Showing posts with label CWG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CWG. Show all posts

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stigma and Prejudice

AIDS.
One of those terms that instill intense fear, loathing and segregation.
A form of apartheid that continues to hold entire societies in a vice-like grip.
No longer a fatal disease, but a controllable chronic disease, our fears are largely unfounded.
Being HIV positive no longer means the individual will look languished or ooze blood or even die in a few months. (Courtesy: Philadelphia)

Although I consider myself very informed about the disease and had very little prejudice against individuals who were infected, my most recent project to The Freedom Foundation was a wonderful eye opener.
Having heard of the ground breaking work they have been doing for several decades, when I visited them the past week, I expected to see a facility that was well funded and adequately supported. But what I saw was depressing. I could not believe how a government that showers billions of dollars on CWG would not want to fund a Foundation that is serving the less fortunate in our society.

A facility that cannot be terming sprawling by any stretch of imagination, I met two dozen kids. Twelve boys and eleven girls.
One would imagine being infected with the most famous virus of the past decades, they would be sickly, coughing and without any will/dream of their own.
But on the contrary, they are very much like you and me. Very ambitious, playful, every bit intelligent and bursting with energy.
But our collective ignorance and the stigma associated with some of the ways that the virus can spread has resulted in millions being denied the care they deserve.

The youngest, Mahalakshmi, at only a shade over four years old, is already a survivor of two brain surgeries. A slow learner, the Foundation has been tutoring her so that she does not miss out on a regular school curriculum when she joins school next year. Spirited and vivacious, she is a bundle of joy.
Or take for instance, Saraswati. Shy and reticent, at 14; you'd think she is going to be depressed and suicidal. No. A creative person, she is training to be a fashion designer.

Having spent two consecutive weekends at The Freedom Foundation, I've seen how being HIV positive can be living a life where you are always judged and labelled.
But what also struck me was how ordinary they are. Off the 23 that stayed at the Foundation, nineteen of them ranged from four to ten years old.
Every bit as capricious and ambitious, we never imagined we could have as much fun as we did. Some of my team who took part in the project on Saturday, made it for the project on Sunday too!

During the course of the day, I began to feel guilty every time I remembered how sick they might be. As a person, you tend to treat people who are sick with kid gloves. You'd want to stop them from running too much, or exerting too much pressure on themselves.
But the truth is, they don't want to be treated any different from how you'd treat your kid brother/sister.
They don't want free handouts. They want opportunities.
They don't want a free meal. They need healthcare that matters. They deserve research that will guarantee a better future.
Take them seriously, but don't discriminate them.
Recognize their right to live as full a life as you or I have.
The Team that made it possible

After my visit to The Freedom Foundation, I've learned my most important lesson - AIDS is no different a disease as heart disease and diabetes.
But it's sufferers can certainly benefit a lot more from a society that is willing to understand them and their disease a little better.

I've always believed that only a less informed individual can be prejudiced. While India is the cradle of civilization, looking at the plight of individuals with HIV positive, I get the distinct feeling that we need to set our priorities right.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

My 15 minutes of fame/infamy/WTF

When I read the latest scandal/uproar that a quasi Celebrity, 'once' Booker prize winner and current tree Hugger: Ms Arundhati Roy proudly raised. My favorite pair of scissors went snip snip.
I love the Children of Controversies.
And India does not disappoint.

I stopped following her ages ago when she released a 10000 word essay on nuclear disarmament on Outlook.
I've always thought her 'God of Small Things' was like a Tata Safari: Over Rated, Over hyped! Thank God she didn't win a Nobel, or she would have nominated herself for the Presidency.
I guess she just makes it a point to wake up every morning, scan the news and does a google search for her name, to find out in how many ways she can ruffle feathers to be in the news while still being safe.
A friend of mine wondered why she was being charged with seduction?

I guess with Kashmir being as much a national past-time in India as Car chases are in the US of A, and with media not getting any more juicy stuff about CWG, it was time to move on.
Talking about the CWG, did India knock the socks off all our collective feet, huh?
It was pretty inspiring to watch Indian athletes compete in such diverse range of sports besides politics and cricket!

And oh which reminds me, Cricket's favorite Scapegoat and former Mascot; Lalit Modi must be muttering nasty nothings to himself. And to think it all began with a simple tweet.
Ahh, technology! Ignorance is bliss, my dear Modi.
Indians will forget this controversy as well, as they have successfully done for every other atrocity that grappled humanity.

The paradox of being an Indian is that even though you just one in a billion (quite literally), it is possible for you to get reams of news rolls. Its a brand that matters.
Any publicity is good publicity.

But what gets my goat is why make a mockery of our society?
3 frogs who got their 15 minutes of fame
Why do we have self appointed activists and leaders of our society holding us to ransom. Sure, Ms Roy might have to live in exile in some Western European country for the rest of her life, enjoying the royalties from her one book. Surely, she will talk fondly about India when she is there, while still enjoying all luxuries of life. Surely, she will live a life that will be much better than what she was 'fighting for' for her defendents.
This is good planning. I can almost see her doing a Salman Rushdie. A victim of her 'Patriotism'.

Perhaps the best way to treat these distractions would be to ignore them completely.
It worked for a former colleague of mine. A nasty fellow who would crack such tasteless jokes that even Rakhi Sawant would puke, all for the sake of some laughs. Ignored him. He quit.

Fed by constant controversies, our genes are conditioned to scandals, scams and corruption. Not to mention the almost involuntary drool when we hear about certain Bollywood actress and pornstars.
This year like any other year, has been a juicy good year with plenty of blockbusters already.


We've had every possible glitch except the terrorist variety so far.
Pakistan, are you listening? And no, exporting Sania does not count.
But wait, they are having all sorts of problems themselves. Funny that we don't have any terrorism when Pakistan is busy with its crippled self. Like a dog that is trying to rid itself of a flea does not bother to bite.

Wonder whats going to be the next big scandal of this year?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

CWG: Completely Wasted Games

True to the Indian style of working, we are again fashionably indifferent.

Now even as I begin to write about the mess that we have let ourselves fall into, I remind myself that I am an Indian too and I must resist the temptation to be truly cynical and or biased against all things Indian.
We after all, love all things Western, you see.

But how is it that we never saw this coming?
Most countries advertise Games and huge events like this must in advance building up to a crescendo, but here we are pathetically indecisive.
Like a deer caught in the headlights, yet again. We failed to pick the ball up in what appears to be an easy way to win International support and admiration of Sports in India.

We have stumbled across of an 'Aarushi of Politics' here, with tons of News reels already spent in lampooning what is arguably the poor man's Asian Games.

Now, going against the tide, I would like to be optimist.
I would like to think that we will manage to crash land within deadlines.
Or maybe, Mr Kalmadi may pull a rabbit out of the infinite potholes and submerged Delhi villages to give us the Games to be proud of.
Or maybe, he and his political cronies will be able to eradicate Dengue just in time for the Games or at least immunize every living creature entering Delhi.
Maybe, we will be able to convince all the 171 countries to send in their strong teams.
And maybe, we will be able to get an 'hmm, I'm sufficiently impressed!" gasp from the visiting delegations.
(But with the way, nations around the world are pulling out of the Games, I wonder how many people will even turn up to see any of the 'wannabes'.)
And maybe, there will be enough security to prevent another Munich from happening.
And maybe, the World will finally sit up and take notice...
Ah Crap, who am I kidding??!

Games or no Games, unless there is a major overhaul in the people at the helm of affairs of this incredible Country, we will always be known as that Nation that failed miserably at every major chance for redemption.
Why is it that we can't feel the stench of defeat and work on never repeating our follies?!

Be it natural calamities or a man made disaster, we are always stupid enough to not foresee and prepare for the future.
We could excuse ourselves for unforeseeable acts of God, but the Games didn't just happen to us. We bid for it (and I can only wonder who ghost wrote the presentation for the bid) and won. Fair and Square. But what do we do after that? Relax. Yes Sir. That's the way we work. Mr Kalmadi & Co. perhaps thought the bid was the toughest part and having won it, thought the Games would take care of itself, pretty much like the millions that they stashed away in secret accounts.

Our neighbors must be having a gala time laughing their gills, bladder and kidney out at the major mess 'Big Brother' has landed in. I know they are. I would be too if I was not an Indian myself.
Pakistan must be thinking “Man, this is fucking awesome!” Sweet revenge from God after Indians snubbed them at the IPL and then when the Australians refused to tour them.
The Srilankans must be wondering why Indians are so flaccid about everything.
Nepal and Tibet.. well, the less said about them, the better. They must however be thanking that for once, they have something else to laugh about besides their own sorry government.
China. Well, the Chinese are gently patting themselves in the back for the wonderful way they handle events like this. They might be infamous for the spurious quality of food and appalling Human rights record, but after having wowed the World out of its collective socks with the brilliant show of technology and timeliness, with the Beijing Olympics, I think they are on a winning spree here.

The last I heard, they handed over the Asian Games village and stadiums 2 months in advance of its November, 2010 schedule.
Truly Well done, China! Even Poland beat us to organizing the Euro 2011, I read.

Thank God that we are find satisfaction in mediocrity and are unlike the Japanese who would rather die than to deliver a half baked product.
Thank God that we have politicians who rather improve their own GDP than the Nation's.
Thank God we have voters who sleep with the enemy every 5 years.
Thank God for Cricket else the only reason why we'd have any stadiums would be to host politicians and their Republic Day parades.

I am sorry, folks, I meant to be the evergreen optimist but with all the muck going around, I am going to cross my fingers and hope to dear God that this Games meets all the hot air that is being promised.

But if the Athletes manage to dodge all the bullets and the Superbug, they can at least make the most out of an all expenses paid trip to !ncredible India, while we on the other hand will have to live with the ignominy of having hosted the worst CWG in its history. Bravo India, Bravo!
Though this image has absolutely no connection to CWG, found this when I googled for 'CWG Corruption'! China and Korea must be patting themselves in the back for the way they hide their human rights violations.


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