The Power Of Staying In Control

 

I woke up this morning to a chat with a friend in Chennai about the magnum opus ‘Baahubali – The conclusion’ that was recently released. He started by telling me how magnificent the movie was. He then proceeded to tell me that there was some technical difficulties and they did not play the second half of the movie. Needless to say, riots broke out in the theatre, the screen was torn, seats were ripped and theatre trashed! I was truly shocked and disturbed.

How can educated people in this age and time behave like this? More alarming was the fact that he tried to convince me what he did was right. Reason being that they had paid for the movie, and the theatre owners did not inform them of what was going on. My only argument was; if the movie could have been played, wouldn’t they have? There is no reason why anyone in their right mind would stop a movie midway to incur the wrath of the patrons. Obviously there were technical difficulties which they were unable to resolve and they were working on it. There was also a lack of communication protocol that has to be followed in such emergency situations. But nothing can condone trashing a theatre for an unexpected error. The producers still made their money and got away but the theatre owners who have paid huge amounts of money to bring this piece of entertainment to you has been made to incur a huge loss that he may never recover from. The other hundreds of people employed by the theatre will also go jobless until the theatre is fixed and up on its feet again. Was the release of the anger worth this much of financial loss? Was there no real solution to this?

Yesterday, at my school, following the usual protocol we had a fire drill. The alarm was pulled, classrooms were evacuated, students counted, and the teachers were asked to take the students back to the classrooms. But there was a glitch. Much to our annoyance we couldn’t turn off the fire alarm. It was was still blaring all over the school! We tried every trick possible, called a bunch of technical people, and everyone worked fervently to get it fixed. Meanwhile, I asked the secretary if the phones were ringing off the hook from teachers demanding to know what was going on, especially since we had many special education students for whom the blaring sound would have been a problem. She said: None! I was truly surprised. After about 15 -20 minutes of no success, I shot out an email to staff, telling them we were working on fixing it. Eventually we did fix it, but that’s not my point. Later on the union leader stopped by and we asked her if the staff got restless about the alarm situation and if she got any complaints. She said, “Not at all, we knew you would be working on it. Why on earth would you put us through that pain?” Yes, it’s obvious but it made me happy that they were so patient.

Going back to the Chennai incident, I was truly shocked that people took it to that level. This a state that is constantly screaming that it is ignored by the centre and as much as they try to intervene, it is the people that impede the progress of the state. It is time people take charge of matters into their own hands and turn things around. People need to realize how much power they have, especially the youth. There are many countries wherein the youth have taken charge and are turning things around. India now has a prime minister who is so supportive of positive change and is a huge inspiration that one person can make difference. A few months back, it was the youth who showed their unity at Marina beach and put up a united front and forced people to give attention to some issues. Sadly, the message was again lost and misused.  Tamil Nadu is a state that has produced the most brilliant minds of the century and if they put their minds together, I am sure they can revolutionize the state of affairs much beyond a technical error at a movie screening. Chennai is an example of just one incident but people do need to wake up in general and start taking more responsibility and be aware of the decisions they make.  Exercise that power of control; sometimes it can make a bigger statement than actually losing it!

 

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A Rape Of My Sensibilities

She is not just India’s daughter, she is everybody’s daughter! She could be somebody’s sister, mother or friend. And more importantly, she has an identity of her own, an existence to which she has a right to live in any way she chooses to. This is not about one family’s cry for justice for their daughter, it is about those millions of families who have lost a girl to the brutality of men and those countless girls who never got to tell their story and relive the nightmare everyday of their life.

There has been much uproar about the BBC documentary ‘India’s Daughter’, many views, discussions, controversies and investigations. There is a deeper message to all this. It’s not about who made the documentary, it’s not about how she gained access to the convicts, it’s not about how much of the story was embellished and not even about the girl herself. This is about all those girls in the world who have been raped, this is about the muted society that watches in disbelief and does nothing, this is about the people who say they have the right to dictate terms about how women should run their lives and this is about all the people who try to move the focus from a burning issue to controversies around it. It was shocking to hear the convict say ‘Girls should be submissive so as to avoid getting killed’. More appalling was the statement by the lawyers who said ‘Girls should not be outdoors in the late evening hours or that he would set fire to his daughter if she was out with a male in front of his family’. Who are these people?? These men who are supposed to be the protectors of law, don’t believe in human rights, let alone women’s rights. How can we hope to be protected when the thinking of the lawmakers is so retarded? Who is the bigger culprit here? The society that breeds such people or the law that’s lacks in protecting its people.

The focus needs to be on the issue itself. Many girls are being raped in the world every single day. The top ten countries with a high rape crime rate are: Lesotho, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden, Korea, New Zealand, United States, Belgium, Zimbabwe and United Kingdom. India features in the top 15 list.  This is the most under reported violent crime in the world. The stigma associated with it is another rape by itself of the individual. The laws that are supposed to protect people around the world are very flimsy. Some countries with low rape crime rates are Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Indonesia and Armenia. This data is by no means conclusive because not every rape gets reported. There are many who stay hidden in the shadows of shame.

Change begins at home, change can be small. Parents need to have open conversations with their kids.Students in schools should be encouraged to speak up about physical violations. They need be taught to be comfortable reporting abuse as they would a robbery. There also has to be a call for change in-laws. These issues need to be dealt in fast track courts. There needs to be specialty lawyers who are educated/trained specifically in these issues. We need to look at other countries that are doing it right and look at what we can adopt from them. Society needs to step up and not be the passive bystander. If you see a crime happening, stop it, report it, and don’t run from it. We need to stop looking for a messiah to come save us, we need to stop pointing fingers, we need to step up and be the change we want to happen. Every person is crucial, no one is inconsequential, so stop waiting for someone to fix the issue. Every courageous deed is important and put together one day we will see a safer world for everyone.