Politically incorrect

A couple of days ago, I went on “the walk” (yes, these walks are quite eventful), and I must say it did not leave me feeling fresh and full of life, like it normally does. Reason – there were people standing all around the circle, distributing pamphlets, holding banners with gory pictures of dead fetuses. I don’t mean to be really graphic or sound insensitive here, but these pictures of dead, unborn children’s bodies covered in blood brought feelings of disgust rather than sympathy or sadness.

Of course, these were the “pro-life” campaigners. For those who are not have not heard about it before, you can read the definitions here or google “Pro-life vs Pro-choice”.

So, I quickly finished one round around the circle, avoiding any eye contact with the banner holders as much as I was avoiding looking at their banners, and was about to head back to end my uncomfortable walk, when a young boy barely 10 years old, walked towards me and handed me one of the pamphlets he was helping distribute. Shocked as I was, more so to see a child participating in this political campaign, I took it from him and kept moving.

He then asked me – “What are your thoughts on abortion?”. A lot of replies came to my mind, like – “It’s none of your business what I think about anything!”, or “What are you doing here instead of playing on your X-box (or whatever kids play on these days) and enjoying your summer break?” or “Where are your parents? Let me take you back to them” . All I could manage to say was – “I would rather not talk about it”.

I don’t have a problem with kids talking about complex issues like these, nor with kids being interested in politics. Not that it matters, but I do have a huge problem with kids being used for political gains. Not just the ones appointed to distribute fliers and talk to people about their opinions, but also the ones in the pictures. I am not even going to discuss what I think about the whole abortion issue – that is not the point. The point is, why is this even a political issue? People make good choices, people also make bad choices. Sometimes because they are bad people, sometimes just because of their circumstances. Why does a government have to control everything its people do? Don’t they have enough to do already? Don’t they have other issues to use for their campaigning that actually pertain to how a country is run, not how it’s people make their personal decisions (as long as they don’t lead to criminal behavior)?

I have never been very interested in politics. Not when I was in India, not here in the US. I just cannot bring myself to trust the breed of politicians. And I admit I am not very familiar with the political history of US or with the background of these issues. But I do feel it is a disrespect towards these unborn children to display and use their pictures to provoke people so that they vote for a certain political group/candidate.

So, what do you think? Feel free to point out if you think I’m wrong. Whether or not you agree, I am interested to hear other opinions on this.

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How corruption killed Mahi

There was a little girl named Mahi. It was just any other day in her life until she went outside to play and fell in an illegally dug borewell, fell 70-feet deep to her death. People think it is the borewell and the fall that killed Mahi. Actually it was a monster with a thousand heads who murdered her. That monster has its tentacles spread all over the place and is eating away the roots of the Indian society. That monster is called ‘Corruption’ and it is Corruption that killed Mahi.

This is not the first time something like this has happened. I remember at least 2 other similar incidents that became national headlines at different times. Two other kids who fell in borewells and remained stuck there for days. Army was called for rescue, tunnels were dug to reach the children and news channels ran live telecasts of the rescue operations. One of those kids was rescued, I do not remember what was the fate of the other.

Whenever something like this happens, people are shaken by the tragedy. They talk about it for a while – in newspapers, on TV talk shows, and then they forget. We the people are very forgetful you see, but then it’s not really our fault. New issues come up, we forget about the old ones and start talking about the new. We like talking a lot, mostly talking, no doing. Take for instance Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption crusade. People went crazy for a while, going gaga over Anna, holding debates on social media platforms, even changing their profile pictures to support Anna. And then what happened?

All of these people who “supported” Anna, I want to now go back and ask them. What change did they make in their own lives to make sure they do not feed the Corruption monster? Do they refuse to bribe the traffic policeman to avoid getting a challan (ticket) when stopped for breaking a rule on the road? Are they bold enough to not pay any money to the police walla who comes for their verification so that they can get a new passport, and bear the consequences? Did we suddenly stop building encroachments on our properties thinking we will be fine if we throw someone some money to keep their mouth shut?

I doubt if any of these happened. These small acts of corruption may sound harmless – who cares if you can get something done quickly by shelling some money – look at the example we are setting for the future generations. We are basically telling them that 1) it is okay to break the law as long as 2) you can bribe someone to let you get away with it. Just yesterday, I was watching the movie “Ferrari ki Sawari” (a ride on the Ferrari). It’s the story of an honest man who is compelled by circumstances to do something wrong to get the money he badly needs. There was one particular scene in which the guy and his son are riding on his scooter and he accidentally jumps the red traffic light. There was no traffic police in sight to stop them, so this person went to the nearest control room and offered to pay the fine. When the cop on duty asked him why had he come to pay the fine when no one was even watching him, he said – “There was someone watching me. My son.”.

Granted movies are a little over the top, but even in real life, we mock people who are honest and actually punish them instead of appreciating and rewarding them. I know that because I have seen that happening, up close and personal.

I now live in a place where kids, their safety and well being of people in general is given utmost importance. I have been here 4 years, but still feel a lump in my throat sometimes when I see all the traffic stop on the road when a school bus stops, to let the kids get down and cross the road safely. I can’t help but think of places in the world where kids die of malnourishment because some corrupt officials sold the food that was meant for the children, where Mahi had to die on the day she turned five because someone else did not want to follow the rules. I wonder why something as simple as following the rules is so difficult for us. And I hope that one day, we will be free from monsters like corruption who kill our children and kill the society. One day, that day will come.