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Sex Surveys and research tell us how badly India needs sex education

December 1, 2009

Call it teen marriage or  “legal” teenage sex, but what it results is in teenage pregnancy. It underlines the need for sex education in India, more so than in other countries. Half of India’s women marry before the age of 18 and about 18 percent are married even before the age of 15! Even if they want to, these young girls and their young inexperienced husbands cannot always prevent pregnancies. One wonders how much they know about sex, contraceptives, or the bad health effects of pregnancy on young teens.

Despite all this staring at it in the face India shows little signs of shedding its conservatism about sexual matters. Survey after survey, year after year, tells us that the majority of young Indians get their sex education from friends and from porn.

A  recent global survey confirms that only 52 percent of Indians felt that there is “enough” advice and information available on sex. One is not sure whether people from rural India are included in this survey, but the lack of information is bound to be worse there.

The survey showed that most Indians rely on their friends (59 per cent) for sexual knowledge, followed by magazines (58 per cent). The internet is also one of the major sources of information among those who have received sex education (60) and who have not (46). Books are another major source of information for Indians.

Only 18 percent said they had recieved any sort of guidance from their parents.

The survey also revealed that almost half of the men interviewed did not use condoms regularly. Out of this group, 24.3 percent never use condoms at all, while 4.5 percent don’t do so because they say the women bear the contraceptive burden. Others say they use condoms only occasionally.

A four-year study on 500 students, by MAMTA, has indicated that sex education can be very useful in not just improving the health of young girls but also in controlling the birth rate. Four schools in Haryana participated in this study (2004), two in urban Rewari, and two in rural Bawal. After they received the sex education classes, as many as 78 percent of the rural girls and 33 percent of the urban girls said that they would “decline sex without a condom”. Before the classes, only about 5 percent of the rural schoolgirls and 10 percent of the urban ones had any awareness of condoms.

Hypocrisy pervades our government as it kow tows to those who are against sex education. People who feel that children turning to pornography for information, or teenage pregnancies or child abuse is the lesser evil. Recently, an article in the Guardian, UK, expressed its bafflement over India’s stand on sex education. It quoted a parliamentary committee saying that India’s “social and cultural ethos are such that sex education has absolutely no place in it.” This despite damning statistics which tell us of the high rate of teenage pregnancies, and high rate of child sex abuse.

I will end this post from a quote from the Guardian article by Anindita Sengupta in which she gives her reasons as to why India has puritanical and hypocritical attitude towards sex:

…it has its roots in deep-seated emotions that are closely entangled with centuries of religious and cultural mores. Leaders from Buddha to Gandhi demonised sex, it was seen as something evil or dirty, something to be avoided, controlled or condemned. Add to that elements of prudish patriarchy, peevish ignorance and paranoid imaginings about cultural colonisation and you have a mess of dysfunctional views with regard to sex.

Related Reading: Indian youth get their knowledge of sex mostly from friends, porno films and “self-reading”
Sex education in schools can help counter the ill effects of porn
Dating does (and should) lead to marraige say teens
We don’t like talking about sex
Teenage Sex on the sly
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Improvements in security arrangements in India after 26/11 (Mumbai Terror Attacks)

November 26, 2009

This post is in response to some comments I received on the post I wrote on the Mumbai Terror Attacks yesterday. The comments seemed to express a thought that there is no hope, that India is India, that India will never improve, that nothing will never improve. I don’t go by this. And I just want to jot down a few changes that have taken place in the past year which I hope will help India become more secure. Sure a lot of things have not improved, but here I am listing the things which have.

1) We have a new Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram, and he has brought in a lot of changes and new initiatives. As this news article says:

Fully utilizing the free hand, Chidambaram has helped in creating a feeling of urgency among various security agencies, intelligence agencies, state police and paramilitary forces, besides resorting to certain legislative actions like strengthening the Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act and creation of the National Investigative Agency.

I believe this because I have been following Chidambaram’s moves, and he is far better than his predecessor Patil.
A lot of initiatives of his have been listed in the article, like acquiring of weapons, improvements in the law and order situation in Kashmir, increased efficacy of the intelligence agencies.  There is more cooperation between US Intelligence, the FBI and India.
2) Force One, Maharashtra’s “elite security force designed on the lines of the National Security Guard (NSG)” has been commissioned a few days ago.
3) Arms purchase has increased in India. Not just in Maharashtra but by the central government, and the Army too.
4) The Navy is also beefing up on infrastructure to protect India from the sea. From aircraft to boats, to the numerical strength of personnel is all being increased.
5) Vacancies in the Maharashtra police, which were at 230,567 on January 1, 2008 are now down to less than 150,000. The central government has ordered that this deficit be brought down further, and infact brought down to zero by March 2010.
6) A 20 per cent increase in the budget for Coast Guard vessels. Manpower is also being increased.
7) The Maharashtra government has set aside Rs 150 Crore to buy speed boats this last June.
8] The government has opened four NSG hubs in Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai, each having a strength of 241 personnel.
9) NSG will now be better mobilized:

That time lag of Nov 26, 2008 when the National Security Guards (NSG) took about five hours to take up position to combat India’s worst terror attack will never be repeated, promises chief of the elite commando force N.P.S. Aulakh. “We lost time during the Mumbai serial attacks. But things have changed and now we can take up any challenge within just 30 minutes of notice and that too anywhere,’ NSG Director General N.P.S. Aulakh told IANS in an exhaustive interview.

For more details you can check the link.
10) I also think that our media could have learnt a few lessons, although I am not sure about it.

This is not an exhaustive list. Just a few points which tell us that our government is doing something. Its not as if nothing has happened after 26/11/2008. Things have happened, some things have been planned, and more will be done. Things cannot change overnight that is for sure but I think there has been an improvement, as the facts show. One hopes that there is better preparedness next time.

Remembering 26/11 – the Mumbai Terror Attacks

November 25, 2009

Tomorrow is the first death anniversary of those who died in the Mumbai Terror Attacks. A reader sent me this video, produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Dan Reed which I thought worth posting here. Clicking on the link will take you to the video.

Reed has done a brilliant job. Without saying it in so many words he has shown the terror and helplessness of innocent people, the ineptness of the police response, the crazed minds of the cold blooded killers who contaminated and bruised our Indian soil. He has also showed the VT attack in a fair amount of detail. He has not blamed or told. He has just shown – like any good filmmaker would.

What amazed me while watching the video was the number of times the gunmen talked of “God”. In almost every sentence they uttered God’s name. And it sent a chill through me to hear the Pakistani handlers urging the gunmen to kill while the telephone was on so that they could hear the shots and the screams. The handlers and the killers should all be in a mental asylum, locked up forever, given food only through a hole. No living thing should ever touch these “its”. Locked up not to seek revenge, but simply because this much evil needs to be locked up so that it doesn’t harm any other living thing. These killers are not human. As Kasab says, his instructions were to kill at anything that moved, all people. Just people.

This is not a new video, but I had not seen it before. And if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a see. It encapsulates the Mumbai attacks quite well without moralising, without too much gore, and the Police Dispatches reveal what actually happened, “hour by hour, from the perspective of the security forces, the terrorists, their masterminds and the victims”.

It is tragic that today, one year after 26/11, the names of the people responsible for procuring defective bullet proof jackets for the police are not known. Which politician and policeman made the deal? And even one year after 26/11 we do not know the names of those who were responsible for the confusion in the Mumbai police force at the time. No one took charge. After one year are we any closer to knowing WHO is responsible?

All that we know is that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra at the time Vilasrao Deshmukh was kicked upstairs, given a plum job for his “loyalty” to the party. RR Patil, the Home Minister got his job back, and as for the top cops, the bickering and the blame game goes on…

So many died in vain, but not a single person has taken responsibility for the carnage. We need to mourn the dead, but we also need to ask for the answers. It is the top cops and the politicians who are to blame. For the lack of coordination and action. It is really pathetic and in really bad taste to see television channels blast the foot soldiers. Try and shame those poor unequipped men who had rifles that were rusted, men who ran helter skelter because they had no leader to direct them. Men who weren’t even sure where the terrorists were, how many there were, what they were up to. Even in these circumstances there was a poor man called Tukaram Omble who grabbed Kasab’s machine gun with his bare hands and took the bullets. Facing an enemy with proper weapons, proper armour, and a proper leader may require bravery, but facing an enemy without any of these things means heroism of a superhuman kind. The foot soldiers in Mumbai had nothing. If some of them ran, let us not blame them.

Related Reading: Terrorism – citizens need answers!
Some tips from someone caught in the Mumbai terror attacks
War not an option after the Mumbai terror attacks
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The Indian government’s green channel for the corrupt

November 24, 2009
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The government of India allows corruption. How else could it have become the scourge that it has today? The Prime Minister may be thinking of removing a happy clause in the law, happy for the thieves that is. A clause supposedly put there to protect public servants from wrongful harassment which blatantly helps crooks.

Government departments and ministries have been misusing a constitutional provision (Article 311) in which the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) has to seek prosecution sanction from the government before beginning a formal probe against allegedly corrupt officials.

This law has a colonial tint. A seed planted then used by our own lawmakers during the drafting of the anti-corruption act. The clause has opened a floodgate for the corrupt with scores of officials escaping prosecution because of it. No one wants seems to have the will to get rid of it. At least not our elected representatives.

A politician suspected of corruption simply pulls a few strings and the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commission (that a person should be prosecuted) is ignored!  In other words the government has laid out a red carpet for the thieves.

The facts and figures read like a horror story. Since 2004, in almost a thousand cases, the government ignored the findings of the CVC. In some cases, the accused have been “exonerated” without proper inquiry! You name the ministry and you can be sure that it has disregarded the advice given by the CVC, at some point of time. Whether it’s the Indian Railways or the Municipal corporations of different cities, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry or the Department of Telecom, public sector companies like the Delhi Development Authority or Oil India Ltd. And this is counting just those who were caught.

The funny thing is that the Supreme Court has interpreted the law differently! It has said twice, once last year and once this year, that the CVC need not take the sanction of the government to prosecute. It can go ahead on its own!

Supreme Court today ruled that prior sanction was not required for the prosecution of public servants, including chief ministers and ministers in corruption cases…

Apparently, sanction need not be taken if the wrongdoers do their thieving while on duty. I am not sure what that means, because don’t they all do it during the course of their duty? So what is this, another loophole? What is a layman to make of it? How much more confusing does the government want it to be?

The CVC should just quote this Supreme Court judgment and go ahead with the prosecution don’t you think? But if it doesn’t, it means that there are some factors are play that are not known.

The judiciary does not have a clean record in any case. I found a shocking report which says that in 1991 some Supreme court judges had passed an order that “the Chief Justice’s permission was mandatory for the filing of even a first information report (FIR) against any Judge of the High Courts and the Supreme Court.”  The Bench said this even though they “accepted [that] the sanctioning authority for prosecution was none other than the President of India.” Despite accepting this, the judges said that the President “shall act in accordance with advice given by the Chief Justice of India”. Hopefully this order is gathering dust somewhere. Or is it? What is the procedure for prosecuting of a judge? From what I have read, there was a case where a judge was accused and it was the judiciary itself which which set up a committee to look into the matter. I think the CVC should have a say in this, not just the judiciary. The CVC should have  the authority to be part of the inquiry commission which decides whether judges should be prosecuted or not.

There was a recent case of the cash-in-bag scam (Punjab and Haryana high courts) and suspicion fell on  justice Nirmal Yadav for accepting around 15 lakhs as a bribe. The CBIhandled the case but while the CBI (department) said there was sufficient evidence for her prosecution, the CBI head opposed it! Can anything be more pathetic? He said there was not enough evidence, and he sent his opinion to the attorney general (AG) of India. Guess what? Charges were dropped.

All in all, our corrupt government officials are looting the country or the public, and the government is giving them its blessings.

Related Reading: Indians believe their judiciary to be tainted
Why Mayawati’s assets are not a problem for the Indian government
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Test Your Global IQ

November 20, 2009

What is your knowledge about global affairs, particularly in relation to India? I re-did some Pew quiz questions to suit India. The format is the same, but the questions are now India centered. So take the plunge and check your global IQ!

The answers to the questions are given below. It’s an upside down image. Save it and rotate it on your pc to get the correct answers. Most of the answers are from surveys carried out by Pew research and some are from news sources. All answers are subject to the limitations thereof.

After checking the answers what did you find out about your global IQ? I scored six on ten.

Read all posts based on Research Surveys
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What Asian countries think of America

Wishing and Hoping…My Bucket List – (Tag)

November 18, 2009

I was tagged by Minal, a new blog friend. She has tagged me to write my wish list. And my done list. So here it is guys and girls, and it’s not long,  but more or less encapsulates my life. I have done tags and memes before, but of late have been a quite lazy about them.  This one I did as it didn’t require much work!  :)

My Bucket List:

TO DO LIST:-

1) I cannot help but start with what Minal has written, because it is on my agenda too. I do it off and on, but it’s always cooking on burning hot coals, and it’s the thing I am going to devote a certain part of my life to it. Social Service for Kids.

2) I  want to never ever stop working, and by that I mean writing and doing whatever I do, till the day I die. I pray that my body keeps up with my mind.

3) I need to finish my books. I have written a thriller and about 500 pages of the first draft are done. Unfortunately for the last two years I have not edited it and made it into a cohesive whole. I have also written a skeletal second book (psychological thrillier), plus a concept idea for a book on palmistry. I plan to finish these projects in the next 3-4 years. Just waiting for an important personal commitment to be over first. My day to day activities  are eating up my time right now.

4) I love to travel, and want to keep seeing new places, keep meeting new people.

5) I want to improve on my “tech-ing” abilities. I am not as hopeless as I was when I first started blogging three years ago, but I want to hone up on this skill a bit. I am being very patient with myself.

6) I love my blog and I hope I keep meeting wonderful people through it.

THE JOURNEY SO FAR:

1) I found the love of my life, my soul mate.

2) I’ve been a good mother to my two daughters. I feel happy at the way they have turned out. I am content that I spent time with them when they were growing up. I am proud that I worked hard as a mom. I have done what I loved in my life, been a mother and a writer although there is a long long way to go where my writing is concerned. And yes, even as a mother. I will never cease to be a mom.

3) My friends are like jewels on a necklace that I wear in my heart. They keep my heart warm and bright.

4) I have never hurt any person consciously in my whole life. I love human beings and see the positive in them.

5) I have worked full time in the best organisations in India and free-lanced for the best and am now  getting sick of this job!

6) I have also managed to write a decent blog. I have been true to it. I have helped people.

7) I have kept my mind healthy. This means that I do not harbour hateful or revengeful thoughts. I am not a bitter person and I do not have any guilt or any emotional burden. I can easily forgive and forget and love. But it’s not just my mind, I have managed to keep my body healthy. That takes hard work too, to ensure a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle. I don’t like to do physical exercise but I force myself to exercise.

8] I have traveled and enjoyed every bit of it. However many more places I need to go to!

(I think these lists are probably not complete, and therefore I will keep adding as I remember, but the major stuff is here.)

The first person I thought to tag was Sahaja, as she is just back from a blogging holiday. The others whom I tag are Nimmy,  Smitha, Kanagu, Rambler, sraboneyghose, Vishesh, and Soham. Would be quite interested to know what their life goals are.

What is Sachin Tendulkar really like?

November 17, 2009
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I am not a great fan of cricket but there are some sports people whom I am in awe of. Sachin Tendulkar is certainly one of them. A lot is being written about him of late, because he completed 20 years in international cricket. He’s lasted, unlike many others. However Sachin has always been a bit of a reserved person and I have always been curious as to what he is really like, inside.

There is no way of knowing, unless ofcourse one knows him well. I had no hopes of doing that, so the next best thing was to see whether his hand revealed it. Some of my readers know that I am a palmist, but a palmist who firmly believes that you cannot tell the future from one’s palm. I do believe that the hand reveals one’s temperament though. I have analysed Sachin’s hand here, on this post, on my other blog.

Some of what I have written is known about him, but I have tried to explain why he is who he is. There might be some additional points here about him which people are not sure of. Here is an excerpt:

I saw him on television just a few days ago and he was saying something that he has said several times in the past. That money is not that important to him, and it is his passion for the game and his love for India which is more important. I looked for signs in the hand that would either confirm or contradict his words. Well, for one thing, Sachin’s fingers show that he is a straightforward person and he is unlikely to lie. However we can go on to see whether his hand shows a love for money.

Reading Sachin Tendulkar’s hand was fun, because there is always this curiosity that one has about famous people. I mean, is their public image just one big pretence? Or even if it is not pretence, then perhaps the media is misrepresenting them, for the better or for worse? Famous people are always at the mercy of the media. They have to be nice to them, or they well be chewed up. What I have written about Sachin is not all good, but then no one is perfect.

After writing that post, the controversy about Sachin saying that Mumbai belongs to India arose. For the Shiv Sena to claim that his statement is political is ridiculous. He has not talked about whether Mumbai should be made an union territory, if he had said that, then it would have been a political statement. All Sachin did was to say what the majority of Indians feel, that Mumbai belongs to India. Ofcourse it does, there is no doubt about that. His statement has been unnecessarily been given a political colour by parties who want publicity.

It is interesting to note that I had already said that Sachin had this habit of saying things he regrets. And there is no doubt that Sachin is regretting saying what he said now. Even though he knows that what he said was perfectly alright, he hates controversy.

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