Sunday, July 20, 2014


With every passing day crimes against women are on the rise. Every day when we open the news paper or turn on a news channel we are brought face to face with news of rape and murder of the rape victim.  
Sita returns to the earth's womb with her mother.
(A Raja Ravi Varma painting, credits Wikipedia)

From the days of the Vedas and the Upanishads women are being violated. Since the society became patriarchal women have been at the receiving end. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have chronicled the hapless plight of women.

Sita had to prove her chastity in front of all and sundry. Dushashana dragged Draupadi by her hair into the crowded courtroom where the game of dice was being played. Then he tried to disrobe her in front of all the great men of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. No one but Bheema protested against this outrageous act.

Rape and violence against women were there before probably in the same numbers. In India, every second, a woman or a girl child is being violated upon. Some incidents get reported while most remain out of our notice. Fear, trauma and social stigma bar the victim from reporting the crime.

People should be encouraged to come out and report such incidents. These cases need to be handled carefully and with compassion. The trauma, the victim and the family suffer, is immense. It should be taken into consideration while handling these sensitive cases.

Earlier, the media was present only in print form. But now, with the influx of media – both electronic and print – more incidents are being brought forth.
Draupadi's Vastraharan
(A Raja Ravi Verma Painting, Credits Wikipedia)

This increased expansion of the media has also resulted in the women and social rights activists becoming more vocal on the subject. They are coming out and protesting against these heinous acts. As more incidents are being brought to light, the complaints to the concerned authorities have also increased.

People are now becoming more and more aware of their rights and duties. Women are taking an active role in all the spheres of the society.

Empowerment of women is a revolutionary aspect of the society. The government, the media and the powers that be are trying their utmost in disseminating the message of development. Protection of mother and girl child, pre-natal care, neo-natal care, post-natal care, child infanticide are given due importance.  Strict laws and regulations have been framed to protect the girl child. Child marriage has been almost done away with, at least on paper.

Throughout the world “gender in development” and “gender and development” are being made the focus of all developmental programmes. Now there are strict regulations on the practice of dowry in our country. In spite of this, dowry is very much in vogue in the country. The powers that be turn a blind eye to the fact. This practice needs to be eradicated comprehensively.

Crime and violence against women are the most heinous and despicable acts in the world. These can be treated from a sociological aspect. The woman is the most vulnerable member of the family. Whenever anything untoward happens in the family, the woman becomes the most affected of the lot. Either she has to forego her morsel of food or the girl child has to leave her school or college. Similar other deprivations are borne upon the female member of the family. But the same does not happen to the men or the boys. These must be put to an end.

Development and growth is the call of the day.  Poverty need to be eradicated – not only in papers but physically. India has enough natural and agricultural resources and more than adequate cash reserve to see to it that no one goes starved. No one wants to live in poverty. No human being deserves humiliation and denigration.

It is the mother who feeds the family. It is the woman who does the household chores. It is the lady of the house who actually gives education to the whole family and brings up the children.

When one woman is violated upon every individual should think about his mother, sister, daughter and the women folk back home. During these despicable acts the society goes back in time. Development retards. 
Hence the average level of consciousness of the society has to be brought up.

Materialism has led to unrestrained want – want for goods and services beyond one’s means. This has given rise to the habit of downplaying hard work, diligence, camaraderie and fellow feeling. People look down upon those who are not resourceful. In general, disrespect has become a national disease. This results in disrespecting even one’s own kith and kin. Everywhere there is an ambiance of mistrust and hoodwinking. The common people are being fleeced of their money, property and possessions.

Sati Ceremony - A Hindu practice, whereby
a widow immolates herself on the
funeral pyre pf her husband (pix credit, Wikipedia) 
As charity begins at home, crime also begins at home. The rapists and criminals get the first taste of crime within their own family or within the surroundings they inhabit. This calls for a large scale drive to enhance the social consciousness of the society as a whole.

Our country is infected with criminalization of politics. It has been the bane of our society for long. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The political leaders cutting across party lines cater to their vote banks. They therefore fail to take honest, positive and drastic steps to enhance the societal conscious level.

The media and the information network have to take the onus on themselves to spread the message of respect, humanity and the virtues of life. But that again is a tough ask and who should come forth to bell the cat.    

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


stupa in cave 10 (pix credit wikipedia)
In February, 2014, we decided to visit Ajanta and Ellora. One of us was going to Mumbai to shoot a documentary. The second member of our group was in Mumbai, working. I was going to Mumbai to look for betterment in my career. 

Our trip was scheduled for the third week of March. We, in Calcutta, did not realize it was probably not the best of times to be in Ajanta and Ellora. It dawned on us later. It is apt to visit Ajanta and Ellora in the months of November, December, January and February till the first half of March.

We browsed the net. We talked to friends and acquaintances for inputs. The website of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) provided us the necessary information. We learnt from this site Fardapur is about 5 kms. away from Ajanta. MTDC has a resort at Fardapur. This is the place to stay if we are to invest adequate time to see the Ajanta caves thoroughly.
scene from cave 1 (pix credits wikipedia)

One can visit Ajanta from Jalgaon. Ajanta is 60kms from Jalgaon. It is a two hour journey by road. The Ellora caves are in Aurangabad.  We were not sure about where to start our journey from. Would it be Jalgaon or shall we move on to Aurangabad? Here again the MTDC website came to our rescue. The site advices tourists to visit Ajanta from Aurangabad.

The caves of Ajanta are about 105 kms from Aurangabad. Aurangabad has a good bus service run by the State Government of Maharashtra. It takes around two and a half hours to three hours to reach the caves. We booked the MTDC resort at Fardapur for two days.

We took the Tapovan Express from Mumbai CST to Aurangabad. The train starts from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal at 6.10 A.M. It is supposed to reach Aurangabad at around 1.15 P.M. That fateful day the train reached Aurangabad at 3.30 P.M.

We were in a reserved compartment. Inspite of the fact that the compartment was meant for passengers with reservations, common people and daily commuters thronged the compartment. We had a torrid time. The burning sun along with the barren, dry and rocky country took its toll on us. We were exhausted and fatigued. One of us suffered heat stroke while another was feeling giddy.

the buddhist "carpenter's" cave at ellora(cave 10)
 pix credits wikipedia
We had previously decided to bide our time in Aurangabad, take rest for a while and proceed to Fardapur in due course. But now this became a compulsion on us. We took a long rest in Aurangabad.

We refreshed ourselves at the waiting room at Aurangabad railway station. After a late lunch at the cafeteria inside the rail station, we waited patiently for the daytime heat to subside.  

At around quarter to 5 we went to the Aurangabad bus terminal. Our bus for Fardapur started at 5 o’clock. The conductor of our bus informed us that it stops just in front of the entrance to the MTDC resort at Fardapur and that it would take around two and a half hours to reach.

This was a pleasant journey. A cool wind had set in. The rocky terrain of the Western Ghats provided scenic landscapes. The weather was comfortable and soothing. In the western parts of India, the sun takes time to set. The setting sun provided adequate light for us to see and enjoy the nature.

When the bus dropped us at Fardapur, near the MTDC resort, it was 730 P.M. The sun had long gone to rest. Evening had set in. It was dark. This journey was not as taxing as the morning travel. We checked into our room, had tea and took turn to bathe. We had an early dinner at the resort’s cafeteria. It was a beautiful ambience.

We spent the next day at the Ajanta caves. Visitors had come from all over the world to visit the caves.  Our eyes feasted on the Buddhist sculptures and wall engravings. The etchings and drawings were impeccable and the sculptures were immaculate. The toil was worth it.

The day after, we started for Aurangabad at 8 in the morning. We reached the MTDC resort near the Aurangabad railway station at around 11 o’clock. We had our lunch and moved on to visit Ellora.
a jain cave in ellora. pix credit wikipedia.

The caves of Ellora are situated 30 km from Aurangabad. We went to the Aurangabad bus terminus and took a bus to Ellora. It was a one hour journey. One crosses Daulatabad on the way.

Ellora is all about carvings, sculptures and wall paintings and engravings from the Jainism period. It is an exhibition of stupendous Indian art at its peak. The Kailas Temple is a magnificent piece of architecture of the period.

Indian history, architecture, sculpture and art reminded us of the rich legacy of our country. All the sweat, grime and our quest for ways and means to see the remnants of our country’s opulent past was paid off in cash and kind.

We went back to Aurangabad to prepare for our journey back to Mumbai. We had our reservations on the Jan Shatabdi Express which was scheduled to leave Aurangabad for Dadar at 6.00 A.M. the next day.

Monday, April 28, 2014


Valentine’s Day has gradually turned out to be a very potent tool for marketing in the Indian sub-continent. It probably has a greater impact on the South East Asian markets.

pix credit wiki images
In India, the festive season, which starts in September/October, comes to an end early January. From then on till the financial year end in March the markets become dry. The sales happen in the government sectors – the public sectors. The annual budgets need to be exhausted.  They then add to the sales of bulk and wholesale markets.

The annual year end sale season – the Chaitra sale in West Bengal and in Maharashtra happen at the end of March. The period from January to March – the three months used to be a lull period for the retailers throughout the country. Of late the situation has changed drastically.

Since the last decade of the 20th century the markets have had a fresh lease of life around the concept of the Valentine’s Day. The marketing campaigns have targeted almost every age group from the teenagers to the old, from the illiterate to the literate. Anybody and everybody are aware of the day.

Valentine’s Day, which is observed on 14th February every year, is the harbinger of romance in the season of spring. You name  any market, any product, anything that comes to your mind in the retail market – be it a fast moving consumer good to a consumer durable has seen considerable rise in its sale on and around the day.
pix credits wiki images

The essence of any marketing campaign targeting the Valentine’s Day has primarily been romance, love, warmth, a sense of being there and a feeling of well being. This has egged on the average person, the commoners to buy and gift things to their friends, lovers and family.

As a result the coffers of the retailers have fattened up during an otherwise lull season. The economy has become more energetic during these months. The investment and savings patterns have also been subsequently influenced.

Valentine’s Day is also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the feast of Saint Valentine.  The day is celebrated in many countries around the world. But it is not a holiday in most of them. The Halloween is more important than Valentine’s Day in USA, UK and similar advanced nations.

The customs of Valentine’s Day developed in early modern England. It spread throughout the world in the 19th century. Then in the later 20th century and early 21st centuries it caught up very well in the so called third world countries. These customs have also spread to other countries along with other aspects of American pop culture.
pix credit wiki images

Poets like Geoffrey Chaucer and John Donne had symbolized the day with the idea of Love and Romance. Even the great Shakespeare has used it in his writings. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we find Ophelia mentioning the day with remorse.

A very well orchestrated and concentrated marketing effort has initiated the celebrations of Valentine’s Day in some East Asian countries with Chinese, South Koreans and Indians spending the most money on Valentine’s gifts.

Though sociologists and certain politicians have scoffed at the concept of merchandising of love, the concept of Valentine’s Day has caught on in a big way in this sub-continent. The economic effects it has brought on to the country are positive. People bask in the warmth of a good feeling about themselves. It has now become a social event.  

In a way it has done well to the people and has augured in a fresh lease of air to the mundane day-to-day lives of the common man.