Sunday, January 27, 2013

Are we asleep?
Some times I wonder at our ruling class, the politicians and the beurocrats and their insensitivity to issues that affect peoples health. One such example is curbing tobacco use. Despite the overwhelming evidence of tobacco related deaths the measures taken to curb use of tobacco are very casual and most cases not enforceable.

Tobacco users die early and horribly due to lung and other cancers, serious respiratory problems and cardiovascular disease. Chronic smokers have ten to fifteen years less of life expectancy as compared to non smokers and those who have quit smoking before they are 40 years.

We have rules which says on the cigarette packet that it is injurious to health. The caption should be that it will kill you 15 years before time with cancer. We have instituted laws of no smoking in public places.  I have not seen any one booked for smoking in public which is seen every where. Tobacco products are available every where and I see a worrying trend of young persons especially young women smoking.

What we can do with powerful tobacco lobby not allowing stricter measures by the government and the feeble laws are not enforced?

There are some ways. Socially boycott smokers. Don't sit with them. I f one of your friend smokes, get up and move a way and make sure he knows why you did it. Women should not allow men to have sex with them  and vise versa!

TV ads even remotely connected with tobacco should be banned and so  in cinema smoking should not be shown even if the scene demands it.

farmers must resist the pressures from tobacco companies and start growing alternates cash crops.

What you and I can do is to socially ostracize smokers. Draconian it sounds is it not but it is in their interests.
It is better to have a good friends company for ten more years than see him die after intense suffering because of lung cancer.

Monday, January 14, 2013


The recent spate of atrocities on women made me wonder if there are reasons other than what I wrote in my previous postings. I came to realize that there are indeed historical reasons and they are numerous.

Let us examine a few. In the present day India people can be broadly classified as those living in the plains and those living in the hills. The people living in the hills which form a tiny minority are supposed to be those who were driven to go beyond accessibly [hills and forests] by the Aryan hordes that came into this country some 2 to 5000 years ago. Women of the hill people have no problems with their men as one can see in the north east, tribes of MP, Chattisgarh and even in states of Karnataka and Tamilnadu. They have traditionally placed women on a different footing than the people living in the plains of India which is the rest of the country.

History is replete with recorded instances of discrimination aimed at women. The earliest that comes to my mind is Rama’s story in the famous epic Ramayana. We call this man, Lord Rama and worship him as the embodiment of everything that is good and great in a human. He is called in Hindi as maryada prushotham. Let us see what was his attitude towards his wife Seetha who spent some years in captivity [some DMK historians say willingly!] in SriLanka ruled by demon King Ravana.On successful invasion and rescue, King Rama returns to the city of Ayodhya with his wife Seetha. He being a noble king interested in the welfare of his people, made clandestine inspections under disguise. In one of his forays he hears a washerman make derogatory remarks as to Seeta’s character when she was away for so long in Srilanka.

This has our Marayada Purushotham Rama worried. The only way to convince his people that his wife is pure [meaning she has not slept with Ravana] is to make her walk through fire. So he proceeds to test his reluctant wife with fire. Of course the ever virtuous and devoted wife comes through this fire test with flying colors and redeems the suspect honor. This kind of horror incidents are also there in Mahabharata [another revered epic] where another King of virtue called Dharmaraja [except for his compulsive gambling] who after losing everything he has in a game of dice, bets his own wife and loses. Then this virtuous man mutely witnesses stripping of his wife in front of an assembly of nobles.

So, men even in those times [2 to 5000 years ago] treated women as commodities and not as humans. They [women] lived and died catering to the whims and fancies of their men. A woman without her man was considered an economic liability and fit to be burned along with her husband when he died .This went by the name Suttee. This barbaric act prevailed till the late 19th century and it took an English governor General William Bentick and an Indian social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy to put an end to this practice of widow burning.

The present day India the widow burning is replaced by female feticide and infanticide widely practiced in many states with possible exception of southern states. Widow neglect is also rampant. There is already an alarmingly skewed sex ratio in many northern states. Single men not being able to find brides are  a major problem especially in a society which treats women as chattels.

We are now facing very serious and very dangerous social disaster in the making. Unless society wakes up to this reality, there is going to be crisis of unimaginable proportion. Compulsory women’s education, preferential treatment and creation of employment opportunities, change in inheritance and divorce laws that will give women equal rights will help, but the most important is change of the male mind set.

Will it come about?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


In this unfortunate country and people, we are not only saddled with rotten political leaders, but also are burdened with religious leaders who are a century behind times if one goes by the remarks made by them.

One says school girls should not wear skirts, another says woman should stay inside the house and look after the husband and children and run the house and yet another says the rape victim is to be equally blamed!

With such leaders at the helm do we have any hopes at all of becoming a developed nation?

The more I read and watch the media more confirmed I become in my pessimism about the future of my country.