Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year

When I was young, 31st Dec used to be that one day, when we were allowed to watch late night TV - the New Year Programme on Doordarshan! I actually used to feel sad that I would have to wait for a whole year for this day to come again! These days, a whole year seems to pass off in second!

Things have long changed from those young, innocent days! As 2008 ends, my day unfortunately has been quite the same for some time now, the same last minute rush to finish off stuff before starting the celebrations!

This year, we are off to a friend's place to welcome 2009. Just wanted to wish all of you a very Happy New Year! Hope the year brings happiness and peace! See you all next year.

Monday, 29 December 2008

The Tongue that I speak

I was inspired to write this from one of Ajit's posts. I was first introduced to the origins of languages by my great-uncle who is a linguist. Ever since, I have always been on the lookout for words that are common, in seemingly different languages.. I am talking about the words which have been assimilated so well into various languages that we probably do not even realise that the origins are probably the same.

Here are some examples of words and their origins..

Rice - It has been speculated that the Indo-Iranian vrihi itself is borrowed from a Dravidian vari (< PDr. *warinci)[12] or even a Munda language term for rice, or the Tamil name arisi (அரிசி) from which the Arabic ar-ruzz, from which the Portuguese and Spanish word arroz originated.

Mango - The name mango is ultimately either from the Kodagu mange, the Malayalam manga, or the Tamil mangai, and was loaned into Portuguese in the early 16th century, and from Portuguese passed into English. The ending in -o appears in English and is of unclear origin.[2].

Day - The term comes from the Old English dæg, with similar terms common in all other Indo-European languages, such as Tag in German and dive in Sanskrit.

Orange - Orange derives from Indian, tamil naranthai to Sanskrit nāraṅgaḥ "orange tree", with borrowings through Persian nārang, Arabic nāranj, Spanish naranja, Late Latin arangia, Italian arancia or arancio, and Old French orenge, in chronological order. The first appearance in English dates from the 14th century. The name of the colour is largely derived from the fruit, first appearing in this sense in the 16th century.

These are some of the words that I can think of - off the top of my head.. I am sure a lot of you will be able to provide me with loads of other examples.. Just the other day, I learnt from my Spanish neighbour that the word for table in Spanish is 'mesa' which is pronounced almost exactly as the Malayalam word for table - 'mesha'!

If we all start looking at similarities between ourselves and realise that just like these words, we all have common origins, a lot of our problems are bound to disappear - what do you think?

Sunday, 28 December 2008

A Vote for Democracy

I had been watching the analysis of the Jammu and Kashmir election results on NDTV and for the first time, that I recall - I actually felt good while watching something about Kashmir.

The verdict, which has been hailed by the Prime Minister as ' A Vote for Democracy' definitely felt good. For the first time, polls in Jammu and Kashmir have been virtually violence-free and non-coercive. It was an election where people ignored the boycott called by the separatist movement and came out in decisive numbers to vote. And vote they did! A 60.5% voter turnout!
To add to everything, the National Conference emerged as the single largest party, with the pro-separatist PDP, not faring as well.

Though it would be very premature to call this an 'end to the separatists movement' in Kashmir, lets hope, that this is a kind of landmark, a turning point for the Jammu and Kashmir region. It has been hailed as a sign of trust by the J&K voters in the Indian democratic system.There are people argueing that the voters' have voted for governance and development, keeping autonomy out of the elections. Even if that maybe so - if the voter turnout was this high - surely, it is an indication that they felt that their vote would amount to something, that the democratic system in India, with all its problems - is still democratic, that people's voices will be heard. That, itself, if you ask me, is a huge triumph for India.

The true test would be for the newly elected government to show that they live up to the voters' expectations. I am hoping that this is the first step towards outing the separatist movement in Kashmir.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas week has started! For the last few weeks(or was it months? - sometimes they start right after Easter:) the Christmas cheer has been in the air.

People are on leave, children are enjoying the holidays. Houses are decked in lights! Christmas trees lit up everywhere - much to my daughter's delight! We went for a walk today and she had a wonderful time 'finding Christmas trees'. 'Oh look Chismis Tree, I found it , I found it!' It was amazing to see her joy at the sighting of a Christmas Tree or a Santa!

How I wish, we could keep that ability of being able to be so deliriously happy at the smallest of things throughout our lives!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 22 December 2008

To Convert or not to Convert?

I was reading through the comments in one of IHM's posts when I started to comment and then realised that I wanted to do a post instead!

We have heard a lot of justification of the violence in Orissa by the VHP/Bajrang Dal activists on the basis of avenging 'proselytisation'. I cannot understand how we can do anything but condemn it wholeheartedly. There can be justification whatsoever.

Firstly, Conversion is no crime in India - despite the efforts of the Sangh Parivar to make forced conversion a crime. 'Forcible converison' , to me is a term which is hugely ambiguous. In a secular democracy like India - how can we even think of having a law like this? If our citizens do not have the right to convert to any religion, to live in any way that suits them - what is the meaning of the democracy we live in? If India becomes a state where we are told what religion to follow, or when I can or not convert - I would much rather emigrate.

Secondly, if the missionaries are successful in converting the lower caste Hindus to Christainity - there is a reason for it. My father used to recount to me , how badly the lower castes used to be treated. He tells me of how even the shadow of a lower caste to fall on one of the higher castes was considered defilement! So they had to move away when my dad and his family approached. And then, magically when they converted - they could come into our living rooms! How fair is that? And why would any person not prefer that?

The caste system had reached such levels that to convert must have been a huge relief. And yes, if the Christian missionaries gave them incentives - what was wrong? When we could not give them the dignity, the respect - is it any surprise that they went where they got a lot more? Can you blame them, if they found respect in the society, education subsidised for their children, after converting? All this without violence! Just by promising and delivering social upliftment.

Thirdly, for all the efforts spent in the carnage in Orissa - would it not have served everyone better if these groups had looked inwards and tried to make changes to the system, so that people are less likely to be tempted by conversion? How about starting good quality schools ? Hospitals? Trying to do what can be done to abolish the caste system? Obviously, the last point is not an easy one - but if every person tried - I am sure it could happen? My granddads - on both sides, believed in it strongly - so none of my parents and their siblings have the caste in their names.. Having said that - I am not so sure 'de-recognizing' castes will work in reality- with the reservation system that we have in place. We have to make people want to convert/or stay a Hindu - force is no way to go. But surely, we can try - instead of killing and raping innocent people!

Fourthly, how can VHP/Bajrang Dal consider themselves as the representatives of Hindus? I am proud to be a Hindu but these acts have really made me ashamed. It is sad that Hinduism , which is actually a way of life, is being defiled by these people. Since we are 'born' Hindus, we do not have any 'baptism' to make us Hindus - how can re-conversion mean anything? Surely, a true representative of Hinduism, should be above all this? As a Hindu, I do not go to temples, do not believe in most of the rituals, do not undertake any fasts, do not wear any symbols of my religion - does that make me any less Hindu? If this continues, very soon, I will be told that I am a 'non-believer' or maybe I would have to 're-convert'?

Forcibly stopping conversions or forcing people to 'reconvert' is just as bad(worse actually) than forced conversions. I just hope people rise above all this and all of us condemn such horrible, horrible acts of violence. As long as there are even a small segment of people who try to justify this - these fringe elements will continue to wreck havoc. We have to collectively show that these fringe elements who assume that they speak for us - have NO support from us.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Public helps protect the Police!

I just read an article on the NDTV website, about how a bunch of young businesspeople have have raised Rs 30 Lakhs to buy bulletproof vests for the Mumbai Police..

Citizens fund bulletproof jackets for cops

It is indeed very noble of these young people to do something tangible, something to really contribute. It is fantastic that so many of us Indians are doing their 'bit' in so many ways. Ratan Tata has decided that the Tata group will create its own anti-terror mechanism. Surely, a lot of other corporate bodies will be doing so now. It is another matter that the common man cannot really have his own security, and of course a different matter that we should not need to do all this. The taxes we pay should be able to buy the bulletproof vests and security and protection should really be the government's responsibility. Nevertheless..

We have heard so many voices say that we all have to do our bit. For the first time in India, citizens are out on the street , silently protesting, signing up petitions and doing whatever they can to help. People's indignation and anger forced our government to take some steps in the aftermath of the attacks.

This just goes to show that every little matters. And to think, if ordinary citizens can do so much - how much would get done if our politicians get their act together and decide to serve the people - as they were elected to do , in the first place. Then maybe, just maybe, the 'roti, kapda aur makaan' will no longer be just an election promise..

Some more examples of people doing their bit.. Here is Manju's post.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Chanda Kochhar to succeed Kamath as ICICI Bank CEO!

Some good news at last! Among all the terror-related stuff in the newspapers - this was one piece of wonderful news!

Chanda Kochar has been in the list of the most powerful women in business for some time now. There have been reports of how she has risen up from the ranks through her determination and hard work.

'Ms Kochhar was instrumental in setting up and scaling up the Retail business for ICICI Bank. In July 2000, under the leadership of Ms. Kochhar, ICICI Bank entered the Retail business and within a short span of around 5 years, the Bank emerged as the largest retail financer in India. Under her leadership, the Retail banking business of ICICI Bank grew many folds and the Bank has established itself as a clear “Leader” in Car Finance, Home Finance, Card business and Two Wheeler & Commercial Vehicle Loans.
In the process of transforming a small bank into the largest private sector bank in the country, within a decade of its inception, the various steps taken by Ms. Kochhar also shaped the retail finance industry in India. Few such path-breaking initiatives included launch of electronic channels in banking, developing a large network of Direct Sales Agents, setting up Bancassurance model of ICICI Bank and using the concept of cross sell by using various channels. In April 2001, she took over as Executive Director, heading the retail business in ICICI Bank.'

Having been in the corporate world myself, I know how difficult it is to balance both personal and professional life. Here's to more of her kind! Here's wishing her all the best and hoping to see more reports of many more dynamic successful women in business!

To read more about Chanda Kochar

Chanda Kochhar to succeed Kamath as ICICI Bank CEO & MD

Super' Kochhar makes journey from trainee to CEO

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

No defense for Ajmal?

'Sena warns legal community against taking Ajmal's case' - Are these guys crazy? Do they forget that we live in a 'democracy'? We can't and should not just hang Ajmal without giving him a trail. That is what separates us from a banana republic!

I hang my head in shame that we have 'leaders' like this!

Baby P - Hope you rest in peace...

A little over a month back, there was a lot of outrage in the media in the UK, about a story of a 17 month old toddler, who was tortured to death. It had broken my heart to read about him , but for some reason, I had not been able to write about it - until now..

The mother apparently, let her boyfriend and her lodger torture her son, and did nothing to protect him.. She just helped protect her boyfriend. The kind of things that were done to this defenseless , little toddler - was simply unthinkable.

Apparently this little boy had been in the radar of the child protection agencies and that he was seen 60 times by case workers and yet he could not be saved. It has become a huge issue here. Some heads have rolled in the children's services at that borough.. I can somehow , even overlook the fact that the child protection services had failed.. I simply cannot believe that any mother could let this happen to her child... Most of us, can't even bear to see a scratch on our babies.. Can't imagine what this mother must be like, to let this happen to her baby!

Praying that that little boy , has finally got some peace.. and that no other child has to go through this...

Some articles about this..

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

I got an award!!!

I got an award - can't still believe it! Thank you, Indian Home Maker, for thinking me worth an award. Being so new to the blogging world - its an honour that you even read my posts, leave alone give an award! Thank you once again.

As per the rules, I am supposed to, pass it on to other bloggers. Most of the bloggers I am passing this to , might not even know me, but I just wanted to say that I have been following your blogs and am a big fan!

Vinod Sharma - For all those wonderfully analysed and researched posts.
Nimmy - I love the passion in your posts..
Manju - for those questions which were almost forgotten
Motherhood and all that Jazz - I have really enjoyed reading your posts.
Nita - for a 'wide angle view' on so many different subjects.
Indian Home Maker - I would love to give it back to you - you truly inspire me - but I am not sure it allowed as per rules...

Thanks to all of you for a whole lot of wonderful reading material. I have subscribed to all of you and it makes my day - to see a new post from any of you!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Fair and Lovely?

Reading Indian Homemaker's post, reminded me of how much our Indian society is still hung up on 'fairness'!

The very term ' Fair and Lovely' indicates that fairness and loveliness goes hand in hand! I remember, reading matrimonial ads for fun, with friends(long, long time ago) and coming across loads of adverts which stated very clearly 'fair bride wanted'. And I do not recall any advertisement for a 'fair groom'. Obviously, fair grooms are not necessary, just the 'Y' chromosome is enough, when it comes to the groom!

Going back to the main topic - why this fascination with 'fairness'???? Is it as harmless as the fascination for 'tanned' skin abroad, as some people like to claim? I wish it were, but I would have to disagree.. Agreed, that a lot of people in the UK and the US( and I am sure in a lot of other countries), go for sunbeds and other tanning treatment to look good. So what is the difference with our people trying to be - 'fair and lovely'? The main difference I would think is that in there is no discrimination within a society against people who are not tanned(in UK, US etc). Tanning is simply a beauty treatment, however, in India, a whole lot more depends of one's skin colour! Brides are rejected based on 'fairness' of the skin! Some time back I remember seeing a 'We, the people' on NDTV, where a gentleman, very honestly said that, given a choice between 2 equally qualified people, he would select the fairer candidate, as that would be more beneficial to his business.. Unfortunately, this mindset remains! Somebody else, qualified the difference, saying that one would not mind having a dark girlfriend, but when it came to the woman, to take home to mummy - it would have to be a fair girl!

However, don't you think, that if a woman tried to reject a prospective groom, on the basis that he is 'not fair', would be told not to be 'frivolous'?

Even, in this age, people advise expectant mothers to eat certain foods to ensure that the unborn child is 'fair'! And this is not just among the uneducated, unaware society either!

The silver lining? Well , from the look of it, today we have a market for 'Fair and Handsome' as well.. Well, at least we can no longer complain of inequality, I guess!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

What is he thinking??

Just saw this article on Times of India,'Rahul Gandhi assails security focus on VIPs' .

How lame is that? Is he actually supporting the fact that our 'VIPs' get so much of over-protection?? How can he justify saying this, especially when the figures clearly show that the budget for protecting the VIPs is more than for protecting the nation? How I wish I could ask him this!!!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Nita's post 'Women at Work', made me ponder on women working in India - how equal are we?

Women have been working for ages in India - as domestic helps or doing manual labour. How do we classify this? Are these women not forced to work in order to earn a living? When we talk about feminism - where do these women figure? Are they liberated or are they being used?
I used to have a maid servant who had a husband who used to turn up just once in a while to beat her up and take any money that he could lay his hands on.. It used to make my heart break to listen to her. Despite all that, she was determind to try and get her daughter and son educated - so that at least they have a chance at a better life!

Even in case, of educated working women, how many of us have husbands who help us out at home? Even if they do - the main responsibility seems to lie on the women. Why is it, that true equality is just not happening? It is assumed that everything related to 'home' is the women's responsibility - so what if she has an equally , if not more challenging job outside! There was one time, when my own husband - who is extremely lazy, was lying in bed when I got back from work - and I had just sat down, to take a breather - when he said - ' You are sitting down? - can't you see, I am hungry!' That made me see RED!!! I was like, 'oh really? Well I am certainly not cooking anymore- If you are hungry make something yourself!' Anyways, that resulted in my husband getting hold of a cook the very next day- which certainly made our lives much easier - but the unfairness of it still irks me - and I have still not stopped reminding him:)

So is 'working women' in any form - a liberation? I would think so in a lot of ways , and again in a lot of ways, the true liberation is to be able to decide when you want to work and when you want to stay at home. To be fair to my husband - he has always been supportive of me in my decisions to work or not to work. When I was working - he was always supportive, and when after 8 yrs of working , when I wanted to be a stay at home mum to my 1.5 yr old - he was equally supportive. To think of it, I do feel liberated that I have the choice - unlike so many of our fellow women - who have to work, whether they like it or not.

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Girl Child

One of the things, high on my to-do list when I get back to India is to join a charity or an NGO to help improve the condition of the girl child in India. This is something very, very close to my heart and I want to do what I can, to help.

It is a sad statement, that in a time where we have everyone talking of minorities - there is one minority which is essentially ignored and treated badly almost across religious barriers - the womenfolk. Even in today's modern world, where women contribute as much (if not more)- they are just not given their due place in society.

I have been brought up in a culture which values girls - we have a matrilineal society - so I have never felt this discrimination. The very first time, that I was aware of this distinction was when one of our neighbours in Jamshedpur, had a baby boy. Now, they had 4 daughters already and when the boy was born - they actually had a party which could rival any wedding! What was exceptionally shocking was, that for the 7 or 8 years that we lived there - never had we seen a single birthday being celebrated for those girls. I wonder what must have gone through those girls' minds to see such blatant discrimination.... It was also a very common practice for families to send their sons to English medium schools and daughters to Hindi medium schools. And all this was among educated families - so I shudder to think what must happen in the less educated ones...

It pains me that even today, female foeticide is common , and totally acceptable in several parts of India. I guess, it might be more shocking for them to hear someone say that they would prefer to have a girl. What is most shocking is that this happens even among the educated people . This was something I always knew, but what shocked me more was that it was even prevalent among Indians(Asians as a whole) in the UK. When I was pregnant( I was in London, where they tell you the sex of the baby), and was told by the ultrasound technician that I was expecting a girl - my joy knew no bounds. I was however stunned when he asked - ' Are you guys OK with it? Your community prefers boys, don't they?' I was surprised that he ( he was not Asian) knew about this. This prompted me to look it up on the Internet only to find out that in several areas in the UK where the Asian population was high -they actually avoid telling people the sex of the baby, for fear that they would abort it!

The sad thing in India is, that despite the fact that it is not allowed by law to find the sex of a foetus, it is still done and foetuses aborted without a second thought. This mainly happens because the society is still fixated on boys being the harbinger of all things joyful and girls being a burden. The main difference being that for a girl, you need to give dowry. I have heard of families who start saving up from the time that they had a girl. That reminds me of a maid, who used to stay at our outhouse. This lady, apparently, did not feed her baby girl for 2 weeks after she was born, because she just did not want a girl. At the point when my mother first met her, she used to treat her son and daughter very differently. Her daughter was always asked to give everything first to her brother and the boy was never, ever asked to share. Slowly, in the 3 years that they stayed there, my mother managed to make her understand that she needs to treat both her son and daughter equally and to try and give both of them equal opportunities. The best part was that the daughter was much, much smarter than the son - I do hope she has not forgotten everything my mother had managed to drill into her!

I guess, such examples abound in our society and things will never change until each of us do our bit to fight this menace. I do believe that we can all do our bit to help remove this stigma. I would like to sponsor the education of a girl - so that at least one girl gets a better chance at life.. I do hope that by the time my 2 yr old daughter grows up - she will never have to be shocked that these kind of things still exist in our society.

Other interesting links on the subject

Stop female foeticide!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Security and the Indian Politician..

My husband and I was discussing about how over-protected the Indian Politician is, when he mentioned reading the article in Times of India which actually gives the statistics..

It was such a shocking read, that for a nation of 1 billion people, they actually have budgeted less than for the security for the political class. It is not just shocking but also disgusting! These heavily protected people - all with the money, that we pay as tax-payers, give little thought to the people who they supposedly represent. It is such a sad state of affairs that the corruption has reached such a point where it could actually cause physical harm to the people of India. I also read somewhere that Black Cat protection, for certain politicians, were actually negotiation points for providing support during confidence votes. It just shows the degree to which our political system has degenerated.
The only thing I hope for, is that, this is indeed, the turning point and the people's anger propels forward a new face to Indian politics.

We can do it!

Almost everybody I speak to , or I read about, is talking about 'clean politics', 'new leadership' , 'change the system','clean up politics'...

As I was reading through various blogs, I remembered that a group of IITians had created a new political party. So I decided to google and find out what happened to it.

The website for this party is From the look of it, they certainly look like they really want to make a change. Seeing their qualifications and the fact that they have certainly abandoned highly lucrative careers - they probably mean it. For me, it is enough to see some faces that different, for haven't we been voting for the same bunch of politicians(or their families) for ages - isn't it time to try giving others a chance. I certainly hope, we get to see more of these types of political parties - full of young people with a vision... and who knows, we might even find our vey own Obama...

Links to this post - The Indian Homemaker

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Its official! I am totally addicted to blog surfing. I am avid reader - I can read anything and everything and I am always with a book in my hand. This has now changed. I still read non-stop but I have started reading blogs instead! I am hooked on the mobile phone, surfing blogs incessantly. And I am finding it extremely difficult to stop.

This is my tribute to all those wonderfully talented blogger who have made my blog surfing experience so very worth it! I am following some of my very favourite blogs
Doing Jalsa and Showing Jilpa - Krish Ashok's sense of humour is absolutely amazing.
Let's Put Da - Ramesh Srivats take on the current events is great.
The Life and Times of an Indian Home Maker - I love her posts - especially the ones on feminism - they are truly inspirational.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

And life goes on...

It is almost a week since the terror attacks on Mumbai..and I am ashamed to say that after 4 days of being glued to the television and almost non-stop discussions - now things are back to normal at my home.
Ofcourse, I am in faraway Leeds - faraway from Mumbai - so I guess it is probably normal. This just made me wonder if this is how our politicians feel - distant and cocooned from everything that the common man in India endures. Maybe with all the Z category security, they just donot feel the impact as much. That must be the reason why so many of them have come out with such callous statements. These statements, came from across the cross-section of parties - that just re-affirms my faith that every party in India is the same - full of the same kind of people.

The silver lining, this time, is that, thankfully, the Indian Government seems to have been forced to take some action - in both tackling the gaps within our security as well as putting the pressure on Pakistan. We also seem to be having the tacit support of the US - that hopefully will make some difference.
Most importantly, I do hope that this serves as the turning point that everybody is talking about. I hope that the Indian public anger results in
1. Rooting out the criminal elements in our political class.
2. Forcing the political class to be accountable,
3. Making the politicians realise that they cannot take the Indian public for granted,
4. Encouraging a new wave of fresh politicians who do not treat politics as their family business, instead, are really interested in trying to lead India to a glorious and safe tomorrow.