Insanity of Theology

BIBLE says Death was the penalty of a Sin, because God’s created Adam & Eve ate God’s created Apple on advice of the Serpent (God’s created).

QURAN says Allah asked Azazil to leave the Garden of Eden when he asked the reason for why he, being a creature of Fire, should bow to the Man, creature of Mud (an ego that was neither counselled, nor Forgiven).

RAMAYANA worships Ram even though he abandoned Sita, questioning her character for She was Kidnapped (and even after the Fire Test); and no one questions Raasleela of Krishna.

Such theologies would be cut across by Curiosity & Rationality, to only give rise to it’s own Religion!

NO more Argument for an Auto Ride!

The other day, someone posted on my Fb wall about his conversation with an Auto-driver, wherein the latter expressed his dissatisfaction for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi; and that he regrets his choice of promoting AAP. (Auto-drivers in 2013 have played a key-role in promoting AAP in Delhi, by carrying their posters for free or at cheap rates). Freedom of choice is a fundamental right – and it should be respected, of whoever it may be. However, the wall-post forced me to ask another random auto-driver the reason for the same. He responded:

Kya kaanoon banadiya hai, jisko dekho call kar deta hai or hamara challan karvaa deta hai” (What law they have made? Whoever can call and complain against us, and court then penalizes us with a challan). He added that, ‘it is no more an Aam Aadmi’s (common man) party, but a party that is also filling its pocket from our hard-earned money’.

The Norms

  • It has been a rule in Delhi that no auto-driver should impose unreasonable charges to the passengers, but run by meter only.
  • The day charges and the night charges are different.
    Day: Downing charge is Rs 25 for initial 2 km; further which, Rs 8 for each kilometer.
    Night: Downing charge is Rs 32 and the total fare is 25% above the day fare (11pm-5am).
  • Waiting charge: Rs 30 per hour, charge subjected to a minimum of 15min of wait.
    Luggage: Rs 7.50 for luggage heavier or bigger than shopping bags or small suitcases.
  • Effective since September 2014, no auto-driver can deny going to any place or have favorites for locations, be it a day or night – until they have ‘On-Duty’ board displayed at front. Respecting their wish to be able to go home without inviting a prosecution, they can pick passengers towards their home location only when they display an Off-Duty board with location mentioned on it. The amount of challan for refusal is Rs 2000.
  • If passengers find any auto-driver not running by meter or refusing to go without the ‘Off-Duty’ displayed, the passengers can report to the transport helpline: +91-11-42-400-400. This number is mandatory to be put on the auto as well.
  • The Helpline representative would ask for the vehicle no., origin & destination city and passenger’s credentials (Name, address and mobile no.). S/he would also speak to the auto-driver in valid requests scenarios to either convince him or at least to hear his part as well, and avoid being biased.
  • If the auto-driver is yet stubborn on overcharging, refusal, or running on road without fixing the meter, the helpline registers a complaint, and a reference of the complaint is sent to the passengers’ mobile no. (see image). The passengers after few days get a confirmation call from Traffic line, for successfully procession of the challan.

Auto Complain screenshot.jpg

A Sneak-peak

The increase in the minimum fare from Rs 19 to Rs 25 (since May 4, 2013) and the per kilometre fare from Rs 6.5 to Rs 8 (Rs 4.5 per km in 2010) was followed by a strike due to an increase in CNG price (many auto-drivers did not support the strike as increased fare would have only increased the auto-rentals and not directly benefited them; but they were absent from the road to avoid the violence of hooligans). In 1997, the Supreme Court had stopped issuing of new permits concerning the polluted smokes that the old-autos emitted. This resulted in many autos being bought from black market financiers at a higher cost of up to Rs 6.5 lakh. Many took loans at higher interest rates from the financiers, due to the absence of a bank credit. Overcharging was one way for repaying the loan, afford the CNG conversion that followed, handling the police and feeding their families.

On Nov 19, 2010 SC judges KS Radhakrishnan and CK Prasad allowed permits to 45,000 new auto rickshaws, which dropped black-market permit price from Rs 6.5 lakhs to Rs 2.5 lakhs. In 2015, SC allowed Delhi government to have 1 lakh autos. The government had also tied up with 3 banks (PNB, IndusInd Bank & State Bank Bikaner and Jaipur) for facilitation of loans for auto-drivers – to save them from high interest rates charged by the local financiers.

Many commuters (auto) have had experiences when most auto-drivers either claim that the meter is damaged or simply refuse to go if the passenger denies commuting on their higher prices; drivers even speed-off on mention of locations they don’t wish to go towards. This becomes troublesome especially for patients, senior citizens and pregnant women, who neither can afford a cab nor bear the hassles of the  DTC buses. Others opt for autos to save their time and end-up paying more than what the meter would estimate. The overcharge could have been justified few years ago due to the burdening loan, CNG conversion and less fare. However, with the revision of the fare, issuance of more auto permits, availability of bank credit and where each kilometre doesn’t cost more than Re 1.50 in CNG, and let’s add two or three rupees more on each kilometre for maintenance, rent, road tax, bribe and miscellaneous – is it really fare for an auto driver to charge over Rs 8 for a kilometre?

If one wants to tip the auto-driver, it should be by-choice, not imposed or demanded. This regulation on Delhi auto-rickshaws eases commuting as compared to the neighbouring cities: Noida or Gurgaon, and especially the places in Delhi that the auto-wallas interpret as ‘Out-of-the-world’.

However, immense money, time and mental calm could have been saved, if we would have had equally efficient DTC buses and no potholed roads that annoy auto-drivers more.

On waiting for a bus for long at Anand Lok, when I called the DTC Helpline they replied: ‘Aati hi Hogi…’ (must be on its way). Moreover, many buses indeed don’t stop at all the bus stops. Hope some light be bestowed on that too.

Was it important – Like & Share! Not important – Criticise! Want to contribute, please do – Comment!

Reference links:

  1. http://www.delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/142d56804c577136b037f6ac8a5ce753/New+Pub.+Not.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&lmod=-369665456
  2. https://delhitrafficpolice.nic.in/public-interface/auto-rickshaw-taxi-fare-calculator/
  3. http://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/delhi-auto-rickshaw-drivers-start-displaying-no-service-plates-667334
  4. https://kafila.org/2011/11/20/a-few-questions-about-a-few-thousand-new-auto-rickshaws-in-delhi-simon-harding/
  5. https://kafila.org/2010/04/02/the-truth-behind-the-strike/
  6. https://kafila.org/2010/03/24/auto-rickshaws-in-delhi-why-sheila-dikshit%E2%80%99s-comments-are-misguided/

Yes, it is your Disgusting Call Centerrrrr!

Mom returned from the market with loads of clothes and shoes – Puja shopping. While I was excitingly trying them all, she said: “I met Neelam Aunty (name changed). We talked for quite some time. She was asking about you. I told her that you were working at a call centre. And she exclaimed: ‘Chheeee! Chheee! Chheeeeee! Ask her it’s a shabby sector and not to work there anymore’. I could not speak further. You disgusted me!” I packed the newbies back and quietly left the room.

FLASHBACK:

Mom was getting old, plus she could not have worked due to my ailing sister. I was the only hope for a single-parent family. But, I wanted to study. So, I welcomed to work for a Call Centre: good money, financial security, plus night shift – so I could easily continue with my regular studies at day time. I remained sleep deprived until I completed two graduations and two post-graduations –three of which in regular set-up, as I aspired to live a dignified life. Still do!

Six out of seven years of my work experience have been more or less in about six call Centres: for a month or less in few, to about three years in others. Luckily, in the several companies I had worked, I got promoted or was given different responsibilities too fast also – in the last one, I was off-calls in four months, and was looking after site’s customer service score for the next three years.

I started working at eighteen, during the concluding teenage, when I did not even complete my 12th. Still remember, how ambitiously I listed down a wish list of 47-goods to gradually purchase from an internship stipend of Rs. 8000/- a month. Call Centre industry, if has empowered me to be addressed as ‘Mam’ (which I have always opposed), to remake my house from 2 Semi-Pakka room sets to three floors for self and tenants, with my own personalised room now; it has also gifted me a 3% spine disability (office cab accident that was never compensated).

COMING BACK

To everyone who knew us, I was growing exceptionally, well above my family standards and was only committed to social change: speaking in English, knowledge of computer, confident in public speaking, talking about social issues all the time. Thus, perhaps the Aunt could not digest me working at a Call Centre. But, where was her advice when I was helplessly conflicting between my responsibilities and aspirations? Why couldn’t she provide me an equal alternative during these six years? Because, there was none! Or she got scared on foreseeing me as another Nirbhaya (Delhi 2012 Rape victim, who too worked in a Call Centre to support her family while she studied physiotherapy)?

Although, I could myself see some traces of ‘exploitation of labour’ (Marx) in Call Centres, but it remains a refuge for a major Indian youth population. Call Centres in India are the assured employment options for all the English speakers (even average):

  • who graduate from schools and colleges with average marks,
  • who cannot afford further education,
  • who cannot afford to live in a city in pay-outs of other jobs meeting their skills,
  • who support big families,
  • for civil service aspirants who try to meet their financial need while preparing,
  • for the many engineers, the MNCs and technology companies cannot accommodate, yet have to repay the student loans
  • for all those to whom the government cannot promise a secure future… and so forth.

Even interns at Call Centres get a minimum wage unlike in development sector, who would only explore advocacy mechanisms for labour rights.

Now, I have left the Call Centre industry to work in social sector. But, this sector too keeps reiterating the same tenets that of a BPO to me; somehow not letting me feel any different. Be it ‘empathy’ for the customers versus victims, or ‘root cause analyses’ for low customer satisfaction versus the social problems. By the way, ‘positive phraseology’ taught at both the sectors condemn the use of problem, but ‘issue’, since the latter is attached with a solution. Further, an ‘action plan’ is designed in both the sectors and ‘success rate’ is measured at definite time intervals – with different tools though. Call Centres have taught me to ‘analyse and prioritise’ in multiple-issue cases, to ‘change approach’ when Plan A fails to work, to seek ‘feedback’ throughout, to ‘look at micro issues at a macro level’ yet drive change at micro level only (local-regional-national); and, most importantly: ‘to TALK’. All of which I am going to use now at the social sector. So, why would two sectors working primarily on the same principals, have such pole-apart acknowledgements? One should think before vaguely stereotyping – this ‘waste of time’, ‘time pass’ or ‘Chheee Chheee industry’ is fuelling many gas stoves and restoring many smiles, which many highly reputed sectors also cannot  very well do.

Clothing in Rural India – Single Story

My desire to work in a development sector in any Indian village is being continuously getting crashed with the dilemma of my acknowledgement by the villagers. I realise the significance of staying between them, to best understand the rural issues, analyse the root cause, the possible solutions and the processes. However, would they accept me with my lifestyle: the differences in choices, and foremost, my fondness for western attire?

Soon, as part of a fellowship training module, we got few hours to clear such perceptions that we have had: by visiting the villages and assessing their responses ourselves.

With only Rs.50 in hand (as conditioned in the task), I started for a random village and landed to Talai (Udaipur). In the given three hours’ time window, I interviewed about fifteen villagers: some individually, some in groups, and four males and eleven females. As expected, the villagers were very welcoming.

I learnt, that barring the married women, unmarried women can almost wear everything: suit, trousers etc. – to even go out (not hot-pants, or mini-skirts though). Post marriage, they are only restricted to continue wearing suit, or saree, or kaanchli-kurti-lehenga (traditional inner-blouse-skirt); and definitely not the trousers. Few women are still allowed to wear trousers, but only inside their houses – this was observed in the houses which are either at the proximity to the city, or where the husbands work at the cities. The Daadi Patel community (a kind of Rajputs), however restrict the married women to only wear the kaanchli-kurti-lehenga with which they cover themselves (face, chest and arms) in presence of the elder male members (in-laws). This veiling is patronised as a token of respect, surprisingly not taking into account the behaviour pursued. Despite asking, no one was really bothered to question this custom. There were few (both men and women) who sort of agreed to the lack of logic, yet preferred following it to the T. That being their personal choice of clothing!

On scrutinising their approach of a western-fashion inspired outsider living among them, they uttered no discomfort at all, rather a warm welcome. They attributed this to their awareness of changing time and lifestyle. That coming from a village baffled me for a while. I formally concluded my analysis bidding regards for their cooperation, hospitality and the delicious authentic food: roti (bread) with kathal ka achaar (jack-fruit pickle).

I was regretting to have perceived such narrow-minded stereotype. The bubble of remorse, however, busted really soon. On my way back, I randomly discussed about the clothing dilemma with an outsider Civil Engineering student who came to visit her sister here; followed by a local constable, Hemant Bharti, posted in the Sukher police station for about a year now.

Initially, they too reiterated exactly what other villagers said, until I dug deeper. Both of them, then exclaimed on the apprehension of mingling; and stressed the necessity of developing a sense of relation, by at least dressing alike. Surprisingly, they both assured that the process takes very short time, further which, clothes would not at all be a matter of concern, but the intent and the faith would.

With the mixed responses, I could neither validate nor reinforce my single-story about the conservative nature of Indian villages. However, now when I think of it, I wonder if these fifteen individuals are sufficient to testify the characteristic of the entire rural India. Further, since my questions were quite direct (or perhaps leading), would their responses not contradict to their attitude? Instead, should have I not consulted some NGO to seek their opinion or experience too. The ‘might-haves’ aside, I could clearly see the choice of their clothing being moderated by the desire of their husbands, in-laws and their community. Such is the paradigm of over-sixty years old independent nation.

Voice Of Girls @ Rubaroo

As a student of IAAN School of Mass Communication, I delivered a piece of my heart about the Gudiya & Nirbhaya incident at IAAN’s Fest, Rubaroo 2013 as part of a Voice of A Girl. Here, subtitling the speech:

I am going to take a span of your valuable time and your kind attention towards the Voice of a Girl!

I am a girl. Depending on the family I take birth in, I am considered Goddess Lakshmi or Saraswati, Papa’s princess, Mama’s Fairy or my brothers or sisters’ angel… or a Burden, a Liability, or a Stigma! But, at least I am fortunate, I have happened to take a birth, unlike the fetuses lying in the municipality dustbin or a drainage.

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Yes, I am a Girl! With aspirations to fly as high as it can be.. and my parents and teachers know that too… then why do they hesitate to expect much from me? Why am I scolded more than my brother, when I come home late? Why do I have to be accompanied all the time? Why am I not usually allowed to go to the same places my brothers do? Is that because I am a girl?

I am a Girl! My smile is believed to have spread happiness, my presence surrounds positivity! I am being loved by my parents, pampered by my relatives and adored by my friends. I am even treated as a Messenger of God in my culture. I have been taught that at different phases of my life, I will be respected for my ability to face challenges, to overcome it rather – being a lovable daughter, cute sister, responsible corporate, beautiful wife, multi-tasking mother and a story-telling grandmother. Then, why I am usually advised to look down when I walk, to talk less in open to avoid the unwanted comments I can get too, as a by-product.

Why do my parents get frightened, when I don’t respond to their calls even once.They keep securing me from the evil eyes around me. I feel them too! They make me watch news when I am listening to music; expect me to take lessons from Emotional Atyaachaar (UTV Bindaas), Gumraah (MTV) etc.

My heart shivers to the core feeling the pain of the victims, or the ashamed brutality: the injuries leaving scars, not only on the body but on their souls too. Not to forget, the consequences of their life, mentally & socially.People hate to know what happened to her, but the victim themselves would want to have been murdered. Right? As, every sight on her would refresh her memories and deepens the injury.

I doubt if there is any female present here who have not experienced abuse at any stage of their lives: irrespective of age, culture, place, look etc. All the instances happened around clearly shows the irrelevance to these. Or if that is considered to be the result of the past life’s wrong deeds.. like seriously?? Did they really deserve this?

I am not holding any men solely accused here. But before you categorise yourself to be complete innocent, FYI, staring a girl with wrong intentions, passing comments about her vitals – is an abuse too… dating a girl for a sexual pleasure is a rape too!!! I am sure the guys would now accuse me of being one-sided. SO for Girls, Have you EVER Noticed Yourself? You are an amazingly gorgeous creation of the Almighty. Don’t embarrass Him by letting someone take you for granted. Have faith in yourself, Have Faith in Him. If he has created you, he has also send someone deserving for your Destiny, for delicacy!

We are versatile, not by talent, but by nature. The Voice of a Girl pleases: Respect Me…

For all the youth out there, do not get violent in the protests around. Do not Violate our legal system. Use your mind, your education and the Pen you have, to act upon. If even 1% of the mentality changes among the people present in the house, my purpose of taking your time would be served! Cheers! 🙂