Sunday, October 15, 2006

A suggestion for Munnabhai

Source: The Hindu

The Other Half

GANDHIGIRI has become the flavour of the month. All of a sudden, following the release of the immensely popular Bollywood film, "Lage Raho Munnabhai", Mahatma Gandhi has been rediscovered. People go to the movie and after seeing it, buy his My Experiments with Truth from Gandhian activists who position themselves outside theatres.

Different takes

Gandhi said many things. Not all these are reflected in the film. Some argue that his concept of Satyagraha has been turned into a joke. Others feel that through the medium of a Bollywood film, the younger generation in particular has woken up to the existence of a man called Gandhi.

As Munnabhai has already tackled the callousness of our health system, and the greed of real estate sharks, how about tackling the one Indian tradition that refuses to die — that of dowry? I could imagine that such a film could work very well, and could in fact bring in the Gandhigiri that has caught on after the latest in the series.

For, one of the things Gandhi said, which has been conveniently forgotten, is that we should have enough for our need but not for our greed.

(To read the rest of the article, click on the link)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Islands of despair

Islands of despair


IN every State in India, no matter how prosperous, there are islands of deprivation. Maharashtra is no exception. It stands almost at the top of the list in terms of prosperity. It fails miserably when it comes to equity.

Rural misery has been written about and noted, exemplified by the continuing suicides of farmers in Vidarbha and Marathwada. The Bombay High Court has also, once again, warned the Maharashtra Government that it must do something about the high incidence of malnutrition among children between the ages of one and six. In the last three years, over 24,000 children have died of malnutrition.

Economic neglect

What is not so well known is the pathetic state of some of the smaller towns of Maharashtra. This became evident when three bombs exploded in the powerloom centre of Malegaon in North Maharashtra on September 8. Not only did the bombs shatter the uneasy peace in this town of around 8,00,000 people, of whom the majority is Muslim, but they exposed the pathetic absence of civic infrastructure and economic neglect.

Thirty-one people were killed and over 200 injured on that Friday afternoon when the devout were almost through with their prayers. It was a big day, the Shab-e-barat, when prayers would be said at the Bada Kabristan through the night to remember the loved ones who had moved on. Instead, it became a night for multiple burials, as some of the dead were interred in the same graveyard.

(To read the rest of the article, click on the link)

Battling unjust laws


PRESIDENT Parvez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might have called a temporary truce during their Havana meeting but within Pakistan there seems to be no end in sight to the battle between the fundamentalists and Pakistani women who are demanding their basic human rights.

Many women in Pakistan had hoped that the day had finally dawned when the dreaded Hudood Ordinance, enacted in 1979 by Zia ul-Haq when Pakistan became an Islamic republic, would be withdrawn. The Hudood Ordinance, according to the Asian Centre for Human Rights, "criminalises adultery and non-marital sex, including rape. It further victimises the women victims by providing virtual impunity to the rapists and prosecuting the victims instead."

Under this law, if a woman is raped, and reports it, the onus is on her to prove that she was raped. She has to bring along four male eyewitnesses. Only then will the law consider her case. On the other hand, if she cannot prove that she was raped, then she could be charged with adultery, a non-bailable offence that can even invite the death penalty under certain circumstances.

(To read the rest of the article, click on the link)