Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Ring the Bell against Child Marriages!!!

            I have been to a conference in Durgapur, West Bengal last week and I remember watching a pregnant woman with her little child taking rest on the platform.
          "How old can she be?", my friends were whispering.
             "Not more than sixteen, for sure".
          Not an unusual sight you might say, and I can't contradict. When Indichange has asked me to write on child marriages, I searched my memory; Hmph . . . none of my friends have got into that misfortune, they have fought well with the support of our teachers.
Indian law says a marriage below the age of eighteen is child marriage. Will a girl turn into a grown, emotionally matured woman by the age of eighteen? For God's sake, she will be in the first year of her graduation (that is, if she is born into a cultured society where women are educated). While her male counterparts travel through colleges with PhDs and Post-PhDs, she is deprived of her platform to perform, succeed and be independent.
            A marriage before or after eighteen won't matter, if her status remains same. In a country where the usual law of marriage is disregarded quietly, it might be fruitless to talk about a raise in the age of marriage, but it should be done; so that no girls will have to write their exams with bulged bellies and morning sickness again; so that they won't be ashamed of their birth as a woman and unhappy in their role as a mother.
           As always reform should start in families; so let each mother and father take the pledge of bringing up their boys with respect to women and their girls with respect to themselves. Its a small step, but one that will go far.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Shoes of the Dead - Kota Neelima

Date of Reading: 10/06/2013
Author: Kota Neelima
Publisher: Rainlight
Place: New Delhi
Year: 2013
Rating: 4.5/5

             Each book in my shelf has an outside story; a tale through which they came to my life and this one is going to be special. Thanks to BlogAdda's Book Review program, this third book of Kota Neelima was my constant companion throughout my train journey which extended to three states -- Andrapradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. 
             As one of the members of new generation who is acquainted with agriculture through the plays of Farmville, a political novel on farmer suicides is an eye opener. Rains may not come, and crops might wither but there won't be any free gifts or mystery babies to wait for. The green fields with lotus ponds and the waving children covered in mud whom I can watch through the train window presented a contrasting picture to the one I was reading. Nonetheless, the story is about them, a time they might have passed and wish to forget -- the time of rice water survivals. By the time the story reached the meager survival of Gangri, the severe food poisoning episode has taught me hunger and my experience of the book was complete.

            Neelima's career as a journalist has quite evidently helped in the writing task. Nazar Prabhakar, the sharp journalist works as the writer's unconscious and his occasional repartee is the most cherished moments in the story. There are three story's running simultaneously -- Nazar and Videhi's, Gangri's and Kayur's -- but author hasn't let the reader stray from the central theme, debt related farmer suicides. 
             Author has avoided the usual cliches of blaming the democratic system and the political representatives, instead a middle path is taken to know the ways that make them forcefully corrupt to adapt to the political tides. The writer expects some fruitful action, not another discussion with fancy words in the news room. A fast paced serious work which will leave its trace on you and is much recommended in this turbulent times.
The district of Mityala is witnessing an increased number of farmer suicides due to successive crop failures and the burden of debt. When Sudhakar Bhadra succumbs to this same fate, the powerful district suicide committee of Mityala which governs the interests of moneylenders and traders dismisses it as aptra and refuses compensation to his widow.
            Sudhakar's brother, Gangri, who was working as a teacher in the city resigns his job and vouches his life for the justice of other farmer suicides. He becomes a member of the committee and influences others to vote rightfully.

             This increase in the suicidal rates engenders the political future of Keyur Kashinath, the first time MP of Democratic Party from Mityala. As the son of Vaishnav Kashinath, party's general secretary, he is heir to his father's power in Delhi politics. His intention to oust Gangri from the committee through foul means catches the eye of the young journalist Nazar Prabhakar and the news creates ripples in Delhi politics.
            Keyur is forced to investigate the issue personally and his contact with Gangri turns him against moneylenders. Farmer suicides of the past years are reconsidered and the deserved ones are given compensation.
Kota Neelima
Meanwhile Gangri's nephew dies of malnutrition and fever and a heartbroker Gangri commits suicide. Keyur resigns his MP position and comes to Mityala to implement Gangri's plans.

Something to ponder:  
"The increasing toll is bound to trouble the people in power because farmers like us are not supposed to be visible to the government. . . But now our lives are drawing attention because of our deaths." - 93

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