WHAT HAVE I DONE ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE IN A PERSONAL LEVEL?

It took around 6 months for me to learn Bengali. As I slowly tried to pick up few words, I was amazed to hear them using Onyay (injustice) for a wrong doing. For example, to say – “I have wronged you, please forgive me” they say, “I have done injustice, please forgive me”. And I quite admired the use of the word injustice in the place of wrong doing. Wrong doing sounds casual whereas the word injustice explains the gravity of the matter.

My point here by saying this is, not exercising justice or doing injustice is a character deeply rooted within us because of our sinful nature. God is a God of Justice and He always cares for the poor and needy. He is always keen and interested in human beings needing social justice. But unfortunately, we human, on the contrary being bestowed with various responsibilities to do justice, fail to do so. Because of our fallen nature and selfishness, we struggle to do justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.

All through the week my co-writers have raised issues concerning social justice by giving so many examples and narrating different case studies of social injustice that has been taking place in our country and abroad. But I want to think differently. I want to take up the responsibility on myself. I want to ask myself, whether I have looked into the matter of social justice when I was given an opportunity? What have I done to bring social justice or justice in the life of a particular person?

Blaming the government and the political leaders is very easy. Going in a procession protesting against a law or injustice is easier. But have I shown mercy to the person desperately needing my mercy at a particular time? Or have I thought that this is mine, my family needs this, I can’t give it to someone else, outsider? Trust me, by doing so, I blocked the process of distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society, in the life of a person.

When I exercise justice in my daily life, it will spread to my family members, then my community, then it will spread to the country at large. Let me give you an example… Let’s think about the pre-independence era when all the Indians were under the British rule, losing all our rights. If the freedom fighters would not have come forward in the fear of being beaten and killed then we would not have seen independence today and would not have celebrated 71st Republic day this year on 26th January 2020, which is tomorrow. If they would not have selflessly stood against the social injustice in their personal lives, they could not have spread the fire of social justice across the country.

If I am unable to bring justice in my family then how can I expect it in the bigger sphere, like in the society or country?

In closing, I want to quote two scripture portion where we are commanded to do justice…

Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

If we just follow this in our daily life we will surely see justice happening all around.

Stay Blessed!

JUSTICE FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVES…

A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it is his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow.

Abraham Lincoln

In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.

Albert Einstein

Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.

Helen Keller

Justice that love gives is a surrender, justice that law gives is a punishment.

Mahatma Gandhi

DON’T WE DESERVE GOOD LEADERS?

In 2015, I came across a very stupid statement by a person from political fraternity.  He said, “Chinese food, jeans and mobile phones are the reasons behind increasing sexual violence/ rapes in India“. That had me in splits 🤣. On another occasion a head of regional political party said “boys will be boys“, following the increasing rate of sexual crimes. That was cringeworthy and repulsive but not “just it”.  Unfortunately a never ending string of such hateful, controversial, insensitive and senseless comments blaming the victims rather than the culprits are a part and parcel of the politician resumes in India. And our politicians make good comedians too 😁. Let me quote few more politicians (funny statements) before I put across my agenda to pen this article:

“Rings could be banned as if it goes missing, it might cause unnecessary problems. Flowers, I am sure, would not be banned. Anklets should be banned, they can affect boys’ studies and concentration, the clinking sound of anklets distracts boys.” “Civil and not mechanical engineers should apply for civil services.” 

“Darwin’s theory of evolution is scientifically wrong… nobody including our ancestors have said in written or oral that they saw an ape turning into a man.”

“You will get jaundice if you attend rallies of other parties.” 

(Source: different news papers)

They are just very few drops from the murky waters (better read gutters as in that of drainage systems) of ignorance and stupidity our politicians are diving and swimming in.  From outraging the modesty of a woman with their below the belt comments to making a complete fool of themselves with their idiotic statements our politicians have done everything.

So coming to my purpose of writing this article – vent out my frustration, can’t state out more elaborately than this. We are a country of population of over 130 billion who believe in the constitution of our country that confers it the power of democracy.  It awarded us the right to choose among the candidates to be our representatives on national and international podiums and these are the people we chose?

It would be very interesting to know that in India if you are planning to apply for the least possible office job in any government department the candidate must have minimum set of educational qualifications, aptitude, age bar is set after which you are not eligible to apply and a plethora of different examinations to filter the right person for the right job. It’s for the  entry level I am talking about. I myself have given examinations (that I flunked to say the least 🤣). But the handful people we chose to be our leaders – have we ever checked their credentials to be in that position we put them in?

Comically, ironically and sadly for a person to be a politician in India there are no set of qualifications that they must possess.  We have school dropouts as our leaders, the list is so long that I am unable to mention it in this small article 😛 . Few of them never even went to school to begin with. What a shame! On contrary the ability to mobilise the mob mentality, criminal background, nepotism, talking big (only talking mind you 😁), pulling wool out of innocent voters in the name of decade(s) old issues of poverty & unemployment – these are the qualifications that makes out a great recipe for a great politician in India. Livid ? But that’s the truth.

Over 70 years many regulations imposed and passed as laws but one law (or set of laws) that I would recommend or say love to see being reinforced : Transparency as to what is your qualification to lead us:

  • Graduation is the minimum educational requirement for anyone willing to contest elections
  • Minimum age bar be 25 and retirement at the age of 65. We need young blood and ideas to come in and contribute. Interesting fact: Finland has the youngest prime minister –  Sanna Marin, 34 years old where as…. just fill in the blanks 😁
  • No criminal record. No person holding even single criminal case against him/ her should be allowed to enter the assembly. They should have the same parameters of judging just as any other person vying for a government job is judged upon.
  • VIP culture should be done away with – I know I am wishing too much 😁.
  • Surnames shouldn’t be the passport for wishful portfolios without any proven track record of work. Kingdoms and dynasties are gone but trails are still lingering on. Political clout is just another business for decades now. Proven track record of work at grass root levels should be made mandatory.  It would only infuse confidence of people  about their leadership and future.
  • Do away with undue subsidies and freebies. Every hike in salary politicians demand for they should be made accountable for it’s out of the taxes we pay they are getting paid.

Though these points seem superficial for a country like India but completely need of the hour. Our politicians (majority) are smart (read scrupulous) enough to divide us and make us concentrate on issues other than development or even instigate hate.  And in this process they are steering clear of any accountability.  And when questioned they either play blame game or have another controversy ready to heat up the TRP markets.  Also given that India is being looked upon by the world don’t we deserve good leaders who work with clear conscience and talk some sense. What say?

BRIBE, THE GREATEST CHALLENGE AGAINST JUSTICE

The moment a child is born, he or she is taught about what is good and what is bad. The child gets to know various things from its parents and teachers. Once the child is old enough to gain knowledge on its own through various mediums he or she comes to know of various laws and rules. This happens with all of us. While growing in maturity, we get exposed to things that are acceptable and unacceptable in our society. But then, what goes wrong when someone commits a heinous crime just to satisfy his or her ego. 

The incident which I am going to mention in this story, happened a few years ago in my hometown. Property dispute is not an alien concept in this country. People are often seen fighting with each other and conspiring to shun down their opponents. In my neighboring village two families were involved in a similar case. They were trying their best to win the case and satisfy their so-called reputation. Now let us call the families as family 1 and family 2. The head of the family 2 decided of doing something that would teach a life lesson to family 1. For this, they kidnapped the youngest boy of family 1 and killed him mercilessly. The mother, on the other hand, was searching for her son like anything. Her instincts told her something is not right as nobody couldn’t find her son. 

Four days later, the corpse was found near the village pond and the parents cried bitterly feeling traumatized. For them, their whole world literally went upside down. But for family 2, it was a gala time as they had taught a lesson to their opponent.

Anyways, a case was registered as family 1 had doubts on family 2. But then family 2 took the help of influential people in the area. The case was eventually closed and family 1 was given some bribe to shut their mouth. The whole village was shocked by this incident. The conclusion was when we came to know, ‘the entire system is corrupt‘. The policemen too knew that family 2 plotted the murder  and should have been punished. But they went on to settle the case by accepting bribe from them. 

Think about a scenario where every single case is dealt in such a manner. No doubt we have an impressive judiciary system with laws to curb criminal activities but what’s the point when one can use their influence and money to challenge the judiciary system and bent the law for themselves… Is the law and judiciary system so weak that money and influence can overpower it and let the culprit roam freely? People may think that it is better to let bygones be bygones. But is this right? There are several cases in our country that are manipulated and closed with the power of money. No wonder ours is an independent nation and is developing at a fast pace, but then there are still some dark areas upon which we need to focus.  

Friends! This hush money is standing as a wall against justice, which we all need to break with force. Are you ready to do so?

WHAT AILS JUSTICE FOR WOMEN?

Changing times require changing laws. This week, as we write about the various spheres where changes are required in the Acts and Laws of our country, I choose to focus on laws pertaining to women in this article.

India is a largely male-dominated patriarchy, with a few matriarchal societies in the North-eastern, Southern and tribal belts. Going back in time to the days of the Indus Valley Civilization and the Vedic Age, we get to see women holding honourable positions in this part of the world. Though women were not accorded legal status, they were seldom caged within the four walls of their houses or subjected to inhuman treatment. 

However in the later ages, the status of women deteriorated. Women were subjected to menial manual labour, were considered as objects of pleasure and lust (though they were deified at the same time) and were treated as cheap means of income augmentation. Over the years, the gender disparity has only widened. 

Behind this widening disparity in this post-modern era, is the ever so skewed mindset of people (men and women). I was watching a documentary on Khap Panchayats (kangaroo courts that still exist in some of the North Indian states). The statement of one woman struck me. She said that ‘girls ought to learn to subject themselves to the diktats of men; if they don’t learn it the easy way and harbour vain desires of flying free, we know how to clip their wings.’ She was saying this in the context of a forceful separation of a couple who had eloped against the desires of the girl’s father and brothers. And mind you, she was no kin to that girl. What ultimately happens in such cases? Either the boy or the girl or both are subjected to public humiliation and/or killed. In instances where they succeed to escape, they continue to live in fear even after seeking legal help. Why have our laws failed to function in the true spirit of the letters of the legal provisions?

It was once thought by intellectuals that education is the answer to the ills meted out towards women. But, here are certain sections of people who have welcomed the literacy part of education without embracing the broader objectives and nuances of education. As a result, though today India’s literacy rate is decent enough for a still-developing country (74% as per Census 2011), the mindset of a hundred years before, still prevails.

There are two approaches to ensure that this mean treatment towards women changes. One is the preventive approach – change in attitude of society towards women, which would in turn prevent the injustices that they are subjected to. I’m not going to write about the change in attitude towards women in this article. That is a separate topic altogether. The other one that I will focus on is the punitive measures that our legal system fails to provide for the injustices meted out towards women.

Talking of laws favouring women, we have enough of them on paper. But the rate of their implementation is abysmal. The reasons are many – cumbersome unending legal procedures, politicization of cases, money power at work, lack of awareness and inaccessibility of the poor people to legal systems. It is of course extremely essential for the truth of events/cases to be ascertained before a verdict is pronounced; it is worse for an innocent to be implicated and convicted than for a guilty to be set free! But, it is also essential that the guilty be convicted and punished. Punitive measures not only ensure justice for victims, they also play their part in being deterrents to future possibilities of crimes of such nature.

I will give brief accounts of two incidents of injustices towards women which will drive home the need for punitive measures.

Case 1

A young woman was brutally stabbed by her husband in front of her four-year old son. She suffered 232 stabs all over her body. The number is no exaggeration because I have personally seen both the woman and her medical reports. She battled for life for three months in the hospital. Her life was saved, thanks to the doctors and the caring support of her parents. Today this young woman in her mid-thirties, bears the visible scar of a huge gash on her otherwise beautiful face. She is now forever dependent on a walking stick, using which she walks with a lot of effort. With no finances and a least supportive society, she lives in a perpetual state of fear. Reason – her husband who is in the lock-up but has already been out on bail twice has the money power to turn the tables on her, get their son kidnapped from school (which he has already tried) and to get the case closed by falsifying all allegations against him. She shudders to think what would happen if the courts rule in his favour and he walks free.

Case 2

This account is from a video which I came across in YouTube. The woman narrates how she was subjected to repeated sex-determination tests followed by termination of pregnancies against her will because her husband did not want another daughter (they had a daughter already). Unable to bear the torture, she took her daughter, started staying separately and filed for divorce. Well, sadly the story doesn’t end here. Even while the divorce proceedings were underway, the man visited her, pinned her to the wall and chewed off parts of her face including her nose. None came to her rescue hearing her shrieks! Her face is disfigured for life! The man roams around free, leaving her in a state of perpetual fear for herself and her daughter. Watching her story sent shivers down my spine.

These are not the only two stark incidents portraying injustices meted out to women in our country. Uncountable dowry harassment cases (many culminating in gory murders), marital rapes (which many of our political and self-ordained moral custodians think not to be made much hue and cry of), acid attacks, molest horrendous rapes/gangrapes followed by murders, slave brides, extreme domestic violence are some blots that many Indian women live with. Child marriages still continue to be societal practices in many villages. The dark business of trafficking girls/women to force them into the flesh trade thrives under the very noses of policemen. Men of certain remote villages have the practice of kidnapping or buying poor women from other parts of the country and marrying them so that these hapless women can be cheap sources of labour apart from satisfying their lust and tolerating extreme forms of abuse. (These women seldom escape, because they find themselves in different parts of the country – the terrain and language whereof they do not know much.)

All these persist, while we have ample constitutional and legal provisions in place, not to mention the National Commission for Women. Why haven’t our laws been deterrents to the ongoing injustices towards women? So many decades after independence, Indian women are still slaves to societal injustices. Few fight it out, others suffer silently – the poor being the worst sufferers. Why are there so many bottlenecks in the way of justice?

Preventive and punitive measures go hand in hand. While many of our NGOs, social activists and counsellors work towards preventive measures by ways of encouraging an attitude change, the punitive measures need to be stringent as well. The perpetrators of crimes against women need to get the message that they cannot go scot-free. Those with money and muscle power need to get the message that their support for brutes will not yield any result and that justice will ultimately prevail.

Violence against women is not restricted to India alone. It persists in all countries all over the world. However, the surety of justice, even if delayed is assured in many countries. The urgency with which investigations are carried out, evidence is sought for and the perpetrators taken to task is worthy of applause. The guilty know their fate once they are caught. In India on the other hand, various factors deter justice from being done. And this is what leads to the fearless propagation of crime against women.

Provisions for timely, stringent and sure actions against perpetrators of injustice towards women, coupled with increasing efforts towards changing the attitude of society at large, are the needs of the hour. We need strong investigative agencies – either public funded or private ones who would investigate atrocities against women, among other issues and go down to the very bottom of cases. Only then, dastardly  cases like burning women for dowry would stop being notoriously euphemised as stove bursting burns. We need impartial police who would not be bought easily by the political masters to hush up cases.

As we head towards another celebration of India as a republic, let our women feel assured to breathe the air of fearless survival. A wish and a prayer that women be seen with the same crowning glory that God created them to be!

 

 

WHY DO I FAIL TO ACHIEVE MY DREAM?

Since my childhood, I had the dream to become an Architecture. Whenever I find any huge and modern infrastructure, I stare at it, even today I do that. Almost every other day my dad scolded me for stealing pins, paper clips and staple pins from his work desk and using them for the designing of my cardboard houses. After school and at free hours I used to spend time working on it. Modern infrastructures have always marveled me. Then, whenever any elderly person questioned me what do you want to become, my answer was “I want to be an Architecture”.

My three childhood dreams were – Will build huge modern buildings, will go for a cruise journey and my first international destination will be Thailand to see white elephants and then to The States. Though in the course of time I didn’t become an architecture but my first International flight was to Bangkok and Chiang Mai; hope the cruise one will fulfill someday.  

In our life, every day we dream colourful dreams and make fancy wishes. When a black shiny Lamborghini overtakes, we peep-out from our SUV and silently whisper within, “I wish I had”. At times we find attractive couples on road and silently urge “Aww…they are ‘Made for Each Other’, wish I have”. We visit our Elite friend house, we see his luxurious four-bed apartment and starts dreaming for such a posh apartment. Though we don’t need such an apartment still we either think about it or do everything on earth to get it. Alas… often much of our dreams never fulfill and we start cursing our life on earth.

We dream colourful dreams and always strive to bring it to reality. And, it is good! Even before a child takes birth his parents start dreaming about his future. They say (especially the fathers) my son will be an engineer, my son will be a doctor, so on and so forth. Yet sometimes we find our dreams won’t go our way and we start regretting.

Here the biggest question arises – WHY DO I FAIL TO ACHIEVE MY DREAM?

IS IT WRONG TO DREAM BIG?

No, not at all! In fact, it is our dream that generates the passion in our heart to achieve it. It is that passion which excites us even to go through many trials to achieve our dream. But often this passion and eagerness for the achievement of our dreams become uncontrollable. We start compromising with our ethics and morals. Finally, we had to pay a HIGH PRICE!

The Bible says,

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.

A man reaps what he SOWS…”

MY DRIVING DREAM

One of the most cherished childhood memory is when one learns to ride a bicycle. I still remember when my father taught me how to ride my bicycle without supporters. He instructed that I have to take one round of the park and he will be holding the bicycle from the rear end. With hesitant and scared pedaling,  I started my way and was continuously telling my Papa not to leave his grip. When I was about to complete one round, I saw Papa standing at the start point and smiling at me. He said- “Look, you have learned to ride your bicycle yourself! “

Years later,  when I was officially an adult and riding my scooterette,  he coaxed me to learn his bike. Though I was hesitant initially,  he was sure that I will learn. And yes, I was riding his bike with gears all by myself! From 2 wheeler,  we progressed to 4 wheeler and he helped me to drive as well. Though he was always there to guide me, I couldn’t muster the courage to drive alone.

In after years,  when I moved to Dehradun,  my uncle helped me to gain confidence while reversing. He also let me drove his car in the enclosed township of his office. I was gleaming with joy and beaming with confidence. But,  only one thing was missing- the traffic! I knew how to drive, but not on the roads full of traffic.

After marriage and babies,  I wanted to be independent and so started taking lessons from driving school. The classes were over and the instructor told me that I only need to practice daily. Whoa!  Now that was tough. As they say – you cannot learn driving with your husband, I had no one else to look up to, who could go with me for my practice sessions. My husband tried to teach me though,  but with so many instructions simultaneously, I went berserk. With honking horns at traffic signals and following my husband’s diktat, my driving lessons became chaotic and stressful. Gradually, I lost confidence and hope. I don’t know whether I will be able to drive a car myself someday or not,  I feel it’s my unfulfilled dream. But “it’s only unfulfilled dreams that keep you alive”! So, probably, someday, somewhere, I will be driving my way through, all by myself.