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Month: July, 2012

HOW SAFE ARE WOMEN IN MUMBAI?

 

Breaking the Myth.  Facing the Reality.

“No way!” yelled my father when I tried to persuade him to let me fill out the forms for admission into Delhi University. “Don’t you know how unsafe the city is?” added my mother who was as furious as father. It was after my standard 12 results that I was keen on pursuing Bachelor of Arts in the prestigious Lady Shreeram College in Delhi. I finally enrolled myself in Sophia college, Mumbai, much to the joy of my parents, who, like many, unequivocally believe in the myth of Mumbai being highly safe for women.

After the unfortunate incident that occurred in Andheri, where Young Keenan and Reuben were brutally assaulted on the streets for raising their voice against the lewd remarks that were being passed on the women friends in their group, the city was shaken to the core. Mumbaikars woke up to the fact that it is not only the woman who is unsafe on the streets of Mumbai, but also the man who dares to intervene when the woman is being harassed sexually. But the sad aspect is that the aforementioned incident could have been averted had people and the police been a little more aware of the falling standards of safety in the city.

Miss Kaschit Mishra, a clinical psychologist, recalls one such incident. “I had just got off at Kurla station and was heading towards the bridge. The CST bound train on the harbour line arrived and the commuters walked up the bridge while an equally heavy crowd, including me, were walking down the stairs. The man behind me was practically clinging on to my body trying to feel me up. As I turned around and yelled at him, another man groped me from the left side. I held his arm and twisted it. All I wanted was to drag both the miscreants to the RPF station. But they managed to disappear in the crowd.”

A student at Sophia College remembers how a man tried to rub against her on a crowded BEST bus. “It is a lot safer in trains where at least you have the ladies compartment. But on a bus, it becomes very easy for men to harass you. I yelled at him and so did the other women on the bus. He eventually got off,” she said.

Though Mumbai, as opposed to Delhi, is better in terms of gathering support from bystanders during incidents of sexual harassment, this does not always hold true. In 2007, a woman was practically stripped and raped in full public view in the middle of a huge crowd that gathered at the Gateway of India to celebrate New Year. The Hindustan times- Akshara Survey conducted by Cfore Market Research Company, reports that out of 4,255 women, 99 per cent feel unsafe on the roads of Mumbai. According to government statistics, as reported by NDTV India, Mumbai alone recorded a whopping number of 194 rape cases in the year 2010. The figure is just a number, which in reality is way lower than the actual cases of rape and sexual assault that happen. The Indian Penal Code states that only penile penetration qualifies as rape, and not the other forms of penetration, which results in the sweeping away of many brutal sexual assaults in the name of “Outraging Modesty”.

Newspapers carry incidents of rising sexual harassment on an everyday basis. Hindustan Times had  dedicated two pages on this particular issue for the month of July and even goes out of its way to interview the police, college students, both male and female, professionals from different fields, women who have been sexually assaulted in the past. It is important for women to know about their rights when it comes to incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment. It is important for people to gather and protest against miscreants who have turned the once safe Mumbai into a city as unsafe as Delhi. Laws must be more severe. Instances of stalking that are on a rise must not be taken casually. CCTVs must be set up in buses, trains and public spaces. Besides the helpline 103, that is available across the state of Maharashtra, more and more police squads must be formed to look into the gravity of the situation. The Indian Penal Code requires changes and additions that can empower both men and women. Also, the language in the various sections needs to be less ambiguous and more lucid.

It is important to turn the myth of a safe Mumbai into reality. Women must not feel that they have got no choice but to keep quiet. The issue of Sexual harassment in educational institutes, workplaces and public spaces must be addressed with equal seriousness as Terror attacks and blasts.

NEEL KAMAL MISHRA

TYBMM JOURNALISM

SOPHIA COLLEGE FOR WOMEN

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MUMBAI & TERROR: How prepared are we?

MUMBAI AND TERROR

Despite the several attacks on Mumbai in the past one decade, there are people who still haven’t realised the importance of security.

The Mumbai police recently carried out a test activity at the Chembur plant of Rashtriya Chemichals and Fertilizers(RCF) limited and the Tata power unit. The results were disappointing. It was an operation conducted to gauge the preparedness of the plants for a terror attack.

Two months ago the police informed both the units of an imminent sabotage or terror attempt.  This was done since RCF is a huge plant that produces hazardous chemicals and gases. If any intentional damage is done to the installation, then the gases released in air would cause mass destruction. Tata power which supplies electricity to Mumbai, can cause power cut if damaged.

The police successfully sent two decoys to the installations and there was absolutely no hurdle met by the two. They planted the dummy explosives successfully. Once they were in, the police informed the security system at the plants about the decoys.

The Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers plant is built inside the 800 acre campus in Chembur and the Indian railways run trains over there that carry the chemicals from the plant and distribute them. As was found, the installation never checked the contents of the bogies.  This is the callous attitude of the companies towards their own plants and more importantly their people.  Both the companies aggressively denied any occurrence of such an operation.  Tata power went on to say that they were absolutely prepared for such situation and were now planning to hold meeting with the police on upgrading their security measures.

It  is saddening to see this attitude of mumbaikars towards their fellow mumbaikars even after the train blasts, opera house blasts and the 26/11 carnage. The installations were informed two months in advance about the potential sabotage attempts but no measures were taken.

The attitude of the police and the government itself has been pathetic towards Mumbai. The intelligence department somehow is always in the dark about these incidents. It succeeds in nabbing the terrorist most of the times. The emphasis is placed on “catching the culprit” rather than “preventing the event”. Even today when I travel on local trains I do not see CCTV cameras anywhere on the station. There is no mandatory rule enforced on people to walk through detectors. One of the train blasts happened because a pressure cooker containing explosives was placed in the train. The person just put it and left. Had that pressure cooker been detected there would have been no blasts, those innocent people would have continued with their lives and the culprit would have been caught red handed. The arrest would have led to bust of further links to terror outfits. A major achievement.

 

But this is not how the government thinks, it keeps on waiting and waiting for the next blast, to give masala and television rating points to the 24/7 news channels. This phenomenon will change, when the attitude will change.

The Pious ‘Stringer’ – A Rustic Musician on the streets of Mumbai

Ram Ghorpe and his most prized possession – the veena.

In a sea of Mumbai’s multitudinous humanity, it becomes difficult to look upon one among thousands with any great degree of interest. Individuals, however peculiar in form, are all one or all nothing, depending purely on perspective when observing a horde. But on occasion, every once in a while, you see a sight that draws you in. It need not be something startling or wondrous. Yet, its distinct incongruity emerges from the crowd and perks your curiosity.

Not long ago, a fascinating sight caught my gaze. He was an old man, dressed in saffron. It was a colour of religious devotion but not quite that shade of dark orange. He carried with him a two-stringed veena, which seemed to be his sole possession. His chosen spot of rest was the signal next to the Bombay High Court. It was to be a busy day for me but I halted in my steps. I wanted to know more about this man. I wanted to know his story.

He rose to his spindly legs, walking into a lane. I followed and watched as he helped himself to a glass of cutting chai. He seemed amiable and kind. Essentially, approachable. I smiled at him. He regarded him with a curious glance. I broached my questions cautiously, only later introducing myself as a media student. Something about the word ‘media’ (note how far-reaching are its connotations) caused him to believe that I was a journalist. An impromptu photo-op convinced him that he was going to appear in a local newspaper. This was a declaration he began to make to every passerby that walked past. I did not have the heart to burst the proverbial bubble of his joy. Deeply flattered that he was, Ram Ghorpe (as was his name), spoke a little about himself.

He hails from Pune. Or somewhere from around there (he seemed unsure and merely gave a head-shaking grunt on being asked again). “Travelling musicians like him are called ‘varkaris’,” a female cowherd helpfully offered. She was seated nearby (and is also present in the background of the picture above), interpreting the musician’s yokel dialect for me.

“Where did you get your veena from?” I asked.

Ghorpe said something in reply which sounded like “Pandharpur”. An enquiring look at the cowherd confirmed what I had heard. Pandharpur is a small pilgrimage town located in the Solapur district of Maharashtra. The Vithoba temple attracts countless devotees during the Pandharpur yatra during spring. I am aware of this, as my house help is unwavering in her devotion and her annual visit to the holy spot.

Ghorpe has no family, explained the girl, and therefore travels freely through villages. He sings bhajans and kirtans (religious songs) as he wanders. “Money is not important for me,” he said. The cowherd elaborated further on his drifting. “He says he sings devotional songs for any religion. Devotion matters to him, not God.”

“That is a very big thing to say,” I smiled.

I am not sure if he knew that there was more where my admiration came from.

“I taught myself to play the veena,” he said with pride.

“Are you trained in singing bhajans?” I persisted.

“No!” he exclaimed, more proudly still. “I sing anyway I fancy! I sing anything!”

On my insistence, he sang a few strains on his veena. The notes were discordant at the edges. I believed his claims of self-tutoring. His scraggly hands strung the veena as his untrained voice made by-standers out of passersby. Some handed him loose change. I gave him a fifty-rupee note for questions answered and services rendered.

Before I turned away, he proudly displayed the ‘tulsi mala’ he wore around his neck. It was made of seeds from the tulsi plant, a mark of religious belief. I thanked for his patience and left to catch the Virar Fast home. And all the while, I could not help but marvel over the rustic musician’s belief. An untrained villager survived on the basis of an unacquired skill, a two-stringed veena and a single octave voice.

He lived on the pennies of his listeners and the mercy of the One above. Either way, the Lord Almighty works in strange ways, with stranger people as his conduit. And some, like Ghorpe, were a living example of faith and devotion.

NIHARIKA PURI
TYBMM JOURNALISM
SOPHIA COLLEGE FOR WOMEN

Public Transport: BEST Buses

BEST Undertaking Logo

Bright red coloured, big wheels and sometimes many posters, that’s what comes to my mind first when I think  about BEST bus. The parent company of these buses is Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST Undertaking). It is another public transport other than Mumbai’s “lifeline” local trains while covers entire city. It also caters to people living in Thane, and Navi Mumbai. Two other municipalities have their own public service named Thane Municipal Transport (TMT) and Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT). Initially, BEST Undertaking has started as an electric supply company which later extended in transport, starting Bus and Tram services. In 1964 BEST’s tram services came to an end.

Origin of BEST buses:

Idea of public transport was first given by an American company in 1865 but due to low economy in the city at that time the project never got a start.

Then in 1873, the Bombay Tramway Company Limited was given the licence to operate trams in the city. Later, in 1905, the Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company Limited (B.E.S. & T Co. Ltd) bought the company. It introduced first electrically operated trams in May 1907 in Mumbai.

In addition to tram service, Mumbai Municipality decided to introduce either trolley buses or motor buses in 1913. In February 1926, the B.E.S. &T Company decided to introduce three routes on experimental basis which received a great interest by public. By 1927 B.E.S.T. Company had a fleet of 49 buses. Double-decker buses were introduced to cope up with the traffic in 1937. The first Limited bus service in Mumbai, started running in 1940 between Colaba and Mahim. BEST has started Air-Conditioned bus service too. On August 18, 2005, BEST introduced the first disabled-friendly buses (five buses with special wheel chair-accessible low floors).

The B.E.S. &T. Company Ltd was taken over by Municipal Corporation in August 1947 and its named was changed to Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking. In 1995, it was again changed to Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (B.E.S. &T Undertaking). 

Interesting facts to know about BEST buses:

  • In 2011, the BEST runs a total of 4,680 buses,  carrying 4.8 million passengers over 365 routes, and has a workers strength of 38,000, which includes 22,000 bus drivers and conductors.
  • The single-deck bus can carry 36 passengers sitting and 22 passengers standing while the double-decker could take as many as 58 sitting.
  • BEST also operates a ferry service since 1981 in northern Mumbai, across the Manori Creek.
  • We know that there are Ordinary buses and then there are Limited buses. But very few know the difference between them. Limited buses skip minor stops and are used on Long routes. These buses provide connectivity beyond Mumbai city.
  • The BEST currently uses 1500+ environment friendly Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses and Diesel powered Single and Double decker buses.
  • Almost all buses have LCD TV’s per bus.
  • In February 2011, Mumbai’s first air-conditioned bus stand was inaugurated at Dadar which caters to over 14,000 passengers per day.
  • After three bomb blasts in and near buses (December 2002, July 2003 and July 2011) BEST has installed an audio-visual surveillance system on its buses to monitor suspicious behaviour. They also have awareness message in buses saying instead of watching outside the window, check for suspicious bag or a person.
  • BEST buses are operated out of the 25 bus depot located in four zones- City, Central, Western, Eastern suburban zones. These depots carry various maintenance practices for buses.
  • One of the most amazing facts which very few people know it that the BEST has their own Bus Museum. Yes, you read it write. Bus Museum. It is located at Anik Bus Depot in Wadala near IMAX theatre. The museum was set up in 1984 at BEST’s Kurla depot. Later, it was shifted to Anik depot in 1993. The museum shows the evolution of BEST. It has mini models of old BEST buses and ancient trams. Entry to the museum is free.

BEST has several options to pay fare-

  • Single journey ticket in which Conductor issue a paper ticket.
  • Daily pass which can be used for a whole in any Ordinary or Limited bus. Earlier the cost this pass was Rs. 15, which changed to Rs. 25/-. And within a short span it increased to Rs. 40/-, that too you should have a special Identity card provided by BEST.
  • Monthly and Quarterly distance-wise bus pass which is mostly used by school going kids.
  • Monthly and Quarterly unlimited bus passes. Their prices have also increased immensely.

It is said that if you are traveling in train at peak hours and you maintain your patience, your clothes are not torn and you safely reach your destination, you have won a war. Same concept applies on buses, including another factor of not harassed by people.

A regular bus commuter Swadesh Kumar Pathak says, “Even though most Mumbaikars prefer local trains to commute, buses also cater to a large group. They are bit time consuming due to heavy traffic in city and sometimes are roller-coaster rides, thanks to pot holes, but to a large extent comfortable rides.”

Since I am too is the regular bus commuter I totally agree with him. Bus ride is roller-coaster but memorable one. One should at least travel once for the lifetime experience.

Anusha Pathak,

TYBMM Journalism.

REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Be it Mumbai- India, U.S.A or the rest of the world; The Dark Knight Rises has beaten records all across the world, beating Avatar and the Avengers.


July 30, 1970- the day a legendary director was born. With movies like “Inception”, “Prestige”, “Insomnia”, and “Memento”; comes yet another masterpiece- “The Dark Knight Rises,” directed by Christopher Nolan; and is THE epic conclusion to his Batman trilogy! It has very well been able to live up to all the hype and expectations created before its release. The level to which the film has been able to grasp the attention and imagination of the public is incredible. The most awesome part of this entire trilogy is that the portrayal of batman is believable and relatable, as Bruce Wayne/Batman himself says, – “Batman is just a symbol, it can be anyone”; a true hero for our times and representative of the world we recognize around us.
I have watched every superhero movie ever, but TDK is a league above, it is a movie that focuses on superhero as a person, not as a superhero with superhuman powers. It talks about how a superhero is just like us, scared and desperate for someone to love.

The movie shows the ever-lasting loyalty and love between Alfred Pennyworth and a crippled, withdrawn Bruce Wayne, who has been living like a recluse in Wayne Manor since he gave up the Bat cape eight years earlier; when he took the fall for Harvey Dent’s murder.
“You’re not living,” Pennyworth says, emotionally. “You’re just waiting for something bad to happen.”

And something bad happens, indeed. Bane (Tom Hardy) who is said to be born and raised in hell and excommunicated from the League of Shadows has come to disrupt the peaceful Gotham city to lead his own devious, evil revolution against the city’s wealthy and powerful along with his army of thugs and mercenaries. Just when you miss the presence of the Joker, comes the Bane character, who is unique in itself as he is what our worst fears about terrorism embodied in a single man, comes alive.

“The Dark Knight Rises” finds Batman racing against time to stop the Darth Vader-like (except the heavy breathing part) super-terrorist Bane, his face mostly obscured by a metallic vent; from detonating a nuclear bomb set to destroy Gotham City. Indulging in any more details of the movie might be a spoiler as it is packed with mysterious twists and turns, which makes one go like–“OMG!!”

While there is no performance quite as legendary and enticing as the late Heath Ledger’s as the Joker in “The Dark Knight,” the cast’s work is sterling, from the big roles to the smallest.
Christian Bale as usual, as the Batman is even better here, adding nuance and shading that was absent before. “Dark Knight” veterans Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) and Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth) are impressive in their performances.

Anne Hathway as Selina Kyle, the ‘Cat Woman’ offers the biggest surprise of a performance as she fully inhabits the character of a master thief who is on the on-look for a device which can erase every record of her crime life from every database in the world. She virtually steals your breath away with her sarcastic wit, sultry allure and seductive looks; delivering both in dialogue delivery and action. In comparison, Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate (“Inception,” “Midnight in Paris”) provides just the right measure of allure, smarts and mystery as the wealthy philanthropist Miranda Tate. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a wonderful performance as young police officer John Blake, who plays a significant role in the film.

Have no doubts about it; “The Dark Knight Rises” is a spectacular show. The visuals are extraordinary. The action sequences are dazzling, especially so since Nolan relies on his old-fashioned stunt work. It will be hard to shake some of the images, whether it’s the stunning midair plane hijacking that opens the film, the way Batman’s bike turns; Batman flying through Gotham in his cool toys or Bane blowing up a stadium during an NFL game.

Nolan’s “Dark Knight Rises” from being a superb bit of work to a truly visionary filmmaker is a marvelous final installment of the Batman saga. Nolan’s storytelling is undeniably serious but never quite boring or sober. It is though, a pity that this was his last direction as he is just 42.
As a cop tells a younger partner when Batman first reappears after the stock exchange attack; “Boy, you’re in for a show tonight, son.” And, it indeed is quite a show.

One advice to the world: DO NOT MISS THIS EPIC CONCLUSION OF A MOVIE OF THE FRANCHISE. But do watch it at your own risk, as after this movie, no other superhero movie might be good enough to match up to the bar set up by this piece of legend.


— Sakshi Raina
TYBMM (Journo.)

RELIGION AND FAITH

RELIGION AND FAITH

Ganesh Chaturthi

People of different religion and faith live in Mumbai.  And so there are different festivals that are celebrated. And every festival is of paramount importance. Every festival brings happiness and people await for festivals. It is a time when people forget all their misunderstandings and problems and greet each other to start a new beginning. Among those, one festival is the Ganeshotsav festival. It is a festival of  the Hindus. But in Maharashtra not only Hindus, but people from other religions participate in the celebration like Muslims, Jains, Christian and others.

I remember those days when my grandmother used to take me along with her to see the colourful statues of lord Ganesha and how we used to join are neighbours and friends to help them celebrate their festival. The festival was celebrated with  great respect and the devotees believed that all their prayers and petitions would be answered.

The devotees strongly believed that  lord Ganesha who is also called Vinayagar is the son of Shiva and Parvati. This festival was celebrated with the believe that Ganesha bestows his presence on earth. They believe that he is a  the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. The Ganesha models were made of Plaster of Paris two to three months before the festival. The size of the statue varied from household to household. The statues were colourfully decorated by the devotees themselves.

People had pandals outside their houses. They decorated their pandals and placed the staue of Ganesha there. The pandals were specially decorated during the festival by using garlands, lights etc. with the theme that depicted religious themes.  Devotees worshiped lord Ganesha for 10 days. And on the 11th day the statue was taken in a procession by the devotees singing, dancing and chanting to immerse it in the sea or river.  The devotees believe that  lord Ganesha in his journey takes away with him their misfortunes. Some  devotees immersed him on the third , fifth or the seventh day as per  their family tradition. The devotees  with a lot of  faith joined the final procession shouting “Ganapati Bappa Morya, Pudhachya Varshi Laukar ya and “Ganesh Maha Raj ki, Jai”. They also prepared sweets for the festivals called modak and distributed among their friends and relatives.

Unfortunately, things are not the same as I used to see before. Last year during the Ganesha festival, the society opposite my house had brought the staute of  lord Ganesha. On the final day when they had to take the idol for immersion, the boys and girls in the procession were playing songs like Munni Badnam Hui, Jalebi Bai, Sheila Ki Jawani and all other item songs. I was very surprised and upset. On hearing this, I recalled those days when I used to go along with my grandmother. And I said to myself, “ things have changed!”.

I believe that it is highly disrespectful. This tells us that the celebration of  festivals has been changed over time. People are celebrating festivals from the point of enjoyment rather than the spiritual point of view. We must enjoy our festivals but we should not forget the real meaning of it. We should realise that festivals are not only meant for enjoyment but they also have some religious sentiments attached to them.

 NAKITA VADASSERY

TYBMM

Gaadi bula rahi hai…. Seeti bajja rahi hai…

What exactly is the “life” of Mumbai Lifeline…

By Niyati Agrawal

“Platform kramank 2 par aane waali gaadi nau baj kar ekyawan minute ki churchgate ke liye dheemi local hai. Yeh gaadi sabhi stationo par rukegi.”

Most of the Mumbai population starts their day with a very similar announcement. Local trains are called the “lifeline” of this city. However they are in news for all the wrong reasons. Every day we hear this lifeline turning to a death trap, be it the bomb blast or train collisions or people falling off the compartment. For someone who does not travel in the trains would think that it is only a lifeless mode of transport. However for us who travel in the trains, it really is life. It  just doesn’t takes us to and fro our destination it is a part of our lives.

One thing that we look forward to in the trains is train shopping. Yes, you heard it right. Trains are more fashion forward than our showrooms. You get all the latest trends in fashion including accessories, bags, cosmetics and sometimes even clothes. The hawkers sometimes have fixed timings and trains that they go to. These hawkers now know the regular travellers and customers. They take orders from their customers and exchange the good if there is any problem. They have a relation of trust and no one is ever cheated for sure.

Other than clothes pirated copies of books are also sold. This is generally done by young school going children who sell them after or before their school timings. These kids know how to read and very fluently pronounce the names of the books with authors. They are trained enough that they sometime can tell you what the book is about. They are very adorable and keep persuading you by telling that buy the book; it is a very good one; it is an international author! Anything with an international name becomes the bestseller book for them.

One day I was very fascinated on seeing household items being sold. You get everything from scissors to mops to threads and buttons to kitchen lighters and sieves. During the peak hours one even finds food vendors and people selling water and cold drinks in the train. It sure is very refreshing to find such things being sold to you while travelling. These goods are cheap and affordable. Second class ladies compartment also has fish and vegetables being sold. They sure are a treat for working ladies who otherwise would have to go out and buy the home necessities.

Apart from the shopping and train friends you also have bhanjan madalis. It is very normal to find a train pass you by and you hear bhajans being sung in the general compartments. They are equipped with manjiras, dholaks and bells. Everyone joins them in for a little religious treat in the mornings.

Trains have become a great hangout place to catch up with friends you haven’t met in a while. Sometimes you meet them by chance or sometimes you decide which train to take. It sure becomes very noisy in the trains when too long lost female friends meet up. But hey, no complaining. It is always good to see such small incidents which light up someone’s day. Who knows one day even you will meet up with your friend.

You get to read others newspapers in the train. The person sitting opposite you is reading the first page, you read the last page. It is your benefit in the end. You hear the most comic conversations and learn about new developments in serials or movies or even about new songs. Sometimes you learn about things related to academics. You even find people crying in the train. Just offer them water or chocolate and see them smile. They just need a friend and train gives them that. You may even faint in the train without a worry. People will make you lie down, call your family, give you necessary medical assistance and if you are lucky you might even get a Reiki treatment.

With these good times one also encounters the most annoying people in the train and cat fights. They are funny and good till you are not involved. Once you are dragged into them then we know who is going home or to work with a very grumpy mood. These fights are senseless most of the time but fun nonetheless.

Trains are definitely a huge part of a Mumbaite’s life. They have made you late, they have made you reach on time. They have given you quiet compartments in the mornings and catch up on your lost sleep and even given you enough company to be able to travel safe even at 10 in the night. You may have been pushed out of a Virar train or pushed in during the rush hours. You have stepped out of the trains with bruises and wounds. You can crib all you like about trains and curse them but the next day you are again travelling in them.

It is like “you can love them, you can hate them but you can never ignore them.” You have got to travel in the train at least once to experience it because it is not something you get by reading. It is enjoyed first hand.

Religion, Faith, God and Country

Mera watan wohi hai, merawatan wohi hai 

Chishti ne jis zamin me paigam-I-haq sunaya
Nanak ne jis chaman me Wahdat ka git gaya
Tatarion ne jisko apna watan banaya
Jis ne hijazion se dasht-e-Arab chhuRaya,
Mera watan wohi hai, mera watan wohi hai.

Yunanion ko jis ne hairan kar diya tha,
Sare jahan ko jis ne ilm-o-hunar diya tha
Mitti ko jiski haq ne zar ka asar diya tha
TurkoN ka jisne daman heeron se bhar diya tha
Mera watan wohi hai, mera watan wohi hai.

Toote thay jo sitary, faris k aasmaaN se
phir taab de ke ji ne,chamkaye kehakshaaN se
Wahdat ki lay suni thee duniya ne jis makaaN se
meeer E Arab ko aai Thandi hawa jahan say
mera Watan wohi hai mera WataN woh hai.

bande kaleem jis kai, parwat jahan ki sena
nuhai nabi ka aa kar, tahra jahan safeena
rafat hai jis zameen ki, bamey falak tha zeena
jannat ki zindagi hai,jis ki fiza mei jeena

mera watan wohi hai, mera watan wohi hai
Mohummad Iqbal

“Religion, Faith and God”, these are the most commonly used term when it comes to country like India. Constitution of our country clearly mentions in its fundamental rights, the right to freedom of religion. History of India states that it never had a constant rule of any religion in the past and therefore it has been the hub of multiple religions with numerous believes (faith).  Political system here in India is characterized by religion. It means the foundation of politics in India is based on religion. The point that I want to raise here is that these two words are often looked upon from a wrong angle because of great similarities in their meanings but in terms of concepts and connotations, they are very different.

One can have faith in anything that he or she wants and religion is the way by which one demonstrates their faith. One can understand faith in terms of hope. Belief is something on which faith is built on. Religion can be culturally biased. It inculcates character, morality etc. The core aspect of all this is that when faith reaches at its peak point, it culminates in religion.

Partition of India, Rath Yatra, Babri Masjid, Gujrat Roits are some of the events which has led to great disturbance in the nation and are all based on religion. Like this there are numerous events far older than all of these that are based on religion and the faith it consists in it. The only factor that has led to violence is the manipulation of these faiths by politicians. India as a country is very political, which means everyone in this country has some political point of view. One can now understand why is it is so, just because it has its root engraved in, religion and faith related to it.

Mumbai is the commercial capital of India and this makes Mumbai a city of diversity. In addition, one can see how religion and lifestyle becomes a free liberal spirit in Mumbai. In this metropolitan city, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity are the religions observed over here.  It is the only city in the entire country, which has such miscellany.

One can see the example of this diversity at St Thomas Cathedral, St Michael’s Church, Siddhivinayak Temple, Mount Mary Church, Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbadevi Temple, Mahalaxmi Temple, ISKCON Temple. At all these places people of all religions pay homage because they have faith in it.

Another interesting place where you see the impact of religious faith is the colleges of Mumbai. Like in Sophia’s, you can see a large amount of students coming from Christian and Muslim community. Here you have a club for Christian students. Jai Hindi and HR College are known for giving preference to Sindi and Punjabi students. Likewise Thakur is known for Hindi speaking students, Mithibai, NM College for Gujrati students, Sathay and Vartak College for Marathi students, Dalmia and DG Saraf for Marvari students. Here faith plays very important role, because as you can see that here many all these biases are based on faith despite being from same religion.

However, one cannot miss the other aspect of it. In this city of dreams, there are hospitals based on religions, major impact of above-mentioned events have been seen Mumbai. So where  does the faith of unity in diversity goes? Where the fear of that God goes, about whom we are taught to be afraid of because that infinite structure will punish us for our sins?

Mohummad Iqbal, the poet of the above mentioned poem and ‘Saare Jaha Se Achha’, who had so much of faith in his country once upon a time, was also driven by the manipulation of his faith in religion and asked for what we now call as Pakistan.

For centuries now, all our faith is connected or related to religion and that’s why we are not able to see the difference between the two. The ultimate faith of all the religion is the same that there is a supernatural power which protects us from evils and one will be punished for their sins. It doesn’t discriminate between individuals and if anyone says that it does then that is his or her manipulation. The biological system of human beings is the same for all individuals, only the physicality differs which is entirely dependent on culture and climatic factors of the place from where the person comes. Faith is broader concept but it really gets narrow or we can say that we narrow it down when it comes to religion.

Unnati Maharudra

TYBMM

 

Death of Religion and Community during Festival

Ganesha Chaturthi

Festivals are primarily religious in nature and significant. They bring joy and happiness in one’s life and it is the time when families reunite and celebrate. Like every year, last year Ganesha Chaturthi festival was celebrated. It is a Hindu festival of God Ganesha. Ganesha is widely worshiped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture.

During the time of Ganesha Chaturthi, people are excited to celebrate this festival and they bring Ganesha idols at their places. Lord Ganesha is worshiped for 10 days and on the 11th day the statue of Lord Ganesha is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing and singing and, is immersed in a river or the sea which is called Ganesha Viserjan.

Since a long time, I have been noticing that as time is passing, the meaning of religious festivals is changing. For instance, during Ganesha Chaturthi festival, Eco friendly Ganesha idols are made. Secondly, the kinds of songs that are played during the festival are not religious songs or prayers but they are item songs like Sheila Ki Jawani, Munni Badanam Hui and so on. According to me, the change that is taking place is for worst because item songs, eco-friendly idols, water pollution, noise pollution and traffic jam are increasing.

For the first time, when I heard item songs being played during Ganesha Viserjan, I was astonished. For days, I kept wondering why people play such kinds of songs during festivals. According to me, festivals carry certain meanings, beliefs with it. It is an insult towards a particular religion and a community when item songs are being played. Such act seizes the religion and community factors.

To figure out why people play such songs during festival, I asked my friend, Sumit Roy, who celebrates this festival every year. I asked, “What the reason is behind playing item songs during festivals?” He said, “Humara Josh Badhane Ke Liye Hum Aise Gane Bajate Hain. Agar Aarti ya Purane Gane Baajaye To Humme Josh Nahi Rahega Aur Itne Purane Gaane Bhi Kaha Hain Joh Hum Is Festival Mein Baja Sake” His this statement blew me off. If people think like this there’s nothing that can prevent the death of religion and community during festivals.

When I argued on his statement, he seemed to be so rigid and was not ready to accept the fact that it’s not correct to play such songs during festivals. I felt as if I was banging my head against the wall.

After having a word with him, I kept thinking that why do people need “JOSH” for celebrating a particular festival? Aren’t they already excited to celebrate their festival? I think, they can play subtle songs during Ganesha Viserjan and can happily immerse Lord Ganesha in the river or sea.

The whole meaning of celebrating festival is gradually changing. People are celebrating festivals only for their pleasure. There are no religious sentiments attached to it. In olden days, Ganesha Chaturthi festival was celebrated in large groups of hundreds (like a joint family). Now-a-days, it is just the opposite. Every family brings Ganesha idol at home and they celebrate it in the way they want too (like a nuclear family). In my opinion, this leads to the loss of social gathering between families.

During the time of Viserjan, on the roads, every 0.5 km, I notice many small families carrying Ganesha idol with them and dancing on their own tunes. This creates road blocks, noise pollution and traffic jam for other people who live there.

To avoid the death of religion and community during festivals, I think, a particular society should get one Ganesha idol in their society and all the members of the society should celebrate the festival together. Like this, they won’t be harming the environment by viserjing thousand’s of Ganesha idols and the idea of celebrating it to together (belonging to one community) will remain constant.

I personally feel that Individuals must realize the importance of celebrating festivals together and they must follow the old tradition of celebrating the festival (prayers or religious songs, like a joint family).

T.Y.B.M.M.- Ruchi Nandu

Among Other Things.

-Niharika Pandit

Quite recently, a Muslim friend of mine had invited me over for Iftar. The idea of what it is to be like in a non-Hindu home amused me. I readily accepted her invitation.

Like other kids, I had formed images of Muslims as being the ‘other’ and different from us. Thanks to the media and our course books which constantly tag Muslims differently, by the process of ‘othering’. And pathetically generalising it to all. But I hadn’t known the irony of these statements until I grew up and began to think for myself.

Back in school days, I did have Muslim friends but my affinity towards them had remained limited to everyday salutations only. And here was the opportunity to explore the unknown, disregard the stereotypes. And my friend Aamina welcomed me aboard. I seized the opportunity.

Aamina was based in Mazgaon, a Muslim-dominated area. As I entered her 2-BHK apartment, the place seemed comforting; all women in her house were busy cooking delicacies in the kitchen while her father and brothers just returned from the mosque.

As per the ritual Tarabi during Ramadan,all men go to the mosque and recite the Quran along with the maulvi while women pray in their houses.

Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان‎) is the most auspicious and pious month in Islam. The word derives its meaning from the Arabic root ‘ramida’ or ‘ar-ramad’ which literally means scorching heat.

Chapter 2, Revelation 185 of the Quran states:

The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.

Iftar party

And Iftar is a tradition followed in the month of Ramadan as a sign of breaking fast post-sunset.

With food ready to be served, all of us sat around the dining table. The family prayed in silence, thanking the lord for all that he had bestowed on them. I sat their questioning its presence, God’s presence. Soon followed the family bonding. Yes, Iftar was not an everyday chore. It was an opportune moment where the entire family would sit together, talk, discuss and deliberate over issues. Something I had constantly missed in these nineteen years of my life.

Dinner timings at our place had never been fixed. My father often came home late from work; my brother and I would be done with dinner till then. And we never had the opportunity to eat together; a family bonding in form of a ritual. It was rare.

But here I was, with strangers in a strange land who asked me how my day was. The sheer sense of belonging to someone was something I dearly cherished after staying in hostel for three years. I was very much a part of their family. Aamina’s family.

So many things remain unobserved, I pondered as I stepped into the hostel. The next thing was to talk to my fellow Muslim hostellers.  A friend of mine Askeya told me “Ramadan is not only limited to fasting. It is a fair lesson for us to be humane and patient. If you speak ill about anyone, the purpose of the fast is dissolved.”

Until now, I had never observed that my fellow Muslim hostellers had their Iftar together; they cooked, they prayed, they ate.

Another friend, Samreen Salehjee said “The month of Ramzan is to cherish and feel privileged with what we have. Every family, depending on their income has to spend an amount for charity; Zakat, to an impoverished individual. That helps us become responsible people.”

This was the opportunity to know them, their rituals and to know individuals. Something I couldn’t let go of. Hence, I joined them for the next Iftar and all those which followed.