Saturday, August 11, 2012

The End or a New Beginning

A writer's block is probably the most painful and requires considerable effort to overcome. This post is the result of an epic battle fought and won over ennui and a blank mind.

The world around us seems to be going about its job and we are eight months into this year 2012, which was hyped as the one which shall witness the end of mankind or something like that. Calculations made by the Mayan tribes and the end of a certain calendar has been interpreted to signify a cataclysmic end.

The fear psychosis does not seem to have spread as was expected and charlatans hoping to make a quick buck would be sorely disappointed at the turn of events. Media has been caught in a web of its own doings and the great Indian political and social drama continues unabated. Unmistakably, though, one can sense a level of restlessness never seen before and the minds turning to the negative and morbid.

At the same time, a sure change sweeping across is the rise of spirituality and the tired mind trying to seek refuge and "live" in the real sense of the term. I have seen so many agnostics turn towards spirituality, (as distinct from religion and rituals) that I keep wondering endlessly.

If one takes refuge in our ancient philosophy, the end, sad though inevitable,  also signifies the start of a new cycle or a new era.A fresh beginning hopefully will be on a cleaner state and there is an environment that encourages the realising of full human potential.

This is a time for change. Change is in the air. It may not seem obvious to most but it is perceptible. 

I do not know which way this can go but change is inevitable.  This is not a divine occurance and the change is being brought in by us - the human race.

I believe this change shall herald in a new beginning where values will matter and society will be more humanistic. The responsibility for this rests on us. I feel I am upto this challenge and am contributing. Are You?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

2011 - A Year Lost in History

We are at the end of 2011 and in a week from now, this year will be part of history as we turn the page over to a new year.

As I look back on this year, I remember we started out with thick dark clouds on the horizon and in the midst of a crisis that seemed to overwhelm the government and an air of resignation amongst the people about our shared destiny of chaos, mess and failure. 

We saw the rise of a phenomenon called Anna Hazare, a doughty fighter from Maharashtra who raised the battle cry against corruption and the self-serving political class. The outpouring of anger was so real and so massive that it took everyone by surprise and pushed the political class on backfoot.

I had commented in my previous two posts on this fight against corruption.  Corruption - Will Leigislation Help? and Battle Against Corruption - A Tough Crusader that the political class ..."shall try everything in the book or otherwise to impede the Lokpal and weaken the whole institution by appointing "men of straw" to office."

We have seen exactly these things unfold in the six months since my last post.

Corruption is just one issue but if you see the year gone by, it seems some strange paralysis seems to have struck both the Government and the people of India. We have just gone to sleep and have let the year slip by without having done almost anything. Such waste of time is expensive and we may never know the cost. 

Another scourge that has ravaged us has been inflation. With food prices at all-time highs, many more Indians slept through 2011 on a hungry stomach. We had never eliminated hunger from our midst, we only succeeded in increasing the number of hungry people this year.

Our industry has lost its way and suddenly, we are talking of a slowdown and its negative impact. I am surprised how in India, when so much needs to be done, we talk of a slow-down. This is a result of lack of courage, self-confidence and using wisdom that is failing the wrold over to solve our problems. Wrong diagnosis and wrong medicine prescribed.

I hope, in 2012, we as a nation gather some confidence and act in self-interest, initiate a revival and set India on track to healthy growth and this prosperity percolates down to the lowest level. This year then could be a game changer in many respects.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Corruption - Will Leigislation Help?

We have seen the issue of the Lokpal bill capture our attention like nothing before. Tempers have run high on both sides - the civil society and the political class. Most of the political class realise that this is the potential time bomb waiting to blast, and, blast if it did, many so-called leaders will sink in oblivion..forgotten for ever. 

The question that comes to mind is whether this struggle to create an institution will in itself help in the fight against corruption. Lokpal, by itself, would be an authority with powers to investigate and bring the rich and powerful political class and others at deciding levels in governance or other authorities to book  So, in a sense, Lokpal is sought to be a deterrence. So were the police and judiciary, when we started out.

Will deterrence help in curbing corruption? or is it possible that we see a replay of all that has happened to our institutions in the past. Vested interests shall try everything in the book or otherwise to impede the Lokpal and weaken the whole institution by appointing "men of straw" to office.

Deterrence has never helped in curbing crime and it will not help in curbing or eliminating corruption.
How does this go forward? 

Do we wait for the process of evolution to take its own time  - people to reform from within so that the need to be corrupt itself is eliminated..This sounds utopian and almost impossible given current social conditions and especially when the current underlying theme of acquiring money, power, pelf and control runs very strong.

Is there sense in creating such institutions and hope that innate goodness in humans takes over and we start moving to the right track.There is no clear answer and it appears that cynics are having a field day. Sceptics seem to say "I told you so....there is nothing one can do"...

I am more sanguine and perhaps feel that awareness amongst people about such matters is very high. There is an emotional identification with the revolution sought to be started by Anna Hazare. There is anger and disgust amongst the middle classes. It will require the frail and dimunitive figure of Anna saheb to convert this to a mass revolution with a belief that the change we so desperately need can be ushered in.
When I looked at it from all angles, I felt that the Lokpal is a new institution brought into existence with a lot of thought and wide participation. Further, we can be vigilant and prevent its deterioration. More importantly, when every other institution is deeply mired in mess and has lost credibility, we have something that may deliver what is expected of it.

Society can, .meanwhile, make all efforts to voluntarily clean up its act.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Battle Against Corruption - A Tough Crusader

In the last few weeks, headlines have been hogged by a frail man in his seventies, who captured the imagination of our country with his anti-corruption crusade. This man found spontaneous support and the government eventually had to bow down to all his demands. A Government bogged down in so many scams did not want to be seen as unwilling to legislate a law against corruption.

Let us look back a little and understand why Anna saheb has a pathalogic dislike towards corruption and contempt for our political class. This will also tell us a little about this crusader.

Anna Hazare, a retired army soldier, a social reformer and one involved in rural development, has seen how corruption at the lowest level placed untold hurdles in his work at his village Ralegaon Siddhi. He sought redressal at the next level only to be horrified at the extent of corruption and shamelessness and impunity with which officials flouted every rule in the book.

Not to be rebuffed, he sought redressal at the political level. What he saw here truly shocked Anna saheb and probably made him wonder whether his mission of social reformation and selfless service were all in vain.The spread of corruption was like cancer that had spread beyond control and had gripped the vitals of our society. Enough to deter any person.

Anna saheb has been a person with a different DNA make-up. He is often under-estimated because of his diminutive physical stature and an apparent lack of sophistication, strategy and guile. But believe me, looks could'nt be more deceptive. He is a tough fighter and the fact that the Government of Maharashtra has initiated more than thirty cases against him in different courts, does not seem to ruffle him in the least.

Speaks volume of the reservoir of inner strength that he has.

This time he has moved to the national arena, a far more complex structure and perhaps far more vicious opponents. The odds stacked against him are very high as the Govt. of India has come out guns blazing on many fronts, determined to frustrate every effort at cleansing.

I still believe that the Govt. should not under-estimate Anna Hazare and get about the task with more sincerity. Anna saheb has no personal axe to grind and has nothing to lose. This is exactly the reason that makes him very dangerous,

Sunday, December 26, 2010

India in Turmoil

In less than a week, we shall draw curtains on the last year of the first decade of the 21st century. A decade is long enough a period to reflect on how much we have progressed as a nation or regressed as a society.

The last decade has seen tremendous strides being taken in all matters economic. Despite periodic hiccups, we seem to have regained our bearings, rather quickly, and, have stood up, marching ahead all the time. These pauses have helped us to get a sense of perspective about our progress.  We have made astounding progress in terms of technology and development all across. We can see visible signs of development trickling down to those who require it most, though this has not been fast enough nor has it been uniform all over.

Yet, it appears that our society seems to have regressed back to anarchy. We had set some rules  of orderly governance and existence but nd brazenly gone about flouting every one of them. We have been totally overtaken by greed and the new motto is " I, Me, Myself" and have gone about amassing wealth or power with both hands and more. Damn the others, damn the country and damn your own conscience.
The scams should be seen in this light and the speed with which the "privileged" have gone about this indicates a sense of fear that all this may not be possible and every opportunity needs to be capitalised on. Common Wealth Games, 2G scam, food grain scam, political conspiracies, defence purchase scams, real estate scams, scams that have surfaced and those that have not seem to blotch the canvas.

There is a loud protest at this, as it should be. The question to be asked is "Are you outraged that this is happening? or Are you angry that you missed the chance of being part of the loot?" 

The second, equally distressing, is the prominence gained by insensitivity, sometimes bordering on cruelty. This has led to strife, divisions in society and rebellion. The political class seems to have been completely bought over and they have in turn mortgaged the country's interests to the highest bidder. Back breaking inflation has focussed all energies on survival.
We see large swathe of our population in turmoil. There appear clearly two sides ranged against each other with no clear victor in sight. 

The whole space has become acrimonious and we have been witnessing a very regressive 2010. Our minds are in turmoil, our society is in turmoil, governance is absent, leadership has gone back into text books and suddenly things certainly seem bleak. The morning newspaper brings no glad tidings.

Do we cross over into a new year with a jaded mind set, defeated and fearful of our future?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Navratri........My Search for Meaning

Dasara or Dushera is a major Indian festival and is the culmination of and follows a period of nine days preceding it. This day is also known as Vijayadashmi, the tenth day - a day of victory. It is celebrated in most parts of India.

In a large country as ours and with diverse cultures co-existing, it is but natural that there will be varying interpretations. This is often seen in different themes that seem prominent in each region.

To me, a product of post independence India, and, moulded in the liberal school of thought, this was a dilemma of sorts. What is this festival? What is its significance?  

I found that most of us had no clue about the deeper meaning. It was identified as an event that happened in hoary times...destruction of the demon Mahisasura by Goddess Kali or the defeat of Ravana at the hands of Lord Rama. At some places it was identified as worshipping the feminine aspect of the divine and thus Goddess Durga was worshipped for the first three days, Goddess Laxmi for the next three and Goddess Saraswati for the last three days. The "Devi Kavach" honours the nine forms of the Goddess.

Come west to the state of Gujarat, and Garba takes centre stage. I do not refer to the modern day dancing to film and pop music. Traditionally, Garba form of dance was a worship of the Devi-Shakti, and the earthern pot with with a "diya" lit inside represented the womb and fertlity.

I felt these linkages seem symbolic and a message is being conveyed or these indicate that it is time to introspect, review and change.

In my next post, I hope to share with you all how I understood the significance of Navratri and what it really meant.

Monday, October 4, 2010

An Attempt at Self Destruction

Much has been said about what has been done or what has not been done for Commonwealth Games - 2010. This has been dissected in great detail and the potrayals have been overly negative.

Our "free" and often "irresponsible" media went berserk and every invective in the dictionary was hurled at the organisers and the Games. Some even went to the extent of criticising the decision to accept these Games in the first place. There were veiled suggestions that we bribed many nations to get the Games awarded to India.

The hype was so great that the foreign press just had to add their bit and the impressions were of a disaster waiting to happen. Many athletes probably dropped out reading this stuff.

One minister Mr. Mani Shankar Iyer went to the extent of calling this a colonial relic and a waste of money. Every attempt made was to scuttle the whole event from taking place. An open and blatant attempt at self-destruction. 

I am sure the then NDA government never imagined that we would live to see a day like this, when they went all out to get the Games to India. 

It was an effort to project to the world about a young and modern India, a resurgent and confident India, an emerging heavy weight in the world hierarchy. It was also an exercise that would have inspired us Indians to excel in our pursuits and break those limiting shackles that time and our weak minds have imposed on ourselves. An opportunity to mobilise all Indians to come together and create something outstanding.

We were ready to 
junk our image to mud. 
believe that all these efforts are way beyond us. 
believe that we did not deserve the glory that is rightly ours.

It would have been tragic if all these had come true. What surprises me is inspite of our manifold strengths, we repeatedly fall into that same trap and believe that we are so fallible. 

The inaugural extravaganza was stunning and I was definitely very impressed with the effort. Coming on the back of very low expectations, the impact may have been higher. This, however, does not dilute any credit  that the programme deserves. I am sure the rest of the Games would stick to high standards.

I remember Swami Vivekananda's words and wonder what the result would have been had we remembered his words:

"Man has infinite power within himself, and he can realise it. Arise, awake,sleep no more;within each of you there is the power............"

"March on! Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject as poison"

Let these words inspire us to our best and not our media and TV channels who happen to believe only in our worst.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Online Admissions - Surprisingly Smooth

We have repeatedly criticised our education system to be outdated, bureaucratic, and unresposive. It has been effective in churning out graduates by the million who are poor in so many vital skills that they are unemployable anyway. Further, various debates rage about the size of the school bags and overemphasis on learning by rote.

This academic year had two things of note in Maharashtra - Online admissions to the first year of junior college (after a miserable failure last year) and an ugly spat between SSCE board on one side and the ICSE and CBSE boards on the other hand. The latter left a bitter taste and delayed college opening by two months and we shall not talk about this.

The other is online admissons pushed through by Govt. of Maharashtra with laudable objectives. I believe that this has been successful, even though we have not yet completed the whole admission process. Infact, I may not be far away from the mark, if I were to call it an unqualified success. Let us not grudge credit where it is due.

A lot of thought and planning has gone in setting this system up. Compared to the disaster we had last year, it is smooth sailing this time. This time around, the Board authorities began early.  A detailed booklet was prepared and given to every student  sometime in mid-April. Each student was given a unique ID for use when the online process would begin.

There were dry runs with all schools participating. Students with their parents had to undergo a couple of sessions of familiarisation. I was surprised at how thorough the authorities were with their preparations. They were not ready for failure a second time around.

The result was a smooth glitch free process that will come to an end by end August. A rare instance of some excellent work done by the state government authorities. They need to be applauded for this. Just shows that with the right intent, even, an often ridiculed, government dept. can conceptualise something that genuinely adds value to us common citizens. This has almost eliminated the tensions and pressures of running around to various colleges. A great example of effective application of IT skills.

Three Cheers for that.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Another Time........... Another Journey

As I was writing on my experiences on the recent trip to my native place, I remembered my conversation with Rajesh and Laxmi, a couple from South Africa.

We were together on the trip to Kailash - Mansarovar. As we got to know each other, we began discussing about the Indian diaspora in South Africa. These were the descendants of those who were carted out in overcrowded ships to a unknown places across "Kala Paani" to serve new masters.

I am referring to the indentured labour that were taken to South Africa, specifically and in general to other places like Mauritius, Fiji, West Indies, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The white man seems to have made a habit of this. Africans were carted to Southern and EasterAmerica. The Chinese were slave labour in California.

This story of Indians being taken as slaves to serve business interests of the British businessmen is that part of our history we seem to have missed out completely and erased from our collective consciousness. We seem to have forgotten all about them and abandoned our long lost brethren. 

Modern day life seems to have brought them back in focus. Are we doing anything at all? Is it enough and is it helping? These and many others questions will be examined in the coming posts. I will also attempt to re-create the life of these "slaves" and their gritty and now prosperous descendants who are the proud citizens of South Africa. Yet, they long for India as their roots are here.

I thank Rajesh and Lakshmi for giving me plenty of background material and an insight into their life and the social structure they grew up in. I hope that I will be able to do justice to these poor souls, who went through terrible trials and tribulations in the hope of a better tomorrow for their children.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back to Roots

In my earlier post, I had mentioned our road trip across parts of Karnataka. The most important part was the initial six days. We were journeying through "our native place". Native place is a very Indian concept (or shall I enlarge it to say Oriental concept) and a very fascinating one at that. Inspite of being away from the land of our forefathers for two generations, there is still that "something" that identifies and connects you with that place. Our social etiquette permits us to stray into personal space and ask people where they hail from. I am rightfully a Mumbaikar and culturally identified more with Maharashtra than Karnataka.  Yet, people insist on knowing "where I really/originally hail from?".

This always struck me that there is a  strong link to our land of origin. It may appear that we try and slot people as Kannadigas, Konkanis, Goans, Malvanis....but is that our true identity? It is not threatening in any way and just our habit or culture, if you will.

I wanted to know more about this identity of mine. This identity that no UID card will be able to capture, this identity that goes beyond my place of residence, this identity that makes people welcome me so spontaneously despite having "migrated" generations ago. 

This journey, though short, was through North Kanara district, now officially known as Uttara Kannada district. People from my community - Chitrapur Saraswats - adopted names of villages as their surnames. Suddenly, all those hamlets, villages, towns small and big seemed very familiar. They were surnames of many many relatives, friends and acquaintances. I knew nothing about those places but suddenly and inexplicably felt at home. The icicng on the cake was finding  and visiting "Mavinkurve". A small island on the river Sharavati was where it all began a few of centuries ago. 

In the limited time I had, I managed to visit many places around. 

Doors were thrown open and strangers would talk as if "the prodigal son had returned". Remember, we had no contacts, property or a house back there. In this short stay a bond started developing almost unnoticed by any of us. On our return, we realised that bond seems to have strengthened. We are already talking in terms of the next trip. An adventurous thought does not rule out having our family home there...........

It seems that I have now donned a dual identity. Further and strangely, I seem comfortable with it. A city slicker living in relative anonymity in a megapolis and, as a native, in a script that is still being written.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Journey Across Time

It has been over a month that I have posted on my blog. Prior to that it was one post a month. That makes for a poor three posts in four months of 2010.

I can attribute this to a writer's block. A phase where one experiences a mental black-out and becomes philosophical about life et al. A writer's block can be devastating and the after effects tend to linger on for a longish period. I have been through this hibernation and have snapped out of this reverie suitably refreshed. Hope to come back with a fresh perspective on every matter that interests me.

The last three weeks have been spent on a road trip that took my family and I across varying terrain of Karnataka. I drove 2800 kms across various places and came back with a rich experience. This trip certainly merits a post.

As I drove on those endless roads, I got a chance to appreciate pristine beauty of the land at leisure. There were no schedules and no compulsion to hurry. Ironically, much of this beauty has been preserved as there has been very little development as we understand it in the modern sense. Have we missed a point here? 
I also got to observe people go about their lives with enthusiasm despite being deprived of basic creature comforts. Their lives are so simple and they are happy with so little. Neither the summer heat nor the seemingly hard life saps their energy or diminish their smiles.

Contrast this with us city folk. We have so many things going for us and, yet, our cribs are endless. We have so much and, yet, we have a sense of lack and our country cousins live in a sense of abundance inspite of having so little.

Not only was I travelling back in time, but I was also travelling from India to that vast, beautiful, under-rated and perhaps, a happy भारत.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Attitudes Are Hard to Change

I wrote a short "tweet" version on this subject at "India Tweets" and I felt this needs to be elaborated further.

In recent times, we have attempted to enact a law that is quite revolutionary. That of reserving 33% of electoral seats for women. It is not a simple straight forward piece of legislation and like many of our other laws, this too will have many "ifs" and "buts" that could dilute many good intentions. This has also seen a rare unanimity between the three major and influential political formations in the country which have supported this change.

In a decidedly male dominated society and that goes for politics too, this is a paradigm shifting event. One may debate on the usefulness of this piece of legislation or feel that we did not require a law and our intent could be demonstrated just by ensuring more women candidates in the fray. These are valid observations and one may not have convincing arguments to the contrary except that much can be done but does it ever get done???

Initial opposition soon snowballed into a fierce "no-holds barred" filibustering, nay street fight. A couple of political formations saw this as a great affront to their cultural leanings. The stridency of this opposition surprised many but an astute observer would find that this was entirely along expected lines and should not  surprise any one. After all, the idea of a woman boss is still quite distasteful to many.

This experience highlights something basic. Any law or element of compulsion that has to do with some action (or its absence) results in high compliance...e.g., compliance to tax rules, laws to ensure public order and against misbehaviour or laws against deter many. This is not to argue that crime is wiped out but these laws have a "deterence" effect and we see reasonably high level of compliance.

There can be no law to ensure change in attitudes. Laws abolished untouchability many years back but its practice is widespread. In some places, it is brazen and in many cases it is subtle. We have not changed from within and are gulity of practising discrimination in one form or other.

The uplift of women and giving primacy to their health, education, status, legal protection, legal rights, access to opportunities....has been a very contentious issue in our society for the last century or so. Every change has had to be brought in the face of very stiff opposition. I can easily site the example of banning polygamy amongst Hindus had raised temperatures in the early fifties. (Sad, though, it did not cover all Indian women). Extending property rights to women of the family was another issue that raised the heckles of many. 

Now we have the Women's Reservation Bill. I am not sure the efficacy of this piece of legislation as there is every likelihood of women from existing political interests will be pushed forward and there will be much back seat driving. Just a little more than a decade back Rabri Devi managed her kitchen cabinet with Lalu Prasad Yadav being the master puppeteer.

Yet, there is hope. Process of evolution is always slow and when it comes to attitudes and cultural mores, it would require generational shifts. Legislation can have a "nudge here - nudge there" effect and hopefully society moves in the desired direction.One must not expect any dramatic change from this law and we must view this effort as a facilitator of some social reform, the fruits of which may be seen by our future generations.

It is, however, upto us (the present generation),  to ensure that a change in society is brought about and we emphasise on human values and a liberal culture.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Movement Gone Awry

We all agree that our Indian society has a long history stretching perhaps to the dawn of mankind  and its ancient and glorious culture served as the embellishment. 

Over the years the vibrancy began losing its intensity and came to be subdued and over many centuries it became dormant. It could have gone extinct but it survived and in the process developed many warts The process of degeneration was so slow that it could hardly be noticed. Years of invasion, wars, foreign rule, oppression for over ten centuries had its effect.

Come independence and it was expected that with a new dawn, many multifold rigidities of our society would somehow just vanish like clouds on a windy day. There was plenty of idealism fuelling our society then. Sadly though, feudal mored were not to disappear without a fight. They strengthened their hold over privileges and we started having teeming masses who were no better than they were under some cruel jagirdar or a despotic king who lived to oppress his subjects.

Anger found an outlet in some of the poorest parts of the country and the struggle began for a more equal society. This was the revolution that began at the grassroots. The emotional appeal was strong. The proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was a dream to die for.

It underwent a metamorphosis many a time and the revolution against injustice came to be called Naxalism or Maoist rebels as we know now and many avatars in between. Along  with this, I suspect, was lost the original goal and message. 

It was more violence for the sake of it. Violence to change society is as unattainable as was Alexander's quest to conquer the whole world. It seems more for power to the group leaders. Civilian, police and military casualties are more like trophies. Now comes the latest admission by women revolutionaries of rampant sexual exploitation and the picture is complete.

Do we see any difference between the despotic king or cruel jagirdars and these uniformed and armed "revolutionaries".

If you have read George Orwell's "Animal Farm" would know that equals have now become "First amongst equals". A movement that has gone horribly awry and has fostered violence and  social divide. It is here that lies a great tragedy of modern India.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Suicidal Tendencies in Children - A Perspective.

Taking my discussion, on this new challenge in our society, further, I thought it necessary to examine this phenomenon a little further. This development has its roots, amongst others, in the rapid change our society has undergone and how our lives have changed on the last two decades.

This period is most relevant as the children opting for suicide were born during this time.We may have made tremendous strides in making more money or ensuring a mobile phone for one out of every  two Indians, expanding economic opportunities or have improved our so-called "standards of living". However, in this race, we seem to achieved whatever at a very high cost. The moot question is whether, we as  a society have regressed.

It seems that the stakes have suddenly been upped and it appears that in this life's race, the winner takes it all.
Everybody loves winners and there is a certain glamour attached to these "success stories". Media also does it bit by highlighting crazy placement salaries of a few students from premier engineering and management institutes. All this raises expectations of both students and parents.

Whilst this is not the case in reality, we often fail to recognise that there is no free lunch  in life. Each one has to always pay a price and often that is not visible. It is good to aspire and work hard towards one goal and there is absolutely no harm in that. One does not plan to fail but what happens if  the student,  inspite of best  efforts, is unable to get through. It is at this stage emotional balance of both parents and their children is called into play.

That failure in an exam is not a measure of that child's worth should be understood and clearly communicated and demonstrated through thoughts, words and deeds. That failure is not the end of life and instead can be  a stepping stone for renewed efforts should be drilled in no uncertain terms.

Most students are not suicidal but it is impossible to predict who could be overwhelmed at any point of time and who would take steps towards the edge.

It is possible for a child to equip itself against the uncertainties of life and attain a semblance of emotional balance if their education process begins early - both at home and in school. This pre-supposes that our teachers have the right approach and training and parents have the maturity to be mentors, friends and of course de-stressed parents.

Is this expecting too much???  Can we achieve this state??? If yes, then what needs to be done??? Is this over simplification of the problem??? Do we understand the compulsions of those for whom good education is a passport to a better life away from their daily drudgery???

There are many unanswered questions. It is important that these are discussed in public domain and there is awareness. It may help someone.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Children Commiting Suicide - A New Challenge

All of a sudden newspapers are full of reports about children, mostly teens and young adults taking their own lives. I am not sure whether this was a regular occurance earlier and it is only now this is getting prominence, or this is a new problem which we as a society are facing.

The reasons for commiting suicide vary from the predictable to the bizzare. One has heard of teens taking their lives due to failure in exams, or rejection in love but suicide on grounds of loneliness, lack of preparation for exams, not being permitted to learn dancing...are certainly new and confounding. One suicide case certainly bordered on the bizzare. The child wanted to meet and be close to her deceased father.

Every loss of a young life is tragic and shatters the family involved. Life moves on and the family would eventually get on with their lives and time the great healer will fill these wounds. The question here is why does this happen?

Let me try and understand our existing circumstances and put things in perspective. I cannot claim deep understanding of teen affairs but I base my understanding on my observations of my daughters and their friends. I would ike to believe that this would be as contemporary as it gets.

I would believe that parents have a critical role to play. Grand-parents, cousins, uncles/ aunts and immediate  circle of relatives form an important protective and supportive circle around. Friends are an important  social support system. Apart from these teachers do also play an important role.

One clear advantage of having an active social network of relatives and friends is the emotional support that one can draw from them. A sharp rebuke or a scolding from a  teacher is eased by parents or friends. Hurt after a fight with a sibling can be balmed by a friend or relative and so on. The funny part is we draw on this well of comfort / support all the time but never realise it.

A teen yet to fully develop emotional balance gets the comfort and strength to face many such reverses of life. This "on-demand" availability of the "soft touch" so to say has helped many a teen (including us back then) in handling the various pains of growing up.

It is time we acknowledge that many children in our society do not have an adequate support system around them. This may be a result of many factors but modern life is certainly a big contributor. Let me try and present gaps that have developed in our lives and the dangers they pose.

I would like my blogger friends ti share their their thoughts on what they think about this new problem surfacing in our lives.