Monday, December 31, 2012

Society and Public Health

Dhiyanesh Ravichandran

Society has an ethical obligation to ensure equitable access to quality  health services by making that care a basic social right.

Is health care a right or a privilege? This has become an enduring debate among the scholars and policy makers ever since the time when state became the sole allocator of resources on behalf of society. The capitalistic business approach has crept into field of healthcare since since industrial revolution in western nations and very recently in India too. Privatization of healthcare in India led to the rule of big corporations playing a major share of health services for huge profits, sometimes by inappropriate and unethical means as well. The stake on government on health services is too low as does its budget allocation every year. Neither the services are up to the average standards. Healthcare companies see no profits in investing in rural health infrastructure, combined with inadequate public healthcare network led to the total neglect of rural areas.

Is one's health status an outcome of his behaviour and lifestyle? Does he have absolute control in determining his well-being? Even though people have the ability to influence their health status by their individual decisions on or choice of lifestyle. But many health problems are beyond their control. They can also be affected by genetics, living of work environments, or even by chance. Even though there are several preventive measures for many such ailments, the awareness among them is definitely less and it is impossible for each and every one to know about all such health issues.

A society's commitment to healthcare reflects some of its most basic values about what it is to be a member of the human community. Society, therefore, has an ethical obligation to ensure equitable access to quality  health services by making that care a basic social right. The present day governments are the appropriate agencies to facilitate such a valued obligation, by ensuring that the health services are universal, less privatized, free of cost to all of its citizens, and are easily accessible. The National health insurance coverage in several countries is an example to universal healthcare.

In India, the status of public health is less comforting. More that three fourth of the health infrastructure is concentrated in urban areas where only 27% of total population lives. There are no private takers for the rural healthcare primarily due to profit factors, which led to the total neglect of rural India. Rural areas depend fully on government health infrastructure, which proves to be ineffective. The public health expenditure of India in 1990 was 1.3% of the GDP and dropped to 0.9% of GDP in 2009. The increase in GDP growth in this time period has not increased the health care expenditure, considering the increase in population. The Union budgetary allocation is just 1.3% and that is state budget is just 5.5% on an average.

Health Insurance is a nonentity in Indian scenario. Only 10% of our citizens have some form of health insurance, inadequate to meet their healthcare bills in most of the cases. Hospitalised Indians on an average spend about 58% of their total annual expenditure for healthcare. About 25% of them fall below poverty line because of their hospital expenses. 

Health economists say that healthy labour force increases participation ratio in the economic activities. When individuals are viewed as a stock of human capital, health status impacts the values of stock. In a family, medical expenses of adult members deplete the savings and investments meant for the nutritional and educational needs of children. Reduced earning potential of individuals ultimately affects national income. In this perspective, health economists assert individuals as assets and resources for economic excellence and healthcare as a means to extract maximum productivity. Healthcare should be considered as a basic social right irrespective of his economic productivity and what humanity wants is a more sustainable approach towards healthcare, which is universal and accessible to all.

Lack of community ownership of public health programmes has impacted so adversely in India. Various health indicators in India show unfavorable trends in health status even though the country shows positive economic growth in recent decades. A comprehensive healthcare policy is necessary, which involves increased participation of the state in infrastructural development and service delivery. In a globalised era, curbing private players would prove fatal. They need to be utilised by the state in right and just manner through public private partnerships or joint ventures. Implementation requires community patronage.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Stuti Das
1st B.A. Sociology,
Stella Maris College.

(This entry secured 1std place in the Article Writing contest held as a part of SocioFest LIBERATE'12 of Department of Sociology, Loyola College. A slightly modified version of this article has been published in the July 2013 edition of the Reading Hour magazine.)

“My vision is utopian, but I believe in its possibility.”
 – Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body

A video clip uploaded on the video-sharing site, YouTube, opens with the host – a news anchor with Toronto’s CityNews – walking into a cocktail lounge with a fashion model who has of late garnered much attention after appearing on the catwalk in Paris in a haute couture bridal gown for the French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. They settle down for an interview.

“When I look at you,“ the beaming host tells the model, “ I see an absolutely beautiful, tall, lean, gorgeous, woman.”

“Well, thank you!” the model smiles with a tilt of the head.

The appearance of the model, a svelte blonde with cascading platinum hair, icy blue eyes, dewy skin, arched eyebrows and chiselled cheekbones, seem not untypical of those seen regularly strutting the catwalk for womenswear labels. But there is a difference: this model, Andrej Pejic, is not a woman. He is a man.

Scouted at the age of 17, one of the first jobs for this androgynous model from Broadmeadows, Australia was to open a runway show for a womenswear brand at Sydney fashion week. He then went on to become a part of the Marc by Marc Jacobs Spring 2011 campaign in which he was seen as the shorts-and-sneakers-wearing boy. That same year he was signed up to model a wedding dress for the Jean-Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Spring 2011 Fashion Show at Paris Fashion Week. Seeing Pejic’s versatility, Gaultier hired him for his Fall 2011 menswear show. In no time, Andrej emerged as one of the most sought-after figures in the world of high fashion.

“Gender doesn’t make me who I am,” Pejic tells his interviewer. He does not have a strong gender identity, he says, and prefers identifying as what he is. He leaves his gender open to interpretation and feels that we often make too big of a deal of defining people by their gender.

As the only top-tier fashion model who can walk down the runway as either a man or a woman, Pejic, who is reticent about restricting his sense of self within the confines of any one gender in particular, symbolises a revolutionary trend: emancipation from the rigidities of gender norms.

Meanwhile, in Canada Kathy Witterick and her husband, David Stocker, are raising their child, Storm, without revealing Storm’s sex. They wish to bring Storm up, not as their daughter or son, not as a girl or a boy, but as just their child. They want Storm to be “gender creative” - their way, they say, of paying “a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation.” They have allowed their two older sons to “make their own choices” with respect to clothing and hairstyle. So Storm’s older brothers are never deterred from wearing pink feather boas, dresses and braids. Witterick and Stocker do not feel the need to force their children into a particular gender mould; rather they want their children to develop their interests and inclinations unrestrained by specific gender norms.

In another instance, in the month of May this year, Argentina granted its citizens the freedom to determine the gender they want to be identified with without having to undergo any medical, psychiatric, or judicial procedures, thereby recognising that one’s gender ought to depend on little else except one’s own rational choice.

Are we then entitled to think that gender today is a dying concept; that we as a society are already on our way to emancipating ourselves from the straitjacket of gender norms?

The answer sadly is a no, for if we look beyond the headlines and focus on things that regulate the day-to-day lives of the great majority of human beings treading the planet, gender is alive, well and kicking.

Gender, according to the definition provided by Merriam-Webster, is ‘the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex’. An individual’s sex, on the other hand, is solely a matter of biology: women have two X sex chromosomes, while men have XY. In addition, there are individuals with other combinations, such as XXY or XO.

What determines an individual’s gender identity – one’s private sense of one’s own gender – remains till date an inconclusive debate. But studies show that one’s biological status as a male or female has very little role to play in it, for it has often been observed that individuals who can physiologically be categorised into distinct biological groups of male and female, admit to being unable to identify with the social characteristics commonly attributed to their sex. A book by the name, The Lives of Transgender People which is based upon a survey and interviews with several thousand trans-masculine, trans-feminine, and gender- nonconforming people in the United States, demonstrates the tremendous gender fluidity that exists in the U.S. today. For instance, when asked about their gender identities, the participants provided more than 100 different responses. A number of them said that there was no easy way by which they could identify their gender. Some of the respondents resorted to percentages to describe their identities (such as one third male, one third female, and one third transgender) while others said simply, “I am me.”

However, despite innumerable evidences such as these, the society we live in views gender as tied to one’s biological sex. One’s gender identity is expected to parallel one’s physiological sex and any discrepancy in this regard is treated as an aberration.

Furthermore, the assignment of gender is done according to a binary model – a social dichotomy based on the flawed premise that biologically there exists only two sexes, which in turn necessitates that all individuals be assigned only one of the two gender identities – male and female – and consequently be permitted only one of the two gender expressions – masculine and feminine. An individual therefore is expected to be on either end of a linear spectrum. According to this model, one can neither see oneself on both ends at the same time nor anywhere in between, the principal determinant of one’s position being one’s physiological characteristics.

Gender in most societies – with the exception of a few such as the Navajo of the Southwestern United States - is a rigid binary concept that allows little room for fluidity. It demands compulsory conformity and any transgression from the norm is not without consequences.

In 2001, 16-year-old Fred Martinez, a Navajo boy who identified himself as a girl, was brutally murdered near his hometown of Cortez, Colorado. Among his own people however, he was accepted as nádleehí or a two-spirit person but mainstream America’s narrow views on gender proved fatal to him. More recently, statistics on anti-trans hate crimes published by the International Trans Murder Monitoring Project reveal that more than 220 individuals around the world were killed in the year 2010 for identifying with a gender that contrasted with the one assigned to them by society. Even in their day-to-day lives, as a result of society’s failure to recognise the multiplicity of gender possibilities, gender-nonconforming people face stigma and discrimination and become targets of verbal and physical assault.

The drawbacks of such strict gender essentialism are, in fact, numerous. For one, gender as it is known and practiced today has a pretty arbitrary basis: that one’s biological characteristics should determine how one should act, feel, think and behave, though studies so far have failed to establish any definitive relation between one’s biological sex and gender identity. Furthermore, the gender binary model is, for all purposes, a gross oversimplification, for it certainly fails to capture the entire spectrum of anatomical variations that exists. Even if gender was something restricted solely to biology – though it isn’t – this social dichotomy would not have been able to encompass the entire continuum of the many different varieties of gender identities and expressions that would then be possible.

Gender comes with an extensive list of do’s and don’ts. It is immensely restrictive as a result of which people are often compelled to act not according to their personal interests and inclinations but in keeping with the existing norms. Gender thus submerges the human and contrary to the common claim made in its favour that it facilitates self expression, gender actually restricts an individual’s capacity for self actualisation.

The greatest demerit of gender, of course, is its compulsive nature. A gender label once assigned to an individual is seen as something immutable, although research shows that gender identity isn’t static. One’s identification with one’s gender may change over time, for the way individuals identify with a particular gender is not stable, as is evident from the existence and prominence of late-transitioning trans people.

It therefore goes without saying that we are all in a gender straitjacket. But gender roles and expectations form such an intrinsic part of our culture that most people, especially those who have managed to fit neatly into the system, find it hard to imagine things differently. But the fact remains that gender is a powerful tool of structural oppression encompassing every aspect of an individual’s life, so much so that, as Judith Butler writes, “the body becomes its gender through a series of acts which are renewed, revised, and consolidated through time.”

Bruce Peter Reimer was born a male. After a botched circumcision at the age of 6 months, he was reassigned to be raised as a female and rechristened as Brenda. Living as anything other than as a man or a woman was out of question. But despite female hormones and frilly dresses, not to mention the tremendous pressure from parents, teachers and doctors to behave “like a girl”, Brenda demonstrated interests that were “typically male”. For all purposes, it was a bizarre spectacle. Deviation from gender norms isn’t something that society has ever taken a kind view of. Brenda wasn’t spared either and very soon she was the object of ruthless ridicule for her “masculinity”. Attempting to fall in line with the expectations mounting on her, she tried “acting like a girl”. This continued for a while. Unable any more to suppress her inner inclinations, Brenda went into depression and attempted suicide. It was then decided that she would switch back to being a male. She did and David Reimer was born. But “behaving like a man” after having so long “tried to act like a girl” did not come as easily as David thought it would. But he kept up his efforts. Memories of his blighted childhood continued to haunt him and at age38, he began suffering from an identity crisis. On 5 May, 2004, he finally committed suicide.

The life of disgraced, unsexed David Reimer, as much a victim of the gender straitjacket as we all are, demonstrates, without any room for doubt, that creating a fairer world by emancipating ourselves from the gender straitjacket through recognition of the existence of non-binary gender diversity and multiplicity of gender expressions and the elimination of sex-based gender assignments along with the idea that gender is a static immutable concept is something that is not just desirable but also extremely necessary.

Sounds like a brave new world? Perhaps, but definitely worth striving for.


2nd B.A Sociology
Stella Maris College.

(This entry secured 2nd place in the Article Writing contest held as a part of SocioFest LIBERATE'12 of Department of Sociology, Loyola College.)

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” - Ayn Rand

Emancipation holds significantly different meaning form individual to individual,culture to culture and from society to society. Before discussing about the problems, status and the emancipation of women in India we must be clear about the concept and nature of emancipation. In the essay on Marx, Tocqueville, and the Problem of Emancipation, Scott beck says that “True emancipation is the result of a balance between community and personal freedom, between political and civil life, between solidarity and self-interest, and perhaps above all, the balance between the specific and the general interests of the various groups within society. Thus, the problem of emancipation is ultimately the problem of balance. More specifically it is the problem of sustaining such a balance long enough for norms of emancipation to thoroughly saturate the everyday lives of society’s denizens. How we are to arrive at this point is a question for the science of emancipation, a field which is still awaiting consideration.”

Scott beck also adds that “We might posit two alternate visions of emancipation: emancipation as inclusion, where the oppressed individual or group acquires equal rights of participation in the existing social or political structure, and emancipation as revolution, or the wholesale eradication of the existing social structure, with the assumption that that very social structure itself is both the cause of oppression and beyond reform”. Thus taking the nature and complexity of the Indian society into consideration, the process of emancipating the subjugated women minority becomes more intricate. And the worst part is women in India even today (the women indicates the women activists, educationalists, lawyers who constantly fight on behalf of the subjugated women who are the majority) contest for various reservations which are necessary but denied just because of male favored politics.

Indian society has a relatively strict social hierarchy. By the words strict social hierarchy I not only mean the caste system but also the unequal status between the gender and historical subordination of women in our country. Indian society is a male dominated society which is patrilineal and patriarchal in nature. Tracing the oppressed background of Indian women takes us back to the medieval period which is considered to be “dark ages” for Indian women. Many social evils took place against women in the name of religion and tradition. Over the ages in India women have been treated as the sole property of her father, brother or husband, not been given any choice or freedom of her own. Subordination of women was said to be aimed at the protection of women. Hence a vicious circle started in which women were at the receiving end. All this gave rise to some new evils such as Child Marriage, Sati, Jauhar and restriction on girl education.

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”

Today the status of women in modern India is a sort of a paradox. If on one hand she is at the peak of ladder of success, on the other hand she is mutely suffering from various violence. As compared with past women in modern times have achieved a lot but in reality they have to still travel a long way. Women have left the secured domain of their home and are now in the battlefield of life, fully armored with their talent. They had proven themselves. But in India they are many crucial challenges in liberating women.

Women in India are mostly economically reliant on their male counterparts which make them dependent. Literacy level of women is rising in a very slow pace which is a major reason for the economic dependency. Even educated women in most scenarios consider that they are inferior and fragile to the men and limit their development. Another important concern is that women today more and more became the objects of advertisement and sales object. And racial discrimination between white and dark complexioned women in our society increases the complexity of the problem. Having said about the outline of the concerns faced by Indian women, let us notice certain important facts that studies reveal as the major issues of women in India at present.

The sex ratio of India shows that the Indian society is still prejudiced against female. There are 944 females per thousand males in India according to the census of 2011, which is much below the world average of 990 females. The high number of female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking prevalent in India has placed it as the fourth most dangerous place for women in the world, according to a survey. In 2009, India's Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta had remarked that at least 100 million people were involved in human trafficking in India, according to the survey.

The CBI has estimated that in 2009 about 90 per cent of trafficking took place within the country and that there were three million prostitutes, of which 40 per cent were children. Other forms of exploitation include forced labour and forced marriage. “In India, up to 50 million girls were thought to be 'missing' over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide," as per the UN Population Fund. Today Indian courts are filed up with the crimes against women. So even after 65 years of independence with a lot of social, political and economic changes the status of women has not significantly raised but the kind of problems concerning women have worsened.

The Indian Constitution, in Articles 14, 15 and 16, provides for equality between men and women. But in practice there is often denial of equality for women in large parts of India, particularly in the rural areas, due to the disgusting survival of remnants of feudalism and medievalism. Female foeticide is common in all parts of India despite the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 been passed. As MARX believed political equality and rights has not created liberty and emancipation. Emancipation is thus more than politically gaining equality.

In India we live in a transitional age, the transition being from a feudal, agricultural society to a modern, industrial society. We are neither totally backward nor totally modern, but somewhere in between. Hence remnants of the feudal culture, for example, casteism and communalism, persist. It is for this reason that our society is still largely male-dominated, and most women do not have real freedom. For instance, we often hear of ‘honour killings’ of young men and women of different castes or religions. They are killed, harassed or threatened merely because they want to marry a person belonging to a different caste or religion. This is really barbaric, and shows how backward we still are. (The ideal of women’s emancipation by

Markandey Katju, THE HINDU FEBRUARY18, 2009)

And in the article Markandey Katju adds that the remedy is spreading of scientific thinking on a massive scale, and encourages people to give up superstitions and backward, feudal ideas, for example, casteism and communalism. This is only possible by means of a complete revolution in our thinking and attitude towards women. What is needed is a massive cultural struggle involving hundreds of millions of people which will sweep away all remnants of the disgusting feudal and medieval practices and mentality, particularly with respect to women. These should be replaced with scientific thinking and genuine and complete equality between men and women.When and how this will come about is not known. But come it will, and all patriotic people in India, including men, must strive and contribute to this goal.

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.”
-Roseanne Barr

The process of gender equality and women's empowerment still has a long way to go and may even have become more difficult in the recent years. Further, women should be better educated , better informed – only then can take rational decisions. It is also necessary to sensitise the other sex towards women. It is important to usher changes in the societal attitudes and perceptions with regard to the role of women in different spheres of life.

Meanwhile, a woman needs to be physically healthy in order to work equally. This is sadly lacking in a majority of women especially in the rural areas. They have unequal access to basic health resources and lack adequate counseling. The result is an increasing risk of unwanted and early pregnancies, HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. There is no doubt that the status of women has improved a lot. Evil practices such as the purdah system, child marriage and the like, have not been completely eradicated but have seen a downfall. Thus, a clear vision is needed to remove the obstacles to the path of women's emancipation both from the government and women themselves. Efforts should be directed towards all round development of each and every section of Indian women by giving them their due share.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph beginswith you. Always.” ~Oprah Winfrey

I would like to conclude my article by stating that women should realize their status and set their goal for their emancipation. Education, developing the skills would help them be independent but emancipating from various bonds of the conservative society needs much more efforts. Women should understand their issues to tackle and overcome them. Indian women have rich culture and patience and persistence as in born nature as Mahatma Gandhi always believed, so it’s our turn we have to show the world our strength through our emancipation.

HUMAN EMANCIPATION: Its need throughout History

Pooja Sathyanarayanan
III. B. Sc Psychology
JBAS College for Women

(This entry secured 3rd place in the Article Writing contest held as a part of SocioFest LIBERATE'12 of Department of Sociology, Loyola College.)

The minute I was born into this world, the first few breaths of hospital air choked and relieved me at the same time. There was silence around till I began to wail… and then, finally, once my cries were heard, celebration.

Welcome to this world.

Throughout our lives, we are at a constant struggle as societies, institutions, governments and social norms both bind us and grant us relief at the same time. They help us navigate through various pathways of life while at the same time, they stifle us… until we are forced to see what they see.

It’s true… as long as we are indeed human and social (beings), we will unite and as long as resources are scarce, there will be conflict; with the existence of regulating bodies and norms to make sense of it.

As long as we are human and social beings, we will be bound by both frivolity and stringency. There will be the rule setters and the rule breakers. There will be social constructs which bind us and more importantly, the ever present need to break free from the ties that bind us (or in some cases, shackle us).

In the history of human emancipation, it seems like the need for emancipation has been mostly focused; based its historical context.

The bourgeois-emancipatory movement, according to Marx, ended with the objective of political liberation alone. The American Civil War, on the other hand, vividly stands out as a cause for human emancipation; with the African American slaves being literally bound to their owners. Which was why January 1st, 1963 was a date to remember when the Emancipation Proclamation guaranteed emancipation of slaves; who were free forever.

What more, Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of complete racial harmony is almost a reality now. Instances of racial conflict are few and far between.

Emancipation of women, on the other hand, has had a longer history and is still a struggle in many parts of the globe. There are invisible divides and stereotypes that still exist in the workplace and other realms. Women are still being discriminated against and denied basic rights in many underdeveloped and developed countries. Yet, for the most part, traditionally patriarchal societies are transforming though the true nature of the “feminist” movement (and if feminism = equality) is rightfully being debated.

Gay and lesbian liberation has also been seen as “central to the broader project of human emancipation”. It is definitely indicative of emancipation from oppression, of subjugation as homosexuals as “sexual subversives”; as termed by the Nazis.

The youth, the future of India, have also made their voices heard as they seek emancipation from corruption, for instance, and are willing to truly take a stand against it.

As individuals, we are at a lifelong battle against the limits placed on ourselves as well as by ourselves and the environment. We are constantly banging our fists against the cuffs which bind us; breaking sweat and bleeding chaos until we truly feel free.

As a citizen of our country, as a woman, as a youngster and as a person of a particular standing in a particular sphere of life, I am well aware of the role human emancipation has played in the history; enabling us to claim the ground we stand on and continue to question and shape the role various social constructs play in our lives.

The need for liberation is enormous and constant; as much as the need for social order is.

Throughout history, the ever present theme has been of “freedom from oppression”. Despite being born free, we feel the need to pull away the minute we develop our first true attachments and social links. We pull away the minute we feel claustrophobic and find the need to let more air in…

And from our first wail, we learn how this is done.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

இரத்ததானம்: ஒரு விழிப்புணர்வு கட்டுரை

மு. பெரியசாமி

இரத்ததானம் செய்வீர்! உயிர் காப்பீர்!

பிறரின் இறப்பிற்கு கண்ணீர் கொடு! பிறரின் கண்ணீருக்கு இரத்தம் கொடு!

மனிதநேயத்தை சொற்களால் அல்ல இரத்ததானத்தால் வெளிப்படுத்துவோம் !

இது போன்ற வாசகங்கள் தொலைக்காட்சி விளம்பரங்களின் இடையே பிரபலங்கள் கூறுவதை நீங்கள் விரைவில் கேட்க நேரலாம் (அரசு விழிப்புணர்வு ஏற்படுத்துவதில் முனைப்பாய் இருந்தால்). ஏனென்றால் இரத்ததானத்திற்கான தேவை ஆண்டுதோறும் 5 சதவீதம் அதிகரித்துக்கொண்டே இருக்கின்றது. ஆனால் பல இடங்களில் பற்றாக்குறைதான்  மிக அதிகளவில் உள்ளது.

இரத்ததானத்திற்கு தடையாக பல்வேறு மூடநம்பிக்கைகள் நம் நாட்டில் பரவிக்கிடக்கின்றது. நான் எனக்கு நேர்ந்த ஒரு சம்பவத்தை இங்கு பகிர்ந்துகொள்ள விரும்புகிறேன். நான் எனது கல்லூரி மூலமாக முதல்முறையாக இரத்ததானம் செய்துவிட்டு வீடு திரும்பினேன். என் கையில் இருந்த பிளாஸ்திரியை(band-aid) பார்த்துவிட்டு எனது தாயார் காரணம் கேட்க, நானும் இரத்ததானம் செய்ததை கூறினேன். கச்சேரி ஆரம்பமானது! ஏன் இரத்தம் கொடுத்தாய்? என்னை கேட்காமல் ஏன் கொடுத்தாய்? என்று பல கேள்விகள். அடுத்த நாள் உறவினர்களிடம் இருந்து வசைகள் மற்றும் மிரட்டல்கள். அவர்கள் அனைவருக்கும் விளக்கம் கூறினாலும் அதை அவர்கள் ஏற்க விரும்பவில்லை. ஒவ்வொருவரும் புதுப்புது தவறான விளக்கங்களை கூறினார்கள்.

இதில் குறிப்பிட வேண்டிய இன்னொரு விஷயம் நடந்தது. எனது நெருங்கிய உறவினர் ஒருவரின் மகன் பன்னிரண்டாம் வகுப்பு அறிவியல் பிரிவு படித்துகொண்டிருக்கின்றான். அவன் என்ன கூறினான் என்றால், இரத்ததானம் திருமணத்திற்கு முன் செய்தால் உடல்நலக்கேடு ஏற்படும் திருமணத்திற்கு பிறகு செய்தால் பிரச்சனை இல்லை என்றான். இவ்வாறு இரத்ததானம் பற்றிய மூடநம்பிக்கை என்பது கற்றவர் கல்லாதவர் என்ற பாகுபாடு இல்லாமல் பலரிடம்  பரவிக்கிடக்கின்றது. ஆனால் இரத்ததானம் என்பது உடல்நலத்திற்கு கேடு விளைவிக்காத, பாதுகாப்பான செயல்பாடு ஆகும். அதை அறியாமல் தவறான நம்பிக்கைகளை கொண்டிருப்பதால் இந்தியா போன்ற வளரும் நாடுகளில் இரத்ததானம் குறைவாகவே உள்ளது.

உலக மக்கள் தொகையில் 15 சதவீதமே உள்ள உயர் வருவாய் நாடுகளில் 50 சதவீத இரத்ததானம் செய்யபடுவதாக உலக சுகாதார நிறுவனம் (WHO) கூறுகின்றது. நம் நாட்டில் இரத்தத்திற்கான தேவை 4 கோடி யூனிட் ஆனால் இருப்பதோ வெறும் 40 இலட்சம் யூனிட்தான் என ஒரு புள்ளி விவரம் கூறுகின்றது. இரண்டு நொடிக்கு ஒருமுறை யாரேனும் ஒருவருக்கு இரத்தம் தேவைப்படுகின்றது. நம்மில், சராசரியாக மூன்றில் ஒருவருக்கு வாழ்வின் ஏதோ ஒரு கட்டத்தில் இரத்தம் தேவைப்படுகின்றது. இரத்தம் கொடுக்க தகுதியானவர்களில் வெறும் 4 சதவீதம் பேர் மட்டுமே இரத்ததானம் செய்கின்றனர். இவ்வாறு இரத்த தானத்திற்க்கான தேவையை பல்வேறு புள்ளிவிவரங்களின் மூலம் அடுக்கிகொண்டே போகலாம்.

நம் நாட்டில் இரத்ததானம் செய்வதற்கு நீங்கள் 18 வயதை கடந்தவராகவும் 60 வயதிற்கு உட்பட்டவராகவும் இருக்க வேண்டும். உங்களது உடல் எடை 45 கிலோவிற்கு குறையாமல் இருக்க வேண்டும். உங்கள் இரத்தத்தில் ஹீமோகுளோபின் அளவு 12.5 கிராமிற்கு குறையாமல் இருக்க வேண்டும். மேலும் ஒரு சில குறிப்பிட்ட நோய்கள் கடந்த சில நாட்களில் இருந்திருக்ககூடாது. இதுபோன்ற சில அடிப்படை தகுதி உடையவராக நீங்கள் இருக்கவேண்டும். இவை அனைத்தையும் இரத்தம் கொடுப்பதற்கு முன் நீங்கள் பூர்த்தி செய்யும் படிவத்தின் மூலம் அறிந்துகொள்ள முடியும். பெண்கள் கர்ப்பமாக இருக்கும் காலம், குழந்தை பிறந்து தாய்ப்பால் கொடுக்கின்ற காலம் மற்றும் மாதவிடாய் நாட்களில் அதீத இரத்தப்போக்கு மற்றும் வலி இருக்கும்பொழுது இரத்ததானம் செய்யமுடியாது.மது அருந்திய மற்றும் புகை பிடித்த  அடுத்த 24 மணி நேரத்திற்கு இரத்ததானம் செய்யமுடியாது. மேலும் இரத்தம் கொடுப்பதற்கு 4 மணி நேரத்திற்கு முன்பு நன்றாக உணவு உண்டிருக்க வேண்டும்.

பொதுவாக இரத்ததானம் செய்ய நீங்கள் சென்றீர்களானால் முதலில் ஒரு படிவத்தை கொடுத்து பூர்த்தி செய்யச் சொல்வார்கள். அது உங்கள் உடல்நிலை சம்பந்தப்பட்ட விவரங்களை கோரும்  வினாக்கள் அடங்கிய படிவமாகும். பின்னர் உங்கள் எடை, இரத்த அழுத்தம் போன்றவற்றை பரிசோதிப்பார்கள். அனைத்து விவரங்களும் பெறப்பட்ட பின்னர் உங்களது முழங்கை மடிப்பில் சரியான நரம்பை கண்டறிந்து இரத்தம் எடுப்பதற்கான ஊசியை உட்செலுத்துவார்கள். அந்த இரத்தமானது சோடியம் சிட்ரேட், பாஸ்பேட், டெக்ஸ்ட்ரோஸ் போன்ற வேதிப்பொருட்கள் அடங்கிய நெகிழிப்பையில் செலுத்தப்பட்டு பாதுகாக்கப்படும். பொதுவாக 250 மிலி முதல் 450 மிலி வரை இரத்தம் எடுக்கப்படும். ஏதேனும் ஒவ்வாமை ஏற்படுகின்றதா என்பதற்காக 10 முதல் 20 நிமிடம் காத்திருக்கச் சொல்வார்கள் அப்போது புத்துணர்ச்சி அளிக்கக்கூடிய சில உணவு வழங்கப்படும். இரத்தம் அளித்த 1 மணி நேரத்திற்கு புகை பிடிக்ககூடாது, 4 மணி நேரத்திற்கு மது அருந்தக்கூடாது. கையில் ஓட்டப்படும் பிளாஸ்திரியை 4 மணி நேரத்திற்கு எடுக்கக்கூடாது.

இந்த இரத்தமானது 13 வகை சோதனைகளுக்கு உட்படுத்தப்பட வேண்டும். பின்னர் அந்த இரத்தமானது இரத்த சிவப்பு அணுக்கள் (RBC), இரத்த வட்டுக்கள் (Platelets), பிளாஸ்மாக்களாக  பிரிக்கப்பட்டு தேவைக்கேற்ப உபயோகப்படுத்தப்படுகின்றது. அதில் இரத்த சிவப்பு அணுக்கள் 35-42 நாட்கள் வரையிலும், இரத்த வட்டுக்கள் 5-7 நாட்கள் வரையிலும் பிளாஸ்மா ஒரு ஆண்டு வரையிலும் கெடாமல் பாதுகாக்க முடியும்.

இரத்தம் A, B, AB, O, என வகைப்படுத்தப்படும் என அனைவருக்கும் தெரியும். அதில் O  பிரிவு இரத்தம் தேவை மிகவும் அதிகமுள்ள வகையாகும். 'O-' பிரிவு "யுனிவேர்சல் டோனர்" என அழைக்கப்படுகின்றது. ஏனென்றால் இவ்வகை இரத்தம் அனைவருக்கும் பொருந்தும். ஆனால் இது இரத்த சிவப்பு அணுக்களுக்கு மட்டும்தான் பொருந்தும். பிளாஸ்மா என்று எடுத்துக்கொண்டால் 'AB+' தான் "யுனிவேர்சல் டோனர்" எனப்படும்.

நாம் தானம் செய்த இரத்தம் 4-6 வாரத்திற்குள் நம் எலும்பு மஜ்ஜை உற்பத்தி செய்துவிடும். ஆகவே  இரத்ததானத்தினால்  எந்த பாதிப்பும் ஏற்படாது. ஒரு சிலருக்கு மயக்கம் ஏற்படுவது போன்றவை ஏற்படலாம். மற்றபடி அது சாதரணமானதுதான். இரத்ததானத்தினால் உடல்நலத்திற்கு கேடு என்பதெல்லாம் ஆதாரமற்ற வாதங்கள்.

நம்மில் பலர் இரத்தம் என்பது விபத்து நேரத்தில் மட்டும்தான் பயன்படும் என்று நினைக்கின்றோம்.  ஆனால் அது உண்மையல்ல. இரத்தமானது இதய அறுவை சிகிச்சையின்போது , ஒருசில புற்றுநோய் சிகிச்சையின்போது , பிரசவத்தின் போது, உறுப்பு மாற்று அறுவை சிகிச்சையின்போது, என பல நேரத்தில் பயன்படுகின்றது. இதனால் நான் இறுதியாக குறிப்பிட விரும்புவது ஒன்றுதான்,

இரத்ததானம் செய்வீர்! உயிர் காப்பீர்!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Ideological Bias

Dhiyanesh Ravichandran.
     As a student of Sociology, I always wonder how my personal world views affect my perspective of looking at the same world, or for that matter, anything of social importance. When I study the increasing trend of product twins in our Indian car market, I invariably landed-up thinking that it is nothing but a cunning strategy of auto-makers to increase revenue by reducing the cost-per-unit due to common production. My notion that the corporates exploit people to amass profits applies here clearly. But I’m not sure of my causation and reasoning, because there are several other factors that I may have ignored. Though we like or not, we tend to use our ideologies or preconceived notions to comprehend things while studying them, which ultimately bias our study. The world views of individuals certainly affect their own perspectives of looking at the world.

We may have different perceptions about people around us
     While analysing the ideological bias, to which every researcher is guilt of, it is imperative for us to unravel what an ideology is, what constitutes it and how it is formed. An Ideology is usually taken to mean, a prescriptive doctrine that is not supported by rational argument (D.D. Raphael: 1970). The word ‘prescriptive’ in the definition makes ideologies customary, which is based on or authorised by long-standing custom. It is a consistent set of ideas related to every aspects of society that is manifested by different sources of knowledge. Earl Babbie lists out some ten types non-scientific thinking – Knowledge based on tradition, authority, casual observation, over generalisation, selective observation, qualification, illogical reasoning, ego-defense, premature closure of enquiry, and mystification. Such a variety of sources help us formulate something called an ideology or ideologies, which differs from individuals ostensibly.

     Let us examine briefly how such manifestation of ideas that takes place every day within us, influence our understanding of the society. Experiences prevent us from seeing things, based on our assumption and confidence that we have a clear understanding of things. But reality is not just a thing ‘out there’, so that we can learn to perceive that objectively. All that’s “real” are the images that we got through our points of view. Put differently, there’s nothing “out there”; it’s all “in here” (Earl Babbie). Experiences and our ideas helps determine how we perceive reality – what patterns we see in analysis society and whether we are able to see patterns at all. Such experiences filter our perceptions of reality which, according to me, is one of the major problems of sociological research. How?

     Real life experiences and passion of sociologists motivate much research – defining the research problem, what are all the units to be analysed, what are all the evidences to be reviewed, formulating causal hypothesis, etc. Merton believes that the very choice of topic is influenced by personal preferences and ideological biases of the researcher. It is nothing but his values that help him decide which problems are worth investigating. “We choose to study only those segments of reality which have become significant to us because of their value relevance” says Max Weber. What is one’s outlook towards class, caste, race, gender, religion, etc.? Is he dogmatic or more liberal? Such values lead Sociologists and researchers to formulate and adopt favoured theories for interpreting and explaining causation and conclusion. Does he subscribe to the Functionalist school of thought or any other? Every sociological theory is produced by and limited to a particular group whose viewpoints and interests they represent. Thus formulation of hypotheses will automatically introduce a bias in the sociological research.

    Interpretations are also highly influenced by previous researches or theories on the same area. Sociologists consult earlier researches in order to find out what we already know and what is ought to be analysed? Sometime researchers adopt similar strategies or approach partly because of its familiarity. This sort of bias is prominent in physical sciences too. In astrophysical debates on the ‘Theory of everything’ in understanding the driving force of the universe, some scientists believe in the existence of some enigmatic dominant cosmic force called ‘dark energy’. Another school of scientists including world-renowned theorists Stephen Hawkins have spent years in disproving such forces. But there have been compelling evidences and findings which reveal the working of such enigmatic energy. This is a huge embarrassment for astronomers, who have long believed that the most important force in the cosmos is the same one that Isaac Newton supposedly saw pull an apple from a tree some 350 years ago – but no longer. Until this new breakthrough, researches and theories were based on the gravitational force hypothesis, but now it is a very different story.

     The methods that researchers use to gather data mold their perceptions – shape of their research tool often help to determine which bits of reality they dig up. Those methods influence the researcher’s accessibility to various aspects of reality. In case of interview as a technique the data may be influenced by context of the interview, the interaction of the participants, and participant's definition of the situation and if adequate rapport does not extend between them there might be communication barriers. Thus according to P.V Young, interviews sometimes carry subjectivity. Finally, it can also affect the field limitations as reported by Andre Beteille’s study of Sripuram village in Tanjore, where the Brahmins did not allow him to visit the untouchable locality and ask their point of view.

     The impact of ideological biases on sociological research can be very far-reaching as seen from the study of Tepostalan village in Mexico. Robert Redfield studied it with functionalist perspective and concluded that there exists total harmony between various groups in the village while Oscar Lewis studied this village at almost the same time from Marxist perspective and found that the society was conflict ridden. Subjectivity creeps in at different stages of their studies. It is impossible to ignore that their observations as unreal.

     Both objectivity and subjectivity play an important role in science and scientific research. The primary goal of a scientific investigation is objectivity. Since Sociology is a scientific endeavour, this applies in sociological research as well. Objectivity is a reality check or a frame of mind so that personal prejudices, preferences or predilections of the social scientists do not contaminate the collection of analysis of data. Thus scientific investigations should be free from prejudices of race, colour, religion, sex or ideological biases. Whereas, subjectivity leads us to define which aspects of reality are worth checking on in the first place. Emile Durkheim, in his ‘Rules of the Sociological Method’ states that “social facts must be treated as things and all preconceived notions about social facts must be abandoned”. According to Radcliff Brown, “social scientists must abandon or transcend his ethnocentric and egocentric biases while carrying out researches”. Similarly Malinowski advocated cultural relativism while anthropological field work in order to ensure objectivity.

     However, objectivity remains to be an elusive goal practically. It is important to recognise that almost all sociologists and their theories have an ideological bias. Anti-marxists reject Karl Marx as a sociologist because of his ideological orientation. This is as true for Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Durkheim, Weber, and Simmel as it for Marx. George Ritzer clarifies that there is nothing called as a “value-free” sociological theory. In theorising about social phenomena, sociologists find it impossible to be completely neutral, and this remains true whether or not they are willing to recognise it or to admit it (Ritzer:1983). Marx simply made no effort to conceal the ideological character of his work, and is built into a the very structure of his theorising.

    In fact, a school of thought represented by Gunnar Myrdal asserts that “total objectivity is an illusion which can never be achieved”. All researches are guided by certain viewpoint, which involves subjectivity. Myrdal suggests that the basic viewpoints must be made clear. Further he feels that subjectivity creeps in at various stages in the course of sociological research.

     We can never perceive society in a pure or objective form. But what we can do is to minimise such bias by the use of certain techniques of data collection. Researcher can make their value preferences clear in research monograph. Various methods of data collection can be used and the results obtained from one can be cross-checked. Field limitations can be clearly stated in the research monograph. At the end of the day, the end results are more accurate perceptions of reality than relying exclusively on blind prejudices or common sense.

Friday, October 05, 2012


    The notion of democracy, unlike other forms of government, focuses much on the functions and values of the political system rather than the structure. This is the reason why many governments with varied political structures claim to be democratic. The ideas that form the basis of democracy are equality, fundamental rights, liberty and welfare of the people. Thus democracy is not just about universal suffrage, parliamentary legislation and judicial appraisal. While the existence of these institutions and processes will facilitate the safeguarding of values that constitute democracy, political systems like dictatorship and monarchy will undermine the values, at least, in a course of time.

      There is a general consensus among all social thinkers that there is a steady subversion in the democratic ideals as well as in democratic institutions in the countries that are said to be democratic. 

       In terms of quantity, that is, population, India, with no doubt, is the biggest democracy in the world. But if we analyze qualitatively, the scope of democracy in India is becoming smaller and smaller. Though India might have achieved an enduring electoral democracy, we fail to establish a sustainable functional democracy.

Declining democracy in India can be studied in two aspects.

         i ) Subversion of democratic ideals: Rapid increase in inequality, deprioritizing ‘welfare of the people’,  Government’s aversion towards farmers, neglecting poorer section of the society from policy making, privatization of natural resources, parallel economy, corruption, increase of arbitrariness and impunity, corporate owned media, corporate corruption, rapid privatization, environmental racism etcetera.

       ii) Misuse of democratic institutions: Vote-bank politics, increased corporate lobbying in politics, family politics, cash for votes, fake votes and other electoral frauds, culture of impunity etcetera.

    If we analyze empirically, we could establish a correlation between the above two aspects.

        Our Indian Constitution, especially Part III (Fundamental rights) and Part IV (Directive Principles), serves as an exemplary of democratic ideals that are needed to be followed to establish and ‘sustain’ a democracy. But none of the Directive Principles are followed by our policy makers and the scope of fundamental rights is diminished by continuous amendments.

Democracy has become a ‘nominal’ form of Government in India.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

அடையாள நாள் அல்ல; இது ஒரு மகத்துவத் திருநாள்!

தியாநேசு ரவிச்சந்திரன் 

     இன்று ஆசிரியர்கள்  தினம்.  நம் ஆட்டோகிராப்பை சற்று திருப்பிப்பாருங்கள், நம் வாழ்வில் ஒளியை பரப்பிய நம் ஆசிரியர்களின் நினைவுகள் பல்லாயிரம்! ஆசிரியர் என்பவர் ஒரு மாணவனுக்குப் பாடம் சொல்லிவிட்டுப் போகிற நபர் அல்ல; அவனின் வாழ்கையையே தீர்மானிக்கிற ஆற்றல் படைத்தவர். எனக்கு நீண்ட காலமாகவே ஒரு கேள்வி சற்று புதிர்போல் விளங்காது நிற்கிறது. 'ஆசிரியர்' என்பது ஒரு பணியா? ஊழியமா?? அல்லது தொண்டா??

  இக்கேள்வியை ஆசிரியர்களிடம் கேட்டால் தொண்டு அல்லது சேவை என்பார்கள்! ஏன்? அவர்களுக்கு உதியம் என்றொன்று உண்டு, ஆனால் அவர்களின் பணிக்கு அது ஈடாகும் என்று சொல்லமுடியாது. நம் பண்பாட்டில் ஒரு வழக்கம் உண்டு. மாதா, பிதா, குரு, தெய்வம் என்று. இதில்  தெய்வத்தை விட்டுவிடுங்கள், அது நம் பார்வையில் வராது. ஆனால், நாம் 'குரு' என்பதை மாத-பிதாவிற்கு நிகராக வைத்திருக்கிறோம். ஒரு தாய், நான் ஆறு வருடங்களாக ஏன் பையனுக்கு தாயாக வேலைபார்க்கிரேன் என்று ஒரு பொழுதும் கூற மாட்டாள். எந்த தகப்பனும் என் மகளுக்கு தந்தையாக பல்லாண்டு காலம் பணிசெய்து கொண்டிருக்கிறேன் என்று சொல்ல மாட்டான். எப்படி தாய் தந்தை ஒரு குழந்தைக்கு உறவுமுறையோ, அதேபோலத்தான் ஆசிரியரும். அது அக்குழந்தையின் வாழ்நாள் முழுவதும் தொடரும் பந்தம். 

    எனவே அப்படி ஒரு புனிதமான உறவுமுறை என்று சொல்லும்பொழுது, ஒவ்வொரு மாணவனையும் தங்களது பிள்ளைகளாக ஆசிரியர்கள் நினைக்க வேண்டும். தன்னிடம் படித்த மாணவன் தோல்வியுற்றான் என்றால் (பாடத்திலும் வாழ்க்கையிலும்) , ஆசிரியர்கள் வருத்தப்பட வேண்டும்; பொறுப்பேற்க வேண்டும். இன்றைய காலகட்டத்தில் ஆசிரியர்கள் அவ்வாறு இருக்கிறார்களா என்பது கேள்விக்குறியே. வெறும் பாடம் நடத்துவது மட்டும் அவர்களின் கடமையல்ல. ஏனெனில், அவர்களின் பங்கானது மாணவர்களின் வாழ்கையை மட்டும் தாக்கப்போவதல்ல, அவர்களின் வருங்கால தலைமுறையும் தான். இதை ஆசிரியர்கள் உணர வேண்டும்.

   சென்னை உயர்நீதிமன்றத்தில் ஒருமுறை இந்துக்கள் சட்டம் (Hindu Law) தொடர்பாக வழக்கு ஒரு நடந்துகொண்டிருந்தது. அப்போது நீதியரசர் முன் அந்த வழக்கை ஒரு மூத்த வழக்கறிஞர்  நடத்திக்கொண்டிருந்தார். அவர் மிக வயதானவர்; மிக மிக மெதுவாக நிதானமாக ஜவ்வைபோல் இழுத்து இழுத்து, கருத்துக்கள் எல்லாம் நன்கு விளங்கும்படி தன வாதங்களை முன்வைத்துக்கொண்டிருந்தார். பொறுமை இழந்த நீதியரசர், சற்று வேகமாய் வழக்கை முடிக்கும் எண்ணத்தில் அவரைப் பார்த்து, "உங்கள் வாதங்கள் புரிகின்றன, நீங்கள் அடுத்த விஷயத்திற்கு போலாம்" என்றார். அப்போது நிமிர்ந்த பார்வையுடன்  நகைத்த அந்த வழக்கறிஞர் நீதிபதியைப் பார்த்து, "மை லார்ட், நீங்கள் சென்னை சட்டக்கல்லூரியில் படிக்கும்பொழுது இந்துக்கள் சட்டத்தில் எத்தனை மதிப்பெண் வாங்கினீர்கள்  என்று  நினைவிருக்கிறதா??" என்று வினவினார். ஒரு நீதிமன்றத்தில் அப்படியெல்லாம் நீதிபதியைப் பார்த்து ஒரு வழக்கறிஞர் கேள்வி கேட்க முடியாது. உடனே அந்த அமர்விலிருந்த மற்றொரு நீதியரசரிடம் தான் அந்த பாடத்தில் தவறியதை சற்று தயக்கத்துடன் சொன்னார். அப்போது சிரித்துக்கொண்டே அந்த வழக்கறிஞர், " ஐயா, நான் அதை கல்லூரியில் நடத்தும்போது தங்களுக்குப் புரியவில்லை அதனால்தான் இப்போதாவது சற்று புரியும்படி உங்களுக்கு நடத்த முயன்றேன்" என்று வேடிக்கையாய் சொன்னாறாம். அந்த வழக்கறிஞர் தான் அந்த நீதிபதியின் கல்லூரி ஆசிரியர். ஒரு ஆசிரியரைத்தவிர வேறு யாராவது அந்த இடத்தில் அப்படி உரிமையுடன் பேச முடியுமா??

   பள்ளி கல்லூரிகளிலெல்லாம் இன்றைக்கு ஆசிரியர்கள் தினம் என்ற பெயரில் நிறைய சடங்குகளெல்லாம் நடக்கும். ஆனால் இத்திருநாளில், ஒவ்வொரு மாணவனும் (மற்றவர்களும்  தான்) தங்களது ஆசிரியர்களின்  பங்கை உணர வேண்டும். அவர்களின் ஊக்கமே நம்மை இத்தனை காலமும் அழைத்துவந்துள்ளது என்று புரிந்துகொள்ள வேண்டும். ஆசிரியர்கள், தங்களின் உண்மையான கடமையை உணருதல் அவசியம். நீங்கள் ஒன்னும் விற்பன்னர்கள் இல்லை, உங்களின் அறிவை பணத்திற்கு விற்க; நீங்கள் பணி செய்வதில்லை, ஊதியதிர்கேற்ப வேலை பார்பதற்கு. நம் வாழ்வில் நினைவுபடுத்தப்படுகிற, நம்மை ஊக்கப்படுத்திய  நம் ஆசிரியர்களெல்லாம் ஏதோ ஒரு வகையில் ஒரு சராசரி ஆசிரியரைப்போல் இல்லாமல் வேறுபட்டிருப்பார். ஆசிரியர்கள் பொதுவாக அப்படி இருப்பதில்லை என்பது சற்று வருத்தமே. இந்நாளானது, ஆசிரியர்களுக்கான அடையாள நாளல்ல, ஆசிரியத்தின் மகத்துவத்தை அனைவரும் புரிந்துகொள்ளும் திருநாள்! ஆசிரியர்களுக்கு என் நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்...

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Should there be a diktat on dressing??

 Dhiyanesh Ravichandran.

A mob of over 20 men dragged a 16-year old girl by her hair into one of the busy city roads of Guwahati, tried to rip off her clothes, yanked up her vests and tugged at her bra, groped her breasts as she begged for help from passing cars. They who sexually abused and mugged her publicly, smiled at the cameras which filmed the whole episode and the cameras panned up and down her body focusing on her breasts and thighs as if they were intentional (maybe!!) and hit the TV sets after few hours with no qualms of media ethics.  And the CM's office and the National Commission for Women (NCW) panel went further in abusing by revealing the victim's identity and then apologising for their mistakes latter. The NCW chairperson latter commented in a statement that women should be “careful about the way they dress because such incidents are a result of blindly imitating the West” and the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh saying that the women should follow Indian culture in their dressing and behaviour, all humiliating and degrading our womenfolks. The distressing incident and the controversies that followed up, all hint one thing in common. It's nothing but the insensitivity that we, the people and our system shows on the status of our women and while dealing with the crime against them. India is one of the worst places in the world for the women to live I presume regretfully.

The Guwahati girl molestation case is quite shocking, but it happens everywhere all over the country and  there is nothing novel about it. Infact, this case has proved that the north-eastern states are no exception to such crimes against women. But cunningly, people in power, fundamentalists, and others who couldn't assimilate the sorry state of affairs blame the victims themselves, by pointing out women's dressing which provocates men to commit such crimes. By 'provocative dressing' they grossly mean all the dresses which are not in consonance with our traditions and culture, or to be much more exact, all the dresses from the western world. First of all, it is highly subjective to define socially acceptable dressing, since India is a dynamic multi-cultural or heterogenous society. We have nothing like a 'static' culture or tradition - cultures differ from place to place, traditions of Tamil nadu greatly vary from that of Assamese. A typical Tamil woman's attire may not get the consent of a marathi tribe, and we all know that the dressing of North-east people especially women are totally different to the rest, which would be unacceptable in the so called Indian 'mainland'. Social Anthropologists can say that the present-day saree and a salwar kameez is a derivative of several cultures and practices through ages, as a result of cultural interactions. And also, there is nothing concrete called a 'Western culture' and the influence of other cultures on our behaviour is not new to the present world and is a universal phenomenon.
There is nothing called a 'static culture'.

Does a girl's dressing really provocates or sexually allures men? Maybe. But is it a valid cause to such extent that men couldn't control lust and commits heinous crimes like what our country has reported all these days?  I certainly have reservations to that. Such people say that a 'provocative dresss' is anything which shows a great deal of a women's body and structure. The degree of the so-called 'provocativeness' is also contexual to one's own culture. A jeans with a full-hand kurti covers almost all the parts of a girl's body from wrist to ankles, but may not get a cultural sanction like a traditional saree, which is more liberal comparingly. A women in bikini in the beaches of Goa may not be sexually stimulative for the beach hawkers, but a women in burqa, face veiled and hands gloved with only visible eyes, can be seductive and become prey to men. There have be instances where a 70 or 80 year-old women in burqa were raped and molested in India, it would be ridiculous to say that one's attire is the major or only reason for all such crimes. Even the NCW's statistics disprove the myth. Can anyone claim that all the women who are 'careful' about the way they dress are safe at our streets?

SAREE: Really a modest way of dressing?
Let us consider that a woman's attire is extremely provocative, culturally unacceptable and creates a 'cultural shock'. But do men have the right to touch that woman, pointing out her dressing? What empowers them to rape, molest and harass a women on the name of her dressing? Is it morally, ethically and culturally justifiable? Does such acts have any social or cultural sanctions or an element of our traditional practices? Can women rape or mug a rural man who is usually half-naked? People who point out women's dressing for all the crimes against women are directly or indirectly justifying those wicked conduct. Why no one is ready to question men's attitude towards women, who is always considered as a source of sexual pleasure? The ugly answer is more social, such a mentality is a direct mark of patriarchy and violence against women is an absolute feature of the patriarchal society. 

Every human beings have their own liberty to dress the way they wish and no one can take away their wishful right. No one has the right to strip a woman, rape her, molest her and do anything that ravage her dignity pointing out her attire. That is no way justifiable from any perspective. Even if she's naked or a sex worker. Not even her husband can do that. And justifying such crimes is even more sinful than the very act itself. But society always has some diktats or the other on all our dressings, which is inevitable and has certain latent functions too. But one need to understand the social injustice behind those norms and sanctions, and pathos tagged to it. Such wide prevalence of atrocities against women proves that our society is just camouflaged with the modern ideals and has not progressed in true sense. 

I do not completely rule out the fact that a woman's dressing provocates men. Nor I'll advise my sister to be more liberal to an extent in her dressing. Women's attire is not that valid and the only cause for all the crimes against them by men. By acknowledging such blames by few people who may have some hidden agendas, say for political mileage or self-defense, we miss out the real causes and factors underlying to it. Every social problems will have multiple root-causes and contributing factors, which needs to be addressed so as to improve the condition. Corporates do have a hand in setting trends on modern-day dressing, which is purely commercial and is a technique to increase their profits. Most of our women fall prey to that in the name of empowerment and excercising their liberty, which must be debunked. Unwanted cultural shocks can be avoided. It is nonsensical to say that women's safety lies in their own hands. As a community, we have to evaluate ourself on these issues and address the real concerns. Let us not forget that our patriarchal mindset towards our women and commodification of women as a source of sexual pleasure and insensitivity towards the unjust against them could say lot more about such issues. Gandhiji once said, 

"Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex (not the weaker sex)." 

Let our women live with dignity.