The Link Collection

March 22, 2006 at 5:35 pm | Posted in Beating boredom, Random | 4 Comments

Face it, work life is sinusoidal. There are days when we are swamped with stuff that has be have been done by yesterday and then there are some days that are more boring than the others. And here’s a little something to shoot that boredom away, to get away from the rote.

The Link Collection

These definitely made my day today. Some of these links are pretty awesome.

Cheers,
Laks

Assume a virtue if you have it not — William Shakespeare

Street harassment…

March 7, 2006 at 12:43 pm | Posted in Blank Noise Project, Street Harassment | 8 Comments

Dedicated to the Blank Noise Project.

A Monday morning rush on the public transport of your choice, a visit to a popular temple, an evening spent shopping at a well known mall, a quiet evening at one’s favourite coffee shop, at the theatres…. Name the place, you always find one common thread that binds all these places together in a shameful truss – eve teasing.

Eve teasing or Street harassment not only is it widely prevalent, but most of the society takes it for granted. Groping, catcalling, whistles, lewd comments, staring…. The list is endless. What makes me angry is that the patriarchal setup that we live in makes it seemingly ‘normal’ and accepted’. The so called ‘societal norms’ puts the onus on the woman. There are ‘acceptable’ clothes that a woman can wear or cannot wear. The clothes that a woman might wear can be considered provocative. “Do not wear this unless you want to invite trouble on the streets.” I have heard this many a number of times spoken to a woman. I feel disgusted that such is that state of things. Sexual harassment on the streets is a crime and ‘eve’ teasing must stop.

My head gets into so many states of contemplation when an incident of street harassment happens around me. Should I stand up and fight? Should I merely form a part of the muted audience? Should I rationalize my inaction by accepting that it is normal? Should I report this to the authorities? By doing this would I be simply piling my responsibility to fight against injustice onto the authorities, the outcome of which I almost surely know? Should I just pretend that it never happened and vindicate myself by saying that I do not harass women, so it is ok for me to not get involved? And trust me; it has happened enough times to make me want to puke.

There’s this one particular incident that stands starkly in my mind as a colossal monument among ruins. It was nearly nine in the night, raining heavily and I was hurrying down a quite popular road in Bangalore so as to not be late for the dinner with friends. The intensity of the downpour increased and I was forced to take shelter. There were nearly fifty people taking refuge. There were quite a few women and I started noticing that few of the ladies started leaving the comfort of the shelter even though the rain had not let up. Then I noticed what was happening. There were a group of men who were moving around, scoping out the women and feeling them up. I also noticed that quite a few people among the men were also bearing witness to this act of monstrosity. I did not know what to do. I was shocked, angry and surprised at my own inability to speak up and act when push came to shove. Then, something happened that would be etched in my mind forever. It took the clichéd lady in red to act up. There was a ‘thaaaaaap’, followed by swear words that one would normally use while driving, that rose above the din of thunder. My protagonist had given it back to the wrong doers. And then the crowd took it up and there were quite a few blows dealt with, finally leading to the ‘group of men’ fleeing into the rain. I was relieved. Lady, whoever you are, wherever you are, you are my hero. This one incident has put my mind to rest when dealing with such incidents. I need to ask myself just this one question. Would I want this to happen to me?

Eve teasing and sexual harassment of woman on the streets is just is not normal in any sensible value system. It has to be fought against vehemently and it is not a battle of man vs. woman. The society has to redefine its values on sexuality and sexual relationships.

Not so cheerful about the current state of affairs,
Laks

A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. – Nehru

Corporate Philanthropy

March 3, 2006 at 1:51 pm | Posted in Corporate Philanthropy | 3 Comments

Capital social ventures? Dubious as it may sound, that's how I deconstruct Corporate Philanthropy. The combination of terms could not be more paradoxical. How can the likes of free market and Marx co-exist even if only in spirit?? So right…Yes…. No. I was a non-believer until recently. But, with the Gates couple being among the times persons of the year for their work with Gates foundation and names such as Michael Dell, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg doing their own contributions and the 'do no evil' internet search giant Google joining the foray with their own Google.org has definitely made me sit back and think.

I have been talking to quite a few people about it and this process has lead to a reevaluation of my viewpoint. I had a problem with the way most of these organizations work, especially the gates foundation and I maintained that corporate philanthropy was done merely as a tax benefit or for an entry into the Slate 60 (which was started as quite a noble cause). But then after the aforementioned discussions, I have begun to believe that this route could be the only workable solution for today's world and one definitely cannot ignore all that money being pumped into the society for welfare purposes.

Let me talk a little about the way these organizations work (or the little I can fathom about such things). They work closely with the local regional groups, to come up with workable solutions for the regional problems and fund it. They do not embrace the utopian 'one solution fits all' ideology; instead they clinically dissect the problem at hand, the solution given its regional/global constraints, and then decide the course of action. It is very much like how a capital investment is made.

One of my main problems with this approach was that it does *not* reach all. The workable solution could benefit a subset of the affected people and because it is workable, it is funded. I think I was still being an idealist to not to see that this could actually work, not in a bottom up approach, but rather in a top down fashion. Once a particular section of the society is vindicated of its problems, the society would inevitably pull in other sections (possibly in the lower strata) too. This, of course, is not tangible as in one immediately sees it or something that could happen overnight. But now, I truly believe that this would happen and the collective shall triumph and this 'social venture' would serve as a catalyst.

Moreover, such a clinical evaluation of the social programmes for their workability ensures that the money is going to actually make a difference (even if it is for a subset of the affected parties), rather than try and implement a idealist solutions for all, that may or may not have an impact. Each region is different and each has its own limitations, sensitivities and other constraints. No one solution, even if it is for dealing with the same problem such as HIV would work uniformly in all regions. This is where the workability factor would make a world of difference.

Each of these organizations has strict and stringent preconditions for the local groups they coordinate with. For example, the local group must have been established for N years, must have a proven track record in dealing with the 'problem' at hand and must have produced tangible results, even if in a microcosm. The eligibility overview for the Gates foundation grant seekers can be found here.

Some of these ventures that are actually in place and making a difference now are
Acumen Fund
Planet Read
PATH – Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health
Population Council
Africare

The above are just the tip of the iceberg, the list is numerous and growing by the day.

One can also find some related information at Chronicle of philanthropy

I sincerely hope that I have made sense with the above and that the collective indeed triumphs.

Cheers,
Laks

Trust in God but tie your camel to a tree –Arab proverb

India – the coolest

March 2, 2006 at 6:17 pm | Posted in India | 1 Comment

It seems like we are the coolest on the planet right now. The catch phrase is India. Be it Will Smith being smitten by Aishwarya Rai or ‘Kajara Re’ being hip – hop mixed.

Check out India rising., a well written article on newsweek by Fareed Zakaria.

And for a nation that is 60 years old, it is quite phenomenal. I am quite proud to say this – “Mera Bharath Mahan” !

Cheers,
Laks

To err is human, to purr feline. To err is human, two curs canine. To err is human, to moo bovine

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