The Poison called Patriarchy

When we come across a successful girl,  we applaud her family for being supportive of her. We appreciate that they have encouraged her to make independent career choices. They do not distinguish between sons and daughters and have provided her the required cultural capital to reach where she is today. But in an intrinsically patriarchal upper caste middle class Hindu family, how ‘free’ are her choices?

On one hand, she battles the society; its prejudices, misogyny, glass ceilings and conservatism. But on the other hand, behind closed doors goes on another strife that nobody knows about. It is the constant struggle between her and the patriarch- her father in most cases. The independent girl on the verge of womanhood is enthusiastic, passionate and wants to explore infinite opportunities. She is unafraid of making unconventional career choices. Marriage is her least priority. Yes, she is growing older, but she wants to devote adequate time to attaining her education and securing employment. Hence, for her, settling down does not imply getting married and giving birth to a child but establishing a career and achieving economic independence.

However, the fault lines begin to surface within the family. As the daughter grows up, the father begins to behave more like a patriarch. In this capacity, he has made many personal sacrifices for the family. He expects the same in return from the ‘ideal’ daughter. If he does not have an elder son, he begins to search for a successor and inheritor in her. He is in his fifties or sixties and wants her to shoulder the responsibility of the family soon. Her individual aspirations are thus often not palatable to him. He wants her to establish her career quickly so that he can marry her off soon. He is not against her ambitions but wants her to align them to the needs of the family, just as he did.

The patriarch encourages but restricts; supports but controls. He sets free but the strings are tied firmly to his fingers. The entire notion of a girl’s independence thus seems illusory. Her choices are seldom free. Time and again, she is reminded of her obligations towards her family. She does not have the freedom to decide her own life partner because the honour of the family is at stake and the norms of caste endogamy are to be taken care of. She must not delay her marriage too much or the best ones (read the richest) might be gone. Her Ph. D. or job can obviously continue after marriage also, at least for the sake of persuasion.

The patriarch, now tired of running the family since decades, longs to retire from his responsibilities at the earliest. The biggest liability to be done away with is naturally an unmarried daughter. He wants her to finish her studies early so that she can start contributing towards the family income. In the process, she can also pool some money for her own marriage and the education of her younger siblings.

The role of the mother is now reduced to that of a mediator. She has no say in any decisions in the family. She is stationed between the patriarch and his daughter who are both adamant. She is the one who negotiates, but her role ends at that. The father, now assuming the role of the patriarch is now distanced from his daughter. They no longer share the loving relationship they did when she was younger. The onus is upon the mother to convey his diktats to her daughter and convince her to acquiesce. She is often placed in an awkward situation when she has to inform the patriarch of their daughter’s resolve to stay firm on her decisions. She is the worst affected in the tussle. She can neither side with one nor abandon the other. She must remain loyal to her husband because he feeds her. On the other hand, she does not want her daughter to lead a captivated life as she did.

As the daughter overcomes one hurdle after the other, she feels victorious to have challenged the stereotypes of the society. She considers herself to be a rebel and wants to set an example for other girls to emulate. But the fact remains that she is able to wage a war against the society but not against her own family. She is confined by the family values she herself clung to since childhood. She is torn between her dreams and the expectations of her family which are actually those of the patriarch.

The victims of patriarchy are never women alone. The mother is helpless and cannot let her daughter lead the life of her dreams no matter how much she wishes. The daughter obviously is subjected to restrictions and control since forever, none being slackened even after she grows old enough to decide for herself. Amidst this, the patriarch also suffers as he constantly swings to and fro from this role to that of the father. Even if he wants his daughter to be happy, he is also tied to his authoritarian position. He cannot grant her any more agency over her own life than to live it as per his rules; rather those set by the society. He must reinforce his supremacy by regularly exerting power and control, even if it implies throttling the dreams and aspirations of his daughter.

Patriarchy finds its way from religion to society and finally to the family. It has ruined more careers than poor results or other unforeseen circumstances have. When we dismiss allegations of gender discrimination by casual remarks like “Things have changed now, we have daughters and we have given them freedom to study and choose their career.” the sexism is quite apparent. Why does freedom need to be ‘given’ to daughters when sons enjoy it as a birth right? Can their choices be free if they are always forced to put their family before themselves? Patriarchy fails to answer these questions. Empowerment is possible only when women acquire complete agency over their lives. Gender equality must be fostered in the family before it can become the norm of the society; it has to begin from the home. Nevertheless, the minds of men ought to be decolonized from the tyrannical regime of patriarchy for gender equality to become a reality.


Criminalizing ideologies

We live in a world that only accepts what it wants to. Anything other than that is either sanctified or profanized; it is always an extreme case. It is a risk to think different than the rest or even to think at all.

It is a sin to be a feminist, because the society does not view assertive or ‘bold’ women in a good light. One must not support homosexuality because it is abnormal. Women are sluts or whores if they explicitly express their sexuality. Men have monopolized the rights to hurl women-centric abuses. Misogyny is never problematized, but a feminist is immediately essentialized as anti-male. A feminist and an ideal daughter/sister/mother/daughter-in-law are mutually exclusive categories. The moment a woman questions the patriarchal setup of the social order or questions a male in the household, she ceases to be ideal owing to her blasphemous behaviour.

It is a sin to be a leftist, because it is only the capitalists and aristocrats who run the country. Being a leftist is therefore equivalent to being anti-national. It does not matter if a fair few infringe upon the rights of an ‘oppressed majority’. It is these wealthy giants who pay taxes and that is all that really matters. Money is more important than lives. There are so many poor people in the country that it is hardly a concern if a few more die of hunger or suffer from displacement. That they have employment is enough; they have no right to demand good and hygienic working conditions, wage hikes or anything else. Beggars cannot be choosers.

It is a sin to be a promoter of the rights of the marginalized, because you may be assassinated for talking against the state.
It is a sin to question the status quo, because disrupting the traditions of oppression,  and subjugation and exploitation turns the powerful against you.
It is a sin to be a woman and think for yourself.
It is  a sin to express your discontent against the existing state of affairs.
It is a sin to violate rules and break the norms the society has been following since eternity.
It is a sin to adhere to any ideology that counters that of those who possess power.
It is a sin to dissent, refuse or negate.

It is a sin to take a stance for something you believe is true.


A brilliant piece of writing

This  is a brilliant essay written by my friend, Aman Lodha. Very few people at the age of eighteen can write stuff so wise as this. He is an avid reader, orator, singer and has a passion for writing as well. An all-rounder in the true sense, he has shared his pragmatic views on topics such as Karma and rebirth, which often divide the world into the theist and atheist factions. 

Talking about Karma- The basic meaning of Karma is what you give, you get back. Karma has no menu.
It means you can’t place an order with Karma for the things you like.
You will be served what you have given to someone else. Now, that is a very simple terminology used to understand the real reason behind the entire “You get what you give” process.

If you give happiness to others, it means you are concentrating more on happiness which implies that you like happiness and hence you attract more happiness towards you.
If you give pain to others, it means you are concentrating more on pain which implies that all your energy is focused on it and hence you will surely get the same thing.
This is the law of nature. The law is just perfect. You attract more of what you focus on. I have experiencd these things even recently. Hence Karma is true. U may call it the law of attraction or Karma. Different names but the same reason.
Karma is basically a simpler way to make people understand the whole process of getting what u give.

About rebirth or pre- birth; to be honest, I do not know. And I can challenge the whole world.
Nobody knows about it. Whatever theories are written about these things are purely ASSUMPTIONS! Come on, we all are living. How can we know what happens after life? How can someone prove that there are seven lives or that there is no life after death?

We just don’t know. What if nature has the biggest twist for all of us after we die??
What if it makes us invisible and we all remain here itself after we die?
What if all our close ones who have died are also here itself but invisible?
Do we know? Do we have any idea??
No! We humans can’t accept that we don’t have answers to certain questions.
And hence we derive theories.
But the fact is we haven’t interviewed any dead person till date n hence we don’t know what is there after death. We will come to know only wen we DIE.
Maybe we will get another life. Maybe there is no life. But all the theories about life after death or no life after death are assumptions. They can’t be real by any chance.
So humans, be honest and accept that we don’t know the answer.  We don’t know what lies beyond death; but we know what lies before death. It is called ‘Life’.

The best we can do is, live it to the fullest!

Think globally, act locally

I’d like to build the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow white turtle doves
I’d like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills
For peace throughout the land.
These lines beautifully portray the world of our dreams- united, happy and prosperous. Ths can be achieved if each one of us starts thinking globally. It implies not being selfish and eccentric, but being considerate and sensitive. It assumes thinking about ‘us’ rather than of ‘I, me and myself’.
Sustainable development is the new buzzword today. It advocates judicious use of resources in order to sustain them for the future generations. It is our duty to think of the consequences of our actions and their impact on the world. Unless we think globally, life on earth shall become miserable.
Pragmatically, it is impossible to revolutionize the world alone. We ought to mobilize and act locally first. We cannot singlehandedly clean the Ganga; but we can begin with our own washrooms. When we fail to maintain hygiene in our own campus, how can we dream of a clean and green world? No revolution took over the world in a spur of the moment. Everything begins on the grassroot level. Radical revolutions have the most frugal beginnings.
Every drop fills the ocean. Let’s make a difference by beginning with our own homes and later propagating it to the society, locality, society, community, the nation and the world. All that we really need is the will to contribute to making the world a better place to live in. Our every action must precede a regard for the world. Truly, we must “Be the change we wish to see!”

On keeping a secret

“I thought about how there are two types of secrets: the kind you want to keep in, and the kind you don’t dare to let out.”

-Ally Carter, Don’t judge a girl by her cover

In laypeople’s terms, a secret is something that is hidden and is intentionally kept so by the one to whom it belongs. It is something too personal to be shared with the world or uploaded on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp or Instagram. Metaphorically, it is no exaggeration to assert that a secret is a suspense story, a thriller movie or an enthralling book. It can be a cause of excruciating pain or eternal bliss. It might be a tragedy or a comedy of errors; malicious pleasure or guilt pangs. It differs from person to person and from situation to situation. Usually, it remains a mystery that could beget horrors if unfolded.

The world of secrets is the most enigmatic world indeed. The best thing about a secret is not what it hides; it is all about how it is hidden (and for how long). Every secret seems nail-bitingly interesting to me because it has a backdrop. It has got a million characters- the one around whom the secret revolves, the others who form a vital part of the secret, few others who know and treasure the secret, some others who ‘accidentally’ let out the secret, the ones from whom the secret is kept and the last, the ones who should not have known the secret.

Firstly, let us consider the exact meaning of keeping a secret. It is a lot beyond being someone’s confidant/e. It comprises not only hearing but also listening, understanding, absorption and retention. Keeping secrets is not everyone’s cup of tea. I go a step ahead and assertcontend that keeping secrets is no less than an art. One requires skills and immense self-control to retain a secret. When someone confides in us, it portrays the level of trust that they have in us. There are some who are a great company but cannot be trusted with deep secrets. At times, keeping a secret is equivalent to a challenge because there is no dearth of people around who try to lure you into letting you spill the beans in one way or the other.

Who are the ones generally trusted with secrets? Considering young adults like you and me, it is a best friend who enjoys the privilege. Teens prefer sharing their secret stuff with those best friends whom they could trust with their life. The consequent preference is their boyfriend or girlfriend. However, I’ve often observed an appalling trend among teens today. Some teens are so depressed that they would rather share their pain with an online stranger than someone who is near them. The psychology behind this is quite simple- the fear that a dear one would despise them after knowing it. That risk does not persist with a virtual friend. Many such online ‘friends’ tend to expose the secrets so extracted via social media and it is too late to mend by then. However, the bitter fact is that there are only a handful of us who would share secrets with our parents. Nevertheless, the labyrinth of misunderstandings remains as it is; the reason being that we see parents only as funders and feeders but never as friends. It is a sad reality that we drift apart from our parents while we embrace everybody else in the world.

I personally feel that the best thing to confide in is a dear diary. A diary can be trusted. It won’t reveal what it hides without the owner’s consent. It listens to all that you write and never complains of boredom. It’ll never get annoyed of your woes and never scold you for anything that you do. It will always be your confidant- at least till it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

On a cautious note, let us see the ones to beware of- the ones who should never be bequeathed a secret. These constitute a long list- the liars, the gossipmongers, the backstabbers and the rumour lovers. Once your secret reaches any of these, it will no longer remain a secret. It shall be converted to a public notice. I’m unable to resist the temptation of quoting this anecdote from the Harry Potter series that is so apt here. (Apologies for the spoiler alert) Lily and James Potter were the supposed next target of Voldemort, the darkest sorcerer in wizarding history. In order to save their life and that of infant Harry, they counted on the Fidelius charm. Under its influence, nobody including Voldemort could trace their location unless their secret-keeper let it out. They selected James’s friend named Peter Pettigrew as their secret keeper but Voldemort easily lured Peter to his side. The rest is history. Lily and James were murdered while Harry survived. Trusting the wrong person with their biggest secret cost them their life. Studies have shown that sharing a secret remarkably lowers depression levels. But it is imperative to choose the confidant with care; otherwise breaching of trust by revelation of the secret could aggravate depression.

If someone trusts you with a secret, you ought to be very special to that person. It is as though you are bestowed with the honour of being someone’s secret keeper. One thing we all must learn in life is to be trustworthy and to keep secrets diligently. We must remember that what goes around comes around. If we keep secrets well, our secrets shall also be kept well. Often, the world seems to be a gloomy place- we can make it better by being a person worthy enough of confiding in. Dear readers, let us all take a resolution today- to be a patient, trustworthy and good secret keeper. After all, we’re here to make each other feel better, aren’t we? 🙂

The world is perfect with its imperfections!

RavenclawSam feels this is one of the best essays I’ve ever written. Dear Ravenclawsam, this is for you- and for all my lovely readers who contribute to making the world a better place each day, by reading, writing and spreading the knowledge. 🙂

The title seems paradoxical, isn’t it? I may even sound a lunatic to you at first instance. This world is one of the most criticized and condemned thing in today’s times- let alone everything else. Volumes could be written as a result of its critical evaluation by almost everybody on this planet. Hardly a per cent out of the seven billion people would agree with this line in my title- but after my elaboration, maybe you are compelled to give it a thought from a different perspective altogether!

What exactly is perfection? Is it the absence of any flaws and drawbacks or impeccability? Is it something functioning in the most ideal manner? No. The world is no Utopian land. Are we perfect to make the world perfect? Not at all. Thus, the world is imperfect and is beautiful as it is. But how?

Had we all been perfect and self-sufficient in every respect, we would never need people in our life. No dependence, only independence. But wait! Can anybody live in isolation? We all need people in our life- people to love and people to live for. Also, because we cannot do everything ourselves, we tend to give employment to so many people. If all could drive, what was the need for public transport or cabs? The transport industry employs millions of people all over the world! Have you imagined a world with no problems, no stress, no workload and no frustration? Is it perfect? Not really. In fact, it is boring. Life would be dull and colourless if there were no problems. Obstacles and pressure could be a motivation, if used wisely and considered an opportunity. Problems help us to dig out, deduce and discover. Without problems, the world would not have seen development. Problems in communication brought in mobiles, Skype and social networking. No problems would lead to monotony and stagnation! So bring it on, problems! We are ready!! You add that uniqueness to the world which nothing else can! Every problem seems to be more insolvable and bizarre than the previous, doesn’t it?

Some people say the world would be so much more livable if there were no fights. We fight so many a times with our friends, siblings etc. But all fights are temporary, aren’t they? We tend to reconcile- resolve all differences and come closer than ever before. Regarding fights with strangers, don’t you think quarrels over a seat in the local train give you an ‘insight’ as to how people behave and how we should not? Don’t they come in as lessons free of cost? Every fight teaches us how to avoid another. Fights are also opportunities to learn, just like problems. They just teach us lessons the hard way, which we tend to remember for a longer time. I’m sure you are considering me an insane optimist already, aren’t you?

But that’s not the case. Maybe my problems can be analyzed next time. Let us now focus on why the world is perfect because it is not. Another argument that may turn up is that we live in a sick world. There are thousands of diseases and disorders that ensure that the medical industry grosses billions of rupees annually. The unhealthy world is no way perfect. But why do people fall ill? Is it because of somebody else? No. Everybody is responsible for their health, whether good or bad. Diseases are not induced by somebody else in most cases, it is our lifestyle that determines our health. People fall ill because they do not take care of their health. Nobody else is responsible for that. These imperfections are self-induced and hence the world is simply not to be blamed.

Social and environmental issues, the most discussed and critically evaluated topics always are a reason the world is considered abominable. Environmental concerns include global warming, pollution and natural calamities. The law of nature is ‘tit for tat’. Environmental imbalances are also human induced just as sicknesses and illnesses are. Social concerns- unemployment, corruption, poverty, terrorism, illiteracy are all detrimental to development. Agreed. But unemployment and poverty are not completely beyond our capacities. The government tries its best to help them out. There are entrepreneurs who are also philanthropists who reach out to the poor youth and help them explore their potentials by giving them opportunities to learn and grow. As against the corrupt politicians, we ought to stop voting for them and they need to be put behind the bars. We vote for them and hence they misuse the power. Terrorism that stems out of illogical racial issues cannot be prevented, because terrorists have a strong base behind their mindset. But we can collectively make their efforts futile by not giving in to them and by staying strong and well- prepared. That is the spirit the humanity of the world ought to display against a few inhuman troublemakers.

Nobody is bad. It is only their deeds- very few of us resort to those anti-social things we shouldn’t be doing. Crime exists, but it is a result of the inadequacies of proper parenting and education. Yes, we don’t teach our children to steal or to kill, but if still they do it, it is because we failed to parent them as we should have. We failed to make them realize that they should never have resorted to cruel means no matter what somebody else did. Our education today emphasizes on rote learning and not on learning moral values. It begins with cheating in an exam at school and it goes on till manipulating accounts of a business. It is simple- our values have a weak base while the anti-social things grip and enslave the mind quickly. And it never stops until enlightenment.

The world is definitely a beautiful place to live in. It has a few undesirable features, without which the world would become even better. While some of them, as I listed above, can be avoided and eliminated, there are some that are needed to complete the picture. This doesn’t imply that we should become complacent. There is always scope for improvement. Each day, we ought to strive to make this world a better place to live in. This has to be a never-ending process. Let’s make our kids responsible so that they don’t fall prey to things that shouldn’t. Let us lead by example. We are all here for a while, why spend life criticizing the beautiful world? Rather, let us take joy in every moment and learn every second. The beauty of the world lies in the beauty of the minds of its people. Let us add to the beauty of the world! Let’s make it livable, lovable and adorable. Let’s accept it as a gift, gracefully and gratefully. Let’s make it a wonderful place to live in, together!