Monday, December 24, 2012

Delhi Gangrape: Let There Be Light.

It's been days since I've been watching, hearing and reading about this horrendous incident that took place in New Delhi, our beloved (yes, pun intended) capital, sometime last week. Honestly, I don't care about when, where, what, why etc. details of the same. I'd rather leave that on those news channels to judge, who make me believe that there's nothing else happening in the whole country except this mad, senseless struggle which is trying to hold the whole country at a ransom. The ransom being, the death of the rapist.

Before you jump to any conclusions about the incredibly absurd and probably hurtful, even, statements that I just made, take a few deep breaths and read on.

The Beginning

I have been watching the TV series Rome these past couple of days. It's a biopic (as far as I know) about the ancient Rome and its fall as an empire. Although, the details of the series are irrelevant here, there's one thing that I noticed there, that started with or before the mighty Roman empire and persists even today. There's NO equality between a man and a woman, a male and a female, a boy and a girl. None, absolutely.

This is something many of us would raise our arms for and object. But, let's face it, somewhere inside us all, there's that set of discriminated beliefs, values and superstitions about the tasks, work, status and so on and so forth between a man and a woman. It all begins when the brother of the family is busy learning the ways of their family business from his father while the sister is learning how to cook in the kitchen with her mother. Sadly, these have become the pre-requisites for a marriage, and this is the saddest state of the society that I can imagine being.

You know the reason for these rapes? Exactly what I stated in the previous para. The absence and thereby lack of equality, that has been passed onto us one generation after the another. The acceptance of how things are supposed to be between the sexes, and the ignorance to change that.

It's a very simple fact. We men, don't treat women as equals and that's where this whole story starts. We men, don't oppose when someone treats our women with disrespect, passes a cheap 'comment' and ignore it to 'avoid making an issue'. We men, ask our women to stay indoors while it's equally their right to stay outdoors. One of the prime reasons is because of there are not as many women on the roads as there are men! Just as an army of 10 can't fight a 100 people, a dozen-odd women can't fight those 100s of perverts on the street who desire to take undue advantage of the fairer sex.

It's we who allow this. Through how we treat eve-teasing, and let our ancestors, with their age-old, screwed up, superstition-ridden beliefs, ride our minds into actions which belittle the honour of a woman in our minds. It's the Indian culture which asks a woman to cover her head in front of a 'paraya' man, but the man can do as he pleases. It's the unfair treatment where a guy can sport the denims he likes, but the girl can't go out of the house unless she's completely dressed in a salwar. It's this absurd, unfair, un-written law, that we abide to, to please our fathers and forefathers, who never did and never will accept that women can stand side-by-side men and achieve more than what they can, that gives these other men the ability to rape.

The Reality

The crime against women is not a country, region, race, or class specific crime. It occurs in all classes, in all countries, in all regions, in all races. In fact, some of the developed countries register more rape cases than India (stats attached at the bottom of the post). It's a globally accepted belief of the lower standard of a woman in a family that brings such heinous crimes to effect.

Today

What happened in the last week in Delhi, was a mere incident. It was one of the approximately 22000 rapes that occur in India, every year (I talk from the 2010 data which being genuine, I can verify). This is the number of cases registered. And we all know how many cases actually get registered in our country. If you ask me, I'd say that'd be a roughly quarter or lesser number of cases.

What everyone fails to understand is that what happened last week was just one of the girls. One of those thousands of girls who undergo such a brutal and painful experience, at the hands of monsters, on a daily basis. From what I read (but I don't vouch for how genuine the data is), a woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. Every friggin' 20 minutes. This makes me cringe. This makes me wanna cry. And this makes me shout, "WHY ONLY THE CASE OF LAST WEEK?" What's so special about her?

I got a text message in the last week which ended in a link to an NDTV poll which asked if the rapist should be given a death sentence. It also described in detail what the writer of the message thought she had been through. From what I've been gathering as a research for this post, no publication (Indian or otherwise) wrote those details. Personally, I don't believe it. I haven't seen the girl, nor have I seen her reports, nor have I witnessed it first hand, nor do I know anyone trustworthy who has, nor has it been documented in the public domain. And that, for me is a simple definition of throwing mud in the eyes of the people. It's how people's emotions are played with, to create something that's insignificant.

Why is it insignificant, you ask? I ask you, is any other of those 22,000 rape victims of India in 2010, any less deserving of justice? Then why are we fighting for only this one? You may say this one lightened the torch and made everyone united. I ask, why this one? Why so late? Where was this India when Jessica Lall was murdered? Where was this India when Rueben Fernandes was killed for protecting his female friend from an eve-teaser? Where was this India when the rape victim, who went to the police for seeking justice, was raped by the police officer, all over again? Where was my India, then, fellow Indians?

We are people of emotions. We are easily fooled. That happened to us with the whole non-corruption movement led by Baburao Hazare. We shout for a few days in the grounds, and then come back home, tell our friends and family, that nothing will happen of this great (pun intended, again) country of ours, and sit back and watch TV. And then when we're asked, we say, 'I'm only alone, what difference can I make.'

The Blamegame

"The Government should do something about this,", "Such people should be hanged,", It's only corruption that's the cause of such rapes,", "What kind of a police system do we have that such things happen?"

I have just one sentence to everyone asking for justice. Shut the crap up.

You, the ones asking for justice, are the same ones who can't ask for equality from your parents, from your grand-parents. You, the ones asking for justice, are the same ones who'll break red light at 11p.m. in the night only because there's no traffic. You, the ones asking for justice, are the same ones who'll pay the passport officer a bribe to get your work done quicker. Yes, it's you and only you. Till you can't clean your own house, you don't have the right to raise a finger at those who don't keep the society clean.

Dump the Government, they're only figures of inability. Dump the police, they're only people who take bribes for the smallest of works. What did you do? Did you promote equality? Did you teach yourself / your kid how to fight when someone tries to loot them? Did you do your best to make sure that no one dare even touch you? You didn't. Then who gives you the right to blame someone else? It's easy to ride the blamegame train and keep pushing it from one authority to the next and feel good about ourselves that there was nothing we could've done, all while being oblivious to the bitter fact that we're where it has started.

Corruption. Oh yes, corruption. Incidentally, this is the corruption of basic human rights and that related to money. And yet, they both have the same name. (Sorry Arvind Kejriwal, you couldn't pick a piece of this incident's pie to decorate it on your everything-is-related-to-corruption board.)

And the biggest part, kill such animals. Yes, they're crude animals. Let's kill them, get them punished to death. Why not? It must be atleast 30,000 men who have raped women in 2010 alone. Let's kill them all first. Then, let's look for more men who'd possibly commit such barbaric crimes, those who tease, pass snide comments, etc., and catch and kill them all. And then, in the end, the few thousand good men that remain, let's threaten to kill them, and then, may be kill them one by one, so that no man ever exists to threaten the honour of a woman.

Doing this would be like killing all the ants from a corner of your home, instead of throwing the morsel of dropped food into the dust-bin. Until the day the psyche of the Indians changes, till we can't accept women as our equals, rapes will occur, and I'm sorry but this is the brute reality.

Our lives are at the behest of our own selves. Not the Governments, not the tyrants, not our parents, that seem to govern, rule, request us. The day we understand this, we understand that our lives are our own to live, our own to protect.

Let there be light.

Until the next post...

The articles and pages I reference to:
1) Rape Statistics - Wikipedia
2) An article on FirstPost
3) Another on Rupee News

Author's note: In my time as a blogger, I have written another blogpost, pertaining to the problems and empowerment of women. I request you to read the same, if you haven't already and leave your feedbacks, here: Women, Vowed to be Woed.
 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Customer is the King?

As those who regularly read my blogposts would know, I don't hesitate to express my displeasure over my experiences with corporate firms. It's simple, they sucked, and they have to face my written wrath.

In the recent past, I've been subjected to more frequent and more disgusted forms of torture from such companies, which made me ask myself, am I not the customer? And, isn't the customer the king? It's with utmost sadness that I inform you that through my experiences, I have been enlightened enough to inform you that a customer, a consumer, was the king. He isn't anymore. (And no, the customer isn't the queen anymore. Stop trolling.)

It's one of the saddest realizations for someone who has always believed that companies actually care about their customers. I am also the one who pretended to smug when everytime I was told, 'Make a company so big, that you have call centers answer for you.' For good or bad, now, that's a thing of the past.

Let's come back to today. Here's a list of my recent experiences:

1) September, 2011: My Vodafone incident. I wrote an in-detail blog about the same, here.

2) October-November, 2012: My passport incident. Similarly blogged here.

3) October-November, 2012: AirTel disconnects my prepaid number, with enough balance and validity running upto February 2013, randomly, without any sort of intimation.

In the last 2 months, I've talked to more than 6 representatives from AirTel's Delhi/Guragon head office, and visited the gallery in Malad twice, to no resolution. I've had to explain my problem to each one of them, all of them promising me to get back to me and then never calling back. I'm called back by some other random service representative or whatever they call them, from their side, the next time.

I'm told that it is because it was lying unused, and I was intimated, to which I claimed I wasn't and thus I ask for records as proof of their communication to me, I'm told that there are none because the number has been deleted from their systems. Neat. Easy way to just dump a customer's number without any intimation, naming TRAI. About the TRAI guidelines, as far as I know and have read, the telecom operator is required to inform the user by calling on the alternate number, texting, e-mailing, and also sending a letter to the registered address before disconnecting, none of which was done to me. So there.

Also, they can't tell me who from their side had called me earlier, for much more lame reasons. The AirTel gallery in Malad explicitly stated that MNP numbers (I had ported to AirTel from Idea), can't be disconnected and he was wondering how was it that this number was disconnected, even.

4) November-December, 2012: ICICI tells me they'll take 42 'working' days (showing me a date of 25th March for resolution) to revert me a failed online transactions of 368.28. And for another failed payment of 444.04 made 4 days before the 370 payment, I'm told I'll get the refund in 10 days.

42 days for getting back 370. And then they blame it on procedures, difference in payment portals and VISA policies. You seriously think I'm so dumb?

5) December, 2012: I'm denied a nano-SIM by AirTel because my postpaid number is registered in my uncle's name, who is currently traveling and is outside the nation, even though I have the complete and appropriate documents.

More so, I'm denied to get the number in my name (in Pune I was told it is possible). I seriously don't understand the double standards here. I get that Pune is Maharashtra circle, and Mumbai is a separate telecom circle, but does the procedure change between the 2 circles? I thought the procedures TRAI lays down are for the, not some damned telecom circles.

6) November, 2012: A MSRTC Shivneri bus driver, driving rashly, rams into a Honda City which was changing the lane after appropriate indicators. I was traveling in that bus. There have been numerous other examples of me, and my friends, having experienced similar issues with these state-run and state-operated bus service.


In the period of these last 15 months, there have been other examples too, and this post, has been long over-due. I'm sure you'll would have a lot more to contribute too. From those little ones where shopkeepers ask you to pay anything from 2-10 rupees extra for 'cooling' the soft drink, to insurance lapses pertaining to the smallest, most negligent clauses. And I think it's high time that this crap stops.

In the last few days, I've been trying to figure out what I'd love as a customer myself. What is the right way to treat someone who buys services or products, or both from you. And there are some basic guidelines that I have come down to. Many of these are pulled from the current systems which are already in place in USA and other developed countries over the world.

a) Return period: Anything between 14 days to 30 days of return period wherein you'd be paid back the full amount you had paid, if you're not satisfied with the service.

b) More transparency: I want the records. Of everything that I use. And not some random made-up shit when you say your data is deleted because your number is deleted from our systems. Also, I want to know which representative of yours called me. I'm not going to sit and keep a log of phone numbers and names of everyone from your end I talk to. Hell, I don't remember their names while I'm talking to them!! It's your job to keep a track, not mine.

c) Better co-ordination and post complaint follow-up: With Tata Sky, I was happy I observed this. They made sure I got what I had asked for, at the right time, and again called a week after to know if I was happy with it or not. Amazing service, that.

d) Lesser blame on other companies and Government: Not everyone is a fool to believe what you throw in their face as a big fat lie. Some customers are aware. And they can shred you to pieces with it in a court of justice.

e) Knowledgeable staff: Seriously, do I need to explain this? Isn't it everytime that you talk to some customer service that you're told to hold while they confirm something?

f) Without bill guarantee, warranty: The only 2 companies that already do this (and I know of), are Apple and Lenovo. You will never be asked for your bill. And there's a reason for it, your device has a serial number. Period. Every device you buy has a serial number. But no, you have to get the bill when you claim warranty, because hey, I have all the time in the world to take care of every bill that I ever get for everything that I purchase! You put such big stamps of serial numbers on my device, USE them.

g) Don't sell my info: You take my information to inform me about updates about my devices and services. Use it for that. Don't sell them to third parties who'd spam me with letters and e-mails. Not cool. (This I've specifically observed for AirTel, because my AirTel online account is in my uncle's username and my e-mail ID. I got an e-mail a few days back addressed to him.)

h) Make my life easy, as you promise, and if you can't do that, don't make it tougher atleast: I buy services and products so that they help me, not because I have lesser problems in my life to add a few more to them.

I'm of the opinion that our country can't truly progress until we begin recognizing the might of the consumer, and the sellers begin respecting the same. I've come to believe that the companies and products that we rely on specifically have come to defy the reason they were made. It's an absolute ruckus out here.

It matters to me how I'm treated. It matters to me how my parents, my friends, my countrymen are treated by these people who loot us in the name of safe services and guaranteed products. And it's high time things get aligned with them. Real big a time...

Until the next post...

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