Archive for the 'Human Rights' Category

Conversations with Bangalore auto driver: A woman’s character

I wrote about a part of my conversation with a Bangalore auto driver. Our conversation meandered from NaMo to Muslim-haters, Rushdie, censorship, in that order.

He brought up Rushdie and how ‘westernized Muslims’ do disservice to religion, leave alone others. I asked if he had read the book. He said he didn’t but he has heard what he wrote about – a parody of Prophet’s life. Unable to resist, I asked what he thought of the ‘satanic verses’.

‘Satanic verses?’ (Later I think if he was just checking what I knew?)

groupI explain. ‘Quran, as I understand, was verbally revealed to Prophet by angel Gabriel (Jibrail as I said to him) in the cave of Hira and it was recorded later by his disciples.

So, before founding of Islam, Meccans worshipped three pagan goddesses. One day Prophet came back from cave and announced that these goddesses were exalted. However, few days later, Prophet retracts these verses that angel Gabriel has informed him that Satan tempted him to utter these verses. Hence, the phrase ‘satanic verses’, right?’

At this point, auto driver is ‘impressed’ with my ‘knowledge’. Even while driving, instead of looking at road, he turns to look back, as if seeing me with new eyes.

‘Yes, those goddesses are Allāt, al-‘Uzzā and Manāt. Prophet had perhaps said it out of his desire to make peace with erstwhile Arabs who worshipped goddesses.’

Continue reading ‘Conversations with Bangalore auto driver: A woman’s character’

Interview with the Braveheart, Dr. Ritu Biyani

Today I bring to you an extraordinary story of a courageous woman, Dr. Capt. Ritu Biyani, who is based in Pune. She is a woman who has worn several hats – a dental surgeon in army, first Lady Officer paratrooper from the army dental corps, a mountaineer, skydiver and a thorough nomad.

Her story can be an inspiration to you, me and everyone who has faced, even for a moment, the dreaded fear that – This is it. The precious life that you have so far taken for granted, may no longer be there.

Dr. Ritu grappled with this fear in 2000 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought back and survived.

It is after the struggle for survival is over and acceptance for the inevitability of the situation seeps in; comes the hardest part – rebuild your new life. How you choose to do it, is where heroes differ from the common folks.

Dr. Ritu decided to dedicate her life for educating people on cancer, preventive measures and offering supportive care for those afflicted with it. She decided to reach out. To thousands of women and men, living along the length and breadth of the entire country. Yes, the length and breadth of the country. Literally.

She drove solo across the country, the four tips of India, along with her 14-year-old daughter Tista in a Ford endeavour for 177 days! Distance covered – a whopping 30, 220 kms! First woman to go on such a solo drive, she, along with her daughter Tista holds Limca Book of Records for first mother-daughter  duo  expedition on cancer awareness across the country.

Here’s a quick Q and A with the lady herself:

Why a road journey? Why this need to reach globally and not focus on just local awareness?

(Naughtily smiles) Yes, a good question when going only local could have made me famous as well, at least locally. But cancer is not a local problem. It does not recognize geographical, cultural, political, socio-economic boundaries.

I am a doctor, and yet I was taken unawares by breast cancer at a young age of 40. So my thought after survival was what about so many of the other women who in the course of multitasking in their different roles in daily life are unaware of their health. They keep their own health on low priority.  It is imperative that they must be forewarned and be groomed to prevent.

Traveling is second nature to me.  I am at peace when I am at roads. So I thought I would travel to people with my story, with scientific facts and basic awareness about cancer. I focus on oral cancer and cervix cancer, besides breast cancer.

That explained, I have undertaken several local initiatives like cancer walks, workshops etc. in Pune.

Continue reading ‘Interview with the Braveheart, Dr. Ritu Biyani’

Book Review: Bitter Chocolate

bitter_chocolateBitter Chocolate is book by a journalist Pinki Virani, who has also authored a critically acclaimed novel Aruna’s Story. Bitter Chocolate is a book about Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in India, interspersed with facts, figures and several real-life accounts. Pinki candidly informs that she herself has been the victim of child abuse. Throughout the book, the focus of the book remains the child who is victim of CSA.

The book discusses what CSA entails, and its socio-cultural-legal aspects. It can be distressing to read the book at times, given the nature of subject and the fact. In fact, Smita wrote in her comments on this blog that for this reason she has not been able to bring herself to read the book. I completely understand, but we can’t refuse to face the reality because it is starkly dark.

CSA is not new to World at large. Maya Angelou, the author of her award-winning autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a CSA victim was so traumatised that she stopped talking till she became an adult. Virginia Woolf is no stranger to CSA, having been sexually abused in her childhood by her two stepbrothers, Gerald and George Duckworth. Singer Carlos Santana, mystery writer Edgar Allan Poe and filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock also have one thing in common: they have suffered from CSA. Just because they tasted success in the end, doesn’t mean all CSA victims turn out right without repercussions. Author has accounted for this with help of real-life cases and experiences that I will not repeat here.

Continue reading ‘Book Review: Bitter Chocolate’

Disability and Me…

I just had a lunch with a great friend, she told me how our common friend had misbehaved in a restaurant with a stammering waiter. He threw up his hands in air saying, “He can’t deal with him.” It reminded of my recent conversation with Anshul who told me that he was attended by two hearing and speech challenged attendants at an Costa Coffee outlet in the city. I asked him if his interaction had been satisfactory, he replied with affirmative. He said they communicated through signals. I think we can’t blame the organizations for not hiring the disabled, some of them like NIIT, BEL Ltd. and Costa Coffee are doing their bit, but we too have to change our mindsets and deal responsibly and with sensitivity.

When I published this post about empowering the disabled, one of the readers Praneshachar wrote me a long email about how his organization was providing employment to the disabled and empowering them. After reading his email, I realized he was clearly the person who had had several meaningful interactions with the disabled. I invited him to write a guest post about his experiences. Reading his article, I realized he has been working for a NGO that works for empowering the disabled. Here is what Praneshachar has got to tell us:

Continue reading ‘Disability and Me…’

Ray of Hope for the Disabled

While reading through Reader’s Digest, I came across story of a quadriplegic (a person who has both arms and legs paralysed) Craig Cook. Though I thought it a shame that Craig’s fiance left him after he was paralysed in a car accident where his friend was driving, it was heartening to know that he could find a happy companion in Minnie, a capuchin monkey.

As I read along I realised that there are two-year training programs for these capuchin monkeys so that they can be companions to people like Craig in need. Helping Hands is the organisation that trains these capuchins and provides them as companions to the disabled. Yes, you read it companions and not pet. Here are few excerpts from this article:

When Cook applied to Helping Hands in 2001, it was illegal to have an exotic animal in a home in California. The only helper animals allowed were dogs for the visually impaired. Helping Hands went to work to have the laws changed for Cook, and in 2004, he became the first person in the state to receive a service monkey.

Continue reading ‘Ray of Hope for the Disabled’

Empower the Disabled

At least six percent of Indian population is disabled. Unfortunately disabled in our country are neither aware of their fundamental rights nor they get to exercise them. In fact most, deaf and speech-challenged people do not understand this meaning of the word “rights”. At most, they would know, it means the right direction or left direction. We either view disabled people as victims or exploit their vulnerability. They are still denied of their basic rights to be able to navigate, communicate and right to education.

http://www.disabilityindia.com/

Often decisions about disabled community are taken by government bodies without involving a disabled in the meetings and decisions. Their logic is that what will a audio-speech challenged person contribute to a meeting about meeting challenges of the disabled. This is plain apathy to them. The concept “nothing about us, without us” is unheard by the government.

I read about a story where visually-challenged guy was applying for the job of a lecturer. The insensitive woman at the form counter seemed to be appalled at the thought of a blind person teaching. She discouraged the blind by talking negatively about the whole thing aloud to anyone who would care to listen. She said, “How would he correct the papers? How would he teach?” She was no authority, she was one of us. She was prejudiced and ignorant. We have to put a stop to that attitude.

Continue reading ‘Empower the Disabled’


Subscribe to Visceral Observations

     
Add to Technorati Favorites

Thank you, Chirag!

This header has been created by Chirag.

A Torch Against Terrorists

     

What I SOMETIMES Tweet

  • RT @jalajboy: Sr BJP ministers were breathing fire & smoke for AAP's 2 cr donation thru bank. BJP itself took 705cr donation without PAN an… 2 hours ago
  • RT @MattOswaltVA: Trumps thoughts on: Obama - disaster Paris - shithole White House - dump Boy Scouts - liars Neo-Nazi rally - many sides t… 6 days ago
  • Aish. This driver. Whenever I get in his vehicle, I feel sleepy. 🤔 1 week ago
  • RT @Chikisarkar: Baba Ramdev places an injunction against from godman to tycoon- @juggernautbooks wasn't allowed to defend their book. We w… 1 week ago
  • RT @anaggh: I’m never shocked when people let me down. I just hate the fact that I put myself in a position to be let down. 1 week ago

I also write at:

Blog Archives

Read by Category

World AIDS Day 2008

Support World AIDS Day
The Hunger Site
Creative Commons License
Visceral Observations is written by Poonam Sharma. It is licensed to her under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License
Directory of General Blogs
August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031