exposed! Their lack of rationale and ridiculous perseverance in saying the same things over and over again without trying to understand what the other person is trying to say can be attributed to their mind-numbing stupidity or is it their lack of English skills? One will never know!
When they realize that their shouting is not having any effect on the listener, they come out with their real inner views.

I really do not know which portion of the comment to put here. So, I am going to ask you to follow the link and read the entire thing. If you do, you can see how the person has traced the root of all problems to the education of women! This is classic. The reason why women were never educated was exactly due to the fear that they might rebel against their second-class-citizens status. It is a classic example of how much the patriarchal thinking is ingrained that people resist change and resist things that seek to point out the injustice present in the system. Men are so privileged that they do not realize that they are suppressing women. It may not be willful but the practices of our society that ensure that women so not get equal opportunities and chances do just that and many men do not realize that suppression need not be an individual thing. Just because it is societally accepted practice does not mean that it is right.

"Why a women have to be fed till her death after marriage in India?"

Hmm.. Why is it that it is a woman who is expected to forsake her career, cook the food, clean the shit of the babies that she is expected to produce, work seven days a week and 12 hours a day without pay, and still is expected to be grateful to the man who brings in the food! And why is a woman who refuses to live under these conditions considered evil, immoral and cast out of society leaving her little choice regarding her course of action? And why is a law that seeks to equalize this disparity just a little bit a cause of such heartburn to you?
The misogynism in this person’s post is an inner peek at what these people are really seeking. "Better keep her ignorant, lest she becomes untamable". They are afraid of women. After all, they do make up 50% of the population (well, not quite, thanks to female feticide and infanticide).

" Feminists are Hypochondriac Hypocrites.
Every year women drive 23000 men to suicide and go simply scot free."

"Root problem
Infact, the problem is our Indian ppl are poisoned by the Feminists organisations dangeroulsy. Whether a male or female, a child doesn't know. They acquire knowledge throgh the society. This society contains most vultures than any other as NGOs. So, continuos spread of hatred towards a man and dowry made these little children prone to poison. Dowry is a social custom in India for centuries. Crime by dowry demand is nothing but greed. we already have laws for cheating, greedy, characterless fellows. why this 498a? and 'mental tension clause' ...nothing but corruption."

'Poisoned by feminists organisations'? Really? I hardly think so. There is so much prejudice against feminism , it is hardly feasible for a person to become a feminist without conviction. It is not something that you do because of peer pressure because, lets face it, there is no peer pressure with regard to feminism. Besides, isn't dowry a social evil? Don't women get abused and killed because their in-laws are not satisfied with the dowry? Dont the woman's family get held for ransom just before the marriage in the wedding hall with threats for more dowry or no marriage? Just because we have laws does not mean that they are effective. If it were, people would not be able to break it with such impunity.

"If they were in USA, by now they would have met their fate. Rascals of the country, devastating the culture of my country."

ROFL! Interestingly, they attribute feminism to the western world and they also expect feminists to be non-existent and brought to 'justice' in the western world. Sometimes, I wonder why they seem to idolize the western world at the same time resisting the change saying it is western and against 'our culture'. Perhaps, it is our culture to be corrupt and being rascals?

"if you notice, population increased highly after sometime, this IPC498a is enacted by legislation. Main reason, marital discord between men and women. women were not capable of earning, but learn about this law by parents for their selfish reasons. Men being not happy with his marrid wife, he is always under 498a threat, wisdom got lost. The men who are in threat are greatly public servants, social ppl, highly educated, scientists in urban areas participating infrastructure design for the country. what happens when these ppl. are not healthy in living? That naturally gets affected on the rural areas. No proper planning, infrastructure got affected, wisdom got lost and the country led to 48% poverty level now(eating one meal in a day)."

Just how flawed is this guy's thinking. He is blaming one law for everything going wrong in this country! It is incredible that men are considered to be good at logic and reasoning! I mean, look at this guy reasoning. Whatever he may be, he definitely is not teaching 'Logic and Reasoning' to some maths graduates somewhere, that's for sure!

"Britishers who directly ruled India are far better than these ppl, who have already poisoned the society."

You know who makes this statement more often than not? RSS. About the congress governments that ruled India for the majority of our independent lifetime. Listening to the same view put forth by this guy made my suspicion that this person is coming from an RSS grooming stronger. Not that it wasn't already evident in their blatant misogynism and anti-feminist tirades but there are some statements that give a very clear view of their background. And this is one of those statements that mark them out. There are several variations of this statement and I have heard them primarily from an RSS source –
"We were better off under british rule. I wish we were never freed."
"These people have ruined my country. Thanks to the britishers that we have atleast this much."

This person's comment really brings out the entire thing. Their's is not a movement that seeks to make amends to an unjust law but to maintain what they call "Indian culture" (or what they perceive to it to be), which is basically the patriarchal world where the women are uneducated, ignorant, and subordinate. Their's is a movement that seeks to wage a bigger war, a war against feminism, against liberty, against radical movement that seeks to eliminate injustice.

I believe that today's radicals would be tomorrow's liberals and today's liberals would be tomorrow's conservatives. Change is the only constant in this world and there is no way the right wing is going to succeed in its anti-change, status quo agenda. It is simply not possible! So, here's to a better world!


PS. Two things.
1. you are not going to get free publicity on this blog. So all posts with links to places like 'harassed husbands' will be deleted.
2. If you have something reasonable to say, say it. Dissent is not unwelcome but posts discussed above are NOT welcome. They will get deleted.


Thirdly, Before you jump up and post something, re-read my post. Try to see exactly what I am criticizing and then, if you have a counter-point, say it.
An example of something that is not a counter-point is arguing that there are cases where the law is misused.
If you still persist in inane comments that give me the impression that you havnt read the post, I will ignore (or delete it if I consider it fall under the above two categories) your comment.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I won something today...

go to this page and you will know what I did win.
To see why, you will have to see this.

The HC nightmare

For all those from IIT Kanpur, we all remember how frustrating our HC (Health Centre) was. I remember once I went there to get medicines for a fever but instead was given an IV and lots of glucose and bruffen! For four days!
I never felt more sicker than at that time when I was there. I have always had sickness in my life and since my pop is a doc, I knew that there was never any necessity for all that I went through there.
There was a concerted effort by students and faculty to improve the standards of the HC but it never really went anywhere. The indifference of the doctors and the nurses in the HC. People keep getting Bruffen fall all their ailments.
That is why, this story comes not just as a shock but also instigates concern for all those who are dependent on the facilities provided by HC.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Some Feminist Bharatnatyam please...

Recently, I attended an all-night concert organised by SPIC MACAY in IIM-B. The concert featured some really great artistes like Rajan-Sajan Mishra, Ravi Kiran, Ronu Majumdar. I am an atheist and I really cannot enjoy bhajans (devotional songs). So, when Rajan-Sajan Mishra sang a bhajan, I was thinking how ones perception of the world affects the perception of the arts and how arts influence ones perception of the world. For me to have enjoyed the bhajan, I should have been able to relate the emotions conveyed in it and that was simply not possible for me.
I revisited these thoughts when Priyadarshini Govind came on stage for a Bharatanatyam performance. For the uninitiated, Bharatnatyam is a traditional dance form of South India. It started with a Ganapati Vandanam, as usual with Bharatnatyam performances, and she went on to the central pieces of the performances. The first one was about a female dedicating her life to Nataraja, the lord of dance and crying out to him to come and take her away. The wordings of the song literally went like this, "Master, I am your slave..." The song is not just a dedication to a God but also a an submission of a female to a patriarch because the tamil word 'swami' (which means 'master') is also used by a wife to address her husband. As soon I heard these first words of the song, I knew that I could not possibly enjoy the performance. And then I realised that the song was actually being sung by a male accompanist, it just added more salt to injury.
The next piece of the performance was about Yashodhara Kaushalya going through the joys of being a mother to a child Rama (another mythical God of the Hindus). Though there is nothing wrong with motherhood, and the performance of the artist was really good (she seemed genuinely enjoying the travails of raising child), I could not help feeling a little disappointed that the representation of women in the arts is always as a mother or a wife.
The last piece of the performance was about a woman mad at her lover because he does not keep his promises and shuts him out of her house. Seems promising but the representation of this strong woman was marred by casting her as someone concerned with her looks and hair, and the 'promises' turned out to be ornaments. Though this was a more positive image of a woman refusing to take in a liar, it still reinforces the idea that women are more or less concerned with looks, ornaments and material things, and she expects gifts of bangles or ear-rings all the time.

Most of these dances were composed by men a long time ago and the representation of women in Bharatnatyam, where the dancer is dressed quite lavishly with silk and ornaments, is that of a nubile woman whose main characteristics are her feminine allures and 'tendencies'. The representation of women in the perfoming arts is important as they are usually perceived as models of behaviour. Usually, the only positive female character is one who is an obedient wife or a great mother. Thats it! So when a women performs roles outside these 'spheres of competence' in the real world, they are generally chastised (as a group) for the mistakes that they inevitably do, while the same mistakes made by a male are usually ignored or are taken as individual incompetency. To change this perception, it is important to change the opnions of people and a important way of going about this is the representation of women in the arts.

I personally feel that the performing arts should reflect the struggles of the time and a dance form like Bharatnatyam, which is primarily composed of female dancers, is a perfect vehicle for the depiction of women as they are. Cant we have a dance form for the struggles and joy of a woman who excels in this male-dominted world? Is that too much to ask for?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A new low for google..

I am fond of the tools that google comes out with, though I think that now all of them are upto the mark. Blogger is probably the most ignored google product, in terms of new development.
And google is not without retractors. And more retractors.
Well, there is some merit in their criticisms but they generally are cynical and assume that Google would behave like just another corporate.
In a way, the cynicism regarding corporations, in general, is defended quite convincingly by this documentary. But I must confess that I found the documentary showed fundamentally flawed reasoning and deductions.
Recent decisions of google have further augmented the suspicion that google is not always thinking about ethics and principles. The latest one is the most obvious and one that potentially will bring the most ardent google fan out of the camp.
Well, see for yourselves...
Google goes to china and agrees to the chinese government's condition that it filters out its search results. "Dont do evil"? Well, you are partaking in evil when you agree to censor search results to appease the government and in the process, open yourselves to another billion potential users!
There is something called "corporate responsibility". Actually, it is a myth and Google seems to be just proving that fact.

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