14 SECONDS TO JAIL
Staring at a women for more than 14 seconds, can land you in jail, if the infamous '14 seconds stare' law comes into existence.
Imagine you are standing on a bus stop,where a beautiful face comes before your sight,her hair pass by your distress from summer,with a flowery and yet fruity fragrance of her perfume which makes the entire scene instantly perfect . Her eyes meet yours, your admiration reaches out to the sky and back. 14 seconds have passed by so far, but instead of jazzy music of violins and saxophones in the background, sound of the sirens of the police car fills in. Puzzeled? Yet, this could soon be a reality, if profounding Rishiraj Singh, the excise commissioner in the southern Indian state of Kerala, manages to successfully implement it. “A case can be filed against men who stare at women for more than 14 seconds," Mr Singh said in Kochi on Saturday.
A wave of memes and sparking humour reactions were immediate response to such bizarre statement. Hysterical comments and people raising out ‘vaild doubts’ were all over twitter and other social media platforms. Detecting the loopholes in his statement, People online asked what might happen if a man blinked, and some quipped that sales of sunglasses would go up,which is possible if such law comes into existance. (Many may go for, cheap ‘Rayban’ shades, as it’s affordable for the masses). But there were others, who supported his statement, as it would possibly foster women safety in an effective way. ( only when you have a proof that the creep stared at you for 14 seconds) or there can be many false cases charged against the innocents, on baseless proofs. One such meme,qouted the same, "Just informed a girl that I didn't like her after meeting her for marriage. She threatened to file a case for staring at her for 14 seconds.", or you are glutton for punishment, your jail-mate might ask "Bro, what is your crime, stabbing or theft?". And you would say “Just went to see a girl for marriage, got convicted for looking at her for 14 seconds."
Also, the commissioner had further mentioned in his statement that women should be proactive in reporting anti-social elements and learn martial arts to be defensive enough. The statement seems legit in consideration to the rising numbers in terms of crimes against women in kerela and the nation at large. Reacting to Rishi Raj Singh's "14 seconds stare" statement, sports minister Jayarajan described it as "disgusting". Jayarajan said he will bring this to the notice of the excise minister and ask him to examine the controversial speech. As earlier too, the comissioner was barred by the UDF government for breaking the protocol at a function attended by the home minister, Ramesh Chennithala, last year.
The only question boils down to the point is, if this not-yet-existing “law” comes to power, will it actually upgrade the country’s prevelant levels of women safety and general security, or will it become just a subject of mockery which will shall be rulled out on every ground.
In the history of Artistic Gymnastics Vault and in the history of Indian Gymnastics, Dipa Karmakar became the first woman gymnast to earn a name worldwide. She became the first Indian woman gymnast athlete to capture the world’s imagination and become a ‘trending’ topic ahead of the Olympic games in Rio. Known famously for attempting the dangerous Produnova Vault and successfully completing it, she has earned a huge fan base including the currently world best gymnast Simone Biles of the USA, who herself won four gold medals including a prolific victory in Dipa Karmakar’s Vault category. Biles went so far as to say that the famous Produnova Vault should be renamed ‘Karmakar Vault’.
In 2014, at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow, Dipa Karmakar attempted the Produnova Vault, which is often referred to as the ‘vault of death’ and happens to be the hardest vault ever performed in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics. This was the act that paved Dipa Karmakar’s way for her qualification to the 2016 Rio Olympics and she won a Bronze medal for the country and made every Indian proud. She also made India proud by becoming the first Indian woman ever to qualify for the Olympics. She also won an another Bronze medal at the Asian Gymnastics Championship 2015. To honor her achievements the Government of India conferred upon her the Khel Ratna Award in August 2016 along side PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Jitu Rai.
A country where sports meant no more than Cricket, Dipa hailing from Tripura, a state which many even fail to point out in the Indian map, turned heads around with her magnificent world class performance and successfully turned the eyes of the uninterested country towards her sport. Firstly, she happens to be one among the five women to have ever attempted and successfully completed the vault. First being the woman after whom it is named Yelena Produnova of Russia who did it in 1999, Yamilet Pena of Dominican Republic, Fawda Mahmoud of Egypt, Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, and Dipa Karmakar of India, who has the highest contemporary score in what is easily the second neatest execution of the vault.
Let us tell you why is Produnova Vault called the ‘vault of death’. It is infamously the dangerous vault. It has a difficulty rating of 7.0(the highest rating of all vaults) and when not executed perfectly, runs the risk of splitting gymnast’s spin in half or injuring him/her permanently. It consists of a frontal handspring onto the vaulting horse and two front somersaults off. Knowing that attempting this was a risk, yet she still went on with it in Commonwealth Games and completed it successfully. On asking why did she decide to do it was because if she hadn’t attempted something so risky and done it right, she would have disappointed herself little that her country would care and her sport would once again go unnoticed by the people of her beloved country. In fact her performance of the vault is a true inspiring story and the decision to go ahead with it in Glasgow.
Dipa is a great fan of Simone Biles and said Biles is by far the best gymnast this world has produced, she is a champion and proves herself both on and off the mat. They met on practicing grounds one day while in Rio when Biles told her that she had seen Dipa performing Produnova vault and encouraged her to participate more in tournaments to expand her techniques and also called her Produnova vault as ‘Karmakar vault’. The most successful gymnast in America’s history told Dipa, that the Federation International de Gymnastique(FIG) should consider re-naming the Produnova vault to the ‘Karmakar vault’. While she thinks Simone must have been joking, we really like the sound of it. But either way Simone’s pep talk boosted Dipa with massive confidence which we did see in the performance at Rio where she missed the Bronze medal merely by 0.15 points but did win a billion of hearts.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Friday has vehemently opposed the pleas of the women activists, supporters and their plea in the Supreme Court against the ban on the Islamic practice of Triple Talaq or oral divorce. The Muslim law board claims this attempt as an interference in the personal Islamic laws on the pretext of social reform. The Muslim law board also filed a 68-page affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that triple talaq is a part of the Islamic religious practice and the court has no jurisdiction to annul it.
The 68-page affidavit made some rather unusual claims. The Islamic religious practice justifies the triple talaq according to the AIMPLB. The board also said the ban on triple talaq should be removed for the safety of women, because if the discords are serious within a marriage and the husband wants to get rid of the wife but is delayed due to the legal compulsions and time consuming judicial process, it might lead to the husband resorting to criminal measures to get rid of the wife, therefore in such situations ‘triple talaq’ is a better recourse. According to the board, triple talaq gives more of a private affair than taking it to the court and making the divorce public. Also claimed that ban on polygamy has only increased illicit sex. It was meant to protect women, to meet the social and moral needs. Polygamy in their law was not for gratifying men’s lust, but was a social need since they reason that women outnumber men and would be forced into leading spinster’s life, without receiving any benefits and rights that they would get if they had a husband. They also claim that triple talaq is sourced from the Quran and makes men the ‘decision-makers’ because they do not take hasty decisions. Illegal interpretation of the scriptures is not allowed therefore the Muslim law board arguments against the ban.
The question stands that will the Islam women still be protected of their rights if this ban is not allowed as per the AIMPLB? Would the Islam women enjoy proper rights if the ban prevails? Wouldn’t there be less of over-phone, in-text, verbal divorce and throwing the women out of the houses if the ban prevails! Resorting to legal options is the right of every human being irrespective of them being male or female. Rights that women deserve to practice shouldn’t be taken away behind the facade of religious and personal laws. Moreover, the campaign to ban triple talaq and make husbands criminally liable, help Muslim women? I don’t think so, but shouldn't it be allowed. I realize that most women are reluctant to approach the police and press criminal charges normally. A ban will not change the fact that a woman has to go to a civil court to secure her rights. So the question is: Will such a ban truly change the life of a deserted Muslim woman? The Supreme Court is yet to give its decision, but whatever be the decision will the Muslim women get the justice they deserve.
Mother Teresa is widely known for her charitable works on which she devoted all her life in the streets of Kolkata. From taking care of the poor, to the sick, to the ones that had strayed away from God, she did it all. She dedicated her life to bring the message of salvation to those who failed to recognize it. Widely known as the Saint Teresa of Kolkata, she was beatified on 19th October, 2003, then being known as the ‘Blessed’ in the Roman Catholic congregation. On 4th September, 2016, Mother Teresa was finally canonised at St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, as the Roman Catholic Church recognized a second miracle attributed to her. This canonisation took place almost after 19 years after her death.
Many people from all over the world paid their reverence in her name. Our very own PM Narendra Modi paid tribute to Mother Teresa in a radio broadcast, and said that when a person like her who devoted her whole life to the poor in our country, is conferred with sainthood, it is natural for Indians to feel proud. Also Sonia Gandhi in a letter to Vatican said that not just the Catholics but every Indian took immense joy and pride in the canonisation of a woman who was an embodiment of boundless compassion, mercy and grace.
As much has this canonisation brought the beloved nun into news, who was already a global icon for her work with the poor, but has also reignited the deep criticism of the order she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, which according to the detractors focused on the elevation than the relief, of suffering. But the woman who had to face criticism about her good work when she was alive, is still criticised after death by some and they seem very dissenting about the canonisation amid the controversies over her missionaries and miracles. Critics also protested against the decision of our PM Modi to send a 100-strong delegation led by the Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to the canonisation mass. We found an online petition that said that it boggled their mind that the Foreign minister of a country whose constitution exhorts its citizens to have a scientific temper would approve of a canonisation based on ‘miracles’. Hindu nationalists have claimed that the new proclaimed Saint was a ‘soul harvester’ who proselytized among the poor, and she and her followers baptized the dying secretly. Another critic, goes by the name Aroup Chatterjee, a doctor who grew up in Kolkata and presently works in UK is one of the most vocal critics. According to him, many rogues have become Catholic saints and it bothers him to such an extent that he stated that the world makes such a song and dance about a superstitious, black magic ceremony. He has described Saint Teresa as a “ medieval creature of darkness” and a “bogus and fantastic figure” which went without challenge by world’s media. In his book Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict on her work, shows her to be negligible about the medical care given to the sick and says that she spent a lot of time flying around in a private plane meeting political leaders. A similar accusation was made by another late writer Christopher Hitchens in his book, The Missionary Position, and also stated that the focus of St. Teresa’s work was not the honest relief of suffering but the dissemination of a cult based on death and suffering and subjection. Hitchens also went on to say in his book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice that-
“…But it is difficult to spend any time at all in Calcutta and conclude that what it most needs is a campaign against population control. Nor, of course, does Mother Teresa make this judgment based on local conditions. She was opposed on principle to abortion and birth controllong before she got there. For her, Calcutta is simply a front in a much larger war.”
Some even alleged that she went on to use her influence to further the Vatican stance on abortion. Hitchens also stated that Mother Teresa herself would check into expensive and sophisticated hospitals and clinics in the West but would neglect the fact that her patients suffered from the lack of pain-relieving and illness-combating medical support in her charitable organizations. Also some three years ago a study at the University of Montreal by academics concluded that Vatican had ignored Mother Teresa’s rather dubious way of caring for the sick, suspicious managements of enormous sums of money she received and her dogmatic views on divorce, abortion and contraception.
Albeit criticisms from different people that fact that she did what no one else cared to even think about, cannot be left discredited. In 1950, she established the Missionaries of Charity with 12 followers, and today the order has 5600 members, and hundreds of thousands of lay volunteers, which runs orphanages, schools, homes for the sick and dying, shelters for homeless, health clinics and other services in 139 countries. She was also awarded Nobel peace prize in 1979, which she said she didn’t deserve but accepted the award “in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, of the lepers, of all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout the society.” Even in her acceptance speech she focused on abortion, and raised a stunning question that if a mother was capable of killing the unborn child growing in her womb then what was going to prevent us all from killing each other, nothing would. She died after several years of illness on September 5, 1997.
The question that whether Mother Teresa was a ‘Saint or Sinner’ or ‘Caregiver or Exploiter’ is completely subject to one’s own individual belief. If one believes that the work carried out by her was in good faith, he/she will never question that she could be an exploiter or sinner for that matter. As for what message I want hereby to be received is that one shouldn’t question on the works of someone so great and pure until there is a compelling allegation on fitting evidences. Given if anyone finds anything as such then it should be brought out on the larger platform, but if one doesn’t, then they shouldn’t fail from honoring the righteous soul as it deserves.
A more controversial and hot news has hardly come out before related to the cabinet of the State government of Delhi under the rule of Aam Aadmi Party. An AAP minister has been caught in a sex tape video, who admits on being married. This has outraged the CM Arvind Kejrival, who has sacked this Social Welfare Minister from the Cabinet and cancelled his primary membership from the party, after a recorded CD reportedly showed Minister Sandeep Kumar in a compromising position with a woman and also carried some objectionable photographs. The suspension of primary membership came after four days of expulsion from his post of Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister.
The famous Chief Minister Kejriwal resorted to micro-blogging social media site Twitter to announce the expulsion. It is his personal life and nobody else business but the reason this very act is seen equivalent to a crime is because, last year on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2015, the AAP Minister Sandeep Kumar, had thanked his wife Ritu for the ‘sacrifices’ she had made and even revealed that “Main roz subah inke pair chhoota hoon [I touch her feet every morning], which had received a thunderous applause from the audience in the Delhi Secretariat auditorium. The controversy also revealed that the particular CD which caused the whole trouble was handed over to the CM 15 days ago by the complainant Om Prakash but no action was taken wherefore the complainant sent it to Lt Gen Najeeb Jung. Kejriwal’s office denies of any incident happening so.
AAP is facing attacks as soon the matter came out in the open. Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) president Ajay Maken too attacked saying three of six ministers who were initially inducted were caught for alleged fake degree, corruption, and moral turpitude. Former CM Sheila Dikshit also told the reporters that these stunts are just AAP’s diversionary tactics and are foolish Delhi voters. The BJP decided to hold a demonstration outside the CM’s office for failing to take any action as soon as they got the CD. They also lodged a complaint against the sacked AAP minister and also sought inclusion of CM Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia’s names in the FIR.
However, in spite of clear visibility in the video, Kumar still claims that the man in the video in the compromising position isn’t him. He alleged that he is being framed because he is a Dalit and demanded probe into the entire episode. The CD is sent by the police to forensics testing for its authenticity and trying to establish its source and how it was circulated. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia also said that the party is taking action because they realize what Kumar has done is completely wrong. Disciplinary committee has been handed over the matter and whatever its decision, the party will abide by that. Kejriwal, nonetheless has displayed his grief on the turn of events and the presence of such people in the party grieves him all the more and told the party will never ever compromise on their core values.
I had moved to Bangalore in August last year, and on the very first day ran into a neighbor of mine who had the habitual inquisitorial nature of a normal Indian woman. She asked, where I was from and about my family. Finally we arrived at the preverbal “Where is your wifeQuestion” and when I answered, that I am unmarried, the old lady was embarrassed and apologized profusely like I have been offended. Well I was not, but one can hardly blame her for asking me this question since I am on the wrong side of thirties and with more gray hair than I could wish for, so it was and I have conceded a fair question to ask on her behalf. After all she is also a mother who once went through the agony and torment of finding a suitable bride for her son or daughter and in that quest she was successful. What happened after that is a different story or maybe almost every other household story.
Ever since I crossed into my 30s people have been asking me “when do you plan to get married” like it was some kind of master plan which got stuck in red tape. Also, most of my friends had gotten married and were disparate for me to tie the knot so I that would stop blackmailing them. But more so their wives and some of my other female friends who I would occasionally torment. For them, I getting married was like getting sweet revenge by telling my future wife all the things that I had done to them and to others because I have been known for my pranks which could sometimes run for few months. E.g. a very good looking my friend got married and after year or so I decided to register her profile in an online matrimony site and soon she started getting phone calls from perspective grooms parents. This lasted for couple of months or over but as gentlemen I told her about this prank few years later, so one can imagine how eagerly or vengefully she must be waiting for me to get married so she can settle some old scores. Also before the internet, when people used to give ads in newspaper, I would call them on their phone number and just try to have some fun. Well, maybe Karma is paying me back.
But let’s be back to the present, I just turned 38, plenty of gray hair and the crown part of my head getting ever so thinner and still no bride in sight. But I must say one thing when I see online matrimonial sites it gives me some solace (in a good way) that there are plenty of men and women out there who still not married and have crossed the usual age threshold but I still believe it is not the end of the world. However, if it is hard for men to hear the same questions over and over, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for women. I know this because my sister got married when she was 28 years old and by the time she turned 26 people started coming up to my parents with wedding proposal for widowers and divorcés. It was as if my sister had no value or no hope for ever getting married. Now, I don’t intend on saying people who have lost their spouse or they are divorced should never get married but, when someone is opting for arranged marriage these types of proposals can be very disconcerting. Anyway my sister got married to a first time offender and he turned out be a pretty good man.
But the point I was trying to make is, there are lots of men and women over the age of thirty who are still single and are still hopeful to finding a partner which gives me hope that there might still be someone for me. But being curious by nature I cannot help myself having some fun when I am surfing the matrimonial site and checking various profiles and the list of demands and expectations the perspective bride and her family have or as a matter of fact the list and demands from the men’ side. Will only marry if the boy has an engineering degree or please do not send proposal if your salary is less than xyz which is, I suppose fair. A while back my mother spoke to a concerned party but they had reservation that I was lot older than their daughter who in fact was only six years younger to me but they did not want the age gap to be more then 3 or 4 years. But the fact is if a man is 34 he is looking forward to marry a girl who is 28 years old and after that it just becomes a vicious circle.
According to my mother this will be her last ditch attempt to help me find a girl and I corrected her she needs to find me a woman because I can no longer aspire to be with a girl. Anyway she was not amused and then we started our quest. Soon the filter process began, too educated for you, makes more money then you, she seems to be very fussy and particular and once we had all the selected ID’s written cleanly on a dairy, we start bombarding. It’s like firing as many arrows in the dark hoping to hit a target.
kabhi toh milegi kahin toh milegi baharon ki manzil…….
Years by years, months by months we see very many new TV shows launching, which may seem to have strong women characters, or at least trying to portray the empowerment in women, but, gradually these very strong women characters turn into the same Saas-Bahu Soap characters who are playing weak and helpless roles, or in a very negative role where women themselves are sabotaging the other female characters. Amid of all these, one day while I was just browsing through the TV to find something to interest myself in, I found a show which won my heart. A group of women who bike away to the remotest towns of the country to make music that is inspired by real life women heroes was a breath of fresh air.
MTV’s Angels of Rock, is a show that reaches out to women who have made extraordinary contributions through their ordinary lives to the society, along with beautifully fusing music with travel. It is the first time in the history of Indian TV, a show is led by all female cast and crew, which has four female celebrities, road tripping their way around India and covering different cities while at it, each with a well-defined cause for women empowerment in mind. The four protagonists the show has chosen are four young singers from different backgrounds. These are women of substance who have at a young age broken the mould in their own small way. Even if they haven’t broken through the capricious Indian music industry, they have made some significant dents in the scheme of things and they are not afraid to speak their voice.
Four of Bollywood’s most loved and incredibly talented singers, the ‘Pareshan’ girl Shalmali Kholgade, ‘Gulaabo’ girl Anusha Mani, ‘Yaar na mile’ fame Jasmine Sandlas and the youngest of all Akasa Singh of ‘India’s Raw Star’ fame, come together and take on a journey of a lifetime - cooking, doing radio shows and composing music on their way. They will not only just mingle with the people they meet, but also live in the same fashion as the locals wherever they go and perform fun tasks to get a taste of the real lives of women in the villages of India. Among many, the biggest challenge these singers have to face will be bringing out the raw, real, and inspiring side of these women with the songs they will be composing on the go.
The show’s main focus is on showcasing female power, in saying ‘yes, we can’. Yet the format of the reality show remains a tricky ground as the four lead women should be able to empathize, bond, and translate onto the camera a camaraderie with the real heroines of the country who probably have never engaged with a TV camera. It is exactly this ruggedly feminine aspect of the show that should work with audiences currently spoilt for viewing choices across digital platforms. This show offers it all- original music for all music lovers, travel delights, and storytelling.
The show producers chose to make use of Bullet, for the girls to travel on, where they could have easily have had them riding on a Scooty instead. But they made sure they singers took classes for bike riding and used Bullet, as it would bring out an element of challenge, ruggedness and an assertion that these girls are of substances more than just mellifluous voices, and a willingness to stretch physical limits further. Not just the crew but even the guitarists and drummers chosen for the show are women.
Angels of Rock is definitely a tribute to the ever-growing spirit of Indian women and their legacy in a contemporary way and is absolutely worth a watch. The energy between the four is palpable and the enthusiasm infectious. Their trysts with bike riding strikes a chord with every girl who has struggled to move on beyond riding a bicycle. The way MTV and Sunsilk have come together to redefine the stereotypical dependent woman in daily soaps is truly admirable.
I’m absolutely in love with the show, and I hope you too don’t forget to catch it every Sunday at 8pm, on MTV India.