TAXING WOMEN FOR BEING WOMEN.

As the title reads, In India, we women are being taxed for who we are. Wondering why I am saying so? It is because we pay tax to use sanitary napkins. This tax slab would vary according to the state before GST but with the introduction of GST, the tax percentage is uniform all over with 12%. The sanitary napkins which are categorized under the luxury items by the policy makers is a basic necessity for each and every woman.

Menstruation is a very natural biological phenomenon. In India, around 355 million women menstruate. This is not a luxury, it is not like the rich and affluent bleed and the poor don’t, it is not at all like that. Under many surveys, it has been accounted that 88% of Indian women cannot afford sanitary napkin and thus end up using dry clothes, ashes, husk, sand and else. These unsanitised methods lead to RTIs ( Reproductive Tract Infection) which is 70% more common among these women. Recently a case was being reported in Assam where an 18-year old girl died after a parasite was found inside her stomach. Later when doctors stated the reason it was because of the unhygienic practice of using cloth during periods.

It is not only that the health is being affected in fact in the surveys it has been clearly seen that the education of girl child is almost compromised in rural India because of unaffordable sanitary pads. In rural India, one in five girls drops out of school after they start menstruating. It is like our government is ignoring the basic need of half of the population which is their necessary safeguards for health and life. A strong campaign called #lahukalagan( tax on blood) started by an NGO called Shesays was trending some days back. This campaign was joined by celebrities like Vishal Dadlani, Mallika Dua, Shenaz Treasurywala urging the finance minister Arun Jaitley to remove the tax from the sanitary napkins. But all in vain after revising the tax slabs of 66 items in the bill sanitary napkins still hold the same place.

This ignorance of the policymakers went un-tolerable for me when I saw Bindi and Bangles being tax-exempt. Afterall bindi is not going to stop us from bleeding. It is basically about priorities. The government thinks that we can’t do without bindis and bangles after all ‘Suhag Ki Nishani’ is important for us Bhartiya Nari but not sanitary pads. Easy reach to sanitary napkins would lead to raising school attendance and women’s participation in the workforce. But our government do they even care.

They don’t care because they are all men.There is no major participation of the female entity in the policy making which results to all this indifference. Talking about menstruation, in general, is also a taboo in our society. There is a lot to discuss it in open spaces and not closed doors. The illogical practices, severe health issues and to top it all unaffordable sanitary napkins. Hope that the government gets it clear that menstruating is not a luxury option for us but part of being who we are the women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why does this happen?

I am a girl, a daughter, a friend, a wife, a sister and most importantly a human being. I have a life, a life of my own. I have feelings, emotions, grudges, fears just like every other human. So why I have to be scared to be me, to be a girl. Every time I come across a news article related to gang rape, acid attack, emotional blackmailing, dowry death, sexual harassment, honor killing and the list that never ends, I am shaken up all till my last cell. Why does this happen to us? Just because of our biological orientation or something larger.

Reasons cited by our so called representatives are horrendous. How can someone justify the heinous incidents by saying ” These kind of thing happen” or “The women put makeup and wear short clothes so it is bound to happen”. It’s high time that we stop the game of victim blaming. We girls know that whether we wear a salwar kameez or a short skirt we can be attacked in both the cases. Every time this kind of shameful incident takes place all the responsible citizens of the country start blaming the victim. There are endless conversations of how we women invite these disgusting situations in our life. What surprises is when I hear these words coming from a woman. We generally blame are counter men of not understanding our point on these matters but listening  to these things from someone who belongs to the same race is not at all acceptable.

I come from a really small town. I was fortunate to be born to parents who were extra protective about me. I have observed that being parents they were always equal to me and my brother. Why I am mentioning this is because it has to do a lot with the current situation. Our society has always put forward structural inequality in our families. The patriarchy runs throughout the societal system. If a son notices his father disrespecting his wife, ruling her life its but obvious that the son would follow the same with his partner or maybe even with her sister. We all have to work on the kind of upbringing a boy is receiving. That would be directly proportional to their growing mentality towards women. They need to learn how to respect a woman and her choices. This can be only possible if the ground roots that are the parents are clear with it. This is the need of the hour. As friends, we need to make boys understand what a girl goes through when such kind of thing happens to us. All men are not same and nor all boys, so we can only work on this and expect that a convincing future lie ahead.

One more reason of these rising cases is the confidence a man gains realizing that the girl would never mention this in front of anyone. In our hypocrite society, a girl’s modesty is clearly labeled to be the pride of the family. If unfortunately the modesty of girl is ruined the pride of the family automatically demolishes. This is the reason why most of the harassment cases get unnoticed. A lot of episode of harassment, blackmailing, assault happen to girls on a daily basis but we shut our mouths thinking reporting it or even mentioning this would bring disgrace to our families. This disturbing trend needs to be questioned. We need to build an environment where a girl feels comfortable enough to share the mishappenings occurring with her.

 

REAL SHADE OF INDIAN POLITICS

Today the election commission announced the dates of elections that would be taking place this year in different states. So Manipur, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, and Punjab are ready to experience their respective state elections in the coming months. Since the news channels have already started debating over the opinion polls, hereditary power struggle and declared winners, what grabs my attention is the fundamental issues concerning the particular states which are never talked about eminently.

Politics in India have always been based on the cards of caste, class, money, family and else. Development and welfare of citizens have been heard only in the party slogans but not on the real ground. We have entered into a new year but nothing new has happened with the way our politicians divide the voters on the basis of religion, class difference and strata of societies for their personal benefits. One more disturbing fact that needs to be noticed is that all the parties are playing the blame-game to degrade the ones on the other side. While addressing the rallies they are more concerned to list the works that are not being fulfilled by the opposition rather than focussing on what are the problems that people of the state are facing and how to tackle it.

India has enough resources and manpower that can solve its problems but the fact is the people who are in authority are busy verbally attacking their competitors than taking care of the responsibilities they are assigned with. The next thing that disturbs me is the power-centric behavior of our leaders. The parties are applying all the possible tricks and strategies that can bring them the chair. They can go to any extent to get into power take the example of Bihar, where Nitish Kumar who was always against of Lalu Prasad Yadav came into an alliance during the state elections just to win the elections.

Recently we all witnessed the clash in the Samajwadi empire. The family politics overtook the TV screens for almost two long days and are still ruling the screens. The head of the family who is probably in his 70s or 80s is still not ready to leave the party head chair. How can we expect a good governance delivery from such people. The political pattern of India has turned out to be more of identity politics than welfare oriented politics. The rhetorics come in handy for the leaders who become the face of the party and the party further gets identified by their names.

Election campaigns have always been money splurging events. All the parties spend crores and crores of money just to sing their winning sagas. The same money can be utilized to build better future for the people who are voting for them. Political leader’s action should speak louder than their words. The electronic media should also act responsibly in these cases. Today the whole of media is just yelling on their opinion polls being right and declaring the winners right away. The only thing they are behind to is which party is going to rule the state rather than bringing into notice the performance of the parties in dealing with the important issues of the states.

A REVIEW OF HOW 2016 WAS FOR US ON A WHOLE.

So it is the end of December and everybody is decking up with all the enthusiasm to welcome another year. 2016 was a year full of elements that shocked us, surprised us, cheered us and some disappointed us. So here I am with a review of the year on a whole. I am writing here about stories that mattered all of us.

1.Girls shine at Olympics:

It was a year of girls outshining the boys not only in the board’s result but as well as Olympic ones. India came back from Rio with two medals, one bronze won by Sakshi Mallik in freestyle wrestling and one silver won by P.V.Sindhu in badminton. Both of them created history by becoming the first women to do so in their respective game.

2. A year of Biopics:

This year Bollywood was majorly about Biopics. All of them made a mark among the audience. It all began with Airlift which was about an Indian businessman rescuing 170,000 Indians from Kuwait during the war, then Neerja got released where Sonam Kapoor gave a remarkable performance. Then Sarabjit was released which is among one of India’s nomination for Oscars. The saga continued with M.S.Dhoni played by Sushant Singh Rajput which is also nominated for Oscars. Azhar where Imran Hashmi played the role of former Indian cricket team captain Md. Azharuddin.Rustom and Aligarh were also based on true life stories. Well, the year is now ending with the master of all Dangal.

3. Donald Trump’s victory:

Donald Trump was the most talked about personality of 2016. In fact, Indians took a lot of interest in USA presidential elections and especially in Trump. People were all in dilemma, whether Trump’s presidency will prove good or bad for the nation. Fluctuating statements of Trump about the Indian diaspora in America kept the Indians hooked to it.

4. Jio launch:

This was a kind of Tsunami in the telecom industry. Unbelievable schemes of free voice calls and free high-speed data services were announced by the Reliance company. Earlier everybody was skeptical regarding the free services but after few days there were hundreds of them standing in the line to get a jio sim. This initiative by Ambani and company have affected the services of other telecom services hugely.

5. Demonetisation:

Demonetisation shifted the lines outside reliance stores to banks. On 8 of November, the government of India suddenly announced that from the midnight onwards 500 and 1000 rupee notes would be considered invalid. This step of Modi government shocked the people. The government claims that demonetization is a step to curb black money practices, terrorism, corruption, smuggling and else. Intellectuals and analysts are still trying to decode the consequences of it but the opposition is shouting loud and standing against this decision of the government.

6. Breaking the stereotype:

2016 was a year when stereotypes were broken. While the girls brought the medals from Olympics, Rohit Khandelwal brought the title of Mr. World. 2016 witnessed girls performing excellently in sports whether it be golf, cricket, wrestling, hockey and else. This is not considered to be a women’s arena. Whereas the Hyderabad lad defied all who thought only women can participate in the pageant which is about beauty, fashion, and grooming.

7. Jayalalitha’s death:

Jayalalitha’s demise brought the whole of Tamil Nadu and India to a still for some time. People of Tamil Nadu were mourning the death of their Amma on the streets and there was also news of 77 people dying out of grief over Amma’s death. Jayalalitha served five terms of being the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for over fourteen years between 1991-2016. Three years into her tenure during 2011 reign, she was convicted in a disproportionate-assets-case.

8. Paralympic performers:

2016 was a great year for the Indian paralympic players at the Paralympics Olympics Rio. The largest ever paralympic contingent consisting of 19 athletes from India went to Rio.The contingent came back with four medals which was its best performance till now. M.Thangavelu and Varun Singh Bhati secured India gold and bronze respectively in long jump category. Deepa Malik scripted history by becoming the first woman ever to get a medal in Paralympics. She got a silver medal in Shotput. Devendra Jhajhariya won javelin gold medal breaking his personal previous record.

There were many more stories that could have been listed, but these stories are something that personally mattered to me. 2016 as a year overall was a rollercoaster ride for India. Heated debates and arguments rocked the parliament as usual but the most awaited bills like GST bill, Right of persons with disability bill 2016, the Aadhar bill got a green signal. Whatever the year 2016 was for us but I wish 2017 would be a happy and good year for all of us out there. In all the aspects of life, we attain whatever we wish for in this new year.

 

 

WHAT IMPACT DO OTHER PEOPLE HAVE IN OUR LIFE?

I have always been an observer kind of person all my life. Whether it be my own house, school, college or wherever I go, I am very attentive to the happenings that are going around me. Yesterday I was out with my husband, and we went to an ice cream parlor which is just beside my house. While we were ordering for our ice creams, a man with a small boy entered the shop. The man had some issue with his leg, I assumed that he had polio-stricken legs. He was not able to walk freely. While looking to his clothes, it was quite evident that he was an autorickshaw driver because drivers here have a particular uniform for them. He then ordered for three ice cream bars, took them and handed it to his son and asked him to give it to his mom who was sitting inside the auto.

After paying the bill he walked away and joined his family for the ice cream treat. What made me notice him was a constant smile on his face. His smile was so palatable. The way he made his family happy with a simple ice cream treat and the gleaming faces of his son and wife was so satisfying to see. It also forced me to think why I am so happy looking at them. Isn’t this a normal thing like coming out with your family and having an enjoyable time with them? It is for sure, but these days happiness is not a normal phenomenon for many. We have so many problems to think about in our life that our real happiness takes a back seat. Happiness for all individual varies according to their priorities. I on a personal level get pissed off with things instantly. I always literally push myself to be happy despite all the ups and down my life goes through. This man inspired me more towards this attitude of mine. Despite having a physical disability he is doing his best to earn honestly and not begging around for money. The second thing was the efforts that he was putting to bring little joys for his family.

In this really fast changing world people have forgotten the pleasure of simple joys of life. It is more of like we have become materialistic by nature. We just need to identify the things that make us happy and work towards achieving it. Simple joys though bring momentary happiness but it is so satisfying to our souls.

 

PHOTO STORY: EXPERIENCE NATURE’S BLISS…..

I have always been a nature lover. I love traveling to places that are rich in natural beauty and the ones which calm down my anxieties of “Where is my life heading to kind of mode?” Some time back I had visited Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which is purely a heaven on earth. It is a perfect destination to be at if you are in search of peace from your day to day busy schedule. Apart from its world-famous pristine beaches, Andaman is a total package of adventures of all kind. It caters the tourists with different kinds of water sports such as scuba diving, sea walk, snorkeling which gives an insight into the amazing underwater world. Not only the underwater world but the rich forests and mountainous slopes also invite trekking lovers from all parts of the world to it.

Here, I am presenting a photo story of the places that I visited in Andaman. I know my photography could not catch the actual beauty of the place but I still tried my best to capture some of the things that are worth sharing.

1. WANDOOR BEACHDSC_0342.JPGThis is one of the most popular and beautiful beaches of the Andaman Islands named. This beach is majorly known for its scenic panorama. Close to the beach is Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, where people visit to explore the underwater world. Believe my words this beach is way more beautiful than it looks in the picture.

2. ROSS AND SMITH ISLANDDSC_0025.JPGThis is something that blew my mind with its unmatched paradise kind of view. It is known as Ross and Smith Island. There is literally a sandbar that connects both the islands with one another. This sandbar is like a dream to walk on with both the sides having clear blue water and a hue of green added to them. Not only the place even the boat ride which takes 15 to 20 minutes from Diglipur port to the island is a journey of a lifetime. An aerial view would have looked better in the photograph but this is what I was able to capture.

3.SCUBA EXPERIENCEDSCN5304.JPG

If you are in Andaman you can’t miss this adventurous visit to the underwater world. It was an experience of the lifetime to see all kinds of fishes around, to see the rich and colorful coral reefs. The best part of it is you don’t need to be a swimmer because I am not and I did this. Trust me I was so scared in the beginning while doing this.

4. LIMESTONE CAVESDSC_0138.JPG This is a natural limestone cave which got raised and came into existence from the sea beds. It is situated in Baratang Island and is a major attraction for the tourists. The route to this caves passes through mangrove forests amidst the clear waters of the sea. The most intriguing thing was the presence of crocodiles in the water which lucky people get a sight of. But I have always belonged to the unlucky community so I couldn’t see any.

5.MANGROVE WALKDSC_0182.JPGTalking about mangroves above, this was altogether a different world. You will actually feel that you are lost in a wonderland and the only thing you can do is walk in this mysterious environment. After a long serene walk, you would reach to a beautiful white sand beach. The whole journey feels like you were a part of a fairytale.

6.SUNSET DSC_0528.JPGWatching the setting sun while the cool breeze and soft splashes of water touch your face is a memorable experience. You don’t have to spend a single buck to be happy if you are here. With the setting sun though the journey ends but the memories would always be alive in our hearts and minds.

Apart from these natural wonders, there are much more that I have not documented here. Those who are making up their mind to visit this heaven, after looking at the pictures, let me tell you the ambiance of Andaman is really tourist friendly. You will never encounter any issues with food, transportation or language. Do visit this place once in your lifetime.

 

 

Indian TV series, nowadays

Indian TV industry of today has broadened up and expanded itself tremendously. There was a time when only Doordarshan was the mode of entertainment for the TV audience. Doordarshan played its role well by catering the audiences with thought-provoking serials, critically acclaimed short films, light-hearted comedy, and proved a treat for 90s kids by showing Shaktimaan for sure. This was what a single channel did maybe 35-25 years back, but now with hundreds of channels dominating our TV screen the entertainment quotient is not that top-notch.

I would here specifically talk about the TV series that are telecasted on the channels. When you see serials like Naagin and Brahmrakshas topping the TRP list, you sense something wrong right then. We are living in the 21st century, we talk about curbing superstitious behavior and here we are watching the love story of Icchadhari Naagin and revenge saga of Brahmrakshas. Brahmrakshas, the one who has a gigantic body structure but is scared of Lotus how stupid huh. These shows piss me off and I am sure many out there also feel the same.

These are the shows that are supernatural but still attract a majority of viewers toward them. Now these shows come on air only on weekends, but shows that are a staple of every Indian family and are telecasted on a daily basis completely lack sane storylines. Shows like Saath Nibhana Sathiya, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai and others like them gets multiple leaps and still the female protagonist remains young and fresh. The stories that started 8 years and 6 years back has now nothing left to show other than nonsensical plotlines, coming back from dead, new jewelry and saree trends. The greatest issue with all the TV series is that they are not designed to end.

Now there are also shows where the protagonist turns into a fly and fights with all kind of Aatmas, Chudail, Dain and whatever holds back her and her family’s happiness, that family which has more than 20 people but the safety of the family lies only in the hands of the protagonist. Shows like Vishkanya and Kala Teeka also exists in our country. The storylines are not even single percent believable. There is the same monotonous saas-bahu drama, planning and plotting within the family, rebirth and what not. You just name the insanity and you would get it all.

It is not like there is a dearth of concepts or stories but you would notice once a serial begins with a strong storyline or based on a social issue, just after some weeks it will turn out to be of the same saas-bahu genre. Recently I saw an episode or two of a show called Shakti-Astitva Ek Ehsaas Ki which is based on the story of a transgender and her life. I was quite impressed with the storyline and thought might be the trend of TV is changing, but for my dismay, after few days the storyline became the same stale stuff.

And the stories that stick on their storylines doesn’t get enough attention and are victims of low TRP. I remember a few months back there were two serials introduced on StarPlus Tammana, which was story of a girl who wanted to play cricket for India and the problems that she faced and Dehleez, story of a young and vibrant lawyer who works for poor gets married to a civil servant and end up fighting with her mother-in-law’s ideologies. With bold and relatable stories they were a breath of fresh air for the TV viewers but to their bad luck, they hardly existed for 5 months even.

Breaking the stereotypes are the new web-series which are short lived most importantly, and are real enough to get related to it while watching. Generally, the stories are based in cosmopolitan cities and dealing with its issues. Series like Permanent Roommates, Love Bytes brings us close to the very important issues of long -distance and live-in relationships. Then there is series like Baked, Girl In The City which shows the real struggle of the youngsters to make a life they have dreamt of.

The pattern of TV viewership is quite disturbing. Then there comes the reality shows to our rescue. With platforms for each kind of talent, this is the only mode of entertainment for us. Shows like The Kapil Sharma Show, Voice Kids, Dance India Dance are the ones which we look for detoxifying from our weekday’s drama.

 

 

 

RIGHT TIME.

“Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.”-Arnold H.Glasow

When I came across this quote today something inside me shouted to stop. I wondered what it was. That was my frustration; it asked me is success this simple?

I am someone who has always put all my efforts to do what is right, in a right way, that right way which is always right according to this unfailingly right society. Then what goes wrong each time, why I am thrown away from my way to success always? Many would relate to me here that whenever we as an individual visualize our dreams coming true, suddenly the visuals vanishes from our eyes and we are shaken up to rise in our realities. It’s not that we are not capable enough, or we don’t do required hard work to achieve what we want; It’s about our “Right Time.” I wonder what this right time looks like and feels like. I have been waiting for this right time for so long now. People meet me each time and say oh goodness you are so talented, don’t worry your right time is surely on the way.

For now, I am tired listening to these constant fake concerns for me and my right time. I am tired of wasting my talent. I am tired of calming down my frustration. I am tired of just dreaming without fulfilling it. I am tired of this long wait. I am tired of waiting for my right time.

It is always said that whenever you get an opportunity to be successful in your field, grab it with both your hands. What if I lost the opportunity I was offered because of some extremely important issues of life, wouldn’t the opportunity come back to me for a second chance. You would say if you didn’t accept the chance at that very moment it was your fault because you didn’t give it that much priority. What if I say that if you are topping the list of someone else’s priority, you have to somehow compromise with your own priorities too.

But if all the game of priorities and compromises are over and I want to have a comeback would I get a knock at my door again. There is no another alternative than to wait, wait and wait longer for that right time. And till then doing all that is required and to fight with our fate is the only option left with us.