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Showing posts from 2016
(Patna) “We have been working in this plant nursery for last four years.”
(New Delhi) “I am a kathak dancer and it is more than a hobby for me. I started my training from Class 3 in school but took a break after some years for board exams and college studies. When some of the regular jobs didn’t work out for me, I thought it was a good time to start my kathak training again. I enjoy giving stage performances. I still get stage fright but I just love it.”
(New Delhi) “I got married in 2004 and for the next four years, I faced physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. I don’t want to talk about the abuses because later all the bad memories rush back and I feel very disturbed. I was still trying to compromise and trying to lead a normal life but after one particular incident, I felt enough was enough and that I couldn’t continue any longer. I moved to Delhi with my one and a half years old son and then I filed a domestic violence case through an NGO and got a job at another women’s rights organisation.
But the case went on for 4-5 years with no end in sight, and it was increasingly becoming difficult to take leave from my office to attend court dates. After I filed my case, the court ordered my case to be transfered and during this process my court file was lost. The court clerks took around 7-8 months to locate my file and put before the judge. The case kept getting prolonged for years for various reasons. There seemed to be no relief and o…
(Patna) “I am a teacher and have been teaching for the last 33 years. I always tell my students that their parents are working hard to build their future, and so they should work hard too. If they understand their parents feelings, only then they will progress in life.When students come back to meet me, it feels good. I remember once I wanted to visit a temple but it was very crowded and I couldn’t go inside. Then I saw a girl in a police uniform walk up to me, and said let me take you inside. She was a former student. 

I have eight sisters. As kids we used to study together and help each other out. Someone was good at Science while someone else in Maths. Now, one sister is a lecturer, another is a home maker, one is a doctor, and five of us are teachers. We were in a joint family. I feel joint family is a good practice and that’s how I was able to do my job as there was always someone in the family to look after my child.”
(Nepura, Bihar) “She is my daughter. She doesn’t go to school because the school asks for Rs. 500 per month. How are we going to manage that much money? We hardly earn Rs. 200 per month. Rice is Rs. 25 per kg, potatoes are for Rs. 12 per kg, goitha is for Rs. 20.”
(Nepura) “I am making thread out of cocoon. I have been working for several years and people often come and take my picture. Sometimes people buy the cloth that we make here. This thread is used to make tassar silk.”
This is in context of the JNU incident of February to March 2016 where sedition charges were levied against the students of JNU:
(New Delhi) “Look at current situation in the country. We are a country of over 100 crores; we have more than 22 languages, people come from different kinds of background. We have every religion in the world in this country. Everybody dresses differently. In a country like this when somebody dissents from what the state thinks, you can’t call that person anti-national. I have a right to dissent; that’s the basis of democracy. The minute I say something that you do not like, you can criticize me, but you cannot imprison me, and you can’t call me anti-national.  Are you saying that there shouldn’t be any questioning in the Universities? That is the time to experiment and question all kinds of thoughts. We are living in a very troubled time. You can’t impose prohibition on a thought process or a way of living or on what you eat. It is not only disappointing but da…
(Nepura, Bihar) “We are sisters.”
(Nepura) “I go to school. I am in class one.”
(New Delhi) “I am someone who has grown up being discriminated against for my skin colour and weight. It is typically related to the fact that you are a girl; nobody asks men these questions. The criteria when judging a man is that he should be doing well for himself in his career. But for a girl, it is not enough. You have to be a lot of other things as well. 
It started with the family because a number of my relatives used to say, “Oh, you are so cute and you have beautiful features but you are dark” or “How can you be so nice looking and yet be dark.” As if someone dark-skinned can’t be nice looking. At a younger age even your friends can  also be insensitive. I have heard things like “Your mother and sister don’t even look like you; are you sure you are related to them?” or “How can they be so nice looking and how can you be so ugly”.
I was in a co-ed boarding school right from the beginning. You know how teenage boys are. They can get very mean. I was left out of a lot of activitie…
(Patna) “I retired as a teacher in 2010. I worked for 34 years, during which I taught Political Science to high school students. Initially, there were only four students - two in Arts and two in Science. When I retired, high school was a much bigger place.  
Both my parents were doctors. They were also freedom fighters in the Indian National Army led by Subhash Chandra Bose. I had studied in an orthodox convent school, which was like finishing schools. One time after I had gotten married, a school principal from one of the reputed convent schools in Patna mentioned to me that I would be a good teacher. I told her that my family was conservative, so I wouldn’t be allowed to work. She told me “don’t waste yourself, go and talk to your family”. I spoke to my husband and he said that there was no harm in trying and if I liked the job then I could continue teaching. Since he was so supportive, I went to teach in that school the very next day, and I stayed on for the next 34 years. 
Teaching …
(New Delhi) “I am studying in Class 10. I am not too worried about my school exams. In the future, I want to do something to help Syrian and Afghan refugees.  I like to read about the history of India and Pakistan, and this has triggered my fascination for  Persian poems and Sufi songs. My favorite poets are Shams Tabrizi and Hafez.”

(Bhopal) “I am a journalist. I have been working for almost 22 years and I have worked with a leading national daily for 15 years. I love writing, especially stories. I still work the old school way- I take notes and then I go home or to the office and write my stories. I want to travel around Madhya Pradesh to uncover and write stories that tell ground realities, which can change some lives. I have always been interested in social and rural polity. I am from Nagpur and came to Bhopal in 2003. I did M.Sc. Tech in Applied Geology and I was a University topper. Everyone expected that I would take up Geology as my career and was even offered an immediate teaching assignment. But I accidentally became a journalist. A friend had mentioned that there was a job opening for a journalist and had suggested that I should apply for it since I was good at writing. Till then I had no idea what journalism was all about, what my schedule would be, and how my lifestyle would change. When I started work…
(Bhopal) “I heard you are clicking everybody’s pictures. Please click mine too. I got married 2 years ago and I have a son. Can I go now?”
(Bhopal) “I have three sons. My husband died in 2005. My youngest son is unable to move one of his legs. When he was born, he was healthy. Doctors say a lot of money is needed for his treatment. Where will I get money for his treatment? I don’t want anything except his good health. But only one of my sons is earning, which is not enough for the treatment. All the money he earns goes into household expenses.”
(Bhopal) “I am a clinical psychologist. In 1984, there were only two national institutes that offered a course in clinical psychology in India with only 12 seats in each institute. It was not difficult for me to get admission in the course. Being the daughter of a doctor, understanding and serving human beings grew in me as a passion.
Despite being immensely useful in the changing modern world, clinical psychology in India did not have many job opportunities. The mental health facilities and medical set up hardly had any vacancies. It was a surprise and a challenge for both my husband (also a clinical psychologist) as well as for me. The medical fraternity and administrators were ill informed about mental health issues. Awareness was abysmal. People used to misinterpret psychological problems as being “mad” and the treatment as “shock treatment”.
I started writing weekly articles in both English and Hindi newspapers and devoted myself to raising awareness in the society. Through mass me…
(Bhopal) “This is my tea stall. My husband and I run this tea stall together. I have two daughters and a son. They are all married. Everything is good at home.”
(Bhopal) “I am a Medical Officer and I work at one of the largest reproductive and sexual health organization in India. I have my own clinic too. I have been working for last 22 years. For me, patient satisfaction is the best part of my professional life.”
(Bhopal) “I am a final year law student and I plan to work on women’s rights issues. Soon I am going to start working with a litigation lawyer. I have interned at a corporate firm and realized it wasn’t for me. Also, while I was interning at a non-profit organization, I met a number of victims of domestic violence who were trying to find their way back to a normal life. Their stories inspired me a lot.
I feel very passionately about women’s rights issues. There were a lot of reasons that pushed me into this field. When I was born, my grandparents were very unhappy because my parents already had a daughter. My grandparents tried to force my parents to have a third child but my parents were happy to have us and didn’t go for a third child.
Then there were smaller instances like my relatives asking me to wear salwar suits as I was growing up. In college, there was a weird stigma attached to girls seen talking to boys or being friendly with boys. Also, when I would tell people that I go…
(Bhopal) “I live alone. It’s been 19-20 years since my husband died. I have a daughter who is married. I would prefer to work as a domestic help where the family talks to me nicely and I can take care of their children. I want to work so that I have two meals to eat everyday.”
(Bhopal) “Today we went for boating and then strolled around the boat club while chatting; we had a lot of fun.”
(Bhopal) “We have been friends since school and were together even during our BCA course. After BCA, two of us continued with our MCA, but today we skipped college to meet and catch up.”
(Bhopal) “Some of my batchmates told me that a very dear friend of mine has met with an accident that but he was okay. I was not told anything beyond that. When I reached the hospital, I saw his parents crying a lot; I had an intuition that something was wrong. Finally, I was told that my friend was in a coma.
Amongst all of our batchmates, he is the youngest. He is 19 now. He was 17 when we joined college. For all of us, he is like a kid. He was never rude to anyone even when someone was rude to him. He is a good human being and everyone in the college knows him for his kindness. I knew him right from the first day of our first year in college. He is my best friend and is like a younger brother to me. So it is difficult to see my younger brother in that place. His parents were obviously in shock to see their child in that condition but they are doing better now as half of our classmates and my friend’s relatives are also in the hospital with his parents. They are stronger.
He is on t…
(Delhi) “As a kid I was very fond of dancing. In those days, TV was not available in every household so I used to watch TV at my neighbour’s house. I also started learning dance and then I went to Bombay where I worked in dance bars. I used the money to send my 7-year old brother to school. I came back to Delhi and continued dancing in a hotel.I was very beautiful and my work was much appreciated.
Another girl, working in the same hotel grew insecure because of my work. She had worked in the hotel for over 4 years and said that her work is being hampered because of me. One day she threatened me that if I don’t leave my job at the hotel, she will throw acid at my face. I filed a complaint against her. In the evening two police officers from the police station came to the hotel where I worked. The police called the owner of the hotel, the other girl and me. She apologized several times in front of the owner and police officers. Everyone asked me to forgive her, and so I forgave her.
(Bhopal) “I work for the city Municipal Corporation and collect garbage in the morning and work here after 2 pm. There are a lot of problems in our lives. For instance, my husband and I only get Rs. 3700/- per month. It is difficult to manage in this little amount. I have five children. My children are the reason why I smile all the time.”
(Bhopal) “I am a labourer. I have four children. Life is smooth, there is no special reason to be happy or sad.”
(Bhopal) “We all are from one family. Currently, we work as day labourers but are looking for some home-based work. We live in a rented accommodation; none of us has a house. Also, we do not have a ration card. We applied for a ration card and we even gave money whenever somebody asked, but we could never get it.”
(Delhi) “I have a few concepts twirling in my mind, as soon as they crystallize, I shall begin my new book. My last book ‘The Curse of Nalanda’ was released in February 2016. Earlier I worked with Doordarshan, which was the only channel available then. The highest TRP grosser was ‘Saptahiki’ as it provided glimpses of the movie to be shown on Sunday evening and clips of film songs for Chitrahaar. I was lucky to be compering this programme. People still remember Mahabharatserial. I was assigned the interview of its most popular character Krishna; the interview was a huge hit. That was the peak of my career with Doordarshan, as I lost my voice after working there for 13-14 years. I was unable to speak, and used paper and pen to convey what I had to say. Doctors, Homeopaths, Vaid, Hakim, speech therapist were all consulted, but there was no improvement. Someone suggested music therapy, yoga and Pranayam. This suggestion was helpful. I started learning music and slowly my voice started c…
(Bhopal) “Over the past several years, my students and I have organised talks, round table discussions, essay competitions and national seminars on issues related to gender justice. I have also organised legal literacy camps for women in surrounding villages so that my students could get an experience of working with women who are living without any knowledge of their own rights. We also worked as a service provider under the domestic violence law. The Gender Justice Cell, created by my students and me, had contributions from both boys and girls. My students also conduct field studies on the impact of the law that they are going to practise some day. These students are going to be the Lawyers and Judges of the future, and so if they are free from societal biases, which are actually responsible for the suffering of women, it will serve society well.  I consider my students to be my children. I not only have a duty to teach them, but also to help them become humane individuals. Whether …
(Bhopal) “I am a teacher. I teach Political Science, Law, Women & Human Rights, and International Space Law. Both my parents died almost at the same time, while I was still pursuing my education. Things were quite difficult for my siblings and me but we stayed together and cared for each other. We all worked together for each other's success and helped one another in taking important decisions. The circumstances had put us in a tight spot but we overcame all problems. I was able to pursue my higher studies and get a job.
In India, the society generally prompts us towards gender-related work. If you are a woman, the kind of treatment you are given at all levels, be it family or society or formal institutions, makes you feel that you are a secondary consideration in society. Also, the status of women in India is highly dependent on their marital status. Oftentimes their individual talent and persona is disregarded.  Furthermore, a girl's parents are always thinking that they …