Saturday, August 31, 2013

To strike or not to strike #Syria

The dilemma whether to go ahead with strikes in troubled Syria or not to go is the crucial decision that world leaders are scrutinizing today. Another middle-eastern country faces the brunt of cruel and mean dictatorship. This time it is Syria. And this time the man behind the turmoil is Bashar al-Assad.

The happenings in Syria reverberates similar massacres of innocent civilians in despotic regimes in Iraq, Libya and Egypt. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Although it is not yet proved neither reported by media due to difficulty in getting inside Syria, videos circulating around the world evidence how infants, kids and adults are frothing at mouth and suffocating from the use of chemical weapons. Do we believe these videos and conclude the actual usage of chemical weapons by the Assad’s regime or do we wait for UN inspectors to release lab results of soil samples collected on site?

It's almost 2 years, 5 months, 2 weeks and 2 days since the uprising in Syria and this war like situation seems to only be getting worse today. UN has estimated the death of 100,000 civilians during this period. How many more innocent lives can the world afford to lose at the cost of the hands of the inhumane and cruel man who seems to want to control the region no matter what? We can’t wait for Assad to take lives of all Syrians, can we? No we can’t. So what do we do?

To stop the brutal killings of more innocent civilians, the President of the United States proposed “limited and narrow” strikes on Syria. The President says no-boots will go on the ground. The United Kingdom Parliament has voted against military strikes in Syria. Russia and Iran have promised to work together to stop strikes in Syria. While the man responsible for this chaos, Assad, says his army’s finger is on the trigger.

How can military strikes be an answer to the chaos in Syria is what I want to ask Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. How can military strikes in the region stop brutal killings? Strikes will only increase chaos and lead to killings of more civilians. And how do we define “limited” and “narrow” strikes. Does limited mean “fewer” air strikes for a short period of time. Does narrow mean only “part of the region” will face strikes? These terminologies show lack of clarity in the strategy to tackle the situation.  Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to take lives of innocent men, women, and kids. Besides, so many of our military men continue to get martyred in these regions. How many wars can this world uphold? Can we begin to say “No” to wars or war-like situations and say “Yes” to all possible methods that bring peace across the world? 

No doubt after over 2 years of painful civil war in Syria, it’s a tough decision to make on the conflict. There are no many options to respond to the situation. But a decision needs to be made. A decision that will guarantee justice to Syrians and peace in the region is long overdue. We need to do something of this complex situation. But certainly strikes have never been and will never be an answer to this complicated situation. 

A few hours ago today, the President of the United States made a speech from the White House about his decision for military strikes in Syria, but at the same time he said he will wait for Congressional approval on his decision. This is what true leadership is about. This is exactly what people were waiting for him to say. Kudos to the president’s decision to seek authorization from members of the congress. This only reinforces his trust of having a unanimous decision. Syria is a complex situation and a solution on it needs many minds put together. 

In the midst of this, sections of media is simply over-reacting by spending hours discussing about President Obama’s credibility and reputation if he doesn’t react to Syria with strikes. How can a decision on strikes or no-strikes boost or damage the credibility of a leader. This is not only a complex and deadly situation but a sensitive one too. Syria is not about anyone’s credibility but about innocent civilians who need to be saved from this despotic regime.

God Bless Syria and her people. Peace be with you soon.

Post script:
Just wondering what a mess we have made of our world. There just seems to be no humanity left. No peace. Is it still possible to use Mahatma Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King Jr.’s method of non-violence to bring peace and justice in the world again?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My head goes down in shame

I love my city Mumbai, the city where I was born and raised up. The city lives in my heart no matter where I’m in the world. The cosmopolitan culture in Mumbai has molded the way I look at things. The city has thought me to have an opinion on everything I see and feel, but at the same time to respect everyone else’s opinion. Mumbai welcomes everyone with open arms. It doesn’t take too long for a stranger to become a Mumbaikar in this city. The city grows on you. Despite the crowds, noise, potholes, traffic jams, and petty politics, I still love my city.

Having said all that, the recent gang-rape incident in the maximum city has swept the floor beneath my feet. Every metropolis faces problems of urbanization. With urbanization comes crowdedness, migration, pollution, concretization, traffic jams, and lack of greenery. Mumbaikars have learnt to live with the side effects of being a metropolis and has welcomed every migrant with open arms to live her dream. But Mumbai will never tolerate humiliating the dignity of women. Thousands of people have come out on the streets today demanding justice for the 23-year old photojournalist who was brutally gang-raped in Mumbai. What a shame!

Women today have careers that demands late night work. Incidents like the recent gang-rape force women to think before taking on late night assignments. Why should she be controlled by fear in pursuing her dream? Why should she lose out on challenging assignments because of a few sex-hungry men in the city? Rather shouldn’t the administration make the city safe for women? Mumbai has always been known to be a safe city for women…so what went wrong? Why are incidents like these increasingly happening?

Women don't need reservations in the parliament house, in local buses and trains. All she is asking for is freedom to move around safely in the city at anytime of the day. Every person knows what is right and what is wrong. The rapist committing the act knows what he is doing is a crime, but he still does what he wants to. Why? Because he is not scared of the law. It is high time we create fear in the mind of perverts and desperados around us. The perpetrators should tremble even before thinking of committing such heinous crimes. The nation needs a potent law. Above all we need to fast track courts and make sure perpetrators are punished quickly. Justice delayed is justice denied.

As soon as the incident occurred and with pressure from people protesting on the streets, the chief of the state administration decides to give special protection to journalists. He decides to deploy police protection to all journalists visiting unsafe areas that their job demands. Is that the solution? How are journalists different from women like you and me? Don’t other women go to isolated areas and travel late at night? Abrupt decisions like these only prove how incompetent the administration is. Women never asked for special treatment. She doesn’t want a bodyguard following her wherever she goes. All she wants you to do is guarantee all women a safe city.

I know writing and expressing myself in my blog will not solve the problem. But as a woman what else can I do. How do I tell my administration that they need to do something about this growing problem, before Mumbai becomes a den of such unafraid perverts who will continue to satisfy their cheap pleasures on the streets of the city.

Rape is not crime that happens only in Delhi, Mumbai or for that matter in India. Rape is a global issue. I live in the United States today, but I’m still afraid to travel late at night. As a newcomer, friends, colleagues and well-wishers tell me to pay attention to my surroundings and personal safety at all times. They tell me not to travel at night and if I go on an assignment, I inform someone in advance where I’m going. As a woman, why do I have to always be extra-careful at all times?

The bottom line is, it’s not really safe for women anywhere in the world. I have a dream that one day I’ll not have to look at the time on my watch before I step out of my house #IHaveADream.