Sunday, May 29, 2011

Man! I feel like a Woman!

The remarkable triumphant win of Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha at the recent State Elections in Kolkata and Tamilnadu respectively, reminds me of the song – Miss Independent - sung by my favourite hip-hop singer Ne-Yo. Women indeed are celebrating “Being Independent”...going all out without any inhibitions or setting any conditions to explore the unexpected.

Undeniably, we are living in a patriarchal society. Be it an organisation, system, government, institution, or filmdom, the decision makers are indeed the menfolk. Well, the very fact that the Chief Ministers office in Kolkata didn’t have a ladies toilet for 34 long years is proof to this testimony. So, isn’t it a goosebumps moment to see our womenfolk make it to the helm under the influence of their own intelligence, capability and mass appeal...and not mere quotas or sifarish.

Recently the Maharashtra Assembly unanimously approved 50% quota for women in local bodies and also promised reservation for women in elections to panchayat samitis, zilla parishads, municipal councils and municipal corporations in the State. My question is, do women really need a quota in the first place? And, is it right to empower women through quotas?

I have never supported quotas for women and even more in this age looking at the way our Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dixit, Sushma Swaraj, Mamata Banerjee (Didi), Jayalalita (Amma) to name a few, have grabbed the top positions lock-stock-and-barrel based on merit and mass appeal. And then with Indra Nooyi (Indian born American) who is a topping on the cake with her role as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Incorporation...what else could any woman ask for. And yah, mind you, these are no exceptions or accidents. They in fact, represent real grounded women who can turn things around with sheer will power and focus towards the betterment of society and markets.

But this is certainly debatable. When I thrashed the very need of quotas for women in politics, many beg to differ saying that women indeed need quotas because there are many a Pushpa’s, Ramkali’s, Anandi’s living in interior villages who lead miserable lives oblivious to these ladies. But then, why should we have incompetent women onboard to handle tough jobs that she is not capable of...just because she is a woman. She would eventually not only lose her job because of underperformance but would undermine the ability of other capable women in society and in the neighbourhood.

Undeniably, women have different social needs than men and it is this area that our systems and institutions need to cater to a little differently. A woman serving in the army can be trained to fight for the nation with the same intensity and passion...but her physiological needs and care is different for which, additional privileges need to be provided to her. In the same breath, if we say that women are physically weak and that makes her incompetent to be a combat soldier, we need to justify why women have not made it to the top in corporations and institutions in which mental strength and aptitude is all that is required. Why that disparity then?

Is it the fear that women need to be committed to a family, need to take care of kids and is someone who will go on maternity leave and paralyse business if given top responsibilities. But aren’t these a passing phase? Shouldn’t we support women at such times by providing her with flexible working hours? Why stereotype women as a homemaker 24x7, 365 days a year huh! Surely this mindset needs to be changed.

Ultimately, it is not a question of man or woman. It is a question of merit. In the end, gender should not be looked at how good a person is and what she /he can do.

We need to equip our girls with the sharp sword of education by making it easier and fees-free for her to enrol. Nevertheless, even women who have missed out on the opportunity to study as kids can be trained on the job to become independent. We need to stop keeping our girls ignorant, insecure, hungry, and being treated as an unwanted child at birth. This surely will make a big difference!

And yah...why should boys have all the fun huh!

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hey Listen…Osama, not Obama is dead!

The hullabaloo of events that gripped the world the day after Labor Day, the 2nd May 2011, will be written in history books forever. Well this is the day when Mr. Poker face - Barack Hussein Obama - made his milestone speech informing the people of his country and to the world that “Operation Osama” conducted in hush-hush by the United States has successfully killed the man behind the devastating 9/11 attacks in America.

It was only a few days ago when Obama released his birth certificate in the public domain to silence detractors, specifically the Republicans about their allegations upon him of being a foreigner. That was really a silly thing to do...isn't it? Well today, the same cynics who were suspicious about Obama’s birth place doubt Osama’s death, and now are desperately seeking the death certificate of the fugitive. Just imagine leaving decision making to people who are more worried about the birth and death place of the other? Heaven knows what would happen. Phew!

The social media, Twitter, broke the news to the world before any other media channel…calling for a revolution in breaking news in real time. Minute by minute tweet updates were made by a civilian sitting in Abbottabad about 2km away from the mansion in which Osama Bin Laden was killed. While the whole world is talking about the mysterious hideout mansion in Abbottabad (50 kms -31 mi- northeast of Islamabad), I am still struggling getting my pronunciation right….Abort—taa—baad right? It surely is a tongue twister. As the name suggest, the place certainly aborted the most (un)wanted man in the world…but the sad part is that his followers – the Al Qaeda men - still remain at large.

US voluntarily took ownership of the attack and denied any involvement or assistance from Pakistan’s military or Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agencies in this evasion. Moreover, even Pakistan categorically denied any prior knowledge of US raid. Well, even when these clarifications are made, I fail to understand why sections of media and few officials are extensively analyzing Pakistan’s involvement, and are going head-over-heels to prove Pakistan’s aid to US in these attacks.

Nevertheless, even if Pakistan aided US in operation Osama, so let it be. If Pakistan do not want to admit or speak about it, so let it be. Sometimes, there are things better left unspoken! Rather, the world should be more curious to know why Pakistan is fostering terrorists on their land. What is the kind of support system that Pakistan has given Osama Bin Laden and his men for so many years? Why is Pakistan ISI and military covertly patronizing terrorist outfits?

I don't really think this is the time to spend our resources and energy towards unproductive analysis. In fact, we need to strike while the iron is hot by tying up with US forces to strike at the LeT group which is also breeding on Pakistan soil. This is also the right time to paralyze the already injured Al Qaeda network. In the same breath, we should also urgently withdraw nuclear capability accessible on Pakistan soil…because nuclear prowess can be completely misused by the terrorist groups already proliferating in Pakistan.

It is certainly true when Pakistan reiterates stating that they too are victims of terrorism. But sadly, innocent people of this country are the ones who have become victims of terrorism and not the governing authorities or the military or the ISI who in fact are cultivating these ghastly terrorist acts on Pakistan soil and the world. The world needs answers to these questions….Why?

Of late, immature statements by a supposedly renowned writer are flying around about, “why Pakistan should be declared a terrorist country”. Surely, some people have lost their minds. Where would innocent people of this country go if Pakistan is declared a terrorist country? Even more, the aftershocks of doing such a drastic thing will affect progressive and successful countries in the neighborhood, like India. The US is surely doing a good job eradicating perpetrators terrorizing Pakistan and the world. But we must remember that the US will do their job and leave the state immediately. The backlash of such attacks will have a direct impetus on neighboring countries which will have to pay the price of it all in return.

Sanitization of Pakistan is indeed the first step towards stabilization. We all know that Pakistan cannot fight terrorism single-handedly. It needs cooperation of the world to liberate itself from this evil spirit that has engulfed their democracy. Revamping the ISI, military and the governing authorities is what needs to be done first to detoxify the system.

Well, US got justice by killing the mastermind behind 9/11 attacks on US soil. Like the US, even India hasn’t forgotten the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai which took away innocent lives. But can India do what US did is the big question? I believe the war on terrorism can be fought with co-operation from the world and it is next to impossible to fight this war single-handedly. What do you think?

Post script
Although I reviewed my write several times to avoid slip-up’s between the two similar sounding names – OSama and OBama- I apologise for bloopers if any. Please note that the good guy in my story is Obama and the bad one is Osama.

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