The Common Man Speaks

20Aug/161

These are the people P V Sindhu and Sakshi Malik defeated indirectly

By: Keyur Seta

Badminton player P V Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik have managed to save the face of the country at the ongoing Rio Olympics 2016 by winning a Silver and Bronze medal respectively. They came to India’s rescue when its medal tally was 0.

P V Sindhu (Picture: Hindustan Times)

P V Sindhu (Picture: Hindustan Times)

But what makes their feat more special is that it has come at a time when people from our political class and people from some ‘social’ organizations have been openly endorsing sexist views. So, in my opinion, they have defeated these bigots in such a way that now they have no place to hide their faces.

Just like the list of winners, here is a list of losers (quite literally) and the statements that ensured their rise to fame (read: shame).

 

“A girl should be married off after she turns 18. By the time they turn 25, they become so mature that they don’t listen to anyone… Girls’ feet are not on the ground due to education. Is it necessary for a girl to be adamant and run after her career? People talk about men-women equality. But is it possible to hide the weakness provided by nature?” - A leader of the group DURGA VAHINI (an arm of Vishwa Hindu Parishad)

(Watch from 3:50 onwards)

“Women’s duty is to carry out household chores.” - MOHAN BHAGWAT, RSS Chief

“If you want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked? Freedom has to be limited. These short clothes are western influences. Our country's tradition asks girls to dress decently.” - MANOHAR LAL KHATTAR, Chief Minister of Haryana

“Women should dress in a way that earns them respect.” - KAILASH VIJAYVARGIYA, National General Secretary, BJP

“Girls night out is against Indian culture.” - MAHESH SHARMA, India’s Culture (???) Minister

“A girl should go out either with her husband or brother.” - ABU AZMI, Samajwadi Party Maharashtra President

(Feel free to add more if you come across any)

Sakshi Malik (Picture: Indian Express)

Sakshi Malik (Picture: Indian Express)

P V SINDHU Interview

15May/160

After losing Keenan Santos, this is what his father said to his younger son

By: Keyur Seta

Mr Valerian Santos’ struggle for justice finally ended after four and a half years on May 5 when the four killers of his son, Keenan Santos and his friend, Reuben Fernandez were given life imprisonment by a Sessions Court in Mumbai. Keenan and Reuben were stabbed to death for rescuing their female friends from getting sexually harassed.

Losing a young son in a gruesome murder can be a nightmare beyond words for any parent and Mr Santos isn’t any less human. However, Keenan’s shocking and untimely death hasn’t deterred Mr Santos from encouraging his younger son from rescuing the oppressed.

Keenan-Santos-father

Valerian Santos

“This will not deter me. I still believe that if you see somebody in trouble, you should help. I tell my younger soon too, ‘You should always stand up against wrongdoing, even if it means you becoming another Keenan,’” said Mr Santos. He was speaking at a special interaction organized by the Loksatta Party in Mumbai.

When the incident was taking place, people turned out to be mute spectators. But what troubles Mr Santos even more is that nobody came forward to help or console their female friends even after the killers had vanished.

“People were just standing in a circle and watching the tamasha. At least console them. As the criminals had fled, nobody was going to harm them. I told the crowd, ‘Bandar naach rahe hain aur tum tamasha dekh rahe ho?’ This hits me even till today,” he said.

He added, “Even animals stand up for each other. We are humans. We depend on each other. Try doing something good and leave the world by leaving behind a mark. If we don’t raise our voice against such incidents on road, tomorrow they will come to your house. Remember, every bhai was once a petty thief. Somewhere this should come to an end.”

But one shouldn’t forget the contribution of Investigating Officer (IO), Dnyanesh Devade, who put in a lot of efforts to make sure the perpetrators are sentenced. Mr Santos was all praise for him. “He has never taken anything from me. Rarely do we get to see such police officers.”

Devade, who was also present there, responded with, “I have not helped. I have just carried out my duty as a police officer.” The IO also revealed how a Pan wala, one of the key witnesses, was pressurized to not testify in the court against the culprits. “But he had faith in me. He said he will still go to court. He did and identified the offenders.”

Devade urged people to come forward and help the victims in such situations by citing Delhi’s infamous Nirbhaya case. “People have to come forward. We don’t live in jungles. If they (Keenan and Reuben) hadn’t come to the girls’ rescue, Nirbhaya would have occurred in Mumbai.”

Dnyanesh Devade

Dnyanesh Devade

24Apr/162

BlogAdda Activity: Here’s how my granny bought our first black & white TV

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

By: Keyur Seta

First things first – BlogAdda comes up with the topic of grandparents for its Wow activity in the same week my grandmother passes away. It has barely been six days since she left us and here I am writing about her as part of a blogging activity. Just a co-incidence? Well, not in my opinion.

You are bound to recall a huge chunk of incidents and teachings related to a family member who has spent more than 30 years with you and my grandmother – Damayanti Seta – is no exception. So, naturally, it is not possible to pin down a single lesson or memory of hers. Still, I have somehow zeroed in on one.

Picture: thatericalper.com

Picture: thatericalper.com

Saving money for the future was something she always preached, not just to us but to others as well. She, along with my grandfather, faced financial hardships when they were new in Bombay in around 1949. My grandfather earned Rs 75 per month working for the Great India Investment Company at Fountain. As she had seen such days, she knew the dangers of not having enough savings.

At one point of time, in order to meet the needs of the family, she started working as an estate agent. It is rare to see a woman entering this profession even in today’s era. So, you can imagine how people reacted in those days when my granny introduced herself as an estate agent.

I vividly remember, as a child, accompanying her as she showed different apartments to her clients. A ride with her in the sidecar of Bajaj scooter, during one such visit, is unforgettable. And as I am writing this, I realize I haven’t sat in the sidecar of a scooter ever after that.

Anyways, coming back to the topic, my grandparents’ biggest lesson of saving money came with their process of buying the first television set in our family. They were fond of watching Hindi films in theatres. Their financial progress was enough to allow them to watch films each month. Then one day, the thought of buying a TV, the latest sensation back then, crossed their minds. But they weren’t so strong financially to buy a TV at that very moment.

My granny came up with a plan of not watching a single movie for the next 10 months. The money saved by not entertaining themselves for this period would help them get entertained on a daily basis (Yes, TV was a source of proper entertainment in those days). This is how a black and white EC TV landed in our house.

I guess I have inherited the habit of not spending money unnecessarily from her. Well, this reminds me that I haven’t checked my balance since long.

7Apr/162

IPL v/s Humanity: Which side are you on? Question goes out to Sachin Tendulkar as well

By: Keyur Seta

There is a huge amount of buzz around the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL), but for the wrong reasons. When the state of Maharashtra is reeling under extreme drought, the chaps running the IPL are eager to spend lakhs of liters of water in the three venues in the state – Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur – for the celebrated cricket tournament.

There have been debates and arguments regarding the same on TV news shows and among the general public. However, I feel the fact that we have debates around this is in itself an unfortunate situation. As far as I am concerned, the matter is simple – you don’t even need to be semi-intelligent or semi-literate to understand that spending such unthinkable amount of water when lakhs in the state have no water for utterly basic use is madness, to say the least.

Picture: Telegraphindia.com

Picture: Telegraphindia.com

I have a simple question for those who are taking a shocking stand of supporting IPL matches in Maharashtra – Can you live without water even for a day without using it even for your very basic needs? Well, people from Marathwada, Vidharbha and other regions have been doing that since months.

To support spending lakhs of liters of water for enjoyment in such a scenario, you either need to be utterly dumb or inhuman; maybe both.

The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, too has disappointed as far as this issue is concerned. Being the most powerful person in the state, one would at least expect him to take a tough stand and stop the madness. However, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Last year, Maharashtra Government released (read wasted) thousands of liters of water during Nashik’s Maha Kumbh for shahi snaan when people just some distance away were reeling under drought.

The entire situation also brings to light the double standards and fearlessness of the legendary ex-cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar. Few years back, he used to appear in BMC’s Save Water campaign urging people to save water. The ad also showed him stopping a waiter from filling his glass of water to the brim because he needed just half. Sachin has also been supporting rain water harvesting since, as he had said, he is concerned about the issue.

Well, so where is your concern and support when the state needs it the most? You are literally worshipped by the people of India (including Maharashtra). So, when they are facing such enormous crisis, the least you could do is offer some verbal support. But leave alone that, Sachin has not even tweeted about the issue.

On the other hand, he has all the time in the world to wish Geeta Basra (Harbhajan Singh’s then girlfriend and now wife) on Twitter for her B-grade film, Second Hand Husband.

If you are in favour of IPL being played in the three venues across Maharashtra, it automatically means you are against humanity.

5Mar/160

Before hailing Kanhaiya as a ‘National Hero’, please look deeper

By: Keyur Seta

Despite suffering terrible loses in the Delhi and Bihar Elections, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) doesn’t seem to have learnt any lessons. Their latest mistake occured in the ongoing Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) saga. By labeling charges of sedition on the students, including the JNU students’ union leader Kanhaiya Kumar, they have highlighted their desperation.

Kanhaiya-speechIn my opinion, it is blasphemous to support terrorists like Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat, which the JNU students did, as is evident from the posters of their ‘event’. But charges of sedition are applicable only when a person incites a mob to indulge in violence. Exactly due to this, the Delhi Police recently faced embarrassment from the Delhi High Court when the bench asked, “Do you even know the meaning of sedition?” (Read more about the meaning of sedition HERE.)

But what has hurt the government the most its own action of doctoring videos of JNU students’ protest, which quite a few news channels played without checking its authenticity. A senior member of a news channel also resigned after knowing about the tampering of videos, which his channel played. (Know more about the videos HERE). This clearly amounts to villainous tactics to defeat someone. In simple terms, it’s disgraceful.

However, this has given rise to a confusing situation in India. Kanhaiya is been hailed as the true hero of the nation after getting bailed. In opposing BJP and the Right Wing’s actions, people are even hailing Kanhaiya as the only savior of India, just on the basis of a speech.

Democracy allows us to support or oppose anyone. Personally, I am impressed to see someone fearlessly opposing and challenging the negative tactics of the Right Wing. But it is also advisable to look deeper and not get carried away by someone’s oratory skills. In today’s day and age, when we have been fooled often by those heroic speeches, the least we should do is delve deeper and look beyond those fiery words and punch-lines.

The following is my personal opinion on Kanhaiya’s speech:-

- Kanhaiya did raise important issues. But that doesn’t change the fact that he and his fellow students supported Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat. In fact, if you try remembering, this entire saga started off when the JNU students union decided to hold an event in support of Afzal and Maqbool in, what they called, a ‘cultural’ program. It’s clearly mentioned in the posters. Seriously, how justifiable it is to support people sympathetic towards convicted terrorists?

JNU-posters- Kanhaiya and his supporters are clearly advocating leftist propaganda. This is evident from slogans like “Lal Salaam” and “Red Salute”, which they shout during every interaction. For the uninitiated, Leftist ideology can also be dangerous. So, if you are against the Right Wing but ready to support someone advocating Leftist ideology, you need to do some serious research. Plus, in India the Left has gone through a downfall. They hardly have any ground left currently.

- For your information, Kanhaiya is the leader of the All India Students’ Federation (AISF), which is the students’ wing of the Communist Party of India (CPI).

- Lastly, it clearly seemed that Kanhaiya was putting on a show, just like numerous other politicians. The points he raised, his manner of making fun of his opponents, his peculiar tone and gestures clearly made him look like a wannabe politician. It didn’t appear spontaneous even a bit. For the uninitiated, he has already been approached to campaign for the CPI in the upcoming elections this year.

The intention behind this post is not to force anyone to change his or her opinion. It is just an advice to know the whole picture before hailing someone as a National Hero, which is a very precious title.

 

WATCH the entire Kanhaiya Azadi speech:

16Feb/161

MAIN SAMAY HOON…. (Based on the mindless JNU battle)

By: Keyur Seta

Hardly before have I ever felt such horror watching a news clip. The anti-India, pro-Afzal Guru (the man who attacked India’s temple of democracy – Parliament) and pro-Azad Kashmir slogans by a group of students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JUNU) have sent shockwaves throughout the nation. On top of this, ABVP, the group opposing JNU students, has made it worse, as has been their history.

Picture: DNA

Picture: DNA

And today, it has become even crazier after students from Kolkata’s Jadavpur University too have joined in to support Afzal Guru. The fact that we are required to condemn something so obvious speaks volumes about the number of brainwashed people in our country currently. In fact, I am not getting proper words to condemn these incidents.

So, as an observer, I could only think of the ‘Main Samay Hoon’ feature in B R Chopra’s classic TV series, Mahabharat. How would it react to today’s insane situation?

This is how…

 

Main Samay Hoon…

Mera astitva jeevankaal ke prarambh se hai aur aanewale pratyek kaal mein rahega. Main KURUKSHETRA ki ladaai ka saakshi raha hoon, aur aaj, Kurukshetra se thodi hi doori par, ek VICHITRA prakaar ka yuddh bhi apni aankhon se dekh raha hoon.

Lekin Kurukshetra ke yuddh ne bhi mujhe itna AASHCHARYA-CHAKIT nahin kiya jitna is vichitra yuddh ne kiya hai. Woh yuddh PANDAVO aur KAURAVO ke beech tha, DHARM aur ADHARM ke beech tha. Parantu yahan toh dono taraf kewal Kaurav aur Adharm hi nazar aa rahe hain.

Yahan prashna yeh nahin uth ta ki jeet kiski hogi. Aise yuddh ke prarambh se pehle hi dono dal PARAJIT ho jaate hain.

Aur DHARM ki anupasthiti ke kaaran, Shree KRISHNA ke aagman ke bhi koi aasaar nahin...

2Feb/162

Kanyadan: Why donate your daughter?

By: Keyur Seta

In a conservative society like ours, questioning rituals has always been a strict no-no, leave alone speaking against them. Like some of us, I too found some rituals quite weird, especially the ones related to Hindu marriages. But I never used to speak against them or question them, until recent years.

One such ritual is Kanyadan, wherein the bride is presented to the groom by the girl’s parents. There are mainly three reasons why I find this practice quite weird as well as insulting to the girl.

Vedic-style-marriage

The learned priest

There are as follows:-

- The bride is not a commodity or a non-living thing to be ‘presented’ to the groom.

- She is supposed to marry, and subsequently stay with her husband, out of her own will and not because she is being ‘presented’ to someone.

- Most importantly, the meaning of dan is ‘donate’. Donations are done as acts of charities. How can you ‘donate’ a human being to someone through an act of charity?

- You do charity to the poor and needy. Is this how you describe a groom? Poor and needy?

 

Recently, my views on this issue were reinforced by a learned person.

I never show interest in attending those lethargic marriage rituals for two reasons 1) I find them boring and 2) The patriarchal angle. But I was keenly interested in attending the wedding rituals of my cousin Hardik Naik simply because they were supposed to be carried out in Arya Samaj by the aforementioned priest through Vedic practice.

And the priest’s method of performing rituals more than lived up to my expectations and eagerness. Being from the Arya Samaj tradition, the pandit ji was against patriarchal beliefs and rituals, which was truly heartening. He was especially against the practice of Kanyadan for more or less the same reasons mentioned before.

He was also not those typical marriage priests who simply recite mantras, make the couple perform rituals and leave. He believed in explaining his stand and views.

Vedic-marriageSome of his statements, while performing the marriage, are as follows:-

- “The girl is not a thing to be presented to someone.”

- “If I donate (dan) this glass to someone, I won’t have any right over it. So, do the parents of the girl lose all rights over her after marriage?”

- “In India, women are considered backward as compared to men. But this was never the case during vedic age.”

- He asked the bride and the groom to welcome each other as wife and husband; something I have never heard before.

But despite my clear views on this issue, I used to avoid speaking on it. However, after listening to this practical and sensible person, I won’t.

There is nothing wrong in being traditional, but not at the expense of embracing patriarchy and objectifying women.

28Jan/164

Shani Shingnapur Row: Why India needs your support ASAP to fight against sexist bigots?

By: Keyur Seta

The Republic Day marks the celebration of the Constitution of India. The Constitution grants equal rights to each and every citizen of the country. Ironically, on the very day, when the country was celebrating its constitutional rights, a group of women were not only meted out unconstitutional treatment but were also treated like criminals, when all they wanted was to enter a temple.

Women weren’t allowed anywhere inside the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra until 2011 when a number of rationalists like the Late Narendra Dabholkar made valiant efforts and protests. However, they still haven’t been granted access to the core shrine till today. Only men are allowed to enter the shrine and as women are considered ‘impure’.

Circa January 2016. A group of few hundred women, led by Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, decide to challenge regressive sexist practices by trying to enter the inner sanctorum. What happened was utterly shameful. They were forcefully stopped and, at times, beaten by the police. A large group of women from a so-called Hindu organizations also turned up to stop them. The protestors were not even allowed anywhere near the vicinity of the temple. In fact, they were stopped 70 kilometers away!

Picture: Indianexpress.com

Picture: Indianexpress.com

The behavior of fringe elements is expected because this is what they are actually. But one doesn't expect our authorities to be on the side of those indulging in unconstitutional and unlawful activities. Mind you, there is no law that prohibits women or any human being from entering any place of worship.

Therefore, although it was quite heartening to see Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis visiting the site, it was disappointing that he only gave assurances and didn’t do anything to open the gates for women. As mentioned above, no law supports this practice. So, where is the issue? Why didn’t he use the police force in protecting the women from the misogynistic bigots who aren’t letting them enter?

But thankfully, these women haven’t given up, which has ensured that the movement is spreading slowly but steadily. Now, groups of women have also started protesting outside Sabarimala Temple and Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah. For those who aren’t aware, women aren’t allowed inside the inner sanctorums at these two places too.

The fact that women have united across religious lines is a strong message to the thekedars of religion. These evil forces should be told that no religious book has ever spoken about stopping women from entering any place of worship and that no God has appointed them as thekedars of any religion. But in case such theories are found in some ‘religious’ books, they should still be discarded. India follows the Constitution, not any regressive ‘religious’ book.

But for the movement to succeed, it is absolutely vital for people across gender, religious and class lines to extend support. This has to become something as big as the 2011 Anna Hazare Movement. However, practically speaking, for a majority of us, including me, it is next to impossible to physically be present at the sites of protest due to our work commitments.

But this is where the power of blogging and social media comes into place. In today’s day and age, governments and authorities have become aware about the voices on the internet. Message them, tag them, email them and use various other options on the internet, but make sure you put across your message. Use the hashtag #RightToPray

The issue is not just limited to these few places of worship. It’s a fight against patriarchy and sexism in the name of religion, which have ruled our society for thousands of years. This is a major opportunity to kick such ideas and kick them hard. Don’t let the movement go wasted. It’s 2016, for God’s sake!

 

26Jan/165

Shaktidaai Drishya (Poem based on Airlift’s flag scene)

The flag scene in director Raja Krishna Menon and actor Akshay Kumar's Airlift is having a profoundly heartwarming effect on the audience. It is a non-verbal sequence that speaks more than a thousand years. Here is a poem based on the scene on the occasion of India's Republic Day.

 

Shaktidaai Drishya (title)

By: Keyur Seta

 

Picture: Still from YouTube

Picture: Still from YouTube

Ummeed na thi manzil paane ki,
Na thi taakat kadam badhane ki,
Namumkin tha shikhar tak pohochna,
Ab toh naseeb ko hi tha kosna,

Khada tha main thaka hua,
Baadhaaon ke saamne hara hua,
Aanthon dishaon se jhele vaar,
Ab tha kewal ant ka intezar,

Par hawa ne ekaek rukh badla,
Shakti ka swar hriday se nikla,
Durbalta ke baadal hue adrishya,
Aisa tha woh shaktidaai drishya,

Kadmo mein nayi jaan aai thi,
Ab toh manzil door nahin thi,
Veerta ki hai woh behti Ganga,
Saadhaaran nahin apna tiranga

28Dec/150

This bus conductor makes his passengers feel great like they never could have imagined!

Sopan-JavaneIn India, the word ‘job’ is generally referred to as ‘service’. But practically speaking, there is a vast difference between the two. Doing a job means carrying the work assigned to you. It doesn’t necessarily include any emotions.

But when we say a person is engaged in a service, it means he is serving someone. The act of serving is born out of compassion and isn’t limited to the material benefit one derives after its completion.

A one bus conductor named Sopan Bhagwan Javane in Mirajgaon, Maharashtra has taken the meaning of ‘serving’ to another level altogether, all by himself.

Working on an MSRTC bus, he takes care of his passengers in a way they could have never imagined from a bus conductor. He indirectly also cheers them up and provides a profound heartwarming feeling. Javane, in all sense, is an unsung hero of India.

Watch him and his special antics in the documentary below titled Ekla Chalo Re, conceived, written and directed by Swapnil Rajshekhar:-