Archive for August, 2012



We live in strange times. Someone’s plight on the roads seems to be the least of our concern but when someone talks on TV about child marriage, alcohol abuse we seem to get so moved that we cannot stop ourselves from praising the show and spreading the word.
This is no insult to the show, Satyamev Jayate it is just an article that tries to explore whether the show is truly hollow?
The only thing that comes even close to my liking on Satyamev Jayate is that the show is well researched and tries spreading awareness. Aamir Khan tries to bring social problems plaguing the country to the front through primetime television. In this show the audience is “supposedly” enlightened with news that they “supposedly” did not know about.
I find this show pretty crass and vile, here are a few reasons why:
1. 3.5 Crores, that’s a buttload of money. That is the amount of money being paid to Aamir Khan for doing one episode. Hmmm so much for Social Service eh?
2. When I look at the show, it seems really fake. Now I will be talking of only 2-3 topics that have been brought up on this show. Let us take the first topic “female infanticide”. Now I do not know about all of you but I definitely knew of this problem for a long time, there is nothing new that he ever brought to the table. I could see some benefit if he actually stopped someone from doing that or he even went around preaching to villages because well he is a star and who does not like stars? But all he seemed to do was get people and make them talk. Coming to this other topic that I saw, it was on ethnic marriage. Now what basically had happened was that the girl liked the boy and the boy liked the girl, but the girl’s parents did not approve. When both of them ran away and got married they threatened to kill them and the couple has been on the run since. Now this is a great way to bring such social issues to mainstream audience but I was shocked when he asked the girl, “How did you feel when you ran away from home?” How the hell is someone supposed to feel!, it was like he wanted her to cry. That all is also okay but is this questioning really required? My question is what did he achieve after talking about it on television, he showed that the law was there but it was not really effective. My point being that he actually did not really improve the condition of the lives of that couple because the thinking of the parents is unchanged. What I find is that the show appears to be rehearsed and his dialogues scripted, well it is a TV show but there are human emotions that are being dealt with so I personally feel that the approach taken by the show is cheap.
It is easy to point out the bad qualities of anything and I understand that all the Satyamev Jayate lover’s would not like my criticism, but lets just look at a few TV shows that have actually had a much better concept. Remember Kiran Bedi ka insaaf or Sach ka Tarazu? These shows are pretty old and forgotten but they did something that Satyamev Jayate does not. They interacted with the audience on a whole new level and the audience was educated with a judicial standing. In the show Kiran Bedi ka Insaaf at least the judicial standpoint on the view was made clear and each party was allowed to present their case. They were not very great and popular shows but I am sure they definitely affected the life of quite a few.
Another show which I like is Channel V’s Gumraah. Although the show is pretty cliché and slightly overdone, what it is able to do is connect to the audience on a greater level by re-enacting already occurred events. What the show does is that it shows the audience with clever narration all the sides of the story and this tends to leave a stronger impact on the audience’s mind.
So while Satyamev Jayate looks like another hollow show which makes social problems crass, Channel V’s Gumraah has potential as it is already into its second season.


When I think about all the things that have taken place over the past few months, I would like to say that I have been lucky enough to survive an ordeal many would prefer to wash themselves out with. A tide that consumed everything in its way; brought down hell none compared to my recent rendezvous with chaos – both emotional and physical. But only so, I wish there was a tide; one such that would have brought rain or water in any form and crops- crops to follow; then tomorrow would not have appeared as bleak and drab as they are to me right now. Yes I am one of them, to a third person we are just as obscure and hidden away as the National page News articles but the fact remains – I Am A Poison Bride!

I was born to a well-off family with five siblings and agricultural produce suitable enough to nourish us through every passing day. Tilling, ploughing and weeding were just another part of the day and rural Maharashtra was as scenic as one would picture it to be. Running around the fields, playing hopscotch with my sisters and chasing the cows- my life was a joy ride which I hoped would never end. Education was not something our father thought to be essential because to him someday all of us were to bid a teary farewell and be off to our in-laws’. So while our brothers went to school and burned many a night lamps during their semesters, I just let the cool breeze drift through my hair and feel what not many were lucky enough to be living.
Childhood soon gave way to adolescence and playtime slowly reduced to cooking in the kitchen and sifting through the grain silo.
Friends I played with during my growing up years were getting married and I knew that my time is not far away. For long I dreaded being married to an inhumane, fifty year old man suitable enough to pass off as my grandfather. But call it lucky; better sense prevailed and my parents thought of the contrary. Soon enough they found me a very ‘suitable’ groom. Not the swish city bred kinds but one of our own. A farmer by profession and agriculture for a living. To me it was all just a daze that I was hoping would pass away.
16 years and four months old- that’s how old I was on the day of my wedding. Too young, I know and I would not advise the same to my kids or to anyone for that matter. But nevertheless I tied the knot with a deep sense of fore brooding already whipping up a storm inside me. Marital life was not bliss like how the word of mouth praises had sounded it to be. A rather grueling task of cooking, cleaning and tending to a humongous family’s request lay at my service. And I was expected to comply with the same and adhere to the rules laid down by the family.
Despite my wishes, I was advised against working in a small scale industry and was told to stay at home. Despite the fact that I pointed out that this could come handy as an extra source of income, my offer to work was flatly refused and ignored from the start. So I carried on with my marital ‘bliss’ and stayed aloof from half the world outside my periphery. Even though this was all meant to be the initial adjustments of settling into a household; I did not take in the wrong spirit and no sooner had I managed to fit into the family mould and how bad could it get after all?
Years passed on and I was now a mother to three happy kids who had added more meaning to my life than ever before. Watching them grow before my eyes and spending time trying to make the best of the day for them had gradually made up for any lack or shortcomings that I could complain about. Life to me was just another view of having a peek into the life of my parents’. Get married, earn a living, have kids and work towards a better tomorrow. This is what encompassed an idealistic day for me and that is how it was to be or so I thought.
And then the famine struck!
Initially it started out as the absence of rains far and few. An eager anticipation would eventually build up in everyone’s hearts as the season approached but would die down during the night with rains not gracing the day. But then there came no rains and slowly the water held in reserve started being used up as we were left with no other option. With fast depleting water resources and rains showing no sign of gracing this side of the country, panic began to set in.
After a month or so of no rains, we farmers were on the edge of our nerves knowing not what to do next and with no extension of relief from the government’s side as well. Agriculture was and has been our way of life since as long as I can recall. This sudden occurring threw everything for a toss. Our crops withered away and whatever was left of it, had to be fed to the kids and no one in the market wanted our produce because of its undernourished quality.
Desperate times gave way to desperate decisions and it was then my husband like many other men from the area decided to borrow money from the landlords or the moneylenders. We did not have money to pay back. But in the hope of surviving the today and to live for the tomorrow, we decided to loan out the money. After some investment in seeds, manure, etc. the rest we utilized to keep the family going. The rains were nowhere on the horizon. It was like fate had dealt us with the wrong set of cards and we were playing along like a bunch of dummies.
To a common man a loan of Fifty Thousand may not be a big deal but to us in our present state of affairs it was. Earning 10 rupees was proving to be cumbersome now and surviving through the day – an ordeal.
Then disaster struck!
The government had by now declared the state to be in famine and that help was on its way. But after months of wait and a hill of interests on loans piling
up; people had given up hope. Suicides, as unheard of were now cropping up in conversations around the village and though drastic many thought of it as an
easy way out. The most crushing was when our neighbors with no money to pay off their debts decided to end the family together.
The last we saw of the Sawant’s was their 2 year old kid playing on the front porch. Rat poison they say, but I would not believe it.
How could this be happening? Why us?
Watch out for Part II where the story of the poison bride will be continued
Nimisha Nair


Corruption is one of the biggest problems plaguing our country right now. Despite numerous attempts to remove corruption from its roots, we stand here at this point in time having failed miserably to tackle the problem of Corruption. Anna Hazare and his team started the Jan Lokpal movement over a year ago and having lost much steam they plan to restart the agitation, but is this enough?

Corruption is a very old science. I refer to corruption as science because there is more to it than just giving bribes and getting your work done for a cost.
Now if you look at the Indian administrative system, the volume that the department has to handle is huge, the incentive that the government workers get in terms of their salary is not huge when you compare it to the private sector. The free houses and utilities they get, they have become used to it and it no longer qualifies as a perk for them. Let us try peeking into the life of a government agent.

The child of a government worker comes to him and says, “Dad in class everyone has a PS, why can’t I have one too?” the father will explain to him saying, “Son, Your Dad does not earn as much as their fathers and I cannot afford it.” It will kill him to say this and deny that worldly pleasure to his son but he will do it once. The next year when his son asks him for a new “Nike” football because his friends believe that only Nike is the good stuff, he will tear a little piece of his heart but buy his boy the expensive football because after all how many times does his son get a good birthday gift? Soon his wife starts coming to him and says that all the other ladies in the government colony use expensive make up and go out shopping, but why is it that we do not have enough money to do all of this? How can he explain to his wife that while the other officers in the colony accept bribes, he has stayed true to his belief and not accepted a single bribe.

Is his belief more important than his family’s happiness? The man is in a dilemma. He consoles himself by saying that he is doing the right thing and it is the best for everybody, but he himself knows the hollowness of these words. Soon he loses the will to fight the battle alone because he is not getting benefits nor is it bringing him any happiness. He goes to the office the next day and starts accepting bribes and soon see’s the happiness return back in his family’s eyes. That is how he justifies his corrupt nature.

If there are x corrupt officials in a government agency, there are 2x non-corrupt officials. But we always have a tendency to look at the corrupt ones and frown saying the whole agency is corrupted, but how do you think that makes the non-corrupt officials feel? Is it possible that our disdain and hatred towards a government agency since the last 20 years because part of it is corrupt, has actually caused the non-corrupt officials to become corrupt?

Let us have a look at the common man, a typical Mussadilal(We will call him Mussadi) if you remember the show “Office Office”:

Mussadi is missing his office today because his son needs a driving license. His son has “threatened” him by saying that since every one of his friends has a driving license; it does not look “cool” if he doesn’t have one. Regretfully he agrees to use one of his personal days at the office and accompany his son. When he arrives at the RTO, he sees a line as big as the line for rations at his village. After waiting for 2 hours he gets the form, filling it up quickly, he and his son rush to the officer to get it verified. This time he finds an even bigger queue disappearing into the room. At this point, his son says “Dad, I need to meet my friends so I am going to go but please stay here and get my work done. Thanks” and leaves. Having no option he stays there in the queue. Just then a man walks up to him and says that why are you standing in the line and doing all this “magajmaari”, just hire an “agent”. He enquires about how much the agent would charge and on finding that it would cost him a whopping 1000 bucks decides he is better of alone. There are 4 different departments to visit in an RTO and it is absolutely necessary to have an agent, otherwise you are not taken seriously. After getting the forms verified and then getting the payment slip done, getting your driving test done is a nightmare as the officer in charge is permanently surrounded by agents. As Mussadi would later come to realize at the cost of time and money that sometimes you just need to give in because unless the complete system is overhauled nothing can be really done.

These are exaggerated events no doubt, but what they are trying to is both sides of the story. Sometimes for a government official he might start the job with the best thoughts but somewhere along on the road, the pressure gets to you. Even for the common man it is a struggle to maintain a living and do the right thing. Sometimes it is just not feasible to stand up and be different because you cannot afford to. In the fight against corruption, we need to understand that it is a way of life for people. It might be easy for you and me to forgo 5 days of work and sit on the government officials head and refuse to pay a bribe, but for someone who needs to work just to maintain his family asking for those 5 days is too much.

I am not trying to justify corruption or in any ways defend it, just trying to say there is something more to the story.

-Shail Vani