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Monday, December 28, 2009

Right of abortion

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At the very beginning of this blog, I had raised a question which I deferred dealing with so far. Question was about role of father in abortion of child. Surprisingly, this matter receives much less attention than feminine version of the same question.

I had agreed, and do now as well, that parents of child are best people on Earth to decide fate of unborn foetus. No one (calling themselves pro-choice, pro-life, anti-abortion, anti-life, …) has any business interfering in couple’s decision to whether to bring out the person they will be totally responsible for in the world and who will change their lives irrevocably. However, decision to abort or not remains exclusive maternal prerogative in most parts of the world, including India and United States. Unfair part in this process is whether someone can be punished for not doing what he cannot do. If father cannot bear a child, does he not have any say in whether he wants the child or not?

First case is when father wants a child but mother doesn’t: currently, he cannot stop mother from aborting the baby. If father is willing to bear responsibility of raising the child, what right mother has of depriving man of his child? Trauma for man in such cases cannot be understated in line of argument that only mothers love their children more than fathers ever could. Emotional investment and love of fathers towards their offspring is question which requires mere perfunctory glance at the world around us to answer. Can mother be required to go through whole pregnancy and pain of childbirth unwillingly? Unfortunately, she has too, for there is no alternative. Whose pain and loss is more: a father deprived of his baby or a mother bearing pain for nine months? I don’t have an answer but I feel it’s former. Of course, it goes without saying that this should not apply in pregnancy out of non-consensual sex and father must bear all the cost and financial loss to mother in giving him his child.

Second case is when father doesn’t want a child but mother does: currently, he cannot force mother to abort the baby. Which seems right until we note that he will still be legally responsible for providing child support and financial help. This, naturally, isn’t fair on father again. Excepting forced assault, consensual relationship is entered in by both partner knowing fully well consequences of the same. A mother cannot demand support from unwilling father if such unwillingness is expressed prior to birth and during the period when mother can undergo safe abortion. Then mother will be free to decide to continue with the pregnancy on her own or terminate it.

Law, as it stands, gives all the responsibilities to father without him having any say at all in reproductive rights over his unborn baby. Let alone giving father his due right, a small step such as spousal notification by mother about her decision to abort itself is hotly protested against even though there seems be slight majority support for it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An instance of happiness (or disappointment)

Those four digits have knack of making me slightly happy or unhappy every single time, even if for an instance only.

When I am done talking over my mobile and see call summary notice pop-up, I get instantaneously elated for a fraction of a second if number of minutes of use is **:5*. That I extracted most of my money’s worth of last minute is reason enough. Not surprisingly, I get marginally disappointed if that number is **:0*.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Respecting the elders

In a hierarchy driven society such as India, elders are considered worthy of respect by virtue of being elders only. It is ingrained in our culture to respect and honour elders be it a sibling elder by a minute or a great grand father, or in fact elders not related by blood or marriage. And the honour is not merely perfunctory in the way you address them but deep rooted in that one doesn’t reply back to, talk loudly to or in front of, counter against, look down upon or raise a hand on elders. It is not uncommon to see people, young and old, bearing deep hurt and shame, sometimes even violence, for years on end through hands of elders of their family and yet keep quite. Of course, sometimes the limit is crossed, either because action of elder has become unbearable or younger is not versed in manners of respecting the elders. In regular, normal, decent families, though, elders are sacrosanct. Why no one responds back to Dadisa in Balika Vadhu is example enough. A person who respects elders is considered virtuous.

Expecting someone to respect the elders is expectation of good cultural upbringing and behaviour. However, what surprised me distinctly in my quest for life partner over last year, was consistency of this expectation from fairer sex, almost always stated explicitly. I found this in girls I met in person and in girls I met/read about online. Surely, the request itself was not unjustified, but near complete unanimity of the wish was marked. What is so special about this, I wonder?

There are hypothesises my brain can come up with. Perhaps it is a way for girl to ensure that her side of family gets respect they deserve from their son-in-law since it not inconceivable to imagine that boy may not respect girl’s side of family. Asking for general respect to elders is cover for respect to her parents. Perhaps all the girls somehow consider this a litmus test of boy’s character. Among hundreds of other things a girl can ask her would-be, why this thing tops across is a mystery difficult to resolve for me.

Some, those believing in traditional values, consider respect for elderly a default position. Others, those product of modern individualists thoughts, consider that respect has to be earned and age alone is not worthy of respect. I am somewhat in middle of these two extremes. I respect elders by default until they un-earn it. I start with respect due to age but it has to continuously earned and maintained with actions, words, gestures and thoughts for me to continue to hold it. Any act of un-earning will result in loss of respect despite the age superiority. Same things holds for me with respect to respect due to position. What is your take?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Should wife take husband's last name?

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A question very pertinent yet so much debated that it may not be worth my while to write much here. Here is one and another. There are pros and cons. There is individualism and there is collectivism. Evolutionary biology suggests one way while sense of fairness suggests something else. For some it’s deal breaker, for others it’s mere practice to be followed at will. He might think that her question itself insults relationship. She might think that his expectation does the same. There is convenience of accepted norm or there is pride of carving out your own path. For some, it’s simply matter of showing love, while for others showing love itself like this is questionable.

Questions like this while getting debated in public forum don’t yield much result since they are for couple to decide between themselves. However, such debate can have effect of influencing social change. What do I think personally?

I will want my wife to want to change her last name to mine though I don't necessarily want her to change her last name to mine. Love is collection of such unstated wishes which are inherently contradictory.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Looking for a blogger who is…

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Blogs are the windows to the world of people of the world. Despite how many persons you have met, each new one has an amazing story to tell. Each new one is unique character. Each has something to teach you. Yet, not many know the way to tell this story and hence most blogs become uninteresting. Blogs have opened my world to people I could never have dreamt of knowing thoughts of: celebrities, scientists, journalists, politicians, expatriates and students of various backgrounds and interest. More importantly though, blogs have introduced me to minds of as unreachable people as a porn store clerk, a call girl, a barista, a teacher and a custom officer. Yet, there is no doubt that blogosphere doesn’t represent all the variety in the world and is overwhelmed by software engineers and students. Sometime I wish I could read what goes on in mind of…

  • A postman
  • A soldier
  • A policeman
  • A bus conductor
  • A retail shopkeeper
  • A chef
  • A traffic constable
  • An airhostess
  • A pilot
  • A sailor
  • A PSU clerk
  • A train driver

List could be endless because idea is to peek in minds of people of interesting and varying occupation. I would like to know about their feelings, their world and their opinion of their interaction with others. Do you know any blogger who has uncommon profession and interesting blog?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The magic card

He said that he has a magic card. Well, not exactly in the same words but he said that he has a card that will help him not pay toll charges on various toll booths along the road. I didn’t find anything surprising here, thinking that perhaps he has some sort of annual pass. I didn’t think of it much except that perhaps it will save me some money on the way.

It was a pleasant night. A slightly cool, clear October night when I was being driven from Indore to Bhopal for my Diwali break. I would have flown directly to Bhopal were not for the fact that direct flights were all booked due to seasonal rush. Reclining on passenger chair with cool wind rustling in hair and looking at stars made the additional time worth its while.

At first toll booth he flashed his card and was let go for free. At second, same thing happened. I was alone with my driver so I started chatting. I asked if this is annual pass, where did he get his made and how much it cost him. Answer was what made it a magic card. It was, to my surprise, a Shiv Sena membership card.

He explained that it’s an expired membership card but he had hoped that toll operators will not read closely and that he turned out right. They didn’t and let him go for free because he was member of Shiv Sena. Now, if you know India, and particularly if you know Shiv Sena, you wouldn’t ask why. Shiv Sena being allied to dominant and ruling BJP government in Madhya Pradesh is a strong party. Strong more so in its muscle power than in its electoral power, I’d guess. On further probing, he proclaimed that toll operators don’t dare charge him because otherwise his co-members will come next day for vandalism, dharna, protests, road-blocks and what not. He declared that he himself has served party by providing his services such as renting out car for free, feeding party workers for days or joining their protest rallies. And then — it dawned on me.

I had always wondered why do low-rung party workers do all this for a party where their chance of career growth are very limited. They will waste their time, money and resources to join protest marches and rallies; break or burn public property; fight with public and police; and beat innocent bystanders. It’s not uncommon to read such news in media. Once a party workers’ car was towed for wrong parking in Ajmer. It’s a small enough and valid crime which could have been resolved by shelling out about 500 rupees. But of course. Next day whole army of party workers went on rampage in police station. This not only ensured that concerned person saved his 500 rupees but also that no more will police dare to tow off cars of any other party member. Why will people do that was the question I asked. And answer is clear.

More than political aspirations or benefits of party loyalty, such parties are cabal of goons who stick together for mutual benefit. Threat of vandalism and violence, which they exhibit and maintain with group efforts, helps all of them in their daily life. Like getting a telephone repaired faster, avoiding paying penalty on electricity bill, priority treatment at local hospital, getting out of clutches of law, or like in this case, not having to pay toll charges are but some benefits such cabal demands and enjoys.

In India, if you kill a person, you are a murderer and will be charged for the same. If a group kills a person, it’s a riot and everybody walks free. That, in my opinion, is logical reason for such hooliganism. See also: Bludgeoned to death
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