The Problem of Plenty

Dog-opoly is a dog-specie version of the famous board game Monopoly, but it really is the monopoly of dogs on the Indian streets!

Our country has a large population of stray dogs- I mean obnoxiously large! Sometimes, one may not find people on streets, but dogs – always! While it may not be appropriate to generalize, but stray dogs have proved to be calamitous for humans, in many incidents and places. Apart from being a tad-bit noisy and unhygienic, they are quite dangerous. It is quite terrifying to walk on streets at night, with howling sounds in the background. They contribute to a number of road accidents, of which a few prove almost fatal to a person walking, in order to save the-dog-sprung-from-God-knows-where. Not eliminating the fact that it could prove fatal for them as well, and that this is a difficult life for them. (Please don’t call PETA).

Quite a few people, by now, probably detest me for my perspective on this particular issue, but in all reasonableness, it makes sense. I mean I understand that they also are a breathing, eating, pooping, moving, barking-but-unable-to-talk-and-express-their-plight (and so are chickens we eat?) kind of creatures, but in my view we need to re-think the extent to which we take things emotionally, accept that it is a grave issue, and take steps to find a permanent solution.

Any discussion on welfare of strays always gets the same reply, “We don’t have resources to cater to majority of people, and how can we cater to dogs?” I don’t completely agree with this notion. In an urban setting, one cannot diversify problems like that. Everything is correlated. If measures are taken to fix any one issue, it automatically affects the other.

One of the main and obvious reason is our hygiene habits. It is the unattended litter on the roads, which actually is a feast for these stray-dogs, and cater to their survival and existence. We as a culture are quite messy- always blaming the incapable and inactive government for improper infrastructure, and on the other hand, don’t even maintain sanitation regime on personal level! We really do not need to wait for a TV show, a bill-board sign or our Prime Minister to start movement to know the importance of cleanliness. It is only clearing of litter that will solve the problem – quicker than anything!

Apart from that, there are a lot of organisations that vaccinate the stray dogs – all thanks to a few good Samaritans. Let us at least help them help us in any way we can – volunteer, provide resources, financial aid, inform about unattended or bruised stray dogs, adopt and encourage others to adopt, etc. Actually even if one cannot adopt these stray dogs, getting them vaccinated will not only save their lives, but also prevent spreading of diseases. These solutions may not be quick in reducing the number of strays, but probably are first few steps in the planned scheme of reducing their numbers. And Jaipur has proved that it is possible.

Every dog has its day, but with our collective efforts these dogs will have a life.

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Dear 16-year old me,

Hey!dear16

Listen up. I need to talk to you. I know you are going to have to put that giggly conversation on hold for a bit, but then I assure you, you are not going to regret this.

“It’s okay!”- These are two magical words. Always remember, whatever is happening – right or wrong, happy or unhappy – it is okay! It’s a phase, it is going to change. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing. Not even the things you want to last will last – which also is okay!

Board exam is probably the easiest exam you will take in your life. And it isn’t as big as you have made it in your head. Relax.

At 16, you are a good kid. But remember, you miss the point if you start feeling the pressure. It definitely is not worth the effort, only to make every-single-one you know, like you. You are going to disappoint a few people now and then, but that’s how it works. It’s important to maintain honest relations, than fake densities. You are going meet some incredible people in a few years!

That perfect guy you think you are going to spend the rest of your life with…uhh, you are not in touch with him anymore! The only guy that is perfect is your father. So deal with that heartbreak and put it behind you.

I can see that the straight hair-do is what is really doing the rounds these days. But you are going to fall in love with those curls eventually. They look absolutely stunning!

I know you are afraid, afraid of unpopularity, afraid of not fitting in, afraid of not being cool-enough. But, you know what, being cool is anyway overrated. Being yourself, loving yourself exactly the way you are is really the thing. I know this sounds like a boring lecture right now, or you are even embarrassed of me doing this but only do things that you really enjoy doing!

One great news is you are never going to need trigonometry in your life. But, pick up that brush, and brush up on your art skills. You are really going to need that a lot.

I know the sister is nagging, and no one seems to “get” you. Step back. Calm down. And you will realize it is so insanely silly to even think that way!

Break some rules. Not because they will make for great grandparent stories, but because a little bit of rebel in you always helps. ALWAYS.

Everything changes. Sometimes too fast and too sudden. The only thing common to all these changes is- it is always for the better. Just don’t let the whole optimism go anywhere. Take it all with you, you keep needing it more and more every year! Stock it up.

Life only gets better from here. I’d be lying if I say that it’s all rainbows and sunshine a decade later, but that’s what makes it all worth it. So hang in there! The trick is to keep breathing. Head high. Aiming at the stars.

Also, like Baz Luhrmann says it, wear sunscreen.

It’s been a Ban-tastic year!

Why wasn’t I informed when the Make in India was replaced by Ban in India? Gosh, I feel so left out!

Last week, Maharashtra government banned consumption of meat for 4 days during an auspicious festival of Jains. I think it’s just funny how the government is slowly turning into our menu card.  Initially, I was wondering what the point of all the outrage against it was. Yeah, they have banned meat – but it’s only for 4 days! One could always store it. To a hardcore vegetarian like me, it couldn’t care any less. And I didn’t.

But then a conversation with my friend made me realize that the point is not just about these 4 days, but the whole inherent issue with governance. May be I am taking it a little too far, but it, basically, is cultural terrorism.

In fact, all the bans levied this year essentially are a result of the same thinking!

The only thing that is common in all these bans is our inability to tackle sensitive issues. Banning is running away from the scenario. It is a reflection of our hypocrisy, narrow-mindedness, bias, and cowardice. It shows that we have no faith in our thousands of year old culture and value system, that we are questioning its sustenance.

Having said that banning does not deter the fact that we are what we ban.

I mean if we have to ban anything, implies that it exists, that it is our value-system, a trend now. And banning a video doesn’t change that! Whom are we kidding? Do the policy makers really believe that banning products, actions, videos, and words really curbs their use?  In fact, all it does is people looking for more illegal ways to do “it”, eat “it”, watch “it”, and all this while saying “it”.

Seriously, don’t we all know where to find alcohol in Gujarat? Or beef in Maharashtra? Don’t we all use cuss words? Haven’t we seen the AIB Roast or the documentary? Aren’t we going to save that pepperoni pizza from last night just to eat it on the day meat is banned? In fact, banning the video gave it more popularity, and all the people who did not even know AIB exists, have access to the aforesaid video. And don’t even make me question banning 50 shades of grey.

It needs basic knowledge of psychology to know how Human mind functions. Even as children, we only want to do the things that we aren’t allowed. The easiest way to make someone do what you want them to do is by telling them – You can’t do it! “Ban” is not the solution.

Whereas the meat ban is only for about 3 days, there are 50 shades of our mentality to be tackled, and putting even a fraction of our energy in that direction will get a lot more achieved than banning these things.

PS – What should I cook for dinner, dear government?

BREAKING NEWS- Thank you for raising our TRPs

Media is a business, it is a business of news. The trouble is when media gets to the business of breaking news. It breaks all boundaries of ethics and logic, and the whole drill of “please-watch-our-channel” is way too apparent.

What has happened in the last few weeks is but an expression of this! It has been a great ride for all the media houses with so many incidents and topics, juicier than Frooti. Right from the Hardik Patel taking the government for a ride to Indrayani Mukherjea giving ideas to Ekta Kapoor for her new plot, media has gone berserk. It has overshadowed other important news like Kalburgi murder case or Baba Ramdev launching his own brand of instant noodles!

Superficial coverage has become characteristic of Indian news media because of breaking news syndrome! Research, permissions, analysis has no place in this whole game of sensationalism. This has proved to misleading information in so many cases, and then the apology that is rendered so feeble, if at all. But the damage is done, and an innocent has to live with this public humiliation. 24-hour pressure for the channels soon led to reporters thrusting their mikes on victims of a mishap to single-handedly engaging an entire nation in a family-tree puzzle.

Last week Anurag Kashyap put up a picture with “plaster” on his eyes on an oh-your-phone-picture-is-so-hipster website, indicating it as a result of a brawl with MMA fighter. Immediately, the news spread like wildfire, just to know later that he had trolled the media houses to prove a point. Media fell flat on its face. A few people called this experiment lame.

But it is not. It just is the sorry state of affairs with Indian media today.

Introduction of social media has aided in adding more spice to this. Just last week, one girl’s Facebook post costed an innocent guy his reputation. He was declared as a national pervert in the honorable court of Facebook, and many media houses ran this story even without listening to his other-side! Turns out this girl was closely associated with a national party, taking revenge for he-did-not-listen-to-her-and-hurt-her-ego! But the damage was done, and the guy – though proved innocent- was humiliated across the country in just a matter of few hours.

Media is the fourth pillar of democracy! But it seems to have shaken, since the line between “news” and “views” has diminished! Objective news has become a far-fetched dream! The pressure of proving oneself innocent in “Noise at 9”, and putting your point across Arnab Sardesai’s trial is much-more than remembering your wife’s birthday!

In the past, it has proved to be a successful medium between the government and the people. Media was probably the strongest tool in our freedom movement. If handled wisely and ethically, it can actually aid in solving important and urgent national issues. If only they can stop being the seeming corporate puppets, who knows, we could actually be successful in eradicating poverty, if not cynics!