Sunday, September 11, 2011

Learning From Anna Hazare

From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, India’s divine land has bore many sages. The transcendental teachings of these esoteric and learned saints and monks have enlightened us in different garbs. As miracle workers, some of these orange clad holy beings have been wandering high in the Himalayas, while some have been literary genius residing in the plains and sharing their spiritual knowledge through their profound speeches or writings. Few others have sustained the sanctity of society through their ideals of social service. 

In the diversity of their philanthropic mission, these sages have glorified humanity with love, selfless service, and contentment. The moral teachings of these saints are paragons that have helped us to upkeep our personal and social values and have sometimes even encouraged us to the path of self-realization. It would be iniquitous to deny that some of these ascetic qualities seem to be present in Anna Hazare who has created an enigma of social change throughout India. Anna’s values of simple living and high thinking have not only resurrected Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent philosophy. But have also awakened a nation to the savagery and malice of man against man in the form of dishonesty, bribery, and exploitation of the weak and vulnerable. 

Anna’s beliefs that ‘manav seva is madhav seva’ (service to man is service to God) imbibe similar principles as propounded by our ancient scriptures and swamis. Anna says that life is an illusion, which we often spend in self-indulgence. He believes that instead of internalizing the simple pleasures of life, we externalize them through obsession with material gains and selfish interests. Anna’s emphasis on moral values has indeed brought forth the essence of collective responsibility to social justice and has encouraged many to evolve out of caste bound prejudices. Inspired by Swami Vivekananda, Anna encourages everyone to have purity in thoughts and actions. He asserts that the more we have the capacity to bear other’s scorn, the better individuals we become by transforming our egoistic visage and molding it to serve the mankind. 

Anna’s social movement imbues a monumental mission. It has kindled the need for change not just in polices and procedures, but has instilled the thought that ‘ask not what we can take from others, but what we can give to others.’ Such cognizance comes with self-introspection and with a conscious effort of limiting ourselves from an overwhelming desire for more, be it in terms of money, power, or earning privileges of life at the cost of oppressing the needy. Anna’s crusade for social change has certainly swayed the nation by his impulse for ‘parivartan,’ which he believes is initiated by altruistic actions to liberate ourselves from bigotry and injustice. With austere means of subsistence and abstinence from physical desires, Anna in many ways has truly lived up to the quote of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” 

Copyright © 2011 - Present dharbarkha.blogspot
Photo Courtesy:  Manish Swarup/AP

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Changing Face Of Parenthood

A Guest Post by Cyber Nag

Parenting has been getting tougher with the passing generations. When we were kids, large joint families were still the norm and the children grew up with several siblings and cousins and uncles and aunts galore. While some sets of parents were stricter with their children when it came to disciplining, the general rules were set and everyone was expected to follow them. Going by the way my generation has turned out, I think our parents did a good job, don’t you think?

In small towns and villages, children roamed free and sometimes even ate in the house they were playing in at the time of a particular meal! Children were also allowed to mix freely with the neighborhood. This still happens in such places where people know and feel comfortable with each other. The only difference today is that the mother of the family where your child might be, would call and inform you that your son or daughter would be having lunch at her place! Contrast this with the formality involved wherein we have to get an appointment even to call someone on the phone, lest we ‘disturb’ them!

Though not so relaxed as my parents’ generation, mine too took the bringing up of kids in its stride. We took care to involve them in special activities, introduced them to the joys of reading and planned outings and trips with the aim of giving them the exposure the changing times demanded. The large joint family had given way to the ‘nuclear’ joint family, with our kids growing up with their grandparents and making yearly visits to their uncles and aunts.’

I was happy if my kids had eaten at their friends' house (usually better than what they might have eaten at home) and would gladly return the favour for the neighbour who had fed them! During my visits to my parents in the village when my older son was a toddler, I would often not see him from the time he had his bath and breakfast in the morning till late in the evening – all grimy and dusty from playing under the trees and in sundry houses of his ‘friends’ and admirers! Needless to say he would not have missed a single meal or the mandatory glass of milk in the evening!

By contrast, today’s parents have a tough job raising kids. Often coming from small families themselves, with just another sibling or even being a single child, they don’t have much opportunity to see small children at close quarters or participate in activities of raising a child. Nuclear families are the norm now, with grandparents having become part-time ones -- either they visit their children and get to spend some time with their grandchild (yes, most are single-child families now!), or have them visit for short periods.

Parents today have to contend with dangers that were unheard of in the olden days, or that had at least not assumed such horrific proportions. When I used to travel by train with my young boys, I would happily allow them to play with a friendly co-passenger; did not worry too much if I couldn’t pack food for the entire journey, relying on the train food to fill the gaps; ignored the racket when they tore around the compartment with a bunch of other kids. Though the cold virus was always a danger, one was not so worried about the likes of swine flu and such, that make parents think twice and thrice about exposing their children to sundry co-passengers.

When we were recently travelling in the interiors of Tamil Nadu during a pilgrimage, a group of girls oohed and aahed over my little granddaughter and one of them patted her cheek. Had it been a quarter century ago, I would have felt thrilled that my child had brought joy to someone, but that day we were all agitated. What if the girl was carrying a virus or two? What if her hands had been dirty? You understand what I mean, don’t you?

We hear so many horror stories of molesters that we have to be wary of everyone we meet. Deviant behaviour is rampant and one has to be constantly vigilant about safeguarding the children from any such person. So naturally we look at everyone with suspicion and teach the kids to be wary of strangers who even smile at them, chuck their chins or try to touch them. It makes it very stressful for the parents. One of my friends used to go to the bus stop at the end of the road to drop and pick her daughter up till she was almost a teenager for fear of eve-teasers and deviants lurking about. Then the schooling itself. It used to be a relaxed five years before one went to school in my time and three and half years in the time of my children. Today ‘play schools’ and Montessori’s have advanced it to an unbelievable 18 months of daily sessions. Children are given ‘tests’ before being admitted even to play school, when they are asked their names, alphabets, colours and rhymes and God knows what else! Though the better known schools have supposedly dispensed with such tests, the rest still follow them.

Present generation children are so much smarter and sharper than their predecessors that they require the parents to be on their toes just to answer their questions! I have seen my son and daughter-in-law take care even to regulate their activities including TV viewing so that their child is not affected by it. And most of the young parents today give a lot of thought to what their kids are watching and reading and even observing! I don’t remember being so vigilant when my boys were younger! :)

In short, what used to be just a routine thing for my parents’ generation, became a little more involved with mine, but has become a lot more complicated today. All things considered, I would say that this generation has risen to the challenge admirably. I think it is unfair to compare it with my or even older generation of parents and find it wanting, for this generation has more things to contend with than the older ones ever did!

Copyright © 2011 - Present
Photo Courtesy:

About The Author:

Zephyr, as she is fondly called by all her fans and followers is a prolific writer. She is blogger from Her creative and imaginative posts are nothing less than a stimulating pot of hot curry. She believes that nagging can be an art, if done inventively. Through her innumerable and interesting posts on diverse issues, Zephyr takes an avant-garde approach to blogging. Her mission though is to enrich the cyber space with a tinge of this and that about everyday issues. Not to be missed is her L&M and the Brats series, which will find echo in every reader's heart.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Slimy Death

A Guest Post by Farida Rizwan

Who in this mortal world can be so clever?
As to escape death and live forever.
Whoever at a time had a chance of life’s greeting,
Sure with death will have an appointed meeting.

 Nothing can escape death, be it however strong. 
Everything has an end, though some may live very long. 
The sun, moon, stars and all the milky way, 
Will have to face death, on a certain day

 Merciless death! Who all have turned into corpse? 
Once livid things, how sad they now sleep like tops. 
A painter who could depict his mind on canvas, 
A man with a voice that could sway the mass.

 A killer who for money had taken many lives, 
And the one who must have widowed his many wives, 
A being with a heart of gold or the one with temper wild, 
A mother who was yet to feed her newborn child.

 A soldier fighting out bravely in midst of a battle, 
An innocent child was enjoying his rattle, 
The one who had no fun but lived in strife, 
Along with the one who cared a lot for unfaithful life.

 The person worth a lot for his knowledge was great 
Death never cares when it is out of straight 
It shows no discrimination to any living man 
For each it has fixed a certain life span

 Carelessly it plucks from kids their mothers 
Death is a must for even those who spent their lives for others 
The wailing mother can earn no pity from death 
Nor a thousand tears can earn a single breath 

Death does not stand admiring a soldier brave 
It just goes about on its job of filling the grave 
Death is not bought or sold at any store 
It may just strike from blue or from earth’s core

 It may strike one who has trodden enough on the earth 
Or one who is just enjoying his birth 
The poor cannot sell it, the rich cannot buy it 
The weak cannot hide from it, the strong cannot tie it

 The shadow of death lurks here, there and everywhere 
It can be found hiding just about anywhere 
When it holds life with its steely grip 
Life has no chance, but to start its final trip

 When will come the dark angel, my hand to hold? 
Just the thought makes my blood run cold 
To strike the paper with pen as my hand bends 
Death must be leading how many towards their ends?????
BY: Farida Rizwan

Copyright © 2011 - Present

About The Author: 

Farida Rizwan is an inimitable and an inspiring blogger from She believes that every piece of her life has been like a chapter that has always left her with an inevitable lesson. A striking yet touching chapter of her life surrounds around her strength to survive stage 3 Cancer. Farida believes that the disease left an indelible mark on her personality besides providing her the power to reinvent her life in many ways. Farida today yearns to be a self-actualized individual. She believes that sometimes god chooses the direction for us and we just need to believe in his chosen route for us.          

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Silent Treatment: The Hidden Abuse

A Guest Post by Life Riddles

If you are in a relationship of any kind, at one point or another you are going to encounter it!
It is not: Time Out, Giving some space, lay off, Cooling off or any other fancy description, It is a form of abuse called: The Silent Treatment,

Do not let the name fools you though; this is one serious relationship breaker that keeps bugging you or your partner until one of you cannot take it anymore and call it quits. It is a form of social rejection that affects couples everywhere and everyday, at its worst; it is Continual Silent Treatment, where the person gives a partner utter silence for days or weeks on end, and some will make the effort to avoid being in the same room!

The causes
Every relationship is composed of Passive and Aggressive partners with a variation in the degree of aggression. Which in turn reflects in the way each of them uses the silent treatment:
  • The passive partner uses silent treatment as a form of defense: Ignoring the problem will make it go away, or as a reaction to a hurtful situation which demands some space to think things over.
  • On the other hand; the aggressive partner uses silent treatment as a measure of control, or as a punishment for something his or her partner did. Now we are talking about Abuse

The effects:

  • Physical: Silent treatment triggers what is called “Social pain” in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex of your brain, the very same location of actual physical pain.
  • Emotional: Since it is a form of social rejection; it affects the caudate nucleus of your brain provoking a mix of negative emotions including: Frustration, intense anger, and eventually, resignation and despair.
  • Psychological: You will suffer from low self esteem, a sense of loss and not belonging, increased stress and loss of control.
  • Behavioral: The constant fear of receiving the silent treatment casts a shadow of uncertainty in your life, you begin to watch closely for every word and action on your part and you second-guess yourself: Am I doing the right thing? Am I saying the right words? In other words: You try hard to avoid it, which changes you onto a person that is no longer YOU.

How to deal with it:

Keep your anger in check:
Reacting to silent treatment in anger reinforces the abuser sense of control over you” Hey, it works! I’ll use it again” and the episodes keep on coming.

Apologize first, ask WHY later:
You cannot read minds so might as well start a conversation anyway; apologizing for something you did (or did not) is the softer approach in any conflict. And then ask why, you have the right to know if that person is giving you the cold shoulder for a reason. If your apology or question falls on deaf ears; do not blame yourself and start looking for a way out of that relationship.

Express your feelings:
Admitting to your partner your pain as a result from him/her giving you the silent treatment is not giving up control, it is simply putting the issue up front and center, it shows your intent on keeping that relationship going.

Have an open mind:
To what your partner has to say about his/her reasons that ended up with the silent treatment. Make sure you do not ridicule them no matter how trivial they sound; after all, we all have different personalities.

Do not fight silence with silence:
That would make things even worse, it leads to a complete breakup in communication, besides, one of you has to be the grownup!
And finally,

Explore the alternative:
Ending an unhealthy relation is far better than staying in it and ”biting the bullet”, life is too short to spend in hate, anger and daily turmoil.

Copyright © 2011 - Present Life Riddles
Photo Courtesy: Anonymous

About The Author: 

We are a husband and wife who love to blog about everyday’s life; we take turns being logical and emotional; though she is stronger on the emotional side by nature, we share the good times as well as the bad times and look forward to the challenges of a new day.
You could only imagine what would:  She Said and He Said as our pen names bring to the conversation,
Life is a big riddle; we all live it!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Barkha Dhar’s Blogs On Social Issues: A Happy 2nd Blogoversary

Since the 9th day of August 2009, the past 730 days have been moments of subtle reckoning that have blessed me with a profound opportunity to peruse the world around me. Sharing million thoughts and a heap of emotions in just few sentences indeed has been a commemoration of my being. In the last two years, my blog posts have compounded upon my ideas and opinions. They have pulled me out of the realm of silence and have consorted me into a sphere where I can not only be heard, but also hear others. Blogging has been a journey in time and space that has imbued me with a fresh intent in life. It has also acquainted me to some likeminded people whose beaming inklings have been worthy of adoration, praise, and love. In the past two years, my blog has touched countless hearts in return for a measureless beatitude. In addition, my fellow bloggers have recognized my efforts and have provided me with a stout support to rub on important social issues. The world of blogging has delved a call into a cause and I believe that it is never too late to transform the cause into an incentive for change.

In the time gone by, the sundry of comments from my fellow bloggers have touched me deeply and have fondled me with their virtual hugs. I shall always be indebted for the gratitude they have shown over time. My fellow bloggers, including my facebook friends, followers, and all others keen on social change have been like the beads of a necklace that would be unfinished if the pearls were lacking the beauty and coherence of being a jewel. Also, it is always a moment of pleasure to be felicitated with comments, such as “amazing,” “thought-provoking,” or “being someone’s favorite blog!” But at the same time there are moments filled up with pungent feelings when people acknowledge someone’s pain and wounds and denote it as “sad,” “depressing,” “tragic,” or simply share their ideas on change. My blog has been a leeway for a range of issues that boggle an ordinary Joe. Stepping into Joe’s shoes and watching the world through his eyes thus has expanded my ambit. Once again, I thank all my fellow bloggers, friends, and followers for their recurrent encouragement. Last, but not the least, I express my gratitude to my family who have shown their warmth and passionate affection throughout the inception of my blog. Finally, a thank you also to my critics whose microscopic vision and frozen notions have unrelentingly judged me. In fact I pity some of those cold-blooded nitpickers who have been deliberately trying to tinker with my posts. Here’s a kind suggestion to those ignorant petty minds to embed their thoughts and actions into positive and productive fields instead of foolish and disruptive means.
Enjoy the perky video in the post!

Keep Loving & Praying
Barkha Dhar

Copyright (c) 2011 - present Dharbarkha.blogspot
Video Courtesy:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Child Pornography: Sexploitation On The World Wide Web

In 2004, a UNICEF document mentioned an account of 17 children who were sexually exploited by three foreign nationals in Manila, Philippines. The document revealed that in addition to sexually abusing the innocent children, the accused foreign nationals also took a video footage of these children undressing in sexually suggestive poses. In yet another incident in 2009, the Bangkok Post published a chilling news feature mentioning the sale of child porn DVD’s & VCD’s on the streets of one of Bangkok’s busiest roads. These VCD’s that were sold out in the public like cupcakes and candies depicted children from countries like Burma, The Philippines, Thailand, and Europe in sexual acts. What remains morally lethal is the fact that these children were as young as seven and that their impeccability was bartered for obscenity and immorality in order to aid a sexually deviant behavior. With the advent and subsequent boost of the internet, child pornography today has become one of the fastest growing industries for commercial sexual exploitation. 

It is said that the World Wide Web has brought more zing to a pedophile’s sexual gratification and has added to a pimp’s plum, but contemptible business. Jerry Ropelato, a recognized Internet safety expert and the CEO of TopTen Reviews Incorporation says that every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. Also, every second about 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography and that every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being developed in the United States. Jerry further explains that pornography industry has larger revenues than IT giants, such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Apple, & Netflix. However, internet is not the only medium of such filthy entertainment though it is the most accessible means today.

In February of 2011, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) & the Department of Justice (DOJ) seized ten pornographic websites in San Diego, California. These websites were mainly engaged in advertisement and distribution of child pornography. As recent as 3rd of August, 2011, there has been bombarding news of criminal charges against 72 people involved in child pornography network. Out of these 72 accused people, 52 have been arrested in the U.S. and 13 other countries like Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, Kenya, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Qatar, Serbia, Sweden, and Switzerland. This dismaying news that disclosed about the accused members also charged them of having a global community of pedophiles who were devoted to unkempt means of child victimization and sexual abuse of children twelve and under, including some children who were just babies. 

Sexploitation of children is the most heinous crime ever that deprives children of their human rights and results in a long term psychological trauma. These children are abused and are subject to repeated rapes, severe beatings and sometimes even forced to drug addiction. Most child sexual abuse victims especially the ones lured into child prostitution or pornography undergo coerced behavioral transformations and are forced to overlook their actual identities. Some of the victims are also duped into juvenile delinquencies. In addition, most child sexual abuse victims show symptoms of mental and emotional health problems, such as nervousness or aggressive behavior towards adults, chronic depression, low self-esteem, or multiple personalities. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the most common consequence besides nightmares or flashbacks. Moreover, some child sexual abuse victims become perpetrators or prostitutes as adults and find it difficult to relate with others except on sexual terms. Community re-entry is also a huge problem in many child sexual abuse survivors as their past appears like a haunted dream that follows them for long. Some survivors are also prone to higher recidivism rates. 

Conscious parenting is a major deterrent to any kind of victimization or psychological damage during early childhood years, including pubescent and prepubescent periods. Being involved as much as possible with our child’s development early on is critical as it helps maintain positive parent-child communication. Restricting internet accessibility is yet another way to prevent unwanted exposure to sexually explicit material besides falling prey to the gambit of pedophiles on the worldwide web. Trust is one other major factor of sexploitation of children. Abusers may also be people among family or friends that appear trustworthy, but their familiarity and presence may actually be dangerous. Such people may catch young innocent children unaware and in absence of parent(s) and entrap little children into their obscene pleasure and uncouth desires. 

Poverty is another cause for child pornography and sexploitation. Many poor or economically deprived parents knowingly sell their children into such business to earn livelihood. Once lured into child pornography, prostitution is the next logical step for most child sexual abuse victims. When these children are caught by law enforcement institutions, they are mostly held and treated as criminals instead of victims. Child pornography is an international crime that has spread like a deadly virus across continents. The business of pornography is an organized crime divided into numerous unidentified rings. Stricter stipulations thus are required at national and international law enforcement levels. Despite international cooperation to combat child pornography, only miniscule victims are located each year by law enforcement agencies. Hacking someone’s emotions or stealing their innocent lives is a mortifying sin that should require a punishment that is more severe than just life imprisonment and/or a fine of few thousand dollars.

Copyright (c) 2011 - present Dharbarkha.blogspot
Video Courtesy:  ECPAT France

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It’s Tough To Be A Man

Historically, men have been known to act as muzzles that have prevented women’s liberation and empowerment from happening in full swing. Men have also been adduced as self-proclaimed czars who have taken away women’s privilege as their appanage. In doing so, men have often been read and remarked as mischievous, perverse, and wicked in their willful means. But not all men are same just as all women are different. Reading a man’s motives may sometimes appear tough while at other times his feelings may be as playful as a tot who sprouts in love. For many of us women, the men in our life have been our life’s axis and we have revolved around them in different garbs. They have been the charmers’ on a date night, or have been our lovers, partners, and confidants. They have also been our greatest pals who have taken a charade of impositions on themselves to save us from the grind. But at other times they have also been our grave abusers. In both ‘either/or’ situations of life, men have shown their zing triggered by their testosterone levels. As our loved ones with a midas touch, they have soaked away our troubles and pain in their steadfastness. At other times, however, they have left us stranded and harrowing for help on life’s empty shores. But most of the time they have been just men, adamant or ardent who love to pursue their true blue nature in anything they embrace with their masculine verve. Yes, they are men, a human species who are judged on their virility and gauged for the many roles they play in our lives as fathers, brothers, husbands, or sons.

Right at birth their social conditioning is different than us women. They are gifted with more freedom and a greater degree of choice. They are taught to be courageous and impudent with occasional reliance on expressing their inner emotions. Perhaps it is one reason that men don’t cry much and they also don’t hug always, but when they do they suffice it with sheer wholeness. Their strength and warmth is also their brute force that keeps us women feeling shielded against the unsought swords, lances, and arrows. Not only this, but man’s cognition and their wisdom is the kingdom of their competence and capability that fills up all the shallow holes of our life though sometimes men can go berserk too. This is when they get tangled up in the fine threads of life, such as when draggled in an extra-marital affair, or when dogged by their dear mother if they support their better half, or when they get caught up between a pertinacious wife and a nagging and provoking daughter. Well those are some of the terrible times when our men are clasped in two worlds! For no rhyme or reason, these clasped men are split apart like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle until they use discretion and gumption to fit all the pieces together to make a clear picture. It’s the man’s foresight, maturity, and emotional stability that we women can always count on. When our beloved men use these gifted qualities in real life situations, they score over other men who don’t. Also, it is our men’s love beneath their logic and not their indiscreet acts that inspires us to look up to them. So let’s stand up in ovation for the many men in our lives who cheer us as our fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons. These men do and can make a difference in a woman’s life.

Copyright (c) 2011 - present Dharbarkha.blogspot
Photo Courtesy:  fotolog

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jaycee Lee Dugard: A Trauma That Sparked Hope

One can hardly envisage Jaycee Lee Dugard’s dark somber past looking at her bright, unruffled face, and tranquil emotions. Appearing in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Jaycee exhibited incredible verve and optimism. Her insinuations for future appeared as clear and pleasant as a sunshiny sky. Sitting calmly with an immutable balance while talking about her past wounds, Jaycee not only looked magnificent, but also majestic. For someone whose life was wildly tangled as a child, Jaycee’s grandeur as an adult was indeed moving and inspirational. Her story dates back to 1991 when Jaycee’s life took an unexpected detour while she was just 11. Jaycee was kidnapped by a pedophile from a school bus stop near her home in South Lake Tahoe, California, and held captive for 18 long years.

As a child ensnared in a dungeon at her abuser’s backyard, Jaycee was subject to grave and unending sexual assault. Jaycee’s abuser, an ex-convict and a man in his late fifties was a sexual deviant and a chronic drug abuser. He mortified Jaycee with social isolation, and continual threats that ultimately led to a rebuttal of her true identity while she was under house arrest. In her predator’s sexual captivity, Jaycee at 13 and 15 was forced to bear two daughters with him. As a helpless child who was unknowingly nestled into motherhood, Jaycee saw a new meaning in her lost life with the birth of her two daughters. She says that her daughters brought her companionship during her imprisonment years with her captor. But in the midst of her solitude, and physical and mental cruciation, Jaycee never ceased to hope. While jailed to a circumstantial silence, Jaycee constantly dreamt of a reunion with her beloved mother though she was coached to forget her past and feel secure in her captor’s den than in the open air. In the lock and key of her abuser, Jaycee lived a chilling life until she was miraculously set free by an investigation sparked by the campus security of UC, Berkley.

Submerged into darkness like the unsinkable titanic, Jaycee narrated the deepest fears of her captive years on public television. She, however, seemed unfettered by her past and portrayed a persona of a cheerful, confident young woman who today is inspirited to resurrect her stolen years. It seemed that for Diane Sawyer interviewing Jaycee and listening to the unspeakable was nothing less than a phenomenon. One could see a stupendous Diane bedazzled with Jaycee’s strength and intentions of evolving out of trauma. For millions of onlookers Jaycee stood as an example of a lost child who had ultimately found her way home from a deadly maze. As a victim once, but a survivor today Jaycee certainly is a miracle of life. Her past represents a picture of woe that ultimately was destined to culminate in peace and joy. Most of all, her daunting account, her endurance, and the ability to embrace her past as it is and move beyond it indeed is a vestige of hope. Jaycee’s life is a journey of faith and holding on to the power of belief that even though life may appear as a rugged terrain, it does leave us with notable lessons. Jaycee’s story is not a reminiscence of her past, but a renaissance of victory and pride. 

Copyright (c) 2011 - present Dharbarkha.blogspot
Photo Courtesy: ABC News

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

If Education Was…

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” The profundity of this thought reflects upon the significance of knowledge and self-expression. For centuries, education has been an uplifting attribute of self-awareness. Education leverages one’s personality, character, and moral consciousness. As a spearhead to extricate the self from dogmas and nuances of fear, education has been the handbook of insight that edifies positive behavior, indoctrinates intellectual expression, and stimulates self-exploration. But what happens when education is no more than a paper qualification? Or when an educated mind is stormed by pseudo effect that supersedes logic by bigotry and narrow-mindedness? Most people identify education with know-how and erudition, a mechanism that benefits them with employability and professional development. However, education is rarely taken as a supplement to enlightenment, open-mindedness, and refinement of the self. Had education been the core of mastery in life, man would have been much wiser and content than he is today. Negative thoughts, sulking behavior, greed, jealousy, anger and betrayal would thus have been replaced by joy, good nature, and peace of mind.

Moreover, violence, carnage, and abuse would have been infinitesimal currents in the life’s oceanic expanse had education been the force behind life’s flow. But the truth is that it is not. Perhaps it is one reason why many educated professionals live a duplicitous life where they perpetually craft ill means to put down others. For instance, many cases of dowry harassment and assault in India involve in-laws who are educated professionals, but have still made their daughter-in law’s life a living hell. Being educated and belonging to respectful families, these in-laws forget to be loving and respectful to their son’s or brother’s wife. They apparently forget that education does not teach them to suppress someone’s belief system, curtail their aspirations, or command their life. In such unfortunate and indeed unexpected circumstances, delicate relationships go haywire. Education also does not preach double standards where there are contradictory principles set for family members, such as privileges for the daughter and boundaries for the daughter in-law. The situation worsens in cases where an educated sister-in-law (who is a year younger to the daughter in law) acts as the second mother-in-law with her list of pretentious demands. The relationship decays when the same sister-in-law (aka junior mother-in-law) with her obsessive personality meddles in the day-to-day affairs of the married couple. The sister-in-law’s excessive intrusion of the married couple’s privacy puts the couple’s life on the edge. What then is the purpose of being educated if we do not learn to be progressive in our thoughts, or learn to be less self-indulgent and give time to new relationships? It’s like bringing a budding flower from someone else’s garden to replant it in your soil and expecting it to grow without any nurturance. The same flower may survive thinly for a couple of days in your garden, but without love and open air it would ultimately perish. Having the depth to understand such sensitivities in relationships is not just a matter of degree, but a matter of maturity and mindset. 

Copyright (c) 2011 - present Dharbarkha.blogspot
Photo Courtesy: Myspace

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It’s Dowry, Not Gender

With recent heed to the brutal crime of female infanticide, and the plans for imposing stringent regulations against the offenders of such crime, Indian government may also need to fasten its anti-dowry laws under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The dowry system in India has been a cultural relic that over the years has proved to be pagan and covetous. As a hedonistic practice, dowry has made marriage in India a predatory tradition indeed. Eons ago, dowry was a custom that ensured economic security of the bride, and was not overwhelming for her parents. Today, however, it is an inundated obligation that leads to a massacre of innocent souls who are entrapped and pushed into a burning pot. Often, girls’ education, including the costs associated with her professional standing is a financial responsibility of the parents in India. Dowry though is an expense over and above this. Also, both rural and urban parents aspire to accomplish their responsibilities towards the girl child amiably. However, parent’s socio-economic statuses and the uncouth social and cultural pressures in society play a significant role against this endeavor. A majority of parents who are working class or are in the rural areas with least economic feasibilities can thus only fulfill bare necessities.

The fear, threat, and demand for dowry are so massive that a bridegroom’s family can easily chaff the grains from the grass while looking for a match for their boy. What counts as a suitable match for their ‘boy’ is a list beyond a girl’s character, values, or her professional education. It instead has to do a lot with her parent’s economic background, their bank balance, and ownership of property. Demand for dowry gets double in cases where the groom has a sister of marriageable age. There are requisitions and expectations that include expenses for the groom’s sister’s marriage reception besides marriage accommodation and travel expenses. This all is a collective burden on a bride’s helpless parents. Ironically, most gold digger in-laws are those who have daughter(s), and most dowry demands are initiated by mother-in-laws who have been someone’s daughters themselves. Insufficient dowry is also a prominent cause for family feud post marriage. In cases where the in-laws are not satisfied with the overall marital transaction, they continuously harass the daughter-in-law for dowry. However, if the daughter-in-law is not submissive enough to the pretentious and imposing demands of the in-laws, she is finally type casted as the ‘black sheep.’ Dowry is also an antecedent to domestic violence in India. Some of the Indian states with dowry as a rising criminal offense are Uttar Pradesh (UP), Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh (AP), Kerala, and Punjab. 

In addition, there are innumerable cases of dowry deaths and harassment that go unheard and unnoticed because of a patriarchal society that favors sons over daughters besides a failing law that hardly prohibits the lustful practice of dowry. Unfortunately, dowry is a social evil that mainly victimizes and traumatizes a girl, including her parents. In India, girls who are dowry survivors rarely have a strong social support system and anti-dowry laws are barely a blazing agenda among the political parties as well. Also, there isn’t enough political picketing against dowry and thus many poor and urban Indian families wish that they never bear a daughter. Dowry is a big devil that costs an exorbitant price for being a girl and for having a gender that is so ruthlessly knocked off in the womb or slayed at birth. Saving India’s unborn daughters from the clutches of a social evil like dowry would thus be a tribute to its lost and slain daughters.   

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Support A Mother, Save Her Daughters

Mitu Khurana is a doctor by profession and is also an activist by choice. But many know her as a mother who has tirelessly fought for the survival of her two daughters. Post marriage, Dr. Mitu Khurana’s life came to a halt when her in-laws constantly harassed her for dowry. Later on, Mitu’s in-laws in connivance with her husband who also is a doctor demanded that Mitu abort the two female fetuses that she was carrying. Mitu’s husband and her in-laws ruthlessly and relentlessly compelled Mitu to either kill her unborn babies or put them for adoption. During pregnancy, Mitu had been constantly victimized and terrorized to change her decision of bearing her two little daughters. After invariable humiliation, physical abuse, and debasement of her dignity, Dr. Mitu Khurana went public about her atrocities. She filed a case against her husband and in-laws under the PC-PNDT (Pre Conception & Pre natal Diagnostic Technique) act. Since then, Mitu Khurana’s case has glared much media publicity and her story has been a marked column in several newspapers and magazines in India. However, amid the blazing uproar in the Indian society against female infanticide and sex selective abortions, Mitu’s mayhem remains forgotten. Her turmoil and trepidation to protect her daughters awaits a firm resolution and hope not only from Indian law enforcement authorities and the judicial system, or from the people of India, but from anyone who pledges their allegiance to end a vehement crime, such as killing the girl child. 

Today, Mitu’s little daughters are nurtured in Mitu’s fervency with unconditional love. They are growing up in an environment where girls are not feared, but treated fair and embraced with a dream. As auspicious they may have been to Mitu’s fight for her right, the little girls are also opportune to be born to a mother who has devoted her life and courage to a fecund cause. Mitu’s daughters have gifted her with a belief that when life is stormed with the unknown, one’s timidity turns into tenacity. In this hurricane of emotions, Mitu’s daughters have become her sole anchors that firmly hold the harbor of her life. Mitu’s little girls have inspired her to survive a violent storm since the day the girls were conceived. From that moment, the little girls’ lives have intertwined with Mitu’s life and her endurance to evolve out of insanity and shenanigans of her in-laws and husband. However, Mitu yet again faces a threat, an intention full of deceit that may even be misleading the Indian judicial system. The court has awarded Mitu’s husband the visitation rights of the children whom he desperately desired to kill in the embryonic stage, and subsequent to their birth never showed any interest in parenting them. A visitation right to the father of the children may also encourage visits from Mitu’s in-laws who nearly beat her to death and starved her while she was carrying the babies. Media reports suggest that Mitu’s in-laws have neither shown interest in loving and accepting the little girls as their granddaughters, nor have they ever shown any kindness and respect for Mitu. If this is the grudge that Mitu’s in-laws and her husband still carry against Mitu and her daughters, then the jurisdiction may be putting Mitu’s daughters’ innocent lives into jeopardy and, thus making Mitu more vulnerable. 

It seems any contact of the little ones with their father and Mitu’s in-laws may expose the kids to the risk of emotional abandonment. It may even lead to the chances of child abuse or neglect. In the given scenario of the harassment that Mitu has been put through, the potential harm that was plotted against the kids while they were in the womb and after their birth, and the evidence of a forged ultrasound on Mitu during her pregnancy proves that little girls would be best served and protected in Mitu’s custody only. Mitu’s case is an ordeal that many Indian women face being born and raised into a patriarchal society. Her story, however, is an inspiration of beating all the odds that surround the enthusiasm of her little girls. Mitu is a hero whose story is yet another chapter in the lives of those women who have survived at the cost of greed, treachery, and abuse, all that a girl is thrust upon when she brings values, ideals, and education in her marriage instead of ‘dowry.’ If Mitu loses her battle, we shall all loose our fight against a social evil. Eventually we shall loose hope on a nation, which is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Mitu’s sacrifice for her daughters is priceless and her appeal is to all those people who see a Mitu in them who constantly tussles till the last hopeful breath. If Mitu fails in her endeavor to save her daughters, a nation would fail and that ultimately would be a miscarriage of justice. 

For further information on Dr. Mitu Khurana’s case, refer If you read this post and believe that Mitu has not been served justice, please support her cause and back her up with picketing at your level and spread the word. Perhaps that would be a foundation to an action. 

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dear Christian Choate

Dear Christian Choate
It’s been two years since you left this world in 2009. You were mercilessly smothered to death at an age when life is an abode of merriment and desires. Your mirth was stolen away by the murk of the three foot high dog cage in which you were ensnared by your own father and stepmother. When life is a canvas of vivid colors, you remained unseen in the darkness. At 13, when children your age aspire of accomplishments in academics, sports, and creative arts, you dreamt of getting out of your cage into the lap of nature. Christian, what you wanted was a normal life and cherished memories of your innocent childhood, but what you actually got was brutal abuse. You were ruthlessly beaten by your father, confined to the cage, sometimes deprived of food and water as if you were a wild beast on a rampant. A day before your death, your callous and apathetic father thrashed you heartlessly. While you lay unconscious, he locked your feeble body back into the cage as if you were a dead lotus in the lake. The next day when you lay asleep, peacefully caressed by the pristine wings of the guardian angel, your abusive father buried your mortal body in a shallow grave, covered it in concrete and then fled away from the crime scene.  It is still uncertain as to why your custody was given to your allegedly abusive father who already had a criminal record of charges, including battery, auto theft, and harassment. 

It is doleful to learn that your pediatrician, a mandatory reporter of child abuse did not report either to the child protection services or law enforcement agencies even though you informed him of your plight. Surprisingly, no one in your community ever witnessed or suspected abuse and called the hotline number for child abuse and neglect that every state has. The role of your biological mother in this whole episode remains inconclusive. However, your case has underscored some steaming questions, such as why weren’t you allowed to meet your biological mother even though you expressed the desire to meet her? Why was your custody given to your abusive father even though you could have been better off at a foster care or with an adopted family? Did Department of Child Services (DCS) not find any evidence of abuse in your trailer home even though they visited your family more than a dozen times starting in 1999? Was DCS ineffective in substantiating charges of abuse and neglect even though they had previous charges of physical abuse against your father and charges of unsanitary conditions and medical neglect against your stepmother? There is still no concrete and clear evidence as to why this all happened to you? Why you were always depressed and wanted to die? Why did your family abandon you even though, what you begged them for, was to be ‘liked’? 

Christian, what happened to you is like a widespread disease that infests on healthy ontogeny of a child, and is commonly known as child abuse. Almost 5 children die everyday of child abuse. Neglect is the most common form of child abuse that devours 59% of children. Almost 11% of children suffer physical abuse, 7.6% fall prey to sexual abuse, and 4.2% suffer emotional abuse. This statistics may disturb you further, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Child abuse if substantiated can be prosecuted and the abuser(s) can be held guilty under law. I am hoping that your abusers face the music given their acrimonious behavior towards you. Also, barbaric act like child abuse is not just a family’s problem, but an issue requiring community intervention. People should be made aware of child abuse reporting procedures through community wide campaigns. Education and awareness about recognizing signs of abuse, or reporting suspects should be a major part of such campaigns. In addition, healthy parenting through free trainings and seminars should be made available. Open communication between parents and children about child abuse, including sexual abuse can be a source of reassurance and building trust. It can also prevent such offenses that are sometimes committed by caregivers, such as relatives, fictive kins, or other people that innocent children may trust. Much action needs to be taken at the legal and criminal justice system level. Law enforcement agencies must be better equipped to handle child abuse cases, which often are diverse and complex in nature. Child abuse is a crime and law enforcement officers thus must be proactive in their investigations.  

Christian, as you lay peaceful and calm in the ambrosial home, I pray to god that your sojourn on this earth is not wasted, and that your abusers pay through their nose for the cruel affliction they put you through. May your soul rest in peace!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Female Infanticide: A Decimating Horror in the Land of God

Over centuries in India, the female manifestation of divinity has been venerated and glorified as ‘Devi,’ the invincible and omnipotent that has both creative and destructive powers. She, the divine mother is worshipped in many forms, such as ‘Durga,’ (the creator), ‘Lakshmi,’ ‘Parvati,’ ‘Saraswati,’ (the preserver), and ‘Kali,’ (the destroyer).  The Hindu mythology is an epic of her celestial gallantry, beauty, and artistry that kindles the eternal life that every Hindu desires.  It is said that without her the male manifestation of the supreme is incomplete. She is revered in faith, invoked with prayers and fasting, and implored for blessings and forgiveness. But if this is the devoutness for ‘Devi,’ the feminine figure of adherence, then why does so much abhorrence still exist for infant girls in India? Why is that ‘she,’ the goddess is adorned in every Hindu temple, but ‘she,’ the female infant is slaughtered through violent means? Can devotion for god contradict with the principles of life? Or has religion become a gimmick of greater good? 

Sadly, discussion on female infanticide and feticide has remained a mute argument despite substantial picketing against it. There are spoken and unspoken stories of the 50 million girls that have gone ‘missing’ on account of female infanticide and feticide over the past century in India. CBS news reported that in 2006, upto 10 million female fetuses had undergone selective abortion since 1976 in India. UNICEF reports that India has been experiencing a decline in child sex ratio. Based on the 1991 census, there were 947 girls per 1000 boys, a figure that had fallen to 927 girls per 1000 boys ten years later. The census as latest as 2011 reveals that for every 1000 boys, 914 girls are born. Today India’s population has hit 1.21 billion, but the country has been impuissant in ending sex-selective abortions. The figures indicate the widened gender imbalance that India has been experiencing in every decade since its independence. 

Some horrific incidents of female infanticide in rural areas include mother killing the newborn through poisonous potion, especially if she has already bore a daughter in the past. Other incidents include killing the fetus while it is still in gestation after the sex has been confirmed through an illegal prenatal diagnostic test. Sometimes it is the in-laws that pressurize the daughter-in-law to sacrifice her unborn through a forceful abortion, as happened with Dr. Mitu Khurana ( However, most distressing is the fact that such decimating evil is not just a conservative call in rural areas, but an oblivious practice among educated urban Indians too. Gender discrimination in India accounts mainly due to male patriarchy in society. Cultural mores like dowry, ignorance, and perspectives, such as sons as the sole bread winners, or sons as the superior ascendants are some other significant contributors to the heinous crime of female infanticide and feticide. Girls rarely are seen as propitious investment in the long term and, thus are discouraged and deprived from education and gaining independence. In the given scenario, attitudes towards infanticide become more permissive and less sinful. 

Over the years, the Indian government has enacted anti-feticide laws and stipulations to prevent decreasing sex ratio though these efforts do not seem as rigorous. In addition, it is important to reform attitudes, which is a long drawn process of social change. Much action needs to be uprooted at individual and institutional level (private & public), including the corporate sector. Indian youth whose voices have the power to plead should be encouraged in societal change. As ideologues, the youth can educate and empower besides initiating radical changes at the policy level. For starters, spreading the word may be an action in its foundation. Also, the Indian Medical Association should undertake uncompromising and punitive action against those health centers or professionals that practice illegal abortions. Perhaps media can act as a goliath in discouraging negative messages and encouraging positive messages of parenting a girl child and the corporate sector can fund such powerful campaigns. In addition, state governments need to establish stringent statutes against corruption, which is one of the main causes of unreported infanticide and feticide cases. The Indian Diaspora abroad can also get involved in many ways. 

A mindful way to end this post would be to remember a verse from the ‘Guru Granth Sahib,’ a pious religious scripture that says “of woman are we born, of woman conceived; to woman engaged, to woman married. Woman are befriended, by woman is the civilization continued. When woman dies, woman is sought for. It is by woman that the entire social order is maintained. Then why call her evil of whom great men are born?” 

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Women, Violence and Danger

A recent news item in the Reuters (factbox: The world's most dangerous countries for women), is a tumultuous testimony of the onslaught against women that still exists in many parts of the world. It is a lamenting yet noteworthy issue that despite a sociopolitical voyage for gender equality, women’s rueful plight remains a dreary discussion. Some of the countries that rank the highest in this predicament are Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia. The brutality against women in these countries includes illiteracy and economic discrimination, forced marriages including child marriages, sexual violence and female genital mutilation, honor killings, domestic servitude besides human trafficking. The report suggests that 1 in 11 women in Afghanistan die of childbirth, while 57% of pregnant Congolese women are anemic. Also, 87% of women in Afghanistan are illiterate, while a mere 7.5% women hold parliamentary seats in Somalia, the horn of Africa. Moreover, 40 innocent Congolese women are raped everyday, while 95% of Somalian girls and women are put through genital mutilation. Not far beyond in the race, a 1000 Pakistani girls and women face honor killings, while 50 million infant girls are missing on account of infanticide and feticide in the religiously devout India. Many women in these countries experience physical assault and battery, unfortunately as customary to rustic traditions and the predominant culture of male monarchy. The above statistics may appear antediluvian, but it is a fresh perspective on the existing, and ever exacerbating indignation against women.

What may seem even more depressing is the bitter truth that majority of population in these nations is either unaware of such violent and life threatening tribulations, or perhaps is least bothered until the fire engulfs their own turf. Many times, the victims of these crimes are forced to bear abuse repeatedly and are intimated if they urge to take an action against it. Other times, victims’ emotional vulnerability becomes a vantage point to keep them in a state of denial like a sitting duck for the perpetrators. Also, the fact that some of these countries are an ongoing war zone, and lack a central government system, or are partially ruled by the militia, further extinct the possibilities for social change and investment in women empowerment. Moreover, the influence of theocratic law in some of these countries makes economic reforms preposterous. In addition, incessant absolute poverty and high levels of corruption are some other depriving factors for change. For instance, in India, where women’s economic participation and educating the girl child is on the rise, the country’s social systems appear unsuccessful in impeding female feticide. More importantly, social issues like education, women’s rights, and child marriages are rarely significant as far as political manifestation is concerned. Mostly theses issues appear like a small figurine in the electoral campaigns that often turn gray with time. So, if this is the feat of change, then we sure are in for a failure!

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