Washington Post Social Reader on Facebook

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To my son

Motherhood is one of the most amazing feeling. It is something I wrote for my son who is five months now. It was written on 25 November,2011 but never got a chance to upload. For me it has been the best thing that could have happened to me. It is a lovely feeling and he inspires me in so many ways. It is hard to explain but it is true. So this one is for him .

Every morning comes with a hope
Gives us courage to never say nope
Each day is a possibility
To realize our hidden ability
Though the night seems dark and long
Always remember morning will come along
Nothing is permanent
Enjoy the moment to full extent
Summer is beautiful and green
All the scenes and sights are worth to be seen
Soon the green will give birth to red, orange and yellow
There is so much to feel mellow
This is the moment to savor
All is going to change but not forever
There seems no end to cold winter night
It is not anymore to heart’s delight
Don’t forget this too shall pass
All the barren trees will be green like grass
Once again heart will sing with joy
Everything has its own charm, oh! boy .

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Is arranged marriage the best and final arrangement for future ??

Arranged marriage, a term alien to the western world but very familiar to the eastern. Many parts of the world still follow the ritual of arranged marriage-a marriage decided not by the groom and bride rather their folks. It is quite prevalent in India till date. With the advancement in Information and technology this area has not remained untouched. As a an outcome of this revolution we have got many online sources to tap on. Shaadi.com and Bharatmatrimony.com are quite familiar to most Indians. This leap forward has not changed the basic idea of getting married but it has added a whole new dimension to the groom/ bride search. The end remains the same while the means have changed.

Vijay Nagaswami in his book The 24×7 Marriage : Smart Strategies for Good Beginnings has given interesting insight into Indian marriage. Many people believe that the reason behind success of the arranged marriages is the involvement of the families. The author aptly remarks that here the marriage is not between two people alone rather it is between two families.

The real challenge under this system is not the wedding itself but the search of the prospective bride/groom. In many cases we observe parents going through a bigger stress during the search. In a way the daughter/son who is going to get married does not go through same amount of stress.  As it is more of a cumulative  decision instead of individual. Many might argue that the stress levels are higher for the people who get married  because they hardly know each other. But the point I am trying to make is that responsibility to make it work is shared with the family and it does not solely remains with the couple. Many youngsters also hail this system because of this reason.

Sadly I have observed that this system has its own faults as well and it does not seem to be as good as it sounds.  In many cities this has been a sort of trend to outdo with friends and relatives when it comes to finding prospective spouses. Many parents consider it as a matter of prestige to get their sons/daughters married at a right age and into an affluent and prestigious family. It is more like winning the best deal.

In this race many parents end up taking wrong decisions which hold a great deal of effect on the future life. How much one can know a person in first meeting ? Whether a decision like ending up your whole life with someone can be taken after a brief conversation of few minutes ? How fair is the judgement regarding a person just after one meeting ? Is it alright to get married to someone who has been  introduced to you now and before that he/she  was a mere stranger?

Certainly many marriages happen this way a girl and a boy are made to see each other through a meeting fixed by the elders of the family.  They hardly knew each other and after that first meeting the fate is decided for the rest of their lives. It is there and then the decision is taken whether they will eventually get married or not. If any side needs some more time to decide then it is taken as polite way of not going further with this alliance.

The stakes are so high that despite knowing the fact that it might pose a lot of challenges many marriages happen just to save the family honor or prestige. If a girl is approved by the boy’s side then it does not leave much of a room for the girl to raise her objections. It seems unbelievable but it is a sad fact. In a country where sex ratio is declining and preference for a male child is as high as ever, the girls certainly have not much of a choice. The result is many hasty marriages and repercussions have a lasting effect.

Osho has remarked that in west marriages are like flowers but in east they are like rock. Come whatever may you have to carry on with your life as usual. The girls are brought up with the notions of  being a good wife like Sita or Savitri and these values are further strengthened with the present day avatars of the same in  many of the daily soaps on TV.  It leads to a bigger amount of pressure on the girls to make their marriage work. In some cases we do come across men trying hard to make the relationship success. Calling quits is even harder because you are nurtured with the idea of getting married just once in a life. Good or bad you have to stick to it. Seems unbelievable but majority of the Indians still believe in this.

Arranged marriages have been hailed for their higher success rate and lower divorce rate. But if we delve deep there are many couples who carry on with their marriage to save themselves from the stigma of social disgrace or for their children. No doubt there are many couples who hail this system and will counter argue with me for putting up a not-so- good picture. Hiding one’s failure does not make you successful. It is time to think about some reforms needed in this system. Ideally it is best suited with Indian set of values but with the changing times we need to make it more flexible and accountable by giving more freedom to the prospective bride and groom to take an individual decision. Rather than an obligation to parents it should be taken as responsibility where both need contribute equally.


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Languages Grew From a Seed in Africa, Study Says – NYTimes.com

Languages Grew From a Seed in Africa, Study Says – NYTimes.com.

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France’s burka ban: To follow or not to follow !!!

The most debatable issue of the week has been the implementation of the ban on wearing burka (veil on the face) in public places in France. This has caused a contrary stir among the different sections of the society. On one hand  we have the feminist side that has always aided with doing away with this system of covering face but on the other side is  preserving once’s cultural legacy. Here the reason behind this stringent step is regarded as right for France, beneficial to its Muslim communities and justified.

As per some of the media reports on BBC there are many women who are not following this ban and continue to wear burka out of choice. They are ready to pay the fine and are protesting against this. For them it is denial of freedom  of expression.  As citizens of democratic nation they are not ready to accept it. It is rather strange to many feminists that many women claim to wear burka out of choice but hard to believe. The Muslim-identity seems to be taking this as the biggest blow to their sense of expression.

But this covering of face is not limited to Muslim religion. Even in India there were many non-muslim sections of the society that used to follow a pardah system (not wearing a burka but a veil on the face). I still remember during the early years of my childhood I have vitnessed Hindu married women covering their face in the front of the elders in the family or strangers in many parts of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. But over last couple of decades we have seen less number of women following this practice.  Perhaps, this change was to keep pace with the changing times. Indian government has not passed any legislation to  do away with this practice. It came as a result of personal choice.

The world we are living in is moving fast and in this era of information superhighways burka seems to be  part of  the bygone era. With the growth there  has been a rise in global threats. Incidents of terror strikes are not unknown to us. Keeping the security and safety issue in mind this seems like a sensible move on the part of the French government.

There are many who believe that Burka is not a choice rather an obligation for many muslim women. According to a news report published in ‘The Guardian’ Mme Amara painstakingly explains the practice of wearing burka as  ” the problem with all those charming liberal pieties about allowing women to choose how they wish to dress. Large numbers of the women who wear the burka – whether in France, Britain or anywhere else – don’t have a choice”. Xavier Bertrand, head of the conservative UMP party, said the full veil “is simply a prison for women who wear it” and “will make no one believe” a woman wearing it wants to integrate. The issue in France is about integration of women with the rest of the population.  In a way making them active participants in the society.

All sounds so good on the part of new French legislation. President Nicolas Sarkozy said  full veil “is contrary to our values and contrary to the ideals we have of a woman’s dignity”.  Perhaps, this seems like a brave and bold initiative. The real battle is going to start because there has not been any EU nation that has tried to do away with the full veil  by passing a legislation.

The real reason behind the protest by muslim women is that again  this comes as something forced on them rather than out of choice. Had it been a personal choice it would have been more than welcome. The anonymity associated with burka should be replaced with the individual face. This full veil should have been done away with much earlier by women themselves. Not an outright rebellion but as a change with the changing times yet retaining the cultural values. Instead of coming up with a strict legislation French government should have taken the initiative to invest in education and uplift of this section of population making them more aware and informed. Thereby leading  them to make a personal choice instead of a forced one.

While the  multicultural self of mine still believes that every individual has a right for cultural expression. If we keep doing away with the cultural practices then the beauty of the cultural mosaic will be lost soon. Anything which is a result of  forced obligation to abide by the law or the religion is something I don’t support. Right to expression and free speech is basic for all the human beings. If these rights are denied then we are free no more.

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Social Networks Also Empower Enemies of Freedom – Newsweek

Social Networks Also Empower Enemies of Freedom – Newsweek.

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India’s sex ratio: Something to mull over

Recent  report published in ‘ The Economist’ once again raises a serious concern on India’s  deteriorating sex ratio. It is ironical and sad that  in a primarily Hindu nation this is the case.  As per Hindu mythology the three most important areas viz-education, finance and security are assigned to the three Goddesses -Saraswati, Laxmi and Durga.  These are perhaps the most important domains of public life.

A nation that is seeped in spirituality and provides solution to unrest in the mind of many people from the western world. Here we have thousands of gods and goddesses worshiped all over India. There is a strong sense of belief in Goddesses especially. Whether it is a firm faith in Durga-Puja in West Bengal or making a pilgrimage to Himalayas for Devi-Darshan the fervor is as high as ever. All over India Hindus have a great regard for the Navratras (Ten days of worshiping Goddess Durga  that comes twice in a year). On conclusion of these days there is a ritual of doing Puja of Kanjak Devis (little girls in the family or from the neighborhood are treated as Goddess to seek their blessings)

I fail to understand the Hindu mind that could worship Devi in the temple and believe in its power to provide but not in the girl child. Sometimes I feel that this preference is high primarily in some of the Northern States. Here I can’t help ignoring the influence of the mughal rule as well as neighbors like Pakistan. If we delve deep then these are the parts of India where even today we find a lot of co-relation with the Muslim culture. Not excluding the effect of India’s own Muslim population as well.

It is a hard fact that in India girls till date are considered more as a liability whether for educated or uneducated parents. Whereas boys are the breadwinners and hope for the future. Even though the ritual of dowry has been abolished but the wedding expenses are still done by the girl’s parents. So it is not only the wedding but the groom search which is again a difficult process. To sum up a girl is a vain investment – right from the beginning on her upbringing and education then  her marriage till she dies even her last rites. Along with there is a responsibility that she remains chaste till she gets married. In comparison to boys girls are considered as a source of worry.

On the other hand Hindus have a deep rooted fate in the power of  Durga to heal and lead to miracles but never believe that their girl can also perform and provide  for them during their old age. If given the opportunities and right upbringing they can outdo the boys. It is a fact that a daughter shares a stronger bond with her parents. Someone has well said ,”a son is son till he gets his wife while a daughter remains a daughter till the end of her life”.

Whatever the case be,  the decline is sex ratio is a serious concern because a society can not progress with an imbalanced population. The preference for a girl child is as good as for a boy child. Both contribute in making of future generations. Education alone can not resolve this problem. The need of the hour is along with education there must be equal opportunities for work and rights to expression. Only this can eliminate the tag of liability associated with girls and make their birth a reason for happiness not sorrow.

It is not for nothing that the three most important domains of public sphere are given to Goddesses and not Gods because they are certainly better at managing things in general.





India’s sex ratio: Sons and daughters | The Economist.

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