Thursday, 22 June 2017

Menstruation - Suranya Aiyer

The Full Extent of How Whisper joins Liberal Do-Gooders To Make Fools of Indian Women

 Just saw an utterly ridiculous article (see here: http://qz.com/252419/the-full-extent-of-what-urban-india-believes-about-menstruation-is-extraordinary/) about urban Indian women's attitudes about menstruation. The article narrates
the findings of sanitary napkin maker Whisper and is almost certainly planted
by them as a PR drive for their product which they are basically trying to sell
by telling us Indian women how stupid and dirty we are for not using their
product.
We urban Indian women are accused in the article of
superstitions like not touching pickle jars when menstruating. I guess Indian
women are really deprived because someone told them they can't touch a pickle
jar for five days in the month.
We are also accused of not sleeping with our husbands
during a period. Is this supposed to be deprivation of the woman or the man
here? Not clear. I know plenty of couples who share a bed throughout the month,
but hanky panky is pretty restrained during "those days" no?
Then we are told that the thing about Indians is that they haven't got over the
concept of "shame" associated with the female body and that's why
they want to hide their period and don't want to talk about
menstruation...especially with men! Also they think menstruation is dirty, tchch,
tchch. Leaking brown stuff all over your clothes and
furniture IS embarrassing and the reason I don't mention my period to men
(white or brown) is that any mention of bodily functions and I can just see
them go TITS!! PUSSY!! So, I avoid..... And
let's not forget, the reason to wear a sanitary napkin is precisely to hide
your period. But its ok to hide your period with Whisper,
any other type of hiding of it is just grist for the "unpacking Indian
attitudes to the female body" mill.

To carry on, we urban Indian women are accused of being
superstitious in the article because we don't allow women in the kitchen and
temples during menstruation. Its really interesting how liberals will use
anything against us Indian women - *even* not going to Kitchen and Temple.
Personally, I don't see it as such a bad thing to set aside period days as days
of rest from chores like kitchen work and temple visits. And if
traditional-minded Indians can be accused of having gone too far with
understandable concerns about rest and hygiene for menstruating women in one
way, then liberals everywhere can be accused of having gone too far with their
casualness about women's bodies and bodily functions and their bodily produce,
including babies, in another way.
For example, as a presumably “liberated” woman who enters
the kitchen, spousal bed and temples regardless of menstruation, my greater
concern is the general liberal idea that women should disregard their bodies in
the glorious pursuit of doing anything and everything – I see the consequences
in infertility and repression of motherhood and related exploitation of third
parties like using poor people as a market for adoption and surrogacy; and
always saying about babies that they dont need their mothers - the crying is
just “manipulation”; and, my pet topic, treating mothers as mere baby producing
machines with no entitlement to their babies unless the State deems fit.
Anyway, to return to the res, there’s some stuff in the article about Indians being stupid
about not entering ponds with menstruating women. Well, I dont think I am alone
in being a bit queasy about sharing liquid space with menstruating women. If
you see me in the pool (I dont do ponds), I’d rather not know – even if you’ve
got a tampon on. I wonder how Whisper let the ponds example get into that
article: that’s an ad for tampons *not*sanitary towels.
I guess the folks at Whisper really only read one part of
the article when vetting it – the part which deals with its direct competitor
in the market for hiding menstruation – rags. We are told loftily that Indian
women prefer using rags and that this is unhygienic and (beep, beep, beep! Can
you hear the alarm bells going off?!) causes future reproductive diseases. Now
this is really interesting. Have you been following the nappy debates? Nappies
are now universally accepted as being environmentally unfriendly for their
plastic and crystal fillings. Your politically correct mom has returned to her
granny’s cloth wash-and-wear nappies. Disposable nappies, having first been
marketed as more hygienic, are now being accused of nappy rash and other
infections on baby bums. Now, the thing is, that a sanitary towel is just the
same as a nappy, (or, because they leak so, a sanitary towel is an inefficient
nappy – Whisper are you listening? There’s a reason why some of us dont think
it is worth the money to buy your leaky product) and its only a matter of time
before its plastic backing makes it the target of the environment folks who
will then doubtless lead the charge against all the cancers, sweat-infections
and rashes to which the unhygienic and entitled users of sanitary towels are
subject...making it incumbent on all socially responsible women to return to
....the rag. At which point, ofcourse, our liberal friends will be posting
everywhere about how Indian women are brainwashed by the sanitary towel
conglomerates (who employ children in their factories and encourage child
trafficking in sanitary towel waste disposal) and NGOs will be sponsored by
big-hearted white philanthropists for A Return to the Rag by Third World women
– they did it with formula already. Any bets on how much time to go before
Whisper takes out big ads for International Wash-n-Wear Sanitary Towel Week,
aka Nestle’s wonderful International Breast Feeding Week ads last year?
Atleast the rag promotion NGOs will be giving employment to some wonderful emancipated
Indian women, like the one who wrote the Whisper article. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

Cloth school bags for the children !

Cloth school bags for the children !
One hopes that the rexine backpacks (costing 400/-) they have been carrying last decade, buying one every year, will start getting phased out. They were use and throw as they could not be repaired. These cloth bagswill be used and repaired and used again. Back to the past !
The children are thrilled, the teacher is thrilled. Me too - new bags are always thrilling !
Palaguttapalle (Dalitwada) school and Varadappanaidupeta school - the two government schools in our Palaguttapalle Panchayat. One in the SC hamlet, and one in the Reddy hamlet. There are some extra bags that other slightly smaller and slightly bigger kids are waiting to grab !!
Thank you to the friends who gifted these dream bags to the children !
Thank you Krishnan N SubramanianGowri Gopi for shaping the dreams into bags.

Paalaguttapalle (Dalitwada) school




 Varadappanaidupeta school


Friday, 16 June 2017

McCaulyism, Lala Bahadur Shastri ...

" My first encounter with Macaulayism was in April 1975. The episode is worth a recall. It was April 21, and India had just launched its first satellite ‘Aryabhatta’ from a Russian rocket.
This author, then a junior captain posted on operational staff, was present at an army party in Rajouri (a field area and headquarters of a division in Jammu and Kashmir). All of us were gathered in the main hall with the general as chief guest. The conversation veered around that day’s news, namely the launch of the Aryabhatta satellite.
A very good friend of the author, a senior major, who headed the intelligence department, in a light-hearted manner, commented on this, “Who is this Bhatta Bhatta?” There was general laughter! I think something snapped in me and at top of my voice from the other end of the room, I told my friend (and indirectly the general and others who found this a joke worthy of laughter) that Aryabhatta was one of the world’s greatest astronomers, who had accurately predicted the various facts about planets 1,000 years before Galileo and Copernicus and if he did not know this he should just shut up.
I was lucky to survive, for any fauji will understand that this was gross insubordination, an offence punishable with censure. Luckily, the general, a God-fearing man and a gentleman, possibly saw merit in what I said and my friend asked me the next day as to what was wrong with me! We remained friends for many more years, God bless his soul. But as I recall that episode, I see the Macaulayists all round me.
Just sample this. All Hindi movie actors/actresses prefer to talk in English. Film magazines about Hindi movies are in English. Open pages of the so-called leading newspapers, you will find that even a PhD student or a person based in Paris comments authoritatively on India. The issue is not one of freedom of expression but of the kind of media space given to these sahibs or, as an alternative, those in ‘white’ universities. Sitar, yoga, meditation techniques all came to the Indian brown sahib elite via the West.
An idea, an individual or institution gains respectability only after it is accepted by the West. Many of us have encountered this where even when one tries to use the ‘native’ language, if the shopkeeper senses that you are a ‘sahib’ he replies in English. I have myself been aghast that despite my over 25 years of work on national security and several publications, what seems to impress many is the fact that a Western government gave me an odd fellowship and invite.
Before the usual suspects begin to bay for my blood for English bashing, let me clarify. One is not against English language. It is today a global language and a useful ‘tool’ to acquire knowledge. But language is not an end but a means. What the Macaulayists have done is to use this tool to subjugate the non-English speaking people, as envisioned by Macaulay.
But even the colonial educational institutes sometimes produced great nationalists and thinkers who did not get brain washed. It is a minor miracle that from avowedly Macaulayan institutes, India produced a gem like Swami Vivekananda (who studied in Scottish Church College, Kolkata). But the exception only proves the rule.
Most of these colonial institutes produced precisely the kind of Indians that Macaulay envisaged. It is these individuals who mostly man India’s administrative machinery, judiciary and even armed forces. Modi has a long, hard and dirty battle on his hands in the future.
Returning to the ‘challenge and response’ theory of rise and fall of civilisations, one can understand the initial Nehruvian years when India and Indians absorbed Western ideas, institutions and language. But it became clear that having adapted and grown in strength, India will assert and free itself from the Macaulayism. After Nehru’s death in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri became the prime minister.
Shastri was steeped in Indian culture and tradition and was a true ‘rajyogi’ (an ascetic ruler). But it is a fallacy if one were to claim that his leadership was easily accepted. The author was a cadet in the National Defence Academy at the time and can vividly recall that every time he came up on the screen during a movie show (for those who don’t know, at the beginning of all movies a short ‘news reel’ produced by the Films Division was shown), the cadets would burst into laughter.
After the imposing figure of a pucca sahib like Nehru, the rustic, diminutive, dhoti-clad Shastri with a squeaky voice was indeed a figure of derision for most Macaulayans. But then came the 1965 Indo-Pak war and Shastri showed exemplary leadership in fighting the US-Pakistan combine.
If Shastri would have survived longer, Macaulayism would have been dead and buried. One recalls the kind of national spirit Shastri evoked. When India faced the American food embargo, his call to eat one less chapati got a huge response. It seemed that Indian nationalism was asserting itself. His early death cut short this attempt.
Indira Gandhi, who followed him, was no Macaulayist. But it took her some time to find her feet and by the time she did, in 1980, she became the victim of international politics that was hell-bent on dividing India. Her son who followed her won a landslide victory in the 1984 elections essentially on the plank of Indian nationalism. One of the measures he took to re-assert Indian identity was to revive the public's interest in India’s ancient past. His decision to air the Indian epics Ramayan and Mahabharat, dealt a decisive blow to Macaulayism. But his assassination cut short that attempt. ... "

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Philosophy of the Medicines

(Paalaguttapalle, Dalitwada) ... the hinterlands of the country, the small villages, the tribal belts are the last spaces which may yet give us a direction to reclaim ourselves, and the earth. If we have the humility to listen humbly ... Lessons of time and timelessness, of what really matters, of the significance and insignificance of money ...
"Vaidudus who treat, especially with mantrams, maintain purity and practice austerities. Sankaraiah, Chinna Guruvakka, Lakshmamma, Bhagavanthayya and others would face the rising sun daily and pray to it. Before praying, they would wash their faces, hands and legs with fresh water from the tap, not stored water. In the days of the well, they used to go to the well early in the morning, draw out water, and wash with that before saying the prayers. Thathappa does Shakti pooja regularly. Bhagavanthayya used to say elaborate prayers daily. He practiced many other austerities. Vaidudus avoid eating in public places such as in marriage feasts. Drink is also proscribed for vaidudus when they treat.
Not asking for money is another code many vaidudus follow. Bhagavanthayya would also not ask for any money for treating snake bites, and would only take what was given. This was one of the requirements for this treatment, he said. When people go for mantram, they usually take betel leaf, betel nut, camphor, incense and kaanika or small money.
When people go for seetu to Daamalcheruvu to address the sandulu of infants, again the people there do not ask for money. They also do not take money by hand. The people who go for the seetu place some money down , maybe five rupees or more these days, and the people take it from there later. The elder bone setter at Kallur, now dead, would not even look at the money given, but would just stuff it into his pocket. He did not care to know who gave what. "
Comments
Rajesh Pandey I have been wondering whether anyone has documented this healing skill, which I believe has been with all Aboriginals of all ancient civilisations. Modern science may disbelieve it, call it pseudo science, but it is definitely science, as it is repeatable and has cause & effect relationship. Only, in our limitations, we haven't been able to reduce it to formulae. Hence the scepticism, I believe.
Aparna Krishnan I actually am not very interested in documenting. If our respect for the poor villages, and the poor tribal areas is lacking, and if they have to bite the dust in our march for progress, i for one think we deserve to lose all their knowlege and wisdom. To me they matter, and their wisdom comes only with them. I only write all this to share a sense of the wonder - and in case we the educated learn to bow to their greater wisdom - they and we may yet be saved.
Aparna Krishnan And that 'bowing' indicates clear choices. of reducing our burden of consumption on this earth. of giving away of our excess as much as our courage permits. We, the well off, are among the most cowardly... fearing for our furture, and our childrens' futures and further deep into our descendents !! And hoarding thus.
Rajesh Pandey Aparna Krishnan, your point is well taken. Thanks. In case, anyone comes across any such documentation of traditional knowledge, please provide references.
Aparna Krishnan . Documentation will fail. It comes with certian attitudes, social structures, non acquisitiveness ... the community anchors the knowlege. Only allopathy can be documented !!
Rajesh Pandey Here I disagree Aparna Krishnan. Documentation is not for teaching alone, it is to preserve also, so that future generations can believe that such knowledge really existed and it is not a hearsay spread by some Orientalists like Aparna 
Aparna Krishnan wow thanks ! i am getting close to self discovery. someone told me the other day i was 'self righteous'. someone said i was a 'anarchist-pacifist'. now i am also an 'orientalist'. lovely !
Rajesh Pandey I don't know whether others said that as a compliment, but I definitely meant it as a compliment, Aparna Krishnan.

Aparna Krishnan Rajesh, it does not matter. I am past the age of taking myself seriously, though i did once in my youth ! very seriously, failures and all. Now have given up on me - and thats a comforable place to be in !

Reply
 
Aparna Krishnan But more seriously, I do not beleive that any knowlege is worthwhile or viable, sans the ethic of that knowlege. To prove to people, the richness of the 'past'. once the tribal and the villager is past ? Whatever for.

We sink tigether - the rich and the poor.

I was in a shop buying tea and sugar, themselves non-essentials. And the I added some murukku and biscuits, and paid a bill of 200/-, well over what just the tea and sugar would have cost.
An old maid came in to buy a biscuit packet, saw that it was 15/- and out it away. I turned away, embarrassed at my bill. And steeled myself. A small part of our soul hardens and dies each day. And we think that we are insured from the poverty around us. The poor and the rich die - we float together, or we sink together. 

Rajesh PandeyRajesh Pandey It is not true that the rich and poor die together or float together. The poor die, and the rich float.
 
Aparna Krishnan No. Both sink. The poor die physically. The rich - their souls harden and die. I do not know which is worse.
 
Rajesh Pandey I wish you were correct Aparna Krishnan. The rich live in a different world and that world has a different value system.
 
Sukumar Mukhopadhyay You are right. Otherwise how could Abhijit,a singer in Bombay say in the context of Salman`s driving and killing a few footpath dwellers, that they had no business to sleep on the footpath?
Aparna Krishnan There is a single value system. That is defined by Dharmam. What is at variance to it is Adharmam.
 
Aparna Krishnan I am correct. When we are able to ignore the poor runnageing in dustbins, we have become less than human. The poor will die with their humanity alive. I know which I find the greater loss.
 
Rajesh Pandey Again you are judging the rich from an alien value judgement model Aparna Krishnan. The rich continue to be rich because they have 'overcome' this value system to which you (and I) are clinging to.
 
Aparna Krishnan I am saying that they suffer from death of conscience and heart. To me that is a tragedy and they are also sufferring. As are the poor of hunger. I agree there would be other perspectives.
 
Rajesh Pandey The conscience of a rich man is alive when his dog is suffering. His heart is all tears when a gay marriage is criticised. So, I believe it is just a question of belonging to different worlds, and the conscience of both the rich and their poor are alive.
 
Aparna Krishnan yes. different perspective. its ok. because there is nothing i can do anyway. my role is small, as also my area of influence.
 
Pankaj Arora @rajesh pandey, would you please elaborate more on your observations on value system of the rich
 
L Suresh Kumar Lsk did you pay for the biscuit packet ? If not why ?
 
Rajesh Pandey The value system of the rich (or for that matter the value system of any type of elites) considers the rich as a different species and expects and reciprocates compassion, honesty, etc. within that group (rich class) only.
 
Aparna Krishnan Even within them i do not see what I see in poorer communities ! The rich are very insecure you see. Fearful creatures. Holding on to their undesergved wealth in an ocean of poverty !!
 
Aparna Krishnan L Suresh Kumar Lsk, no. I have understood the dignity of the poor and hesitate to interfere. In my village the relationships are deep and there has been much giving and taking over the years. to be honest, i am deeply in their debt. There I can 'give' without thinking.
 
Aparna Krishnan But having given an 'answer' because you asked, these are grey areas for me, and I am always uncertian - and the questions and answers keep transforming for me. The answer will only be found when there are deep structural changes in society and in minds. Till then it is some ad hoc response.