Chetan's Blog

Five things women need to change about themselves


Dear Ladies,

Happy Women’s Day! A lot is said on how men should change for us to respect our women better. Here are some: Men need to see women as people, not objects. Men should realize and truly believe women are as talented, capable as men, and sometimes even more so. Men should not discriminate in the work place or at home. Men have to respect boundaries and make sure their words to not make women feel uncomfortable. Men have to respect women’s choices – in what they wear, where they want to go and at what time. Men should never use force or intimidation towards women.

Yes, we men have to learn. However, the stubborn, fragile and pampered Indian male ego is a tough nut to crack. Collectively, we as Indian men, have a long way to go before our women can be proud of us. We will. At least the process has started.

But in all this well deserved male-bashing, I hope the ladies do not miss out on another set of changes required, on themselves. Yes, for all the talk of women being denied their proper place in society, ladies need to do some self-reflection too.

Hence, on this Women’s day, I shall attempt the unthinkable. As a man, I will venture out and give women advice, on women’s day. That alone is reason enough for me to be bashed to bits. However, every now and then, we men are prone to risk-taking behaviour. So forgive me, for I have dared.

Anyway, here goes. Five things I feel women need to change about themselves, to make things better for their own kind.

The first behaviour that needs to end is the constant desire to judge other women. Women are hard on themselves. They are harder on each other. An overweight woman enters the room. Most women are thinking ‘how fat is she?’ A working mother misses a PTA meeting due to an office deadline, others think ‘what a terrible mother she is’. A girl in a short skirt makes other women go ‘Slut!’ in their heads. A pretty woman’s promotion makes other women wonder what she had been up to to get the job. From an ill-fitting dress to a badly cooked dish, you are ready to judge others. This, despite knowing, you yourselves are not perfect. As a woman, it is tough enough is to survive in a male dominated world. Why be so hard on each other? Can you let each other breathe?

Second, the faking needs to end. A common female trait is the relatively quick adaptation to feed male egos. Laughing at men’s jokes when they aren’t funny, accepting a raw deal in an office assignment or playing dumb to allow a man to feel superior are just a few occasions when you do your own kind no favor. Who are you? And why can’t you be that person? Why are you faking it so much? If something bothers you, say it. What’s the point of collectively harping on equality, when as individuals, you are happy to lapse into being clueless eye flutterers, just to keep men happy?

Three, and this is serious, standing up for your property rights. Plenty of Indian women give up their lawful property rights for their brothers, sons or husbands. Sorry if it sounds harsh, but too many Indian women are emotional fools and need to be told so. You are not demonstrating your eternal selflessness when you give away your property. You are hurting your own kind.

Four, women need to become more ambitious and dream bigger. All young Indians – men and women, should have a fire in their belly. Perhaps the way the Indian society is structured, our women are not encouraged to be as ambitious as men. However, for their own sake and the nation’s sake, all Indian youth must have ambitions and aspirations to do well and reach their maximum potential in life. Many Indian women have done much better than men. Use them as inspiration and work towards your dreams. Your success is what will finally make Indian men respect women. Play your part.

Five, don’t be too trapped in the drama of relationships. Relationships are vital. Being a good mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and lover are extremely important. However, don’t get too tangled. You have another relationship, with yourself. Don’t sacrifice so much that you lose yourself. Not regularly, but just every now and then, be a little selfish. It is when a woman will assert herself she will be taken seriously. You are not only here to assist others in living their lives. You have your own life too.

I will end here. Hope you will see the point and intention behind what I am talking about. If not, then I am in big trouble. And there’s no recourse to a men’s day to save me either.

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Air france – Chetan Bhagat contest


Hi Guys,

 Long time no blog. Well, most of you get updates from me on Twitter anyway. Also, I’ve been busy, with work and other things.

 However, I wanted to write this short blog to tell you about an exciting contest that combines two of my passions – writing and travel. 

 Yes, so writing 300 words (or less even, that is the max limit),  can win you 2 tickets to anywhere in the world from Air France. (Yes, anywhere in the world, and a stopover in Paris is added in too!). 

 What’s more, this isn’t a lottery. You write your short note (the topic is a memorable trip of yours) and post it on the contest site that is integrated to FB and twitter. Winners are decided based on 1) the views you get, or popularity and 2) the judges opinion on the writing.

 Hence, it is a good way to practice your writing, relive that fun trip, have your friends read it and if you are lucky – win a trip to anywhere in the world (where Air France flies).

 More details on the site here:  http://bit.ly/AFIN_DOAT

 Have fun.

Regards,
Chetan Bhagat


Republic of India-Excellent


Dear All,

Winning the World Cup made us so happy. Why? This week’s column, a tribute to Team India.

If you prefer to read it on the TOI website, the link is here.

Regards,

Chetan

 


Welcome to Republic India-Excellent

Yes,we did it! It took us 28 years but when we finally did win the Cup,we won it in massive style.We won at home,chasing the highest ever total of a World Cup final, recovered after the loss of two big batsmen,and with a stunning six as the victory shot.It is not possible,at the current moment,to praise the team enough.Their victory will give a lifetime of bragging rights and inspire an entire generation.

Equally stunning were the celebrations that followed right after the win.Even though it was close to midnight,within minutes,millions took to the streets.In something India has never witnessed before,there were impromptu victory processions,happy traffic jams,ecstatic people on the roads and a street party to which,literally,everyone was invited.

Why did we feel so great What makes this win so special And is there a bigger impact of the win that we can carry into our own lives After all,as some may say,this is just a game.It has no tangible impact on ordinary Indians lives.Yet,there is no denying the mood-elevating effects of winning the biggest trophy of our biggest game.It is like a booster dose of self-esteem and hope administered to the entire nation.

To understand why this win is so big,it is important to understand the context in which this has come.This trophy comes at a time when the only remarkable news coming out of India was the scams,including a big one in sports.The only remarkable people were the corrupt politicians and their cronies.Many of these people roam free and are even celebrated by Indian society.This is India – connections,the clique of powerful people who scratch each others backs and give each other mutual access to their power to enhance it.This is the way people rise in India who you know is more important than what you know.How you trade your power for another persons power is the core skill that will make you rise in life.

In the middle of all this,our men in blue brought home the World Cup.It was not a competition of connections.It didnt matter who your father was,which minister was your best friend or how much money you had in the bank.Only one thing mattered excellence.For the only way to win this Cup was to play better than everyone else,in match after match.And we played better than anyone else.

Such global recognition is rare for India,but this win showed the way to another,more glorious,Indian path to success : India-excellent.The India-excellent way to success is still hazy,but the young generation is getting a whiff of it.And it smells a lot better than the stale odour of success generated by India-connections.In fact,young India loves the perfume of excellence.That is why the youth came out onto the streets at midnight for the players,but they wont for any politician.The success that comes from excellence feels good its like a fresh and juicy apple.The success from connections tastes like reconstituted fruit.From a distance they may look the same,but for the person achieving it,the feeling is worlds apart.You cant kiss a bribe the same way as Dhoni kissed the trophy.You cant celebrate an unfairly earned telecom license the way Team India did after the match.Your ill-gotten gains may win you some fake friends,but India-connections is just not the same flavour as India-excellent.India-excellent is cool,India-connections is not.

With this win,youngsters today can see two paths.As they grow up,they will have the choice of two roads.India-connections is a well-travelled road.It may be easier,but ultimately less rewarding.The India-excellent road that Dhoni and co have paved for us is the harder one.However,it is more meaningful and more rewarding.

The clash of these two Indias will dominate the next two decades.Right now,India-connections has the upper hand.In the finals,tickets were essentially reserved for the India-connections.If you didnt have the right contacts,you couldnt get a ticket.This,ironically,for a contest that celebrates excellence.But i dare India-connections to contain Indiaexcellent.It wont be able to.Lurking beneath the tiny,creamy layer of India-connections is a talent pool so vast that it can transform our nation.One persons success can ignite the winning spark in millions of hearts.And Dhonis men havent just provided the spark,they have lit a fire.As a tribute to our team,let us resolve to win,and win using the path of India-excellent.After all,if we can be great at cricket,we can be great at anything.Let this trophy be the start of many Indian victories.Thank you,Team India,for making so many of us so happy.


Mera Neta Chor Hai


9 April 2011 Update: The government agrees to most of Anna’s conditions, and agrees to modify the lokpal bill accordingly. Yes, the people of India did it. Scared at the rising popular support, the government gave in. This will have far reaching implications for India, not only because of  a strong Lokpal, but also that people in India have tasted their power. From now on, the aam aadmi will not think of himself as powerless.

Since the government has agreed to the bill, the ‘Mera Neta Chor Hai’ campaign also ends. I can’t thank you guys enough for your support. Together, we will make a better India, one step at a time.

Regards,

Chetan

———————————————-

(The original Mera Neta Chor Hai Post is given below).

 

Dear All,

 

The time has come for us to show our corrupt leaders what people power really means. Anna Hazare’s fast is the starting point for corruption reforms in this country. Please note, the politicians will never make good anti-corruption laws on their own. They won’t pass a law that checks their power. People will have to fight to get them. Innumerable articles, requests, appeals have been given to these politicians. They don’t listen. They don’t respond. I have personally spent most of last year writing columns on corruption and the need for real laws. For instance, we have the CBI, our premier investigative agency, which ultimately reports to politicians. How can they investigate the people who appoint them? It is like asking your maid to prosecute you.

 

We need an independent authority against corruption, which is what the Jan Lokpal bill is all about. Passing this bill is as important as our Independence movement was.

 

We must however, keep broadening the base of this movement. Some of you may ask, what can I do? Do I keep a fast? Do I join groups on Facebook? Do I come on the streets?  Well, all these actions have their place. However, we must make sure this campaign reaches the grassroots, and doesn’t say confined, say, to the English-speaking, online world. I suggest one more option that might help.

 

To aid in spreading this, I’d like you to write something on your forearm, and display it wherever you go.  Using a pen, write in thick lettering, “Mera Neta Chor Hai” and wear it everywhere – in college, office, shopping malls and buses. Post a pic of it on your Facebook profile. Let people ask you why you have written it, and then explain it to them. From the neighbourhood aunty to the auto driver, everyone must know what is going on. And yes, this is inspired from Deewar, the hit Amitabh movie from the past.

 

This statement will also shame our politicians. For when youth of this country move around writing this on themselves, they will be forced to act. It will give impetus to the already active Anna Hazare campaign.

 

It’s that simple. Write “Mera Neta Chor Hai” on your forearm, post a pic on the net and tell everyone about it. Please also forward it to everyone you know who may care for their country.

 

Our country is founded on overthrowing the opressors. We have another oppressor now, the evil empire of corrupt politicians that have somehow taken charge of this otherwise great nation.

 

Remember  “Mera Neta Chor Hai”, until they pass the Jan LokPal bill.

 

Regards,

Chetan


 

 


We don’t need no education


Dear All,

Primary school enrolments  in India dropped by 2.6million in the past few years, according to government data. This is a disturbing statistic. Did a column on the possible reasons. The TOI link is here.

As always, comments are welcome and do read other people’s comments, as one column alone cannot cover all aspects and I might have missed something. If you like someone’s comment you can praise them too!

Regards,

Chetan

_______________________________________________

We don’t need no education?

Recent HRD ministry statistics show a significant decline in national primary school enrolments. Given Indian demographics, where the number of children is increasing every year, the results are even more shocking. This is despite all the noise about right to education for every Indian. While we may choose to forget this statistic for the next sensational news item, this is an extremely disturbing development.

If India’s population is not trained to face the globalised world – and primary education is the first step in that training – we will become a nation of servants and clerks. Given our highly educated, ex-educationist prime minister is of late more interested in covering up scams than education, it doesn’t seem likely that our top leadership cares. Still, if enough citizens care, maybe politicians will take notice. It is with this hope that i try to analyse the possible reasons for this decline, what will happen if we don’t address it and what we can do to actually fix it.

There are five main reasons why enrolment could have dropped. One, the most obvious reason is that the schools are terrible. If you ever visit a village school, you will realise how everything is low quality, from the classrooms to the desks to the quality of teachers. Why? Don’t villagers deserve good schools for their children? One may say the schools are subsidised so quality cannot be there. Well, maybe we need to spend more money then. Maybe we need more private partners. Maybe we need to redesign the traditional model of a school, perhaps using technology to impart learning. The education may be at the primary level, but it still needs to be high quality. Low quality education is not really education at all.

Two, the curriculum in our schools is obsolete. How much has the professional world changed in the last 30 years? How much has our curriculum changed? Who sets our curriculum? Do they revise it from time to time keeping in mind the needs of industry and the services sector? One big reason poor people send their kids to school is that they will learn skills to make more money. If schools don’t give them those skills, why will they bother? Advanced concepts like education to satisfy curiosity, or learning for learning’s sake, do not apply to people with no money. A hungry person does not watch Discovery channel. Surveys show a person with decent English language skills can increase earning power by 400%. Why don’t we teach our poor people English? Why do government schools start teaching it so late?

Three, the massive inflation rate has made life extremely difficult for people with low incomes. Every pair of hands on the fields is now more valuable than sending a child to a substandard school for several years, the benefits of which are unclear.

Four, there isn’t enough money being put into education, to make more schools or improve existing ones. Tax collections have seen high double-digit growth rates for several years now. However, much of taxpayers’ money is used to fund scams and mass bribery type subsidies or to pay interest (often on borrowings made to fund past budget extravagances). If 2G auctions were done properly, or the Commonwealth Games didn’t waste so much money, we could have had a lot more schools. If instead of NREGA we provided villagers the right skills to modernise, enhance farm income and increase job eligibility, maybe we would generate wealth rather than burn it.

Five, a controversial, sinister reason: the hidden benefits of illiteracy to politicians. Illiterate people are useful when it comes to maintaining vote banks and keeping scam parties going. If everyone were well-educated, would the government get away with so many scams? Even today, our PM’s biggest defence is: ‘People vote for us, hence our actions are justified’. The DMK still has a solid support base in Tamil Nadu. If every Indian really understood what happened, could the loot continue? So while there may not be a deliberate strategy to keep people illiterate, there is no burning passion or political incentive to make India educated either. And politicians only work on incentives, not on the goodness of their hearts.

This problem won’t go away. It will get worse. If today millions aren’t being educated well, how will they get proper jobs tomorrow? Won’t the education crisis translate into a far scarier job crisis in a few years? Or are we happy for our kids to be poor forever?

This can be fixed. Primary education has to be so vast in scale and scope as to be seen as a utility – such as power or telecom. The most modern techniques, thinking, strategy and execution are needed on a massive scale to educate our people. Ideally, just as with a few power utilities, the effort should be privatised, maybe on a semi-subsidised basis. In any case, if the education is worth it, people pay for it.

Course materials have to be brutally revamped to make them in sync with the modern world. Rural schools need net connectivity, even more than big city ones. These are things we should demand from the leaders of our country. They don’t seem to care much. But we, the citizens, have to be the strict teachers who tell our leaders that they have a lot of homework to do.


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