Sunday, 30 December 2012

India, Mind your Language

Setting an example.  This is what it all boils down to.  After the recent public outpouring we've seen in India, questions of morality and societal functions have been raised.

It's been a blame game.  Do we blame the police, politicians, families of victims, lawyers, judges, corrupt systems, the media or Bollywood?  

The fact is we're talking about respecting women.  Anyone who is from India knows that when cursing someone, mothers and sisters are what are referred to in a derogatory fashion.  If you want to talk about respect, it starts with cleaning up your language.  
The next time you swear or hear someone swear, make them aware of the fact.  There is no need to involve anyone's mother or sister.  

It may not sound like much, but if society has to change, these small changes are a first step we can make.

India: Give a Voice to the Rest of the World

Say what you may, but the uprising seen around India in the last week or so following the gruesome rape and subsequent death of the 23-year female medical student has helped bring to the forefront some of the issues that we face in society today.

What worries me though is that the people making the headlines in light of this are doing so for their own personal gain or image.  I'd put a tweet and Facebook comment yesterday that said the following:

Values are what we're taught at home not by lawyers and politicians. We need to realize that when reflecting on what happened in Delhi.

Having Bollywood stars, politicians, media personnel, lawyers and sports stars talking now isn't the solution.  They've got their own motives in most cases for showing up publicly.  This isn't to say that these people can't be effective in helping bring about a long term solution.  Actions speak louder than words and there is a way for them to use vehicles that speak to the people more effectively.

Social activists like Kiran Bedi
are at least willing to act and speak.
She's offered to help train police
forces into how to handle rape cases.
Bollywood stars - concentrate on making movies that address the moral and ethical issues that have been raised by incidents like this.  Let your art form be what raises awareness.

Media folk - focus on documentaries or news pieces that investigate, name and shame.  If a Bollywood star like Aamir Khan can headline a prime time TV show that does just this, why can't you.

Lawyers - work to get the legal system moving more swiftly.  Offer more pro bono time to the classes whose voices are never heard because they're too afraid or too poor to pay for legal representation.

Politicians - the laws are there but you have to lead by example.  How often do we hear about cases about an abuse of power at your level.  

Sports Stars - take advantage of your individual brand value and make visits to schools, colleges, community gatherings all over India and talk about these issues in your spare time.  I'm sure your sponsors would help fund you for your travels and collectively you could be seen to be involved in a CSR activity.

The unfortunate case is that when you have incidents like this that come to the forefront, there may be a few worthy people coming forward to highlight the issues without any personal agenda (e.g. Anna Hazare), but there are far too many who are out to grab a headline by taking advantage of an issue (e.g. Baba Ramdev).  

Being out on the streets and protesting has its merits but if we have to see a change in our society, we need to see if we're willing to commit to an issue and pursue it through whatever channels we have.  If not, save everyone's time and stay out of the picture.

India has a chance here to show the world that it is serious about tackling such issues and lead the world in creating a voice for the masses whose voices are never heard.  Take advantage of this and do us proud!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Movember Rain

So Movember is now and truly over.  

I'm clean shaven.  
I feel like I should be in a
Daniel Pearl movie
I look ten years younger (or so I've been told). 

I don't need to worry about accidentally shaving off bits of hair above my lip.  

I can finally enjoy soup without having to keep a pack of tissues nearby.  

People don't tell me that they'd be scared to see me in an alleyway.

I'm not mistaken for a movie star from the 1980's anymore.

I'm not told I've got black fungus growing on my face (though there were a few grey strands in there as well).

I enjoyed the moustache for the month but am glad I only had to keep it on for a month.

Will I do it next year?  Probably.

Did I raise much money?  No, but that was never my motivation.  I wanted to increase awareness for men's health issues.

Did I generate the sort of awareness I wanted to?  Honestly speaking, probably not.  I'd probably spend more time in the future researching the material as this was my big issue this time around.  

Happy to be clean shaven again.
Am I thankful?  Yes, I had some good friends including Nameer Al-Durrah, John Martin St. Valery, James Piecowye and Saket Burman (who decided to join us midway through the month) who also grew a Mo.  

Am I thankful?  Yes, because I had a lot of people who helped amplify the cause whether be in the  press, social media or friends or family who spoke about it.

Am I thankful? Yes, because I had a wife and kids that tolerated the moustache for the month and still continued to feed me or go out with me.

My only regret this Movember was that the day it rained in Dubai, I wasn't in town so missed my opportunity to enjoy some Movember Rain.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, here's a link to my dedicated Movember page.

Thank you all for your support during Movember and I hope to see more of you sporting a Mo next year.