Wednesday, 29 April 2015

My friend: he or she?

How will the world be like if divided into two groups - feminists and male chauvinists or better to say misandrist and misogynist? Obviously we don’t want that, we have grown up watching both the genders existing together in families and other social webs.

Lets start from most fundamental relation in this world- friendship. The problem of what ‘type’ of people one should and should not befriend, has been asked in every house atleast once in a life. Most of the time, these questions revolve around the prejudices and stereotypes formed due to differences in culture, religion, region, intelligence and gender. Yes, gender too, probably this is one of the strongest stereotype derived from bollywood movie's dialogue- "Ek ladka or ladki kabhi dost ni ban skte"(Courtsey: Kuch kuch hota h). It is simply assumed that they have nothing in common and their discussion will their interaction will always end up in romance.

If a girl has a lot of male friends it's common for her parents to ask "tumhare class me koi ladkiyan nahi padhti ya tumahri ladkiyo se kyu ni patti?" Its people's mentality to think that if a girl and boy are friends then there is something else going on between them.

Lets argue about it logically, what are the benefits of having opposite gender as friend and what are the cons of not having so.

First, this friendship will create a healthy perspective and develop rational thinking.
Second, this will burst the stereotype and reduce the gender gap because you are personally aware of the other person. Stereotypes like superiority of male over female, female as second fiddle, girls need protection, boys don’t cry, will be extirpated from the society.
Third, society at the large will be more tolerant and acceptable to the differences.
Fourth, mingling up of opposite genders will create respect for each other, as it is already proven that kids who mingle up with the opposite gender are more social and adjusting. In the absence of which men may grow up to be indifferent, insensitive and inconsiderate towards women. Women may grow up to be paranoid, disgusted of men.

If not given a chance to understand the dynamics of different genders by mingling, this will create permanent conditioning in the mind of both the genders. We have already been witnessing gender violence, rape culture, fraudulent dowry cases against men due to this lack of understanding and crude mindset. All these things are a big blow to the society.

As far as friendship is concerned, it doesn't have any limitation on the basis of same sex, age, culture, color, race or religion.  It is purely a pious relationship between individuals who share their personal thoughts amongst each other, have trust and understanding. We should never try to bind it with our hard fencing like prejudices. Just imagine the happiest moment, if your friend is with you in your happy as well as sad moments in front of whom you need not pretend to be someone you are not.

Male & female are suppose to be the ‘Yin & Yang’ energy of the universe. And in the most fundamental relation of friendship, we should make multiple small happy universes.

This is the politics and conspiracy of the society we have been born into. Something as fundamental as friendship can also be the reason for division, how vulnerable we are?

If still you don’t believe in the above post, go and watch Friends serial, that a boy and girl can be "just friends".

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Juvenile justice: Retribution vs Rehabilitation

In recent past, due to many serious crimes committed by juveniles, the trial process and the severity of their punishments has been a matter of debate. One of the most disturbing acts involving a juvenile was the recent Nirbhaya rape case, where the victim was severely molested ending up dead after fighting for life for a fortnight in the hospital.

The biggest controversy in the context is whether the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 holds significance for heinous crimes like the Nirbhaya case or not. The Juvenile Justice Bill 2014 recently got the nod of cabinet treats juveniles in age group 16-18 as adults for heinous crimes. Should the juveniles be given more liberal trials and punishments for their crimes, or should they be punished equally as adults for heinous crimes like rape, following the public sentiment?

Since this is a very debatable issue and opinions vary from person to person, I will not try to support a specific point of view. However, I would rather take a balanced approach to look at the matter, present arguments in favor of and against the public sentiment and the JJ Bill, 2014; and leave it to the reader to choose a viewpoint.

Who is a juvenile?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child/juvenile as any human being under the age of eighteen, unless the age of majority is attained earlier, under a state’s own domestic legislation.  The nations that ratify to this convention are bound to it by international law.  Since, India is also a signatory of this convention, the juveniles in India are people under the age of 18 (since the age of majority is also 18), which is also mentioned in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

The Juvenile Justice Bill 2014
The bill replaces JJ Act, 2000 and addresses children in conflict with the law and children in need of care and protection.  Following are some of the important and debatable points in the JJ bill that are relevant to this article:

·         The bill defines three classes of crimes for dealing with a juvenile i.e. petty, serious and heinous.
·         The bill permits juveniles between the ages of 16-18 years to be tried as adults for heinous crimes. Also, any 16-18 years old, who commits a lesser, i.e. a serious crime can be tried as an adult only if he/she is apprehended after 21 years of age.
·         Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) and Child Welfare Committees (CWC) will be constituted in each district.  If the juvenile in question is in the age group 16-18, the JB will decide whether he/she is to be tried as an adult i.e. whether the committed crime is heinous. The CWC will decide the care and protection needed for the child in question if  (s)he is to be tried as a juvenile.

Support: Retributive justice to those old enough:
This is the most popular of the public sentiments, with public demanding severe punishments to those committing heinous crimes and equal punishment to 16-18 year old juveniles. I have used the term “retributive justice” because the situation can in some ways be equated to the argument of “Capital punishment or not” in case of heinous crimes, since the boundary between a juvenile and an adult is drawn based on the severity of the crime.  Following are some of the points in support:

·         If they are old enough to commit a crime (old enough to rape), they are old enough to be granted the punishment.
·         The boundary between a juvenile and an adult should not be so crisp. This will allow for different punishments for people who differ by just a day in age (on boundary of 18 years), which is not fair. So, severity of crime should also be a deciding factor in whether the person is juvenile or adult.
·         Severe punishments to everyone who commits heinous crimes will act as deterrence, because it will reduce the likelihood of criminals getting away with minimal punishment on false grounds of being underage.

Criticism: Give reformative treatment to children
Most the criticism is based on the idea that reformative justice should be preferred over retributive justice wherever it is possible (which ideally should be in every case).  Following are the arguments given by the people who oppose the JJ bill:

  • Parliamentary Standing Committee found out that such a move violates our constitutional mandate and India's obligation under UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • MoWCD: One must not forget that juvenile justice law is based on a strong foundation of reformation and rehabilitation, rather than on retribution.
  • The bill does not clarify whether a child tried as an adult will end up in prison (during trials)
  • Flawed assumptions- determining their maturity and mindset, as deterrence. 
  • [Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice at MacArthur Foundation, U.S.]: shows that human brain undergoes key physical changes from the ages of 16 to 18 and this continues right until the mid-20s
  • Adolescents know what they are doing is wrong. But They are unable to act on that knowledge. The underestimate risk; so, deterrence is probably not the best policy against them.
  • Adolescents are greatly affected by their environment. So they can be molded in a better person too. Transferring them into adult prison would have negative effect on them.
  • Transfer policies have generally resulted into subsequent crimes.
  • We should focus more on eliminating core problems that lead to such acts like – poverty, broken families, unemployment, access to pornography etc. and providing community based treatment programs.
Conclusion:  Is age really a deciding factor?

As we can see that the proponents of the JJ bill say that age should not be a deciding factor when a crime is so severe. However, the argument against the bill tries to give a scientific perspective of how age is an important deciding factor into a person’s maturity and tendency to estimate risk of a crime. It is up to the reader to take away whichever point of view suits him/her. However, it is clear that overall societal structure and a futuristic attitude should be taken against such problems which minimizes the risk of such crimes in future.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

India: Perfect Imperfections

Are you an Indian? A disappointed Indian. Are you the one who pick up
the Indian newspaper or watch an Indian news channel in the morning to destroy own happiness and descend the ladder into depression?
Probably you are one of them(I am the one)?

What is the first image most of us have in our mind, when we talk about India? It is  poverty, destitution, over population, corruption, starvation, crime rates and terrorism. 
Indianness has become the passion only at occasional times, either when Indian cricket team is playing in the stadium or when some neighbor knocks our country's borders. On 15th August or 26th Jaunary, it again gets highlighted in the form of selfies(with flag) or facebook statuses.

In the normal times, we are looking to move away from this nation. The number of H1B visa applications (2.5 lakh this year) is the testimony to the fact that people want to leave this place. Probably because this is the place where opportunities are in numbers one could hardly rely on for the safe future. Probably, because this is the land of problems.

Today, the people of India are so blinded by the problems in their nation that they have forgotten the great wealth that lies within. And maybe, just maybe, it is the fault of the Indian media and our prejudices formed because of it.

Why do most of us have so much hatred against the police men irrespective of the fact that we have faced their atrocities or not?

We cry foul against system so much about the system, that we even forget to thank NDRF(National Disaster Task force) for its efforts in the extreme conditions.

It will be a herculean task to enumerate all the achievements of India[neither I am a politician who will like to do the same]. But one hardly pays attention to those achievements today.

At the maximum sympathetic attitude, we attribute India having too much potential in manpower, wealth(may be black money), natural resources, but unable to tap it. Here again we blame the 'system'. True, the people are not corrupt, but the system is. But isn't the case everywhere else? India’s political structure is no more corrupt than any other nation. It is just that the Indian people needs to change its parameters to judge the situation of the country. The institutional failures or the systemic failures can only be corrected by the people facing it.

Lets be more grateful and  responsible citizens and consider this nation as a family where it is not feasible to put the precondition of  keeping all the pieces right. It is not wrong to put problems in perspective, but it is definitely wrong not to revel in what we excel. Self confidence not the false pride is the need of hour.

Friday, 10 April 2015

"Google for Google" : no results found : What would be the life then?

Google has become sort of bail-out package for many lives including me. Though it is just another search engine, it has set a bar to the search industry and revolutionized the web today. What if the word "Google" disappears from the world. There is no search engine like Google. What will be your reaction? OH! What! I cant live any longer! I am all alone!
For a moment, lets assume this apocalypse be true. Now what, Wont there be any life then? A famous saying goes as :
"if you dont do your work , somebody else will."

If there was no Google, there wont be any googlization but yahooization or bingization had been the possibility.

If there was no Google maps, mind would have to work a bit more (our grand parents did that and travelled all across the world)

If there was no Google search engine functionality, would countries not develop(O come on China is developing astonishingly even without it)

If there was no Google plus, couldn't the families stay connected (facebook is there). And probably without all these there will be much more real interaction between family members.

If there was no support of Google search engine, wont there be any discoveries, inventions or advancement of human life. Infact, we had a number of revolutions before the present IT revolution. Our food was as delicious as today even before the recipes provided by Google.

If there were no Google ads, won’t the people be not able to knew about the brands in the world? Infact many a times, ads misguide us and get us to a number of unverified information.

If there were no Google, won’t there be any education. Infact I can go to this extent that, Google has killed the institution of teaching. It has become a cheatsheet while doing homework freeing students to think creatively.

If there were no Google, would there be slow pace of learning? Infact it has made us rely on it, and we have become like we do not want to learn because we can get everything, anytime on Google.

If there were no Google, the companies won’t have progressed.

Is the current generation really lucky that they have Google in their times?
I don’t fully agree to this. Kids get to know things they are not supposed to know, or supposed to know from their parents, because goggle cant teach you how to behave morally. They have loads of information, and unable to find what is important for them (the problem of excess).

(Being a Computer engineer, couldn't miss this part- coding without Google.)
I would ask a simple question. How was Google born? There were coders who develop Google without using Google. Probably Google has made coding accessible to many. But its not behind one's coding acumen. Infact it has made us dependent on it. We need to check syntax every now and then. We don’t even try to stress our brain to memorize any of it.

I have read it somewhere that Einstein used his maximum portion of his mind. Probably because there was no Google at that time. Are we making our mind idle deliberately and loving this comfort zone?

At the end, I would say probably we love Google for its compactness- a complete package for most of our needs. Had Google not been there some other company would have been at its place.

Disclaimer: The article is not written to belittle the famous company but just to point out that life is not that dependent on Google. And putting it in the list of things necessary for survival doesn’t hold truth.