Decoding the matrimonial columns

SSunday newspapers are heavy in weight. Multiple pages of matrimonial columns are the big reason for this heavy Sunday editions. Almost all the English dailies carry 8 page matrimonial advertisements every Sunday. The Times of India and The Hindustan Times are the two prominent newspapers which add weight to these columns. Apart from bride and bridegroom information different sociological factors are in an ample display. To decode these factors one has to spend a lot of time in reading these columns. Normally we do not even look at matrimonial columns if there is no need for us to find a partner for life.

 

To understand whether caste is still an issue in the wedlock, a cursory look at the matrimonial columns is sufficient. All the newspapers classify brides and bridegrooms according to their castes. Otherwise it is difficult for the reader to scan the whole a lot of advertisements. In addition to the newspapers several matrimonial websites have cropped up. Bharat Matrimony.com, simplymarry.com, shadi.com, jeevansaathi.com, and many others. Everyday there is some innovations in these sites and good improvements have been made. In a fraction of seconds one can find a suitable partner according to his or her desires. The search engines have made it very easy. Type Bride, age 23-26, Height 160 cms, complexion, fair, Caste, Kayastha, City, Patna, you will get 210 matches. With these wide ranges of brides with photos one can choose the finest one. If you are premium member of the site which will cost you Rs.3000 you can directly access the bride’s contact number and strike a conversation in the chat rooms.

 

The advantage of the matrimonial sites over newspaper advertisements is that there are quick search results with multiple photos. Chatting is possible with the girl and a comfort level can be established prior to striking the final deal. In the fast paced life, finding a life partner is both easy and difficult. Easy because of the several technological aids and difficult due to the persistence of socio-religious factors in finalizing the marriage.

 

Caste and class should match the desires of the partner searching families. In India it is not the choice of the individual over life partner. But the entire family gets into the process. One of my friends told me that he had no choice than to accept what his parents and sister selected. In more than 45 bride search visits he was never allowed to open mouth by his enthusiastic family members. If mother likes, father dislikes the bride. If three of them agree then his sister disapproves the girl for very strong voice and overweight. For the past 6 years he is searching for suitable soulmate but in vain. The consolation his sister got the right groom during bride hunts for her brother.

 

Despite high progress in education and heavy urbanization, social factors matter most in selection of life partners. It may be not be the choice of the bride or groom but their family members insists on the suitable social matches. A Rajput boy will demand the same caste, higher income, convent educated girl with postgraduate degree who can stay at home and look after the family. These qualifications are mostly thrust by family members. One of the important reasons for such stagnation in attitudes of parents in selecting life partner for their children is the soap operas telecasted. “Kabhi Saas bhi bahu thi” serial showcases the conflict between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and the consequence of home politics. Most of the mother-in-laws are popular patrons of these types of serials. Obviously the teleserials have impacted them and made them extremely cautious while choosing their bahus.

 

Most of the matrimonial columns are difficult to decode. To meet the stipulated space and spent less on the advertisement, people adopt strategies and abbreviations. It is difficult for new readers to understand these code languages.  It took months of brain racking to find out what BHP, S.M, etc are. Nevertheless matrimonial columns are interesting sociological reservoirs.  

Recession and Celebration

Recession is a reality in the current economic crisis. Corporate sector is clueless in managing the trouble.  Job cuts, slashing of salary, reduction in allowances, shutting down units which do not give huge profits, and other ways are followed to ward off the sudden death situation. Common people too face the music with the shooting inflation. How Indians are coping up with this gloomy economic condition? Any scale down in celebrations? The initial results show no reduction in the size of the festivities. With diwali nearing most people are continuing their usual fireworks and gifts exchange. One has to wait and see whether the economic crisis has altered the spending. Last year Rs.500 crores worth of gifts was exchanged.

 

Shops are making all out efforts to woo the customers. The gold price is coming down from Rs.14,000 to Rs.12,000 per 24 karat 10 gms. Dhanteras – an occasion to buy gold is celebrated with fanfare by the jewelers. The purpose of flashy advertisements about Dhanetras is to tempt the customers to buy gold. Non stop louder advertisements in television channels pull the people towards gold buying. Slowly and steadily they are coming to buy. Investment in gold is attractive due to the slump in stock market and banking sector.

 

Generally festivals are ought to be celebrated even with borrowed money. Lay-offs and economic crisis are temporary phenomenon which does not tamper with the spirit of the people. One of the important reasons for such undeterred festive mood is that it is suppose to dump the worries and look for bright future. For instance diwali is a festival which welcomes Goddess of money – Lakshmi to home. If one does not have money due to the economic crisis, he or she borrows money and do the grand puja to worship Lakshmi. So that the Goddess becomes happy and showers all the prosperity to the worshipped home.

 

India has too many festivals. There is no stopping of any celebrations. Durga puja, vijayadashmi and diwali come in a month’s time. After two months, New Year and harvest festivals. In north India, Holi comes in March which is a gala event. Apart from these major festivals there are region specific ones which are equally attractive.

 

Added to the misery of economic crisis, terrorist attacks during festival seasons have slowed down the spirit of shoppers. Diwali season has been the prime target time for terrorists to plant bombs. The dense packed markets provide chance for terrorists to strike at their will. Continuous terrorist strikes have compelled police to erect more security barriers. The fallout is also on the shopkeepers. This year only 35 whole salers were given license to sell crackers in comparison to 250 last year in Delhi. Breaking all these barriers most of the people are shopping and inspiring others to face the grave situation with confidence.

 

What does the recession mean for Indians? It is not the one stop shock for all. Recession affects different people differently. Those who have good stock of savings and assets need to worry about this situation. Nearly 35% of the Indian population belongs to this category. Another 30% struggle for everyday living and festivals do not matter for them. The final 35% of the middle category may feel little difficult but not completely out. They are salary class people who get into the routine mode of get credit, enjoy now and pay later trend. Who is finally affected by the recession? Those who lost heavily in the stock market crash and lost jobs in the financial tsunami are ones who faces heat in the diwali season this year.

 

Still diamond –encrusted watches costing more than a million Euros, Armani scarves, Louis Vutton bags, Mont Blanc playing cards, Vertu phones, golf sets and many more exotic gifts are all doing rounds in the wish list of gift givers.

 

Recession will come and go. Festive spirit is permanent. It should not be bartered for temporary troubles. Live king size life and enjoy every bit of the festival. Pray to Goddess Lakshmi to crush the crisis and continue to pour wealth. Who knows  will there be any gloom tomorrow?

Supreme Court and JNU student elections

                                                                                                            The Supreme Court has thrown spanners at the only gala annual event of New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University – student union elections. The stay order issued yesterday instantly outrages all those who have been part of the radical university. Cutting across ideological lines members of the university community feel deprived of an intellectual entertainment during the union elections. Debates, dharnas, campaigns, posters, pamphlets, public meetings and many more unique events are part of the election process. It is the only university where elections are conducted by students. For the past thirty and above years this process has been a quite smooth affair bearing few odd incidents.

 

J.M. Lyndgoh Committee appointed by the Supreme Court in its report last year proposed few sweeping changes in the conduct of student union elections all over the country. Violence, uncontrolled flow of money, muscle power, political influence and loss of academic character of the institutions during student union elections have influenced the committee to propose stringent measures. Restricting the age limit to 28, amount spent per candidate to Rs.5000, first class pass in all subjects with 80 percent attendance and no second term contest are some of the recommendations of the committee as criteria for students to contest their union elections.

 

All other universities in the country have either following these guidelines or not conducting student union elections. JNU which is known for questioning the questioner was trying to convince the Court about its unique nature of the elections. The university does not have attendance system. Students are encouraged to do self study and attending lectures are made optional. It is a successful experiment where self struggle breeds all round development. Students from extremely backward families without any basic advantage used the university and reached top positions in life later. Those who have observed such a successful social transformations engineered by JNU supports the university’s unique culture, tradition and ethos. But law and rule of the country cannot be JNU specific.

 

Knowing well the impact of the Lyndgoh committee report, enlightened student union members of JNU were lackadaisical when the report was accepted and put for implementation by the Supreme Court. I find this as the biggest mistake of JNU student union. Last year when the Supreme Court threatened to stay elections, JNUSU pleaded for course correction this year due to lack of time. After a year the circle is repeated. In the absence of strong record, Supreme Court will not vacate the stay. At best there can be few agreements to the Court order and few amendments can be made to the Lyndgoh’s committee report. There should be segregation between college and university union elections. The age limit can hiked to 35 instead of 28. Two terms can be allowed per candidate due to his/her long term stay in the campus (9 years). Without a give and take policy the stalemate will continue.

 

Controlling violence, protecting the campus from defacements, excess usage of money and restricting outsiders influence during student union elections are to be taken care by the student leaders. They need to be trained to follow rules and regulations. If students fail to follow law of the land there is no future for legal mechanisms. Instead of stopping the whole process, educating and improving responsibilities of students need to be carried out. Knowing the pros and cons of student life, Supreme Court’s magnanimity in handling student union elections will be highly productive. Not too much. Not too far can be the role play of the legal authority in campus matters.

Inevitable Inequality

For many millennia, inequality has been a part and parcel of the social structure. Philosophers and economists have debated non-stop about it. In every civilizational turn there is a new form of inequality taking birth. It seems that inequality cannot be totally eliminated. Only it can be reduced. Different ideologies popped up to destroy inequalities and create egalitarian society. Alas! None survived except inequality.

 

International, intra-national, class, gender, language, race, caste, religious inequalities are some of the old forms. Technological inequality is one of the latest. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were formulated by United Nations and signed by the world nations to stop the fast pace of inequality. Statistics show the stagnation in the goals. Many of the underdeveloped countries especially in Sub Sahara are going down further. An observation of the living standards of common people reveals the inevitable nature of inequality.

 

A family was dreaming to chase their neighbhours in social status. Few years back they were without television set, camera, telephone and other consumer durables. After a long struggle somehow they managed to procure a 21 inch colour television set worth of Rs. 10, 000, Kodak camera costing Rs.1000, a cell phone costing thousand rupees and a fridge in the range of Rs.8000. But the consumer products are innovated and marketed in new form every day. His neighbhour now got LCD television which costs Rs.1.2 lakh, digital camera worth Rs.15,000, apple iphone costing Rs.35,000 and latest fridge costing Rs.60,000. The day dream of chasing the neighbhour’s status got crushed by the fasting moving consumer world.

 

A man walking on the street was envious of the one who was raiding a cycle and he was envied by another man who cannot walk. The cyclist was grumbling against the motorist who fumbled against the car owner. Maruti 800 possessor was biting his teeth against the Honda City owner who in turn was grudging against the BMW owner. The Gandhian saying “World has got for everyone’s need not for greed” is relevant now than ever before. Unmindful racing of consumer products is damaging not only mental but also environmental spaces.

 

Karl Marx is one of the revolutionary thinkers who thundered against inequality. For him the society is a constant clash between property owners and labour class. To eliminate inequality Marx advocated the transformation from capitalism to socialism to communism. Russia was the first nation to embrace Marxian philosophy and became a communist country in 1917. In eight decades time the first communist country was torn into pieces. It was followed by east European nations.

 

India is a mixed economy where political socialism and economic capitalism are in a symbiotic relationship. Communism refused to take off beyond Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura. After the Indian public refused to accepted communists for a larger role, they have embraced capitalism in practice. Buddadeb Bhattacharya the hardcore Marxist is the torchbearer of capitalism in Bengal. In the final analysis communism in theory and capitalism in practice is followed. For the past two decades India has been swept by capitalism of neo liberal kind. In this transformation there is an equal mix of rich and poor. One shining and the other suffering.

 

There is a growing list of millionaires in India. Mukesh and Anil Ambanis wealth is more than few states annual expenditure. Naked display of wealth breeds hatredness against them. Wealth creation is not bad but concentration in few hands is determinant to the long-term social interests. Some enlightened big earners allocate a share of their wealth for public cause. In the recent times, Warren Buffet has become a role model for corporate philanthropy.

 

In India, Tatas and Birlas have earned everyone’s blessings for their social responsibility. Their time tested giving is an inspiration for the generations of corporations. To bring down inequalities corporate sector devise systematic methods. Any adhoc programmes and policies will not be able to make any visible changes on the ground. The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme ought to imbibe a time bound resulted oriented mechanism. Otherwise it becomes just a flavour of the month talk.

 

Inequality cannot be removed. It can only be reduced. The first step to minimize inequality is to take away greed mentality of the consumers. Today excess consumerism is the root cause of all evils. The society needs slow-down of ultra pace consumer culture. It cannot be controlled through mere pep talks and advertisements. A consolidated attempt is required to constantly influence people to buy for their needs rather than to equalize their status with others. Corporate companies are hyper active to induce consumer interests. Social leaders should work harder than corporate brains to control greedy consumerism.  

Secular Communal Terror

Violence has a unique branding in India. Different people see killings of innocent lives differently. According to their political nature interpretations differ. One group can defend dreaded terrorists who maimed many people by blasting bombs. The other group can justify their attack against fellow Indians in the name of region and religion. Even a police enquiry creates uproar. 48 bomb blasts and 180 incidents of communal clashes in the last six months. Can we separate these two?

 

 

Violent activities carried out by Hindu groups are fancifully termed as “Communal” whereas by Muslims are protected as innocent minorities which I refer here as “Secular violence”. The minority syndrome started during the partition days to reassure the Muslims for an equal treatment is misused by political leaders to play vote bank politics. This segregated politics is the true divider between communities and destroy the secular ethos of the nation. India will lose its secular sheen if the law breakers are allowed to have field days. From the day of Babri Masjid demolition this divided politics of communal vs secular is getting louder.

 

Law is not allowed to function as per the written script. Police are handicapped. A senior IPS officer told me that everyday his official life is getting complicated. Trial by political figures, media, court and common people are disturbing his peace of mind and normal working ability. Despite their powerful positions, power breathing people are feeling helpless. This is amply clear from the statement of Shivraj Patill, Union Home Minister in the Times of India on 19 October 2008 (p.1), “If I am distracted by unfounded criticism, I’d not be able to discharge my duties. The terrorists are to terrify people, demoralize and defame the police and the government. If we succumb they’d succeed. That’s true of not just me but of my predecessors and those who might follow”. According to Patil, the number of violent incidents (communal, J& K terror strikes, Naxal killings) has come down from 36,000 to 24,000 during the tenure of UPA in comparison to NDA record. He puts the decrease in casualities from 11,000 to 6,000.

 

Politicians invoke “human rights”, “Innocent before final judgment”, “Hindu bias against minority community” and many other forms of rhetoric to protect the accused for petty political dividends. Another group goes on rampaging railway board exam writing students in the name of safeguarding their regional rights. There is a divisive method employed to trigger violent passions in the name of promoting the cause of community, caste, language, religion and region. It is easily understandable all these causes are not the real ones but political motives are the real motivator. Internal troubles by political groups and external terror by anti-national forces are testing the strength of the nation.

 

A democratic nation which believes in unity in diversity cannot afford to be a mute spectator towards this segregated violence. All forms of violence should be dealt severely and no one should be allowed to rise above the law of the land Whether SIMI or Bajrang Dal or Maharastra Nava Nirman Sena or Bodos all trouble makers should be delivered instant punishments. Any prolongation in punishment sends wrong signals and encourages more challenges to the law enforcing agencies.  .

 

The simple solution advocated to end all these menaces is “ban them”. The past experience shows that a mere banning is not the solution. The groups can resurface under new names. The cross border terrorists have specialized in creating more fanciful names and structures if they are banned. What the nation needs today is a unified command with one vision to put an end to all root causes of violence. This team will not be controlled by any political motives or diktats. Total freedom and time bound action plan are required for such a force which will have only people with fire in their bellies to end violence without any distinction. No more debate or speculation about communal vs secular violence.

 

Freedom is relative

Freedoms are different types. Generally the world is loud about territorial freedom and sovereignty of nations. Rarely one talks about personal freedom, institutional freedom and other varieties of freedom. From an observation of day to day events around oneself, it is clear that freedom of a nation does not mean freedom of its citizens. Hunger, illiteracy, safety, security, traffic, crime, political vendetta, diseases and many other ills are ailing the society. Freedom from all these miseries is the complete freedom for both individuals and nations. Is it possible for such a freedom? None can vouchsafe for total freedom and that is not realistic. Unhappiness will persists and freedom will always be troubled and questioned. Nobody can be totally free as long the world system breeds self-centeredness. To breath better air of freedom one has to sacrifice and self-disciplined. To make this another world possible action should start from every individual.

 

From national to personal freedoms there is a change. The difference is those who control the people. Even today some of the senior citizens in India would like to have the British Raj. They regret sending the colonial rulers out. The common complaint is that the Indian sub-continent has relieved from British rule which was highly judicious. Is justice is more than freedom? Which one is a priority? It depends on the situation. Indians may desire for justice and good governance. Chinese are eager for freedom. The age-old story of the pasture looks greener from this side is the apt description for the current situation.

 

The fact of the matter is that every individual wants personal rule in the world. Common living needs rules, regulations, control and punishments. If human beings are self-governing and self-disciplined there is no need for laws. Practically that was not possible. Hence the social systems have evolved certain mechanisms which can direct its people for better living. Emile Durkheim the French sociologist studied the ways in which traditional and modern industrial societies differed in treating people for violating rules. Through mechanical and organic solidarities, Durkheim demonstrated that the community in the past acted swiftly and punished the culprits. In the industrial society, elaborate legal procedures were evolved to tackle crime. But that centralized the legal deliveries and prolonged the justice period. In between people lost faith and also lives.

 

While trying to deliver justice through proper channel, modern industrial societies have installed highly bureaucratic processes. In a hundred year experience this process is found less effective. Across the world cities crime rates are increasing. Policing seems to be futile in controlling crime. The truth is that few khaki clad police forces are not sufficient. A nation cannot afford to deploy police every nook and corner. Community policing is the feasible alternative. Once upon time community policing was the common system. It was replaced by the bureaucratic method. Are we erroneous in the replacement? 

 

The increasing choice for community policing shows that there no one size fits all solution to the nations. General. Pervez Mushraff has written that dictatorship is the best democratic method in Pakistan. It may be true. What the world considers dictatorship is democracy for Pakistan. Whatever suits the local interests should be followed in practice. Any replication of foreign methods will prove detrimental for people. This age-old truth is still not accepted. The governing people lose focus without following the traditional roots.

 

Some nations are wise enough to avoid ‘dance floor mentality’ and continue to follow their own steps. Bhutan is a fine example for maintaining the traditional systems with adequate dosage of modern methods. Its growth is slow, steady and happy. No wonder this small Himalayan Kingdom which got transformed into a democratic nation few months back is on the top of the World Happiness Index (WHI). Here too individual freedom is controlled to a large extent but people are extremely happy. The minute Bhutan opens its floodgates of global influences it will lose its distinct flavour of happiness and become one among the other unhappy nations.

 

To be free one needs to sacrifice and lead from the front. Accepting defeat and not accusing others are the crucial lessons to be learnt before embarking on the freedom flight. It is duties not rights, it is respect not fear, it is discipline not compulsion which can keep the world going without much troubles. Any amount of research and talk will be less helpful if we don’t allow others freedom and promote our freedom.

 

Customer No Care

Invariably every company has got a customer care cell. 24×7 one-stop solutions are promised by them. These are basically computer –telecommunications linked systems which are supposed to solve the customer problems immediately. To increase the work efficiency and output generation, latest technologies are used. In the first step towards better management, customer care is insisted.

 

But practically there is a least care for customer’s complaints and suggestions. In sheer desperation to market products customer care is assured through wide advertisements. When the time comes for problems with products, consumer feels the heat. Cell phones, cable connections, Internet, and other electronic product related issues warrant immediate solutions.

 

As a free market lobbyist Nitisha (23) was loud mouthing about the best returns offered by the private sector for the customers. She always earned happiness in downgrading public sector companies. To score brownie points in casual debates she poured her heart and vehemently argued for the cause of private sector. Her boss a hard votary of liberal economy recruited her and paid peanut salary. She was assured of better pay after few months. Unfortunately months and years passed, she only worked harder and gave better results. No sign of boss talking about increment in her salary. Meanwhile she has to buy a phone. Naturally the multi national Nokia was her choice. With in days, Nokia phone started creating trouble.

 

She called the customer care for 20 continuous days. Most of the time she was put on hold or transferred to someone who cannot understand her problem. Frustrated with this problem she went straight to the service centre. There was a huge rush. Amidst burning summer heat the big crowd in the service centre increased her frustration. On top of it there was no air-conditioning. Not even water was served.  After three hours her turn came and the executive in the desk rudely told her that it is not place where she can bring small issues. Anger soared to top of her brain and she lambasted him. Few heated exchanges wasted her precious time.

 

Coming back home she found her Internet not working. A call to the customer care centre was not possible due to the continous engagement of the given number. After 4 hours she got through the line and the executive was not able to communicate properly. Leave alone understanding her problem.

 

Not only Nitisha experiences these kinds’ of customer unfriendly behaviours, millions of people face such problems. Despite consumer cells and courts these problems persist. One of the prime reasons for pouring complaints against costumer care units is adhoc solutions stitched by private companies. Public Sector companies are known for casual customer attitudes because of the people working in it don’t have private stakes. With the increasing competition from private sector, Government companies are also forced to pull up their socks.

 

In the end one can sense that the present customer care centres are totally inadequate and ill-equipped to handle the problems. One, the scale of the problem and number of customers pouring is above the limit of the employees. Two, companies recruit without adequate training for customer care. Three, low salary and high level exploitation brings most crude work force. Four, top level management is not seriously monitoring the performance of the team. Five all solutions are provided to solve the crisis for the time.

 

Whether private or public companies should improve their services. Otherwise business will not improve. Consumer courts should take tough measures to punish the defaulters and deliver justice to the common people. Not only technology companies are creating problems, almost all service providers test the patience level of the costumers. Education providers and health services are the next worst areas. A timely support is required to pull out the problem facing consumers.

Crash landed aviation sector

Gloom and doom surrounds the economy. Aviation sector is not an exception. In the first sign of nervousness, Jet Airways issued pink slips to its 1900 employees. Without any prior notice, Jet had taken this shocking decision. Cabin crew in fresh and clean attire waiting for company vehicle to pickup was devastated. Did anyone apart from the sacked workers thought about the consequences in their lives? What the sudden layoff means to thousands of young recruits? Their dreams crash landed and shows no sign of first aid. Nothing can be crueler than this kind of ill-treatment to the young employees. Of course they are taught dirty tricks which will dent the industry in the long run.

 

It is understandable that the airline industry is facing severe financial crisis. Increasing oil prices and decreasing passengers are pressurizing the industry to go for dire measures. In a scenario like this a company should marshal all its resources and act maturely. The common question asked is “will the belt tightening is only for employees or for the employer also?” From the initial investigations it is clear that the employers have not scaled down their lavish lifestyles. For a saving of Rs.5 crore a month Jet Airways has shown the door to 1900 employees. Is that Rs.5 crore bigger than 1900 young people’s lives?

 

One wonders whether Vijay Mallya, the flamboyant figure of the aviation sector is going to reduce his partying or the intake in the number of scotch peks? His emphasize on cost cutting to make his company “mean, lean and efficient” sounds ironical. It is high time that he and his peers graduate to a higher level of corporate leadership and become compassionate capitalists.

 

Capitalism can never shed its cruel nature. When it comes to counting currencies and profit it can be ruthless. Compassion and employee welfare is not even remotely found. In desperate situations only corporate leadership is tested. In this time of crisis, few pass and most of them fail to withstand. Naresh Goyal and Vijay Malayas are not an exception. They have proved that alternative thinking and solution finding to the mega crisis is not their style. When they fail to speak to their employees about the situation and take hasty decision which impacts the lives of thousands of workers, danger script for the industry is written.

 

In such a sad situation the corporate leaders should have called for a meeting of employees and explained to them about the crisis. An open heart session could have conditioned the young employees and might have contributed for the mutual understanding. All of a sudden issuing pink slips to thousands of employees is wrong western model of corporate governance. Citing the probation time for no notice sacking is ridiculous and inhuman. The clause for no notice termination is to make the learning a disciplined process not to use it for employer’s fancy.

 

Failure of the aviation czars to lead the workforce at the crisis will push the employees to seek the guidance of vested political interests. No wonder they first went to Raj Thackeray. Now the aviation corporate honchos will have to face the heat. Even a course correction at this hour can redeem their prestige and put them back on the right sky.

Disruption of Development

Proposing a developmental project and disrupting it later has become a norm in India. More than social concerns in preventing development vested interests rule the roost. Opposition parties block industrial projects and support the same when they occupy treasury benches in the legislature. Political opportunism is costing the nation heavily. It is a fashion for the Indian political class and some self-appointed social guardians to organize dharnas against every programme. There is a decadal shift and victims in the drama of disruption. In seventies protest against private sector and MNCs.

 

 Eighties saw massive uproar by Left parties againt the introduction of computers. They were in argument that computer introduction in the management of public sector enterprises will throw out human labour. To aid their protests there was a major disaster in Bhopal. The leakage of methyl iso cyanide a poisonous gas from the Union Carbide Factory killed 4000 people and handicapped 10,000. This gave more leverage to the Left protests against industrialization. Those were the communist anti-establishment times with West Bengal and Kerala in their ruling kitty. These two states adopted ideological statusquo and seconded the party’s opposition towards capitalists and technology.

 

The introduction of neo-liberal reforms in 1991 slowly taken away the sheen of Left protests. With non communists are leaping forward and exit of Jyoti Basu triggered a new change in the Indian development scene. The successor of Jyoti Basu – Buddhadeb Bhattacharya strongly supported foreign capital and heavy industrialization. The strong impact of liberal economic reforms impacted communist leaders. There is a shift in their tunes for the capitalists support for development. All three states under communist rule – West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura dilly dallied over capitalism and finally embraced it with double standards. In their states communists gave a red carpet welcome to capitalists and in other states they opposed their entry. Public started losing faith in Left parties sincerity in opposing development projects. With the credibility of Left coming down, NGO era stepped into bridge the gap in protest world. Medha Patkar, Vandhana Shiva, and Sunderlal Bhauguna are the prominent figures in this phase.

 

Medha Patkar emerged as the most prominent figure in this phase. She was known for high voltage campaign against proposed projects. Whether it is a dam or an industry she stepped in with a band of volunteers. Hunger strikes and gheraos marked this phase. It can be said that 90s was a decade of anti-dams.

 

The green brigade dominated by Sunderlal Bhaguna, Vandana Shiva and Medha Patkar was joined by Arundhati Roy. Her Booker Prize catapulted her into global fame. This brought into anti-establishment scene. The new millennium first decade can be termed as the watershed in the history of Indian NGO movement. During this period Sandeep Pandey, Rajendar Singh, and other NGO leaders emerged with Ramon Magsaysay award. They too joined the battle against establishment to realize that sheer protests will backfire from the public. Troubled by frequent dharanas Supreme Court has banned strikes and bandhs. The impact of consumerism also reduced the support base for all the agitators. Slowly the dharna culture was dying down.

 

Emergence of regional parties and coalition politics pushed political groups to enter agitation politics. The Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and a large-scale acquisition of lands from farmers gave a new lease of life to protest politics. In this phase coalition partners of the ruling alliance gained an upper-hand and disrupted development projects. Due to the survival necessity of the government many of these protests were handled soft and the projects were suspended temporarily. The Left Parties played a dominant role at the national level. The Insurance Regulatory Authority, SEZ, privatization of airports was carried out despite their opposition. The climax came in the nuclear deal with America. Despite their opposition the Manmohan Singh government clinched it and shown the door to the Communists.

 

Pataali Makkal Katitchi (PMK) in Tamil Nadu opposed every project of the government as an alliance partner. The mega star of this phase was Mamata Banerjee who played a divisive role in stopping the Nano (cheapest car in the world) from rolling out from West Bengal.

 

Opposing for opposition sake is detrimental for the national development. The political parties should shed their opportunism and rise above their petty interests and support the development. Any objections should be made before the finalization of the project not in the middle. The cost of everyday protests is enormous. Strengthening laws against such divisive evens can only curb it when the political culture is increasingly becoming petty.   

Compulsive Marriages

 

Marriages are made in heaven but broken in earth. There are many reasons for marriages to take off and break down. One of the crucial reasons for marriages today is the compulsive nature. Parents, family members, neighborhood and friends keep pressurizing young people to enter marital bond. Their pressure is understandable and genuine at times. Someone who is not married till 30 years despite settling well in life with a job needs guidance from others. In India most of the youth go for marriage due to pressure. In United States there were approximately 2, 23,000 marriages in 2005 – down from 2,279,000 the previous years, despite a total population increase of 2.9 million over the same period. http://www.divorcemag.com/statistics/statsUS.shtml

A girl of thirty four years with a postgraduate degree in Public Administration was cursed for dark colour skin. Along with this colour disadvantage she is fat. Knowing this drawback her parents asked to study and achieve. Despite all the study, struggle and work, no groom was coming. The family started hunting for a boy four years back. Last month she got a man who is an orphan but said to be well placed in life with an employment. Due to heavy parental pressure she was married in a hurry. Without enquiring into his background, the marriage was arranged. After a month, the man was found to be unemployed. This increased the tension between the couple and took them to fist fights. He ran away from home and now untraceable. All her dreams of happy life is now broken. She was happy with the single status. The short lived marriage will give her long term scarce. Her simple question to parents “did I ask you for the marriage? I know my physical features which won’t get good man”. These kinds of incidents are often happening in India.

 

In the western world where there is thin family bond and thick personal decisions, marriage is not a problem. The bond between parents and children gets weak when they grow up. One of my Scottish friends working in a reputed university is not connected with her separated parents from her fifteen years of age. All alone she managed to complete her studies with a higher degree. She worked part time to raise money for her studies. After 20 years of lonely ploughing of her life she entered into a wed lock with her long time boy friend. She was thirty five during the time of her marriage. In a wedding information mail to me she mentioned that she is getting wedded. There was only fifteen close friends and family members invited to the ceremony. She hired a wedding gown and conducted a simple ceremony. All because of the higher costs which both of them cannot afford. Even this small ceremony and dinner for fifteen people cost her a thousand pounds. Atomisation of individuals and social bondage will lead to such kind of pathetic situations.

 

Any amount of personal achievements becomes void in the long run. A strong family and community support is required for a person. With the high pace life, mental and physical trauma are inevitable. A constant counseling is required for young people and parents. Marriage should not be thrust on them. But once they enter wedlock calmness is required.

 

 

 

 

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