Category Archives: Society

When will the ‘mango man’ get his share of the nation’s wealth?

While the world moves on, change is the only thing that appears constant. However, there are some things which seem timeless. While I was casually browsing through some YouTube videos, I happened to stumble upon a video song from the old Tollywood movie “Ramudu Bheemudu”, which was made in the year 1964. It starts with the lyric “Vundile Manchikaalam Mundumunduna…Andaru Sukhapadali Nandanandanaa…”. You may wonder why I’m discussing it now though it has been around for long and many people, who fondly remember the good old days of Tollywood, are well familiar with it. Well, as I have already stated, the song has a timeless message and moreover, I did not watch the video to derive any entertainment from it. I was actually pondering over the social, economic and political philosophies that were embedded in it. The writer of the lyrics, Sri Sri, who inspired a generation of youth, did an exceptionally good job in putting things in perspective.

The video song, which is laden with a lot of message, is unlike a duet or an item song which we usually find in our present day Indian cinema, in which an excessively clad man dances with a skimpily clad woman even while a group of side dancers do aerobics like dance movements in the background. It raises optimism for the future and advocates the establishment of a socialistic pattern of society, and prods the common man to not only look forward to a glorious future but also claim his share in the prosperity that is impending. It even predicts that the day is not far away when the country’s wealth would increase and each and every citizen of the nation would lead a life of dignity.

Midway the song, the common man asks a question enthusiastically as to how we can bring about such a just society. One of the protagonists answers him saying, “people should set aside rich-poor distinctions and cultivate cooperation among themselves by following the principle one for all and all for one“. The song finally ends with a profound optimism that the lives of all Indians would change for the better and everybody will get an opportunity to lead a comfortable life, which will propel India to claim its true place in the League of Nations.

The song attains significance in the backdrop of the ongoing struggle between the evil forces who amass wealth at the expense of the common man, and the toiling masses who struggle to find two square meals a day. These evil forces criminalize the society by stashing all that wealth and thereby depriving the common people a life of dignity. The big question is will the forces of evil get defeated and will the common man, whom the wealthy elite derisively call ‘mango man or cattle class’, regain his self-esteem? Yes. I’m optimistic that the ‘mango people’, who stood in serpentine queues with utmost patience in the expectation that they will get their share of the nation’s wealth, will eventually emerge victorious.

Divyangs and their resilient lives.

The moment we spot a disabled person the first emotion that strikes us is the sympathy. We visualize the hardships they might be passing through in their daily lives due to their disability. However, the ‘Divyags’ who participated in an event organized at Dell International Services, Hyderabad, proved that they are not disabled but in fact differently abled. Some of them are visually challenged and some others are facing speech impairment and are undergoing speech therapy. Some are even affected by congenital deformities that deprived them of some limbs. However, it appears that none of their deformities prove to be a hurdle in their chosen path. Most of them are pursuing their higher studies and some of them even completed professional degrees. As the compearer of the event had rightly mentioned, the differently abled people present at the venue did not require any sympathies from anyone but they actually came to inspire the able bodied”.

Two non-governmental organizations (NGOs), namely, Ashray Akruti and the Divine Charitable Trust, headed by Sumita Lal and Vincent Reddy respectively, brought the differently abled people under their care to the Dell office. The ‘divyangs’, setting aside their disabilities, gave heart-touching performances to the audience. A group of ‘divyangs’ who miss their legs, demonstrated impressive kinesthetic intelligence during their dance performance mostly by using their hands.

Sumita Lal, the Senior Operation Manager of Ashray-Akruti briefed the gathering about the good work her organization has been doing over some years and also introduced some of the differently abled achievers under her organization’s care. Those achievers, who are speech impaired, introduced themselves to the audience in an unintelligible manner. However, the praiseworthy thing is their zeal to communicate with whatever little vocal resources they have. Mr. Vincent Reddy, the chairman of Divine Charitable Trust, during his speech, stated that the differently abled people under his care are very smart, focused and confident. He also opined that the deformities and the resultant challenges actually empower them to be more confident and focused enabling them to move ahead in their lives.

Many of us feel that the expressions such as ‘differently abled’ and ‘divyangs’ are mere euphemisms and can’t really help them in overcoming the insurmountable challenges they face in their daily lives. It is true that they face problems, but at the same time they refuse to be constrained by their deformities and persevere on the path to progress. In these days of rampant stress and tension even the people who have able and fully functional bodies are committing suicides by falling prey to self-pity and depression. However, the differently abled, with their lives, demonstrate how to stay optimistic and lead purposeful lives by overcoming the seemingly insurmountable problems in their lives.

The event was held under the auspices of an employee resource group called ‘True Ability’, which is dedicated to aiding, enriching and serving those impacted by disabilities and special needs. On this occasion, the differently abled employees of Dell have been felicitated for their contributions, and organizers of the event also assured that they will enhance their efforts to hire more people with special needs.

Want to launder money? #‘Pray’tmKaro.

Temples, though considered to be sacred by many people, have become the centers of unholy activities, especially money laundering. Nobody knows whether the presiding deities of these temples answer the prayers of the poor and the downtrodden who toil to earn their livelihood, but it appears that they certainly answer the prayers of the black money hoarders. If the newspaper reports are to be believed, they are, in the post demonetization, buzzing with activity and many of the babas, matas and panditjis in the well-known pilgrimage centers are busy turning black money into white for hefty commissions. And, it is all happening in the name of God.

Many people, who are unable to get their black money turned into white, are dumping their ill-gotten wads of currency into the temple hundis. After the central government stated that the temple money from hundis will not come under scanner, the unscrupulous elements have got a chance to exploit the situation. The authorities of these temples are manipulating accounts to show black money as a donation in back date and exchanging the old notes for new ones pocketing a handsome commission in the process.

Theologists keep harping on the religion’s power to force people stay honest and disciplined. However, these incidents prove that religion and God are miserably failing in their avowed duty. If the high priests, who are considered to be the middlemen between Gods and people, are not able to resist the temptation to accumulate wealth in an illicit manner, how can they be expected to inculcate honesty and discipline among the devotees?

It appears that the only thing the clergy is interested in is to further their illegitimate interests by tightening their grip over the society. They always frighten the masses by raising the bogey of devil and hell, and at the same time, don’t miss any opportunity to allure them by dangling the carrots called God and heaven with an intention to exercise full control over them. They also describe hell and heaven in vivid detail to tempt people to make them more devout. However, it appears that none of these apply to the clergy and they have full freedom to indulge in anything. After all, they are spiritually enlightened and have already seen the God. And the common people, who are blissfully unaware of the misdeeds of the clergy, keep circumambulating them in the expectation of gaining ‘moksha’ from God.

Don’t brand every inter-religious marriage as part of ‘Love Jihad’.

The issue of Love Jihad has once again started hitting headlines. This time the bone of contention is the love affair of Tina Dabi, the 2015 IAS topper, who fell in love with the second ranker, Athar Aamir-ul Shafi Khan, who happens to be a Muslim. A Hindu right-wing organization called Hindu Mahasabha termed it as part of a larger conspiracy to trap Hindu women in the name of love, which is popularly known as ‘Love Jihad’. As per newspaper reports, they even shot a letter to the girl’s parents requesting  them not to go ahead with the inter-religious wedding.

This is a very unfortunate situation. Marriage is a matter of personal choice and youngsters must be allowed to choose their life partners as long as there are no threats or coercion. Tina, being a well-educated woman, may not be that vulnerable to coercion. And ‘Hindu Mahasabha’ has absolutely no business to intervene in the personal affairs of Tina and Khan, who appear to have fallen in love with each other and want to marry by their own free will. The very notion that a Muslim man must not be allowed to marry a Hindu woman reflects the male superiority and patriarchal contentions of the Hindu Mahasabha. Their behavior also reflects their attitude to place the burden of safeguarding ‘Hindu honor’ solely on the heads of Hindu women. Hinduism and Hindu society will not be subjected to any dishonor, stigma or shame just because a Hindu woman marries a Muslim man.

There is no doubt that there were many instances of Muslim men marrying Hindu women solely for the purpose of bringing them into their religious fold.  It is also a matter of concern that whenever a Muslim man marries a woman from another religious community it so happens that the female, in most of the instances, converts into Islam. It shows that there is certainly something fishy. There should be a thorough investigation to find out whether there are any nefarious motives or a larger conspiracy at play to poison the society. Sacrifice presupposes love and a man who is involved in a true love relationship does not seek any favors from his lady love. Therefore, if a Muslim man truly loves a woman from another religious community he must not ask her to convert to Islam. And if he does, it can’t be considered a true love and it must be construed that there is some evil intention behind it.

Even the courts found incriminating evidence to contend that many religious conversions are happening in the name of love and the governments must have a serious look at them. Here I quote a news report published in 2009 to bolster my view.

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday found indications of ‘forceful’ religious  conversions under the garb of ‘love’ in the state and asked the government to consider enacting a law to prohibit such ‘deceptive’ acts. “Under the pretext of love, there cannot be any compulsive, deceptive conversion,” the court said. Quoting statistics, the court said during the last four years, 3,000-4,000 religious conversions had taken place after love affairs. (Published in The Economic Times on Dec 10, 2009).

However, there are many forces in the country who are bent on sabotaging any attempts to carry out investigation into the matter. It is a proven fact that the actions of these elements invariably strengthen the right-wing forces in the country.

Notwithstanding all these arguments Tina and Khan should be left alone and must be allowed to decide how they want to lead their lives, as long as there is no religious conversion of coercive nature. Hindu Mahasabha, instead of poking their noses into the personal lives of others, should do some serious work to bring about reformation in the Hindu society. Wide-spread caste discrimination and rampantly prevalent blind and irrational beliefs are eating into the vitals of the Hindu society and making many of its adherents to convert to other religions. Hindu Mahasabha, as many other Hindu right-wing organizations, might be full of caste Hindus and as such might not be interested in bringing about any reform in the Hindu society.

Narendra Modi says ‘Islam is great’. Will Muslims rally behind him?

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Islam is great. Well, who do you think made this statement? It is none other than Narendra Modi. Most of the Muslims in India feel that Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, is an enemy of Islam and Muslims. Perhaps that is the reason why Muslims vote against BJP en masse. They strongly feel that Modi is responsible for Gujarat riots, in which a majority of the victims were Muslims.

And the so-called secular parties, especially the Congress and the Communists, use this Modi’s anti-Muslim image as a stick to beat him frequently. The agenda-driven media exploits Modi’s anti-Muslim image to give even small insignificant events a communal tinge and blow them out of proportion with an intention to reinforce the image. The media and the left liberals have been making ceaseless efforts to stigmatize Modi and project India as an intolerant nation. All this ‘Muslims hate Modi’ campaign is in spite of the fact that Modi has never been on record speaking a single sentence against Muslims or Islam.

Narendra Modi says ‘Islam is great’. Will Muslims rally behind him? Click To Tweet

However, the speech Prime Minister Modi delivered at the World Sufi Conference surprised many, especially Muslims. He, in fact, spoke like a ‘Maulana’ and showered a profusion of praise on Allah and his Prophet, Islam, Sufism, and Muslims. In an essence, his message was ‘Islam is great and it stands for peace’. The audience frequently broke into rapturous applause appreciating Modi’s words. Modi, to reach out to Muslim leaders from different countries, spoke in English.

Here are some of the top quotes from Modi’s speech, which sounded like music to the ears of Sufi theologians present at the venue.

At a time when the dark shadow of violence is becoming longer, you are the ‘Noor’  or the light of hope. When young laughter is silenced by guns on the streets, you are the voice that heals.
When we recall the ninety-nine names of Allah, none of them stand for violence. He is both Rahman and Rahim.
You represent the rich diversity of the Islamic civilization that stands on the solid bedrock of a great religion.
In the words of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, of all the worships, the worship that pleases the Almighty God the most is the grant of relief to the humble and the oppressed.
The ideals of Islam have always rejected the forces of terrorism and extremism.

The moot point is did Modi speak all these words from the bottom of his heart? I am skeptical. One of the reasons behind his conciliatory speech, which showered an abundance of praise on Islam and Muslims, especially Sufism, is he aims to disarm all his critics, who are hell bent on raising the bogey of intolerance for an eternity with an intention to discredit him and his government.

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The World Sufi Forum, organized by the All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), seeks to find a constructive way to spread the Islamic message of peace and tolerance as a counterpoint to the ever-rising global Islamic extremism. Their goal sounds great and if the goal really materializes the future generations will be the biggest beneficiaries. However, the ordinary people, who are well aware of the bloody history of Islamism and the ceaseless terror attacks carried out by the Islamists, are skeptical about the success of such initiatives. The world community, which is very much concerned about the mushrooming of Islamic extremist organizations whose motive is to turn the entire world into a ‘Darul Islam’ and impose the draconian ‘Sharia’, takes all these Sufi initiatives and Modi’s speeches with a pinch of salt.

But Modi’s conciliatory speeches may have a positive impact on the Muslim community. Because the community has always been appreciative of praise and symbolism. Maybe that is the reason behind Hindu politicians showing overenthusiasm for wearing skull caps and throwing lavish ‘Iftar’ feasts to win over the Muslim vote bank. So, at last, Modi appears to have learnt how to deal with the Muslim electorate. The only thing that is left for Modi is sporting a skull cap and claiming himself to be the messiah of Muslims in India. Looking at the direction in which Modi is moving, the day is not far way when we will be able to see Modi sporting a skull cap.

Why the state-funded education system in India is in shambles?

Dilapidated buildings, non-existent teaching aids and poorly motivated teachers are ruining the future of the children.

Dilapidated buildings, non-existent teaching aids and poorly motivated teachers are ruining the future of the children.

Every year thousands of well-qualified teachers are recruited by various state governments in India to expand the educational network. However, not much discussion takes place as to why the public sector education system is in shambles, and why in spite of spending enormous amounts of taxpayer’s money to strengthen the public sector education system, people prefer to send their children to privately-owned schools.

The main difference between the teachers who work with government run schools and their counterparts in private schools is – the teachers with government schools, after getting the job, feel absolutely secure and they neither feel the need for improving their skills nor do they feel like keeping themselves abreast of the latest developments in the profession. As a result, their knowledge fast becomes obsolete and they slowly grow inefficient. As there isn’t much pressure to perform in the classroom and bring about improvement among the students, they show lackadaisical approach towards their profession and start doing side businesses like real estate, money lending or insurance advisory. Once they become busy with their extracurricular activities, they neglect their responsibilities towards the student community.

In sharp contrast to the environment in government-run schools, the teachers who work with private schools always feel insecure and out of that feeling, they engage themselves in constant and continuous sharpening of their skills. They are also subjected to tremendous pressure by their superiors and they work under the shadow of constant and continuous monitoring. As there is intense competition among private schools, they are more receptive to experimentation with modern methods in teaching. There are many school managements who think very progressively and give academic freedom to their staff in introducing new methods in teaching.

Gone are the days when the teachers were strictly advised to stick to the prescribed syllabus but these days going beyond the textbooks has become a fad in teaching. Taking students on field trips, activity based teaching and learning by doing have become part of the teaching-learning process.

This blogger started his teaching career with a private residential public school. While he was working there, he and his colleagues were put through continuous in-house training by their management. His principal would always talk about developing rounded personality among the students, and to achieve that he invested a large amount of money on infrastructure expansion. According to Howard Gardener’s Multiple Intelligence Theory, there are seven intelligences, namely, linguistic, logical, intra-personal, interpersonal, kinesthetic, musical and spatial. He created all the facilities like a lingua phone facility, a prayer room and would also organize many social gatherings. He expanded sports infrastructure and recruited teachers for music, painting and other performing arts. The main intention was to sharpen the multiple intelligences of the students. The qualifications that were required to join as a teacher in that school were graduation in the relevant discipline, good command over the subject, teaching experience, the ability to deal with students in a matured manner, and good communication skills. A B. Ed degree was desirable but not compulsory.

Most of the privately owned schools get associated with teacher trainer institutions and get their staff trained by experienced teacher trainers, who visit these private schools at regular intervals to share their ideas on latest teaching methods and technologies in imparting education. In government-run schools, though they have high salary drawing teachers, don’t have the required infrastructure facilities. There are many irregularities reported in the procurement of teaching aids and sports equipment. But the private schools, on the other hand, spend a lot of money on infrastructure and create the facilities required to make learning easy and enjoyable for their students.

The rot that has entered the government schools made them almost defunct. The teachers who are strongly unionized are not only able to shirk their responsibilities but also gain a considerable political clout. There are many people who feel that the government teachers do everything – money lending, insurance advisory, real estate brokering and what not. The only thing they don’t do is teaching. So the present-day public sector education system is not only defunct but also untenable. The system imposes an enormous burden on public exchequer and becomes a drain on tax payer’s money. So there should be a discussion on the ways and means of universalizing education but without government teachers who have turned into white elephants.