Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Born Criminals! Who?

Atrocities of human mind know no bound. It is really unfortunate to see that we humans have become sadists and thus derive some goddamn pleasure by inflicting pain upon others, be it on animals or on our fellow human beings. Else how could we, the self considered superior race can label the people of some other communities as Born Criminals?

India is surely a strange place where strangely a man’s value is judged by the caste he is born into. It does not matter how much of talent, caliber, and humanity you posses, what matters is your caste to decide your virtues.

As if the caste system was not enough, here, we have a large number of human communities, who belong to the lower ends of the caste hierarchy, labelled as Born Criminals.

These people belong to the Nomadic and De-notified Tribes of India. However, till date, barring only a handful, most of them lead a life where they are denied of every basic right and that includes Dignity too. 

But really, can criminality ever be a hereditary problem?

What was started by British government, visibly for their own benefits, we the Indians are successfully but stupidly carrying it with us as a legacy. Such a shame!

A li’l Google Search told me that British came up with the Criminal Tribes Act in 1871 because,

1) They have participated in the Revolt of 1857 and many tribal chiefs were labelled traitors who through their acts of rebellion caused constant trouble to the British Government. (Source: Wikipedia)

2) Their way of living did not fall under the British notion of civilized living. (Source: Wikipedia)

Cruel isn't it? But more than the British, we mainstream Indians are cruel who blindly believed that their own brothers and sisters are Born Criminals. No wonder that the infamous Divide & Rule policy actually worked on us. It did not take us much time to forget how they have been a part of us and how they had made our life easier and kept us entertained.

Today we have the easy access to modern means and amenities and the source of our entertainment too has gone hi-tech, but have we truly forgotten that there were days when we were dependent on them? Even today I can see many nomadic settlements over the pavements, where people go to buy cheap but reliable and sturdy utensils, tools, simple machines, home decor items,  and even BBQ Grillers. But the way they lead their lives is something very hard to imagine. Life on the move and over the pavements is very vulnerable and hard. They have nothing to make their lives even a wee-bit hygienic. It gives me shiver to think that how unsafe their women and children are, especially the young girls. 

We have snatched their livelihoods but have forgotten or better say have not cared to provide them an alternate option so that they can earn at least the bare minimum to feed and cover themselves up. It is disheartening to know that days after day they go without food. We should be ashamed that it is because of us that they have succumbed to stealing, begging, and even prostitution.

We can shout at the top of our voices discussing about how pathetic a certain tribe is where wives and daughters are thrown into prostitution by their own men. I remember reading a related article in a newspaper sometime back. Like everybody else I too was cursing the men without even bothering to look deep in to the matter. Is not it important to know why this is happening and how we can eradicate it?

Even after 67 years of independence, these people have not been accepted by us. Such is the plight that they are not even recognized by the government.

In Mittal Patel’s own words,

"More than four million nomads reside in Gujarat and approximately 60 million exist in the country. It was shocking to find there was no data or information available on them even in the government departments. Though the government is aware of certain communities, to avail of the benefits, people are supposed to submit a number of documents. These, unfortunately, they did not possess."

Mittal Patel, a young journalist, is no less than a God send to these unfortunate nomads and de-notified tribes. She has gone against the government, the bureaucracy, the caste system, and yes, of course a society that has many in-ethical values and norms deeply rooted in it.

It is because of her that today I know how badly these people have been treated by us for like ages. I was completely unaware of their life and their plight and I feel so ashamed of myself now. Had I not gone through her inspiring TedTalk I would have never known how millions of people in my own country are denied of their every right. What is more shocking and heart breaking is the fact that not only their livelihood has been snatched away from them but in reality, for the Government, they do not even exist. The only place however they exist is in police records that too for crimes they may or may not have committed. Such is their plight. Sigh!

It is Mittal Patel, the fearless and selfless young lady, who has gone against age old norms to provide many of them the thing called a Voter ID card. And you can imagine how difficult it must have been for her to do that because these nomads have no birth certificate, no ration card, no land deeds, nothing. Not a single piece of paper to prove they're part of the Indian population. And to top it there is our great bureaucracy and the caste mindset.

Deeply distressed by the plight of these nomads and de-notified tribes, she not only quit her job but formed her own NGO called Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch(VSSM) with the hope to make these outcast people a part of mainstream society. Today due to her sheer determination, grit, and her urge to give back to the society, she has managed to provide 20,000 people of the tribe with their own voter ID cards and respectful employments to nearly 5000. She and her team have also made education accessible to them by setting several schools in various parts of Gujarat. After years of oppression and neglect it is heartening to know that now they too can learn and dream and work towards a better future. A voter ID card- for many of us, is just another address proof because it’s seldom that we put it to its right use i.e to vote. But what it gives to these people is something priceless. Yes it gives them their identity of which they have been ruthlessly denied ever since.

Mittal and her NGO has successfully intervened and managed to save many girls/ women of the Saraniya community in Vadia village of Gujarat from the heinous clutches of flesh trade by arranging for their engagement and marriage. What could be more beautiful than to save these children and women from being crushed so brutally? Such in the mettle of this young lady that she has helped them to blossom into a flower in such a respectful manner.

Mittal is keeping her promise to give back to the society by working towards the betterment of it. But it is our turn now too to join her in her crusade. The very first step that we all have to take is to change our demented outlook which is nothing but narrow as well as shallow. The moment we accept that they too are a part of our mainstream society and start to give them their due respect, the next steps would not be impossible to achieve. What they deserve is respect and acceptance. I remember reading an article where it was written that The British government has never allowed Indians to eat mangoes in and around their vicinity because they abhorred the sight of a man squatting and enjoying his mango while the juice drips and soils all his hand till his elbow. For them it was an uncivilized act. So did we stop eating mangoes? No. Then why carry their perception here by calling these nomads with all such names and by ostracizing and denying them their rights? 

Lack of awareness is the mother of many such problems and atrocities. And no, ignorance is not a bliss always. Sometimes we need to stand up for humanity's sake. It is absolutely important & necessary to spread the awareness as much as possible. And in this era of social networking, this surely is a not a big deal. Education should be designed and imparted in such a way that it instills human values and compassion. One must learn to respect every other being. The Corporates must understand that they have a responsibility towards the society. And they mustn't ever turn their backs to the social and environmental responsibilities. During my summer internship in Parle, I got to know that they have tie-ups with several NGOs in order to do their wee-bit to give back to the society and the environment. Franklin Templeton, by arranging such TedTalks, tells me that it is doing its bit too towards the upliftment of the society. More and more Corporates must come out and join hands for the upliftment of mankind. They should learn to value and practice giving back to the society also.

Donations are a huge help but not all are comfortable with it due to various reasons. It's your choice to extend help via it. But let’s at least help them by buying their handicrafts. More and more associations should come up with cultural events to provide a platform for these people to perform and showcase their art, culture, dance, and music. This way we also can save/protect these age old traditions from getting extinct as well. After all they do make our country culturally rich. It would be a great help too if we all could work as volunteers at some point or the other. I am sure our li’l steps would cumulatively make a huge difference. I had volunteered myself as a teacher for Teach for India Campaign. And the happiness it has provided to me was immense. As I did my li’l bit to give back to the society, no matter how small the step was, I have felt my heart growing bigger and larger to accommodate more compassion in it.

By ignoring such a large part of our population we are doing no good towards the growth of our country as well. Just imagine how big a workforce it is and how much they can contribute towards the GDP of our country.

For long they have been suppressed, oppressed, and ostracized. They have been inflicted upon with highest degree of loathe and insult by being labelled as Born Criminals by us which even denied them their identity. We have snatched their everything and have denied them their right to be called an Indian Citizen as well. Still they are moving on with their nomadic lives with no expectation whatsoever. History stands as the sole witness how important their services have been to us. 

We are indebted to them and it is our time to pay back the debt. 

A little compassion, a little empathy and a whole lot of acceptance and respect would surely make a big difference in their lives. And in return our society would turn more beautiful. And when a society grows and develops holistically, can the World remain far behind? Goodness and Happiness spread leaps and bounds even with minimum efforts.

So the next time if you locate a Saraniya (knife sharpener), Kangsia (bangle sellers and traders), Nat and Nataniya (performers - bards, musicians, acrobats, dancers, fire-eaters and so on), Vansfoda (works with bamboo and sell bamboo products), Vadi (snake charmer), Madaris (work with monkeys), etc. Please do not cringe. They are not Born Criminals; No one is. To call someone a born criminal is an insult to humanity. Not to forget, it is because of us that they have succumbed to stealing, begging, and even prostitution. So if anyone rightly deserves to be called one, it is us, the skewed society. 

You can’t help them, fine, but do change your perception towards them. If you can do so, in a way you are helping Mittal and her NGO in her mission. 

I repeat Mittal’s words once again,

"We are indebted to them and it is our time to pay back the debt."

This post is written for “Idea Caravan” a joint initiative of Indiblogger and Franklin Templeton Investments (Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012). I am thankful to all of them for such a great initiative.

Direct YouTube link to Mittal Patel's Video:

After like ages, a group of Snake Charmers visited my colony. Needless to say we all were thrilled.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Haiku V

Diamonds on wire, shine 
To color me in seven
A cuckoo chuckles

Dear Readers, I would love to know your interpretations on the above Haiku I have written. Esp. about your thoughts on the mention of 'Cuckoo chuckles'. I t would be wonderful to know what image did the Haiku create in your mind.

Haiku and other Japanese form of poetry have always been my favorites and this way I get to keep myself associated with Japan, a place I don't know why I love so much.

My happiness knew no bound when in this week's prompt in Write Tribe, we decided to celebrate Haiku. Ruchira has written an amazing Guest Post there on Haiku which also serves the purpose of a great Haiku Tutorial. It's Haiku season in Write Tribe and needless to say it took me back to those golden days of blogging when we so much used to celebrate writing a Haiku. I remember it spread around at a lightning speed like viral fever. And after many years it's almost the same scenario again. Such is the charm of a humble Haiku. It's contagious, I tell you!

And now in Ruchira's word, 
We will use a “Kigo” as our prompt. And since it’s the rainy season (at least here in India!) what better prompt can there be! So write a Haiku, with some element of the Rains in it. Your “Kigo” can be anything, clouds, raindrops, frogs, paper boats …. Let your imagination soar!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Lost Treasure

Blossoms of carnations cannot distract me anymore. For long they have kind of replaced your memories. Or should I say they've made your memories to blossom in the courtyard of my heart? You said that you were a mirage. A frivolous soul precisely! Whose existence would hold no importance in anyone’s life. Perhaps you were right as I carried on pretty well without you.

Through the window, like a gush of wild wind you entered one day and upturned the pitcher of my heart. It’s good that I lost you. How would I've treasured you in my numerous poems otherwise?

100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

This is in response to The Write Tribe Prompt
This week's prompt: Lost Treasure by Bhavya

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities

The day is about to break. And just before the sun is to appear on stage, an orange sheen has engulfed the azure sky. Birds frolicking by and she, yet half asleep is all set to practice for her music competition.

Even on the final day she is far from perfecting the song her teacher has selected for her. Scared and nervous and with tears in her eyes she requests to change the song. A vehement 'No' from him falls on her ear with a loud thud.

How could you chicken out as a loser at the last minute? Don’t you know that more difficult the song is; higher is your chance to win the competition! Can’t you feel the pathos of the song? Shame on you!

Meekly she helps herself with the harmonium. Stream of tears rolls down her cheeks and leaves behind a trail of leftover kaajal. Closing her eyes in order to gather strength, she picks up her lines again from the beginning. In the other room her courtesan mother burns an incense stick to bring good-luck to her child.

The essence of her imperfect voice fills the room. Yet she continues,

Piya tora kaisa abhimaan.....

Here the day is windy and holding her pooja thali she stands by her window to witness the sunrise. It is a ritual by now and in those moments of solitude she in fact waits for something unknown to hit her hard and pierce her soul. An unlit earthen lamp along with few marigolds, chandan, incense sticks and some mishri dana adorns her plate. Her stoned eyes explore the widespread ghat. People are yet to come out to take a holy dip to attain salvation. And in this odd hour when the ghat is accompanied by quietude, she finds it to be the most beautiful.

Salvation! Is there anything called salvation at all? She has spent almost her whole life here on the banks of Ganges taking regular holy dips and at the stairs of the temples, cleaning them with utmost sincerity and devotion. Yet she doubts attaining even a part of it!

A sudden gush of wild wind hits her face and forces her out of her reverie. The adamant wind doesn’t stop there and shows the audacity to slide down the aanchal that covered her head.. Disturbed, she shuts the window close and reaches the corner of her room where a torn calendar adorns her wall. It reminds her that it’s Ekadashi today and is one of those days when she observes fasts for the peace of the departed soul. It would help her to attain salvation, that's what people told her. 

Inside the four walls of the dingy ashram room, her place looks surprisingly tidy. Simply because there is nothing enough to make it look otherwise. Dragging open her little wooden box she sits on the floor to explore the bygone days of her life. With her feeble hands she takes out a saree from it and spreads it on her lap. Her fingers cannot resist exploring the uncountable creases on it. She notices that even after so many years, the mark still remains. The gold ring was long gone but the mark of it has never left her skin. 

Safely tucked inside the folds of her saree are her only treasures. They are carefully wrapped in an old newspaper. She unfolds it neatly and a lock of jet black hair falls at her feet. She gently picks it up and on her palms it looked like a piece of vagabond dark cloud which is about to burst any moment. A sepia toned postcard and a notebook full of songs which she once sang remain still inside the newspaper folds. The ink on the postcard has given up and has fallen apart. It was his last letter to her where he had vehemently asked her to stop singing forever. After that he never came back but his dead body wrapped in white. Afterwards she was ruthlessly bereaved of everything. 

Her heart skipped a beat thinking about the songs on the pages of the notebook. She was afraid to touch her most treasured item for she knew that opening it will unchain her forever. 

With a bang she shuts the box close and hastily moves on to the banks of Ganges. By the time she reaches, herds of people have already accumulated to take holy dips. She is wearing the saree that she has kept caged inside the box for many years. It is the same saree which wrapped her body once she was bereaved of every color. It is the same saree which she wore the day when her in-laws blamed her for their son’s loss and refused to take her responsibility anymore. She was wearing the same saree on one such Ekadashi when her own brother handed her a coin and threw her in the massive pool of people gathered on the banks of Ganga. They never looked back and she hardy moved on. 

But today something made her adamant to attain her holy salvation. Once the innumerable holy dips could not salvage her, she, with her trembling wet hands tore apart the postcard into million pieces and let them go with the waves of holy Ganga. From the corner of her saree she untied the same coin and paid her last homage to the deity by throwing it in the sacred water. This time she did not adjust the headcover anymore when the wild wind exposed her bereaved head. 

Wrapped in her wet saree, Vrinda steps out of the water. Drops of water streamed down from her wet body and formed a pool around her feet. Stepping on to it she finally chooses the path of her salvation. Not towards the temple but towards an unknown horizon of freedom and self-love. Her notebook being her only companion. 

At the same time in another part of the world, a courtesan mother burns incense sticks for the success of her child. After a long wait it’s her turn to be on stage. Sheepishly she adjusts the mike as well as the harmonium. She is nervous and felt as if her throat has dried up. But she was adamant not to give up. Perhaps her mother’s prayers were accepted by her God and hence a sudden courage engulfed her from within. Just at the last minute she forsakes the song she has practiced for more than a month and decides to go with the song that her heart has always proclaimed to her. Next, the vibrancy and the essence of her flawed voice fill up every nook and corner of the surrounding. The vigour of the song spreads around and the whole crowd joins her. Kusum knows that she is not getting the words and tunes correct and yet she does not stop. She continues to sing with all her heart while touching the chord of someone’s heart somewhere in the universe.

Mann ke manjeere aaj khanakne lage 
Bhoole the chalna, kadam thirakne lage 
Ang ang baaje mrudang sa, sur mere jaage 
Saans saans mein baans baans mein, dhun koi saaje 
Gaaye re, Dil ye gaane laga hai, 
Mujhko aane laga hai 
Khud pe hi aitbaar 
Sun lo.. Ab na akeli hoon main, 
Apni saheli hoon main, Saathi hoon apni main.


This is in response to a contest hosted by Corinne, at WriteTribe. In this week's prompt we need to write a piece/a story/ a poem incorporating the following 7 words in random order : postcard, coin, tidy, wild, help, calendar, responsibility.

Write Tribe

P.S: Piya tora kaisa abhimaan and Mann ke manjeere, are songs sung by the legendary singer Ms. Subha Mudgal. Both the songs are very close to my heart.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Knots of Musical Notes

सुनो! तुम कहा करते थे
इन उंगलियों और सिलवटों के
बीच की दूरियों में
गुनगुने कई अहसास
बसा करते हैं.

तरंग की लहरें यूँ ही नहीं
उठती, थमती और गिरती है
नज़दीकियों के पागलपन को 
इसी का सहारा जो हैं 

बौराई सी तेरी याद में 
जब सागर लहरे बावरे कुछ 
अफ़साने ढूंड लेती है 
बारिश की बूँदों का शोर 
कहा रास आता है 

तुम कहते हो 
शोर भी संगीत है 
और कभी खामोशी मे भी कविता. 
पर जब यादों के आँगन मे बस जाते हो 
एक एक करके मेरी सारी रुसवाइयों 
में भी नया कोई गीत ढूंड लेते हो 

आज ज़िद है अपने आप से कि 
तुम्हारी एक ना सुनूँगी 
इन दूरियों को तुम्हारे अनकहे 
गीतो के धुनो मे ना पिरौंगी 
तुम भले ही हर संगीत में मुझे पा लो 
तेरे आने तक मैं कोई अब नया 
धुन न बुनूँगी. 

This is a story of a girl who is waiting for her beloved to come back. They have decided and promised that he would write songs about the faces, places, and the traces he encounters and she would give music to his words and vice-versa. Hence even amid this temporary separation, this way they would find each other in their very own magical realms. Which can be referred as their Home. 

But a woman's mood has a brain of its own and thus there are times when she proudly adorns her crown of a  Drama Queen. So this lady in question, in order to want her beloved to come back soon, innocently (?) declares that she would not write any new song nor would she create new tunes till he comes back.

Only to do that yet again. And again.

For music and the words bind them Together- Mighty and Strong. 

She can be termed as a true Indiblogeshwari with all the नाज़ and नखरा embedded in her in all their glories.


This post is written for Indiblogeswari's #ThatTuesdayThingy contest 1- an attempt to stop by and challenge ourselves to go that extra mile to tell our tales! 

In this week's prompt I have to write about how Rahul Sharma's 'Time Traveller' has spoken to my soul. I hope I am able to connect to it in my own unique way. Wish me Good luck.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


In the realms of my negligible existence, there are some miniature moments when I shine bright from some light within. You were lucky to catch that glimpse of me. And I was fortunate to hold you responsible for that silver lining on my bare heart. You did not notice and I did not realize that in you, I, on that very day, atop the sunset point, saw the man with whom my subconscious mind has always been in dire love. 

You were my Neruda that day. 

And thus with the setting sun behind us, I lived many hundred lives--- Together. 


“As if you were on fire from within. 
 The moon lives in the lining of your skin.” 
 ― Pablo Neruda