Sunday, March 25, 2012 13 comments

MOMENTS, MEMORIES AND MELODIES


Have you ever had this experience of a melody transporting you through time? It can take you to your childhood, to a favorite place or bring alive a special moment.

There is this song “ Aati rahengi baharen” which takes me back to my childhood in a small town in West Bengal? Then there is another “Suno Champa Suno Tara  and I can almost see myself lying down on the bed with measles- the song playing on a LP record on the record player next to the bed.  
The Kishore number in Bangla “ Noyono shoroshi kano..”  takes me to my friend’s house with the smell of frying fish in the background.  Whenever I think of  the song “ Oh Saathi re tere bina bhi kya jeena” I can remember Durga Puja, shopping and fun. The Nazia Hasan number “ Aap Jaisa koi  reminds of hot summer nights with power cuts and the song blasting blasting away on a transistor in our house and in our neighbors’.   Memories of  Antakshari are laced with memories of “ Main tulsi tere angan ki” / “ Kasme Vaade”. Nobody plays Antakshari these days and transistors are only used by sleepy watchmen. About LP records and record players.. I think they are  now antique pieces..

More recently, some songs that  come to my mind- the Elton John number “Sacrifice”  takes me back to college in Bombay ( no it was before Mumbai) –sitting down in our Dining hall where the music system used to be located and  working on my assignments while it poured cats and dogs outside. And there were some awful songs composed by the music duo Nadeem Shravan ( each of which sounded like the other) which brings back memories of watching terribly made Bollywood films with a huge gang of friends at a rundown theatre near the institute where I was doing my post graduation.


An obscure song “Maine dekhe hain sabhi rang duniya ke  by a singer called Raageshwari ( who has now sunk into oblivion) is very special to me because I associate it with my pregnancy. Those were the days when music videos were becoming popular. I used to see this bubbly singer on the video and somehow form an association with my unborn child.

A song like “ You fill up my senses” reminds me of my time in Sri Lanka.  We drove around a lot during the course of our one week  there and this song was obviously our driver’s favorite!

The Hindustani tradition has a raag for specific times of the day and for specific seasons. There are some raags which make you imagine that it is dawn or dusk or it is spring or the monsoons.  When you hear Megh or Malhar you can almost see those clouds forming over the sky. Film makers often play a certain melody like Raag Bhairavi to signify morning. 

Melody therefore has the ability to create a mood. No wonder music is part of emotions! Emotions are linked to memories. We associate certain memories with certain events which make us feel happy or sad or nostalgic. It is complex and I feel constrained explaining it in words!  I mean the songs that I mentioned are not exactly my favorites but the associations that they bring about are very special

The human mind is definitely amazing!



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Thursday, March 22, 2012 14 comments

“HIUEN TSANG” AND HAPPY FEET.

I have a mole on the sole of my left  foot- something that I never knew existed until I was twenty four years old. Its discovery was quite accidental!  I had just got into an unreserved compartment on a train going from Vijaywada to Tenali. As I took off my shoes and rested my tiered feet on the seat opposite, the occupant of that seat, an old lady, suddenly grabbed  my left foot and peered at it before announcing loudly  the existence of the mole. I was wondering if it had any significance until she pointed to  a similar one on the sole of her foot ( I don’t remember which one) and said reverently “It means that these feet will take you to some of the most interesting places in the world” The fact that the lady in question looked highly eccentric with matted hair etc, made me hope that the resemblance to her ended with that mole.

But I cannot forget her prophecy because these feet have ,figuratively speaking taken me to some of the most interesting places in this world. Places, which are not part of any tourist map- places which are untouched and pristine pure from the pollution of human exploitation! My work takes me to all these places. No, I am not a photo journalist or a writer or anything glamorous like that. I work for a NGO that reaches to poor and marginalized communities across the country – some of them living in very remote areas. Therefore , like Hiuen Tsang from Harsha’s days, I use my travel as much to enrich my knowledge as to do my work. My organization abounds with people like me – but most of their “Si-yu-ki” is in their minds. Fortunately for me my job description includes documentation which helps in writing down my own version of “Si-yu-ki”
One such visit was in December 2009 to the Kandhamal district of Odisha For many the name may not mean much- for others who are little more aware it may link to communal riots while some others may form the link to Maoists!

We were designing a project – Women in Agriculture. We wanted to understand the real issues on the ground faced by the tribal women. We wanted to hear about their lives, their aspirations from their perspective.

So there we were- myself an my colleague S along with two consultants – retired professors from the agriculture university who got into a jeep and like Hiuen Tsang began that journey of discovery. When we set out from Bhubaneshwar via, Khurda and Ganjam, it seemed like any other journey. However. only when we started going up the hills towards Daringbadi that it began to get interesting. We went through forests- not really thick but somehow with an air of mystery about them. I don’t know why but the impression of people watching me from behind the trees never left me until the end of the journey!

We reached Daringbadi by about 3.00 PM all hungry and exhausted. There was a small local NGO with whom we had made contact. They were to take us to a tribal settlement about 20km away for an interaction. But before that we had to check into a hotel. I was not keen on the hotel idea. I wanted to stay back at the NGO’s training centre where a group of tribal women were being trained on health care practices. But the gentleman running the NGO would not hear of it. He felt that the amenities offered by his training facility would not suit me. “Madam you cannot sleep on a carpet on the floor” he protested. And finally, despite my arguments I was bundled back into the jeep and the driver directed to take me along with the others to a “nice resort” nearby.

The resort was “interesting” in a way that reminded me of the motel in the  film “psycho” !  No, I don’t mean the actual location but the air about was a little strange –a cluster of cottages with modern amenities set in the middle of the forest. There were seven cottages in all with the dining hall located  about 200 m away. Actually, I did not notice anything much until the evening. I was more busy getting my things together for the village visit.

We reached the village just as the sun was setting. An absolutely amazing sight!! I don’t have any pictures with me so you will have to rely on the words that I am writing.

A small cluster of huts set against the back drop of hills that glowed red from the light of the setting sun. Parts of the hillside were planted with turmeric. People were just returning home from the fields. We settled ourselves down under a tree in the village and waited for them to finish their work and gather for the discussion.

The sun set and the twilight slowly faded out. A settlement of about 50 families with a population of around 300- yet it was surprising how silent everything seemed.  There was no sound of any traffic- all that could be heard were the crickets, some children crying and the occasionally some murmurs of voices. I tried to contrast it with the sounds that I have heard from the other villages that I had visited-somehow people here seemed quieter, calmer and less noisy- or was it just a calm that covered the  simmering  anger below  at being  left behind on the road to development I wondered…….

We lit a fire and slowly people came around to huddle around it for warmth. I suddenly felt guilty about my warm Mizo Shawl!! Here I was nicely covered up in wool while women and children had only the fire for warmth!

We started the discussions with the help of our friend from the local NGO who acted as the interpreter. It was interesting the way the language translations were happening. My friend S and myself would discuss an issue in English along with the Professors and then they would translate it into Oriya for the benefit of our interpreter who in turn would translate it into the local dialect of the Kondhs!! After the initial hitches we found that we had built a rapport strong enough for the people to directly look at us while they answered questions even though it may have been posed by an interpreter. We gathered a wealth of information- what is grown on the hills- and in which seasons, Who did what in terms of farming practices. What did men do , what did women do. Where did they sell their products?

We never realized how long we were there until suddenly, our NGO friend from the area got up and started instructing us to gather our things. “let us leave” he kept muttering under his breath. I was puzzled to say the least. But when we saw the way he was behaving, we decided to follow his instructions and gathered up our notes and pens. In about fifteen minutes we were out of the village.

“What made you rush us like that “ asked S

“ Sir, you did not notice but there were some Maoists from the village who had joined the group and I found them asking questions about you and the others. You see, they know me but they do not know anyone of you. When, they don’t  know someone they are suspicious and that can be dangerous.”

I felt a shiver go down my spine! For the rest of the route we traveled in silence.

I was all the more keen now to stay behind with the trainees at the NGOs office. But I was deposited ceremoniously with the others at the gate of the “resort”in an hour or so.

The “psycho” resemblance was hitting me very hard now. When I got into the room I found that the bed was against the window- something that always makes me uncomfortable because I like to look out of  a window to know what is going on outside rather than be observed from behind through a window. So I decided that I would sleep with my head resting towards the foot of the bed and look straight out at the window!!

Just as I was washing up and getting ready to go to the dining hall located a little distance away, I found that my mobile phone did not have any signal! The caretaker assured me that I could use the land line in the dining hall for calls at the usual STD rates. But it was not calls home that I was worried about at the moment. It was the ability to call S or those professors should something sinister happen to me that I was looking for!!

Post dinner, I went back to my room and locked the door dragging a small table against it so that no one could push it open without my knowledge. I was just about to turn the light off when I heard it- the sound of a dozen foxes howling!!!! It was the most eerie sound I have heard since my childhood in the north 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. The foxes used to get into our garden those days and howl their lungs off scaring me no end!! They appeared to be having the same effect now. I checked the window bolt- something that made me more uneasy because when I looked out of the window all I could see was a forest path covered thickly by trees. I decided immediately that I was going to sleep with the light on.

But about two hours or so later when I looked out of the window and the dark forested hillside I realized that by having the light on in my room I was probably drawing attention to my room – which must have been shining like a beacon in the dark hillside.

Though it made be terribly nervous, I decided to switch off the light. I sat up for another couple of hours listening to every sound – crickets buzzing, some night owls flying by and of course the howling foxes! At one point I wonder what would be my colleague S’s reaction if I were to knock on his door and ask if he would permit me to sleep on the sofa next to his bed!!!

But I did not do any of that- I stayed awake until the golden light of dawn began it filter in through my window.

Naturally, I overslept and it was 8 0’ clock when I heard S hammering on my door. A very organized person, my colleague S was all packed up and ready to leave.  I quickly collected my things and was more than willing to get ready by 8.30   AM.

As we drove out, I looked at the beauty of the place and I was surprised that it had scared me so much during the night!  I looked with longing at the greenery and the hills in the background as we descended down the hillside. I saw some of the adivasis pass us by with head loads – the children smiled and waved at us. The women looked on shyly. “Where are the Maoists ?” I wondered as we passed a local market humming with activity.

It is surprising what kind of games the mind can play with us when we are vulnerable I thought as I settled down on the back seat of the jeep and closed my eyes for a nap.

“ You really like to sleep.. don’t you. You went to bed at 9.30 last night and did not wake up until 8.30 this morning and now you are sleeping again” grumbled S as he gathered his things moving on to the front seat so that I could settle myself more comfortably for my nap.

“Yes, too bad you don’t like people who sleep! Next time you should travel with an insomniac .” I said as I brought my feet up on to the seat gently massaging the left one before shutting my eyes for the much needed sleep!

( This post has been submitted as entry for the Incredible stories contest sponsored by Mahindra and Mahindra on Indiblogger.http://www.mahindraxuv500.com/)
Images from the Internet
 
Sunday, March 18, 2012 10 comments

FINALLY SOME SUBSTANCE !!!

 
The month of March is very special to me as this is the month when we celebrate women’s achievements. So, is it surprising that I should have seen in this month two of the best films I can remember in recent times ?

Both these  films  though located in completely different cultures have something in common -  both are about two strong women  in extremely vulnerable circumstances- BOL is a Pakistani film about a woman facing execution while KAHANI is an Indian film about a woman who is pregnant.

In BOL we have the protagonist Zainab who is fighting maternity- the oldest daughter in a large family she tries to save her mother from repeated pregnancies by making her undergo sterlization. The poverty of a family with too many mouths to feed and the “shame” that they seek to hide when their mother gives birth to a child who is a “transvestite” make her question  whether bringing a child into this world without being able to look after it is not a crime in itself . A family governed by tradition and restrictions on the mobility of women, the daughters live a life of fear when their father is in the house. Their father on the other hand lives a double life -  a respected pillar of the community whose daughters are well within the  strict “social norms” on one hand while on the other he is a man who fathers a child with a sex worker in order to deal with his economic problems. Unable to deal with the constant violence, duplicity and subjugation, you see our protagonist rising up and killing her father to save her half sister !
 
KAHANI on the other hand is about something completely different. We have a very pregnant Vidya Balan ( Bidya Balan?) who comes from London to Kolkata in search of her missing husband. Her search for her husband leads her into dangerous brushes with the Intelligence Bureau who decide to use her as a bait to catch a dangerous agent who looks like her missing husband. The climax of the film has an interesting twist where we have Vidya chasing the agent in the crowded Durga Puja immersion ceremony. And ofcourse there is the grand finale where we have her as Mahisaura Mardhini shooting down a  wanted criminal who was responsible for the killing of a train full of innocent people in a metro train two years ago!

While each story in itself is very unique what I find very inspiring is the portrayal of the two women. In both these films we find women who are not passive acceptors of their circumstances. Both of them want to do something and do not want to stop at anything when they are confronted with people with evil intent!  

South Asian cinema has come of age! We have gone past , romance and eulogizing tradition- we have the courage now to show women as they are and we do not hesitate to celebrate their courage!

And in terms of statements both these films use religious beliefs  very powerfully to define the context.  While one film questions reproduction, arguing logically the point that when God gives humans the capacity to procreate he expects them to use this capacity responsibly , the other focuses on the mother concept – Shakti that is eulogized through Goddess Durga which finds reflection in a pregnant woman who is out on a mission.

KAHANI uses Tagore’s “ Ekla Cholo” or “Walk alone” as the theme song. When no one is willing to walk wit you- you walk alone towards your goal. BOL on the other hand has this background score that says “Speak up, Say what is in your heart”!

Maybe it is about women in different societies and therefore facing different challenges. Vidya being the NRI woman is more mobile and is able to take certain decisions even if it means  walking alone when no one backs her while Zainab facing years of silence brings up the courage to “Speak up” and tell her story to the world!

Interestingly none of these films focus on the heroine’s physical appearance. There are no designer clothes, chiffon saris et al. We have one of them in a maternity dress while the other is in a faded salwar kameeze initially and later in a black shroud like robe. BOL however ends with greater hope than KAHANI simply because of the story line.

In terms of acting I must say that both films showed a genre of acting that was so realistic and beyond melodrama!  Dare I hope that substance will slowly triumph over form?
Sunday, March 11, 2012 10 comments

IS KNOWLEDGE OF A LANGUAGE ENOUGH FOR TRANSLATION?

The last one week had been hectic for me with all this planning around the women’s day celebrations. For our organization it was a nation wide campaign around dispelling those myths that I had written about in my last post. Each state  that we work in took up the responsibility of creating awareness about those myths in our own ways- a central thinking expressed in a locally relevant manner!

Therefore, the first thing that we ( the core team involved in the Chennai celebrations) set out to do was to start translation of the key messages. Though we did not realize this initially, we found that it was probably the most difficult and challenging part of the entire exercise- let me explain this!

Have you heard of the saying in Tamil- “Kall irundal mangai illa, mangai irundhal, kall ille?” – roughly translated it means “When you have the stone there is  no mango and when the mango is in sight we cannot find the stone” This was exactly what happened with us! Colleagues who were touted as “language experts” internally had no clue about the spirit behind these messages!

As one of the key persons on the core team, I found myself completely lost because, I do  not know Tamil! It is my mother tongue but having spent my student years outside this state, I had no opportunity to learn to read and write the language. During the last few years I had managed to pick up some words through reading the various cinema posters around but that just about suffices to read bus boards and street signs- So here I was who understood the context behind the messages we wanted to give but I was unable to contribute to the translation. Colleagues who were with me on the core team understood the spirit behind the messages , had reasonably good language skills but were not confident enough to stress on what they believed was the  right / wrong translation! But when I tried to convey their feedback I was told that I did not understand the language well enough.

Now,  you may wonder what is so difficult about translating these five sentences

  1. It is a man’s world
  2. Girls belong in marriage not in schools
  3. Women are too soft and emotional
  4. Women cannot be leaders
  5. She asked for it

Well the first four statements were actually quite easy. But it was when we came to the last sentence that the problems started. And ofcourse the biggest problem came with the translation of the pledge statement!

People like us  who work in non profits are not exactly one tribe. We  have various areas of specializations. There are those who work on financial services, others on livelihoods, health and education. Each sector has its jargon. And there are words that are strongly linked to strategies which are rights based- which deal with oppression and marginalization around caste, class and gender. Though it is expected of all us to understand these issues as they are the underlying causes around our interventions, I realized during the course of the last week that while people have general sensitivities to poverty etc, they tend to only limit themselves to knowledge  around their sectors. Therefore colleagues would know a lot of correct words to translate terms like “ artificial insemination”, “Value chain”, “financial services” etc but few would know how to translate something like “She  asked for it”! In terms of English it is very simple. But you will be surprised to note that people who write reams of technical papers around poverty were absolutely clueless when it came to this simple sentence. Actually some even thought it was a positive sentence – “She wanted something and she knew she would get it only if asked . So she developed the courage to ask” !!!  I tried to explain the context – the issue of violence against women –rape , domestic violence etc. But continued to draw a blank there.


 I wondered if there was something wrong with my communication skills or  in the larger thinking of the organization that was unable to get this message  across to its key staff at Chennai? So I put up a request on face book  and lo.. I got a dozen responses! . .I noticed a trend among those who responded- they were all from persons who were sensitive to issues around rights of women.

So my first lesson was that unless you understand an issue you cannot use language effectively to communicate it! Language by itself is only a tool for communication. The message comes from our ability to understand the context and the values being communicated- so obviously few people were able to understand in depth the the question of   violence against women. Also realized that when it comes to gender people are unable to contextualize issue to their perception of reality.

There are also words which are considered to be “politically incorrect” but which are used very freely even within our sector. . Sometimes I wonder if it is unfamiliarity with English as a language that is a problem? After the experience last week, I realize it is not so- it is lack of understanding or sensitivity- many people don’t know sensitive words even in the language they had their education in. When we do, we will be able to use language effectively to communicate it.

Today with the enormous exchange of information that is happening across different regions of the world, I see a big role for translation – but translation without a soul is nothing but food without salt! Imagine what would have happened to Tagore’s “Gitanjali” without good translation?

I see the subtitling in some of the films today and I am shocked by what I see. My earliest memories of this was in the late 1980s while watching an Assamese film on Doordarshan. This film made by NFDC was something about Dushyant and Shakuntala where in one of the scene Dushyant looks very lovingly at Shakuntala holding her hand and asks” Why this temperature? Why this shivering”!!! One would be inclined to think that she was suffering from Malaria. And again there was the film “Main Tulsi tere angan ki” that I saw on a flight from Delhi to Chennai where there was a title song that got translated like this “ I am the basil plant in your courtyard” Yes, I agree that there may be no other way to translate it but consider this line “Maang bhi tera sindoor bhi tera sab kuch tera kuchh nahi mera” being translated “The parting is yours, so is the vermilion, everything is yours nothing is mine” My god..!!! I think I laughed so much that I woke up some fellow passengers. May be the  people who subtitle songs should just stick to putting the spirit of it into the words rather than translating the words literally!!!” Ofcourse while agreeing that songs like poetry may be difficult what about abuses?  When I found somewhere the word “sala” ( a swear word in Hindi which is also used for “brother in law”)  translated as “you brother-in- law” I was dumbstruck!

I think somewhere along the way, there is a deterioration of language and vocabulary and their effective use. We can communicate a lot in a well written sentence with the correct words. We have poets and writers in so many regional languages but who reads them even in their own language?  So people like me who want to read literature in other languages will never have an opportunity because translations and translations of high caliber are dying out. We just do not have people who are able to understand and appreciate contexts and values in a culture and convey it effectively in another using language as a vehicle.

We are becoming a generation of robots who will ultimately only understand software programs prepared and administered by a central server somewhere on this universe!! Sad!.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012 11 comments

DISPELLING MYTHS


It is not easy when we try to dispel  myths. The trouble with myths is that they are deeply embedded in the social fabric of life. People believe in them and turn them into stereotypes which are oft repeated to prove a point.

As the International Women’s Day draws near our organization decided this year to focus on creating  awareness about some myths that form barriers to the development of women and girls . The following are the myths being sought to be dispelled
  1. It is a  man’s world
  2. Women cannot be leaders
  3. Women are too soft and emotional
  4. Girls belong in marriage not in a school
  5. She asked for it.

All the events being held  country wide by our organization this  year seek in some way to dispel these myths.  In Chennai, we decided to have some programs with children studying in schools run by the Corporation of Chennai to create awareness about these myths. We were suggested eight schools in north Chennai by the Joint Commissioner ( education) , Corporation of Chennai.

In the process of doing these programs we found ourselves coming face to face with  a different category of myths.

Myth 1- Teachers from government schools are not interested in teaching

This we learnt was the biggest myth! Planning for our events required holding meeting with the school Head mistress/ master. Since our office is located in South Chennai, it was quite an exercise trying to get to these places in the north of the city. Our drivers were as lost as we were and finally when we reached some of the schools it was almost 5.00 PM. We were not sure if anyone would be there – but there was a surprise in store for us- we found special classes in progress. Classes being conducted by the teachers from 4-6  PM every day! They deal with one subject each day and all students who are weak in that subject are expected to attend! These classes are compulsory for the children of classes 9 and 10! In each of the schools the enthusiasm of the teachers and the head master/ mistress in planning for the event was so infectious! They invited the women councillors to participate in the events as judges and chief guests on our behalf. I met today Mrs Hemamalini – a gracious lady who is the ward councillor for ward 70! She accepted our invitation our phone ( our letter had not reached her on time) and was there at least ten minutes before the event!  

Coming back to the teachers-not one of them complained about the extra hours that they had to put in. One of them was making tea on an induction heater for the kids who were attending  the special class while the other lady was taking a class. This is a provision made by the Corporation so that these children can have something to drink with the “sundal” ( a dish made with chick pea and eaten as a snack) which is provided by the noon meal program. Unfortunately as someone pointed out to me later – this is a good scheme with poor funding- there is no budget for milk to be put into the tea. The kids and the teachers are used to black tea which they offered to us apologising profusely!

Myth 2 Children in Corporation run schools have poor capacities in terms of extracurricular activities


This is a myth that stems from the first one. Many of us believe that children in corporation schools given the “poor teaching” just about make it through their exams and therefore have no skills besides learning by rote and reproducing it on paper. While, I will not completely disagree about the learning by rote, what surprised us was the way they brought creativity into their performance! We had a speech competition today where four schools  participated.  Though it was obvious that some of the speeches were probably written with the help of the teachers, the manner in which the kids spoke- their confidence and expression was absolutely amazing!!! I think these are kids  if nurtured well have the potential to turn into leaders! I could almost see a dozen “puratchi thalaivis” there!

We also had a football match yesterday for one of the schools! The games mistress of the school was initially hesitant because she was not sure if the girls had the stamina to play a game like this. But the Head mistress was more than confident. We started out the match at 10.00 AM- the ball had the myths about women written on it so that it could be symbolically kicked around! Wow .. ! What energy and enthusiasm!!! What touched me personally was the fact that for almost the entire football team – their first meal for the day was a glass of “kanji”( watery rice porridge) that is provided as part of the free meals by the government! Their eyes widened when they saw the cake that we had brought for them as a trophy – shaped like a football stadium with “I am powerful” written on it!

Myth 3 Education ALONE is the key to the  empowerment of women and girls

The trouble with our education system is that it does not really prepare us for any skills that can be used in life. Education is linked to examinations and when the exams are over it is as though the lifetime achievement in terms of goals is complete! This is what prevents education from becoming the change agent that it is expected to. The education system does not prepare the student for creative thinking, reasoning etc which are important life skills that anyone would need to get ahead in life. The teachers of these schools ( with due respect to their commitment )  as well as teachers of other schools are very examination and marks centric in their entire approach to education. “We face harassment from the parents if the child does not pass the public exam in standard 10” shared the head mistress of the Corporation school on Wall tax road. While parents demanding accountability is a good sign what is important is to look at the learning expectations. There is no stress on development of individuality and independence  and what therefore happens is the focus on conformity! These bright sparks get extinguished before they clear their tenth exam. They get back into being what they are expected to be – into women who “obey” their husbands and bear the responsibilities of the family by burning the candle at both ends- their mothers may have done it through manual labour while these girls may do it through some other form of  mindless work just to put the food on the plates of their family! I don’t know if the fact that they are engaged in work that may involve less physical labour is an indicator of empowerment. Roles still continue to be the same and power exercised similarly! So what is the value add that education would be bringing to their lives?

I think somewhere the education system needs to change to factor in these requirements if we are to become a society that promotes and sustains individual thoughts and actions . These are the basic requirement for an empowered individual who can make the choices suited to their needs. A band of committed teachers is wasted if there is no change in the values behind the education system. And if those values do not change, those myths about women and girls will continue to exist because even if textbooks mention them as myths, for the kids it would only be some points to be remembered until they write it down on paper and get the marks that they wanted. It would not be a reality that they would want to change in their lives!

For me personally this has been a revelation! I have never really  had an opportunity to work with young girls through the schooling system. Given the fact that we have good education infrastructure, reasonably good teacher commitment and a responsive administrative system there should be a lot that is possible.

Someone once told me that these gender based inequalities and stereotypes developed over centuries and would therefore take an equally long time to be dispelled! I think that is ridiculous. If we can send rockets into space then why can’t we change the way we think and act? It is all in our hands…

Those of you who are based in Chennai, do join us at the Marina Beach on the 8th of March at 5.00 PM near the Gandhi Statue to take a pledge towards committing ourselves to making that change…!  It is a public event and any one who is interested can participate in. I have attached an invitation in this post.

See you on the 8th !

 
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