Saturday, 24 August 2013

'Born into Brothels' by Zana Briski

"Born into Brothels" is an award-winning documentary film made by US-based photographer and filmmaker Zana Briski. It is shot in Sonagachi, the biggest brothel in Asia and features the children born to the prostitutes there.

Zana stayed in Sonagachi and interacted with the children in the area. She intended to see Sonagachi through the eyes of those children. What she did was simply to give a camera to each one of the children and asked them to take pictures of whatever they found interesting. The pictures show the daily life of a typical red-light district through those innocent eyes.

She fought for the betterment of those children by trying to accommodate them in some boarding schools, where they can keep themselves away from the "contaminated and sinful" life of Sonagachi. Most schools were not willing to admit children of prostitutes. Most girls become "part of the line" once they come of age. There is no easy way of rescuing them, unless proper care, education and guidance are given to these children and their parents.

These children do not have any dreams, because they cannot afford any. As educated citizens, what can we do to save such people, so that they can also dream and live just like the rest of us? Shouldn't the world be fair to them? Should a basic requirement like education be denied to them? I, and I hope no one, would ever blame the innocent kids for their hardships, because they are neither on the wrong side of the law nor they are second-grade citizens. Those children deserve something better. I wonder who failed here.

My Concerns about India

We have reached a stage where nothing can be said about the Indian politics without a word on the AAP factor. Arvind Kejriwal, along with Yogendra Yadav, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan shifted the entire equation of politics in India. No one really cared about AAP until they pulled off the Delhi Assembly elections with 29 seats. Sadly, they could not continue for long, with only the external support of the INC. It is true that they will come out with a clear majority in Delhi if re-polling is carried out, putting an end to the Presidential rule. The AAP effect may be seen only in the metro cities. But what AAP could do was that the other parties started talking about development and policies. AAP is not supported by people with vested interests, like corporates, business magnets etc. 

India needs to strengthen its manufacturing sector. At present, a significant percentage of materials in defence sector, aviation sector, etc. are imported from outside. India has to be self-sufficient in these sectors.  FDI will have a positive impact on the Indian economy. Globalisation has only helped India in the process of becoming a significant world power.

India’s development all along the history – colonial state, independent, republic, socialist, liberal, strong world power. The tremendous growth was apparently triggered during the early 1990’s. The way India progressed after the liberalisation was implemented in the country, through the abolishment of the ‘License Raj’. Growth is better compared to EU and USA. But compared to other nations in BRICS, India is not performing well since the past couple of years, as it used to in the beginning of 21st century. 

Corruption within bureaucracy, red-tapism in government offices, under-performing public sector, corrupt politicians, and inefficient media are some of the problems the nation is currently plodding with. Accepting bribes has become nothing less than something ordinary for the babus. Various projects and plan gets stalled due to careless politicians who eye only the public funds to steal from. When compared to private sector which performs at par with MNC standards, public sector in the Indian economy has always been under-performing. 

MNREGA is a not a good scheme in terms of ensuring productive growth. In rural areas, people get paid even for wandering around MNREGA work sites. Unavailability of sufficient labour force for farming and agriculture activities is a problem created by MNREGA. India needs to get rid of caste politics. Representatives should not be elected based on their religion or family (e.g. Rahul Gandhi) or parents(e.g. Akhilesh Yadav). But, it should be done purely on the basis of one's drive to serve the nation. In fact, it is better to have availability, rather than ability.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Confessions of a Dreamer @ 'The City of Dreams'

Mumbai, the financial and business capital of India. The heavy cosmopolitan population, from different parts of the country, adds to her beauty. Mumbai presents to the world a perfect example of 'Unity in Diversity'. The past-faced lifestyle has always attracted the teens and youngsters. No wonder why the terrorists always hit Mumbai as Mumbai represents India itself.

But, Mumbai is also referred to as 'The City of Dreams'. Mumbaikars are always striving to make their dreams come true. People never sit idle here. People come here with many dreams. I came to this city to be part of the vibrant lifestyle in the city. What struct me the most were not parties or malls or night-life, but how the people around me fight against all the odds in their lives to make a living.

People here complain less as compared to others as they have seen the worst and learned the hard lessons about life. Life is not simply sitting before the TV or laptop or hanging out in malls or restaurants. Obviously, there is  a class of people who do this. But I am not talking about such people. Rather the "low class" people or the working class. They are not at all "low class". In fact, it is this kind of people who taught many things about life.

Millions of money are sent by the people working here to their villages for their parents, families, spouses, children etc. People don't just "make" money here but they "earn" money here. Not a single paisa should be accepted which you have not earned. I noticed many people here. The waiters working in restaurants, people selling vegetables, milk, fruits, barbers, rikshawallas, bus conductors, traffic policemen etc. It is not what you get,but what you can give.

Life becomes meaningful when you understand what you can give to the society with whatever you have learned and are learning. It is this realization which made some people "great people". People don't become great by birth. You have to earn it. Otherwise you can simply live your life and nobody is going to give a damn when you die.

The rich tradition of Mumbai has always attracted me - what has made this small landmass to hold the dreams of 150 millions of people (and still counting) and give her best to each one of them. Mumbai is like an open text book for me. Do not just live your life. But "LIVE" your life.

Get Set...Po!