Sunday, 27 January 2013

Internet speed test

I got the fastest internet connection (12Mbps) available in the city and upgraded to 8 Gb of RAM which i consider is a decent amount  for ordinary people.  I switched on the PC in great style and browsed all the sites which earlier used to take a noticeable time to load.  I expected a great deal of improvement as my earlier connection was only 2 Mbps but there wasn't a significant improvement!! There was a difference in speed no doubt but the price of the 12 Mbps line didn't justify the speeds achieved.  The video downloads weren't much better either.

No doubt disappointed, I called up customer service representative whom i managed to speak to after clicking many buttons on the IVRS.  He heard me patiently (small mercies), repeated every line that i have told (probably using that time gained to check his manuals) and then gave a complicated complaint number (which starts with year, month, day and the ref number all in reverse order either to confuse the complainant or for some genuine reason!!!).  As there was no response for a day, and on contacting the local office, I was told that the speed that i have opted for is "upto 12 Mbps" and not "12 Mbps".  So the speed that i would get is variable.  Though they did not say it, technically it means that i can get any speed from 0 to 12 Mbps.

Anyway i was aware that i had subscribed to "upto 12 Mbps" and not "12 Mbps".  So i asked him as to what speed can i expect on the average for which the individual concerned was non committal.

At this point, i must say that there would be a lot of technical experts who would side with the ISP and mention that it would not be possible to arrive at a minimum figure.  But if you ask me - I am a consumer paying almost 3 times the cost of a 2 or 4 Mbps connection for a 12 Mbps connection.  So what I ask is a simple common sense question - If I am paying 3 times extra cost shouldn't I get 3 times extra speed?  Unfortunately common sense is not very "common" and I had different persons from the ISP explaining to me what is bandwidth, speed etc!!!  

my speed test return upload 0.27 Mbps and download 0.33 Mbps
                                        27 January 12

Though I personally am not an internet expert, I know enough to understand what I should get for my money and I could plainly see that these guys were bluffing. I ran a speed test several times with the average download speed(during the ping) being about 300-400 kbps. That might seem to be a lot but one must remember that it is the speed returned for the ping only and not normal data transfer for audio/video files(typically more than 10 Mb).  Ideally a ping test on a 12 Mb should have given atleast 7-8 Mbps speed!!!! 

Now the question is - What we can do in such situations? Are these guys ripping us off? If I am not assured of a btter performance by using a 12 Mbps connection, then why bother taking that? Any suggestions from the readers apart from going to consumer court (as that would sap a lot of my time also)?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Security of Women and community guards

Women's security
Is it only me or is everyone feeling this way? I am feeling suffocated with the spate of rapes being reported everyday in the newspapers and TV channels. Has there been a sudden spurt in rapes or is it that there is an increase in the reporting of the crime?

Either way, the media is covering only the sensational part, i.e the reporting of the crime only and not following them up to their logical conclusion.  The media may argue that their duty is only to report the news!! "Point taken" on that but if your duty is to only report the news - then please keep doing it till the end i.e if you report a rape then follow up the news till the time the perpetrators of the crime are punished/or atleast booked by police.  Dont just report a sensational rape one day and move onto another sensational rape/or other story the next day, leaving us worried about what happpened to the earlier victim.

Detterence is much better than securing timely punishment.
If we can successfully deter an individual from committing a crime it is far better than being able to secure timely punishment for the perpetrator of the crime.  A detailed coverage of the troubles and stigma the families of the perpetrators of rape offence face may be a first step in that direction. The humiliation, pain and angst of the perpetrator in custody and his family (after the crime was committed) may be covered in great detail in the media to instill a sense of fear in the hearts of others!!!   There should also be periodic coverage of how these rapists are languishing in jails, their living conditions and the life of their families (while these guys are in jails).  It is however accepted that such tactics may not be suitable for 'hard core rapists' but they will atleast tackle the ordinary rapists (frankly there is nothing ordinary about a rapist but the word is used only to distinguish between the hard core ones and the others) and may reduce the incidence of the crime.

Death punishment for rapists?
When we read the newspapers of two or three year old children being raped and killed - then one cannot but support death penalty for rapists.  But it has another larger issue that if such a law is implemented, the rapists may kill the victim to avoid being identified and thereby the death sentence. The 'death sentence' would be enough for the rapist to justify the killing to his own self.  Ordinarily not many rapists kill a victim and leave her by the wayside - therefore it is better that the 'death sentence' law may not be taken up to ensure safety of the life of the victim. However, the courts may as hitherto reserve the right to award death sentence in the 'rarest of rare cases'.

Community guards?
Are they the order of the day? When all else fails can the citizens fend for themselves?. How about formation of community volunteers in each area of every city to prevent any untoward situation? Look at it this way - how long can u wait for someone to come and make a difference in your area/gully/locality etc?  Can we devote some time towards making our own neighbourhood safer?

This is one 'moral policing' which would be welcome by all sections of the society if any organisation also takes up!!! any takers?!! shiv sena/abvp/rss/akali dal/mim/islamic organisations/biblical societies etc. whoever takes up (I hope they do), would surely win the hearts of both the masses n classes.

(A good initiative, as we understand was undertaken by Mr. purnachandra rao, city police commissioner of visakhapatnam in andhra pradesh, who initiated the community guards programme for the first time in the country. Though the norms slightly vary from what is elucidated here, the underlying principle remains the same i.e to aid the police forces in maintaining law and order).
While we wait for that someone, there would be no need to spend hours and days in protest, mourning a victim's tragedy, if we all can effectively make our neighbourhoods safe for women and children.  This obviously requires a lot of coordination between the residential associations in each locality and in addition to coordination effort, it requires right thinking men to devote time to this particular task. Time - as we all understand is the most precious commodity in today's world but we must somehow extract that 'Time' from our busy schedules for this particular task - to make our neighbourhood a safer place for our mothers, sisters and daughters!!!

Its really time for that great saying of Swami Vivekananda-
'Arise, Awake and rest not till the Goal is achieved'

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Delhi gang rape

A Tigress had fallen!! people have given her various names but 'Nirbhaya' seems to be more apt for her.  We were all brought up on sayings like, "When rape is inevitable, spread your legs and enjoy it" (not because it becomes pleasurable but due to the helplessness of the situation).  However, here was one girl who didn't give up fighting both before and during her rape, for which she paid with her life.  But, her's should not be considered a story of despair for women finding themselves in such unfortunate circumstances, they should draw strength from her deeds and step forward confidently.

While the Nation was with the young lady, what was further disturbing was the spate of similar incidents across the country with no respite to this day.  There were stories of even two year olds getting raped right in their houses.  How do you escape such bestiality where even such babies are not spared?

It's even more shameful that most of the reported crimes were in the National capital.  The concerned may take umbrage under the logic that most of the crimes in Delhi were reported  whereas in other areas they weren't.  Even if that be so, the administration of Delhi is still answerable for the crimes that were reported in Delhi, more so because that city is our National capital.  If our women cannot move out alone in the capital of the country, then it is an international shame and this calls for some drastic measures, which may even include dictatorial rule on the likes of martial law for a few years to reign in the errants or even the extreme step of changing the national capital.

As if to add insult to injury, there were a spate of statements from insensitive politicians, Godmen and their like, as to how the women themselves were provoking rape.  Such persons surely have no place in a civilised society and I sincerely hope that they were misquoted by the press (as most of them claimed).  There was also a filmi person who claimed to have never depicted a woman as a sex object despite his films doing just the same.  I think he was misquoted too!!!  And this same person complained some time back that the censor board was interfering too much in cutting the sex scenes from films!!!

There was another needless controversy about naming the girl.  Well I cannot comment on the legal view point about the Govt not naming her (as it is against IPC), I wonder what really stops the family from disclosing the girl's name (i.e if they wish to).

Then there was this news of two of the accused trying to turn approvers!! But - approvers for what?  The whole nation is aware of the crime and the perpetrators - so who needs approvers?  This is a cheap stunt by the accused to avoid punishment or try to reduce their punishment.  I wonder who gave them the idea and I wish that person to rot in hell for giving that idea.  Anyway, I am sure,  the learned judge in the fast track court too would see through their game.

That so called "juvenile" needs to be fixed too.  A youngster cannot be treated as a juvenile when he commits crimes which are not to be done by a youngster.  Surely raping a woman and beating her mercilessly with a iron rod is not expected to be done by a youngster less than 18 years old.  And if he does - he is no longer a juvenile and needs to be treated as an adult and punished accordingly.

Whatever maybe her name - as i said earlier - "A Tigress had fallen".  I cannot but salute the bravery of the young lady who did not give up her fight to stop her attackers despite being severely injured.  I am sure her name too would be revealed in due course of time.  Till then "Nirbhaya" would do..... and we should not rest till she gets justice and such crimes do not ever take place again.

And for all the guys out there, next time you see someone misbehaving with a woman, dont look the other way but  please protect her the same way you would protect your own family member.  That would be the ultimate tribute to " Nirbhaya" more than the street protests and the bandhs!!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Female foeticide - Part 2

Part 2
With regards to the 7 points mentioned in part 1, let us examine the role of the society.

1.    She doesn't take the family name forward. - It is widely accepted that a girl drops her father's  name on marrying her husband i.e she merges with her husband's family and is no longer considered a part of her father's family.  But, is it really neccessary? There are many women who maintain both their father's and husband's name. Take for example - Ms Sulajja Firodia Motwani, Aiswarya Rai Bachan etc but these are limited to the high socities only.   The society could easily form a custom of retaining the family names of both father and husband with a girl's name.

2.    A lot of money is required to marry off a girl.  Well it does take a lot of money to get a girl married.   While the expenses to conduct the marriage depend on the affluence of the father of the bride, it is the aspect of dowry that is back breaking for many a parent.  This is the single most issue critical for the increase in female foeticide.  A boy only brings home money (in the form of dowry) whereas the girl takes away a lot of money from her parents (often all of it). 
The problem doesn't end there with the parents have to look after the girl during several occassions such as festivals, family functions etc.  whereas, in the case of a boy, one just needs to give birth and he will surely get married and bring home some money even if he is handicapped.  Though the Govt banned dowry as illegal, it is common knowledge that dowry is given and many times photographs are also taken of money being handed over.  

3.   She cannot look after her parents in their old age.   In the present setup, a girl quite obviously cannot look after her parents in their old age.  Not because she doesn't want to, but because her husband/in-laws would not let her do so.  The same husband would instantly drop her at his parents place if they fall ill.  So, whose fault is it? it is definitely not the girl child's!! It is the society that accepts in an unwritten code that a girl (after marriage) need not go to look after her parents but must look after her in-laws.  This again requires only a change in the mindset of the society and bring in new thought.

4.   Some of the Parents with girl children feel inferior.  This again is a creation of the society only.  Every elder blesses a couple/woman to have a baby boy only and it is widely reported that if you tell lies, you will have girl children (as a punishment).  I heard this saying for the first time while in class 6 and  you can imagine its effect on young minds. Many people also take it a curse to have girl children (like in the movie devdas - in which kiron kher curses shah rukh khan's mother that they will have girl children in their house) and men are considered macho only if they have boys. This not withstanding the fact that Bill Clinton, George Bush, Michele Obama, Manmohan Singh etc have only girl children.  These feelings create an inferiority complex and often there is a discussion of 'ladki walein' (girl's side) and 'ladke walein' (boy's side) even among friends and relatives.  And we do notice that that 'ladke walein' are often insensitive to the needs of the 'ladki walein'.

5.     Traditionally, she cannot light the pyre of her parents.   Why not? Gone are the days when women were too weak hearted to light a pyre or needed to be stopped from jumping into the pyre themselves.  In the modern day era, where women have reached the moon and are heading the biggest of corporates, cant they light a pyre in the absence of any male child in the family? The present custom is archaic and needs to be changed.

6.      A lifetime committment is required to look after the girl even after the marriage.     A lifetime committment is indeed required with a Girl due to the present social conditions.  For example - a pregnant girl is taken to her home in the final months to provide her care and comfort.  But the reason for this custom is that she may not be looked after well in her in-laws house.  Similarly, the girl's parents pay for the hospitalisation expenses and delivery of the child. Doesn't the child belong to the husband also? Then why doesn't the boy's side pay?  Similar are the cases during many festivals and family functions!!

7.   She has to be protected and looked after wherever she goes unlike a boy.    She has to be protected in the present day world where even 2 year old babies are not spared from rape.  That is the subject of my next blog post.

In olden times when families and the number of children were large, it was an extremely remote possibility for a couple to have only girls. Sometimes they had a boy after 4 or 5 girls (in extreme cases)  This resulted in every family having a mix of both boys and girls.  This permitted easy implementation of most of the customs as families were balanced.  For example if a girl in a family was married off and dropped her father's name, there was another girl (as daughter -in-law) entering their house after dropping her own father's name.  However with the families becoming nuclear and smaller (with only 2 or 3 children), the balance is getting skewed against girls and with this all the attendant problems are also on the rise.

Couple this with the 'objectification' of women in the movies,T.v and the internet - we have a recipe for disaster in the name of female foeticide.

But, How do we counter this demon? Read on my suggestions in my next post - "Gang rape".  


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Female foeticide - part 1

I have a fear of flying but due to constraints of work, I need to fly at times.  On one such occassion, I was upgraded to business class on a flight from Chennai to Delhi courtesy my frequent flyer pointsI hoped to forget my fears and enjoy the business class luxuries for once.  The beautiful and smiling hostess served me a delectable fruit juice and also offered me an array of magazines to browse, which were never available in my usual economy class.   Savouring my juice i flipped through the magazines & newspapers and as the plane got ready for take off,  I accidentally came across an article by Ms Sanchita Sharma, in the Hindustan Times dated 30 Jan 2011.  Though the name of the topic was 'health wise', it concentrated on female foeticide.  She gave some startling statistics as follows:-

2001 census - we had 927 females/1000 males which further reduced to 906 females/1000 males in the 2006/8 sample survey 

The writer had mentioned several modus operandi that were being used by the people including the usage of mobile ultra sound machines (small enough to fit into pocket to avoid police) for gender determination. As the poor do not have the means to pay for these higher cost technologies, they are just dumping the girl children on the streets.  A particularly heart wrenching story which was mentioned was of a girl child who was dumped in the cold waters of a canal with her neo natal material still intact.  This showed that she was transported straight from the delivery room to the canal, which also brought memories of few other stories that i read earlier..
The juice didn't feel tasty anymore and I felt like throwing up.  The good part was that I didnt realise that we had taken off which was usually the most scariest part for me.

I took out my writing pad and commenced penning my thoughts over the next two hours.  Whatever had come to my mind that day - I pondered over it for many months later, discussed with some eminent persons and collected my thoughts which are reporduced over the next five posts.

The Govt had indeed banned gender selection tests and it is claimed by various NGO's/Govt organisations that it had brought down the female foeticide rate.  However it can be seen by the census data there is still a reduction in the number of females over the years.  As technology progresses, it will become more and more difficult to stop these 'killer' scans.  On the contrary, high cost back door methods would be used instaed of the 'walk in' scan and the black market would thrive on our obsession with boys.  

So, how do you stop this infanticide?  Surely, no amount of Govt legislation to ban these tests would help because we Indians are very innovative at finding alternate means.  There needs to be a fundamental change in the perception of the people and the social customs in our country. 

At the moment, the birth of a girl is only taken as a double blow to the family, i.e - 
1.  She doesn't continue the family lineage 
2. She has to be married off by spending a huge amount of money.
 Apart from the two above major reasons, the others are:- 
3.  She cannot look after her parents in their old age
4.  Some of the Parents with girl children feel inferior
5.  Traditionally, she cannot light the pyre of her parents
6.  A lifetime committment is required to look after the girl even after the marriage
7.   She has to be protected and looked after wherever she goes unlike a boy

If we objectively analyse each point, we can see that all of them are imposed on the girls and their parents by the social customs and not by their choice.  It is the normal society which is enforcing all the above points on the girls & their parents in the name of our established 'customs and traditions'.

Therefore, female infanticide as we see it now is only the end product. There are a lot of social factors that are driving people to engage in this dastardly act and to really make a difference, these social factors need to be addressed first.

A few suggestions to take this forward in part 2....