Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Why "My Choice" empowers ?

While traveling through a village, giving sermons and being greeted with hopeful eyes, Buddha had a chance encounter with a man who started hurling abuses at him. Without getting upset, Buddha asked him, " If you buy a gift for someone and that person doesn't take it, who does the gift belong to?". Puzzled by such an obvious question, the man replied, "I bought the gift. Of course, it belongs to me". 

Buddha's point was that we always have a choice- whether to accept what a person offers- adulation, anger, advice and be affected by it or not accept it allowing it to remain with the former. It is this choice of doing what you believe in that's most empowering and liberating. We might espouse always having a choice and the significance of being brave enough to make unique choices but the real thing to introspect upon is whether we believed we always had a choice, whether we made things simpler and easier for others to exercise their choice and if not, whether we could have done things differently so that everyone had a choice.

We don't choose the family we are born into or the society we grow up in. We can't anticipate the kind of people we will meet ahead in life. We have always been taught that we need to take people along in our choices thus conditioning us to a list of the rights and wrongs conforming to which will not rock the boat. In such a scenario, is our volition really free and are our choices really ours? We keep consoling ourselves that we weren't selfish but how many can really be at peace for giving up things that we really wanted to do for ourselves? How many of us can promise that learning from this, we won't impose our choices on others? It's a vicious circle that I can see breaking free when people start loving themselves much more than anybody else in the world.

From what life has taught me, this self-love is the most liberating and empowering force ever. It's difficult to make most people understand this. But I saw the Vogue Empower video doing that and for all the shock value that it has, it's an attempt to make the deaf hear. From where I see it, it's a video with 99 women claiming that what they do in life will be their choice. Whether it's a woman, a man, a child or an elder- the same theme can be used to make a video on anyone's empowerment since choices are of an individual and are not class specific. From where I see it, it's not targeted at men but at anyone who doesn't respect your choice. The choice to have a baby is of two people and if either doesn't want it, it shouldn't be thrust upon. The choice of sexual orientation is what you are born with, it's not a disease to be cured or a fad to be counseled out of. The choice of the kind of relationship you want- only for lust, only for love or for both- with fidelity or not- is upon two people who are in the relationship.

It's not easy for a person to rock the boat and make choices that are not popular. No one can deny that he understands the risk of drowning himself or the people he chose to travel with. But nevertheless if he/she has the gumption to take that risk, why get antagonized? As long as one's choices are consistent and have equal standards, why not just let them be ? And if all resolve to guide and not preach, give the confidence to stand by each other irrespective of the choices made, everyone will stand empowered.

I am lucky to find myself in the company of people who have never hesitated to share their perspectives but value my choices above all. What connects them is the self love so high that they neither crave for approval themselves nor get tempted to approve of others actions. One should be open to learning from other's mistakes but should have the freedom to make theirs too. Show them the room of order but give them the key to the chaos too. This responsibility disciplines like no other force. Give them the "choice" that liberates, empowers and fills with love, rest assured it will be given back to you.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

AIB to India's Daughter: All that keeps the bakchod Indian's interest alive

The helplines are buzzing with life. The agitation of living in a ban republic is driving everyone nuts. The first caller can't handle his anxiety to see the banned sadomasochist "Fifty Shades of Grey" though he assiduously backs up his hard drive with the porn downloaded from DC++. The second caller is deeply hurt at the banning of "India's Daughter" though he watched it only after it was banned just to realize that it's a polished version of "Gaur Se Dekhiye is Insaan Ko" that made each viewer relive the ghastly memories of Dec 16, 2012 to no effect. The third caller sulks at the controversy about the AIB Roast video probably because he hasn't seen other ROAST videos that hit way below the belt but with a different class altogether. I cannot help but notice - are we concerned about turning into a ban republic OR sulking about everything banal that is banned in this republic? There have been multiple things that have been restricted in the past,  on grounds of threat to law and order or the sensitivities of varied sections of people or for reasons not understood by us. But if we do want to use our voice to fight for the freedom of speech and expression, isn't it fair that we judiciously use it for  a work that is great in quality and truly deserving of a backing. Though discussed in the Jaipur Literary fest, why wasn't there any anger when the noted author Perumal Murugan had no option but to apologize for the classic Madhorubhagan (One Part Woman) and renounce writing forever ? Have we really lost the ability to decipher what needs to be agitated upon? The recent chaos and the bugle sounding over mediocrity relegates into the background a tolerant India that as a nation breaks its silence and fights back only on things that matter.

3 years ago when "India's Daughter" battled for her life, the whole nation woke up to fill the streets not only to India Gate but also to discreet chowk of the quaintest Indian town. We can hardly imagine what a victim of abuse be it Nirbhaya or the Badaun girls or the child molested in Bangalore wished to be different. Would things have been different had sex education been compulsory in schools, if she had known that his touch was a bad one, if he had known that there are boundaries that need to be respected and " a no is a no" ? Would things have been different had she been taught that no form of violence should be tolerated by a woman, that it's prudent to step out and report in the first stage of any oppression rather than wait for things to get worse in the hope of saving the honor of the family? Would things have been different had the police understood the concept of "emotional violence" and lodged an FIR without any proof of gagging or abuse marks? Leave the serious ones, let's talk about what happens daily? Would things have been different if we rubbished the gossip that a colleague got promoted not for talent but for sleeping with the boss, if we kicked in the butt every sexist assumption that we encounter every day? No one knows the answers. What we do know is that it's a long battle that requires us to use our voice from time to time. The Justice Verma recommendations and the consequent reform in rape laws bear testimony to how much our angst matters. The furore is like antibiotics- effective only when used judiciously, not to be prescribed for daily bakchodi.
Continue reading AIB to India's Daughter: All that keeps the bakchod Indian's interest alive