The Election is over.

 

Indian elections are loud, vibrant, colorful, and huge affairs with large amounts of money spent, this year, however, witnessed an election which was marred with hate speech, petty mudslinging and several incidents of political violence, political discourse hit new lows everyday and the country was sharply divided into two groups of people who were super determined to oust the other, to trick each other and to win. Fake news was the norm and almost everyone including the intellectuals and the educated classes fell for fake news at one time or the other. Fierce debates raged on around the country, newsrooms were packed with spokespersons trying to air their views, tea shops were filled with old men trying to decipher the mood, dining rooms too were politically charged and dinner was always served with a pinch of politics.  The problem here is how divisive and polarized this election became towards the end, everyone had picked sides and everyone were not open to hearing out the other side, democracy isn’t about an election, it’s a process of debate and dialogue and without any dialogue happening, elections are completely irrelevant exercises with nothing being achieved. The level of political discourse too was very worrying, people were no longer talking about development or roads or water or education the main point of focus unfortunately was other irrelevant information like the caste of the candidates, the religion of their parents and several other personal topics like these, things which added zero value to our democratic process.

 

Another trend which I noticed was how personal this election became for many of us, friends stopped talking to each other, families were annoyed at  relatives for having a difference in opinion, WhatsApp forwards were the start of fiery online wars between peers, Facebook friends blocked each other simply because they had a difference of opinion and no one really wanted to hear the other side anymore. I too had vigorously supported certain candidates and ideologies, some won and many lost but I recognized the fact that an election isn’t the end of the world, we need to work together and build bridges, regardless of who won and who lost, unity is the only way forward.

The print and digital media didn’t help in any way too, they continued to propagate hatred and divisions simply to gain viewers, after all won’t the curious human mind want to see two people with differing ideologies shout at each other on screen? Social media was altogether a whole new ballpark, trolls from all sides attacked each other, those who held on to their ideologies were insulted, abused and even threatened by the other side.

Now we need to recognize that the election is over.

Yes, many of us are Liberals, many of us are Communists, several of us are Conservatives, many of us love the new Prime Minister, some of us aren’t so fond of him, many of us wanted Congress to come back and some of us wanted regional parties to do well but what unites all of us? ALL of us want what’s best for India and for all Indians, our paths, ideologies, methods and views may differ but we all stand shoulder to shoulder as proud Indians. We need to reconcile and reach out to each other after this election and all the divisiveness we have seen during the campaign

Yes, this election has been one of the most hateful, petty and aggressive ones which we have witnessed but it’s time we realized that an election can’t divide us so much, we can’t be so partisan or polarized as a society, we need to work together and we certainly can’t shy away from putting our hand out to the other side, India is much more than just AAP, Congress or BJP. We cannot let our love for ideology or a political figure blind us from reality. Nation building required a joint effort and it certainly can’t leave out any group or community. We must all be involved in making India a beautiful country, regardless of whether we won or we lost during this election

Above all this we also need to recognize that human relationships, friendships and communities are far too important to be broken by petty ideological fights. Simply because you support a party which I’m highly critical of, doesn’t mean we can’t talk or we can’t stay friends, we need to ensure that we don’t allow politics to dictate our personal lives.

Let us love all Indians and let us build this country together, I’m hoping in the coming days the government will reach out to the opposition and give out an olive branch, we can’t progress as a country if there’s no political decency in our ruling class, there needs to be bipartisanship, unity and more coordination, that’s the only way forward.

To clarify, I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t have any political affiliation or ideologies, I’m only suggesting that we don’t allow our ideologies to become hateful towards those who may not agree with us, we can’t have open markets with closed minds.

Let the way forward be filled with peace, tolerance, mutual respect and inclusion, there’s really no other way to a peaceful society where everyone feels at home. If we start today, future elections in this country would see an improvement in the dialogue and won’t be so divisive or hateful, the wounds that this election has caused will take a long time to heal and the scars may never go away but there’s always hope that the future will see decency, respect and love become the cornerstones of a healthy democracy, until then I urge you all to reach out to those who don’t believe in the same things that you believe in, talk to them and try having an open mind, small things always blossom into bigger ones.

Not in my name!

When they use my name to kill a boy

A boy with hopes

A boy with dreams

I say “don’t use my name”

 

When they use my name to add fuel to flames

Flames of violence

Flames of intolerance

I say “don’t use my name

 

When they use my name to discriminate

Boxes of race

Boxes of religion

I say “don’t use my name”

 

When they use my name to justify murder

A murder of another human

A murder of humanity

I say “don’t use my name

 

When they use my name to torture people

People with love

People without laughter

I say “don’t use my name”

 

When they use my name to launch weapons

To start mindless wars

To kill little children

I say “don’t use my name”

 

When they use my name to divide society

Building walls of hatred

Building walls of greed

I say “don’t use my name”

 

When they use my name to oppress another race

Without compassion

Without a conscience

I say “don’t use my name

 

When they use my name to start making us hate

Making us hate our brothers

Making us hate our sisters

I say “don’t use my name”

 

But if they use my name for love and peace

To bring together communities

I’ll gladly let them use my name!

 

Background- 

This post has been written in honor of Mahatma Gandhi- A true champion of love and non-violence!

Genocides,wars and massacres have always been carried out in the name of innocent citizens.Extremists have always used religion, race, creed and nationality to justify violence. This post is on behalf of all the people across the world who are ashamed of the killings, discrimination and bloodshed which has been carried out in their name!

Stand up and tell the world, you don’t support violence and hatred!

Screenshot_20180728-160139~2“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Is Feminism Anti-Men?

Is Feminism Pro-Women ? Or is it Anti-Men? Is Feminism against Men having any rights? Is Feminism only about Women wanting to become better than Men?

True Feminism is bringing Women up, it’s not about putting Men down! True Feminism cares about both Men and Women equally and asks society to treat them the same.

Feminism simply asks society to give Women the same rights,respect and privileges which Men have always had.

Feminism has nothing to do with trash talking Men or claiming Women are better than Men, there are plenty of Men out there who proudly wear the badge of being a Feminist(John Legend, Harry Styles and Chris Martin being some famous examples!) Yet there exists a huge movement which has always been critical  of Feminism, historically those opposed to Feminism were quite scared of Women voting or stepping out of their houses to work (or Women having more freedom in general!) but in the 21st century skeptics of Feminism aren’t just concerned about Women moving away from their traditional roles but many argue Feminism would alienate Men and deny Men the respect they deserve. Many argue Women have already been given rights and privileges and there isn’t any need for Feminism anymore. A contrary and diametrically opposite movement has arisen which demands for Men to be given more rights and respect instead of their female counterparts. Many Anti-Feminist Movements have caught on asking for Women to ‘obey’ men and start becoming more ‘feminine’ ( Yes, I’m talking about the 21st century here!)
Let’s now ask a few simple questions and try to understand why Feminism isn’t Anti-Men:

Can Women vote?

A  Feminist would say yes, Women should be able to vote, if Men can be given the right to choose their leaders then why not Women?A Feminist however wouldn’t say Men should be denied the right to vote and Women alone should get the right to suffrage!
Should Women be paid the same wage as men for the same work?

A Feminist would say yes, simply because both Men and Women would have put equal effort into their work and they deserved to be paid the same, a Feminist however wouldn’t say Men should be paid lesser than Women to reverse a historical wrong!

 

Should Women have the same freedom as men?

A Feminist would say yes, Women should have the freedom to do what they choose to do– what they wear, where they go etc. A Feminist however wouldn’t say men shouldn’t have freedom and Women alone should be free to choose what they want.
Should Women be allowed to have careers ?

A Feminist would say yes to this. Women too have the ability to develop skills and should be allowed to put these to use, a Feminist however wouldn’t say Men shouldn’t be allowed to work and Women alone should be allowed to work or that Women work better than Men and therefore Women should work while Men stay at home !

 

Should Women alone do all the housework?

A Feminist would say no to this, Men and Women should be free to share the household work, a Feminist however wouldn’t say Men should do all the housework and Men alone should be responsible for cleaning, washing, cooking and so on.

 

To sum the above five questions we raised, it’s quite clear that Feminism stands for equality and empowering Women to spread their wings, it’s a far cry from the meaning many of us have envisioned. Feminism doesn’t try clipping the wings of Men nor is it a systematic campaign against Men.

I often get asked the question “Why are you a feminist, you’re a guy aren’t you?” While answering this I always try highlight the atrocities Women have faced over the years at the hands of society (many of these still happen unfortunately) and I can’t help mention that while these atrocities were going on,what if a few more Men stood up and raised their voices, wouldn’t society have woken up a little earlier?In the 21st century a time  where casual sexism is on a high, it has become very important for me to always mention that I’m a feminist. I do this in solidarity with the millions of little girls who see their brothers go to school while they learn how to cook, I do this in solidarity with the thousands of Women who face discrimination at workplaces, I do this in solidarity with the Women who aren’t given any respect, I do this in solidarity with the beautiful girl baby who was born happy, but she didn’t realize her birth was frowned upon.

 

There has always been a trend over the years (which has caught fire in recent times) where any issue concerning Women is always rebutted by an issue faced by a Man.Don’t get me wrong here,Men do face a large platter of issues including sexual assaults which require urgent attention as well, however to say that simply because Men face issues as well, the issues Women face isn’t serious enough is quite wrong.Let’s be honest here, if someone is trying to bring out these issues only when we discuss about Women and Feminism, they don’t really  care about Men and the issues they face, they care more about putting an end to Feminism. One cannot override issues Women face by using the phrase ‘what about’.If someone genuinely cared about men’s issues, these issues would have been raised by them at all forums and at all times, not particularly only when issues faced by Women are being discussed.

Women deserve the same respect, rights and freedoms which men have always had, it’s about time we started treating them as equals and it’s about time we all identified ourselves as Feminists. It’s about time we started raising our boys to respect Women and treat them with dignity, it’s about time we empowered our young girls to spread their wings and reach new places. It’s about time we stopped blaming Women for the length of their skirts and it’s about time we started making our cities safer for our Women. It’s about time we break the ‘traditional’ role of Women and start giving them the right to explore the world and while we are at it, it’s about time we paid Women the same as men.It’s about time we all stood up for gender equality. it’s about time we make workplaces safe for Women. But most of all it’s about time we raised our sons  and our daughters to be proud feminists, because Feminism has never been nor will it ever be Anti-Men.

This post has been written in honour of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian Feminist and  Author. Her writings have deeply influenced my idea of Feminism. She has taught me to become a fighter for Women and the issues they face and has made me realize it’s not just Women who have to be feminists but rather We Should All Be Feminists .

 

“We teach girls shame. “Close your legs. Cover yourself.” We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be Women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be Women who silence themselves. They grow up to be Women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up — and this is the worst thing we do to girls — they grow up to be Women who have turned pretense into an art form”
Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieScreenshot_20180723-144545~2

 

WE SHOULD ALL BE ACTIVE CITIZENS.

You see little children being forced to work

Little soft hands

Innocent minds

Yet they carry a load most of us wouldn’t

You see garbage all around the city

No one seems to care

Not even the so-called “educated”

You see ignorance

You see exploitation

You breathe pollution

You see broken roads

You see fused streetlights

You see dirty drains

You see apathy.

You see injustice.

Are you angry yet?

But what can you really do about this?

There’s a lot you can actually and for this, you’ll have to be an active citizen, you will have to speak up and you’ll have to be more aware of what’s going on around you, it’s easy and it’s required.

When you say politics isn’t for me or you aren’t interested  in politics,trust me politics is interested in you. The fact of the matter is that politics is not a hobby, it’s an institution and it affects almost every single aspect of our lives. Most of us choose to view politics as a colourless subject mostly discussed by old men on a Sunday afternoon because they really have nothing else to do. This impression about politics has to change and it needs to change soon. Politics isn’t just limited to elections and political parties fighting it out,  it includes daily activities right from the clothes we wear to the water we drink. Almost all our movements are fundamentally connected to politics alone.

When you make statements such as “I’m not into politics” or “politics is  boring” or “ I don’t pay attention to politics”, You’re becoming a part of the problem we see around us today, ignorant statements like these may sound harmless but believe it or not most of our problems sprout out from statements such as these.

Now that i’ve explained to you why it’s important to be an active citizen,let me tell you how to be one.

I take you through 10 steps which would make you  a more effective citizen.

This isn’t a comprehensive one and there are many other things you could do to change the system but it is a guideline on where you can start.

|KNOW MORE|

Being aware isn’t a bad thing, knowing your local representative or knowing what’s going around in your country isn’t a bad thing

Politics isn’t boring nor is it useless, it’s an easy way to solve problems and its high time we get more involved in it.

Most of our youth don’t want to get involved in political issues  or they refuse to even have a stance on the issues we face. Young people coming into the system is the only way we can solve our problems and what we don’t like about our planet, we can crib all we want but without us really getting our hands dirty nothing will ever change.The future literally rests on your shoulders.

|START VOTING|

I know this may not apply to all of you but if you’re eligible and you aren’t voting you’re only becoming a part of the problem.

Voting ensures you have a say and you ensure those who shouldn’t be in power don’t get to be in power. Voter turnouts  have been dangerously low in urban areas and especially among the youth and it’s  about time we changed this.

When you vote although you may be voting for a candidate, you do it for yourself and for your loved ones, NOT for those who get elected .

Imagine if everyone said their vote doesn’t count and they don’t vote? Would trustworthy people be elected ?

A vote in simple terms is a protest against injustice, ignorance and apathy .

|FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS ARE FUN|

Knowing your rights isn’t a thing you do for yourself, it’s a thing you do for those around you

The example about little children being forced to work? How would you help them out if  you aren’t aware of your rights?

Yes, I agree with you the Fundamental rights may not sound very fun and civics may not be the most exciting,but it’s so important to know and research about them.

Read about what your constitution gives you and helps you out with and educate those around you about these rights.

Remember rights aren’t privileges given to a few of  us, they are necessities guaranteed to every single one of us.

|BE LOUD|

When you feel something doesn’t feel very correct, speak out about it

Remember you are never too young to start taking action. When you see people littering or you see people blatantly break the law, don’t hesitate to speak out

Don’t think your voice is too little, it isn’t and it’s powerful, a citizens job sometimes is too keep their mouths open.

Always remember a politically active society is a nightmare for those who use the system only for their benefit

It’s about time we started making a noise.

|TAKE CHARGE|

You see people throwing thrash? Take charge. Do something about it, you could start by even picking up someone’s trash

Yes this may seem cliche and quite honestly many people may have said this to you but think about it for a minute and self-introspect, do you really want to be citizen who has no regard for the law or for society ? Or do you want to be a changemaker ?

Do you want to take charge? Or do you want to ignore our problems and let someone else deal with it?

|EDUCATE|

People need awareness and those who aren’t very fortunate need it more than we do. Try educating those you see around you about their rights, duties and responsibilities. Encourage them to start voting and help them hold their representatives accountable. As the title of this article suggests- we should all be active citizens not just those who are educated or rich.

This is the most important step in your journey of becoming an active citizen, this would be your legacy.

|RESPECT|

When you become an active citizen, there will be people out there who may not agree with you. Try understanding  their positions and try being respectful about them. Always remember the more opinions we have, the better it is

|MOBILIZE|

Most of the issues we face aren’t faced by us alone, a vast majority of those around us face the same problems

Start mobilizing and talking to them

Start talking collective action and start ensuring  your voice is heard

Don’t be discouraged when you see people being ignorant towards what you’re trying to say. Throughout history the forces of change have always been successful when they have stood up for good causes. Huge changes may take time but they may never happen if you don’t wake up today.

Quite honestly the greatest of all mistakes is to do  nothing simply because you can do very little

|SOLVE|

Complaining about issues and protesting may be a major part about being an effective citizen but giving solutions to problems should be a part of your focus as well

Don’t leave it to the government or to anyone else to solve problems which we face, be a part of the solution and not the problem.

|NOW|

Lastly start now, watch the news or maybe read the newspaper and learn about what’s happening around you

Think about ways in which you can do your bit

It’s never too late nor too early, change starts now.

Think about it – almost every constitution in the world starts with “We the people” and not “I the politician.”

With this I sign off hoping to have inspired you to start being more active. Remember your actions may seem insignificant or small but you’re contributing to your society and your country and there isn’t anything greater than this. I urge you all start being  more active citizens. Don’t leave it anyone else, make this your duty.

In my opinion, most of the issues we face as a society today are mainly because of our ignorance, if we start being changemakers it isn’t a long time before our problems are solved.

Think about any issue we face and go to the root of it, a deadly word called ignorance is always at fault.

I end with the words of Charles de Gaulle who once said –

“Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians”

Let us all take a vow to reform the way we look at society and to start being more active in civic issues. When people come together to make a difference, no force on earth can stop them!

I’m privileged.

There’s a man who is my brother, I just don’t know his name.
But I know his home and family because I know we feel the same.
And it hurts me when he’s hungry and when his children cry.
I too am a father, and that little one is mine.
It’s about time we begin it, to turn the world around.
It’s about time we start to make it, the dream we’ve always known.
It’s about time we start to live it, the family of man.
It’s about time, it’s about changes and it’s about time.
It’s about peace and it’s about plenty and it’s about time

John Denver

Let’s do a small activity  before we start off this blog. Add a point for everything you have or for every activity you’re able to do.

Subtract a point for every activity you can’t do or for everything you don’t have-

  1. You have a house
  2. You can sleep on a warm bed at the end of the day
  3. You have clean drinking water
  4. You eat two or more times a day
  5. You have more than 3 sets of clean clothes
  6. You have a television set
  7. You have a fast Wifi connection
  8. You have a fancy smartphone
  9. You can afford a vacation
  10. Your family owns a car/cycle/van
  11. You have electricity at all times
  12. You can go to a doctor when you get sick
  13. You can afford to shop at an expensive supermarket
  14. You can go watch a movie and buy ridiculously expensive popcorn
  15. You have gone/ still go to school/college

I’m going to assume most of you have a score of 12 or more. It’s quite awesome you have so much actually, it’s more than what most of the other humans on this planet have.

Let’s be quite honest here, most of us live in cozy, extremely privileged bubble which may never burst. I’m writing this to make you aware  of the world beyond the bubble most of us live in. This isn’t to make you feel guilty of the privileges you have. Most of you work hard and you can afford a healthy and comfortable lifestyle and this is simply because you had an opportunity to do so. You went to a good school because your parents could afford to send you to one and you had good schools around you to choose from, but what happens when you don’t have this opportunity? Think about those children in extreme conditions of poverty where even going to a free school isn’t a choice as they would have to work to make ends meet instead of learning about alphabets and numbers

Think about those who don’t have clothes simply because in the choice between a shirt and a loaf of bread, a loaf of bread seems much more important.

It’s quite easy for us to comment on the poor and tell them to work harder while we sit on our leather couches with super fast internet and cool drinks to beat the heat, but unless we really understand the notion of privilege, we really can’t understand the sufferings of those who fall under the category of have-nots.

So what exactly is privilege? In simple terms it is defined as-a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

Let me give an example, a teacher chooses where her students would sit in class-

She makes 5 sit in the first row and 5 in the second row and so on until there are 5 in the last row of the class. She now starts doing a math sum on the blackboard but those at the back really can’t see what’s written, they call her out but she can’t hear them, those on the front however can see the sum very clearly and are quite happy that they are able to understand everything.

In the example, those in the back didn’t want to sit there and struggle but they simply had no other choice, they were pushed to the back by the teacher and may never understand the concept. On the other hand those in the front too didn’t choose their seats but were quite happy with the seat they got and didn’t pay heed to those at the back.

This special advantage those in the front got is the notion of privilege, Seems a little unfair ? Of course it is, in this way millions of people are denied access to food, water and other basic necessities which are required for human survival, Let us see a few hard hitting facts about this-

800 million people go to bed hungry each night.
That’s 1 in 9 people on a world population estimate of 7.6 billion today, About every 10 seconds a child dies from hunger- Let that sink in for a moment, every 10 seconds a child who should have been playing and enjoying life is instead dying of hunger.

The facts when it comes to access to clean drinking water is  even worse- Approximately 1.1 Billion People (1 in 7) Lack Access To Safe Water. The next time you decide to spend an hour in the shower, think about this.

All those times you had a fever and your parents rushed you to the hospital? It felt quite normal didn’t it? Well for 400 million other fellow humans, access to health care is only imaginary, think about it, a child running a high fever but absolutely no one around them to help

This is unfortunately the sad reality of the world we live in today.

But the good part about this is that we can change this, let’s go back into the example I gave you, the students in the front can always make some space for those in the rows behind them can’t they?

By being grateful for the things we have and being more cautious when we use our resources, we can ensure they are  available to more people. We should try thinking from the view of the oppressed and the low income groups of our society, this helps us understand how privileged we are to lead such comfortable lives.

The next time you pass through a slum, don’t cover you nose and raise your car windows, instead think about ways you could help them, it could be something as simple as donating a few blankets to them during winter or distributing some food or even talking to them about sanitation and cleanliness.

Remember to always be grateful for all the privileges you have in your life and take care to ensure you don’t exploit what’s been given to you.

Remember if you belong to group of people who can afford to lead a comfortable lifestyle, it’s your duty to give back to society in any way you think you should

Privilege in this sense can be a good thing too, it can be used to create change and help those who may need our attention. Try using your privilege for the betterment of mankind and not just to lead happy lives.