Fireworks – A haiku

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By Somali K Chakrabarti

Kerala Temple Fire

flurry of fireworks

in an old temple premise-

doom descends, charred lives

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Latur Water Crisis – A haiku

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By Somali K Chakrabarti

Latur water crisis

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sweet profits reaped

from thirsty sugarcane farms

cost bitter tears!

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Pray For Lahore

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Pray For Lahore

#PrayForLahore

 

flame smoke splinters shards
disrupt singing of the lark
savagery lays bare-
booms of devil’s grin are heard
in the Garden of Iqbal

#PrayForLahore

Healing the Scars of Child Abuse

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By Somali K Chakrabarti

What does a child do when those who are meant to protect her turn into the perpetrators of crime against her?

Abuse in the formative years might be the worst kind of agony that a person could be subjected to. When perpetrated by family members it carries with it the burden of guilt and shame, which affects not only the childhood but spills over the entire lifespan of the person. Every time I read about child abuse, it disgusts me to think about the people who indulge in the heinous crime. More disturbing is the thought of children who are made to go through it.

 

Child abuse

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The Only Way Out Is Through

The Only Way Out Is Through,’ written by Shirley J Davis, is a first-hand narrative of the trauma faced by the author who was subjected to abuse in her childhood. While she avoids mention of the explicit details, Shirley mostly uses the form of free flowing poetry to convey the deep scars that were inflicted on her as a child, and the psychological setback she suffered due to the inhuman ordeal.

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The Great Indian Litterbug

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 By Somali K Chakrabarti

Litterbug is the name; to litter is his game.

He is one you will adore, for his qualities galore.

This is the story of the 7 year old little Litterbug

Cute little Litterbug is just back from school. Hungry as hell, he throws around his bag and yells for food. His doting mother hands over an apple and some bananas to him. The little Litterbug eats the half apple and throws the other half right out of the window.

My son will grow up to be a great cricketer one day. See how he strives to perfect his aim!’ Mother Litterbug utters aloud drooling over the antics of her lil one.

The banana peel follows the half eaten apple out of the window as she lovingly looks on. He tears open a packet of chips, takes out his notebook, and starts scribbling vigorously to finish his homework before he goes out to play.

Little Litterbug
Little Litterbug

 

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Celebrate diversity and break cultural stereotypes

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 By Somali K Chakrabarti

 “There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combination of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.

There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.

There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.”

― Sun Tzu

India being a large country, the culture and tradition of a part at one end of the country are distinctly different from another part at the other end. The vast multitude of art, music, dance, food and traditions add to the cultural diversity and enliven the country with shades and hues of different colors, but not without presenting their own set of challenges.

Cultural diversity

We are, often, so oriented to our customs and traditions that most of us tend to judge others solely by the values and standards of our own culture. We don’t desist from complaining about how foreigners perceive us, but then we Indians have our own yardsticks for judging people from other states. Deeply ingrained in our psyche are the cultural prejudices that we have grown up with.

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Busting the myth of Manliness in Indian society

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By Somali K Chakrabarti

 

Mard ko dard nahin hota.

Amitabh Bachchan had declared in his characteristic style in ‘Mard’, one of the memorable Bollywood blockbusters from the 1980s. Translated in English it means ‘A real man does not feel pain’.

This stereotypical projection of men in India, has time and again been exemplified by the society, perpetrated through the movies, and reinforced by many parents while raising their children.

In a thought provoking show ‘When Masculinity Harms Men’ in Satyamev Jayate’, Aamir Khan took a step towards busting the myth of manliness that exists in the Indian society.

Here is what Mr Bachchan said on the show.

Gender sensitivity

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To forcefully instill values in the male child to constantly act like a man or to behave violently is wrong.  ~Amitabh Bachchan

A far cry from his iconic dialogue!

Power, aggression, control are classified as ‘masculine’ traits, while caring, sharing, expressing emotions or crying are the typically seen as ‘feminine’ traits.

These notions are instilled in the mind of male children right from their childhood. Any small boy, who cries, is consoled saying he shouldn’t cry like a girl, since he is physically stronger. Mothers urge their sons to beat up other children rather than get bullied or beaten up. The image of a ‘Macho‘ man endowed with enormous physical strength, gets so  imprinted in the mind of male children that it often leads them to believe that “masculinity“ is about demonstration of power rather than about human consideration or sensitivity. As such, they value aggression more than reason, and at times they tend to believe that they will be more admired and can get away with whatever they do if they are more aggressive or violent.

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Why society should accept Alternative Sexuality

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By Somali K Chakrabarti

 

Alan Turing, whose pioneering work laid the mathematical foundations of computer, was convicted for homosexuality and subjected to chemical castration that drove him to suicide. His suicide prompted the British government to amend laws concerning homosexuality.

~ Aamir Khan on ‘Accepting Alternative Sexuality’ episode of his show Stayamev Jayate that touched upon the sensitive issue of the rights of LGBT community to live freely and openly.

Alan Turing was the British mathematical genius, logician and cryptanalyst who had invented the Turing machine, which laid the foundation for creation of modern computers. By cracking the German military’s secret code, Turing had helped the British Navy defeat Hitler’s U-boats and win the Battle of the Atlantic, in the World War II. He was a marathon runner too, with world class time, and was named as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, by TIME magazine in 1999.

 

Alan Turing
Alan Turing

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Mumbai – A Green City Turning Grey

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By Somali K Chakrabarti

Standing by the open window railing on my room, as I sip my morning tea looking at the coconuts swinging from the tree at a stone’s throw, I struggle each day to reconcile with how the view has changed over the last two years.

The open space on both sides, where there used to be a nursery and a school playground is now covered up with high-rise flats that are in the last stage of construction. In place of the variety of plants and flowers in the nursery, stands a burly concrete mixer humming throughout the day. Scaffoldings along the walls of buildings and reinforcement rods jutting out of the columns from the roof of an under-construction parking lot make an unseemly sight.

Green Mumbai

I feel let down and so do the other residents of the building. But do we complain? Not much!

Financial wisdom tells us that with the land prices having appreciated more than 5 times, we should not be complaining. Likewise, constructing high rise buildings on a prime property makes more commercial sense for builder; so what if the land was initially earmarked for a school playground and a park.

Besides enjoying the facility of a plush club house with a well equipped gym and swimming pool, residents also get the privilege of a view into the interiors of other flats from their houses. Read more

‘The Flaws In Our Laws’ By Dr Bibek Debroy | Absurdities Of Indian Laws – Part II

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By Somali K Chakrabarti

Continuing from my last post ‘The Flaws In Our Laws’ By Bibek Debroy | My Scribbling Of The Session – Part I, here I proceed to  jot down the next two anecdotes that were also the most interesting anecdotes of the session.

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Identifying Surplus Government Posts

 

Anecdote 3 was about identifying redundant government posts to recommend their abolishment.

The story, as narrated to Dr Debroy by a retired senior civil officer goes as follows…

In 1973, an Administrative Reforms Commission was set up in Tamil Nadu to find posts in the system that appeared to be redundant. Two such posts identified were that of LBK, LBA. Nobody seemed to have a clue about what these abbreviations stood for, nor about the duties assigned to these posts.

Some facts unfurled when people who had retired from these positions and were drawing pensions were called upon to enquire about the posts.

In 1926, a Royal Commission on Agricultural Reform was set to improve the quality of agriculture in India . The Commission was set up under the Chairmanship of Lord Linlithgow, who later became the Viceroy of India and served from 1936 – 1943. It was decided by the Commission that agricultural productivity would be improved by improving the quality of Indian cattle by breeding Indian cows with foreign bulls. The system was as slow then as it is today, maybe much more slower. Nothing moved on the recommendations of the Royal Commissions.

Ten years on, in 1936 when it was announced that Lord Linlithgow would be the new Governor General, things suddenly stirred up in the system. The new Viceroy would certainly want to know what had happened to his recommendations.

In the government system, creating new positions is just as difficult as slashing jobs. So to get things moving, two job positions were created by invoking the name of Lord Linlithgow . The position LBK stood for Linlithgow’s Bull Keeper, who was assigned with the task of overseeing the import of bulls, while LBA’s (Linlithgow’s Bull Assistant’s) job was to ensure that cows were impregnated at the right time.Bull

As we were in splits of laughter, he added that though these posts were abolished in the early 1980s. Yet there was another post that still continued past the 1980s. Read more

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