A realisation for women

According to one theorist, post modernism is the passage from ‘solid’ (stable) times to ‘liquid’ times (Bauman 2007). It is the end of traditional structures and institutions, and the end of what another theorist calls ‘grand narratives’–the big, one-size-fits-all stories of modern thought (Lyotard 1984). There is a loss of faith in the idea of ‘progress’, the idea that we are gradually heading along the one true pathway towards certain universal goals – such as the full picture of knowledge, or equality and justice. Instead, there is an emphasis on multiple pathways and plurality; on diversity and difference; and on the partiality of all knowledge (that is, the idea that we can only have an incomplete picture, and the idea that all knowledge is biased).

From Postmodernism, Shifting to 21st Century Thinking in education and learning

To be a woman in modern times such as the ones we are living through is complicated because of the fluidity that one has to imbibe on a daily basis and live with. In relation to the constant fluidity in our lives, it becomes imperative that we do not only keep struggling to create our identities but to an extent allow our identities to be created beyond leveraging our sexualities. For the woman of the current age, everything she chooses to do helps to carve out her identity. The greatest mistake that she can make is to get overwhelmed or lost by the in-built confusion that there is when living in a post-modern world but to embrace all the ways in which she can carve out her various identities and to use all the opportunities that come her way in a proactive way.

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Musings on Women

Musings on Women

Vulnerability of women who are unmarried is not always counteracted if they have successful careers. Rather, the pressure on them to be productive citizens in society increases, sometimes at the cost of their sanity. By vulnerability, I mean not only must they take adequate measures to take precautions with regards to their reputation bu the onus falls on them to maintain boundaries with anybody from the opposite sex. While the institution of marriage does not always work, it at least discourages woman to walk the fine line in the company of men. For liberated women, this may come as an old-fashioned point of view but let me elaborate. For a married woman or even a women who has had experience with other men, professionally, which will occur only after a certain time frame for women just entering the work force, and personally, depending on the woman’s background and personality, a woman in the work place can easily gauge nteractions facing her in the workplace, with more ease. In this regard, one’s circle of friends correlates with one’s mobility or the Wider Mobility Radius in the real world for the broader the circle of friends, the larger number of contexts one is more adept at handling.

The importance of having a skill in today’s world is important and it serves many benefits. It provides a foil to particularly unfulfilling work that fills up the majority of the day. This is especially to women who want to derive a sense of satisfaction from their work. More importantly it allows the ability to stay in touch with a skill set that is more relevant and applicable in today’s technologically-advanced world. In fact, it is becoming ever so important to come into the workplave with skills that are not necessarily taught but rather picked up and absorbed in educational institutions. More importantly, those who do not pick up or absorb such skills are at a bigger disavantage not only in the workplace but in the duration of their lives because they are deprived of living a holistic life.

Having a hobby is important as women grapple with the possibility of integrating it for a longer timespan than the duration as women who upon observation tend to outlive their husbands. On a more informal level, many women who have a tendency to become emotional with whatever and whoever they interact with, see a fusion of a sense of perfectionism and which can also channeled into a extra-curricular activity, outside the confines of a corporate job. Furthermore, it can open opportunities to meet people and therefore open opportunities to ensure a Wider Mobility Status, as mentioned earlier. Furthermore, the act of integrating an extra-curricular activity ensures that agency becomes a way of life for women across all contexts and not limited to its derivation in the workplace. The impetus therefore falls on women that their role in society is also moulded by their own sense of self.

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Growing up…

I am realising that a lot of my lack of acceptance of social norms is a result of the environment that I grew up in. I grew up in the late eighties to the early nineties when India, as a whole may have embraced liberalisation in terms of economic policy but not in terms of societal mores and norms. When aspects of globalisation hit, circa 2005, with the advent of Malls or my own teenage years, rather, which was when I was in for a treat or rather the ride of my life. I never really, so to speak, did the things that were expected for my age or leveraged the opportunities of going to schools that were pretty modern in their outlook. I totally forgot that youth itself allows one to do and get away with many things that one would not even have the chance of doing during adulthood. I therefore am saying that there is a time and place for everything – don’t get carried away in maintaining an ethical code of conduct when you can actually learn to play around with it. Open-mindedness is an issue I am reading a lot about it in the last few months and in this season of new beginnings and endings, don’t underestimate the power of youth on your side. I stood by socially accepted norms as I grew up to the point that in some situations, I feel like I am seriously at a disadvantage in not being able to pick up hints and etiquette. I would then advise all those young people to put aside their books once in a while or rather, not use their books as crutches and actually have face to face interactions with their peers, with society, with those of the opposite sex. Also, if you are not welcomed appropriately the first time, know that, like them, you too are fighting for an education because you know that education is only effective when it is holistic in nature.

You know, the lack of experimentation with being out-going affected the other spheres of life. Take for example, the changing job market that requires a whole set of different skills that spans the gamut in terms of being comfortable with technology in some way. My regret then does not lie in a shortage of friends but points to the fact that my sheer lack of being comfortable with people caused a stoppage in the flow of information. More power to the course of self-learning and self-reflection that people I have met on my path have not been so forthcoming with wisdom but has truly made be believe in education that is holistic in nature. Every new experience then has something to teach and parents and young people must step up to the plate to embrace these new experiences, even if it is as simple as going suit and dress shopping for the prom. It is to be appreciated that social occasions such as proms are now being integrated in Indian school calendars and should be welcomed as a stepping stone to being well-rounded individuals. Such a move also reflects the importance of trainees or those individuals who have just landed their first formal job opportunity to not belittle occasions that encourage small talk for relationships even as the world progresses technologically-speaking are very much here to say. So don’t say no to that next offer of grabbing a cup of coffee with your friend, colleague of even family member – you might just learn something along the way.

Taking action – why I must 

So the story is that it I realise how privileged I am and that with my position I can make a difference even at the community level. I don’t have to go around making a difference by going all the way for the dent in the universe can be made by monitoring my relations with those I interact with on a daily basis – it can be that simple. While a portion of India is in the throes of globalisation, the only way for my generation to find some sanity is to balance our needs – how we were brought up need not be compromised by our exposure to the western ideals of family and relationships. It is our generation – who have one foot in the past and one foot in the future who are also designated with upholding the best of Indian tradition. There is a time to discern what to let go of and what to hold on to and the time is now more than ever when other nations are getting insular but media is as accessible as ever. Take the pledge to be true to your roots when everything wants to let go for then you truly might find a reason to hold on! 

Food for thought

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favour fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

-Robert Frost

The idea of Feminism and why has it not caught on in India

In a country where economic development is an issue, feminism is not given much regard. In a country where caste system has not completely eradicated, women’s issues in general are not considered very important but now increasingly women are beginning to speak up, women safety issues along with other kinds of issues associated with women are coming under the scanner. Furthermore, most recently, with the banned release of India’s Daughter, free speech in the context of women’s issues has also come under the scanner. In fact, recently, one person has had a FIR filed against him for showing the documentary despite orders that India’s Daughter cannot be shown. Hence, coming back to the point earlier made that in a country such as India, it can be asserted that the government has other priorities. To consider an interpretation of Rawls, who wrote a work of political philosophy and ethics called A Theory of Justice – “Rawls allows that under particularly dire conditions, when bare survival or the pursuit of the means for a minimally comfortable life is the dominant concern, and when the necessary prerequisites for the effective exercise of the basic liberties are lacking, it may be rational to sacrifice basic liberties for the sake of other goods such as increased security or economic development” (Tim Scanlon: 1999: 182) which can be applied to understand better the context of the ban of the Nirbhaya case and most importantly the ban of India’s Daughter.

In, India, when a woman comes across as being different by her sense of dress and attitude, she is the center of attention because she is not following the norm of behaving traditionally, let alone the fact that she has an occupation. Hence, the issue is not that she has an occupation and is earning money but she is not behaving along the norms of what womanhood ascribes. Women too sometimes turn up their noses in disgust when women don’t follow the traditional norms of womanhood. For many wonder why women want to join the work force, for example, as was shown by the Nirbhaya case, women are not necessarily safe to walk the roads at night. On an aside, there is in fact consideration to include an indicator as “Percentage of women and men who report feeling safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they live,” which will form part of Goal 16, as part of the post-2015 development agenda, involving peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, as put forward by the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (March 20, 2015).

Similarly, in a country where women have to reconcile a lot before choosing a career, namely family responsibilities and so on, they must by all choose careers that also resonate with their own personal meaning that they want to derive from life. Not all women want to have careers in fields that have traditionally gained acceptance. Many do, ultimately want to become teachers and principals but one must realize that a career is a personal choice – one that must be in alignment with degrees earned and so on. People therefore must therefore be open-minded with regard to the choice of career apart from recognizing that women may choose to have a career.

In a country of such high amounts of diversity in terms of languages, food customs and marriage customs, it is amazing to see such close-minded views. However, for all those who are questioning along these lines, it important to note many things, namely the norm of patriarchy and the fact that women have consciously chosen to embrace the norms associated with womanhood and it has hence, garnered acceptance. It is those women who have careers as well are outwardly very unique in their behavior, they may have to try harder to find acceptance.

Hence, what India as a nation, especially masses in the cities have to increasingly reconcile is the fact that as in the past when Feminist movements were just beginning to spread across countries, it is those with the more open minds who realize that the lives of women can truly transition slightly from what traditional roles of womanhood ascribe. In the past, “there was a greater tendency to question the traditional role of women among those who had a critical attitude towards religion, belonged to a religious or ethnic minority, had close ties to people actively involved in social reform and opposition movements, had a certain level of education, or had a broader perspective as an immigrant or foreigner” (Paletschek, S. and Pietrow-Ennker, B. 2004: 317).

References

T.M. 1999. Rawls’ Theory of Justice in The Philosophy of Rawls: A Collection of Essays, eds. Henry S. Richardson and Paul J. Weithman, Garland Publishing, Inc, USA, pp. 169-205.

Paletschek, S. and Pietrow-Ennker, B. 2004. Women’s Emancipation Movements in Europe

in the Long Nineteenth Century: Conclusions in Emancipation Movements in the Nineteenth Century: A European Perspective,eds., Sylvia Paletschek and Bianka Pietrow-Ennker, Stanford University Press, USA,pp. 301-333.

Why are rapes happening in India?

One must ask why are rapes happening? A lot of theories have been doing the rounds in the recent past – women are asking for it, women are not wearing respectable clothes, women are not travelling in groups, men don’t like it when women don’t know their place in society and so on. However, none of these consider the bigger context within which rapes are happening – India has been opening up economically post the Green Revolution and as a result of the implementation of the trade liberalization reforms but society at large is still coming to terms with other changes that are happening – mainly those that are happening on a societal level.

Societal implications of having a career is now coming under the scanner but for many, a blind eye is given to the societal implications as the choice of having a career is being made based solely on economic lines. After all, laying an economic foundation in one’s life is one of the keys to a more fulfilling life. It can be stated that it is still taking some time for India as a country to see the female component of its population move away from ‘ “practical” gender interests – interests that emerge from an acceptance of cultural gender roles and the assertion of rights based on these roles” (Lewin, 2006: 339).

The release of India’s daughter, which I have not seen but what I gather from what I have heard is that there is considerable focus on the jailed rapist’s reasons for doing what he did, which is to rape Jyoti Singh who was referred to as Nirbhaya before her name was made public. Thus, this documentary then can be used as evidence to answer the question: “why are rapes happening?” but watching this documentary would only give the perspective from one person’s point of view. In a country of 1.2 billion people represented by diverse backgrounds, it is vital to reconcile the many reasons that can be given to the question as to why rape occurs but at the same time reconcile the many reasons why women are transitioning from more traditional roles.

To conclude, if considered from a logical point, sex is seen as a means of pro-creation and where as in countries, people are discussing the options of prolonging a pregnancy or terminating it, the act of rape is preventing the encouragement of healthy attitudes towards sex. Hence, for me, the act of sex points to bigger issues in the average male’s consciousness, namely that of power, which need to be processed internally without resorting to domination over women over slight transitions away from societal expectations.

The Nature of Cities

So based on the world going the changes it is, some of the main issues are still recurring and some of the old things are still gold – money still talks, friends are still important. Knowing this, how is one supposed to live in an increasingly urbanised world? When choosing to go abroad for my studies, I was viewing abroad as being steeped in ideals. For me, India did not live up to my ideals. I was looking for opportunity but of another kind. A kind, for example, where I could even consider getting off the beaten track. If one considers cities in India, it requires a lot of strength of mind to by-pass the opportunities that are norm-based. It is easy to get into the mall culture, to get swayed by the choices that a food courts offers you but it is in other countries that one has access to more sustainable options when creating a personal lifestyle.

Many highly livable cities of the world are often planned so that nature complements them more easily and more accessibly. “It is all in the mind,” some may advise with regards to notions of livability but a lot of journalism over the past few years about the adaptation one has to carry out to live in the cities. It is all right to enroll children in constructed activities – piano classes, tennis classes but how about encouraging them to sit under a tree, soak up the sun – does one need to go on a holiday, planned much in advance, to make children experience that?

City dwellers don’t resort to mall culture because they want to but because of the context they find themselves in. They need to fill up their leisure time and strolling the mall with friends is often an option. Greed is often a sin equated with city dwellers but one often resorts to the vibration of greed to ensure a better a quality of life for future generations. Furthermore, city life tends to take a toll on one’s health because of the context. Speaking from the point of view of ecosystems, one realizes that one is not living in an inter-dependent manner, especially so in cities, with an increasing number of nuclear families. On an aside, it just motivates the individual to live in an inter-dependent manner. Someone I know commented upon the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. From an academic perspective, it boils down to the recognition that “we are natural, and ecological, as well as social, animals, partially constituted by historical and social relations, and conditions, including those tied to gender, and by relations with nonhuman nature” (Peterson, 2001: 149).

Therefore, we all need a balance – social relations as well as relations with nonhuman nature. Can you try to integrate that balance in the neighborhood where you reside?

Stuck in Traffic

So as I was sitting at the railway station – that is how a Simon and Garfunkel song goes. I was greatly appreciative of the beats I was able to hear during the morning commute. But besides that, I would like to know all what people do to make time by during their morning commutes. From my observations, I see that many are plugged into their headphones. Many are at the same time busy reading newspapers as their chauffeurs drive them around. It is the joy of observing others that is paralled by the mastery of observing oneself as someone once said. I am appreciative of the fact that in a morning commute, one is able to see others are also in the same boat – trying to get from one point to another. At the end of the day, there are many truths but one most prominent truth is that we are pretty much in the same boat when considering a whole range of contexts and as Andy Samberg sang, ‘ I am on a boat’ but then we all are!

High Population: A constraint in building more Sustainable Cities

There is a dire need to make sure cities are able to the demands that come with climate change. Having carried out analysis across different sources, the issue of loss and damage with regards to property as a result of climate change is a pertinent and a timely one. As cities continue to face a major increase in numbers, there will be a massive pressure on the natural resources of cities to continue to meet the demands of the population. It is hoped that cities are prepared for such demands. In fact, there is a need for governments of countries in the South Asian continent, which are hosts to a vast percentage of the world’s population to consider the priority area of “Investing in economic, social, cultural and environmental resilience,” as identified by the Hyogo Framework for Action. It is therefore important to consider the issue of capacity building with regards to the resource base that will meet the demands of an ever-increasing population in the cities of the South Asian countries.

In fact, it is pointed that “when infrastructure is underdeveloped and resources are not being imported into the city at the required rate, households must depend entirely on the local resource base” (Srinivasan et al., 2013: 237). So does one consider the population aspect of the cities in the South Asian cities are one major limit to adapting to climate change but I believe more so it is an issue of planning as well. Population is not a limit to adapting to climate change but it is a constraint to realizing on what one particular natural resource should policies tackling adaptation to climate change should put their focus on. After all, some policies regarding making cities sustainable may be aiming to reduce lower pollution but incessant construction of high rise residential buildings may not be considering the issue of water, as in, “Although compact, dense, and multiuse urbanization could reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (National Research Council, 2009; Ewing and Rong, 2008), in the case of Chennai, it also increases the vulnerability of the city to water stress” (Srinivasan et al., 2013: 235).

Reference:

Srinivasan, V. et al. (2013). The impact of urbanization on water vulnerability: a coupled human–environment system approach for Chennai, India. Global Environmental Change, 23(1), 229-239.