Monday, September 20, 2010

Stop making fun of Ganesha

Lord Ganesh is the most revered deity of Indian Culture. Every work – be it major or minor begins by worshipping or remembering this deity primarily. He has a special place in the hearts of most Hindus alike all over the world.

History denotes that worshipping lord Ganesh was a ritual limited only at select few homes. It was an honour for the so called ‘elite communities’ to have the privilege to worship him openly. Later with the influences of several leaders, was the festival of celebrating Ganesh Chathurthi at a mass scale and amongst the public was introduced. The celebration of this festival was seen as a catalyst to boost unity and oneness amongst the people. This festival reached to several parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and other states. It gained instant momentum and its gait spread like a wild fire. With times, the ganesh festival was seen as a major event in the calendar of Indian festival. It started creating mass public presence on the streets and major public spaces. Welcoming the idol with music and dance gained impetus with the years as it spread across several cities.

The ritual procession to welcome and depart the Lord is seen as a major gathering event during the ten day festival. The ambience during such a procession is real experience for those who follow it whole heartedly. But a lot of malpractices, commercialization of the event are also making its ugly presence felt during such sacrament. Nowadays, gathering of public of such a large scale brings along with it unlimited alcohol consumption, dominance and show of political power, use of weapons, unhealthy fights amongst non-sensical groups, insecurity for women are becoming regulars during this mass ritual. Such an  increase of malpractices on a social arena condemn the charm of the festival in public. The decency, holy spirit and whole heartedness of the ritual is limited to a few groups and a few traditional mandals. Instead of shunning such practices, such practices are popularized.

The salt to the injury is that this festival is also looked as a soft target for terrorists. Never do they get such mass of crowd at public places to target at. Thus recent festivals are also marred by a certain attack by terrorist groups. Thus there is always a shadow of fear and attacks during recent ganesh festivals.

Lord Ganesh, being a darling god of most is often seen in several forms and avatars. One can open up any newspaper, magazine flooded during the festival or even otherwise to stumble upon Ganesha in various poses, acts, etc. Imagining Ganesha playing a guitar, on a bike, on the sports field, Ganesha DJing in a disc, as a tattoo etc ridicules the image the deity carries along with it. Creating spiderman like Ganesha, flying ganesha, in a rock band etc and assigning him with anything in the name of ‘art’ is a bad practice indeed. He should not be treated like a mouldable clay with weird imaginations. 
His due respect lies in revering him. Creating caricatures, cartoons, using him as a mascot for several advertisements should stop.

What one doesn’t realize in the meanwhile is that, these pages of newspaper are used as scrap. They are used as wrappers, to sit on, to keep on dirty surfaces, to pack items and many more. So what one eventually does is treats this god as a scrap material by doing so. One must ask for oneself, by these acts are we worshipping the lord in a real sense. Condemning such acts and practices should be stopped to give utmost place to the god and not take him for granted. This creates a representation of a hypocrite.

Stop making fun of Lord Ganesha!!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Various facets of Urban poverty

Indian poverty- a worry associated with India since the last so many known years- a subject dear to the social activists, politicians, planners, developers alike. One can see a significant leap made by India in almost all areas except poverty; it has been increasing at par with the Indian population. Every significant step towards progression is leading to additional load on the poverty structure. If one tracks down the way Indian poverty has been dealt or has ‘come of age’ – one can find several facades to it.

                      Poverty line has always been a dear subject of debate for many. It has been seen as one perennial subject on which almost all elections are being contested, and won. A subject where false promises, lack luster visions and fake assurances are given and taken. It has been 63 years the country is independent but the issue of poverty has not been eradicated, in fact it surfaces and re-surfaces constantly. It is like a popping jack which pops up its ugly face time and  again.

                     There are several poor people in India who are dealing with the fight for everyday basic needs in life. One fight to have a meal supersedes the fight to get the next one. On one hand we are flooded with images of hungry stricken poor while on the other hand we come across lot many proclaimed poors.  

                     Poverty have given rise to unhealthy attitudes amongst people. Laziness, content with whatever one gets, lack of motivation .Unprecedented levels to proclaim that we are poor are knowingly taking place in India- where we find people making money of portraying poverty. Several cases of alleged groups involved in forcing kids and children alike to beg on the roads and signals is no new news. Extracting money from these children and handling over a meager amount to the actual performers is a rather big business. The cases of cross dressers is also an example to signify the fact that people can go to unattainable levels to procure money.  The lure of falsely changing genders, dressing like woman to get some wealth forces certain sect of the poor to fall into the trap. This leads to loss of identity, both for the individual and for the society at large.

                     The new business amongst the so called poor is to acquire certain hot spots in the city which eventually become their home. All hills in the city are acquired by these people in hope that the government will provide pucca houses to them in some years at a miniscule rate. These people then shift to these pucca houses and also keep a claim on the space they commanded on the hills. It was very shocking to know that certain hutments on the slums are on rent, where the actual owner creates a lot of property in the city. These hutments in some prime locations in Mumbai comes at a price where one can built a spacious house in second tiered city. One can see proper infrastructural services being laid out for these people. Several slums in Pune have electric poles, televisions, cable tvs, proper water supply and all other amenities which other citizens are deprived of.
The game of politics is evident in this as it is only these people who vote for the favored politicians.

                      It is very hard to digest that several beggers in Mumbai have actually bought spacious apartments in suburbs of Mumbai. They own a hutment in prime locations of Mumbai , have bought apartments and continue with their occupation of begging. Certain signals, spots are considered as major locations for begging.

                      The critique here is not on falsity of poverty. There is no hiding of the fact that there are genuine poor in the country. It is a serious issue and it is really disheartening to see these deprived eyes on the streets. But much more demoralizing fact is that some of these poor give a false face to the world. On one hand there are poors who are denied access to basic amenities like toilets, schools, hospitals while many other enjoy facilities to the fullest.

Genuine , hardworking, deprived , passive, active, smart, are some of the various facets of urban poverty.